Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ultra Trail Mt Fuji 2013 - Part 1: Avid Adventures

A woman once told me. "Doing an Ironman is like eating a chocolate elephant, you need to focus a little at a time".  I experience so much during this last Japan trip that it is hard for me to write down everything at once so I finally decided on breaking it by part.  I haven't figure what I want to write next but I know I need to start with Avid Adventure.

First of all I like to thanks Pauline Kitamura for helping me with the race requirement process.  I was qualified for UTMF, then I wasn't qualified.  I worked my ass off to get qualified again with another 80 km race only to run into issues again.  Pauline helped me communicate with the official to have everything clear.  For that I am very grateful.

Pauline - the girl in black jacket
Up on arriving at Nagahama Rokan I found a UTMF welcome package with a bunch of useful information. Two things caught my eye.  The stickers and the 'Complete Run' Fuji pin.

The stickers are used for the Avid Adventure drop bags. It reminds me of Ironman drop bags where you have to put stickers on the bag =)
Cool. Avid Adventure managed to find a temple and bought us some Omamori (Japanese amulets) 
What! They are handmade from one of the AA support crew! WOW
When I saw the stickers I am like... cool! It's like the Ironman stickers. I know what to do with these.  Then I found what I thought was an Omamori (Japanese Amulets that you buy at temple, I usually get them for my friends and especially my friend's kids to wish them good health).  The outside said 'Complete Run Wishing' in Kenji (Chinese Character) so I was like wow Avid Adventure managed to find a temple that does this.  From my personal understanding, Japanese don't usually say 'good luck' or 'have fun'. They say 'Please Do Your Best' or wishing you a 'complete run'.  I guess that's their way to say good luck =)  But when I opened it I found a Mt Fuji pin and I realized it is actually handmade!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Because I buy Omamori at temple and I handmade stuff for people that I really care, I really appreciate the effort.  I bought a lot of stuff from Tokyo this time, but if there is one thing that I can only take back from this trip, actually from all of my Japan trips, this pin will be the one thing I will pick.  There is no second thoughts.

When I found out Akiko (wife of Arima) spend an average of an hour making each one of these (and she made 100), my jaw dropped.  Thank You Ari and Akiko.

Arima and Akiko
Then of course there are the rest of the Avid Adventure Crew. I personally did not have the chance to meet every single one of them but here are the complete list of all 2013 Avid Adventure Support Team Members.  

Crewing (supporting racer) is not an easy thing to do.  For a typical 100 miler in United States someone usually have a crew of 3-4 people.  They basically follow you from aid station to aid station and give you support.  When I attempted Angeles Crest 100 in 2012 I have a crew of six.  For this team to manage 100 racers/supports and to provide the kind of support that they have, it was unbelievable.

These are only the surface of what I describe.  Each of the members took their time out and come to support us.  I probably will not make it to Japan to crew these members if they were to do an Ultra Marathon, but I CAN show them around if they visit Los Angeles.  Please let me know if you come to Los Angeles.  

And the one last thing that touched my heart is when they said good bye to me when I board the bus back to Tokyo.  When everyone have a car in Los Angeles (and we all park at different places), we just don't say good bye like this anymore =) Thank You.  Even though I dropped out this year, I have a very good experience and I met a lot of great people (both support and racer).  I will come back to challenge UTMF again, but probably not next year. I need a break from racing =)

Thank You Thank You Thank You.