On Sunday April 9th the Striders travelled to Gunma prefecture for the Kanra Sakura Marathon. This race has become one of our oldest and best traditions. Strider members show up wearing red dresses and run the hilly 10k or 20k race. This year we had tutus for all the runners to wear and it was awesome. People were cheering for the “ballerinas” as we ran down the streets of Kanra. This year’s race was pretty wet with rain throughout the entire race. While this race was normally pretty hot the rain was cooled things off greatly which made it even more enjoyable.
This is a deceptively hilly race. With the exception of the lap around the track at the start and finish there is not a flat area in the race. After the lap the race heads down hill making for a really fast first mile then it is a slow climb until mile 4 where you have a steep climb for about 600m. When you get to the top you get to enjoy a mile or so of downhill which feels amazing after all the uphill. The 10k and 20k split off with a little over 1km to go and the 20k does another loop before both races make a steep climb back up to the track.
This is a beautiful race. The town has cherry blossoms throughout it and the timing this year was perfect. The only negative for this race is the number of water stops. When the weather is hot, as it usually is, this can be a problem but on this day it wasn’t a huge deal. When you finish the race you receive a nice certificate as well as a box of local goodies including pasta as well as konnyaku. The best part of this race is the onsen less than 200m away with a discounted entry for all runners. A pleasant surprise this year was the addition of some food vendors at the race. Overall it was a great time for everyone and after running it you can see why it has become a yearly tradition.