Skip to main content

Serious Marathon Training in Urugimura

http://minamishinshu.jp/news/sports/%E5%A3%B2%E6%9C%A8%E6%9D%91%E3%81%AE%E3%83%9E%E3%83%A9%E3%82%BD%E3%83%B3%E5%90%88%E5%AE%BF%E3%81%8C%E6%9C%AC%E6%A0%BC%E5%8C%96.html

translated by Brett Larner

This is a very unique story about one of Japan's countless small country towns struggling with population and economic decline, one, faced with the question of how to survive, that somehow came up with the idea of sponsoring a pro ultramarathoner in hopes of promoting itself.  The story has caught on nationally and the town, its people, and sponsored runner Takayoshi Shigemi have been featured on TV on more than one occasion.

Welcoming in the summer, the town of Urugimura's marathon training camps are underway in earnest.  On weekends large numbers of amateur runners, clubs, university and high school teams come to the village from across Nagano and outside the prefecture, refreshing themselves with runs in the cool mornings and evenings and enjoying the beautiful local scenery as they train.

On the July 26-27 weekend more than 50 people from around the Aichi prefecture area were in Urugimura for marathon training.  Mayor Hideki Shimizu was busy visiting the various accommodations hosting the group to greet them and welcome them to the village.  Paying his respects to one amateur running club of 20 from Obu, Aichi, Mayor Shimizu said, "I am very glad to deepen the friendship we began at last year's Obu City Marathon and I hope that you will come back to our village again."  Club leader Koichi Fukaya commented, "If our being here helps your village then we are very glad.  I would like to introduce our friends in other clubs to you as well."

According to Takayoshi Shigemi of the Urugi village area economic development volunteer committee working to attract athletes to the area for training camps, between April and September roughly 1400 people come to the village to train and to get a taste of the local natural environment.  Reservations have more than doubled this year, including one women-only club with more than 50 members.  The town is also planning a friendship walk on Aug. 5 to help enliven the camps.

One of the most popular features of the Urugimura training camps is the chance to take a lesson with Shigemi.  "Other places are also promoting their marathon training facilities, so our challenge for the future will be to bring back repeaters," says Shigemi.  "Thanks to the many people who have come, our village has blossomed," added Mayor Shimizu.  "I hope that we can continue to widen our circle of friends."

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Nittai University Head Coach Masaaki Watanabe Fired Over Abuse Scandal

On Sept. 12 Nittai University announced that it will fire ekiden team head coach Masaaki Watanabe, 55, over the current power harassment scandal surrounding him. According to the university's public relations office, interviews by the alumni association with five current and one former team member reported multiple acts of violence by Watanabe including kicking athletes' legs and grabbing them by the chest.

The interviews also reported that Watanabe verbally abused and threatened student athletes and attacked their character. When runners fell off pace during workouts he was reported to have shouted, "Get the hell out of this university!" and, following the runners in a car, "I am going to f*cking run you over and kill you." Injured team members were also reported to have been subject to verbal humiliation by Watanabe, including, "Look at this f*cking cripple," and "You f*cking deserve it." Watanabe admitted the accusations but said tha…

Weekend Overseas Japanese Results

Lost in the luminosity of Eliud Kipchoge's world record and Gladys Cherono's women's course record at the Berlin Marathon were a score of Japanese results there and elsewhere overseas, ranging from the sparkling to the dull. Cherono and 2nd and 3rd placers Ruti Aga and Tirunesh Dibaba all broke Mizuki Noguchi's Berlin Marathon course record of 2:19:12 which has stood since she set that national record mark in 2005.

A kilometer behind Dibaba, Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) followed up her 2:22:44 debut in Osaka in January with a 2:22:23 PB for 5th, making her just the fourth Japanese woman ever to break 2:23 twice in her career. 2:23:46 woman Honami Maeda (Tenmaya) ran 2:25:23 for 7th, beating Tenmaya teammate Rei Ohara whose 2:27:28 put her only 10th but qualified her for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics marathon trials, only the second athlete after 2018 Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) to qualify for the trials under the two-race average wildcard opt…

Kazami Breaks 100 km World Record at Lake Saroma

Running on the same course where Japan's Takahiro Sunada set the road 100 km world record of 6:13:33 twenty years ago, 2:17:23 marathoner Nao Kazamibested a deep and competitive field to win the Lake Saroma 100 km Ultramarathon in a world record 6:09:14.

Part of a front group of at least five that went through the marathon split in 2:33:36, on pace for 6:04:01, Kazami lost touch with the lead as rivals Koji Hayasaka and Takehiko Gyoba surged just before halfway to open a roughly 30 second lead that lasted until nearly 75 km. But in the last quarter of the race Kazami, a graduate of Hakone Ekiden powerhouse Komazawa University, was the only one who could sustain anything close to the early pace, overtaking Hayasaka and Gyoba before pulling away to open a lead of over 11 minutes. Kazami's mark took more than 4 minutes off the world record, and he also bettered the 100 km track world record of 6:10:20 set in 1978 well before he was born by the late Don Ritchie.
Trying to stay wi…