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World Run I / Reports

Goto: 12004-10-13 12004-10-15 1Japan

Distance today: 58.0 km (Accumulated: 12860.0 km)
Country: Japan

2004-10-14. Route Report: - city, road sign 316 on "Route 8">.

58km, 5:25:43h (J.). Excl. food, water, toilet etc. stops.
Total 12819km. (J.).

Start 10:40am (all).
Finish 17:18pm (J.).
Time GMT + 10 hours.

+19c, clear sky and med. wind at start.
16c, heavy rain and same wind at finish.

- Running in the throat of the Dragon!

We begin the first part of the Japan running which is planned to bring us
from the West Coast to the East Coast of Japan; from Toyama Harbour to
Hiroshima Harbour. A run of little more than 700km.

But during the rest days things had happened. Usually rest days can bring
help to injuries; but they can also bring clearness. For Alexander?s
behalf they brought unfortunately clearness that he wont be able to
continue the run. His back injury has now been joined by a severe Achilles
injury (the whole area swollen about 2-3 inches through several days); and
perhaps most important he is in generally seriously worn down mentally.
This is no weak runner though. Running more than 9000km from London to
Eastern Siberia is in excess of what almost any other runner can claim to
have done. It is time to go home to the family and heal. And I salute him
as a most respected runner - and a supporter of the world run of the
highest class. I will long remember his winning the Finland international
12hour race in the middle of our 50km-a-day running. That is still an
effort beyond what I can comprehend!!!

- For my part the word run continues. Despite a by now painful miss of
friends and of family. But on the appetite of new roads; new challenges -
and the hunt for a true world run :-)

My first day of running in Japan was an easy start followed by a mistake
and ending that possible is the only "horrible running day" so far since

At start I was in good company of Alexander, Kazuka and 3 other Japanese
ultra runners, among them the blind runner mr. Myamoto san. As well as a
Japanese TV-station covering the first hour of the run.

My daily route plans are made by mr. Tohei who was among the runners
today; an ultra runner with many international experiences, who has made
computer printouts of all daily stages including proposed accommodations
:-) Thank you!!

After about 9km`s of running from@the waterfront start, we entered the
Japanese highway "Route 8" at the 266km sign. From then on I was on my own.

I had my selves a few weeks earlier when planning the details requested a
few days of `extra challenge` by negotiating some Japan stages alone. Yet
now I realised that this might not be so good a decision. Yesterday I met
Kazukas charming daughter Michi, which would have been helper for this
first stages. Also I quickly realized how lost you feel when you
understand absolutely nothing at all. The road signs, the language, my
maps; everything.

- I must confess that my previous decision appeared to be one of the
possibly least intelligent I have made to date. And I am no novice in
making bad decisions from time to time ;-)

Well; the first hours went and I was still on the right road. A bit
worried about the situation in general, but at least moving along - and
what other could I do !
I knew that my goal should be about 50km from the start point -@straight
ahead on the Route 8 - and then ask directions to a youth hostel with a
Japanese name on some street I didn?t have a clue about how to read or
pronounce ;-)

- Then the rain set on. It happened just as I ran into some mountainous
terrain with many tunnels. At first the sight of a tunnel was that of
pleasure as it could shield me from the rain for a few minutes of running.
But after the first experience... I learned to fear them!!

The dark and narrow tunnel was like running into the warm humid throat of
a dragon. My glasses wet by rain I could see very little and the side path
of the tunnel probably has never been intended for baby jogger running
;-) I don?t mind saying that I was afraid when the heavy trucks
approached me; being unable to see exactly how wide the path was, unable
to in the dark see if there was any major holes or obstacles in the
pavement. Just keeping my 5:50 min/km as I approached the roaring lights
which were all I could see. Had I had a girlfriend I?d probably have
voiced@her name each truck-encounter. As it is I settled for a `Viking
Yell` leant forward and hoped for the best; having about 10cm between me
and the largest of the trucks and the inner wheel of the jogger just
touching the wall somewhere inside the darkness of the side of the tunnel.

Once I had exited the last tunnel I was a bit shaken to put it straight.
But happy to be out in the free, even with the cold rain pouring down.

Later came the darkness! Then the running at the roadside again set the
adrenalin in motion. But as the tiredness of the first full day in 7
months with the baby jogger (about 25 - 30kg in total weight by now) set
in; I was too exhausted to care much.

I couldn?t see the city signs - or much other for that case - but the
impression of the bristling life of busy cars, thousands of neon
sign-shops & restaurants was strong.

The search for the accommodation proved a huge problem too! I asked as
polite as I could, in English after the few politeness phrases that I know
in Japanese. But with little result. It seems that very few common people
speak English at a practical level. I would at best get an answer like
"Yes; yes!!? Regardless of what I had said.
On a better day it could have been a funny situation. At the present state
of things it was not.

At least I saw a sign with the word "Hotel" - in Latin letter - with much
relief as I now was approaching 60km, injuries appearing due to the strain
of the heavy baby jogger and the cold rain on the legs.

- But the fun was far from over.

After searching the side streets for the hotel I found another some 2kms
from the highway. But, but, but...
It was what could have excelled as the stage of a futuristic Frantz Kafka

There was no staff besides the laundry service. The rooms were booked via
an electronic board where you push the button at the picture of the room
you desire. Then take the lift to the corresponding floor, open the door
and face a room with an automat on the wall.

Very nice. The automat spoke as much English as the next man (= nothing)
but greeted me with a flood stream of Japanese words of which I understood
nothing at all. I got one of the helpful laundry women to assist me and
she told me things in Japanese that possibly confused the situation even

The door locked behind me and I settled down, understanding as much as I
first had to pay the automat upon check-out. I changed clothes and then
wanted to go to the lobby to fetch my baby jogger and the food within.

NO. The door was securely locked from the inside by a metal-pal. I tried
many experiments to get out, but: NO! So finally I realised that the
automat had to be fed in order to open the door ! 20$ it cost me to get
the luggage.

And by now I was wondering. It was a quite comfortable room. A large bed,
many conveniences. An excellent bathroom. But also with some adult
literature and suggestive things in plastic packages. I was beginning to
wonder just what this hotel was!!

- I suspected that it might be for short time `encounters` only. And not
for the usually traveller!
But how could I find out?? I had the card of Kazuka with home number and
mobile phone number. I tried that - in any case I had promised to call her
when I had reached the finish point. And finished I was for sure;-)

The phone rang and I got connection to a person who told me things in
quick Japanese. I asked "Kaihata ??" (Kazukas family name) and got the
answer "Hai, Kaihata san !!". Meaning "Yes, mr.Kaihata". I tried to ask
for Kazuka, but with little result. Then the mobile phone was tried. Here
I got the meditative sounds of an automatic phone answer machine of some
kind which didn?t leave place to put a message, though.

Well; that was it. I understood that all I could do was to take a hot
bath, eat my chocolate left from the running and go to sleep. Leaving the
machine and its demands to be dealt with in the morning. Whatever it might
charge me.

- Fortunately one of my few talents are that I in this kind of situation
sleep and relaxes just fine!! :-) I slept in luxury, woke up, checked the
news (of which I again understood zil`), packed the baby jogger and faced
the machine.

To my huge luck it only charged about 100$ and I was a free man again!!!
What a nightmare of a future vision. I long for Siberia - I didn?t expect
that so soon! ;-)

This report is written from an internet cafe I found on the roadside of
Route 8. And one from the staff speaks a bit English; enough to make
contact and to let me post this report. Thank you!!!

I head off in about 10 minutes. Direction 50km down the Route 8. Hope the
luck will be better today :-) All my best wishes to my family when they
read this - the mobile don?t work in Japan. I will keep running and
eventually be able to contact them again.



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