3100 Mile Race Media Report from Japan
Upon completing my service as Harita’s helper at this year’s Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race (2021), midway through the race, I never imagined what would come out in Japanese media at Takasumi’s finish. When I came back to Japan, however, this burning feeling came forward within me: “Japan HAS TO honour Takasumi!” Here I would like to summarize what have come out since then, and how they came about. (Photo: Harashita, in blue, at race, Day 2)
NY-based Japanese newspapers
Initially being prompted by regular Taiwanese visitors at the course (and NO Japanese visitors!), we contacted several Japanese newspapers in NY in the hope that their publishing an article would encourage local Japanese to come out to the course. One weekly paper, Shukan NY Seikatsu, promised to publish an article earlier on, but did not. Toward the end, the editor finally wrote me back promising to publish an article about Takasumi’s finish, which turned out to be quite nice. Meanwhile, a small article came out in another weekly, NY Japion, a week before Takasumi’s finish – our first outcome! This gave Nina, his wife, a lot of joy.
A funny thing happened with a third, bi-monthly paper Yomi Time. I sent the editor all the standard package, and when I called him to check if he had received everything, I got a scolding: “I need more information! Otherwise I cannot see, besides the distance, how this race is unique and different from all the other running events!” Additional information was sent; in the end, they published quite a big article about Takasumi’s finish, including a photo with Nina, mentioning she played an important role for her husband’s finish. In this way, in the end, 3 out of 4-5 Japanese publications in NY wrote about Takasumi.
Who can honour Takasumi better than the Japanese government? – Japanese Consulate did something beautiful for Takasumi.
One day I called the Consulate to find out something. In the middle of my conversation with the nice person on the phone, I found myself explaining about the 3100 Mile Race, and asking if there is any way to honour this very first Japanese finishing the race. I was forwarded to another officer, who sounded genuinely intrigued by the race and Takasumi. This person forwarded the matter to the section in charge of sports affairs.
We discussed different options and Takasumi’s likely condition around his finish. It took more than 2 weeks for them to decide what they would like to do, but in the end, they invited the couple and our Race Director Rupantar to a congratulatory lunch a couple of days after the race. To abide by the protocol, it had to be a private lunch, but it was so nice they went ahead with it. Also, they chose the post-race lunch rather than coming to the race, “so that it would create the least stress on Senoo-san’s part, who must be exhausted after such a feat. Also, that way, we will have more chance to talk in a relaxed atmosphere.” (from their email)
Sri Chinmoy said “In concern, you have no equal” about Japan. I felt the embodiment of this quality in the action of the Japanese Consulate.
NY Bureaus of major Japanese media
Another avenue to pursue was NY-based correspondents of the Japanese media. Two major success stories came out: Kyodo News, the biggest news agency in Japan, and Asahi Shimbun, the 2nd biggest newspaper in the country.
Kyodo is like the Associated Press (AP) of Japan. Their news feed would reach all four corners of the country for all kinds of newspapers to pick it up. Our initial couple of attempts produced no results. Meanwhile, my host in NY casually mentioned to me that Kyodo had covered the story of the project she had been involved in at her work. Now the updated media package was sent from her to her contact at Kyodo, who promised to take a look at it. No response afterwards, however.
She kindly emailed her contact person again, just a few days before the end of the race. A reporter soon wrote to her confirming his visit. The last day’s forecast was heavy rain, so to secure good photos, this reporter came out to the course the day before, as well as at the finish. In the video of Takasumi’s finish, we can see how the reporter even ended up translating Takasumi’s speech!
He sent out his newsfeed to Japan probably a few hours after the finish. The finish was early morning in Japan, and in the evening of the same day, I got a text message from a Tokyo member, that another member saw the news on a TV screen in a commuter train on his way back from work! Soon after that, Nina excitedly forwarded me an article in Sankei Shimbun – the 4th biggest national newspaper. In the end, at least 16 newspapers and online media from across Japan picked up this newsfeed. And the story does not end here.
Takasumi, as well as the whole experience at the course, must have touched this reporter’s heart. He wrote a second, more interview-oriented article targeting regional newspapers. Tokyo Shimbun and a few others picked it up and Tokyo’s article came out in their ‘People’ section on November 18.
Asahi Shimbun – the 2nd biggest national newspaper
This Asahi reporter became immediately interested in Takasumi, though he would be out of town on the day of his finish. After we went back and forth a few times on email with questions and answers, he was ready to come out to Queens to interview Takasumi a few days after the race, meeting our Associate Race Director Sahishnu first. His interview with Takasumi (accompanied with Nina) lasted more than 1.5 hours! Afterwards. the reporter described it as such a memorable interview, which made him reflect on his own life. Another thing he said was “They kindly treated me coffee.” – Panorama’s coffee!
He wrote two articles from this interview: one long article, a life story of Takasumi, for the online Asahi. The other shorter article he wrote was for the paper version’s ‘People’ section. It is a very well-known section and carries prestige. Takasumi’s story came out on November 22. In the interview, just the way Takasumi spoke about the race – he had known the race for 17 years, and it had been his lifetime goal, and all the other glorious achievements of his were simply stepping stones to be in this race – gave Sri Chinmoy’s 3100 Mile Race respect, credibility, and prestige that it so rightly deserved.
Bureaus in Yokohama, Takasumi’s hometown
Another sensible avenue to try was Yokohama bureaus of Japanese media, as Yokohama is a major city, and is also Takasumi’s hometown. The bureau of Mainichi Shimbun, the 3rd biggest national newspaper, immediately gave me a positive response. “He sounds like a very interesting person. Please have him contact us once he is back in Japan. No rush.” Just like that, even without looking at the press release.
There is a heartwarming story by Sri Chinmoy about a Japanese policeman who bravely neglected his duty to pick up a newspaper for him. That was a copy of Mainichi Daily News, the same paper’s English edition, which had Sri Chinmoy’s first newspaper article in Japan, in 1969.
They interviewed the couple in late November. The reporter really enjoyed meeting both of them, the interview lasted for a couple of hours! And a really nice, long article came out on January 6.
Magazine for the running community
One last, but not the least, important avenue to try was the major monthly magazine for the nation’s running community: Runners. They used to put out small ‘Call for Runners’ for our races in the 90s. They discussed what the best way would be to introduce Takasumi and the race, and in the end, they combined Takasumi’s own writing and interview with him, supplemented with the information from the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team. A nice one-page article came out in late December.
Sri Chinmoy’s Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race and its first Japanese finisher have reached many, many people in all corners of Japan, through these very kind, sincere, and insightful articles by different media outlets of the nation. I am very grateful to be part of this media journey, and for the precious opportunity given to us all.
(Editor's note: to see compete listing of Japanese media, click here)