Yesterday Yuki and I ran the 15th Kitatanzawa 12h Adventure Race. The distance was supposed to be 44.24km, but only 38.77km on my GPS. Three weeks ago in Sugadaira I measured 4km more than what the 42km announced…But in this category of “about”, the champion is still the Tokyo Nariki Forest Trail Run : 17km instead of 25km announced. And, as most of the time, the total elevation gain was not written on the site. The “標高差“ was indicated, but this is the difference between the maximum and minimum elevation. Not very useful. From my GPS, the total elevation gain was 3300m. Quite a lot regarding the distance. And knowing that there were longs “flat” parts with a lot of road (at least for a trail), you can imagine that when it was going up, it was quite steep.
The gps data are here:
There were two waves for the start. First one at 6:30 and second one at 7:00. Yuki and I were both in the second wave. We were in shared room. We planned to wake up at 4h20, but everybody was waking up at 3:45. Anyway, I stayed in my Futon until 4:15 then we had the breakfast. We were also the last one to leave the ryokan for the race site. From Yuki’s reading, the lines for the toilets were very long the previous years, so the first thing we did was going to the toilets at the other side of the camping lot. It was quite empty. Thank you to Erwan, a French guy who was running this race for the 6th time, for the tip. On our way back we met Cory who was staying in the camping with Don. Don was in the first wave and Cory in the second.
picture found on internet
Then we went at the end of the first wave to be sure to have a good position in the second wave, in order to avoid the congestion. Erwan told us the day before that there should not be too much congestion in the second wave because people were not too fast. Ok, he probably never started in the second wave. The problem was not congestion due to the second wave, but the one due to the first wave. I was so surprised to reach the end of the first wave only 40min after the start! So during the second long uphill (+900m) we were stuck. We probably lost more than 30min here. I really don’t like this system of waves. It looks to me that it is just a way to be sure that we will come at least two times to run the race. The first one is just a kind of qualification for the second one. I never saw this in France. I think it is better to add 2 or 3km of large road at the beginning to dilute the crowd according to people’s level.
picture found on internet
Anyway, I started a little faster than I would ideally, in order to avoid congestion. Yuki who started slower had to wait a little during the first climbing (+400m). I did not. Then there was a short downhill followed by few km of flat road until the first aid station which had only water. I reached the end of the first wave at the beginning of the road section. There were not so slow, so I guess that there was a lot of congestion during first climbing. After aid station, there was a steep climbing (+850m). It took about 1h30 for 4km. Sometimes we just had to wait until we can move again. At least we didn’t use up too much energy here. The following downhill was not so bad, at least we could run, even if it was not always at our own pace. For me it was OK. As I already started to feel some little pain in my left knee, I didn’t want to go too fast. At that time I thought that it would be reasonable to retire but of course I did not.
Then was the second aid station with banana and cucumber. I had a banana. Then we were going up again for 400m climbing. I was still feeling good. And the next long downhill was OK too since it was not too steep and my knee gave me a break. I forgot to mention, but it was very hot and I was happy to see the 3rd (and last) aid station before going into the last +850m climbing. I drank a lot of water, refilled my three 50cl bottles (up to now I was refilling only two bottles) and ate rapidly 2 an pans. It began to get more difficult for me. I was going slowly, as everybody was now. My lack of training was catching up with me (I’m not sure that this expression is correct in English…). Then I was surprised to meet Don! He was sitting on the side of the trail. Cory told me that they could not train a lot recently, so I guess this was the reason why I met him here. He went up with me for a moment than take a little rest again. I continued. The last third of the climbing was quite hard for me. But as I was expecting, the downhill was much worst. At the top, we were given a cup of Coca cola which was delicious. Then there was no choice, I had to go down. My left knee had already give me some alerts during the previous short downhill’s so I started by walking. Then I tried to run slowly, but soon I had very acute pain in my knee, so I stopped and walk again, then it was better, so I tried again to run then again acute pain, etc… then the trail got more step and sometime I was feeling the pain even when walking so instead of running and walking, it became walking and resting. Anyway, I manage to finish the race like this, being passed again by tens and tens of people as in Sugadaira. One of those people was Yuki! As I was approaching the goal, I was thinking that I would say to Yuki, that if she cannot beat me now should will never be able to beat me (actually she already beat me once recently…anyway). Then I saw her, about one km before the goal. She passed me with no mercy ;) and finished in 7:24:29 while I was passing the line in 7:25:11.
It was her longer race up to now. She said that this race was not a big deal after all. She was feeling easy all the time except when she had a cramp in her leg in the last downhill. Frightening. Now I wonder if I will be able to beat her again sometime ;)
After eating our Udon, we met Don near the place where we left our bag. He passed me again in the downhill but I didn’t see him. Don, I would have like to spend some time with you and Cory but at that time, the only thing I was thinking was taking a shower and going back home. I was very tired, not only physically but also nervously with the stress of the last downhill. I hope you had a good bath in the river!
I’m disappointed because I was hoping that my knee pain would not be as bad as in Sugadaira three weeks ago, but eventually it was. However, I’m happy that it did not get worst. Now I have only one last race, the Fuji Moutain race, at the end of July, but it is shorter and only going up, so there should be no problems (and I can go down by bus). Then I will take care of myself and take time to recover, try to correct my muscle unbalance (now my left knee circumference is 2cm smaller than the right one) and start again little by little.
Sorry for being so long! Is there still anyone to read that I’m sorry?
Here are the results from my calculations (they only give the results by categories):
Yuki 7:24:29 (314/1297 finishers and 19/98 for less than 44yo women)
Eric : 7:25:11 (316/1297 finishers and 120/472 in 40-49yo men category)
Don: 7:46:46 (163/472 in 40-49yo men category)
Cory: 7:59:20 (192/472 in 40-49yo men category)
Year / Nb. of entrants / Nb. of Finishers / Fishiners rate
2013 / 1772 / 1297 / 73.2％
2012 / 1763 / 1509 / 85.53％
2011 / 1781 / 1413 / 79.3％
Number of finishers is low this year, though time limit is quite large (12h for 39km). Probably due to the heat.
I hope I can do this race again next year in good health, with good training and in the first wave!
More pictures here:
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