Posts tagged kushigata
Jun Kaise is Talking Trail Running

He was second in the Echigo Country Trail last year and determined to win the colourful race in his home region of Niigata this coming Sunday. Jun Kaise is one of Japan's fastest non-professional trail runners, especially on the medium distance. He proved as much three weeks ago when he won the Kushigata Wind Trail, the shortest race in the 2017 Asia Trail Master Championship series. Not that it was a walk in the park, because no fewer than 2500 metres of elevation gain had to be conquered over a mere  30 km. Perhaps Kaise is not just fast, but also stronger than he thinks. A smile on his face wherever he goes, Jun Kaise will be one to watch this weekend. And possibly for the rest of the season, as another victory means 1000 ATM Championship points, which would put him right up there in the ranking. Let's find out a bit more about the Japanese trail runner! 

Q: Where were you born and did you grow up ?
In Minamiuonuma city, in Niigata Prefecture. 

Q: What created your interest in running and trail running in particular?
To make use of it for my day to day work. Also, I love mountains.

Q: What do you do for a living?
I am a firefighter, or an emergency medical technician. I need to be in good shape. 

Q: What do you like about the Echigo Country Trail?
I very much like to talk with the local people.

Q: What is your ambition for this event?
First and foremost, enjoying the contact with local residents.

Q: Do you prefer the long 100k ultras or shorter trail races like the 52k Echigo?
I am at my best racing around 30 to 50 km.

Q: In your eyes, what is the current state of trail running in Japan?
I am excited about it, and I think that it will be even more exciting in the future.

Q: There have been some set-backs in Japan lately for trail runners, with arguably the biggest event UTMF cancelled this year and still without a confirmed date for 2018. What do you think is the reason?
Because the act of running in the mountains can not get the understanding of some stubborn people.

Q: What do you talk about when you talk about running?
The splendor of mountain scenery.

Q:  You won Kushigata Wind Trail two weeks ago, is that race comparable with Echigo? Not so much. In my view, KUSHIGATA needs speed, but Echigo is requires a high degree of toughness.

Q: Have you ever run IZU TRAIL Journey? It is the big final of the ATM Championship this year.
Not yet, but I am looking forward to it. 

Q: Is it easy for Japanese runners to travel abroad to other trail races in the Asia Trail Master championship series?
In Japan, there are many people who have difficulty in taking leave from work,  and it is difficult to travel for more than just a couple of days. So, it is difficult to go to remote areas of Asia.

Q: How do you see the future development of trail running in Japan?
I think that as the number of competing runners increases, it will become more and more familiar and understood, also for those people who are not runners. 

Q: Many athletics federations in Asia do not recognise trail running as a genuine discipline. How's that in Japan?
Unfortunately, in Japan this is also the same situation. 

Q: Should trail running become recognised as an olympic sport?
I think it is difficult. Because you can not get the same course, distance and altitude difference every time.

Q: What is your favourite piece of running music?
Japanese pop music.

Jun Kaisen proudly wearing the winner's shirt of Kushigata Wind Trail 3 weeks ago

Jun Kaisen proudly wearing the winner's shirt of Kushigata Wind Trail 3 weeks ago

Preview: Vietnam and Japan begin ATM season

Two races on the agenda for this weekend in the 2017 Asia Trail Master championship. On Saturday we have the first of three events in Vietnam this season, the Vietnam Jungle Marathon. On Sunday, the shortest but crispiest race of 2017 will be held in western Japan, the Kushigata Wind Trail - also the first of three in the Land of the Rising Sun. 

In fact, both races share quite a few similarities. Vietnam Jungle Marathon and Kushigata Wind Trail are events that have been set up following the success of two other events by the same organisers. VJM is the new race by the Vietnam Mountain Marathon team, and Kushigata is produced by the team that brings you Echigo Country Trail. It is a clearcut sign of how trail running has been developing in Asia. Mind you, these two races are no simples warm-up runs, they are tough and challenging in their own right. 

According to race director David Lloyd, VJM offers probably the best trail running scenery Vietnam can offer. The 70k race goes through the Po Luong Nature Reserve, a wild, hilly, adventurous and natural rainforest area about two hours from country capital Hanoi. Trail running in Vietnam has started to flourish and this year's three points races for the Asia Trail Master Championship are testimony to that. Not only do runners from Asia and the rest of the world get a chance to visit and experience Vietnam in a different way, but Vietnamese runners also get a chance to learn, develop and be part of the ever growing Asian trail scene. Already this year in February, we go to know Ngoc Ha at UTKC in Thailand. The Vietnamese runner scored a great third place in the SuperTrail race behind Steven Ong and Wataru Iino, proving the potential he has. Ngoc Ha will be in action this weekend, and also in the next Vietnamese race in a month's time, the Tam Dao Mountain Trail. In the women's race, the top favourite is arguably the Singapore-based Norwegian Ann-Mari Lillejord, winner of last year's Ijen Trailrunning 70 in Indonesia. 

In Japan, the 30km race with 2500 hm is open on paper, and we are likely to discover some new names and talents at Kushigata. 

Our Asia Trail Master team is present at both events as usual, and will be reporting from the field - signal permitting. 

Profile of the VJM 70

Profile of the VJM 70