In 2008, I paraglided. Climbed Japan’s tallest mountain, Mt. Fuji, in 2012. Skydived in 2013. I thought I am done with these crazy adventures, then came the Tokyo Yamathon Urban Challenge. I once applied for Tokyo Marathon but was rejected. This is the closest thing in experiencing long-distance running / walking activity.
One of our friends asked us if we would like to volunteer during the event. We politely declined. Instead, we found ourselves registering as participants with barely two weeks to go. It will be a sort of fun-charity with the proceeds going to the Philippines. The objective of the challenge motivated us big time. Our team name was PHOTOGRUNNERS – a word play for photographers and runners.
The Tokyo Yamanote Urban Challenge or simple The Yamathon is a physical and navigational charity challenge where teams of three or four people walk around the Yamanote line, starting at Tokyo Tokia Building (close to Tokyo Station), in less than 12 hours. The Yamanote line is Japan’s busiest and most important commuter rail line which circles the capital. more here
sprinting with the wind
throughout the circle of life
smell of worn-out shoes
The atmosphere at the starting point was jubilant. Everyone was in high spirits. I'd like to think that we started strong, reached the midpoint in 4 hours. But faltered on the second half. It took us 11.5 hrs to finish the 45 km event. Part of the challenge was to visit all the 29 stations of the Yamanote line but it's up for the team to find the shortest possible route. Noli was our navigator. John was in-charge for the documentation. I was continuously giving updates on social media throughout the race. Rommel was also there and occasionally took our group photos. I am not a fan of selfie-stick but I have no choice and bought one as we need to take a photo ourselves in every station. Our feet were screaming but never did I hear about quitting. We rested a lot and that was it. Well, we tried to find some stores that were selling temporary legs to no avail.
The challenge taught me a lot of things. It gave a glimpse of the unknown side of Tokyo, at least to me. I haven’t heard some of these stations before. I also learned that in long-distance activities, it’s better to do it with a company. After all, you need all the support you can get to continue on to the next step, even if you are walking like a robot. Never give up. Just enjoy it, even with the pain that comes along with it. Kudos to the sponsors, organizers as well as to the participants for making this event a success.
Oh, and be prepared. Always be prepared. You do not know what’s waiting at the finish line. Despite of the pain and the struggles, I am looking forward to next year's Yamathon.
Ending this post with a quote from Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
“For me, running is both exercise and a metaphor. Running day after day, piling up the races, bit by bit I raise the bar, and by clearing each level I elevate myself. At least that’s why I’ve put in the effort day after day: to raise my own level. I’m no great runner, by any means. I’m at an ordinary – or perhaps more like mediocre – level. But that’s not the point. The point is whether or not I improved over yesterday. In long-distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.”