32nd Frostbite Road Race
Sunday 13th January 2013
Thank you very much for Abbey Runners. I am happy that I am still a member though I left the UK last summer. So let me introduce my comeback race.
What is “Frostbite Road Race” like?
This race is popular in Tokyo. It has a half marathon (8,500 people), 5 Km (2,000 people) and 2 km kids/family race (1,000 people). The Yokota Striders Running Club, probably all Americans, organizes the race. The venue is the American Air Force Base, “Yokota Air Base”, in the western area of Tokyo. Its area is 136,413 square meters (1,468,340 sq feet) and it has a 3,353 m x 61 m (11,001ft x 200ft) runway. If you look at my post in Abbey Facebook, you can see how large the area is. “Frostbite Road Race” is a funny name as with “Brass Monkey” for me. I think that both American and British people have a rich sense of humor.
This race is my comeback one after a gap of 2 years and 8 months. Looking back, my last race was Edinburgh Marathon 2010. After the race I had suffered from both calf muscle pain for two years in Leeds. I am considering that the running course with ups and downs is not good for my legs, because I have never injured my calf on the flat courses such as the Leeds-Liverpool Canal and my running course in Tokyo.
How was the “Frostbite Road Race”?
This race was my first entry, but my friends, Rie, Tae and Kaori (see a photo), who are members of Azalea RC, have run the race a few times in the past. We arrived at the gate before one hour of the start time, but it was very crowded. Everyone must show the staff the identification such as a passport, because the Air Base is America. It took about 30 minutes for us to get a race number and a timing chip. Next we must go to the toilet, changing area and baggage area. But everywhere it was very crowded. I am a man and I did all quickly, so I had enough time. But when I stood at the start line before 15 minutes, the area was also jam-packed, sardine-packed, or sushi-packed (Japanese expression) like a rush-hour train in Tokyo. At last I started at 11:00 AM. My friends, ladies had almost no time, so started at the line end.
The course was completely flat. I ran comfortably on the sunny day, seeing American schools, residential houses, several military aircrafts and a runway. Fortunately that day was warmer, over 10 degree C (I feel that Tokyo is colder than Leeds in the winter). Course marshals, all Americans, cheered up us, saying “Ganbatte!” in Japanese, which means “Go for it!”.
My race time was bad, 1H41M16S, behind by nine minutes at “Brass Monkey 2009”, but I must be satisfied with the result because I finished the half marathon without any trouble such as calf muscle pain.
After changing we all members got together again around the finish line, and went to lunch near the base. But there were a lot of people queuing for lunch, so we had to wait over 30 minutes to start to eat and chat there.
I heard that Japan is in the midst of a marathon boom these days, and a lot of people participate in the races, so all running races in Tokyo are full of people. I am a bit hesitating still now. I remember that the running scene is different from Leeds and Yorkshire: a gentle hill, green grass, row of brick houses, lovely summer, and sheep! Yes, Tokyo is one of the busiest places in the world. On the day I fully enjoyed the race with my friends under a clear blue-sky, seeing the crowd at the American Air Base.