Beer Mile

On Saturday May 6, the world awoke to the news of Eliud Kipchoge narrowly missing an audacious attempt to break the 2 hour marathon barrier on the infamous Monza F1 Track in Italy. But despite Kipchoge’s disappointment of missing his goal by only 24 seconds, he still claims the distinction of clocking the fastest (albeit unofficial) time ever for the distance. Word has it that after his marathon attempt, Kipchoge rushed back to his hotel room to anxiously await news of the 2017 Namban Rengo Beer Mile Race results, held in Yoyogi Park Tokyo, on Sunday May 7.  This is what he would learn…
Namban Men
The English fielded a strong contingent of runners/beer drinkers, with the likes of Mike Trees (Ginga Kogen Beer), Tim Williams (Yona Yona), Bob Johnston (Budweiser), Matthew Holmes (Asahi Super Dry), Matthew Foord (Ginga Kogen Beer), and Anthony McCauley (Sapporo), however most of them failed to shine on the day; post-race excuses such as ‘my beer had too much gas in it’, ‘I’m still hungover from last night’ were heard. The Australians were poorly represented this year with only one entrant, Keren Miers (Kirin), who tried desperately to redeem his poor performance since his last Beer Mile attempt; he tells everyone post-race that he beat his last time by a ‘yuuuge amount’! The Americans looked promising on paper; Ken Pechter (Orion), David Rubenstein (Kirin), Glen Rubin (Kirin) and new club member Quint Baldwin (Suntory) were loud and proud before the race, sporting tight and light shirts and shorts. However all of them fizzed out along the way. The Irish – as charming  as ever – fielded a team of three very pale runners/drinkers, their legs so white as to remind you to put your milk bottles out at night; Padraig MacColgain (Echigo Weizen), Rian O’Cuinneaguain (Sapporo) and Colin Hickey (Asahi), but no cigars for any of them on the day. It was Team Japan that hosted an outstanding collection of competitors, all of whom excelled in both the running and beer-drinking faculties; Yuichiro Mizukami (Bass bottles…!!), Taro Oguchi (Sapporo), Hajime Abe (Suntory) and Yuichi Kanamori (Asahi) filled most of the top finishing positions. Mizukami San – who drank like a fish and ran like a gazelle – showed  samurai-like virtues of ‘gaman’, ‘konjo’ and ‘ki-ai’ from bottle to-bottle. He struggled at times with the bottle opener, but in the end he dug deep and pipped Matthew Foord from behind in the last 20 meters to take the coveted title in a 1 second thriller.
1st Place:               Yuichiro Mizukami:- 7:07
2nd Place:             Matthew Ford:- 7:08
3rd Place:              Hajime Abe:- 7:35
4th Place:              Yuichi Kanamori:- 7:40
Namban Women
The Namban Women featured the best of the best this year, performing with excellent running and drinking aptitude. Leading (and only) contenders were the very international drinking athletes of Mika Tokairin (Orion, Shingha, Bud, Tsingtao), Rieko Trees (Ginga Kogen and Orion) and Rie Onodera (Bud, Asahi, Kirin). In the end, Rieko Trees did what her husband couldn’t do and ran away with the competition in stunning fashion, and without chundering.

1st Place:               Rieko Trees:- 9:52
2nd Place:             Mika Tokairin:- 10:57
3rd Place:              Rie Onodera:- 13:40
Namban Teams
This category usually had a rich variety of skill, age and gender mix. Naoko Hanakawa and Yuri Kambara took a significant lead from the start, but were dramatically reeled in by Team Sase, who drank fearlessly and ran with heart. Congratulations to Kazuo Chiba, Rika Honma, Yuki Fukushima and Hiroshi Sase. It was the stuff of true champions.
1st Place:               Team Sase:- 8:23
2nd Place:             Naoko & Yuri:- 10:35
Like Kipchoge’s race in Monza, the Namban Beer Mile Race is an unofficial race; all physical achievements defy science, and cannot be replicated under normal race conditions.
Further, club rules strictly and specifically prohibit Namban Rengo Club Uniform Colors from being worn on Beer Mile race day; the reason is to ensure that there is no absolutely confusion about what Namban Rengo really is; we are not a drinking club with a running problem, we are a running club with a drinking problem…but only once a year!
Much thanks and appreciation to the race organizers: Taro Oguchi and Kazuo Chiba.

Race Report: Nick Coyle
Race Photographs: Stephen Lacey

2017 Shinjuku City Half Marathon

Shinjuku Half

January 29th marked the 15th running of the Shinjuku City Half Marathon (plus 10km and family/children’s events). The convenience and novelty of running in the center of the city and finishing in the Jingumae baseball stadium make this a popular event that fills quickly. According to the official guide, there were 5,006 registered for the half marathon and 2,769 for the 10km.

Shinjuku Half

Those running the half get the earlier start, at 8:30 a.m., and a course that does a big first loop up to and along Yasukuni Dori. They also get to traverse the Gaien tunnel on the second, medium loop. Those in the 10km could enjoy a leisurely 11:10 a.m. start, by which time it was quite warm with the sun shining and no wind. The 10km course is basically three laps of a tighter loop around the Jingu Gaien area, so it is scenic, but there are lots of turns and it gets crowded with the faster runners lapping the more casual ones.

Shinjuku Half

Mike Hegarty (1:16:34) and Olivier Absous (1:20:47) ran impressive times in the half, and the Namban ladies contingent also ran well as usual, including Satohi Numasawa (1:34:40), Rie Onodera (1:34:53) and Rika Homma (1:41:52). For the 10km, Alan Cannon (38:13), Andy Drought (41:18) and Gary Robert (42:04) all managed to gather together at the start. Shinobu Shikauchi and Taeko Hara (4th in age group) ably represented the Namban ladies.


90+ Enjoy Annual Run & BBQ

Unlike last year, for this year’s Namban Rengo Run & BBQ (Nov. 6), we got the beautiful weather we deserve. A strong wind was in our faces on the return 5K, but what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. 90+ runners, helpers and family members gathered on the banks of the Tama River to run, cheer, eat and of course drink. 44 ran the 10K and 17 went the half marathon distance. Winners were Yuki Fukushima (36:48) and Rie Onodera (46:03) in the 10K, and Masaki Kusunoki (1:24:40) and Marie Gras (1:32:57) in the Half. And the always popular kids’ race saw new Namban stars emerge. Huge thanks to Chiba-san for flawless organization, and to the enthusiastic volunteers, too numerous to mention. A great time was had by all!!