Monday, 16 April 2012

Hirodai Green Trail Weekend

So thanks to Koji and Megumi; Sarah, Linda and I got the opportunity to run the Hirodai Trail Race. In my case that meant 40km and 2600m of vertical ascent (though Garmin as ever reads somewhat shorter and significantly less elevation) 

The weekend was a huge success. We ate giyoza,
registered, watched movie clips from the the Banff film festival, listened to Hiroki Ishikawa talk us through the course, and ate our fill at the welcome party.

 Then in my case I was tucked up in bed by 8:30 pm. The alarm went off at 3:15am and before long we were on the bus to take us to the trail. There were 5 of us running in all. Megumi and Sarah were doing their first ever trail races of this kind. They were doing 17km and 1200m ascent, what a way to start!
Linda, Koji and I were all doing the 40km.

We set off at 7:00 and after a few km of jogging through the park we hit the trail proper, and as warned, all of a sudden there were a lot of people stepping off the trail to take photos. It was beautiful.
20c and Linda is still wearing fleece

We were warned that the trail was easier on the way out and that the we should conserve some energy for when it got tough on the way back. I'm not sure many people took much notice of the warning, or were believing that the climbs would be harder on the way back.
I made it to the lake and the half way point in about 2 and a half hours, it was beautiful down there by the lake. The cherry blossom was just beginning to fall but the trees were just gorgeous, sadly the photos I have do not do it justice.

The last aid station before the big climbing started was hugely entertaining. It was on the edge of the lake under the cherry trees and the aid consisted of lemonade, water, and mochi, which was being pounded on site. I stopped to watch the mochi pounding, some racers took time out of the running to join in. Then I collected some mochi for Megumi who had been disappointed that there was no mochi aid station on the 17 k run.

Once passed that aid the real climbing began. We had been warned repeatedly that it was not one climb but 3 straight after each other and it was. The first one was relatively short and led up through some trees. It was damned steep though, the next was something of a long fire road slog which rather suited my forced march style of climbing and the third was an exposed, steep slog to the summit. All good, all entertaining, all really hard and really, really tiring.

The rest of the 'run' was a blur of uphill slog and downhill jog. I had originally thought that I would be at least 6:30 hrs but when I entered the park in 5:30 I thought I'd better phone Sarah to let her know I was nearly back. She was almost as surprised as I was. I crossed the line at 5:40, hot, tired and happy. Brilliant day out and while I finished in good shape I have the sun burn to attest to the fact that it was not entirely pain free.

Sarah and Megumi finished their races in 24th and 26th places respectively in a little over 2:20, which is damned impressive. We then sat about chatting eating, chatting drinking, cheering in the last competitors and inviting Mr Ishikawa-san to come visit us in Scotland. He will be there in June for the West Highland Way Race.
It was a great day and after another good meal in an Izakaya in Kita Kyushu we headed for the Shinkansen and home, finally arriving home about 9:00pm.  Making it 1 race, two islands, 18 hours awake, 40km of trail, 2400m vertical, a good few beers and a good many laughs all in one day.

Hard to beat.

Hirodai Trail it would seem Garmin have 'updated' their software somehow, I have started getting readings well under, in this case 3 km in distance and nearly 1000m vertical which is astonishingly inaccurate and the second time in a few weeks the vertical has been well out. Maybe it's time for a shiny new Suunto toy.

217/398 men in 5:40 - reassuringly mediocre (sorry mid table), no age grouping which is a shame. I've just entered the over 50's and there weren't that many older men there, I might have made it into the top 50 at least ;-)


  1. Hi, Great blog!

    I am keen to do some trail runninf when I'm in Japan from Oct-Dec/Jan. I met Hiroki-san in Mexico earlier this year and he mentioned about his runs. But I have not been able to find any information about them on the web. Do you have more information or point me in the right direction? Many thanks.


  2. Hi Robyn, getting information about trail races/running events here can be a bit of a challenge without someone who can read and search in Japanese. I've had some success using google chrome/and it's built in translate with but it is a bit hit and miss. The other place things turn up is and again with chrome you can sometimes make sense of it.
    I leave Japan in a couple of weeks so won't be of much help, but depending on where you are going to be based there is a group of foreign runners based in Tokyo try looking for Genki Gaijin or Namban Renko, they might be able to help.