Wednesday, April 24, 2013

UTMF Trip 2013 Day 2

Good morning, Tokyo!! It was a good night rest. Now I am hungry (again!) and need to go look for my sashimi fix. :p

Where was a better place to get good sashimi than Tsukiji market.

I arrived at Tsukiji market at around 1000 Hr. What shocked me was the whole place was closed. No shops or restaurants were open. There was no usual crowd of people queuing up outside the many many restaurants.

I thought I had wasted my trip here but luckily there was a restaurant at the end which was open. It seems to be the only one open too.

The sushi was marvellous. Yummy!!! ;)

Given my poor (or rather non existent) japanese, I did not ask the restaurant staff why the whole place was empty. I was guessing it was a holiday.

I quickly rushed back to take my luggage and made my way to the bus terminal at Shinjuku. There were others on the bus, judging from their attire and shoes, you could guess they were runners too. Adrian, Chris and Trish were also on the same bus.

As we travel towards Kawaguchiko, the view was full of rows and rows of beautiful mountains. :)

I remembered passing by this amusement park the year before too. During that time, we were saying we would come here to take the rides after the race. Hahaha .. that was one year ago.

The bus journey was 2 hours. Once we arrived, we waited for the transport provided by Avid Adventures to bring us to our different accommodations.

From Louis Kwan
(L - R): Trish, Adrian, me, Chris
It was drizzling and so cold. There was a temperature display opposite the station and it indicated 12 degC.

A small bus arranged by Avid Adventures came after about 20 mins of waiting. While waiting, some more runners arrived at the train station and there was not enough seats on the bus so some of us had to stand. There were 4 support packages arranged by Avid Adventures. Each different package would be staying at different places like a business hotel, B&B hotel, ryokan and guest houses. All 4 of us were staying at different places. Trish did not sign up with Avid and she chose a hotel directly opposite the train station.

I chose the plan with the ryokan. We were back at the family operated Nagahama Ryokan, the same place which we stayed the year before.

I liked its beautiful view of Lake Kawaguchiko, its coziness and the friendly staff. What a lot of us liked most about this place was the common area at the ground level where we would gather and chat about the race and everything over a cup of tea or some snacks. We even left our rooms open as the whole ryokan was just runners, all part of the family.

At the common area, Avid again made the race course map out and highlighted the route, aid stations, start times and cut off times.

There was also this heater, which we would grow to love especially during the race. :p

The view of the lake from my room. It was a cold, cloudy day.

I would share room with Reuben, also from Singapore and he would arrive tonight. Also at the ryokan would be Nora. Last year she did the UTMF while I did the STY. This year we switched over.

There was still some time to dinner so I began to unpack my stuff.

The plastic casing of my 2 Black Diamond Storm headlights had cracked and I used super glue to patch up the crack. Hope that they would be able to survive the weather elements during the race. I brought another 2 Storm for the official drop bag just in case the originals could not hold.

When I was done preparing all the nutrition back home, I knew I had overpacked just looking at the sheer quantity. I thought of cutting down some but the question was how much? This was my first miler after all and I have no prior experience in running such distances. In the end, I brought everything over and I would see how much was left after the race. This race would be a very good learning experience.

My trekking poles. I could not think of a better way to protect it inside my duffel bag. Wrapping them with newspapers did not seem a good idea.

Avid Adventure gave each participant a package upon their arrival at their accommodations.

Inside it contains several useful items. One of them was a small card for free WIFI which we could use in the ryokan. That meant we would not be cut off from the virtual world.

There was also the event schedule and transport timings from the ryokan to the race briefing site and start line over the next few days.

There was also a magazine which featured an article from Pauline Kitamura, who was the international coordinator of the UTMF organising committee and also the lady behind Avid Adventures.

Race support information, some miscellaneous items which were on sale and the photos of the volunteers helping out. Our race would depend a lot on them. :)

One of the items included a gift for all the runners.

On the background it reads 富士山一周 which means "One round around Mt Fuji". The words in black 完走祈愿 means "Wishing that you would complete".

When you opened up, it was a small beautiful pin of Mt Fuji. It was made by the wife of Ari, one of the volunteers. We were told that each of the pin requires 1 hour to produce .. and she made 100 of them!!

What made it even more special, was when you fold the card, there was a small mirror which represents the lake. So you would get a reflected view of Mt Fuji in the lake. The thoughtfulness of Japanese people really goes beyond what was normally expected.

Dinner started at 1900Hr. You could always look forward to mealtimes at Nagahama. The owner, Mr Noboru Miyashita, was a fantastic chef! There was always guaranteed to be a sumptuous spread.

More runners arrived during dinner time. All of us introduced each other during dinner. There was Louis, a HongKonger living in the US, Edzra from Singapore, Kristen and Jason from Canada, Brian from the US currently living in Hong Kong, another 3 HongKongers (one of them was called Alex). Nora and Reuben also arrived during dinner time. Nora and I wanted to go for a short run tomorrow morning. Some of them agreed to join us.

Outside the ryokan, the weather was cold and still drizzling. We were told to expect cold weather. The race was shifted one month earlier than 2012. April would be colder than in May. Let hope the weather turns better over the next few days. Or, at the very least, not get any worse.

Goodnight. :)

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