Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Yamathon

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.

photogrunners


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
photogrunnersphotogrunners

sprinting with the wind 
throughout the circle of life 
smell of worn-out shoes

/totomai

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.

yamathonyamathonyamathonyamathonyamathon

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.

finish

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.” 

/totomai 
2016/05/25

40 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for participating, and for your wonderful blog. We really enjoyed following your Twitter updates on Saturday and would love to have you back next year!
    The IVG Tokyo Yamathon Team

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    1. Thanks Too! I was in charge of the social media on our team so thus my continuous updates haha. Yup, see you next year

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  2. Well done Totomai. I am happy to leave that sort of activity to you youngsters!

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    1. Thanks Robin, I guess I need more exercise and practice though

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  3. it's much better to worn out than rust out...lovely photos and best wishes for next year's Yamathon :)

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    1. Hoping that it will be less than 11.5hrs. Thanks Sumana

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  4. A jubilant heart and worn out shoes!!! Well done!

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  5. What a lovely return to us Totomai - i think the sense of friendship and common purpose was the thing that shone through and made it look like fun!

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    1. Yeah, nice to be back. I've been missing a lot lately including your interview Jae. I just read it - hope you and Alice are always fine

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  6. I just. came back from a run, and your experience and poetry seems to tie into that experience. I like the combination of navigation and running as it becomes exploring.

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    1. It was crazy but we were able to find our way haha. Thanks Bjorn

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  7. 11.5 hours! Wow, that is a lot of time. You look so very FIT, Totomai! Enjoyed your words, photos, haiku. Indeed I think those shoes must be pretty worn after that long-distance run.

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    1. I wanted to throw it after Mary. My feet were screaming already :)

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  8. GOSH 11.5 hours is incredible! Loved your pictures :D Thanks for sharing with us.

    Lots of love,
    Sanaa

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    1. Almost half day walking / running. But it was fun. Thanks Sanaa

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  9. Brilliant and life affirming achievement, my friend...

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    1. Thanks Scott. It was a wonderful experience on how to survive haha

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  10. You're such an adventurer! I enjoyed treading about your Yamathon and seeing the pictures – and I love the haiku.

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    1. I am trying to be one, Rosemary. I need to be more physically fit. But I think I am getting there

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  11. What a very interesting event....not sure my feet would be up to it...legs yes...feet no. But wanting to do it again says a lot about you, your team and the event. Love the poem too!

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    1. We need be faster, Donna. Same, my feet were crying haha

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  12. What an amazing accomplishment. Good for you, making it to the end!

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    1. We had two targets, to finish the race in less than 12 hrs and to our place to be lower than our number haha. Thanks Sherry

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  13. I am back in the center, there, with the smell of those worn out running shoes. Bravo!

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    1. Arigatou, Susan. The smell equates to victory I guess haha

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  14. Fantastic! I'm extremely envious of your experienced--I don't think I'll ever be able to run a marathon again, not even a half one. Your haiku made me smile, "the smell of worn-out shoes" pair with the recollection of how much your feet hurt during and immediately after a very long run/hike/walk is a great memory to keep near.

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    1. Thanks Magaly. I was trying to find an alternate feet during the race haha

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  15. Wow! What a great adventure! I loved the haiku--you made me smile today!

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  16. your haiku is as awesome as your run for Charity

    Have a ice Sunday

    much love...

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    1. The charity was the motivating factor, Gillena :)

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  17. Congratulations to you and your friends. You are all winners in my book. Thank you for the haiku. The smelly shoes made me smile. Thank you for sharing this lovely side of your life.

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    1. Not quitting made us winners, Myrna. Thanks!

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  18. A very interesting post. Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed this!

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  19. Oh my gosh. This is SO cool! I am way impressed. :)

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  20. Sounds of a interesting and fun filled adventure, thanks for sharing it with us.

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