Skip to main content

'There's an Incredibly Exciting World Waiting Just a Step Outside Japan'

http://ameblo.jp/1984-0220/entry-11758652352.html

translated by Mika Tokairin and Brett Larner
photo courtesy of race organizers Aravaipa Running

14:16 / 29:44 track runner Tsutomu Nagata, 29, took up ultramarathons after an accident in 2010 left his right arm permanently handicapped.  In 2013 he finished 3rd at the Lake Saroma 100 km in 6:44:33, a time that ranked him 6th in the world for the year.  

Nagata made his 100 mile and international debut Jan. 25 at the Coldwater Rumble 100 Mile Trail Run in the U.S., leading for the first two 20-mile laps before being overtaken by eventual winner Catlow Shipek (U.S.A.). Post-race he wrote about his experience.

Japanese emoticons:

(^-^)/ = happy/waving
(T-T) = crying (embarrassment)
(-_-;) = worried/stress

To begin with I'd like to thank Iwamoto-san and Rina-san from Club My Star for first suggesting this opportunity. Also to everyone in Tokirun, Igarashi-sensei, Seki-sensei, Ota-san and others who supported me, I don't know how to thank you enough.

The race started at 7:00 a.m. on the 25th.  At first there was a pack of four, but it quickly became just two of us.

Him: (^-^)/ "Hi! Blah blah blah blah."
Me: (T-T) "I don't speak English.  Sorry!  Sorry!  Sorry!"
Him: (^-^)/ "What's your name?"
Me: (T-T) "NAGATA!"
Him: (^-^)/ "Oh, NAGATA!"

We talked to each other like that but I couldn't understand his name. (-_-;)  Cat!?  He tried to imitate a cat going meow meow but...

He went to the toilet at the end of the first loop and I took the lead.  On the second lap the sun started to shine and it got so hot that I couldn't believe it was really winter.  There were three aid stations per lap with great cheering and support, and I really appreciated the staff's efforts to understand my poor English.  In the second half of the third lap I started slowing down and the guy caught back up to me (although I think I was the only one thinking of it as being caught).  When he caught up to me he asked, "Nagata!  You doing OK?"  I could tell from the difference between his positive way of thinking and mine that he was very strong, but I couldn't give up then so I chased after him.

On the fourth lap I was going as hard as I could trying to close the gap since there were people who were looking forward to seeing how I did. I was feeling like, "Hey, jackass! Wait up!" I wonder what the gap between us was at the end of the fourth lap? I was going through pain and agony I'd never tasted before while I was chasing him.

The fifth lap took an hour longer.  On the fifth lap I used a headlamp for the first time and ran through the darkness.  I crashed into cactuses, fell lots of times, took wrong turns, and the headlamp died.  I encountered a million problems, but somehow I got to the finish.

100 miles is a very long way.  If I was told to run it all by myself it'd be impossible.  Every person I lapped, saying "Good job!" to each other gave me strength.  I felt a new world in this race and became a new person again.  I find enjoyment in this through seeing my own growth and change.  That's my style.

Thanks to Rina-san's translation, after the race I was able to talk a lot to that guy I met there in the States.  I think there are great races and great race staff in Japan too, but my words are insufficient to express how much I felt that there was an incredibly exciting world waiting just a step outside Japan.

When I get back I want to talk about all this over some drinks.  I'd like to talk more to other people who are interested in ultramarathons.

Over and out.

Update: Read Catlow Shipek's account of the race here.

Coldwater Rumble 100 Mile Trail Run
Goodyear, AZ, U.S.A., 1/25/14
click here for complete results

Men
1. Catlow Shipek (U.S.A.) - 15:09:52
2. Tsutomu Nagata (Japan) - 16:14:21
3. Jeremy Bradford (U.S.A.) - 18:29:30

Women
1. Gina Dhaliwal (Canada) - 20:05:43
2. Katelyne Fischbeck (U.S.A.) - 21:00:52
3. Ema Eliason (U.S.A.) - 23:26:14

photo (c) 2014 Aravaipa Running
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Cheboitibin Breaks Seko's Course Record at Ome 30 km

One of Japan's longest-standing course records at its elite races fell Sunday as Kenyan Ezekiel Cheboitibin (Sunbelx) beat the great Toshihiko Seko's 38-year-old Ome 30 km Road Race record by almost 30 seconds.

Tough and hilly with a net climb in the first half and descent on the return trip, Ome is a standard spring marathon prep run and a natural partner for April's Boston Marathon, with which it has a longstanding athlete exchange program. The 2017 Ome winner, this time out Cheboitibin was gunning for Seko's record from the start, hitting the mostly uphill 10 km completely solo in 29:47, 20 km midway through the return trip in 59:30, and saving his fastest 10 km split for the end as he crossed the finish line in 1:29:06. Seko's 1:29:32 just two months before his first Boston win had made him the only man in Ome history to break 90 minutes. With the best performance of his career Cheboitibin turned the page on that history.

With the withdrawal of Fukuoka winner

Last Chance for Tokyo 2020? - Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon Elite Field

With just under three weeks to go the organizers of the Mar. 10 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon's 74th running have finally released the elite field. For Japanese men it's the last chance - almost - to qualify for September's MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials, the last domestic race with up to six spots up for grabs for anyone under 2:11:00 or 2:10:00 and more for anyone else under 2:08:30 or averaging under 2:11:00 between Lake Biwa and another marathon in the last year and a half. The window on that last two-race option runs through April 30th so there will still be a few chances left, but realistically for most of the men at Lake Biwa this is it, all or nothing for a home soil Olympic team.

There's a good international field of twelve African-born runners of eight nationalities at the 2:06 to 2:09 level to help pull the Japanese men to hit those times. Last year's winner Macharia Ndirangu (Kenya/Aichi Seiko) is back, ranked 6th in a field led by 2:06 men Deribe…

Beppu-Oita Marathon to Review Staff Training After Interpreter Refers to African Athletes as "Chimpanzees"

On Feb. 14 the organizers of the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon confirmed that a local woman in her fifties who served as an interpreter at this year's race had published a blog post in which she referred to the African athletes on whose behalf she had worked as "chimpanzees." The woman said she had no malicious or racist intent behind her comments, but a spokesperson for the organizers called her choice of words "inappropriate." Organizers plan to review their training and guidance procedures for all race management staff members.

The Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon took place in the two cities on Feb. 3. According to the spokesperson, the blog to which the woman posted the comments is for members of a sports club to which she belongs to report on what they have been doing. On Feb. 10 she wrote about her work with the African athletes, posting it with public access so that anyone could read it. She described the struggle of talking to the African athletes, saying …