translated by Brett Larner
3980 people ran the July 25 Fuji Mountain Race's 67th edition in its Fifth Stage and Summit divisions. The men's Summit division winner was defending champion Dai Matsumoto (30, Salomon), who took his second-straight title in 2:47:45. Ruth Charlotte Croft (25, New Zealand) won the women's Summit division in 3:11:44. Sho Matsumoto (28, Nikkei Business) was the men's Fifth Stage winner, with Yumiko Oishi (43) joining him on the podium in the women's race.
In his sixth time running the Fuji Mountain Race Dai Matsumoto was delighted to keep his place on top. "People were gunning for me this year," he said of the pressure that pushed him to beat his own winning time from last year of 2:49:40. A native of Gunma prefecture, his experience with mountain running dates back to his time at Maebashi H.S. and Gunma University where he competed in the event at the National Sports Festival. He currently trains at Mt. Asama and competes as a professional mountain runner in "sky running" races. His next major goal, he said with a smile, is, "to finish in the top ten at the sky race world championships two years from now."
The New Zealand-born Croft beat the runner-up in the women's Summit division by a commanding margin of more than 17 minutes. "I wasn't very satisfied with last year's result [9th in 3:52:05]," she said of her motivation to give Mt. Fuji another go. Based in Nepal for her training, Croft came back to the Fuji Mountain Race after running the Everest Ultra Marathon, where she finished 2nd in the foreign athlete division. Her strategy of picking up the pace after reaching the Fifth Stage paid off well as she ran away from her competitors to snag the win. "I'm really happy that I ran better than last year," she said with satisfaction.