Sunday, June 22, 2014

Walking the Yamanote Line - in pain

The Yamanote Line (pronounced yama-no-tay) is the loop train line that encircles central Tokyo. When I say central Tokyo that includes areas of the city I've never even seen but then Tokyo is a big place. There are twenty nine stops (soon to be thirty) linking the main hubs of Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ueno, Tokyo Station etc and many smaller ones such as Tabata and Tamachi that many have never heard of. And for the train it is a  34.5km journey.

So yesterday was Yamathon Day, an annual urban challenge to walk or run the entire circuit in teams of three or four, taking selfies at each station. I wasn't thinking of participating but was interested in what there was to see. I'd ridden the course before but that was twenty years ago and remember little of it. That was also in the days before GPS and so I had no idea I was setting off on a 50km journey. The trains travel in straight lines; pedestrians cross bridges, go down blind roads, hit construction or diversions and occasionally get lost.

I started at 5.00am from Shibuya, almost the opposite side of the circuit from the official start in Yurakucho at 7.00am, wondering when I would meet the first competitors coming the other way. Sure enough, at Sugamo on the northern stint a team of four came running towards me looking good. These guys were on track for a fast time and it was well possible I would see them again as I walked the back straight towards Shinagawa as they closed on the finish line.

Well, to cut a long story short, after 30km in just over six hours I reached the official starting point with very blistered feet and age showing me up badly. Then courage being the better part of valour I courageously decided to call it a day.  I'm committed to trying again, next time with lighter gear and better footwear. May be next year I'll even try the Yamathon itself. But to everyone who entered the challenge I think you're all awesome. For those who ran it, unbelievable. And to those over forty five and overweight who made the distance, you're Rock Stars! Hope to be one too next time.


And here's a 2015 Update!

1 comment:

  1. Maybe wear some Adidas. I hear they make great kicks! Cheers! Read your article on JT. Interesting stuff!