Every now and then, Samurai Sports staff and other poor victims (better known as contributors) write about their first-hand experience at a sporting event in Japan. In Event Reviews, we give you the scoop on what it's like to participate in everything from rides to runs, triathlons, and everything in between.
A Fun, Accessible Triathlon for Both Beginners and the Experienced
Read about Faith's five takeaways from her experience at the Showa Kinnen Park Triathlon on July 2nd, 2017.
As we rolled past the second half of the year (um, what?) and into the parking lot, I scoped out the bikes, the kits, and the bodies. An “A” race this was not, but this event was special to me for several reasons. It was both my first triathlon in Japan and my first race without the teammates I left behind in Singapore and whom I had exchanged for a one-man support team (my dad), who graciously spent a ridiculously hot day as my chauffeur, photographer, and food supplier. Marketed as a beginner-friendly triathlon, there were surely many more “firsts” among the 400+ who took part in the Showa Kinen Park Triathlon.
Friendly for Beginners (even friendlier with an understanding of Japanese)
- If you live in the Tokyo area and you haven’t quite mastered the art of rinko, the thought of carrying your bike long distance might be intimidating. My Uberdad drove us to the park but you could easily take the train or even bike to Tachikawa.
- ¥16,000 is a reasonable price for a sprint triathlon in Japan. Elsewhere in the world, that would be a fairly costly sprint triathlon but no one starts triathlon thinking it's going to be cheap.
- Kind race officials, including one that spoke almost flawless English, are always nearby to explain rules and provide recommendations, such as how to best set up your transitions.
It's Getting Hot in Here
- At 26 degrees, the swim doesn’t require a wetsuit (nor would you want one)
- The 2016 race was shortened to a super sprint due to a heat wave. This year, the temperatures rose as the day progressed and stayed in the low 30s - warm but not stifling. #feelslikesummer
A Different Kind of Course
- Most of us don’t have the luxury of frequently practicing our open water swims so having a pool swim is appealing for beginners. Whether you’re giving Missy Franklin a run for her money or furiously doggy paddling, everyone will enjoy the natural draft of a lazy river.
- The swim/bike/run course involved 2.3, 4, and 3 laps respectively but they’re both about as flat as a course is going to be. And you stay within the park throughout the entire event.
- The park is beautiful - and huge! To be honest, I didn't have the chance to truly appreciate the beauty of the park during the event. However, the 15 minute walk through the park to the race site left me with a positive impression of a well-maintained park.
Not All is Perfect
- This event originally started 30 years as a women's triathlon and only opened up to men two years later. However, as with many triathlons, the ratio of women to men was highly imbalanced. Of the 400 participants, a little over 60 were women.
- The race briefing was entirely in Japanese but I bet it was about being safe, staying hydrated, and exercising proper race etiquette. Probably.
- Cyclists all over the place, including right down the middle of the path. I don’t know how many times I shouted, “Keep left.”
- There aren’t many supporters, except in select spots like the turnaround point. It isn’t discouraging per se but I wouldn’t expect much in the way of encouragement from random passersby and spectators.
Just Do It?
- Yes, especially if you are just starting triathlon. Though chances are high that it will be a warm event, the Showa Kinen Park Triathlon is an easy, low pressure event suitable for beginners and the experienced alike. At Showa Kinen Park, triathlons occur twice a year (once before the water park opens to the public and the second before it closes for the year). The next Showa Kinen Park triathlon is on Sep. 9, 2017 and registration is now open in Japanese only.