Wednesday, September 23, 2015

UTMF Trip 2015 Day 1

The flight was full, unlike my previous flights to Japan where I could lie down across the seats to have a better sleep. Perhaps SQ flights are always more full?

The day started with a midnight flight. Quite a few of us were on this flight. Terence, Terry, Samuga, Pauline, Archer, and David Chung. Others like Alan and Alex Ang were already in Tokyo.

I managed to get some sleep on flight and woke up to a beautiful view of the plane gliding above the cotton wool clouds and the sun rising from the far horizon.

The plane landed around 0745Hr at Narita. We are planning to go to Shinjuku for some food and shopping. The on-flight meal was not very appetising.

Terence, Pauline and me met up with Alex at Shinjuku. All of us were so hungry by then.

I finished this up in a whip. *slurp!*

Shopping at Shinjuku.

Inside L Breath at Shinjuku. Showing the mountains around Tokyo.

I signed up under the support package with Avid Adventures again. Just like the good old days. There was a shuttle bus bringing us to Kowaguchiko from the Tokyo City Air Terminal (TCAT) at 1500Hr.

We had no problems identifying the other race participants at the waiting area. Met up with old friends and new friends were also made.

Very soon, the members from Avid Adventures arrived. I recognised Pauline and Hitomi among them.

They split those of us who have arrived into 2 buses.

Everybody was eager to set off.

Around 2 hours later, we saw what all of us came here for. The majestic Mount Fuji!

The bus dropped us at our own accommodation which we had selected. The time was near sunset when I arrived at Nagahama Ryokan.

Just as I entered, a couple who did not look Japanese handed me my room key. I was puzzled how they would know who I was. From their accent, I guessed they were from Hong Kong. They said they recognise me from my blog where I had wrote about my first UTMF experience in 2013. They had tried to find out more about the race through my blog.

I hope the blog was useful. :p

The room keys for the other racers who would be also staying at Nagahama Ryokan. Each room key rests on top of the Avid Adventure's package for the runners. The ryokan was mostly occupied by runners from Hong Kong.

My room. 小梅。

The snacks corner at the ground floor common area.

A huge map of the race route was placed on the ground. It was joined together  from 6 smaller maps by the members from Avid Adventure.

The elevation profile of the UTMF and the STY was on the lower right corner.

The dining area. There were chairs this time. I still preferred sitting down on the ground with the low tables. That felt more Japanese.

A sumptuous spread was prepared for us as usual.

The coming Sunday would be Mid Autumn Festival. So I brought mooncakes over as a gift to the owner of the ryokan, Noburo-san. It was organic vegetarian mooncake. I gave another box to Harry and asked him to share it with the other volunteers under Avid Adventures.

This was the Avid Adventures runner's package. It included the race information and schedule for the next few days. It provided important timings to note, support bus schedules (Only for Avid Adventures), and photos of each of the Avid crew members. There was also this small little card which allows us to board the Avid Adventures buses, i.e. for the supporters or for runners after they have pulled out from the race.

Also included were 4 plastic bags and stickers. These were the additional drop bags provided by Avid Adventures. They are big enough for you to put in your food, extra jacket, extra batteries (on top of those which you were required to have with you). But it was not meant for you to put your whole fridge in. The bags were for W1, A3, A7, and A8.

We had to pack the gears and get them ready for the mandatory gear check tomorrow. I was not too elaborate with the packing now. At the gear check tomorrow, we will have to empty everything out for the volunteers to check. After returning to the ryokan tomorrow, I will do a more thorough packing of the race gears.

The weather was warm while we were in Tokyo. It was rather cooling instead in Kawaguchiko. I have noted that the top of the mountains were shroud in fog. Mount Fuji seems to be playing hide and seek with us behind the thick clouds.

During the past 2 times I was here, weather had been (very) kind to us. That was during the April / May period. This year they shifted the race to September in order to get through those environmental issues. The environmentalists are quite strong in Japan. Things seem to be tricky this time. It has been forecasted to rain during the race. With the fog added in, that would certainly change the way of the game.

Perhaps, after 4 years of fair weather, the mountains have decided to show us a different side of them this time.

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