40th Kanagawa Half Marathon and 10k

The 40th Kanagawa Half Marathon and 10k was held on February 4. Participating Nambanners in the Half were Faith Geraghty, Rie Onodera, Steve Karnas, Yuri Kambara, Mika Kume, Tim Barnstable (PB), Glenn Rubin (PB), Daniele Cason (PB), Takeshi Koide and Jay Johannesen (10k). kanagawaEveryone enjoyed the beautiful weather and fast (if not very scenic) course.

Namban Takes Odaiba!

George and Mike show us how to get to first place.

After last year’s surprising fifth place showing at the charity Yell Run at Mega Web in the Odaiba district, Namban Rengo was back this year for more - in force. Namban fielded 24 runners, divided into one men’s 6-runner A team and two mixed B and C teams. Namban A came in first place out of 190 teams, with C placing 14th and B placing 29.

The format was the same as last year’s - run as many laps as possible of the approximately 1.1 km (0.7 miles) course in three hours. The charity was for the Special Olympics, which is a sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities.

Switching team members was allowed until 10 minutes remaining - at which point the runner on the track had to anchor and complete the race. Namban A, with Yuki Fukushima (anchor), Mike Hegarty, Alan Cannon, Youri Lavoine, Andrew Drought and George Nicholson ran a total of 41 laps in 2:57:39, well ahead of the second place team which ran 38 laps. Namban C, anchored by Renaud Isman, completed 35 laps in 2:59:55 (just made it!) and Namban B, anchored by Matt Holmes, completed 31 laps in 2:54:16.

Miki Ando and Riyo Mori look suitably impressed with our Yuki Fukushima.

There were many celebrity talents on hand to entertain the runners. As Namban’s lead solidified, one could hear the announcers wondering just who these Namban people were!

The first prize was two celebrity signed T-shirts and bullhorns for each member. The award was presented by Miki Ando, a Japanese figure skating National Champion and Olympian, and Riyo Mori, Miss Universe 2007.

A very enjoyable day was had by all. Thanks to Bob Poulson and Makiko Hosokawa for assembling and registering the teams!

Nambaners on the podium with our newest member, Miki Ando.

Beer Mile

On Saturday May 6, the world awoke to the news of Eliud Kipchoge narrowly missing an audacious attempt to break the 2 hour marathon barrier on the infamous Monza F1 Track in Italy. But despite Kipchoge’s disappointment of missing his goal by only 24 seconds, he still claims the distinction of clocking the fastest (albeit unofficial) time ever for the distance. Word has it that after his marathon attempt, Kipchoge rushed back to his hotel room to anxiously await news of the 2017 Namban Rengo Beer Mile Race results, held in Yoyogi Park Tokyo, on Sunday May 7.  This is what he would learn…
Namban Men
The English fielded a strong contingent of runners/beer drinkers, with the likes of Mike Trees (Ginga Kogen Beer), Tim Williams (Yona Yona), Bob Johnston (Budweiser), Matthew Holmes (Asahi Super Dry), Matthew Foord (Ginga Kogen Beer), and Anthony McCauley (Sapporo), however most of them failed to shine on the day; post-race excuses such as ‘my beer had too much gas in it’, ‘I’m still hungover from last night’ were heard. The Australians were poorly represented this year with only one entrant, Keren Miers (Kirin), who tried desperately to redeem his poor performance since his last Beer Mile attempt; he tells everyone post-race that he beat his last time by a ‘yuuuge amount’! The Americans looked promising on paper; Ken Pechter (Orion), David Rubenstein (Kirin), Glen Rubin (Kirin) and new club member Quint Baldwin (Suntory) were loud and proud before the race, sporting tight and light shirts and shorts. However all of them fizzed out along the way. The Irish – as charming  as ever – fielded a team of three very pale runners/drinkers, their legs so white as to remind you to put your milk bottles out at night; Padraig MacColgain (Echigo Weizen), Rian O’Cuinneaguain (Sapporo) and Colin Hickey (Asahi), but no cigars for any of them on the day. It was Team Japan that hosted an outstanding collection of competitors, all of whom excelled in both the running and beer-drinking faculties; Yuichiro Mizukami (Bass bottles…!!), Taro Oguchi (Sapporo), Hajime Abe (Suntory) and Yuichi Kanamori (Asahi) filled most of the top finishing positions. Mizukami San – who drank like a fish and ran like a gazelle – showed  samurai-like virtues of ‘gaman’, ‘konjo’ and ‘ki-ai’ from bottle to-bottle. He struggled at times with the bottle opener, but in the end he dug deep and pipped Matthew Foord from behind in the last 20 meters to take the coveted title in a 1 second thriller.
1st Place:               Yuichiro Mizukami:- 7:07
2nd Place:             Matthew Ford:- 7:08
3rd Place:              Hajime Abe:- 7:35
4th Place:              Yuichi Kanamori:- 7:40
Namban Women
The Namban Women featured the best of the best this year, performing with excellent running and drinking aptitude. Leading (and only) contenders were the very international drinking athletes of Mika Tokairin (Orion, Shingha, Bud, Tsingtao), Rieko Trees (Ginga Kogen and Orion) and Rie Onodera (Bud, Asahi, Kirin). In the end, Rieko Trees did what her husband couldn’t do and ran away with the competition in stunning fashion, and without chundering.

1st Place:               Rieko Trees:- 9:52
2nd Place:             Mika Tokairin:- 10:57
3rd Place:              Rie Onodera:- 13:40
Namban Teams
This category usually had a rich variety of skill, age and gender mix. Naoko Hanakawa and Yuri Kambara took a significant lead from the start, but were dramatically reeled in by Team Sase, who drank fearlessly and ran with heart. Congratulations to Kazuo Chiba, Rika Honma, Yuki Fukushima and Hiroshi Sase. It was the stuff of true champions.
1st Place:               Team Sase:- 8:23
2nd Place:             Naoko & Yuri:- 10:35
Like Kipchoge’s race in Monza, the Namban Beer Mile Race is an unofficial race; all physical achievements defy science, and cannot be replicated under normal race conditions.
Further, club rules strictly and specifically prohibit Namban Rengo Club Uniform Colors from being worn on Beer Mile race day; the reason is to ensure that there is no absolutely confusion about what Namban Rengo really is; we are not a drinking club with a running problem, we are a running club with a drinking problem…but only once a year!
Much thanks and appreciation to the race organizers: Taro Oguchi and Kazuo Chiba.

Race Report: Nick Coyle
Race Photographs: Stephen Lacey