22 March 2016


I like to run clockwise around Osaka Castle. It must be a left to right thing that just feels right. Why then am I massively outnumbered by runners going the opposite way? I stick to the left and so do they on a 4km circuit with a ton of room so there’s never an issue but I have to ask … why? It’s not a small variation either. Hand on heart, the ratio of clockwise to anticlockwise runners would be something like 1 in 30.

I reckon I’ve run the Osaka Castle Park route a dozen times and I’m proud to say I’ve never been passed. These Japanese runners with exaggerated reputations are yet to rattle my cage. Sceptics might say that my clockwise obsession was contributing to this winning streak but I prefer to think otherwise.

You can imagine my surprise then, when on my Thursday evening run, I noticed up ahead in the distance a runner with the same sense of direction as me. He looked handy too with excellent running form and agility. Sensing an opportunity on a gentle incline I pressed a little more to close the 150m gap between us. When I could see he was wearing Adidas Adizero racing shoes there would have been no more than a 3m gap. At that stage we would have been running about 4.35/km pace.

Looking back my guess is that he too had some kind of over inflated ego that kicked in when he was about to be passed because the pace certainly picked up. Not all at once but in a cunning yet determined way. All of a sudden it was game on as I too changed gear and matched him stride for stride all the while maintaining that 3m distance.

I’d already run a nicely paced 8km to that point yet the challenge now before me made it feel like an ideal warm-up. I felt good as that first kilometre flew by in the blink of an eye at 3.49 pace. Occasionally I’d move slightly left or right of him to study his form and yes, it was so much better than mine. The second kilometre felt faster and it was at 3.44. Only then did I start to feel ever so slightly puffed and fatigued which frustrated me. Deep down I knew this guy had another gear, perhaps even another still and would use it if he had to. I dared not push him at all.

We ran just the 3km together at which point he turned to say “arigato” in full flight before darting left leaving me to mercifully recover and then run home. My winning streak had come to an end and yet in every way it felt great.

Note: Top picture … a day trip to Kyoto to look for exciting running tracks. Followed by a picture taken on the day of my daughters graduation. Oh … and I’m struggling to maintain a respectable weight with food like this.

1 comment:

  1. Good "race" Mark. I'm left wondering if the other chap did have a couple more gears - maybe he was a 33-minute 10k man and was just toying with you? Track is raced anti-clockwise so maybe that's why the locals prefer that direction - deferring to all the track races they've seen on tele.
    Anyway, keep tucking into that delicious looking food. You've comfortably overtaken my racing weight :)