Check out results and info about past races and events.
Sugadaira Skyline Trail Run Race
Minakami Adventure Festival & Satoyama Adventure Race
Sea to Summit 2010
Fourteen teams participated in the X-Adventure race on July 2 in beautiful Minakami, Gunma. Each team consisted of three core members and a substitute, who in our case also doubled as our support crew and driver. The course was set over 150 kilometers of mountainous terrain with stages consisting of trail running, mountain biking, rafting, kayaking and canyoning. Thanks to some last-minute introductions from our editor here at Outdoor Japan and a dozen or so e-mail exchanges, Team Outdoor Japan was born. The team included seasoned adventure racer Tyce Mister from Saipan, myself from Tokyo and local Minakami rafting guides Damien “Grassy” Chee and Matt Shewchuk. The latter three are all fit but new to adventure racing. <!--StartFragment--> At 6 a.m. on Saturday morning we set off wearing matching “flaming board shorts,” the only piece of common clothing that distinguished us as a team. At the time, it was difficult to imagine we would be finishing 31 hours later on Sunday afternoon. What follows are a few highlights (and lowlights) of what happened in between. Course details were secret until maps were handed out on the morning of the race start. There was a map for each stage with several checkpoints marked on them. There was no set course, so we plotted our route and checked it against the compass and altimeter as we went along. We finished the first mountain bike section effortlessly and moved onto the trail run section, where we blazed up Mt. Hotaka collecting all the checkpoints—or so we thought. After coming down the other side of the mountain, with the next stage transition area in our sights, we marched back up the mountain with some obligatory swear words to grab the last checkpoint we missed. This eventually meant we missed the cutoff time for that stage, resulting in a time penalty. Nevertheless, it was early in the race, and we were all in high spirits. The kayak section was straightforward. The paddling power of Grassy and Matt made it feel as if we had an outboard motor on the back of the kayak. We managed to close a bit of time here and move through to the next section where we really cranked up the pace. This stage only allowed two bikes for four people, so two people ran and two people rode in leapfrog style. (Yes, it was against the rules to have two people on the each bike.) As the sun was setting, we were on our bikes again for a long mountain bike stage. This is where things began to get tough. It was around 10:30 at night, and we were pushing our bikes uphill, seemingly lost up some mountain in the dark, drizzling cold rain with hunger and fatigue kicking in. The path seemed to disappear, and just as we were about to give up and skip the checkpoint, we found the right path. Miraculously the cold and hunger were instantly forgotten and morale was back. At some time around 2 a.m. we rolled into the campsite. Day 1 was finished. Day 2 started at 4 a.m. It was still raining, and sleep deprivation made us zombies as we heaved ourselves down to the river for the rafting stage. This is where Grassy was in his element. He handed each of us carbon paddles and was adamant we were to blitz this stage. A splash of cold river water on the face instantly revived us, and we were off, charging down the river under Grassy’s keen navigation. This gave us a five-minute lead-time before getting back on the bikes for a killer hill climb. Our high spirits were dashed after a navigation error meant we had to go back for a checkpoint and do the hill climb all over again. Since we had been in front, it hurt passing the other teams going in the opposite direction. Again, we missed the cutoff time for the next trail run stage by a few minutes. I was personally glad. By this stage, I just wanted to finish the bloody race and have a cold beer and a local hot spring. This was powerful motivation. The final stage was canyoning, so we rubbered up in wetsuits and galloped down the stream. To be honest, it was a bit anti-climactic to finish the race with a mediocre canyoning course; however, the final stretch was a zip line from a bridge into the river where we staggered out to cross the finish—as a team. For a team of nearly strangers who had met only a day before the race, we crossed the line as good mates, albeit tired ones. Considering we missed a few checkpoints and received quite a few time penalties, we had no expectations we would be one of the top placing teams. So when they called Team OJ to come on stage, we were bewildered to learn we had won the men’s division. Our official time was 34 hours and 23 minutes. Adventure racing is just that—an “adventure.” It’s not about the fastest team, it’s about the team having the most fun, and I think Team OJ managed that well. X-Adventure was a well-organized race I highly recommend it to anyone looking to give adventure racing a go. And, yes, I enjoyed that cold beer. Salomon X-Adventure Race July 2. 2010 www.x-adventure.jp <!--EndFragment-->
The 2010 HOA Extreme Whitewater Challenge was a huge success with paddlers from as far as Taiwan, Aichi and Gunma joining Hokkaido locals in Hidaka. Some great white water, a world-class play hole and a challenging slalom course tested the skills and competitive spirit of the participants. The raft race started out with a laugh, as all teams had to hold hands and run 500 meters to the rafts, then paddle like mad. One team fell out of the raft just as they were leaving the riverbank. The kayak-combined event was won by Koki Yonemura with Naoto Mori running a close second and Kazuto Mamiya third. Chiho Yokouchi took home the Pyranha Molan kayak that was up for grabs for competitors who competed in all three disciplines. Kudos to the HOA team for organizing the event and to Eric Southwick who offered his time and expertise to make it happen. Special thanks also goes to the sponsors HOA, Pyranha and Robson paddles who donated great prizes and to Outdoor Japan for their support. Next Year the HOA Whitewater Challenge will be even bigger and better, so get in the water and check the HOA website for updates. Web: www.rafting-hoa.co.jp
Montbell, Japan's biggest homegrown outdoor brand, hold their final Try & Carry event in the Noto Peninsula area of Ishikawa Prefecture. This great event has been allowing outdoor enthusiasts the chance to get together, try out some great gear and take it home after the Golden Week weekend. Montbell wants to thank all of the people who came out to enjoy and support the event over the years. Although it's the last Try & Carry in Noto they have a lot of other great events planned throughout the country including the new "Sea to Summit" series. Web: www.montbell.com
Georgia Max Coffee presents Gibbon Slacklines Yabai Challenge Dec. 5-6, 2009 www.gibbon-slacklines.com
This Race was on Fire! It’s Saturday, 6 a.m., and I am starting a 100-kilometer road race around the island of Saipan. Hard to believe just seven days earlier I was in bed with the infamous Swine Flu. The similarity between the two is the fact you must drink excessive amounts of fluids to survive. The race’s name, Hell of the Marianas, conjures up images of fire and heat, and there was plenty of both on this day, plus some brutal hills thrown in to make a challenging cycle road race dubbed the “Toughest Race in Micronesia.” It was my first road race in 10 years, so I was a bit apprehensive as the pack of 108 racers started the race. The field included a couple of Russian professionals in the middle of a pre-season training camp, a well-equipped team of Koreans and a bunch of weekend warriors, some coming from as far as Australia. Within five kilometers, Russian Eugeniy Smarchkov attacked and went off alone. His move was a classic road move and, the Koreans, realizing they were the only team capable of doing anything about it, soon began to chase. For the next 20 kilometers we cruised along nicely until we hit the hills. Suddenly, Alexandre Bagenov upped the pace and took off after his teammate. A couple of Koreans managed to go with him, and the rest of us were left for dead on the mountain. I managed to get myself into a nice group of six riders. There are a few spots on this course were the race comes back at you so you can see how you are doing, and I could tell we were inching our way back near the top 10. Many riders, including myself, were having serious cramping problems; I skipped a couple of water stations trying to save time, but it was my downfall. Web: www.hom.picsaipan.com - Paul Chetwynd
2nd Sugadaira Skyline Trail Run Race & Outdoor Meeting Sept. 27, 2009 “C’mon. It’s just a walk through the mountains. It’ll be a fun day out in the woods.” The invitation was too reminiscent of an early ’80s teenage slasher flick. However, despite the warning lights going off in my head, I threw caution and good sense to the wind and participated in my first trail run. Sugadaira is just up the hill from Ueda in Nagano and is known as an area where Olympic athletes are born, bred and trained. I come from the stock of flatlanders whose only experience in running was back in the days of moonshine and prohibition. This run did not involve law enforcement, so I assumed a leisurely plod would be well within my athletic means. Looking back now, I should have stopped halfway, set up a still and jugged whiskey until someone came to arrest me. There were three races: 5K, 15K and 40K. I originally planned to join the 5K “fun run,” as the title seemed more inviting. However, upon being called out by an “over 40 and feeling foxy” female participant in the 15K, I was forced to “man-up.” A 45-year-old guy slugging beer (actually micro-brew from the Outdoor Japan booth) the day before tried convincing me to join him in the 40K race, but I claimed my religion forbade such acts of flagellation. Thankfully, Japan’s polytheistic traditions gave him reason to believe this was true. Making the ultimate sacrifice, I did not imbibe the night before the race, although the BBQ at The Hoshi Boshi Lodge tested my fortitude. The morning came, and I arrived a full 10 minutes before the start of the race. The taiko drums played what I should have recognized as a funeral durge and, with the sound of a pistol firing cleanly into the cool air, we were off. After a quick jaunt through town, we arrived at a ski slope. Unfortunately, the lifts were not in operation, so I enjoyed my first run up a ski hill. The legs were feeling good and delirium had not yet set in. An extended run across a ridgeline fluttering between 1,300 and 1,600 meters saw me passing a large portion of the other 700-plus runners. I had found my rhythm and was quite chuffed with myself when I ran across a watering station and asked the lady how much farther I had to go. She replied, “Five kilometers.” That’s all? At this point I was a “master of the universe” straight out of Bonfire of the Vanities. Unfortunately, the race dragged on for another hour and the next checkpoint came into view: 5K remaining. Something was wrong. I should have seen the finish line by now but, instead, was treated to a line of runners passing me on the downhill like a gaggle of pygmy hunters. In the end, I crossed the finish line in just under three hours – a respectable time – and was treated to a free bowl of tonjiru (pork stock soup) and a towel. Where were the cheering crowds, the laurels and a trail run’s equivalent of F1’s “race queens?” As fatigue, pain and post traumatic shock set in, the 40-year-old lady appeared again. At least she seemed happy to see me.
XTERRA Saipan 2010 March 13, 2010 Saipan, CNMI Competitors from as far as Japan, Australia, the U.S. and Europe gathered on a hot, steamy day for the ninth annual XTERRA Saipan where Switzerland's Renata Bucher and England's Sam Gardner defended their titles. It was the sixth victory here for Bucher, who crossed the line in 2:58:19, nearly nine minutes ahead of U.S. mountain bike phenom Shonny Vanlandingham, while local pro and reigning XTERRA Japan Champ Mieko Carey finished third. "For me Saipan is special," said Bucher. "It means a lot and it is the only one that I wear #1. I like to come early to pre-ride the course, and get tips from the locals.” Asked if she'll be back to compete for a seventh XTERRA Saipan title, she responded, "as long as they have this race, I'll be back." In the men's race, Gardner caught and passed Mike Vine about halfway through the bike then held off the hard-charging Canadian on the run. His time of 2:34:03 was just 43 seconds better than Vine. Gardner beat Vine by almost three minutes last year, and Vine didn’t go down without a fight. "This is my favorite race in the world, and victory is a relief," said Gardner. "There was a lot more pressure coming into this race. Now I'm looking forward to Tagaman, as I want to win them both - I finished second at Tagaman last year." (Editor’s Note: Gardner and Vine also finished one and two in the Tagaman Triathlon a week later). Jason Chalker (the 2003 XTERRA Saipan Champ) came in third despite a hard crash on the bike requiring five stitches. Takahiro Ogasawara was fourth, finishing in the top five for the third straight year. The XTERRA Saipan consists of a 1.5K ocean swim, 30K mountain bike and 12K trail run. The XTERRA Sport race comprised of a 750-meter swim, 20K mountain bike, and 5K trail run. For the second straight year, the overall male winner was Kieran Daly, the GM of the host hotel - the Pacific Islands Club, while Australian Emma Viotto won the women's race.