Two thousand runners. Five hundred Japanese and 1500 foreigners. All coming together to run as a group for no other purpose than to foster amity. This is the Friendship Run 2017. It’s a 4K, up and down a plaza near the Tokyo Big Sight. A Travelling Fit Australian from Perth, nice guy by the name of Steve, answered my question when I asked why it was a 4K as it seemed an odd number. It’s the distance between the Big Sight main plaza and the circular turnaround at the end of the path — as good a distance and rationale as any.
There was a lot of waiting around and maybe that was the point — it was time built into the festivities to allow for mingling and shared cultural exchanges, if only the superficial, “Hey! You’re running? I’m running! Let’s snap a photo of ourselves.” And maybe even that small gesture is what the world needs right now. Not in the way Batman v Superman, “You’re mom’s name is Martha? MY Mom’s name is Martha! We’re totally friends now… in a league let’s say… a league of justice!” Although wouldn’t it be nice if it were that easy to quell violence and animosity. But relationships and political turmoil isn’t always resolved with a quick word… but they can end and blow up with the wrong one. Still, I want to believe that even a brief moment of interaction can have a positive, rippling impact. To that end, I was quite happy to participate in this Friendship Run.
I skipped the parade of athletes later in the day, an honor I was selected to attend via lottery. I’m just not feeling well and Mom is coughing up a lung. She still came out to support me though, despite the chill air and the chillier wind. It was okay in the sun, even downright pleasant. But any shade or whenever the wind blew and it dropped into bone shivering, core freezing temperatures.
I met Felicity, my TravellingFit representative this morning and picked up my official race shirt from her — GojiraKev will rampage once more, this time through the streets of Tokyo! Korinna and Steve were wonderful, as was Nicky andRafiza and Yvonne and Helen — I’m trying to remember names but I’m so terrible at that. I was humbled and quite touched that Tina and Ali, two folks who remembered me from Easter Island, grabbed me in the lobby and said hello to me and Mom. It was a delightful moment of crossed paths — not necessarily entirely surprising as adventure marathoners are kinda on the circuit of sightseeing races, but still proof positive that it’s a smaller world than we realize. I missed a chance to snap a photo with them — I’m not at 100% to be sure — and will regret that for a long time. But I have the feeling and the memory and maybe that’s the point of life anyway. To live in the moment more and less through the viewfinder.
I’m in a weird mood, be it from the drug cocktail to try and combat my own germ-y war or just in general with the unfortunate Facebook feed I have had to re-establish to get updates from the good people at TravellingFit while we are here. There is just so much highlighted in the posts and news items that feel like a step backward in social evolution — we are retreating instead of progressing — and it breaks my heart whenever I scroll through that muckety muck.
As a result, this Friendship Run and the spirit of camaraderie and revelry in shared space and shared exertion could not have come at a better time. That said, given that it was just under 2.5 miles and I found myself oddly stiff and stuggling, I’m a wee bit concerned about the 26.2 miles tomorrow. Maybe it was helpful to be reminded not to underestimate the marathon distance.
In any event, here are some choice photos from the morning,