February 14, 13 | Fumiko Magota
Recently I've been wondering what all the northern runners do during the winter season. Being an indoor runner myself I was surprised to find out from friends and family that many Hokkaido runners continue their hobby straight through the winter months!
The "Shiraishi Cycling Road" is perhaps the most popular running spot in Sapporo, but today I'd like to focus on the running that happens in Nakajima Park. I visited the park and spoke with a few runners to ask about their experience.
▲ "Nakajima Park" is located near Susukino. It features a lake where you can rent boats during summer. In the winter months, however, the lake freezes, and the snow covering it up allows you to clearly see animal tracks across its surface.
The day before I visited the park there was heavy snow, so I was a bit worried that the paths would be completely covered. But due to the large number of park visitors the paths were already flattened out. I began to walk and almost immediately came across some runners!
I quickly began my interview with a female runner who worked in education.
Fukko- "Is one of the reasons for running during the winter season to keep your body in shape?"
Female runner- "No, it's not just that. I have a race that I'm preparing for, so I don't really want to take any breaks. If I take the winter months off than I'll have to redo all the preparation I've done up to now!"
So it seems that it isn't always just about getting in some exercise. That's usually my reason for running so I guess I was assuming the same for others as well. Sorry about that!
The next person I was able to catch up to was a male restaurant owner.
Fukko- "Are you out running in this cold winter in preparation for something in particular?"
Male Runner- "That's right! First up will be the Toyako Marathon in May, and if I get good results I'll be shooting for the Okhotsk 100 kilometer Marathon after that!"
Fukko- "How far do you run on an average day?"
Male Runner- "I usually don't worry about daily amounts, I shoot for monthly results. Summer months I usually shoot for 200 kilometers, and winter months about 100."
I've never measured results by month before! Seems that I have some studying to do about running. Sorry about that!
During my interviews with those runners I couldn't help but notice how perfectly outfitted they were for cold weather running. I began to wonder what equipment was important for winter running. So I visited the "Asics Shop Sapporo" for some answers.
▲ "Asics Shop Sapporo"
Upon entering I was greeted with a smile by store manager Masaki Ito who is a "SUB3 Runner." The title refers to the completion of a marathon in under three hours, and Mr. Ito's eight years of running experience certainly assured me that he deserves the title!
The first thing that winter runners need to worry about is, of course, quality shoes!
▲ Here are some shoes specifically crafted for winter running.
The sole of the shoe is the most important part, as Mr. Ito explained.
"The rubber soles of these shoes are filled with silica sand."
It seems that the sand inside the rubber allows the shoe to grip the snowy ground better.
▲ Can you see those random white dots? That's the sand. ※These shoes have been used for over a year.
Some other important items for running include gloves, a hat, and a neck warmer. In fact, each of the runners I met in Nakajima had this exact outfit!
"If the outfit is a bit cold it's OK. As you run the body will naturally warm up, so there isn't too much of a problem so long as the runners remember to cover up their fingertips and head! The neck warmer helps to prevent cold air from getting inside the runner's jacket."
▲ "Don't take Hokkaido's winters too lightly. If you don't at least have these three items you're going to have a hard time!" says Mr. Ito.
Lately many out-of-towners have been visiting Sapporo to go for a winter run. To help them out the shop offers rental winter shoes for 100 yen a day. (Through the end of February.) They also currently hold a "Night Run" four times a week, and have combined these services into a vacation package for visitors!
For those visitors that plan on visiting Sapporo this winter, why not try a night run or two while you're here? It's one of the best ways to truly experience Hokkaido's winter weather!
〈Cooperative Coverage〉Asics Shop Sapporo
Location: 1 Minami 3-Jyo Nishi 5-Chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido
Click below for more information on the tour! (Night-run and shoe rental included!)
(Hokkaido Likers Photo Writer - Fukko)