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

Toyo University Leads Defending Champ Aoyama Gakuin on Hakone Ekiden Day One

The team that brought Japan's greatest race into the modern era with its historic 2012 sub-3 min/km win, Toyo University came out swinging to win Day One of the 2018 Hakone Ekiden.

Intensely popular with fans, Toyo has struggled this season with its entire senior class out with injury. With its fate in the hands of its younger members Toyo 1st-year Kazuya Nishiyama, freshly 19 in November, stepped up and took control of the race with both hands. Midway through the fast First Stage Nishiyama surged hard to go out front alone, 2017 World University Games half marathon gold medalist Kei Katanishi (Komazawa Univ.) and relative unknown Yuhei Urano (Koku Gakuin Univ.) the only ones to try to go with him. Nishiyama covered the 21.3 km stage in 1:02:16, equivalent to a 1:01:40 half marathon, with Urano and Katanishi around 15 seconds back. 3-time defending champ Aoyama Gakuin University was 25 seconds behind in 5th at the first exchange, 2017 Izumo Ekiden winner Tokai University another …

Kawauchi Breaks Sub-2:20 World Record in Sub-Zero Temperatures

Battling freezing temperatures and wind chill that took things down to -23C, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran a 2018 world-leading 2:18:59 at the Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, taking 30 minutes off the course record and breaking American Doug Kurtis' historic sub-2:20 world record with his 76th career sub-2:20.

Kawauchi spent Dec. 29 to 31 training on the Boston Marathon course ahead of his upcoming appearance as part of the John Hancock Elite Athlete Team and planned to run Marshfield at the tail end of his trip. The Marshfield Road Runners club, organizers of the marathon, had their longstanding race USATF certified ahead of his appearance.


Wearing full-length tights in a marathon for the first time, in Marshfield Kawauchi planned to run the first of the hilly course's two laps in 1:09 flat to give himself room to work with in breaking 2:20. But in the wind and cold he struggled to stay on pace, ice crystals coating his face as he hit halfway in 1:10:29…

Aoyama Gakuin Runs Down Toyo for Fourth-Straight Hakone Ekiden Title

In a rare reversal of Day One standings, Aoyama Gakuin University ran down Toyo University early in on Day Two to win its fourth-straight Hakone Ekiden title. At both the Izumo Ekiden and National University Men's Ekiden this season, Toyo struggled to cope with the absence of its entire senior class due to injury, running up front much of the way but lacking the depth to keep the lead in the final stages. Hakone played out like an opera-scale version of the same familiar story, its brilliant Day One win backlit by the headlights of rapidly approaching fate.

Second on Day Two's opening stage, the 20.8 km Sixth Stage with around 800 m elevation loss, both of the last two years, AGU 3rd-year Yuji Onoda just missed the course record en route as he ran down Toyo's Shunsuke Imanishi and put AGU almost a minute ahead by the time he handed off. AGU's next two runners Keisuke Hayashi and Yuta Shimoda both won their stages, Hayashi, a relative unknown on the roster, running 1:0…