– A Runner from Hong Kong –
His name is Robbie. He is a runner who was born and raised in Hong Kong.
I met him when I went to Hong Kong. We first met through a mutual friend.
He majored in medical science at the university, and he’s now working at the medical institution.
I remember clearly that he took good care of me even though he was busy working at that time when I visited him two years ago.
He’s kind and calm. I had a good impression of him.
I had heard from my friend that Robbie had ran in the Kyoto marathon and the Osaka marathon. It didn’t take long before we hit it off.
– A Normal Hong Kong Runner –
When I was talking with Robbie, I realized that there are big differences between pepole from Hong Kong and people from mainland China. They have different ways of thinking, different food choices, and different perspectives on Japan. Robbie said that people from Hong Kong like Japanese culture and they are influenced by that.
After graduating from the university, he went to Mongolia. After that, he decided to go to Japan to take part in a marathon race. According to the survey of Japanese National Tourism Organization (JNTO) in 2013, Hong Kong was ranked fifth in terms of visitors to Japan. Korea, Taiwan, China and the U. S were ranked higher than Hong Kong.
But in 2014, the number of visitors to Japan from Hong Kong exceeded that from the U.S and came to fourth.
Robby also said that the most popular tourist destination is Japan.
So it was quite normal for him to come to Japan to run overseas.
– Visiting Kyoto –
He came to Japan in March 2012. He visited Kyoto, which was the old capital of Japan, and he was fascinated by the culture and views of Kyoto. He came to Kyoto to run the Kyoto marathon. The Kyoto marathon meant a lot for me because the Kyoto marathon was my first race after I retired from competitive running after graduating from the university, and Kyoto is my hometown.
The Kyoto marathon 2012 was supporting restoration and recovery activities for the Great East Japan Earthquake. The Kyoto marathon 2012 was of significance socially.
Robbie experienced the power of people in the Kyoto marathon. He was welcomed by the Heian Shrine at the finishig point. All he saw in the Kyoto marathon were really fresh and new to him, and there are nothing like Kyoto in Hong Kong. All the runners and people along the course encouraged him. After running in the Kyoto marathon, he decided a new target.
– Again –
Robbie visited Japan again to take part in the Osaka marathon in October 2013. There were a lot of runners from Hong Kong in the Osaka marathon as well.
He said that he was surprised there were a lot of runners wearing funny costumes, like anime characters, because there weren’t many costumed runners in Hong Kong. He was also impressed by the atmosphere in the Osaka marathon, where runners and people along the couse became one.
– Visiting Japan Three Times –
Robbie came to Japan three times. It was four months after the Osaka marathon held in October. This time, he came to Japan to run in the 2014 Tokyo marathon.
I first met Robbie in Hong Kong a week before the 2014 Tokyo marathon. Some say that people meet because they’re meant to, not by chance. Because just a week after I first met him in Hong Kong, Robbie came to Japan.
Robbie’s expectations for the Tokyo marathon broke into pieces (in a good way). The four hours of running through the center of Tokyo passed so quickly. Robbie showed me pictures of the Tokyo marathon, and all I saw in his pictures were excitement amd happiness. The cheering from people along the course never stopped, and Robbie was encouraged and inspired by the people in Tokyo.
– The Lantau Vertical –
Robbie lives in Lantau Island in Hong Kong, so he likes hiking in the Lantau Peak. I found the information about the trail race held in the Lantau Peak in September, 2015, and registered for the race. I told Robbie to run the race with me, and he agreed.. We were looking forward to seeing each other for the first time in one and a half years.
Robbie had never run on the trail race before the Lantau Vertical race. Although he was used to hiking at the Lantau Peak, when it came to the trail race, he was so exhausted from running at the Lantau Peak.
– from Hong Kong to Japan –
(with his mother)
We’re from different countries, but I felt that we had something in common through running. He was so exausted, but at the same time, he seemed to be very happy to finish the race. Robbie told me that his next running destination is the Hokkaido marathon.
So, what happens three times will happen four times, right?
– People basically become runners because they’re meant to –
“That’s why I’ve never recommended running to others. I’ve tried my best never to say something like, Running is great. Everybody should try it. If some people have an interest in long-distance running, just leave them be, and they’ll start running on their own. If they’re not interested in it, no amount of persuasion will make any difference. Marathon running is not a sport for everyone, just as being s novelist isn’t a job for everyone. Nobody ever recommended or even desired that I be a novelist – in fact, some tried to stop me. I had the idea to be one, and that’s what I did. Likewise, a person doesn’t become a runner because someone recommends it. People basically become runners because they’re meant to.”
WHAT I TALK ABOUT WHEN I TALK ABOUT RUNNING
Robbie became a runner because he just wanted to run. Nobody told him to be a runner. And, he is one of the runner who loves Japan.
Born in January 18, 1981, in New Territory, Hong Kong. Citizen Runner. He experienced three big city marathons in Japan (Kyoto Marathon, March, 2012 – Osaka Marathon, Octorber, 2013 – Tokyo Marathon, Feburary, 2014). PB 42k 4h37m (2012, Standard Chartered HK Marathon)
Posted by Tsukasa Kawarai
Translated by Rie Kawarai
Photo by Robbie Yim, Tsukasa Kawarai
(c) 2016 T.Kawarai all rights reserved