Race Recap : Fujisan Marathon (Race Day)

Nobody starts to fail.

Even when the odds are stacked against us, we would make the most out of it because at the end of the day, all our hard work and compromises are finally being put to test come race day when we step on the starting line. The starting line of a marathon or even life itself.

I have jitters going into Fujisan Marathon. The odds are against me. I know that.

I had been unable to clock in decent mileages in the past three months and I had to take the marathons and half marathons that I did in previous months leading towards Fujisan Marathon as just training runs. For mileage.

An hour run during the weekdays became a luxury just as Son got busy with UPSR (not that I was much help with his studies though) and I was thankful for any long runs I managed to squeeze during the weekend.

Fujisan Marathon, just like other marathons in Japan (Tokyo, Osaka, to name a few) has strict cut-off time at selected check points and that scared me tremendously.

My game plan was simple. Do what I can. And try to clear the first checkpoint at KM20.4 mark with as much buffer as I could. Finish, no matter what.

I didn't don anything fancy on race day.

Actually, I was being rather absent-minded when packing for the trip that I didn't bring my favourite orange running shirt along.

It felt like we never seem to have time to pack in advance and with Friday, Saturday and Sunday before our trip were packed... What with volunteering in a 100K race from Saturday to Sunday just to support our friends' race and all, so packing was a bit just choosing stuff to put in the luggage on Sunday evening!

I tried to put in a bit of run a few days before the marathon so even though we had a full day outings on Thursday and Friday, I did an hour run on both days.

The legs felt heavy and the knee was a tad worrisome and I actually hoped for race day adrenaline to help carry me during the marathon itself.
Anyways, we arrived at the race venue on race morning an hour before the gun-off.

Our friend, Gme was waiting for us at Kawaguchiko Station, clad splendidly in Baju Melayu and with Malaysian flags. We made our way to the start line together and I was completely in awe seeing the amount of runners already lining up in their respective corrals.
15,000 Full Marathon runners (there is only one category in Fujisan Marathon and that's the 42.195km) as far as the eyes can see. 

The corrals were divided by the estimated finish time that runners key-in when they register for the marathon earlier. No, you cannot simply put in the fastest time as they require proof for that. If you click 6 hours finish time, then no need show proof lah... but if I recalled correctly, I do need to put in what marathons I had already done (or was that for Kobe Marathon? Alamak, got confused pulak.... Huhuhu)

Anyways, privilege for overseas runners participating in Fujisan Marathon, we got to start just behind the elites regardless of our estimated finish time! That's a huge bonus! The E bib (which was the 4hours 30mins and above finish time) cleared off 18mins after gun-off! 

Elites, those with less than 3hour 30min estimated finish time and invited runners (which was the category overseas runners fall into) were under A bib.
But jitters or nervousness notwithstanding, photos at the start line IS A MUST! Hahaha

Behind me was the B category. Those who can finish in less than 4 hours, if not mistaken.

Local dignitaries came for the flag-off, as with some celebrities and even a member of AKB48! Whoa! And of course, an Olympic medalists for marathon was there too! Star struck!

Flag-off and I can't help being swept by the pace that the runners were holding. It got uphill after KM3 if not mistaken and I was feeling a bit panicky about the pace I was holding.

It was before KM5 that I decided to do a toilet stop as I was holding my pee (hahaha adoi) from the starting line. 

Toilets came in the form of not only porta-loos that we are used to see at big races here, the local establishments open  their doors and share their toilets to all the runners! I made my stop at an udon shop. Pretty nice toilet, I might add.

You get to see how the whole community was involved in the marathon. The streets were lined with locals cheering for runners. From babies in strollers being pushed by their parents, to school kids, to adults and old-folks too!

A few had tables set-up and offered their own refreshments for all of us runners. Ranging from drinks, sweet peanuts, chocolates... all sorts of thing. I saw frail obachaans sitting on makeshift chairs waving the marathon flags at us. A fisherman playing the song "Eye of the tiger" while seated in a boat at Lake Saiko.

They cheered and they offered high-fives.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Despite having 15,000 runners running in the Fujisan Marathon and the fact that we occasionally run along a 2-lane road; of which were completely closed off for traffic, the congestion didn't feel too bad. The outer lane was left for faster runners to overtake and most stuck to the left lane so everyone was able to run and weren't stuck in a walking jam at all. Of course, occasionally there were some doofus who overtook runners who were already sticking to the left. Not many doofuses in Fujisan Marathon though, thankfully. 

It was quite fun to see so many costume runners in the race too. And most of them were fast!
Dorae-san or Dorae-sama as he was called by supporters was especially popular. He was behind me until he overtook me when we reached the bridge that took us across Lake Kawaguchi. Hur hur

As I approached the bridge, I saw hubby and son waiting for me patiently there. I was keeping to the left all the time but I cautiously made my way across the street to get to them.

Hubby then proceeded to run ahead of me so that he can take some photos of me running. Awwwww... ^^

I think he ran about 2-3K and stopped after I told him that it's OK for him not to continue.

I love my supporters. I do. *hugs*
Water stations were nicely spaced and distance markers were at every KM. Some water station provided food and snacks apart from bananas.

I, of course did not resist taking handfuls of those Fuji-shaped chocolates and chocolate biscuits too! Hahaha

One thing I didn't see was energy gel being given out. But I didn't need any! I also forgot to take my Hammer Perpeteum Solid during the run!

The aim at that time was for me to reach CP1 at KM20.4 with as much buffer time as possible from the 3-hour cut-off for CP1.

I got there at 2hour 36min. Phew!
Can't help to feel relieved especially upon seeing the number of sweeper buses waiting for runners who can't make the cut-off time!
Upon reaching the KM21 mark, I asked one of the locals cheering the runners to take my photos here.

Pretty soon, the real hard work begins!
KM22 was where udon were served to runner.

I decided to stop kaypoh-kaypoh there a bit even though I didn't join the queue for them and just had a banana for fueling.

Offered to take other runners' photos for a bit and then off I go!
KM22 - KM23 was where the steepest climb was at. This was also where we saw fast runners already making a u-turn and heading back to the finish line.

A climb and then a couple of running through tunnels and we got to Lake Saiko which is one of the Fuji Five Lakes, together with Lake Kawaguchi. And to think I got to run these two lakes!

I guess the knees got cold as instead of running, I just walked the inclines and when I wanted to start my trot again, the left knee felt a bit of stabbing pain. It got worse as I was approaching KM28 that I had to resort to slow walking and can't even walk fast.

I cleared the second check point at KM27.2 mark with about 12minutes to spare, if I recall correctly.

The route around Lake Saiko can be a bit mental as we can see faster runners running at the opposite side of the lake and the bend to get to the other side seemed so far ahead. Bits of incline here and there but the tough part for me was actually tackling the flat part of the run.

I was already slowing down significantly at this point, what with coping with the pain and the cold cold breeze as the day became overcast. Brrrr...

I got to the 3rd check point at KM30.2 mark with just 5 minutes to spare. Most runners that were with me sped ahead to clear the cut-off with the encouragement of the volunteers and crews stationed there.

Run, walk, hobble again for another 5km and I reached the 4th check point (which thankfully had a nice decline where we can actually pick up speed) with just a few minutes to spare. Adoi.

I had erroneously thought that there were only 4 check points and had forgotten about the last check point. Note to self : write down and bring along check points cut-off times during a marathon to avoid costly mistakes.

I walked, hobbled and walked and with spurts of running another 3km only to find another check point! Oh dear!

I saw a runner lying in the middle of the road, looking completely dejected and also runners stopping and taking off their bibs. Oh dear! Oh dear!

As I reached the 5th check point which happened to be the last checkpoint, I looked at my watch (my Timex watch died on me and I was wearing a simple watch) and it showed me it was already 2:21pm. The check point cut-off was at 2:20pm. Oh dear! Oh dear!

What else could I do?

I silently took off my bib like the others and accepted the fact that I can't proceed anymore. Well, not by running anyway. That's how I understood it lah.

A runners asked to be allowed to continue as he said he could finish it within 6-hours but the bike marshall was a simple "muri". Impossible.

At least we weren't made to board a sweeper bus so us stragglers just continued our walk.

The bike marshalls cycled past us while making sure we had our bibs off so that no one could obstinately continue with their bibs on while already effectively being considered a DQ (disqualified).

Hubby asked me later why I didn't try to run because I probably could finish within the 6-hours cut-off. He said I should just feign stupidity and continue and pretend not to understand what was going on! Hoi! Hahaha

Anyways, a lonesome 4km walk to the finish line later, I finally made it across the finish line. The other runners who were with me at the last check point were nowhere to be seen as I cross the finish line alone with claps and words of "otsukaresama" being said.

I worked hard, yes I did. I played a bit too much though, I guess, to have wasted that precious 1 minuted to reach the last check point.
To say that I regret finishing this, this way would be wrong though. I had the fullest intention to do a better run than my other previous marathons and still enjoy the sights and scenery of what Fujisan Marathon offered. I did.

I'm hoping to come back and finish this marathon again in a better, grander and having more fun way. Ahahaha...

So, God willing, see you again in 2015 Fujisan Marathon. ^^

And just like for 2014, I won't plan to fail. I never do.


  1. Nonetheless, still an enjoyable race.
    It will be perfect if returned with the finisher medal.
    The bitter taste of DQ will give you enough momentum to come back stronger next year and finish the unfinished business ;)

    1. Yes, it would be perfect to finish and return with the finisher medal.

      Revenge for 2015! :)

  2. This post is really interesting and you wrote so detailed to make me feel the race & surroundings! I could not help laughing at your selfie photo ~ so naughty look!
    I am impressed to hear about the privilege for overseas runners that allowed you to start just behind the elites! Real bonus and thoughtful race plus waiting sweeper buses!

    1. Sweeper buses are not bonus la Anay. We runners are terrified of them because being sweeped meant you can't finish your run.

      Ask Letchumi go next year. You can wait at the foot of Mount Fuji for Bollywood photos. Hahaha

  3. what a fun run at such a beautiful plave with many beautiful people!!

    normal looking people and also cosplay people.. ^^

  4. yours thank your son who suggested Japan for his birthday trip and coincidentally there's this Fujisan run during your trip..

    or back to the basic, thanks yourself for conceiving at the right timing?? muahaha!! xD

    1. Cheh~

      There are other marathons that's going on near his birthday, you know.


  5. Alllaaaaaaaa......1 minute?! rub it in heh? add salt, pour vinegar.. :D
    Well, you wanted the challenge and you were challenged. You wanted the experience, so now you have the experience. I finished 3rd last once, and it was one funny experience.....mcm merapik je...u got me?

    1. Takpe. Kita pasrah.

      And I really respect that they're strict about it walaupun rasa macam x patut.
      Sebab, kalau kat Malaysia we take it for granted jer cut-off time ni kan?

      Like you, I learn something, gained experience.
      Kalau haritu tak lai dan tak habis, takde experience ni.
      *mode pujuk hati*

  6. I would seriously plan for a trip next year if they have 10KM runs, just for the sake of being involved in cosplay run! :D .. 42KM, not for me..
    You did good lah, kaki sakit mah, there is always next year. Now you got excuse to go Japan again :D

    1. For 10K, you can just run here. Loads of runners in Malaysia do that too. ;)

  7. Gee..have to give estimated finish time and that's tough. You missed it by the skin of your teeth! But still you have done really well in spite of the knee pain. I guess mati mati don't want to take bus back, huh? Hope your knee has recovered. I really like your friend in full baju Melayu and tengkolok. Semangat habis!

    1. Once start sure die-die want to finish. Hahaha

      Yeah, doesn't he look so grand? :)


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