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

Kawauchi Named Captain of Japanese National Team for London World Championships

At a JAAF event at the British Embassy in Tokyo on July 21, marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (30, Saitama Pref. Gov't) was named men's captain of the Japanese national team for next month's London World Championships. Javelin throw national record holder Yuki Ebihara (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) was chosen as women's captain.

In a wide-ranging and impassioned speech 4 minutes and 20 seconds long, Kawauchi stoked the team's morale as he told attendees, "I think that there are athletes here today who look at London as just a checkpoint along the way to the Tokyo Olympics. But as a representative of Japan it is not enough just to be there competing. I feel it strongly. You must produce results at this event, the London World Championships. This is the task assigned to each and every one of us. It is critical that we work seriously to achieve our goals. The Japanese people want nothing less. What can we as athletes do for them? More than just wearing the uniform, each of us mus…

'$500,000 USD Prized Asian Premier Marathon Series 2017-18 Launched in Beijing'

http://athleticsasia.org/index.php/k2-component/143-500-000-usd-prized-asian-premier-marathon-series-2017-18-launched-in-beijing

A very interesting World Marathon Majors-style development with prize money only for Asian athletes. Equally interesting is the absence of a Japanese race in the series. Japanese marathoners would dominate the series if they ran its three component races, their only real current competition in Asia coming from East African-born Bahraini athletes.

Hayakawa and Ichiyama Win Shibetsu Half

2nd in 2015 and 3rd last year, Tsubasa Hayakawa (Toyota) finally succeeded in scoring 1st at the Shibetsu Half Marathon, outrunning 2013-14 winner Masato Imai (Toyota Kyushu) by 6 seconds to win in 1:03:38. Hayakawa pushed it from the early stages of the race, Imai the only one to try to stay with him but ultimately losing touch. 2016 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon winner Melaku Abera (Kurosaki Harima) was 3rd in 1:03:51.

士別ハーフマラソン
日差しが強くなってきました…💦 pic.twitter.com/qRfUei3aRt — はたのまき (@machakin77) July 23, 2017
The women's field was split between two distances, 10 km and half marathon. Kanako Takemoto (Daihatsu) won the 10 km in 34:27 by a margin of almost 10 seconds over an Otsuka Seiyaku trio led by Ayaka Inoue. 2017 National Cross-Country champion and last year's 10 km runner-up Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) took the top spot in the half marathon, outrunning teammate and national record holder Kayoko Fukushi and others to win in 1:14:01. Fukushi finished 4th in 1:15:41 behind last ye…