It is exciting to “announce the birth” of a new foot stage race slated for the Kansai region of Japan from 3 to 11 October 2015. This new event is co-organised by Kuai Sports Promotions and Venture Travel certainly going to present a one-of-a-kind challenge to anyone eager to take part, because the 8-day Trans Kansai requires competitors to finish a gruelling 200km route that passes some of that nation’s most beautiful attractions. But given the arduous distance runners face, will competitors focus on beauty and history or will the physical effects of a 200km ultra marathon take precedence? If you’re trying to decide whether to attempt this extreme event, here’s what you can expect.
Run 200km in 8 Days
Join fellow competitors at the staging area to acclimate your body and mind for the challenge that awaits. Warm up your legs on a cultural tour of Osaka to get your blood pumping and joints loosened. Wind up at the world famous, 430-year-old Osaka Castle for a 60,000 square metre run around castle grounds. Introduce yourself to other competitors while sampling local food dishes like Okonomiyaki before hitting the sheets early.
Board local transportation to Nara for today’s 20km marathon leg. Participants run through the Karasugayama Virgin Forest, experiencing terrain changes that include rocky hills and steep ascents. A traditional Japanese lunch is served to all Trans Kansai competitors before everyone visits Yoshikien, a spectacular trio of gardens. Continue to cool down with a visit to a Nara landmark: the nation’s most historically significant temple, Todaiji. Stroll Nara streets as far into the evening as your energy permits!
Join Trans Kansai competitors on board a local train travelling from Nara to Tenri, a 20 minute journey, along Japan’s oldest transit route, the Yamanobe Road. Have your mobile or camera ready to snap photos of rice paddies, bamboo groves and historical sites, including temples, shrines and ancient burial grounds.
Enjoy a hardy breakfast before touring Yoshino, the epicentre of cherry blossom horticulture. Walk through cherry groves leading up the mountain (30,000 trees!) to the start line where a 20km run along the Diamond Trail awaits you that extends up Mount Katsuragi. Race organisers along the route will point the way to your next leg: the Mitarai Canyon Trail that leads you and fellow participants to natural hot springs sure to relax and soothe you as you anticipate the 50km leg of the Trans Kansai on tomorrow’s calendar.
Visit Kyoto’s famous religious and cultural sites, including the Geisha district and thousands of Buddhist and Shinto shrines, before today’s 50km race. Travel by train to the trail head at Arashiyama, where acres of bamboo lead to Mount Atago (the highest mountain in Kyoto). A short incline in the vicinity of the 400-year-old tea houses at the Atago shrine leads to gravel paths, thickly forested terrain and ancient stone steps. Look for wood signs every 100 metres assuring you that you’re on the proper path. Anticipate mountain switchbacks, spectacular vistas and bush land on your rocky ascent back to the Atago Shrine where vending machines dispense beverages within the environs of this 1,300 year-old-shrine! The rest of today’s descent takes you past the Kiyotakigawa River to trail’s end at Ohara hot springs. A bus collects you for your return to Kyoto.
Expect to add 25km to your running total today as you venture forth along two famous trails along Kyoto’s eastern mountains. Anticipate an immediate challenge atop Mount Hiei where a steep ascent warms your legs in preparation for the road ahead. Trails are unpredictable as you take a downhill path before a second climb up Mount Daimonji presents itself as a combination of single-track and road running on a predetermined route along Kyoto’s outskirts. Find a forest at the end of this day’s trek; when you spot it, you’ll know that three smaller hills lead to the Torii gates of Fushimi Inari Shrine and an end to today’s 25km challenge.
Today’s warm-up run on Mount Hiei gives you a chance to assess the strength and condition of your calves from a starting point at a river bed atop the mountain. The route down the mountain during this conditioning day is new, so play tourist by taking in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture’s capital. There, the main port of Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest lake, is a final stop before you board your train for an afternoon of leisure in Kyoto.
Facing the final 50km of the Trans Kansai will require mental and physical strength, so gather your stamina on the final bus journey to Shuzan amid the season’s autumn colours. Run from Honsono-cho, across the Yamadadani-Gawa River on man-made boards and past rock caves before discovering wide, flat rocks leading to Taki-matano, a spectacular waterfall with a 20km drop. Ascend to Yono and Kuza Jinja, run upstream to Fushimiazakato Oomori-nishi-cho and then cross Kameonoko-bashi Bridge. The riverbed path and trail take you past rice fields and farms as your legs and mind prepare for the final Trans Kansai challenge: ascending Trail 68, perhaps the most feared part of this race. But you’ve come too far to turn back, so muster all of your faith and courage to complete the 200km challenge you were born to attempt!
Do the beauty and history surrounding this harrowing ultra marathon add to the allure of the Trans Kansai, or are you the sort who is simply too preoccupied with the details of undertaking a 200km challenge to care about historic sites and natural splendour? Your opinion is welcome, so please speak your mind and weigh in on this question!
The Trans Kansai is also one of the race included in the Asia Trail Master series, a continental-wide series of trail running races featuring an annual championship and a lifetime achievement award. You can register for the first edition of Trans Kansai via the official website. There is a restricted amount of runners who can take part in this event so sign up early to avoid disappointment!
RunSociety is happy to present to you an exclusive discount for the Trans Kansai race. Visit our event discount to find out more about the special discount offered to our readers and members.