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Our colleague Tsukasa participated in the Ultra Trail - Mt Fuji (approx. 165km and +7,574m). He started the race Friday the 21st of April and finished Sunday, after 42 hours.

Let's discover his story!


I'm Tsukasa, a 46 year old regular Japanese guy, originally from Osaka, Japan, now living and working in Queenstown. I'm not an elite runner I just want to try, run and finish the race. This is my story of discovering trail running in New Zealand, ultimately leading to my entry into the Ultra Trail Mount Fuji 100 miler.

When I was a university student, I visited Te Anau in New Zealand and walked the Routeburn, Milford and Kepler tracks. It was my first trip to a foreign country by myself, now more than 25 years ago.

After I graduated, I had a fulltime job in Osaka. It was fun job and I really enjoyed it, but I always hoped to live in a foreign country one day for a year or more, rather than a short visit. The primary reason was to study English.

I worked in Osaka for 3 years, then I made a decision to return to New Zealand. I arrived in New Zealand on the 5th of October, 2001. I was 26 years old. It was huge challenge because I couldn't speak English, I just could say "hi", "how are you" and "thanks"!! And, of course, at the time, no friends.

The winter season in my first year living in New Zealand luckily, I was able to get a job at Outside Sports Queenstown.

I also found a tiny advertisement about the Kepler Challenge at the store. Running the Kepler track? Seriously? It was the first time I had heard about trail running. Yes, I was interested, and entered the 60km Kepler Challenge.

At the time I wasn't even a runner! I had not even run a half marathon. Once I entered the race I started training for trail running. Where I live, in Queenstown, we have lots of beautiful trails. 4 days a week I ran these trails. It was tough but I enjoyed it hugely, and it was great both physically and mentally.

How was my first Kepler Challenge? I managed to finish within the 12hr cut-off by a narrow margin. The Kepler Challenge has now became a regular event in my calendar, every December.

Over the next while I entered and finished many trail running races in New Zealand and Japan. And I thought, one day, I wanted to finish a 100 mile race!!

I decided to set the goal of completing Ultra Trail Mount Fuji. I had 10 points and so entered the 2020 event. Unfortunately, this race was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 because of bloody COVID!!

I didn’t run any races in 2022 so I thought I didn't have any points to enter the race again. And I hadn’t checked the event website.

For no real reason, in November 2022, I went to the Ultra Trail Mt Fuji website.  Reading carefully, they said I still had first priority to enter that race. It was 2 days before the end of the entry deadline. Yes, I clicked it!!

I had 6 months training for this 100 mile race, start date was Friday the 21st of April, 2023.

I was incredibly excited when I arrived back in Japan and the day of the race was finally near. On race day, about 2400 runners were around the starting line. Ultra Trail Mt Fuji is the biggest trail running event in Japan. The weather was great, slightly overcast, and a very good temperature. My wave started at 3:15pm, it was the beginning of long, long battle. Exhausting, painful and no mercy in sight. My only thought was to finish!!

Throughout the race I had eaten bananas, hot soup and hot noodles at each aid station. But my GU Energy gels were the most efficient energy source. Surprisingly I took 32 Gu gels. Thanks to that, I was able to finish this race. I took 42 hours and finished my big, long battle after 165.3km and +7,574m of cumulative altitude gain.

Will I do it again?  Watch this space!

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