by Satomi

Hello, everyone! Emil here! こんにちは!

For those who may not know me, I like to run a lot! I consider it my most important hobby. Or you can even say passion. Anyway, I got introduced into the wonderful sport of running back in 2011. It was when my friends persuaded me to come along with them and join a 10-kilometer running event organized by AXN back in my country. I was not really that interested back then but nonetheless I decided to give it a try. To my surprise, I was able to complete the race within a few minutes after the 1-hour mark and managed to finish in the top tier of all running participants. I said to myself, "Hey, not bad! This was fun and it wouldn't hurt to be in more events like these". Not to mention, I seemed to like the 'high' or good feeling brought about by running; I also enjoyed collecting the racing singlets, bibs and finisher medals. And so my journey into the world of running began. I participated in a lot of road races: 10k, 16k, 21k for the next two years! All in all, I think I have already participated in around 30-40 races.

Somewhere along the way, I managed to enter a 12-km trail running event. I remembered using trail shoes (I was ignorant and completely unaware of the necessary preparations and equipment!). During the race, I found it really challenging because of the increasing elevation due to the mountain path as well as the varying terrain. I was gasping for my breath all the time! However, all of my worries and fatigue were somehow taken away when I reached the summit and was able to take in the magnificent and breathtaking views! It was at that moment that I realized, "Yes, this is my sport!", and I was converted from a road racer to a trail runner. Afterwards, I only participated in trail running events, which were often organized by a lot of trail running societies as well as clothing brands like Salomon and North Face. I must say, I like the adrenaline rush one gets when racing down the mountains and trails - especially when you are dodging trees, jumping and zigzagging along boulders and branches, treading along rivers and farmlands, as well as slowing down on sharp turns along the ridges (failing to do so could potentially mean your demise especially if you fall into the ravine below). It may be scary or extreme for some, but these are what make Trail Running so special to me.

Anyway, I have also participated in a 50-km ultra trail marathon back in the Philippines in 2013. It was the most grueling run I've had so far! We had to traverse 3 summits of the Philippines' Sierra Mountain Ranges, and it took me around 8 hours to finish the event. Furthermore, I am lucky to have the experience of running the 23-km Adventure Race category of Mount Kinabalu's International Climbathon in Sabah, Malaysia of the same year. It was the most technical yet most fun sky run I've done so far. There was a point where I almost blacked out due to the thin oxygen levels on the mountain trails. For me, participating in trail runs does not mean beating other runners nor outpacing them, but rather conquering yourself and pushing your limits. I believe it's actually more of a mental battle than a physical one - it's a battle with yourself. I'm sure those who have participated in half, full or ultramarathons will agree with me.

Recently, I am enjoying the trails of Kagamiyama during weekends. I like to create my own running route and incorporate as much elevation changes as possible. I haven't joined any trail running event yet here in Japan, but if given the opportunity, I won't hesitate! If you like running, let's run together! The trails await!