Yesterday, Russell ran the 25th 2017 Okinawa Marathon. He signed up for the race months ago. Then, he didn’t know he would battle a nasty bug five weeks before the race. He didn’t know about a two-week visit by relatives three weeks before the race. He hadn’t anticipated a business trip taking him away from Japan one week before the race.
Despite the interrupted training schedule, he picked-up his race packet Saturday afternoon and perused the vendors’ wares. Oddly, packet pick-up is one of my favorite pre-race rituals. One can feel the anticipation of the runners. The mood is festive with a hint of apprehension as to the task ahead. One can see the immense amount of preparation and organization required of staging such an event. And one can imagine the organized chaos that will ensue the next morning. My favorite aspect of packet pick-up? That I’m not running.
Unlike other races, [S] and I dropped Russell off at the start venue and returned home. The race was a single one-way loop. Given the traffic restrictions, we would be able to see him once during the race–right outside of the gate. [S] brought her upgraded sign and her eisa drum to cheer on the runners and we sat on the median strip, joining a handful of other Americans, and did just that. Despite the fact that more than 10,000 people started the race, I spotted Russell cresting the hill easily, his height giving him away. Once we spotted him, [S] started yelling, “Go Daddy, Go.”
He stopped for a photo op and continued on, finishing the race, and joining more than 8,000 others who completed the marathon that day.
The race featured participants from around the world, including characters such as Im So Young from Korea. Runners donned a variety of costumes, wigs, and hats. And the nutrition stations were unlike any in the States. But why try to describe what I heard second-hand when an actual race participant could paint a more colorful and accurate picture of the event? No, I’ll leave that tale for another day, to be covered by another writer.