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