It is tradition at most high schools in Japan to hold a Marathon Taikai (competition) for all the students to participate in.
Reason number 257 why Japan is such a healthy nation! 

The 3rd year students are off preparing for university so this marathon event is for 1st and 2nd year students only. The girls have to run 5k in 35 minutes and the boys 8k in 60 minutes. Although this race isn't technically marathon length, the day is definitely a big event. The students train for months in advance in their PE classes and run their hearts out! 

A few months ago, one of the other English teachers jokingly said "Amie and Stephanie you should run with the students!" to which we quickly responded "NO NO!" But then he convinced us that running the 5k would be way more fun than standing (which all the other teachers do) in the cold all morning long.  

So, being the young teachers that we are, Steph and I ran with the girls students and did our best to not embarrass ourselves and to also help encourage the students to finish within the time limit! 

We were lucky enough to have the whole Kashiwa-No-ha staduim to ourselves for the event. The students all came in around 8:30am and sat in their designated class rows in the bleachers. The course started in the stadium and then weaved around Kashiwa-no-ha park. All the teachers had designated places along the course that they stood at to cheer us on. 

The morning started off with stretching, a warm up lap, and then the girls started running at 9:50am! The boys followed 5 minutes after and caught up to us in no time.

The students had a blast cheering in all their classmates! 

These are students from our 2A class who recently went to Torrance for the homestay program. They all have such big personalities and when I told them "ok pose for a photo" they did this..haha!

Homerooms have a lot of pride here in if your homeroom is 2A you stand down by the field until every member of 2A crosses that finish line. I love that family feel in Japanese high schools...that they are in it together and finish as a group. The last boy student came in at around 1hr and his classmates were sure to stand there and welcome him in.

Some of the students are incredibly fast runners. The cross-country team is exempt from the medals ceremony (as they most surely finish fastest) but the fastest non-cross-country-girl to finish ran 5k in 16 minutes - WHAT! The top 10 girls were all from the basketball team (impressive) and the fastest non-cross-country-boy ran 8k in about 26 minutes. That IS CRAZY! 

After everyone crossed the finish line...the students were treated to a nice bowl of pork soup! It was soooo delicious. The school hires a local restaurant to come and cook up the meal and it was amazing soup full of vegetables to refuel after running. 

Delicious soup...and on top of that every kid got a banana (I ate 2). There were so many bananas left over and being the resourceful person that I am I took as many as I could fit in my bag...bananas are expensive here! Some of the other teachers saw me and said, "are you a monkey?" and told me to take this pic haha.

Me, Steph, and our fellow teacher/friend Moe! Lucky to have friends my age to work with!

One of my coworkers suggested the English teachers go eat ramen after the event...sounds awesome to he drove us to this ramen place by Kashiwa station.

Gyoza + Karage + Garlic pork shoyu ramen + good company = Perfect way to end an awesome Friday!!