This is a follow up to the recent artice about three Oregon skiers at the Sapporo Marathon. After a suffering throught the toughest world loppet race, we visited the Okurayama jumping hill, site of the 1972 Olympics. This modern facility will host the 2007 Nordic World Championships. The sprint races will take place inside the Sapporo dome, which seats some 40,000! Following a visit to the Sapporo brewery, we spent a few days the at the Asahidake Onsen hot spring resort. We then traveled on the slowest train in Japan to Biei (pronounced bee-ay) for the 42km Miyasama International Marathon.
Pre-race day was near 0 F, clear and calm. Upon checking the race day forecast we revised our simple wax plan of S30 over a cold grind. Warming to near 0 C by the race finish, very windy with low visibility. The lead group started quickly, pushed on by a strong tailwind, which later translated to V1-ing across open fields.
Some 2000 people raced this 27th edition. The race featured a downtown finish. World Cup veteran Hiroyuki Imai won in 1:47. Imai finished top ten in the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics 50k, he also won the Sapporo Marathon the previous weekend. Jan Spurkland of xcOregon finished 8th in 1:54, earning an award at the ceremony presided over by a prince of Japan. Dan was 12th and Levi finished respectably despite a cold.