Maranic is a portmanteau of "marathon" and "picnic." Participants run at their own pace, walk, enjoy the scenery and talk to locals. They do not compete for time or rank. We realized this was perfect for us, so we tried it.
Takikawa's maranic course is in the Ebeotsu district.
A sport with no competition for time or rank
Maranic is a training method in which you continue running for a long distance. The goal is to run at a pace that will not leave you fatigued the next day and to refresh yourself.
The Maruka Highlands and their rape blossom fields are part of the maranic venue. (Photograph by Ida Yukitaka)
Recently, maranics in which participants get gifts of a local foods have become a minor fad throughout Japan. Takikawa held its first Ebeotsu Hills 'Maranic' in 2015. It held the event on May 14 for the third time. The number of participants was 644. The maranic has a high repeat participation rate.
The event begins at 10 a.m. under clear skies.
Setting out at a leisurely, relaxed pace
We entered the 9.5 km "Slightly Hilly Course." We applied for it after hearing that some of the participants are grade school age or younger. There were many women and families around us. Fathers pushed strollers.
Children shout with glee at the view from the hill.
Fujioka Tetsuo was our course guide.
Guide Fujioka Tetsuo told us the names of the mountains we saw. "Because it's the farmers' rice planting season, in the evening from the Maruka Highlands scenic overlook, you can see the setting sun reflecting beautifully off the water-filled paddy fields," he said. The atmosphere was relaxed and far removed from sports.
Posing with fellow walkers
I wonder if you're the youngest. This memory will last you a lifetime.
Walking with determination, lured by gifts
After walking about 2 km, participants encounter the first rape blossom fields. Unfortunately, on this day the the rape blossoms were still only one-fifth in bloom. We drank water at the resting booth a little farther on. A volunteer was asking participants where they're from while handing out locally produced honey. The participants looked forward to the gifts handed out at the resting booths set up in two to six locations, depending on the course.
Water, sports drinks and specialty products are handed out at a resting booth.
Takami Apiary’s "Linden" brand natural honey is the first gift we were given.
Paddy fields in the Ebeotsu district
These rape blossoms, which chose a good spot, were blooming beautifully. I really like rape blossoms.
At the second resting booth, we got fresh asparagus!
"There's Marukayama." Does that mean we'll be walking uphill?
At the last resting booth, a student was handing out donuts made with local wheat.
"Are you OK?" a rescue party member asks
ust 2 more kilometers to the finish line. As we followed a long, uphill path through the woods, our legs felt sluggish. A rescue party member on a bicycle asked us, "Are you OK?" "We're OK," we answered, but we should have said no to see what they would do for us and reported on it.
Guide Kobayashi Hitoshi said, "There are 60 kilometer maranics throughout Japan. As the courses get longer, it gets harder for the staff to provide support and only experienced people can participate." Hearing that, we realized we’d felt secure throughout the event, with staff guiding us so we didn't stray from the course and the rescue party riding alongside us.
It had been such a long course, we couldn't believe there was only 1 km left to the finish line. The elementary school students walking alongside us chanted, "If you walk to the finish line, Jingisukan (grilled mutton)," as if it were an incantation. Encouraged by their brave voices, we reached the finish at 12:38.
"It's like Shangri-la," said the photographer as he clicked the shutter.
At the finish line, the Urausucho mascot Big Sister Usuko was waiting for us.
Ebeotsu Hills 'Maranic' Executive Committee
At the finish line, Matsuo Jingisukan (a famous grilled mutton restaurant) food was served.
Part of the Social Education Section, Tachikawa Board of Education
2-15 1-chome Omacchi Takekawa, Hokkaido, Japan