It dawned on me as I set out to walk toward Kyoto Station from the hotel that I could take the subway there and avoid the frigid air for at least part of the journey out to the start line of the Kyoto Marathon.
And so, beneath the streets of Kyoto, I rode…
…only to queue up for a bus to the start line out at the sporting fields. As is often my luck, they would spit the line to a new bus two people in front of me to ease congestion… and then proceed to load groups behind us first, thus making us wait longer than if we had just stayed in line. Not a big deal as one either waits here or at the start line…
And wait we did. The bus got us there at 7 AM. The race didn’t start until 9… albeit the starting blocks opened at 8 and all runners had to be in their starting block by 8:44 AM as the opening ceremonies would begin promptly at 8:45 AM. I’ll say this for this country’s efficiency — when they say their times, they usually mean that time or even a little early.
It was cold but the rising sun provided much needed warmth. The problem came when rolling clouds would occasionally obscure the children of Krypton power source and the temperature would drop some 10 degrees… and then the wind picked up and the chill would lop off another 10 degrees. Like a dog left home alone, I tried to stretch out in the sun rays whenever possible and shift about the stadium staging area to find a pocket of warmth. There was no snow the previous night but there was plenty of frost… including on the bleacher seats and the track course start line.
As to the latter, race organizers made efforts to “de-ice” the area… but I swear it looked like they just poured water on it and squeeged it off… which since I have used my windshield wiper fluid to try and break up a thin layer of ice on my car I guess has some efficacy.
In any event, I found myself at the front of the “S” block. I assume it was for the “Start” as it preceded the alphabetical A through G corrals. Not sure how that worked but I thought, “Oh… maybe I’m one of the faster folks here…”
With the starting gun echoing through the air, we were off… and I quickly realized there’s a lot of fast folks in the Kyoto Marathon. I guess the nation that gave us the bullet train would appreciate speed. People would blown right by me, make me look like a fool, boy. It was most assuredly no glory day for me…
In my “Excuses, Excuses” defense — I was a little worried about the road conditions given the slippery bleachers of the stadium and the track itself, despite the de-icing measures deployed. On top of that, my toes felt near frost-bite frozen. It took a good three, four miles before the blood flow cracked through the weirdly non-responsive artery and veins. But the not-so-much-for-me-gingerly pace I settled into was no match for the dozens and later hundreds of people who passed me in the opening kilometers.
Whilst attempting to upload the photos, my iPhone and WordPress decided to just put them in willy-nilly so a lot of these are out of chronological order. But maybe that doesn’t really matter — they’re just there to give a flavor of the course and the day. So scroll by them quickly to get the “feel” of trying to rush past and get to the finish line as quickly as possible… and slow your scroll now and again to take in something that catches your eye or to catch your breath. If you do that, you can kinda approximate the mileage of the marathon. There’s far too many pics but that’s ok — like I said, if at first you get bored, scroll, scroll away. I’ll try and add a few captions to one or two for funsies.
This cheer squad did their cheer in English. It went, “Go. Bananas. Bananas. Go, go, bananas.”
Spectators were cheer us on and I swear they were saying something akin to “number eight” or “nominate”… but that’s like saying “Don’t Touch My Moustache” is how you say “You’re welcome.” It’s not even close but it at least sounds in the Major League joke response to a park of that it might be in — say, Yellowstone. I need to ask my brother what sorts of things folks might be cheering on the sidelines. At one point to change up the “number eight” phrase I thought they’d also say, “number ten.” I vaguely recall asking my brother about this close to a decade ago when I ran Tokyo as my first international marathon… and Steve had no idea what I was talking about because what I was saying sound like gibberish. I can only assume in the intervening years it remains just as gib.
This is the Kyoto City Hall. It also featured this happy fellow — could XE (some sci fi book postulated that when you don’t know the gender you opt for xe instead of she/he or s/he or it…)… could xe be the Kyoto city mascot?
These volunteers were thrilled that I was snapping photos:
And thus we head into the big finish, complete with Shinto Torri.
A quick note on the recovery foodstuffs — we were handed this at the finish. I think it might be Soylent Green.
And as the post ends, here’s my official yet unofficial certificate for the day (note – I slightly doctored the image as it always freaks me out to see my middle name on these things. But they asked for my name exactly as it appears on my passport… but I’d rather just leave it like this. The times and data haven’t been altered however!)