Hello, on April 26th, you’ll be organizing the Ultra Trail Mt Fuji. Can you tell us where it is located?
The race will be taking place in the regions surrounding Japan’s most famous mountain, Mt. Fuji. The start of the race is near Kawaguchi-ko (Lake Kawaguchi), one of the five great lakes near Mt. Fuji. The start of the “Shizuoka to Yamanashi” (STY) race is in Fuji City in Shizuoka Prefecture.
The Ultra-Trail Mt. FUJI is a very unique race in Japan because it’s not only the largest race in terms of participants but is also one of the most expansive, straddling two different prefectures (Yamanashi Prefecture and Shizuoka Prefecture) and passing through ten different towns/cities (Fujikawaguchiko Town, Fujiyoshida City, Oshino Village, Yamanakako Village, Oyama City, Gotemba City, Susono City, Fuji City, Fujinomiya City, Narusawa Village).
How old is the race and why was it created in the first place?
The May 2012 race was the inaugural race so the 2013 race will be the second year of the race. The UTMF was originally planned for May 2011 however, about two months before the race, Japan was hit with the terrible earthquake and giant tsunami that devastated the country. Given this time of emergency, the 2011 race was postponed for one year.
The idea for the race came from Tsuyoshi Kaburaki, one of Japan’s top trail runners and the race director for the UTMF. Tsuyoshi ran in the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc in Europe and according to him, this race “changed his life completely”. His dream was to create a similar race in Japan so that he could share this incredible experience with everyone.
What kind of route have you set up for the runners? How would you describe it?
The UTMF race goes right around the perimeter of Mt. Fuji while the STY takes racers halfway around Mt. Fuji (the race does not take racers on top of Mt. Fuji). Both courses consist of single track, double track, gravel fire roads and paved roads. Racers will be running up in the mountains, through forests and on roads both during daytime and nighttime. In terms of distance and difficulty, the Ultra-Trail Mt. FUJI is 161km with a total altitude gain of approximately 9,000 meters and the STY (Shizuoka to Yamanashi) is 85km with a cumulative altitude gain of approximately 4,700 meters.
How many runners do you expect on Friday afternoon? What type of runners do you plan to attract?
We expect over 2,000 racers to be participating. Like last year, there will most likely be many supporters and hundreds of volunteers and staff at the race as well. This race attracts some of the best trail runners in Japan as well as from around the world.
Do you organize other races during the Weekend? If so, on what distances?
The Ultra Trail Mt. Fuji race committee is committed to organizing the UTMF and STY only. They do not organize any other races at this time.
At that time of the year, what kind of weather can we expect?
The weather at the end of April can vary widely. The average temperature in the Mt. Fuji area in April is 9 degrees centigrade (49F) and can go down to 3 degrees (37F) at night. The average temperature in May is 13 degrees. Racers must be prepared for all kinds of weather including rain and maybe even some snow!
Have you planned festivities around the marathon?
There will be a Race Expo before the start of the race where people can stop by vendor booths and food booths. Many major outdoor brands will also have tents sent up showing off their latest and greatest outdoor/trail running gear.
The race finished, what advice would you give a runner who has never been to Mt Fuji before? A good restaurant, a fancy sightseeing?
Once the race is finished, I would highly recommend a nice long soak in a beautiful outdoor hot springs near Mt. Fuji. This area (actually much of Japan) has many wonderful hot springs with fantastic views. A drive up to the 5th station of Mt. Fuji (which is halfway up the mountain) would be a nice way to top off your Mt. Fuji experience. If you have extra time, it might be interesting to do a bit of traveling around Japan as well. For an authentic “Japanese” experience (including sleeping in futons on a tatami mat), it would be ideal to stay at a Japanese ryokan inn. As for food, I would recommend trying some of the popular local specialties such as “Houtou Noodle Soup”, “Yoshida Udon Soup” and “Fujinomiya Yakisoba Fried Noodles”!
In a single sentence, what would you tell the readers of ahotu Marathons to make them register for the Ultra Trail Mt Fuji?
This is a trail journey and trip of a lifetime!
Interview with Pauline Kitamura, Ultra-Trail Mt. FUJI, International Racer & Media Coordinator.
Pauline is bilingual in English and Japanese and has been involved in the Ultra-Trail Mt.FUJI since it’s inception. She is responsible for handling all overseas inquiries from racers and international media as well as doing all the English translation work for the UTMF. She is originally from Canada and currently lives in Tokyo where she runs an outdoor adventure tour company called Adventure Divas.