Hoa and Stephen, who were on a trip to Hokkaido, found a race on the blog and I helped them get registered for it. They sent in a race report. Its a race that I have never been to so I am grateful for their report.
Race report: Tsubetsu Marathon
Race report: Tsubetsu Marathon
My husband and I booked a trip to Japan about a month ago. We did not intend to race, but stumbled across Clint's website on running in Hokkaido. There, we found a local race that happened to match our visit. Since we are foreigners from North America and don't read nor speak Japanese, race registration was a challenge. Luckily, Clint translated the information and liaised information to the race director on our behalf. We are so grateful for his kindness.
It was clear skies, sunny, and a bit windy the morning of the race. Many runners and their families were there. It was a good mixture of school aged children and adults. We were warmly greeted by race officials. Package pickup was seamless. We received a race packet with information about the race, 2 race bibs, pins, number for draw prizes, and a voucher for lunch. The additional race bib was puzzling until we saw others pinning them to the front and back of their shirt.
After package pickup, there was an opening ceremony to welcome runners and recognize race organizers. We were pleasantly surprised to be recognized as foreign runners and gifted Tsubetsu marathon towels! After a warm up, we were directed to buses that took runners to their designated start line. The race has several distances including 3k, 5k, 10k, and half marathon. We opted for the 10k.
At the start line, some runners did strides/sprints to warm up, while others chatted with friends. Many of the school children ran in gym uniforms and/or team shirts. An interesting procedure was the roll call before the race. An official called each number sequentially and checked off who was "present". We had a good laugh knowing we didn't know the Japanese numbers being called out, so we looked for bib numbers close to ours and raised our hand on cue!
The race started on time at . It was starting to warm up, but was breezy and the sun was on our back. Runners were instructed to stay on the left side of the road to allow traffic on the right. The route was supposedly a gradual downhill incline, but found it to be mostly flat with minor rolling hills. The backdrop was beautiful. We ran by farmland, surrounded by trees and mountains. Some leaves were starting to change colour.
There was 1 water station around the halfway point (5k). We were pleasantly surprised to see locals watching and cheering along the course! This was particularly encouraging the last stretch towards the finish line. The final 100 metres brought us back to the school grounds, the site of package pickup. A nice touch was the track marked by the various race distances. Upon crossing the finish line, we were given a cold, refreshing sports drink. It was perfect to restore electrolytes and to hydrate. The crowd cheered and some race officials offered their congratulation.
There were lots of draw prizes. My husband won a food coupon. We chatted with a reporter and some locals as we enjoyed the post race meal of rice curry. Top finishers in each category received certificates and wooden plaques - very fitting as Tsubetsu is known as a leading producer of lumber. To my surprise, I placed in the race and achieved a PR.
Overall we were very impressed with the race. It was clear to see that the organizers dedicated many hours to make the event run smoothly. We would recommend to locals as well as foreigners looking for something off the beaten path. We are grateful for this wonderful experience and the warm hospitality of this community.
Hoa & Stephen
|Buses taking runners to their start lines|
|Lanes running to the goal on the school grounds, one for each distance.|
|The 10k start line|
|A lunch of curry and rice was provided and everyone ate together.|
|Winners received a wood plaque.|