Miyuki Usai, from Wellington’s sister city Sakai won the prize to represent her city at the Wellington Marathon last year. Here’s her story about her trip to New Zealand and the people she met, including many Wellington Scottish runners and Wellington Sakai Association members.
I won a prize at the Senshu International Marathon and I was able to join the Wellington marathon.
This was my first overseas marathon race, and participation in the absence of familiarity with the climate and the terrain was not easy, but there were also the joys and pleasures of the opportunity to run abroad at the same time. There was some travel difficulties in leaving Japan to arriving in Wellington in New Zealand, particularly with anxiety with the unfamiliar, however from arrival in Wellington it was a great trip with everyone being helpful.
Here are some of the highlights.
I arrived in Wellington with only one day to adjust before the Wellington marathon on Sunday 1st of July. It was a hard schedule and it was a race in the depths of the Wellington winter. It was a cold, wet and dark start, with the wind picking up to very strong. It was a very tough race.
Although it is commonplace at the start, there aren’t usually people who know foreigners alone at the start line. Meanwhile, I spoke to a man who was wearing a yellow running shirt (Wellington Scottish) and asked for encouragement. It was encouraging that there was one person who knew me. After a few kilometres from the start I hear someone yell out “Miyuki” and I looked back. Although I did not know who it was I got cheered by being called my name! While racing was fuelled by the strong wind all the while running at my pace, the goal approached and the victory came to be visible.
I met a person in the yellow running shirt I met at the start at about 1 kilometre and travelled alongside him while avoiding the wind.
And I was able to win the championship.
When I was walking with a goal to reach the Wellington Sakai Association table I was called “Miyuki” again. It was the same voice who had called my name near the beginning of the marathon. I was very happy. And that person was my host family. It was a race where happy things overlapped. And of course the rest of the trip was a lot of fun.
I was a Sakai City representative and I went to Wellington as Sakai City Goodwill Ambassador. There was also a homestay in the trip. I was looking forward to the curiosity, but my journey has become much more fulfilling to the kindness of the host Roxie who came to cheer us.
For me who cannot speak English, she prepared an interpreter and gave us opportunities to run, and made a very detailed care and I was able to stay with peace of mind.
Lucky events began from the first day of homestay.
I was taken to a nearby bird garden, Zealandia, where I was able to see a kiwi and I was lucky to be able to take pictures with me. It is very rare for the kiwi to be seen in daylight.
Also the eldest son of my host family, Felix, was a runner.
Felix got involved with me who likes to run and took me around the trails at Otari Wilton’s Bush. The scenery from the top of the mountain at dusk was the best while breathing in the clear air of Wellington while catching up with the refreshing boy who runs lightly!
And another thing, there was an amazing incident. Driving along the motorway we saw a whale in Wellington Harbour. It was New Zealand that was just amazing, but this lucky tomorrow continued.
I got an invitation ticket for the New Caledonia Marathon at the Wellington marathon ‘s supplementary prize. I was happy that I happened to be able to participate in overseas marathon. I thought I had already had the luck of meeting a cute kiwi and seeing a whale, but I it also made me to win the New Caledonian Marathon.
Everything became happy continuation, and my summer talk that began with Wellington marathon became a very memorable journey.
Now I feel that I was a very warm journey by looking back.
Thank you very much for all of you, Wellington Sakai Association, Wellington Scottish and the host family, Roxie’s family and friends who were involved in helping me.
This trip has become an important treasure that I will never forget for the rest of my life. I am grateful to all of you. Thank you very much.