Running all over the World (part 1)

Chichijima, Japan. Closer to the Mariana Trench than it is to Tokyo.

A couple of years ago, I found myself in Japan, in a bid to both lose myself and find myself in one of those cliched mid-life crisis things that I’m assured will happen to us all. Mine, for the record, was spectacular.

Anyway, I’m not going to bore you with those details. This is about running.

so I found myself in Japan. I started off in Tokyo, hit a bar, and was regaled with tales of a far off land called Chichijima – a tiny island, some one thousand kilometers due south, one of the most remote islands in Japan. This tiny island has a population of around 2,000 people, and the only access is by ship, the Ogasawara Maru, which leaves every six days, and akes twenty-five hours to reach it’s destination.

I was sold.

Buying a ticket for the next available ship out, I stayed a few months in this remote corner of the Earth, almost completely isolated from the outside world (through choice).

Away from distractions, I began to discover what I really wanted out of life.

And one of the things was to run. So I ran.

One end of the island to the other was around 4km, travelling along the only roads that were available. It sounds rather backwards when I say it like that – it wasn’t. This is still Japan. All mod cons were still available if I wanted them, including some of the best wifi I’ve ever used.

But the running.

The running was spectacular.

I ran most evenings, and became a familiar sight traversing the hills on the main routes, watching sunsets over the oceans, and avoiding poisonous frogs if my run lasted into the dark of the night.

There were a couple of incredibly steep hills out there, one at an angle that felt like 45°, but was probably much less.

The air was so crisp and clear, and running at sea level for much of the time (the highest point on the island is a little over 300m), oxygen levels were abundant. I ran on that island without a trace of lactic acid build up, and truly believed that I could run forever. The subtropical climate assisting me in my runs, and only being a hindrance when

I ran everywhere. I ran like a little kid does, just for the pure joy of doing it. I had no watch, no way to tell the time. Due to the peculiar six day week on the island (the run everything to when the ship comes), I even lost track of the days. I spent my time kayaking, and climbing and generally exploring, realising that I may actually have ventured into places no one had seen for years.

World war 2 era vehicles litter the hillsides, long since forgotten, parked on roads that no longer existed. Coastal defences waited in vain for an invasion that never came. And a quiet sadness permeated the still. I ran past it all, not in ignorance, but in contemplation of where I was, and what had transpired both to me, and on the island in years gone by.

There’s so much more I could add, about that place, but I’m going to save it for another day.

While everything else in my life was in meltdown, Chichijima proved how beautiful the world could be, and running quieted my mind, something I am ever grateful for.


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