On April 26, we will see the start of Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji in Yagisaki Park on the lakeside of Kawaguchiko, Japan. Scheduled four weeks earlier than last year, the second edition of UTMF (100 miles, 46 hours limit) goes off at 15:00, two hours later than its shorter sibling, STY (Shizuoka to Yamanashi, 52 miles and 24 hours limit) that starts at 13:00. Runners of both races are to finish at Yagisaki Park.
UTMF is accredited as “sister race” of Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB). With respect to 10 year success of UTMB, Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji is planed and organized very similar to UTMB; the counter-clockwise loop route, visiting towns on the course, and running around national iconic mountain, the Mount Fuji. Success of inaugural event in last year was reported over the world’s mountain running community, and inspired more international runners than any other races in Japan.
The UTMF website showed list of registered runners for this year, and here we would like to see the notable elite runners, both international and local. This year’s roaster has incredibly deep field to explore, so list of preview goes quite long.
[Note: List of runners will be updated upon change of status on each runners.]
Women / UTMF
Krissy Moehl, the 2009 UTMB champion, comes the top of watch list for women. She will compete for podium with Claire Price from Hong Kong, Shona Stephenson from Australia, local Hiroko Suzuki, Yumiko Ohishi, Hitomi Ogawa.
Kristin (Krissy) Moehl (patagonia, USA)
Krissy, from Cololado, is one of the most famous trail runners with 10+ career in US. This winner of UTMB (2009) and Hardrock (2007) has come to Japan in 2010 and won Shinetsu Five Mountains Trail (SFMT)110k, and known well in runners community here in Japan. Considering that this UTMF would be sole 100 miler for this year (Calendar on her website says so), we shall see her best run and effort around Mt. Fuji.
Claire Price (Salomon, HKG)
Brit living in Hong Kong for long, Claire won Vibram’s Hong Kong 100k in January. Her record includes: 2nd in HK 100k (2012), 5th in TNF Endurance Challenge in San Francisco (2012) and 2nd in CCC of Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc. She is in the closest position to podium in ever increasing runners from Hong Kong to UTMF.
Shona Stephenson (Inov-8, AUS)
Shona has recently won the nortrious tough Northburn 100 miler in New Zealand, just one week later of her win of Tarawera 85k in New Zealand. I could not see her result outside of Australia and NZ, but this UTMF could be her successful debut to the international races.
Hiroko Suzuki (Salomon)
Hiroko has more experience in 100 mile or longer footraces than any other female locals in Japan. After bagging 2nd place in UTMF last year, she run Tor des Geants in Aosta, Italy and placed in 4th. Since late 2000s, she has focused on ultrarunning races in the world, like UTMB, Western States, Grand Raid des Pyrenees. As a pioneer of female ultrarunners, her run will be the most notable among local women.
Yumiko Ohishi (La Sportiva)
She was a brilliant rookie in year 2011 in Japanese trail running woman’s field. She won major races in Japan at her first attempt of each race, Kita-Tanzawa (Kitatan) 41k, Hasetsune 71k, etc. She was off for whole last year season due to stress fracture, and dropped inaugural UTMF. Her successful win in Izu Trail Journey 70k in this March seems to prove that she has fully got back. Yumiko lives in Shizuoka.
Hitomi Ogawa (patagonia / Vasque)
Hitomi is recognized as leading trail runner since early days of this sports in Japan. After 5th place in her first attempt for 100 miler in UTMF last year, she won long races in Japan; SFMT 110k and OSJ Ontake Ultra 100k. Her friendly character and persistence in race are well known in our community, and will be seen again in Fuji. She lives in Kanagawa.
Other notable runners from overseas include Gretel (Margaretha) Fortmann (Salomon, AUS). Gretel was 4th in 2012 Lavaredo Ultra Trail 125k, and 10th in UTMB 2011. Rest of local notable female are: Akemi Ban (6th UTMF 2012), Yoshiko Takahashi (7th UTMF 2012), Mayumi Matsuura (8th UTMF2012), Yoshiko Matsunuma (10th UTMF 2012), Kumiko Amikura (winner of STY 2012), Erika Tada (2nd SFMT) and more.
＊Notable female who is not or will not be in UTMF
Nora Senn (HKG): The 2nd place winner of UTMF last year is coming back from injury and avoid this year’s UTMF, but listed on STY instead.
Men / UTMF
Men’s field is flooded with French speedsters. The winner of inaugural UTMF, Julien Chorier, Sebastien Chaigneau, Antoine Guillon, Lionel Trivel, and more. Canadian Gary Robbins is back from injury and show his talent. Brendan Davis is the Australian record holder of many ultrarunning events. List of Japanese local is almost like Championship race and hard to exhaust: Kenichi Yamamoto, Shogo Mochizuki, Minehiro Yokoyama, Hiroki Ishikawa, Tsuyoshi Soma, and goes on.
Julien Chorier (Salomon, FRA)
We should agree that Julien should come top of the leaders board again. Here in Japan, we are astonished to see Julien (and Adam Campbell) are so strong that no local elite could see his back for almost entire race. He was proved mountain athlete with win of Grand Raid Reunion, Hardrock, etc. So far, he has marked his race calendar for Andorra Ultra Trail / Ronda dels Cims and UTMB as well. Fascinated by his visit last year, he comes back to Mt. Fuji, and shows his interest to climb up to its summit.
Sebastien Chaigneau (The North Face, FRA)
Seb is one of the famous international runner in Japan. NHK, national TV network in Japan, covered UTMB in 2009, where Tsuyoshi Kaburaki (RD of UTMF) won 3rd place. Seb was 2nd and hagged Tsuyoshi at finish line. Friendship with Tsuyoshi lead Seb to run UTMF. He has won TransGrancanaria in March.
Antoine Guillon (Lafuma, FRA)
Antoine has run races in France and Europe so far, and not seen in US and Asia, though his records are remarkable. Four times in top 10 finishers of UTMB, 2nd in Andorra Ultra Trail (Ultra-mitic, 112k) in July, 3rd in TDS in August, 2nd in Grand Raid Reunion in October in the same year 2012. His consistent results in season 2012 will be advantage in case UTMF will be in rain or cold weather.
Gary Robbins (Salomon, CAN)
Gary pulled attention by his win with new course record in H.U.R.T. 100 and 6th in Western States in 2010. Since fall of that year, he unfortunately got injured his feet, twice. After long recovery period, Gary showed his fitness in last January by breaking his own record and winning H.U.R.T. 100 again. Struggling with injury for long time has got him a grit to run strong, maybe in this UTMF.
Brendan Davis (Inov-8, AUS)
Brendan is the noteworthy Aussie runner. He was awarded 2012 Australian Male Ultra Runner of the Year, and CR holder of the Australia’s most prestigious ultra, Great North Walk 100k. Recently, he was the fastest Aussie in Tarawera (4th in male). To be honest, I have little information on him, but my correspondents in HK/ANZ community suggested his name on top of the list.
Kenichi Yamamoto (Houdini)
He was the fastest Japanese last year (3rd in male), and won Grand Raid des Pyrenees in France in August. His two time podium in UTMB (8th in 2009 and 10th in 2011) and win in Pyrenees prevailed his name in trail/ultra running community in Europe. Leading local candidate for this year, and plans to run Andorra in coming June. Ken lives in Yamanashi.
Shogo Mochizuki (La Sportiva)
Shogo is famous for his win in 2012 TJAR / Trans Japan Alps Race, 450km self-support mountain race, which is covered by NHK TV network. He seems to focus on long distance like Tor des Geants (12th in 2011) these days. 4th in UTMF last year. He lives in Shizuoka.
Minehiro Yokoyama (The North Face)
He is the Japanese veteran for various trail races both in Japan and the world. Has bagged major races in Japan like Hasetsune in late 2000s, and placed 6th in UTMB 2009. He has suffered with knee injury for long time, but showed his grit with 6th in Mt. Fuji last year. His broad experience as ultrarunner will give him an advantage in such deep field packed with dozens of elite runners from the world. Minehiro lives in Gunma.
Hiroki Ishikawa (patagonia / Montrail)
Hiroki is the evangelist of trailrunning in Japan, as well as elite athlete of the sports. In his early days of career, he focused on overseas races and community. He is the most well known Japanese trailrunner in the world. As a race director, he bring back what he found in the world to his races (SFMT, Madarao, etc.). DNFed last year due to illness. He lives in Kanagawa.
Shunsuke Okunomiya (Montrail/Mountain Hardwear)
“Mr. Hasetsune”, Shun is the top contender of the Japan’s most prestigious Hasetsune 71k race. He is exploring the global field by running Western States (13th, 2011), UTMB (registered for 2013). In 2012, he was 7th in UTMF and 6th in Hasetsune. His fan in local running community believes his higher achievement in this year. He is in Saitama.
Tsuyoshi is known as strongest ultrarunner in Japan today with his three consecutive win in SFMT 110k, two time win in Hasetsune, as well as his stoic and cool-headed style. In interview right after Hasetsune last autumn, he said he needs “refreshment and new target to focus”. Let’s see how it goes. He lives in Kanagawa.
Too short to shut the list up. Other notable guys from France.
Lionel Trivel (Lafuma, FRA) : He was running with Minehiro in UTMB 2009 and beat him with 5th place. Two time 2nd place in TDS (2011, 2012), 6th in Grand Raid Reunion (2011).
Emmanuel Gault (Asics, FRA) : Won CCC in 2011, and two time 2nd place in Eco Trail de Paris 80km (20111, 2012).
Chiristophe Le Saux (HOKA, FRA) : Known in super long distance races. In Tor des Geants, 2nd in 2011 and 3rd in 2012.
Cyril Cointre (HOKA, FRA) : Young runner but performs in mid distance races (-100k) in Europe.
And, from HK / ANZ.
Stone (Siu-Keung) Tsang (The North Face, HKG) : Recognized as team up with Tsuyoshi Kaburaki in Oxfam Trail Walker Hong Kong in 2011 and 2012. 3rd in The North Face 100 China 2012, and 2nd in Hong Kong 100k in last January.
Jeremy Ritcey (Salomon, HKG) : The Canadian won 4th in STY last year. In Hong Kong 100k, 2nd in 2010, 4th in 2011, 5th in 2012. 2nd in Canadian Death Race 2012.
Grant Guise (Salomon, NZL) : The Kiwi won Canadian Death Race 2012, and 3rd in 2011. In 2011, he was 3rd in Tarawera 100k, 5th in Kepler Challenge 60k.
Finally, here we come to local Japanese guys. List is not exhaustive. Koji Yamaya (6th last year), Katsutoshi Saijo (patagonia / 8th last year), Shinsuke Isomura (9th last year), Naoichiro Muto (10th last year), Kei Kikushima (La Sportiva), Yutaka Goto (La Sportiva). The elites who attempt to run the first 100 mile are: Sota Ogawa (Salomon), Takuya Yamada (Montrail / Mountain Hardwear), Yoshikazu Hara, Jun Kaise, Tsutomu Ito, Nobuaki Yokouchi, Kenji Yoshida.
＊Notable male who is not or will not be in UTMF
Toru Miyahara (La Sportiva, JPN): Winner of STY and 3rd in Kinabalu Climathon 2012 will not run due to conflict of his race schedule.