The Village Velodrome Appreciation Society

A blog about jitensha and jogging

Sunday, October 26, 2008

One that got away

Today, I ran the Green Ribbon 3km at the National Stadium in Sendagaya, Tokyo. The weather was perfect (for running) and there was a really good turn out.

I lined up with sore glands in my neck from a lingering virus, but felt OK.

At 3pm the 10km runners set off, and at 3.15pm the 3km runners (my group) were to set off. However, as the 10km runners were doing 2.5km loops, it meant that when our gun sounded the 10km runners were already passing us.

I had no idea where the course went, so I tucked in behind what looked like fast guys as we ducked and dived through tired 10km runners. A few guys in T-shirts and long shorts sprinted up the road, but I let them go as I was pretty sure they'd fade later.

My group soon sorted itself out, so I sat behind the second placed guy for a lap. We picked up all but one of the guys who had run ahead and I could see the last one, still about 40 meters up the road.

On the second lap I considered going after the guy up front, we had only made up 20 or so meters on him, but I decided to give it my all on the last lap instead.

With half a lap to go it was now or never, so I moved across the road to pass the second place guy without him noticing. The road was now not only clogged with slow 10km runners but also little kids doing a mini-ekiden. I was getting tired and avoiding runners who only came up to my knees was a scary duty.

I entered the stadium about 20 meters down on first place. It looked impossible, but I thought I had a lap inside the stadium to reel him in. I raced around the 10km runners on the outside of the track, looking for my quarry, but he had gone. And I soon realised why...I was meant to have turned right onto the track on the third lap, not left. My attempt to win was over.

I feel stupid for not realising that I should have gone right. It makes sense now, but at the time - wearied by the running and confused by all the different events being held at the same time - I hadn't considered the third lap might be different.

I can't say that I enjoyed the race. Making fast runners share a narrow course with slow runners, walkers and, most worring of all, small children is dangerous and unnecessary. I heard of other runners that went off course too - some ekiden teams followed the 10km route. I never found a rhythm and on two occasions I had to stop, so this run is pointless if you're after a good time - and that applies to the 3km and the 10km, as the fastest runners lapped the field twice over the longer distance.

I think I'll avoid all runs with the word "ribbon" in the name in the future, as the Run for the Cure Pink Ribbon* run is just as badly organised, with the walkers sent off ahead of the runners, causing mayhem for everyone when the two groups collide.

Sometimes I wonder if these events are planned and put on by runners, because they don't seem to be put on for runners.

EDIT: I've been informed that the Run for the Cure no longer lets the walkers go first. However, the 10km runners are sent off 5 mins before the 5km runners. So the 10km field gets a clear run, but the fast 5km runners catch the back of the 10km field at the halfway mark. An improvement nonetheless.

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