Japan's Vibrant Trail-Running Scene - Page 3
Selecting and Traveling to Races
For those races without an English website, you can use a free online translation program like Google Translate to understand the text. Websites sometimes have an English contact and many offer shuttle, access and lodging info. The majority of Japan’s races are within a couple hours train ride of Tokyo’s Narita Airport. Most trains have English announcements and signs so that you can find your way around. If you have phone service, Google maps will give you precise transportation directions including train and bus names and times to get exactly where you need to go. Passersby are generally happy to offer advice or directions as well. Japan’s crime rate is extremely low and it’s not uncommon for a stranger to postpone his or her plans and walk you where you need to go.
Expect lots of ropes and ladders during the Tanzawa race!
Find a Race!
- UTMF 100-mile and STY 80K
April 25-26, 2014
Often spoken of as UTMB's sister race, the UTMF circles Mt. Fuji while the STY goes around halfway.
- Doushi Mura 41K and 20K
Located in the Mt. Fuji area and about a four-hour train ride from Narita Airport Tokyo. Famous for its difficulty, this course offers great views of Fuji.
- Fuji Mountain Race 15K and 21K
July 25, 2014
Celebrating its 67th year, these races start at Fujiyoshida City Hall, with the 21K finishing at the summit of Mt Fuji.
- Shinetsu 5 Mountain 110K
This course runs along the border of Nagano and Niigata and is roughly a five-hour train ride from Tokyo. 97 percent trail and known for its eight American-style aid stations. Allows a pacer the last 45K and has a drop bag point. Outside support is allowed.
- Hasetsune 72K
Considered the hardest trail race in Japan, the mountainous course starts at 1 p.m. and runs through the night. There is only one aid station where you can receive 1.5 liters of water. Around the 60K mark, runners can fill up again at a spring. Great views of the Tokyo skyline and Mt Fuji.
Some additional popular races:
- Hiraodai 40K/17K
- Kita Tanzawa 44K
- OSJ Ontake Ultra Trail 100 mile/100K
- Yatsugatake Super Trail 100 mile/100K/60K
Leah Daugherty lives in Iwakuni, Japan and runs for La Sportiva Japan. Aside from running, Leah studies Japanese and enjoys building relationships with the Japanese people. She wishes to thank the Okayama Mountain Dasher Trail Running Club for their help with this article.