On 18 October 2015 (7 years ago today!), I participated in a trail run from Atsuta Town to Gokibiru Town and back—30 kilometers. I didn't do it particularly quickly, but I did it, and I think that at the time (as now) I'm more proud of it than I am of the Okhotsk Marathon, which I'd run a couple weeks earlier.
I know that, with time, I'm going to forget the details—so I'm writing them down now to hold on to as long as I can.
It started reasonably early in the morning; we all gathered at the starting line. I’d filled my Camelbak with Aquarius instead of water, and my backpack was full of SoyJoys. I was wearing my green Brooks Cascadia 10s, which I’d gotten especially for this occasion, and which, 800 km later, I still wear sometimes; and my red Salomon backpack, which I still use for bike riding and other light-backpack applications.
I don’t remember feeling outclassed the way that I do nowadays whenever I’ve done a trail running event (Causey Pike, etc). We first ran up a hill, then down the back; then back up the hill and down the front, before a long run along the seafront.
A little while in we came to a layby, where the Gokibiru Sandou started: a steep climb up into the forest and then a long run along a trail heavy with leaves; I guess we were getting on for fall and the leaves were turning.
I don’t remember a lot about the run out to Gokibiru; at one point I had to cross a stream and for some reason it didn’t occur to me that I could put my feet in the water and I faltered while the marshal told me to just run through it. A little ways further on it occurred to me that we were using the trails that maintenance crews use to access power lines.
Further on still I saw the leaders coming back the way they’d gone; I had the presence of mind at least to get out of their way as they came racing down the hill—they had more claim to the trail than I did, by virtue of their raw pace, I figured.
The long descent into Gokibiru was rough on the knees, being made up of rounded-off stones; and then a little loop through the town where, at a set of fold-out tables erected by the elderly of Gokibiru itself, I drank probably more than my fare share of lukewarm Ribbon Napolin before continuing. The glucose would have been really good for me but the carbonation not so much.
The climb back up into the hills was rough and I lost some ground to a guy who’d stuck nearby throughout most of the run; it turns out that he was a photographer from Yubetsu, whose services I’d use a few months later when renewing my passport.
I don’t remember much of the run back. The weather started to turn just as I was nearing Atsuta Town—a light bit of rain. Coming back down off the hill was awful on my ankles, which were just about shot by then. I remember running along the seafront mostly on my own—everyone ahead had taken off, and everyone behind had fallen back. There were surfers out on the sea, I remember: people coming in off the waves and peeling wetsuits off next to Toyota Hiaces with the doors wide open, parked alongside the road.
When I finished—I don’t remember the finish itself—I went into a gymnasium to record my arrival. It took me only 2 minutes less to run the 30 km than it took me to run the 42 km of the Okhotsk Marathon a few weeks earlier. Afterwards I drove back to Asahikawa to be with Sam.
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