The Story Behind The Run
We always have self-doubt if you are a high achiever because when we try to go to the next level and there is thought we are not good enough, but that’s okay because that means we are hungry and we are committed to elevating ourselves..
By Chan Chee Kian
Toyama Marathon was my sixth race and fourth marathon in Japan, excluding the cancelled Yokohama Marathon in 2017 due to a typhoon threat.
With the previous marathons ranging from the World Major Marathon of Tokyo, to regional marathons of Itabashi City and Tokushima, I have a good sense of what to expect from Toyama. What kept me coming back time and time again to a Japan race has always been the impeccable organisation, the passionate supporters and great race day vibes. Toyama certainly did not disappoint.
Couple of weeks prior to the race, Super Typhoon Hagibis swept through Japan causing lives to be lost and infrastructure damaged, including the Hokuriku Shinkansen leading up to Toyama and Kanazawa. Thankfully, the trains were restored on 25 October, two days prior to race-day and the travel up to Toyama from Tokyo was very smooth. The race organisers were anticipating delays due to the train disruptions, and had extended the race pack collection from 8pm to 11pm.
Race pack collection at Toyama City Gymnasium, the finishing point of the race, was extremely efficient, with foreign runners getting a separate counter and line. The race expo was mid-scale in terms of size, but was lively and well stocked with gears and accessories needed for the race.
The starting point of the race is located in an adjacent city of Takaoka, some 20km away from Toyama. On race day morning, I used the same Hokuriku Shinkansen pass for a one stop Shinkansen 10 minute ride from Toyama to Shin Takaoka. A free shuttle bus would then take us from the station to race start point, all in a fuss-free and efficient manner. In Japan, you will never lose your way from the train stations to race sites as ALL runners will rely on trains to get there… so just follow the crowd!
The race starting blocks were well defined and being in October, it was a pleasant wait in the autumn weather before gun-off. I had set the goal of following the 3-hour pacers; with the hope of sneaking into sub-3 zone if my legs hold up. However, the wishful plan was quickly discarded after 10km into the race, and I settled into a more comfortable 4:15 mins/km pace. I hit the halfway mark in 1:30:14, which coincided with pretty much the only real incline of the race course. However, the 1km long climb up and down of the cable stay bridge is not to be underestimated as the pounding on the quads will have some lasting impact on the latter part of the race.
The race course continues to wind through fields and suburbia of Toyama. By about 25km, drizzly rains have started and temperature was starting to fall, but thankfully winds were kept in check. Customary with all the other Japanese races I have participated in, supporters and volunteers were first class, and will keep cheering “Gambate” rain or shine. It truly warms my heart to see many elderly folks cheering us on at the roadside as we pass their homes.
By about 33km, with quads burning and hips tightening, I had to dig deep and constantly remind myself to hold up the core to maintain a good running form. The last 9 kilometres was a blur as I just try to pass and pick up as many people that I can in front of me. I crossed the finishing line 3:03:53… a PB by about 6 minutes, and a Boston qualifying time, with a decent 6 minutes cushion.
Finisher goodies and baggage collection was a breeze, and there were even good changing facilities available at the gynamisum… and you got to love the instant Finisher Certificates printed at the finishing line!
The next few days following Toyama Marathon was spent hobbling and limping around Toyama, Kanazawa, Gokayama and Shirakawa-go, taking in some of the most beautiful sceneries in Japan, and sampling the freshest sashimis you can find on earth. What’s there not to like about Toyama Marathon… absolutely nothing!
Chan Chee Kian
Wrote on 10th,Nov,2019