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Village-Sponsored Shigemi Wins Trans-Taiwan Ultra

Sponsored by the village of Urugimura, Nagano, marathoner Takayoshi Shigemi won the April 13-15 Run Across Taiwan Ultramarathon. Covering a 246-km course almost the length of six back-to-back full marathons across the center of Taiwan, the one-way course started at sea level and reached a peak of 3275 m before dropping back to sea level. Shigemi's winning time of 30:01:45 took two hours off the course record.

A native of Okazaki, Aichi, Shigemi came to Urugimura six years ago after accepting an offer to become an ambassador for promoting the area. He currently works in the village office while training at specified times. Every day that he goes out to face the mountains is a day on which he feels fulfilled. In winter the roads are so covered with snow that it becomes a difficult environment in which to train.  Even so, he adapts his training to suit the demands of the terrain.

Shigemi's victory in the mountainous Taiwan race was a product of his everyday training, which enabled him to maintain exactly the sort of productive dialogue with the mountains that he had hoped for. The race began at 8:00 p.m. and spanned two nights. Shigemi usually goes to sleep at 10:00 p.m., meaning that battle with sleeplessness was another challenge to be surmounted.

96 people started the race, with just 34 finishing. Daytime temperatures maxed out in the 30s, but at night the temperature fell to single digits. Rain fell as he crossed the finish line. Virtually every athlete experienced symptoms of hypothermia, some near death. Although the running itself brought nothing but suffering, the instant of crossing the finish line evoked feelings that made it all worthwhile.

Having been a runner single junior high school, the simple fact of being on the starting line at age 35 while working a job is enough to make Shigemi happy. He feels that to race ultras wearing a uniform with "Urugimura" written across the chest is to carry the village's hopes and dreams on his back as he runs. This awareness guides him even in his private live not to do anything that would bring discredit upon him. There are areas in his work where his inexperience is sometimes a liability, but his coworkers have his back and support him all the same. "This spirit of interconnection between people is a source of strength in my running," he said.

Shigemi's near-future goal is take on the legendary UTMB mountain race in Europe, a challenging event peaking out at 4810 m. He hopes to challenge the best in the field there. But he cannot neglect his official work duties to take part in that race. He is truly happy to have the good fortune of both having a job and elevating the village name through his running.

source article:
https://www.sankei.com/region/news/180428/rgn1804280024-n1.html
translated by Brett Larner

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