A Course Musician’s Take on the 2015 Portland Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon


Photo by Lindsey Roby

This unique "recap" was submitted by Run Oregon reader and member of Unit Souzou Akiyo Horiguchi. Feel free to Submit a Guest Post in the “Contact Us” tab if you are wanting to preview or recap your experiences as well! Today was race day. I’m tired from not getting enough sleep last night; I never get enough sleep the night before races for fear of sleeping through that 5 am alarm. After a long nap, I feel a dull ache in my entire body, but it comes with a sense of accomplishment. It’s a familiar feeling from running many races over the years. But I didn’t run today. The painful blisters are on my hands rather than my feet, because it was a different kind of marathon for me today, playing taiko (Japanese drums) as course entertainment at the Portland Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon.

Our group, Unit Souzou, was located at about the 5-mile mark, at Fremont and NE 7th Avenue. Once the race started, we eagerly awaited the first runner. We heard the crowd down the street before we saw him, and we made sure we had already started to play when the leader came sprinting into view.

Photo by Lindsey Roby

It was fun to see all kinds of runners come by. Some of them seemed happier to see us than others. (Not that I blame the runners who just breezed by us. I’m not sure I would have managed more than a thumbs-up myself!) As we reached the mid-pack runners, there were more waving and cameras pointed at us. We were supposed to be the ones there to encourage the runners, but we also felt encouraged by the runners to keep playing strong.

If you’ve ever played or seen taiko, you’d know that it is an incredibly physical art form that requires stamina and energy. I used my runner’s math to estimate that we would be playing for about an hour and a half, possibly longer due to the nature of this race. That is a very long time to be playing taiko with minimal breaks. I took a quick break to peel off some layers and get a sip of water, but that was it. I definitely drew on my long-distance running endurance to keep myself going!

As we got toward the back of the pack, after over an hour of performing, our energy was starting to drain too. Afraid that my body would betray me, I started yelling even louder to try to compensate. The nice thing about fewer runners is that we could give more individual support. I made an effort to look at individuals, directing my energy. We did drum rolls, crescendoing as runners came by us, doing our best to see through this to the end. We played until the very last runner was past us, followed by an efficient train of event vehicles.

Congratulations to everyone who participated in this race! I hope that you enjoyed our encouragement, energy, and entertainment. It was an honor to be a part of this event.

Are you interested in trying out taiko?

It’s great for runners! Do you never get around to cross-training, even though you know it’s good for you? Here’s a fun way to do it! Obviously, it is a good upper body workout, but if you are doing it right, there is also a great focus on using your core. And since you probably already know something about perseverance and pushing yourself, you’re already ahead in some ways.

Join us for the Intro to Taiko Workshop on Monday, June 1st, 6:308:00 pm! This workshop is designed to accommodate absolute beginners; no experience is necessary! Visit the Unit Souzou website for more information and to sign up on-line.

Are you interested in having Unit Souzou perform at your event?

You can visit the Unit Souzou website to learn more about the group, or email unitsouzou [at] gmail.com for booking inquiries.

Who says only runners get blisters!

About Run Oregon Guest Blogger (130 Articles)
Posts like these were submitted to us by someone like you - a Run Oregon reader! If you want to submit a preview, recap, gear review, or just your thoughts on running, click on the "Contact Us" tab on the homepage and select "Submit a Guest Post". We will take care of the rest! Happy running!
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