Special Olympics Charity Ekiden in Odaiba
Namban Rengo participated in this 3-hour relay charity ekiden in Tokyo’s Odaiba district and came away with a surprising 5th position overall out of 184 teams.
The event was held on an approximately 1.1 km (0.7 mile) course, with the aim to complete as many loops as possible in the three hours. The charity was for the Special Olympics which is a sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities.
Although they entered this as a fun run, Nambanners obviously have racing in their blood—starting fast and strong, keeping constant pace and finishing with a respectable podium placing. A total of 40.7 kilometrers (approx. 25 miles) were completed in the three hours.
The ten team members were: Bob Johnston, Derek Leong, Yuuka Yonemura, Bob Poulson, Keren Miers, Makiko Hosokawa, Taeko Hara, Yoshiro Morioka, Yumi Kato and Ikue Ohshio. Naoko Hanakawa was the genki cheerleader for the team.
The official podium result was presented by former Olympic marathon medalist, Yuko Arimori. A very enjoyable day was had by all, topped off by the 5th place prize red megaphones.
Impressive Showing at Tamako Ekiden
The Tamako Ekiden (March 20) is a relay race around Lake (reservoir) Tama, about 25 minutes west of Shinjuku. The distance is an exact 7.242km, the course is rolling the first half, flat the second half, with a steep drop and uphill stair climb in the middle. The weather was good, but it was windy, with a strong wind in your face for the first one or two km.
Namban Rengo entered three four-person men’s teams in the open division, which had 347 teams. We did well, finishing 12th, 13th and 18th.
The top team got off to a fast start thanks to Chris Winter in 24:49 (3:25/k), followed by Kota Torii in 29:33, Lawrence Schneck in 27:55 and Alan Cannon in 28:47 (total time 1:51:04). The second team of solid runners was composed of Steve Karnas in 29:09, Dante Michael in 27:20, Youri Lavoine in 28:30 and Gildas Tuffin in 27:37 (1:52:36) (Gildas outkicking another team in the last few meters for 13th place as the rest of us wildly cheered him on). The third team made a respectable showing led by Yuki Fukushima in 26:34, then Bob Poulson in 30:10, Nizar Grira in 28:13 and Bob Johnston in 30:26 (1:55:23).
We brought the event to a satisfying close with beer and soba at a nearby quaint little soba shop. Mark it on your calendar for next year!
Pep talk — but Bob J. is not impressed.
Bob & Nizar synchronize their watches.
Chris to Kota
Kota to Lawrence
Dante in flight
Tokyo Marathon 2016
Sunday 28 February saw the 10th anniversary running of the Tokyo Marathon 2016. The conditions were near perfect, with clear blue skies and temperatures rising from 5 to 10 degrees centigrade as the race progressed.
While Ethiopia’s Feyisa Lilesa took out the men’s race and Helah Kiprop led home the women, further back in the field were about 25 brave men and women from Namban Rengo doing battle with the distance and the crowds of other runners.
In the only sub three-hour result among our ranks, Jackson Thodey came home in a strong 2:57. Not normally known for sandbagging, Carol Cunningham went into the race with a declared goal of 3:40, but came storming home as our first woman in 3:23. After them came a mix of performances and individual stories that ranged from the triumphant to the middling to the better luck next time.
Among the thronging mass of runners was the usual wonderful collection of colorful costumes. Spidermen, pirates, pigtailed schoolgirls (usually men), Tiger Lillies, belly dancers and a myriad of cartoon characters who all added to the splendor of the occasion.
As always, support from Namban friends and clubmates was strong all around the course. Runner Mika Kume perhaps summed it up best, “During the run I only focused on getting to the next spot where the Namban cheer squad was, which made my legs move forward.”
Afterwards, nearly 80 runners and supporters gathered at the Footnik pub in Osaki to rehydrate, re-fuel, re-live the day’s events, and generally celebrate this great sport of running.
No matter the outcome, all participants in the Tokyo Marathon were winners, what with the brilliant weather, military-level organization, cheering crowds, and comradeship of fellow runners. Bring on 2017!