The 5th Koshu Alps Auto Route Challenge, the toughest Japanese race in the middle class

The Corona Virus has settled down and more trail running races are being held.
I participated in the Koshu Alps Auto Route Challenge held in Koshu City, Yamanashi Prefecture, even though I am a heck of a runner.
(I didn't have enough time to take enough pictures because I was short on time throughout the race. Please understand.)

What is the Koshu Alps Auto Route Challenge?

Produced by Japanese professional trail runner Sota Ogawa.
It is said to be the strongest race in the middle class.
What is the strongest?
The distance is 67km, but the cumulative elevation is 4,700m. For example, from the start point to Koganezawa, 24km from the start point, there is a 1,500m ascent. That's hard.
Below is the course map. The course runs clockwise, starting and finishing at Fureai-no-mori Sogo Koen (Fureai-no-mori Forest General Park) in the upper left.

Light rain at the start

The forecast was for clear skies, but from midnight to early morning there was a light rain.... Therefore, we had to put on rainwear at the start of the race.
After the start, the rain stopped and it cleared up.

Genjiro-dake (scheduled: 7:00 -> actual: 6:47)

First, I climbed 1,000 meters up to Genjiro-dake (1,477 meters above sea level).
The two round-trips up the Okura One (elevation gain of 1,200 meters) in Tanzawa that I had done for this race were put to good use.
The good thing about this race is that you are allowed to use poles. I climbed lightly with the use of poles taught directly by Sota Ogawa.

Kamihikawa Pass aid (scheduled: 8:30 -> actual: 7:56)

The trail from Genjiro-dake to the first aid station was relatively runnable with some ups and downs.
The autumn leaves were beautiful and the trail was soft and fluffy. I regretted not taking pictures.
I arrived 30 minutes ahead of schedule.
I refill our flasks of water and eat our favorite cola and rice crackers.
I have always suffered from stomach problems lately, but today is going well.
It was a good thing I took (Japanese stomach medicine) Gaster 10 30 minutes before the start. My stomach problems are caused by running -> excessive stomach acid -> nausea -> water and food cannot pass through, so Gaster 10, which suppresses stomach acid levels, has an immediate effect.

Mt. Koganezawa (Scheduled: 9:30 -> Actual: 9:19)

Head for the highest point of the race, Koganezawa (2,014m).
Mt. Fuji can be seen in the back.
Your savings at the aid point will decrease a little because you can't go as far as you want because of the following reasons💦.
  • The rocky climb known as "Tengu's way out
  • Traffic jam caused by elderly hikers
The next mountain after Kogane-sasawa is "牛奥ノ雁ヶ腹摺山"
The next mountain after Koganezawa is "Ushioku no Ganga Harasuri Yama". Even for Japanese, it is difficult to read.
I climbed up, descended, climbed up and descended again and again, and it was hard on our legs.

Yunosawa Pass aid (planned: 10:42 -> actual: 10:36)

I arrived at the second aid, Yunosawatoge Aid (29km point), down from Kurodake.I had little to save and were right on schedule.
The next barrier at Yamato Nature School Aid, 13km ahead, is at 14:00, so there is plenty of time to spare.
A few people retired at this aid here and there.
I replenished my water intake with bananas and rice crackers and set off.

Yamato Nature School Aid (Planned: 13:12 -> Actual: 12:49)

It is a 13-km downhill route.
The great thing about the Haute Route is that each time you reach the summit, Mt.Fuji.
Each time we arrived at each summit, everyone couldn't help but exclaim, "wow!
I got some seafood ramen (which I'm glad I did because I usually have an upset stomach and can't eat it!) ), rehydrated and went to the restroom, and then on to the next climb.

Fukasawa Aid (Scheduled: 15:12 -> Actual: 15:24)

It is uphill to Fukasawa Aid, 7km ahead.
The aid staff threatened me, "It's a 600m elevation gain, 7km, but you shouldn't lick it, it's pretty tough.
It was hell on the stairs......it was hard on my legs after running 42km. If I didn't have my stock, I might not have been able to climb them.
Also, unlike the elevation map, the actual race was a series of ups and downs, and the distance did not progress very fast.
When I finally arrived at the aid station, the arrival time was reversed.... The time limit here was 16:00, and there was no more room for my butt.
However, I can't miss the specialty of this aid, "Shine Muscat. All-you-can-eat, all-you-can-eat, 10 pieces in a row, sweet!
I asked a staff member, "If I arrive at the next aid station at 18:00, just before the time limit, can I run the remaining 12 km in 2 hours? I asked the staff member, "If you run as far as you can, you'll have enough time.

Mt. Marronnier aid (scheduled: 16:50 -> actual: 17:06)

It is a 6-km downhill but there is a tough uphill return on the way.
The sun started to set, so I put on my light.
My concern is the pain in the back of my knee. The pain is increasing a little, and every time my left foot touches the ground, I use a stock to reduce the load and manage to finish the descent.
I took a short rest while I had three hours to spare, as I only needed to finish by the time limit of 20:00.
I see the signs posted on the tent, "Enjoy the limit" and "12km to go! are in my mind's eye.
I wonder if I will be able to think "I had fun back then" when I reach the goal. I don't have time to enjoy it now.

Watanabe Fruit Farm Aid (Planned: 18:40 -> Actual: 18:32)

The rest of the course is a single mountain climb with an elevation gain of 300 meters.
I have just noticed that the Lilly route (55km) is also covering the same course and time limit as the rest of the pack. 1000s are on the Auto route and 2000s are on the Lilly.
A mixed group of auto and lilly route riders will take on the final mountain. The group took turns changing the lead, and the team was very strong as they climbed the mountain in unison.
Here, as up to Fukazawa aid, there were small ups and downs that seemed to go on forever.
I was relieved to hear the staff say, "It's downhill from here," and I knew it was finally over.
However, I had to walk downhill due to pain in the back of my knee.
I arrived at the farm aid at 18:32, faster than I expected.
All I need to do is 4km in 90 minutes, so I can walk...I drink a cup of hot milk tea at the aid.

Goal (Scheduled: 19:12 -> Actual: 19:20)

Seven or eight people passed me in the remaining 4km on the road. Everyone has a lot of extra energy, it's amazing.
With 200-300m to go, I start to hear the microphone at the finish line, and suddenly I feel a surge of strength and dash off in vain.
I finished the race thinking, "If you have that kind of strength, don't let 7 or 8 people overtake you!

Koshu Alps Auto Route Challenge Completion Rate

The completion rate was 71% (251/354).
If the number of runners is used as the denominator, it is 82% (251/305).
What is surprising is that the highest percentage of women over 50 years old completed the race. 😲

Reflections on the Koshu Alps Auto Route Challenge

This was my first 60-70km class race since last year's Izu Trail.
I have been steadily doing hill intervals and climbing mountains with elevation differences while there is no race, which has reduced my weakness for climbing, and completing the cumulative elevation of 4,700m is going to be quite a success experience.
The TDS (UTMB), which I hope to revisit next year, is a little over twice this distance and cumulative elevation. I don't feel like I can go there yet, but I have 10 months to steadily build up my strength💪.
The Koshu Alps, which I was able to participate in after all the races were cancelled due to the Corona, reminded me once again of the joy of running. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the race organizers, staff, and everyone involved.