Trail racing in Japan

Although there are an increasing number around, finding trail races to do in Japan is nearly as difficult as completing the damn things. With the exception of a few races with English web pages, if you don't read kanji, you are in trouble. If you don't know someone who does who can help you, the next best thing is to use a translator built into your browser that can cope with Japanese. Even then you will struggle to understand the cryptic and sometimes hilarious results. You also need to enter well in advance as they don't do entries on the day, and popular races fill up fast. It is worth persevering as there are some great races out there.

There races of all distances and kinds from easy undulating trails, to 10km uphill races and ultra-distance races - the latter seeming to attract the most entries. There is also an orienteering and rogaining (long distance orienteering) scene. 

Trail race organisation in Japan is a fairly corporate affair, many being organised by businesses, and I have even seen men in suits giving speeches at the entry ceremonies. Seriously. They are about 3 times more expensive than races in the UK, usually between ¥4,000 and ¥10,000, and there are often extras for sale too, like pre-race parties, accommodation, pre-race lectures, transport to the start or from the finish, baggage transfer and so on, so be careful to note what is included and what isn't - especially insurance which is usually included to cover emergency treatment only, but check. However, you do usually get a race t-shirt thrown in, and sometimes a ticket for the local onsens (hot spring baths) - great apré race relaxation if the weather isn't too hot. Prizes are only for the first few. There aren't many age categories, sometimes just under 45 and over 45. Ouch.

There don't seem to be settled forms for races, so you need to work out if it is really a race rather than a 'let's all have fun trying running together!' training school deal - I was caught out by this, having reccied the route and got all fired up for it - ended up doing an invidual TT on the day, very frustrating. If it is a real race is it mass start, or a staggered start? See here for one example.

Sources in English
Famous Japanese trail races with pages in English
Mt Fuji Race, 21km or 15km both uphill only, end of July, enter early March : http://www.city.fujiyoshida.yamanashi.jp/div/english/html/race.html
A previous winner's report in English: http://www.runnersworld.com/trails-to-run/on-the-trail-on-mount-fuji
Ultra Tour of Mount Fuji (168km circuit of the base of Mt Fuji or 80km version), late April http://www.ultratrailmtfuji.com/en/
Hasetsune Cup 71km including night running in the Okutama area west of Tokyo at the end of October: http://www.hasetsune.com/en/cup/  Photos here: http://www.hasetsune.com/album/2015_CUP1/  The same organisation put on a 30km race in April: http://www.hasetsune.com/en/30K/

Race listings and entry sites in Japanese
The best known race listing and entry sites are Sportsentry and Runnet (Japanese only), which work very well. You have to register, search for races by type and location, then you can pay online or at a combini.

The Japanese Orienteering Association  homepage: http://www.orienteering.or.jp/
events listing: http://orienteering.com/index-j.htm 
Another orienteering and rogaining event listing site (Japanese) http://www.asobox.com/o/

Race organiser sites in Japanese
Please let me have any suggestions for additions or amendments to this page
Thanks, Geoff

1 comment:

  1. I'm an avid runner going to Japan for three months this fall, this site is great!

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