News: Run enthusiasts sprint through bleak weather
Story by Lance Cpl. Charles Clark
IWAKUNI, Japan - More than 2,200 running enthusiasts came out for the 6th annual Kintai Road Race near the Kintai Bridge in Iwakuni, Japan, Sunday.
Mai Tajima, SemperFit recreation specialist, helped more than 30 station residents register for the race.
“I just want to be a bridge for the American servicemembers and station residents to enjoy Japanese culture,” Tajima said. “Running on a treadmill in the gym gets boring. The area around the Kintai Bridge is beautiful and having a chance to be around other runners is an opportunity no one should miss.”
The race consisted of four categories: a half marathon of 22 kilometers and 10km run for adults, and a 5km and 2km runs for children.
The station runners, though few in number, proved their mettle
to the thousands of Japanese in attendance. The American athletes did not stop or walk during the race. The runners simply ran and enjoyed each other’s company.
“I had a fun rivalry during the race with this Japanese couple who were running next to me,” said Amanda M. Steele, a half marathon runner. “We kept smiling every time we got in front of each other. This was my first marathon and having motivation like that to keep going, not to mention all the spectators cheering us on, really inspired me to sign up for more races down the road.”
Friendly competition seemed to outweigh the bleak weather conditions, which would have otherwise put a damper on such a massive race.
“I was cold, wet and miserable at the start of the day,” said Luke
Peet, a station runner. “After the shot went off to start, everything
got better. Running has that effect on me.”
Peet and the other runners competed in the half marathon. The other races started later, so all the marathon participants could end the race at around the same time. The weather and long distance running didn’t stop a single competitor from getting from the starting line to the finish line.
Two and a half hours after the start of the half marathon, a steady stream of runners numbering in the thousands ran into the Yokoyama to cross the finish line and congratulate each other on a race well ran.
“I didn’t come in first, but I’m ok with that,” said Steele. “For this
being my first marathon, I think I did pretty good.”
With a few more miles of black top under their belts, and a new
outlook on Japanese athletic culture, the station runners said
farewell and arigato to their new friends.