Last year, I ran in the Lake Kawaguchi half marathon and lived to tell the tale. I’m not such a fan of running – after all, the further you run, the further you have to run back home. It just seems like an inefficient way to displace yourself.
In spite of my running aversion, however, the view at Lake Kawaguchi is absolutely spectacular: Mt Fuji, glistening in the late autumn sun, seemingly wall-to-wall across the horizon. The unforgettable view from last year:
So, this year, I happily accept my co-workers’ offer to tag along. I bring my bulky SLR camera this time, instead of using my dinky camera phone, and try to work out a way I can comfortably run with it. Maybe I’m not such a great runner, but I think of the marathon as the price of admission to getting some great photos.
Then I arrive. The weather looks like this:
It is bleak. It is cold. There is no Mount Fuji.
I am forlorn.
However! As it turned out, fate had shone happily and mercilessly upon me. Several days earlier, I had smacked my knee into a door frame nice and hard, making running out of the question. Since I had already paid for accommodation, there was nothing for it but to freeze on the footpath, watching on while everyone else ran. Of course, I acquitted myself by being official event photographer.
Full points to this guy for running in 4 degrees in a dress. Judging by the reception he received, he was the belle of the ball:
There was a complete set of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers running the full 44 km in costume too. Actually, this may not have been so bad – they looked considerably warmer and perkier than less be-spandexed competitors.
This year, as the race callers liked to keep reminding us, there were 14 000 competitors doing full marathons (44 km), a-bit-over-half marathons (27 km) and fun runs (10 km).
This guy ran the entire course in a bus driver’s uniform, complete with arm band.
Maybe it was just poor timing on my part, but this fellow’s expression isn’t really reflecting the amount of levity one would expect an arrow attached to one’s head to bring. Maybe he’s ruing his poor aerodynamic choices.
The race course was one lap of the lake for half-marathon runners, and two laps for full marathon runners. The next picture is of the point where the courses diverge. More than a few full marathon runners, perhaps realising they’d bitten off a little more than they could chew, attempted to enter the final straight after only one lap, only to be told by officials that they had to keep going for another 17 km lap of the lake.
I tried to capture their tears on film, but failed.
I was impressed at the first person I saw running the marathon dresses as Santa, replete with sack. After the fifth, my respect began to waver.
So, maybe the weather was a write-off, but for a few brief moments at dawn, a truly inspiring view:
With the marathon finished, it was time to panic about my impending Japanese exam the next weekend.
That would be this weekend.
So if you’ll excuse me, I must go and do some futile study, interspersed with fitful bursts of hyperventilation.