The idea of a 30K ‘trail run’ the day after Xterra Japan didn’t seem too crazy initially (after all, running the marathon at ironman Sweden 2 weeks prior never felt that painful, and the recovery even less so), and despite a 5am start (why??), once I finished the xterra in one piece, I didn’t think twice before entering the race. I was eager to get a last run in before a 2 week hiatus in terms of training, and also to have a last good taste of nature before heading to the metropolis.
I went there with my Saucony Virrata, a light road racer that is, not in any way designed for any kind off road action…but I thought I’d be fine since the terrain was mostly dry…Also on the start line I found myself rather out of place, not only for being the only non Asian, but also for being by far the most evidently unprepared – no camel back, no sticks, no long sleeves, etc. All I had to save me was compression calf guards and a couple of salt tablets and Powerbar shots in my pocket.
Off we went and straight up the steepest slope that was (we’re in a ski resort here, why make things complicated?); we ran about 3 minutes tops and then we were all walking (well, scrambling) until a (majestic!) dear came out of the fog to tell us we’d reached the first summit. I took the lead as I assumed (go figure!) I’d be faster than anyone downhill, but by the time we’d reached the bottom again I was in 5th and not comfortable. We stayed in a group of 6 for about an hour and a half until we hit another vertical ascent and I decided to ‘attack’. As we were all walking up a 30% slope this was easily the slowest surge I have ever done (!), but still I got to the top in first and enjoyed all the cheers from the (many) tourists who’d risen almost as early as us (but instead of putting on the running shoes had opted for the gondola to take them to the summit – and enjoy the ‘unkai’ (sea of clouds) that forms every morning in the valley before disappearing).