translated and edited by Brett Larner
click thumbnails for full-sized photos via Team Asahi Kasei
Atsushi Sato leads Tomoya Shimizu, one of the Matsumiya twins, Satoru Sasaki and Seiji Kobayashi.
Japan's top male marathoners departed on Mar. 30 for a Rikuren-sponsored training camp in New Zealand. Lasting until Apr. 15, the training camp is taking place at the northernmost tip of New Zealand's southern island, in the town of Nelson. 2009 Berlin World Championships marathoner Masaya Shimizu (Team Asahi Kasei) is taking part in the camp along with his junior teammate Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei). Also at the camp are prospective World Championships team members Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku), who is training for this month's London Marathon, and Seiji Kobayashi (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki), who was 2nd in February's Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon. Others in the training group include Shimizu's twin brother Tomoya (Team Sagawa Express), the Matsumiya twins Yuko and Takayuki (Team Konica Minolta), and Atsushi Sato's teammate Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku).
L-to-R: Seiji Kobayashi, Satoru Sasaki, Masaya Shimizu, Atsushi Sato, Tomoya Shimizu and a Matsumiya.
Deep in the heart of the Nelson area's epic wilderness the Japanese athletes are training three times a day. Receiving motivation from training with runners from other teams, the members of the training camp hope to return to Japan exhibiting all-around growth and development.
Tomoya Shimizu leads the pack with his twin brother Masaya on his right shoulder and a Matsumiya on his left.
Masaya Shimizu commented, "I'm feeling good and I've really been piling on the workouts! Since Rikuren is sponsoring us this time I've been able to get extra motivation from working out together with some different people, and it's been a really satisfying way to spend my training time. Thanks to the staff at the place we're staying, the Sakura B&B, and the fantastic Japanese food they've been cooking us, I've been able to get through three workouts a day, one early in the morning, one late morning, and one in the afternoon. As we're going into the second half of the camp, I think that if I can stay healthy the experience and results I'm getting here are going to pay off at the World Championships this summer."
L-to-R: Masaya Shimizu, Tomoya Shimizu, Atsushi Sato, Naoki Okamoto, Seiji Kobayashi (almost invisible), Satoru Sasaki and a Matsumiya.
Satoru Sasaki agreed, saying, "I've been feeling great too and think that practice has been going well. Before we came to New Zealand I was worried about what the food was going to be like, but it's all been delicious so now I'm looking forward to every meal. I've been learning a lot from the other runners and will keep soaking it all up in the rest of the workouts."