Race Report

RACE REPORT: 7TH HIGASHI TANZAWA MIYAGASE TRAIL RACE

I am probably putting the cart before the horses, but never mind! I have not been able to report on my first race of 2015 because of my trip back to Europe. After 3.5 months of struggle with my runner’s knee, I went back to racing with the 7th Higashi Tanzawa Miyagase Trail Race. This was my first race when I moved to Japan one year ago, and I have very bad memories of it. With limited preparation, I toed the line with a lot of motivation as well as a lot of anxiety.

Race Details

  • Date: April 19th
  • Start Time: 08:00 PM
  • Distance: 32.1 km
  • Bib Number: 210
  • Time: 03:13:29
  • Average Speed: 9.6 km/h
  • Overall Ranking: 49/730
  • Category Ranking: 36/336

Screen Shot 2017-05-06 at 11.00.40 PM

Pre-Race

The good thing of going back to the same race is that you know the whole pre-race routine: commuting, bib collection and luggage keeping. In this perspective, I decided to take the train early in the morning to catch a bus towards the starting line at Hachiōji Station (rather than to go and sleep directly there like last year.) This was very enjoyable, especially since I met Eric (who is a Namban Rengo runner) in the bus. Eric and I have participated to a few races together last year, and it is always a joy to see him. A few other foreigners accompanied him, and I had the pleasure to meet them.

DSC07122

(Source: Trail de Higashi Tanzawa Miyagase, 2015)

We arrived at Lake Miyagase, and I started to prepare. There was a very good vibe, and I was happy to be there. I started to be very nostalgic and remembered all the good or bad things that have happened over the past year. Anyways, we started to prepare but I was so slow that I barely had time to warm up. I headed to the line where everybody was already waiting. I placed in front of the pack, and Eric joked around that being a foreigner was an advantage because everybody was letting me in.

Screen Shot 2017-05-06 at 11.00.00 PM

Race

We were sent off at 8:00 AM, and I had already decided to be conservative at the beginning. I knew that we would be going up on a mountain road for about 10-12 kilometers right from the start. I didn’t want to burn out, and I was expecting to have a very hard time following the front pack. Surprisingly enough, I was able to follow Eric and even be a few hectometers ahead of him as we stepped onto the trail. We had covered the first 11 kilometers in 52 minutes on this uphill road section, which meant that I was faster than last year.

DSC07152

(Source: Trail de Higashi Tanzawa Miyagase, 2015)

This really scared me because my level of preparation was way behind that of last year. It was an issue for me, especially since I knew that we were about to go for 850 meters of D+ in less than 6 kilometers. I recall this section as being a hassle for me last year. You basically switch from the road to the trail, and you go straight up to the top of the mountain on a single track. I knew that a lot of runners would probably catch me there; power hiking is definitely one of my weaknesses. However, I was surprised since I passed a lot of runners while only a few of them caught me on that stretch. Eric passed me halfway through as usual, and I encouraged him. I definitely knew that I would not be able to keep up with him.

2015 Higashi Tanzawa Miyagase 2

As we arrived to the top, I was feeling fresh and ready to hammer down the descent. I started conservatively but soon decided to speed up because I felt amazingly well. This was very enjoyable since the descent was not so technical. We went back onto the road for 1-2 kilometers right after one of the aid stations. I caught up 2 runners before we started the last climb. We basically went up for about 75 meters of D+ onto stairs. This was very painful after your quads gave everything in the descent. Hopefully, there was a rail that we could use with our hands and arms in the process.

2015 Higashi Tanzawa Miyagase 3

Once on top, we borrowed a steep technical descent towards the last road stretch. I realized that I was about 15 minutes ahead of last year’s timing. With about 5 kilometers to go on the road, I have to say that this perspective really pumped me up. I was able to run at 12-13 km/h on that stretch, which helped me overtake 4 runners. We arrived on the last straight line where I tried to sprint and pass a runner in front of me. It was too late, but I happily crossed the finish line in 03:13:29 ranking 49th out of 730 runners overall.

Post-Race

At the end of the day, I improved last year’s finish time by almost 18 minutes despite the obvious lack of training. It was very enjoyable to be back to trail running and racing at the same time. I was glad to know that Eric ranked 6th in his category by being 6 minutes faster, which meant that he received a price for his achievement.

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Final Comment

Overall, I had a fantastic day! It was warm, and I had a very nice time in the mountains. My knee did not bother me much, meaning that I am definitely on the recovery track. I am very much looking forward the rest of the season with UTMF as my ultimate goal. See y’all!

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