In order to participate in a 160km mountain race near Mt. Fuji, just being able to run long distances is not enough.
You must have the right equipment and most importantly, possess sound judgment and the ability to flexibly make quick decisions to ensure your own safety in difficult terrain and harsh weather conditions.
These mountain skills cannot be learned by just running long distances along paved road.
Running even just 10km in bad weather conditions up in higher altitude mountain ranges (2000m+) will give you the experience and better insight into the gear you’ll need to protect yourself and the types of unexpected issues that may arise (e.g. hypothermia, getting lost up in the mountains).
In order to participate in the UTMF or STY, sufficient experience up in the mountains is mandatory. We expect all race participants to be prepared with adequate mountain skills that will allow you to avoid trouble and safely make it across the finish line.
Another important mountain “skill” is to know and abide by the local rules and manners. We expect all racers to be courteous towards other hikers using the trails and be respectful of the natural environment.
To learn more about the mountains and the local rules, I highly recommend that you participate in trail cleanup events, volunteer at trail running races or attend the various nature observation classes offered throughout the year. These are fun and interesting ways to experience the mountains and will give you a better understanding and appreciation of the environment around you.
The UTMF will be determining a racer’s mountain experience through the “racer qualification points” system. However, if you truly wish to finish the UTMF, go up to the mountains in both good and bad weather conditions.
Learn from your mistakes and build up your mountain skills. The UTMF and STY will be held under all weather conditions.
Finally, please don’t enter other trail races just to acquire points for the UTMF/STY. The organizers of these trail races have put in an enormous amount of preparation time and effort to put on these races so that racers can come and enjoy the best of what their region has to offer. Obtaining qualification points should not be your priority.
If you decide to participate in a race, do try to give it your best effort and please, go out on the trails purely to enjoy what the races have to offer.
UTMF Race Director