Heat, Tama Hills test young runners at camp
TAMA HILLS RECREATION AREA, Japan — Forty-one middle school students sweated out one of their precious last weeks of summer vacation.
They spent four sweltering days this week running the hillsides at Tama Hills in suburban Tokyo to prepare for the upcoming cross-country season.
Thirty students from Yokota Middle School, 10 from Yokosuka Middle School and one from Christian Academy in Japan gutted out the heat and humidity to hone their cross-country and track skills during the four-day, overnight Kanto Plain Running Camp.
Beau Veazey, organizer of the camp and Yokota Middle’s cross-country coach, said he participated in running camps both as a high school student and later as a coach and wanted to give his students the experience he had.
“It’s a great chance for the kids to meet runners from the other teams who they only would normally see at competitions,” he said of the first-ever Kanto Plain camp, which began Monday.
Starting each day at 7:30 a.m. with a three- to five-mile run, students learned breathing techniques, ways to prevent running-related injuries and other tips from guest speakers, Veazey said.
“I enjoyed learning about the mental side of running, such as how to overcome mental barriers while you run,” said Loana Kaja, 14, an eighth-grader who runs cross-country at Christian Academy in Japan.
Probably the biggest benefit for Jacob Sterry, 13, an eighth-grader at Yokota Middle School, was just getting out and running, he said.
“Normally, I don’t run that much in the summer,” he said.
The students also took in a variety of recreational activities at Tama Hills, including paintball, horseback riding, volleyball and, of course, more running.
Christen Carpenter from Yokosuka and Miranda Beard from Yokota, both 13, said the heat was a bonus.
“Running in this type of heat helps us build up our endurance, which will make us faster when it gets cooler,” Carpenter said.
“We made sure they drank lots of water,” Veazey said, adding that Yokota’s fitness center donated water bottles to each camper.
Veazey said he hopes to bring the camp back to Tama Hills next summer, and he also hopes to offer a similar camp for Kanto Plain high school students.