Sunday, 4 July 2010

The Sakura-michi International Nature Run

If you're a long-time reader, you may recall that I gave up running around eighteen months ago (just as I was starting to really enjoy it) after my knees started playing up. Every so often I get the urge to start running again. I got the urge again a couple of nights ago while watching a program on Japanese TV about the Sakura-michi International Nature Run.

The Sakura-michi International Nature Run is a 250km ultramarathon that follows a course from Nagoya on the Pacific Ocean side of the main Japanese island of Honshu to Kanazawa on the Japan Sea side. It was established to honor the memory of Sato Ryoji, a bus conductor who worked on this route and dreamed of planting cherry trees along its entire length. He managed to plant some 2000 trees in his spare time before dying at the age of 47.

The program focused on two runners, a man and a woman, both of whom only started running in their thirties. The woman, Kuwahara Akie, was also very sick in her teens, a good deal of which she spent in hospital. Both runners finished well within the cut off time of 36 hours. To put their achievements in perspective, they ran in under 36 hours further than the distance I intend to cover in ten days when I walk the Koshu Kaido.

Watching the program, one thing that struck me was that the event seemed less like a race and more like a social occasion for many of the runners, members of an elite club who get pleasure from putting their bodies through absolute hell, battling themselves to finish and improve on their previous times rather than their opponents.

Only 100 runners - 80 from Japan and 20 from overseas - are chosen to compete each year. The entry fee is 45,000 yen.

Distance walked since last post: 3km
Total distance walked since Koshu Kaido training began: 83.9km
Days left until departure: 74


Josef said...

I also have issues with my knees, especially when carrying heavy. I had some big problems in the beginning of my journey. I'm eating Omega3, it has a documented positive effect on the joints. I'm also eating multi-vitamin pills. Perhaps not necessary with the vitamin-frenzy in Japan and with all the fish they eat, but I for one don't eat super-much fish, I eat whatever food I can get.

Walking fool said...

I'm the opposite to you - I don't eat meat, but I eat lots of fish. I haven't had any knee troubles from walking, just from running. Mind you, I've never carried more than 10kg on any of my walks.

satoshi said...

Maybe you have heard of this, but I recommend reading "Born to Run". According to this book, modern high-tech running shoes are causing most runners foot problems. Also it got great story about tarahumara, who run ultra-distance with sandal.

Walking fool said...

Hi Satoshi
I haven;t heard of that book, but I have heard that about shoes causing foot problems. They say African athletes who grow up running in bare feet never have any problems. I wonder if it's true?
Unfortunately I think years of wearing shoes have ruined my knees forever, and going barefoot now won't make any difference.

satoshi said...

Not sure how bad your knees are, but the author of this book was like you. He had bad food problem, and his doctor told him that he was not runner (he is a tall guy) and recommended to "get a bike".

After certain training, I believe he got much better and he completed ultra marathon.

Humans are designed to be runners, and I heard that because of extra cushioning of our modern shoes, we are using our foot in unnatural way, causing injuries.

There are barefoot-like shoes coming to market now, like fivefingers. Might be interesting to try. I wasn't really runner myself, but thinking to try this soon.