Friday, February 21, 2014

A Foggy Race Day : the 63rd Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon Part 2

Race Day on 2 February 2014. Part 1 here.

The starting line is located between the Umitamago Aquarium (similar to Ocean Park Hong Kong) /Takasakiyama Monkey Park, which is an aquarium and mountain park.  The weather forecast rain in the morning and it will be a warm afternoon. By the time we arrived it was cold but the sky was clear blue.

 On the right is the Umitamago Aquarium, and on the left is the Mt. Takasaki Monkey Park. The starting point is under this beautiful triangular bridge.

When we arrived, we found runners all over the place, and the atmosphere is almost like Hopkinton Athlete Village in Boston Marathon, except that there were more women in Boston.

Everyone here looked fast and mean.

Everyone looks like they are on a mission or something. No play play.

Sweeper trucks AKA kereta sapu? or just support vehicles? We were warned that there will be strict cut off times.

Relaxing while waiting for the start time which is at 12:00 noon. Sky was very clear after this morning's shower.

An 1 hour before start time, the weather was beautiful with clear sun shine. So everyone was enjoying their 'picnic' session meantime you can see the fog started to build up from Takasakiyama mountain.

A bit of warm up and the ocean view is completely gone. Visibility is about 100 meters.

Times up!

11.15 am and everybody is ready to deposit their luggage.

With the finishing line located in another place, mobile luggage center were provided.

This is the beginning of the Category 3 runners assembly point. They line everybody up according to the sequence of the bib number before moving everyone to the starting line.

And you should notice that what a very foggy day it was. There are about 2000+ of Category 3 runners, and it starts from bib number 3000.

This is how they mark your line up location. And they systematically move you forward until you reach the actual starting line.

With a bib numbered 4500, I am at placed at a spot almost towards the end. Categories 1 and 2 (with about 1500 runners) are already placed further front.

So all in total I am lined up at about 3000 out of 3700 runners. Yeah! A bit chilly for this Malaysian but he is ready to Rock Beppu and Oita!

Finally found the actual starting point. But the weather got worse and became very foggy and I began to feel a bit chilly. At 12.00 noon sharp, the gun went off and we slowly moved (for about 5 minutes) before we can run at our planned pace.

Arial pictures from previous years gun off, I imagine this is what it looks like in front. But much more foggy this year.

No pushing among the runner though. Everyone is so discipline and polite, despite wanting to achieve their target. Visibility is about 20 meters front. Wish it was sunny like this because the view will be majestic.

We ran for 9km northwest towards Beppu City before making a U turn back to Umitamago and then towards Oita City, where the finish line is.

Here is the running course according to my Nike GPS. You will see that between km 26,27,37 and 42 are very closed to one another, so if you have your family or support crew with you, that will be the best place to be.

Most of the run is along the highway next to the sea. Full road closure (runners side). So if you are a resident of Beppu Oita and you decide to drive that day, you might be told to wait by the traffic policeman for more for about an hour half before they open the road again for you.

This is the typical distance marker used, with a voluteer attending to it. More than 42 of them were seen along the way. Picture was taken by my family. They found their way to where the finishing line is, which is about 10km away from the start line in Oita city.  And the nice part is that they will get to see the runners passing by twice before we make our way into the finishing in a stadium.

 Volunteers setting up their aid stations.

Corporate supporters. In this case Suzuki and and along the way, I saw many others corporations. How I wish Malaysian employers are that supportive.

There is no short of support from families and friends, and strangers (Beppu Oita residents). 
The time keeping/lead car leading the front pack.

The elites approaching, crossing the Oita River.

This year the foreign invited athletes gave a good fight. The yellow bib represent elite runners. Previous year's champion, Yuki Kawauchi is not here this year but his brothers was among the Category 1 runners. Nevertheless this is one place where African does NOT dominate the race.

 Those with a white bib with blue letters (3 digits) are the category 1 athletes.

 Fellow Malaysian top runner Woo Chan Yew running strong. He is in the category 1 group.

Here comes the fun runner. I finally run past my support team..heh heh... minutes later (lots and lots of minutes and very much later), I made my appearance...this is at around km 27 so still looking strong.

Fast forward...of 10km later (opposite the road at km 36) , after a u turn and a loop with 2 toe cramps later...You can also see behind me that many of the runners has started to slow down probably due to the weather that keep changing to hot and cold.

And then the final 400 meters ...entering the stadium. It was a tough day for many. I saw many people struggling near the end and I guess you can see from the expression of this category 2 runner. Probably the ever changing weather has something to do with this.

I finally finished my marathon in one piece. No PB this time, but heck, did I enjoy the course despite my cramp toes. Running sock-less is not so good in cold countries.

Unlike our marathons in Malaysia, they do not give out any finisher medal or finishing T shirt. Only a towel to keep you warm and as a souvenir. They will issue an accomplishment certificate at a later date.

I was happy to see Chan Yew. He accomplished a good 2:30 (top 50) position I think, even though he is still recovering from his knee surgery he had last year. Proud to have a strong fellow Malaysian among the elites today.

 While we were chatting, there were still many whom are trying to finish before the cut off time.

And we noticed that the organizers has started their preparation to close the place down as soon as it reaches 3:30.

Many seems to gave a last minute charge towards the timing mat to record their finish. aaaargh.......

Continue to see it was a tough day for many but wait, marathoners don't give up easily. And the organizers were strict but they were not inhumane. They still gave some allowance for the runners who came back slightly late.

After saying goodbye to Chan Yew, I headed for my luggage, and they were already waiting at a hall when I found my way to it. It was nicely placed on the floor together with others, exactly between 4499 and 4501, so I can easily spot it. I don't even have to queue for it. Japanese precision. I changed and shared the heater to warm up a bit with a few runners. By the time I walked out of the hall, the stadium is almost empty.

My family were waiting for me at the main entrance of the stadium where I found this booth where they provide free embroidery service so that you can have your finishing time permanently embroider into the finishing towel.

And also a few groups of runners gathering for group photo before the head for home. Everybody looked so serious before the race but after the race, its celebration time!

No Run No Life! RIGHT ON!

By the time I remember to queue for my embroidery work, they have already closed the booth! But as soon as they found out that I am a foreigner, they happily took my towel and embroider my timing into my towel. Isn't that fantastic, just because I am Malaysian. The Japanese people are so nice and they are such great host.

The unofficial result embroidered in! Finished another world class marathon! Yeah! Now to Fukuoka for dinner!

Next : Post race, results and reflection.


  1. Great job Mr. Moey! Such a great experience. I feel like I'm running and experiencing this marathon by myself after reading your blog. Time to train to get those 3:30 timing ;)

    1. Rez, great to hear that. With some training, you will be there in no time!

  2. Thanks for sharing. Didnt that have this type of event. I doubt I can join this type of event.

  3. Great race report! I have a question regarding water stations: I read from some Japanese commentators that there weren't enough cups and category 3 runners had to end up sharing 2L water bottles. Can you comment on that?


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