by Brett Larner
Yokohama's Nippon Taiiku University, Nittai for short, is the site of Japan's biggest long distance track time trial series. Held eight or nine weekends a year, Saturdays typically feature everything except the men's 5000 m, sometimes including middle distance but usually men's and women's 3000 m, women's 5000 m and men's 10000 m races. Sundays are usually devoted exclusively to the men's 5000 m, and this Sunday's 255th edition may set a new record for sheer organizational ability.
Heat 1 begins at 7:30 a.m. sharp. Fourteen hours and four minutes later, the fastest heat, Heat 46, is scheduled to start at 9:34 p.m. 46 heats with 45~55 runners apiece finely graded by target time, starting under 19 minutes apart on average. Near the end of the day that's down to 17 minutes apart. There's zero room for error on the organizers' side, but you can be sure that it will go off with the same clockwork precision as the Tokyo train system. You can be sure too that there will be zero sympathy for runners who don't know exactly where and when they are supposed to be. Let's hope that Nittai University shares its logistical acumen with the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee over the next three and a half years. So far it looks like they need it.
© 2016 Brett Larner
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