Sado is a beautiful island just a ferry ride away from Niigata City which offers a marvellous scenic course for its annual road race. This was my second time participating in the 10 Km leg of the event.
The car ferry leaves Niigata 5 times a day and will get you there in about 2.5 hours. If you like your commutes to be swift, you can also opt for the Jetfoil ferry that makes the trip in just over an hour. It leaves Niigata 7 times a day but will cost you quite a bit more than the regular ferry. You can find the schedules and prices on the Sado ferry website.
The Sado marathon runs fairly smoothly from what I could observe. I never had to do long lineups and never got confused about where I was supposed to go and where things were. Last year though, the first water station was not ready when the first 10Km runners went by it. Since it was really hot during the 2014 race, I definitely could have used a cup of water to the face at that point. This year was fine; the first water station (the only one for the 10K actually) was up and running for all participants. The only thing I would complain about for the 2015 race was that there were big yellow clocks on the side of the road that were in the way at the starting line. I’m surprised nobody actually ran into them.
This year’s guest runner was the amazing Yuki Kanauchi. He is a full time public servant working at a night high school who also happens to run 2:08 marathons!
2726 people participated this year, of which just a bit less than a thousand ran the full marathon. I really enjoy races of this size where you don’t spend the first 3 km elbows to elbows. For the 10Km race, I battled it out with 440 other runners. Each distance had a different starting time. Beginning with the full marathon, then the half, the 10Km, the 5 and the kids’ 3Km.
The course is mostly flat except for a 40 m climb between the 5th and 6th Km (the 10Km runners turn around at the 5k mark so they don’t have to battle the hill).
The highlight of the race is definitely the scenery. Sado Island is truly beautiful; the sea of Japan and the still snowy peaks of April make for an amazing background.
Even if you don’t come for the race, Sado Island has a lot to offer to its visitors. Wether you are a fan of local food, hiking, scuba diving, cycling or just looking to relax, Sado should be on your list of places to visit soon.
From August 21 to 23 2015 the annual Earth Celebration music festival will be held. There you can watch performances from the internationally acclaimed Kodo Taiko group among many other things.