Frostbite Half Marathon
On Sunday, January 20, three Nambaners braved the elements to run the 27th Annual Yokota Striders Frostbite Half Marathon. In truth, the weather conditions, mostly sunny and clear at race time, were perfect for running. Although it was cold, there was no chance of frostbite.
The race was held at the Yokota air base out near Fussa. Going in, after reading lots fear-mongering and, I dare say, alarmist reports on the Namban list, I was worried about long queues at the security gate and emasculating bag searches.
In reality, it was lot easier to get into this race and get your number than at most races in Japan. Partly because, there was no ludicrous “number call” to worry about. Moreover, I was never asked to present an ID, and my bag was only given a cursory inspection. I was through the gates, number in hand, in a matter of minutes.
It’s a fast course, absolutely flat. The support, while sparse, was enthusiastic and the two taiko drum troops were big mood lifters. I am forever amazed at the positive (spiritual?) influence that taiko drumming has on me during a race.
In terms of loot, this race ranks near the top. The stylish fleece-lined sweatshirt is easily the best garment giveaway provided by any race I’ve ever run. If I were religious, I would wear it to church. And yes they DO have bananas. I’m talkin’ every runner gets a bunch, in the package no less. And don’t get me started on the Girl Scout cookies for sale. Well, I’ve already started on them..
I highly recommend this race as a fast flat, bounteous half marathon. It would have been perfect tune-up for all you Tokyo Marathon people. Maybe next year.
The course was much better than last year - much straighter, although I measured it long at 21km 628m. Last year’s course, measured on a different Garmin, also measured long by about the same distance. Could this be the course that is long, or could it be down to my Garmin?
I like this race. This is the third time I have done it, and each time the running conditions have been perfect - running under clear blue skies with panoramic views of the mountains in Okutama. The taiko drummers along the course never fail to give you a lift, and although support along the course is sparse, everyone is supportive. There is also no hassle with security. As for prizes, you get a great sweatshirt, with American large sizes available. This year we had the added bonus of a free bunch of bananas.
The only grumble is possibly organization at the start, as there isn’t any - it is a free for all and the course at this point is narrow. I always take to the grass verges at this point and try to get clear of the crowds as quickly as possibly, which this year probably resulted in me going out a little too fast.