They call themselves “The Margarine Boys”.
“We want to win against elite runners. We are always thinking how to run faster and faster. We train our core muscles even on the train. In our free time, we stop breathing to train our lungs. We are an immature running team.” – tweet from @nuranaihadesu
– The Night of Full Moon –
It was the night of full moon. I felt that they were different from others. The goal they are aiming for is high.
I managed to overlook their real potential.
– Debut –
Their debut race, “Osawa Ekiden”, was held in Sano, Tochigi.
The average best time of 5,000m was between 14:10 – 14:30, which obviously shows that they are not just normal runners, but very experienced runners. Some of the runners are the champions of the Hakone Ekiden or the All Japan Inter-College Championships. In addition, one of the members is Japan’s representative at trail running championships. Even a backup member is the representative of the ultra marathon of Japan.
The high school team was in first place most of the race. The performances of the high school boys were amazing. Toyo University Team A and Team B were close behind the high school boys team, and Margarine Boys finished in fourth place.
【The 66th Osawa Ekiden：7Stage, 42.195km】
1st：Team Iba-Ma-Shima 02:05:28
2nd：Toyo Univ. B 02:08:13
3rd：Toyo Univ. A 02:08:20
4th：Margarine Boys 02:08:55
The accomplishment Margarine Boys made was amazing, and their intense running inspired a lot of student runners. Margarine Boys finished with a time of 2:08:55, which doesn’t look satisfactory at first sight, but the weather was windy and the winning time of the high school boys wasn’t so good either.
Shinya Saito, who ran in the first stage, told me his story after the race.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t have an opportunity to run in the Hakone Ekiden or any other main races for university students. So I felt like I’ve left something behind. But after graduating the university, I kept running. And then, I got the chance to join this team “Margarine Boys”.
In the Osawa Ekiden, I couldn’t do well as the first runner. But the powerful running of my teammates encouraged me as well as the other teams. The concept of our team, “Margarine Boys”, is “dog eat dog”. Their running embodied our team concept.
Our goal is to run 5k in a time of 13:00-13:59.
I currently live in Yamagata, so I can’t participate in running sessions with my teammates. But I will accomplish my goal. We are always inspiring and encouraging each other even though I’m not in Tokyo.”
Takashi Mino, who ran in the fourth stage, told me his story after the race.
“I leaned a lot from my coach and team mates in Aoyama Gakuin University. After graduation, ‘I only ran as a hobby until I met Katsuya Takahashi, who is the manager of our team.
He said to me that he wanted to compete against pro-runners or university runners. His passionate words changed my mind. I started to think about trying to run faster. My team mates always talk about how to run faster. Each of us have a different goal, but we all work together to make it come true.
I’m not a pro runner, but I learned that it’s very important to work hard to be a fast runner. My short-term goal is to run 5k in 14:14 this year.
I just enjoy running, I’ll keep running and I’ll always thank people who support me.”
Tamazawa Yuki, who ran the fifth stage, told me his story after the race.
But I didn’t perform well in this Osawa Ekiden. I regret it. My teammates have a professional demeanor. Their goals are very high.
My goal is to compete with professional runners in a full marathon and on the track at the same level. To accomplish this, I have to work really hard and share useful information with my teammates.”
Soushi Takahashi, who ran the sixth stage, told me his story after the race.
“I retired from running after the Hakone Ekiden, but my teammates inspired me to start running again. We all have a limited time. In this limited time, we practice running and encourage each other.
My running ability is much lower than previously, but I want to challenge myself to improve.
My short-tern goal is to run a 5K in a time of 13 to 14 minutes.”
“I’m going back on the track to find out what I’ve got left.”
Syuya Tsuda, who ran the second stage, told me his story after the race.
“I really enjoyed this Ekiden race. I’m graduating from university in March. My next goal is to experience the global stage in the 3k Steeplechase, which is my area of expertise. I know it’s difficult to aim for the global stage as a non-pro runner, but I believe I can make it. I have a had lot of experiences competing with my rivals, and I became the champion two times. The feeling of being at the top of podium stays in my mind vividly, even now.
We are not pro runners. But I believe we can compete with professional runners.
These words drove me to join this team. We have the same ambitions, and each of us has a goal. I’d like to be a strong runner with my teammates.”
Rui Ueda, who ran the third stage, told me his story after the race.
“I need to improve my fundamental running skills to win trail races. If I can run faster on the track, it feels much easier to run at a slower pace in trail races. When I climb hills, it feels difficult to breathe comfortably. When running down hills, stability is the key. Trail races are like interval training on the track.
Elite runners overseas run a full marathon in under 2:15, and 5k in 14:00-14:30. At least, I should have the same running skills as these elite runners.
Running sessions with my teammates are an irreplaceable time for me to do high level training and work towards my own goal. I believe that I can apply this to my trail races.”
Tsutomu Nagata, who is a backup member in the team.
“I’m 32 years old now, which means that I’m almost 12 years older than my teammates are. But no matter how old I am, my determination is solid.
My area of expertise is ultra running, and I have been wanting one thing for a long time. That is to run the ultra marathon with a dynamic running form as if I ran the 5k on the track.
I’d like to reach the next level. We are always inspiring and encouraging each other to accomplish each goal. My teammates are aiming for the world stage in trail running or on the track, and as a representative ultra runner of Japan, I have to keep up training harder than ever.”
Katsuya Takahashi, who ran the seventh stage, told me his story after the race.
“When I was thinking about my career after graduating the university, I was sure that I didn’t have enough running ability to be a professional runner. But I didn’t give up. I kept thinking what I could do as a non-professional runner.
I decided to organize my own running team, which can compete with professional runners at the same level. I persuaded some runners into joining my team, and some of them said,”
“That is the moment my running team named “Margarine Boys” started.We are not literally professional runners, but our passion and power isn’t beaten by anyone. I’d like to thank all my teammates for joining this team.”
“I am sure that I can reach to the higher level as a runner with my teammates now.”
Posted by Tsukasa Kawarai
Translated by Rie Kawarai
Photo by Tsukasa Kawarai
(c) 2016 T.Kawarai all rights reserved