“After a day’s walk everything has twice its usual value. ” ~ George Macauley Trevelyan
Two months ago today it was April 9th. We decided to participate in the Yamathon. A walk for Tohoku around Tokyo’s famous inner-loop line. Another of our endless good ideas at the time, with a dash of nonsense, an air of something diff, all for charity. It felt right at the time. Concurrently we would celebrate Emma’s birthday and see if the extra kilos we were carrying were going to be a fitness problem. And that’s how the Tokyo Interpretive Dance Troupe was formed. It’s taken us until now to talk about it. Yes, 2 months. Because of the trauma. We discuss.
We started off ok. As we always do, with zest and vigour, joyful and quite ignorant of what was too come. It’s certainly not unusual for us to start something with absolutely no idea of what it entails. We knew this would be arduous and epic, but with good friends, endless banter and transportation to wing us home as a definitive plan B we were all on-board. For now.
We met up with the fabulous Mr Tame. Hard to miss, what’s not to love? He live streamed the whole day. He is happiness on legs with pin-wheels and an antenna. Really have to invest in this kind of head-ware…
Some fab T-shirt designs on display. Very sad that the TIDT didn’t get it’s act together. But in our defense I was wearing legwarmers. And Trace… well… looking very Sue Sylvester in her matching tracksuit.
Some flag waving. Getting into the spirit.
A little bit of stretching. Limbering up. Really though, it was a whole lot of posing if we are being honest.
Here we are being a “Y”. Actually that is very deep now that I reflect on this. That’s exactly the point. Why?
And the obligatory leaps.
Listened to the opening speeches. And took the official photo… Here’s Joey, the original Yamathoner. Inspiring and doing such great work. Always.
Met a fellow competitor. Good luck. Woof.
Set the watch and WE’RE OFF.
We eventually found her and made our way over to get our Harajuku start ticket. And then we are officially off. But we couldn’t make up our minds which direction to go. Clockwise or anti-clockwise? So we just headed off to Shibuya. I knew a good coffee shop on the way…
Lots of blossoms out. We revelled in them a little too much. We were surely dead last before Ebisu.
Lots of sightseeing. Truly Tokyo is an incredible city, the vibe, the pace, the never-ending, changing suburbs and“ku’s”. It never, ever ceases to flabbergast and surprise. Along the way there was LOTS of talking about other ways we could complete this, avoiding naturally, the actual walking part. Taxis, trains and roller-skates featured. And the big blimpy thing floating high above us. We probably expended much more energy discussing ways to avoid doing what we were doing, all the while we were doing it. And following this thought pattern we so loved random pockets of Tokyo oddities we encountered. Including but not confined to… Boats. Trains. Giant Golf balls. And of course equally as enormous Gnomes.
About 10am we were only around Shinagawa. I know a place. I seem to know a place, or at least one of us did at every of the 29 stations. Food would certainly distract us from our current tiring predicament. Time for food, lots of food. And so a quick trip to Dean and Deluca and we were fully prepared with enough supplies for at least, ohhh, the next 45 mins. Just in time to get to the next station. I’m trying to remember the first mobile picnic. I believe it consisted of at least Champagne and more than one cheese platter. We are serious urban hikers. Later in the day bagels and chocolate croissants were featured items. This of course doesn’t account for all the food we had strapped to our backs – our heavily guarded emergency rations.
Fuelling up. And so we finally have some energy.
Or not. First breakdown. Shins much preferring the softer suspension of the mountains.
The thought of having a stay. Or a rest. We’re up for a stay. Always a good love hotel around when you need it.
Went round all 29 stations. Usually in good spirits. Even when the rain came down. And it did. We were weary but never gave up even when we could have. And believe me we could have. Not really sure why we kept going, inertia? I don’t know but we had to just keep on moving. We of course made it way harder for ourselves by getting lost more than once and adding on several very, very, very unnecessary kilometers. Ikebukuro, we will not be back unless we’re in a taxi. Any. Time. Soon.
Loved running into fellow walkers, friends old and new. Here we are at Tabata Station. Being quite literally TABATA. Another good idea at the time.
When the rain came and of course it did come down…don’t worry, it’s ok. We had ponchos. Nice. Shockingly we hadn’t even made it 1/4 of the way when another team ran past us coming from the opposite direction, almost finished. We plodded on.
As another distraction we did think channeling movie scenes in the rain might be a good option. We then got a bit bored, or hungry…can’t remember. In hindsight it might have been better to take a rest for a few hours and actually go and see a movie. Noted, for next time.
After 3rd lunch the muscles started to seize up. The feet started to get sore. So it was time for a little shoe swapping. Personally I would have preferred some shoe shopping. Again, for next time.
Oops. I forgot. Em did try to do some shoe shopping around Ueno.
As the afternoon progressed we still got lost every now and then. But thankfully we always found a sign to SHOW THE WAY and tell us our PRESENT BEARING.
We collided with other teams often. When we were finally about half way we then needed railings to help prop us up. A good old group shot always wastes a bit of time and is a good excuse to stop, too.
As late arvo crept into dusk we were tireder and tireder. And certainly by this stage delirium had set it. For reals. There were more tantrums than stations. But no one had the energy to deal with them. We can’t explain. There were blisters, sprained ankles, lots of cheating ideas. And I mean lots. Mainly from Emma. But we know it was her way of processing. Well that, and she had no-one to go home with on the train. We were walking for Tohoku. A silent mantra. A slight discomfort in the grand scheme of things. There was more delirium. Tears and more tantrums. Lots of them. Joey’s name featured in vain, quite prominently. And an abusive text or two may have been sent. Shinjuku was an utter meltdown. Point break.
Throughout the day we had kept ourselves occupied by documenting the proceedings, carrying our cameras, generally delighting in photographing the experience and city. But by nightfall we’d had it. All bets were off. A 10 hour wedding had nothing on the Yamathon. And we lost it. And so there is very little evidence of the night portion of the walk. But it did happen. It’s probably just better not to see it. By the time we made it anywhere near the end we discovered Yoyogi Park was closed and as such we had to go the LONG way round. And that really sucked. And we almost lost Em for good.
Here we are not really anywhere near the end. But we told Em that we were. Shaving minutes and kms off the projected iphone google map course. She may have been on to us all when Erin told her Harajuku was only 5 mins walk from Shin-Okubo.
But finally, incredibly we did it. We finished. Have no idea how. Don’t recall the end. At all. And remember this is us, where nothing ever, really goes smoothly. But we now have the tickets to prove it! JR says so. The start and the finish. All right.The tix feature on the inspiration board at the moment. I look at them every day. Proud on some days. On others I just shudder at the thought. Back to keeping it real though… somehow it took us 52km to cover the course when everyone else completed it around 47kms. We know, we know. It was all the circling of the food aisles. Probably. We look like we’ve lost our minds in the pic below. We had.
All 29 stations. Done. Couldn’t have had a more fabulous team, beautiful friends and such a great platform to give back.
100 teams, 355 people, raising ¥1,027,501 for Tohoku.
And… drum roll please…We WERE NOT LAST!!! Offically 63rd. Oh, yeah!! Love you all to bits and the whole idea of seeing places and life like this, sans the trauma but with the memories. Always.
Doesn’t look so scary on this map. Or when you’re on the training nodding off between stations.