Firday 23rd 4:30AM
Woke up at the crack of dawn and a quick peek outside made me feel a little better seeing that it wasn’t hard rain, but rather a light drizzle. I enjoyed my shower knowing that it’ll be last one in the next 37hrs or so.
I doubled checked all my belongings; first aid kit, half of my closet full of long sleeve running wear, countless socks, gloves, hats, 2 pairs of hiking shoes, and much much more. Dragging everything outside and into a taxi was a challenge in itself. I was so relieved that Motozo was there to help me and it was comforting to know that he’ll be there to support my team for the weekend.
Mary was our other support member and her and Motozo drove us all down to Odawara, a quick hour and half ride.
For some reason we got to Odawara a little late and barely made it to the registration at 8:30AM. We ran to the registration and disappointingly missed our Starbucks stop (except me as I refused to forgo my coffee). Another quick run back to the cars to put on our bib numbers and backpacks, double check what we had in our backpacks, get our hiking sticks and a dash back to start line where the gun went off at 9AM.
The 100k course is broken up into sections with check points at the end of every section which provides food, toilets, and staff that cheerfully greeted us. The first section was only 9k and I had the bright idea of taking a photo at every checkpoint (CP) with our fingers showing which CP we were at. Of course, we only manged to get this one shot at the first CP. We soon forgot about taking photos and our only concern at the next CPs was bathroom, quick munch of something, a drink of water and we had to continue since it was too cold to linger around for long.
As we walked the weather seemed to drop every hour and I was so glad I choose to wear 4 layers. But by 1pm, I made a call to Motozo, who was waiting for us at CP 3, that our hands were freezing so if he could please buy us those hand warmers at the nearest combini. Mary and Motozo were excellent, they walked up to the trail to meet us and instantly tried their best to make us more comfortable. Mary lend me her waterproof cycling gloves and I wore Motozo’s dry pair of running gloves underneath them and I finally was able to feel my fingers. We had a quick coffee, onigiri, and a few nuts and we were on our way.
CP 3-4 a 12k hike, was my favorite bit. We walked around Lake Ashinoko and the whole time I had warm memories of our wedding 6 months ago. We ran around this same lake and here we were walking the same course where we had our wedding ceremony. I was able to see the hotel where we stayed and since the course was flat it was also our fastest leg.
Unfortunately, no photo of the lake :(….but this is some photo I think Motozo took. You can see that the weather was always very gray and misty.
We arrived at CP 4 at 5:30pm and again was greeted by Motozo and Mary who cooked us a feast! Our main concern though was getting into dry clothes (it was raining all day!) and put on more layers as it was absolutely freezing! I felt so sorry for Motozo and Mary who stood outside in the cold to cook us a big dinner. I enjoyed a big bowl of brown rice, tofu and veggie stir-fry, pumpkin soup, and tea. They really went out of their way to make us so much! Even though I could tell Motozo was freezing he kept saying he was fine and made sure I was warm.
The next leg we knew was going to be tough. We put on our warm night gear, headlamps and torches and set off into the night. It started to rain hard at this point and even with 8 layers on I was freezing. The trail was so wet we immediately were in mud up to our knees and I was so thankfully I had Motozo’s hiking stick as it helped me stay on my feet as it was SO slippery. Despite the stick though, I fell on my ass. But I’m proud to say only ONCE! This was the longest leg at 18k which took us 6hours. 6 hours on steep slippery terrain was no fun, but we made the best of it and just thought about putting one foot in front of the other. Unfortunately, I overlooked one important detail in my packing…I didn’t replace my batteries in my lights, so in the 1st hour both my headlight and torch went out. Garth, the ultra hiking gadget king, lent me his awesome torch and I was so relived! Walking in the mountains at night with NO light is the scariest thing.
But we had a lot of other teams around us and the numbers made the night more comforting.
Long story short….we walked through the night. I got so tired that for about 4 LONG hours I struggled to keep my eyes open. I started hallucinated and second guessing my hearing. My team tried to make conversation with me, but I couldn’t respond much and at one point Peter had to walk next to me so I wouldn’t fall off the hill because I couldn’t walk straight any more. But I got my 2nd wind and by 7AM, when it started getting brighter, my spirits lifted.
Sat 24th 8:30AM
We arrived at CP 7. 79.5k into our hike. Only 19.5k to go!
Again our lovely support team Mary and Motozo were stars! They cleaned our muddy shoes and dried them as we took a short nap. I only managed 30mins, but being in a warm room made all the difference in the world! David warmed up some stir fry and made sure I got my fresh apple (can’t live without my apple for breakfast). I stretched out my legs and took an Advil as the soles of my feet started feeling a little sore. This is the 2nd day and I have to say….we don’t look as bad as I thought we would.
Knowing that we only had 19.5k to go we trudged on. Our steps were slower, but we didn’t stop. We met other teams, but instead of them passing us, we passed them and we were so proud that we were still a team of 4. Many teams lose a member who gets injured or decides its too tough and pulls out. This year the conditions were especially horrible, that we met many teams with only 3 or 2 members left.
Here is Jaynie and Peter at the marker for 10k left! Oh, how happy we were that it was almost over.
Motozo and Mary met us on the trail on the last 7k. Motozo was again a star who ran a head to find the route markers so we wouldn’t get lost and kept telling us we were almost finished. Here we are at the top of the last peak! Did I mention that the last 19k is the HARDEST part of the course with hills that never seem to end?! Along with steep climbs the weather also didn’t improve very much from Friday. We had some snow and on and off rain.
YAY, FINISH! We finished in 32hrs 3mins. 1 hour faster then 2 years ago when I did it. We came in at 5pm and it was the first time to finish in daylight. We toasted with champagne and beer, congratulating each other for a job well done.
I really am so thankfully to Motozo and Mary who took Friday off of work and woke up so early with us and showed endless energy even though they were tired themselves. They were hoping to get in a little bit if cycling and running, but were too busy taking care of us that the only exercise they got was the 14k hike they did with us at the end.
I’m so happy I had such a lovely team to hike with. I think our personalities complimented each other, we never got especially angry (maybe a little frustrated at times) at each other and managed to make the best out of our situation.
Jaynie an I are already talking about the next Oxfam we want to do….I think this time it’ll have to be in a warm place though. So were thinking Australia or New Zealand.
Another thing to celebrate is that I have no injuries to speak of at the moment. Only tight and sore legs. I’m taking a few days off heavy exercise and treating my legs to a nice massage sometime this week.
Small fact: Japan Oxfam Trailwalker is the toughest course out of all the other Oxfam Trailwalkers around the globe.