By Cpl Tolokbahadur Gurung
The Tokyo Marathon is an annual sporting event held in the capital city of Japan. It is now the sixth biggest event in the world marathon major series; joining Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York. This year the event was held on Sun the 24th Feb 2013 in which more than 36,000 participants took part; amongst them were four members from Brunei Signal Troop with the aim of not only to complete the race for personal achievement but also to raise money towards the aid of the Gurkha Welfare Trust, ABF Soldiers’ Charity and the Gurkha Museum UK.
After four months of hard training, I along with Capt Shankar Gurung, Sgt Tarjan Pun, Cpl Bishnu Gurung and Cpl Prem Gurung as a support crew, flew to Tokyo on Wed the 20th Feb 2013. The weather was completely different to what we were accustomed to with the average temperature of 4 degrees Celsius. The next few days saw us registering for the race and exploring the local culture and sight seeing including participating in the international friendship run, a minor event designed for participants to meet and greet all international runners on 23 Feb 13.
With the wind chill, the big day, Sun 24 Feb 13, finally came. Despite sunny and clear blue sky, icy wind assaulted from all directions and there was no where to hide but it seemed the enormous crowd of runners were not affected. At 8:30 am, the Mayor of Tokyo gave his speech and soon the wheel chair participants were flagged off. Half an hour waiting was harder to endure than I thought; if they hadn’t started the event any sooner, I would have suffered hypothermia. The moment of the truth finally arrived, at 9:10 am and both the 10 km and full marathon participants were flagged off, with an awesome display of cherry blossom in spring effect in the air at the starting point. As I made my way across the start line, the only thought I had in my mind was focusing on the run and to complete the race as comfortably as I could, and promised myself to complete the race within my individual target time of four hours.
The start of the race was a battle of keeping a clear passage while avoiding oneself from tripping over or bumping into other runners. After zigzagging for the first two kilometres, the run finally took its form. The selection of the route was fantastic because of the number of U-turns that enabled us to see the world’s top male and female marathon runners in action as they looped their way. As an ordinary runner, witnessing world class runners passing close by was an amazing experience. In fact, this was one of the reasons I took part in the Tokyo Marathon. Coming back to the race, the initial half way was completed quite comfortably but the whole run was far from over and the toughest part was yet to come. Everybody knew that it would still require a good fight to finish with a respectable time.
After the 35km point, my pace slowed down significantly, physically I was so tired but the spectators and cheerleaders’ support immensely helped me to complete the distance and I am sure the other members of the BST felt the same. Yelling, clapping, whistling like a cowbell boosted our morale and kept us going on up to the finishing line. Despite our target time being under 4 hrs, on the day we had to settle with the time frame of 4 – 4.30hrs, which we are fairly content with. The supporters were fantastic all the way from the start to the finish line.
Finally, it has been a hugely successful marathon for all the team members; the hard work was paid off when the race was completed and the medals were presented. Furthermore, we have raised in excess of BND5000.00 in support of those charities that are very close to all our hearts. We would like to thank all the sponsors for their generosity and good will. Without forgetting, we would like to thank our team companion Cpl Prembahadur Gurung for his dedicated support through the training sessions and on the actual day of the event.
Jai Queens Gurkha Signals!!