“Surfers go on surf-trips to catch good waves, runners go on run-trips to find good courses.”
This is the phrase written on the top page at a website called “Runtrip”
I came across this website from a Google search as part of a task I was assigned a while ago, trying to find ways for us to collaborate with fitness communities within Japan. Without even imagining this website will basically build my running career at that time, I contacted Mr. Eiichiro Omori, founder of Runtrip. He himself is not only just a runner, but he has run the Hakone Ekiden (Tokyo-Hakone Round-Trip College Ekiden Race) in his college years which is one of the most prominent university ekiden (relay marathon) races of the year held between Tokyo – Hakone on 2nd and 3rd of January, every year.
With Omori-san as CEO, Runtrip is a company running an SNS for runners where registered users (free of charge) can post and search for running courses all over Japan and even overseas. The posts include a brief explanation of the course, map, road type, elevation, amount of traffic lights, recommended time of day, street lights and running station information.
Instead of the conventional “Like” button in most SNS, they have unique “Ran” and “Want to run” buttons for the courses that are posted. Running events from casual group runs (some followed by drinks afterward) to serious time trials and races can also be found on the website as well.
Even with my short and not-so-experienced running career, the distance and level indication of the events and group runs make it easier for runners like myself to participate without hesitation and worrying if I can keep up or not. With this experience, I have learned not only to enjoy the run itself but also to make new friends and connections with people who share the same interest, which is another reason I look forward to when joining an event.
Runtrip often holds campaigns collaborating with companies like Fitbit, giving out Fitbit watches to winners to encourage runners to challenge more, and win mileage from ANA (All Nippon Airways) to “go on a Runtrip” to places away from home. My personal favorite is the “Run for Yu” campaign. “Yu (湯)” means hot water in Japanese, in other words, onsen (hot springs) and baths. Tying up with KNT travel agency, the campaign offers users to use onsen facilities as running stations with special offers at a discount price.
Unfortunately, the English version website is yet to be launched. But it is currently under process translating the contents and will be available in the near future. “Very soon” emphasizes Omori-san everytime we discuss the subject. Fit Japan will announce the news when the English version is live, in the meanwhile you Google Translation service does a reasonable job of translating the site.
Of course, if you have plans for traveling to Japan or an expat living here and looking for a group run to join, we would be happy to help you join a running event with the Runtrip team during your stay. Usually, at least one or two people are English speakers. Or, if you yourself would like to hold an event and get to know runners in Japan, feel free to let us know. Message us via the contact page, we’d love to help you organize it and enjoy the many wonderful running options available in Japan.