Rainy Season Trail Running
It’s early morning we have some free time, the sun is shining a rarity in this rainy season. It’s time to hit trails for a quick early bird trail run.
We decide to run on the hills to the east of the valley. There are three trails that are marked as Kikori -no- mori courses but many know them as the Minegata Trails. The trails are not long but fairly technical in places and are a good workout for a walk or run. The trails are located in the forests with view points, which are a little overgrown in summer. We decide to run/climb up course 1 and run down course 3 and split off down the old Highland ski area. This is the same course that the first part of the Hakuba International Trail Run follows.
The tree canopy gives us a lot of shade but also a lot of mosquitoes. Make sure you wear a lot of bug spray called Mushiyoke in Japanese.
The climb up is hard but welcoming as we can get a sweat on with the fast pace. We use the tennis ball theory of trail running, if a ball can roll down the trail then walk, if it can’t run. We pass over a few little streams, great places to wash the sweat away and cool down a little.
As we get to the top of the Minegata ski area we have great views of the Japanese alps with their ski areas slithering down the slopes. The courses up here are a mixture of logging routes and old X-country ski courses that were used prior to the 1998 Olympic x-country stadium at Snow Harp being built. Nowadays the courses are mostly used by trail runners and MTBers.
Running down through Highland is blissful. The ski closed in 2009 and slowly the trees are growing on the old piste that skiers once graced. We reach the bottom of the valley, a quick prayer at the local shrine to the running gods to thank them for another injury free run.