Update: This project is now live. Join the Facebook group here: Kakamigahara Trail Run Project.
After the eye-opening experience of the Utsukushigahara 70K trail run that I didn’t finish last week, my thoughts have been filled with ways to best train for future races. There are plenty of mountains over 1,000m north of where I live in Gifu prefecture, but as we head towards winter, most of them will be covered with snow and not particularly easy to run on.
There is, however, one place that is runnable almost all year and it just happens to be within five minutes of my doorstep: the Kakamigahara Alps. While the highest peak is only 387m, the dozen or so mountains that make up this mountain range combine together for some serious elevation gain. This has got me thinking about a new pet project…
The marathon boom has spawned a mini boom in trail running, and Kakamigahara is in an excellent location to attract new and experienced trail runners from Nagoya. According to the popular Japanese hiking site “Yamareco”, people already come up from the big city to hike and run in the Kakamigahara Alps. A few of the reasons for this might be:
- It’s easily accessible by car and train
- The low-level mountains are appealing to beginners
- The main hiking trails are well signposted and in good condition
- There are panorama views of neighboring cities, as well as Nagoya
- The mountains can be hiked in winter
- There are no bears
A few problems that might keep people away:
- Unlike the north of Gifu, Kakamigahara is very hot in the summer. One of the most popular hiking routes from Ibuki no Taki to Kakamigahara Mt. Gongen offers very little shade.
- Hiking trails that don’t get much use are quickly overgrown with weeds and branches, deterring even more people from using them.
- Mosquitoes and spiderwebs are very common in the summer because of the hot, humid conditions.
So what can I do to open up the 42km of trail in the map above to encourage more people, both trail runners and hikers to use and maintain them?
- I can clear trails myself
- I can make signposts for the course
- I can promote the course via the web
- I could leave course info in the huts at observation points
However, it would be much more enjoyable to work with other people. I would hope to meet other runners or hikers who maintain the trails (I know they exist!) and I’d like to find or make a group of trail runners to run this course with.
While it looks like a big job, it could be quite fun, and I do enjoy hacking away at those bushes!
Update: This project is now live. Join the Facebook group here: Kakamigahara Trail Run Project.If you like, you can find me on Twitter at @nick_ramsay. I'd love to hear from you!