translated by Brett Larner
Corporate women's track and field teams Juhachi Ginko and Kagoshima Ginko of Kagoshima, Higo Ginko of Kumamoto and Toto of Fukuoka, began a joint training camp together in Shimahara, Nagasaki on May 21. Fifty athletes participated in the nine day, eight night program in and around the Shimahara Municipal Track and Field Grounds and Shimahara Fukko Arena.
The joint training camp was the brainchild of Team Juhachi Ginko head coach Koji Takagi. Through the assistance of the parent Juhachi Ginko bank, Takagi was able to enlist the brand-new bank-sponsored Kagoshima Ginko and Higo Ginko teams, training together for the first time last July in Kuju, Oita. For the second joint camp this time they were invited to Shimahara, the site of Team Juhachi Ginko's regular training camps. Team Toto was a new addition.
The athletes' training at the camp including shifting pace 10000 m and 5000 m track runs, road running, and cross-country runs on a course a Shimahara Country Club. On the 28th the athletes did a workout on the track at the Municipal Grounds, 10 x 2000 m starting every 30 minutes, a session designed to develop their mental and spiritual strength.
On the ekiden circuit the teams and many of the athletes are rivals with each other. Asked about the benefits of working together, Team Juhachi Ginko ace Madoka Ogi said, "It's different from normal. Where we might normally pack it in we're finding extra strength because we all feel like we don't want to lose to each other."
Joining the camp for the first time, Team Toto head coach Aki Yokoyama commented with satisfaction, "Ordinarily we're dealing with a small number of athletes and they know exactly what kind of shape they are in, so you rarely see them give their full effort in the last stages of a run. Here it's closer to a race atmosphere, so they're able to work on their closing speed more than usual." Watching the athletes run, Coach Takagi said, "If we focus on the job at hand, this is also an opportunity for the staff to learn from each other and improve our own work."