Okukuji Trail Race 奥久慈トレイルレース 2017 May 28th in Ibaraki prefecture.
59km 3900m of total elevation gain.
Very good weather conditions, that is no rain and not too hot.
Result: 27th/595 starters, 11th in 40yo male group.
This was the second time I participated to this race.
I decided to participate for several reasons:
– I enjoyed the course last year, with tough technical trails ,nice views and some flatter parts,
– Rie, Satohi, Yoshie and Don were going too, and Don offered to drive us there and to share the hotel room (thanks Don!),
– Last year, I was not in the best condition, not ideal training (I had ear infection right before the bad ass camp!), and a little tired from the previous race (Nobeyama 100k the week before), so I wanted to see what I could do in better condition.
Last year I did 10h10min. When I was asked my goal, I was answering sub10 (which was true), but my secret goal was ~9h30 (set by applying a coefficient to the time of last year winner). I did 9:35. Close.
However, it was not the perfect race.
The start was at 5:30 in the morning. The bus was passing at 4:50 at the hotel and we arrived at ~5am at the parking close to the start. I hurried up to the start because I wanted to have a position not too far from the front, but there were already many people in the line. I passed the gear check (they only checked the water, 1L minimum, and the lamp and battery change), and for once, I entered in the line from the side, to join other foreigners that we had met the previous day at the party (John from England, Dani from Spain, and Jeff from USA). Thanks to them I was feeling less embarrassed to come from the side. I didn’t wait Don and Rie because I knew they were planing to start from further behind. 15min before the start, Satohi and Yoshie, who would start later the 30k race, came to cheer us. Thank you !
I wanted to start fast in order to avoid congestion, but I was not sure I could do it because two weeks before, I had a sudden pain in my right hamstring, and I didn’t run fast since that. I made a lot of auto-massage and it was getting better, but I was not confident. Anyway, I tried to start fast, faster than last year, and though I could feel a little unease in the hamstring, it was not painful and not a problem. Actually it completely disappeared later in the race. Thanks to this fast start, I think I was already in the top 40~50 when we arrived at the beginning of the trail at about 4k and there was no congestion at all (at that time, I was thinking I was more in the 60~70th position, but considering the final result, it must have been a little better).
It was a technical trail, with a lot of short ups and downs, you must keep focused on where you put your feet, be in the moment, I like that. During the next hour, I passed several people, 10~20, and 1h15min after the start, I was alone. I like this moment when you can go at your own pace without having to care about the person ahead of you or behind you. I went at my own pace, but in retrospect, I think it was a little over pace for a 10h race.
Technical trail was continuing until 25km, then we had a road portion. From that point, the course get easier.
At 28.5km was the 3rd aid station at the famous (?) Ryujin suspension bridge, impressive and beautiful place. This was the start point of the 30k race.
At some point, relatively early in the second part, there was again a very technical passage along a mountain stream which is fun if you still have enough force in your leg…and your arms. At a moment there was a passage where you have to rely on a rope in order not to fall down in the ravine, but the rope, which was probably caught behind some rock, was released suddenly, and I thought for an instant that the rope had untied or broken, a good shot of adrenaline.
After that, easy road and trails again, going up until a shinto shrine at 38km, then a long portion of forest road. I was starting to feel tired and I had to force myself to run on this easy part.
From the next aid station, at 49km, I knew it was becoming a tougher course again, with 300m of climbing first, then 7km of short technical up and down, the same that we had at the beginning of the race, but in the opposite direction. Last year at few km to the goal I tried to accelerate to finish under 10h, then I felt suddenly exhausted, and the end was very painful. So this year, as I had much more margin for sub10, I took it easy. I was passed by few runners that I had passed earlier in the race. I was thinking that by taking it easy, I could feel good after few km and maybe accelerate again at the end.
I could not. I had cramps in the calves. Very unusual for me. At a moment, in a short curve, I got a cramp that made me fall down. Falling down gave me more cramps. Even in my neck ! At that moment, when I was sitting down in the dirt, trying to get rid of those cramps, the first women passed me (Yamanouchi Haruka). Anyway, I could finish despite these few troubles. Finally I was 2min slower then last year in the last split, but I was not feeling as bad. It’s just that my legs would not let me accelerate.
Satohi and Yoshie were in a well deserved bath when I arrived. Yoshie improved again her time in the 30k and Satohi was first of here age group despite poor training. Well done !
Nemoto san and Ito san from 太田走友会 were here to welcome be back. Thanks and congratulation to Nemoto san for being first in his age group for the second year in a row.
Don and Rie finished the race too, in a very honorable time despite lack of training for Don and poor physical condition for Rie. This is not a small achievement. Many people can’t finish this race even in their best condition. On the way back, in Don’s comfortable Mazda, it was 7pm, the night was here and I thought “wow, some people are still struggling in the forest now to finish this race before the time limit”. This is not a small achievement neither.
At a moment, when I tried to stand up after sitting for a while beside the goal arch, I had a cramp in one of the “six pack”. First time in my life ! It’s embarrassing, you don’t know what to do ! It was protruding a lot and I was thinking if I could have the rest like this, I would have a very impressive six pack for once ! No, to be honest, I had that thought later, because at that moment, the only thing I was thinking was how can I get rid of this ! I pressed and massaged for a moment and finally it calmed down.
Why did I have some cramps this time is not clear. Probably a bit of dehydration because when I checked my weight in the evening, after I had drunk and eaten a lot, I was still 2.7kg lighter then the previous evening. But this is not so unusual I think. Maybe because I use more my calves when climbing then I used to do, but that would not explain the cramps in the neck and the abdominal muscles. Maybe because I ate much more gels than usually.
Well, this is something I still need to elucidate.
I’m very satisfied with my result, but I’m sure this is not the perfect race. I think I was a little overpace in the first part and I paid it at the end. This is no different from a marathon. If you are a little overpace at the beginning, you will pay it at the end. And the more overpace, the more you will pay. This time, it was not so bad. Maybe the final result if I had the perfect pace would not have been that better, but I would probably have been in better physical condition at the end and I could have enjoy a little more.
Next race is Yaheyama on June 6th (oups, already next week), a 35k 2500m D+ trail race in Uenohara area that I did 2 years ago. I will try to improve my time again.
Comparison with last year time:
Aid station No) Distance | Arriving time-Departure time (split time) | difference from last year in min and %
1) 12.0km | 1:43-1:45 | -11min (-9.5%)
2) 19.5km | 3:00-3:02 (1:17) | -10min (-11.8%)
3) 28.5km | 4:34-4:36 (1:34) | -7min (-5.3%)
4) 30km.2 | 4:54-4:55 (0:19) | -3min (-13.6%)
5) 33.5km | 5:26 (0:31) | 0min (0%)
6) 37.6km | 6:03-6:04 (0:38) | -4min (-9.5%)
7) 49km | 7:21-7:23 (1:19) | -1min (-1.3%)
8) 53km | 8:08-8:10 (0:47) | -1min (-2.1%)
Goal) 59.43km | 9:35 (1:25) | +2min (+2.5%)