Mark Guthrie asks: What if the Olympics were being held in Nagoya this year?
Doon do do do dooo dooo, doon do do do doooo. Can you hear it? Can you feel it? That’s right, the opening strings of Chariots of Fire are dancing through your head, coursing through your soul, and that means just one thing: The Olympics are coming. The 2012 Olympic Games will begin this month in London, and many of you will be excited. One problem though. Time difference. Whether you were hoping to watch Nadeshiko Japan add a gold medal to their Football World Cup, see Usain Bolt shatter his own world record, or just sit alone in a darkened room feeling equal parts ashamed and aroused as you watch the suspiciously young-looking Russian gymnasts, the likelihood is that you will instead be curled up on your futon, dreaming of Olympic glory. But dream no longer! For this year the Olympics will be coming to you. So limber up, Pocari Sweat at the ready, and get set to take part in the inaugural Nagoya Olympic Games.
Event: Higashiyama Hurdles
Location: Higashiyama line subway
The hurdles is a race in which the athlete requires expert judgement and timing, and so it is with the Nagoya variant. Timing is particularly key at the starting line, the ticket machines at Takabata station. From there, upon hearing the approach of a train, participants must, without purchasing a ticket, hurdle the barrier before dashing onto the most westerly end of the train. From there they must sprint in an eastern direction along the train, taking care to hurdle any school bags and unconscious salary men they may encounter along the way. The victor will run the length of the train, before alighting, hurdling the barrier and exit at the most westerly station possible. Participants may be subjected to random Manaca card testing.
Event: Mamachari Marathon
Location: Any Nagoya High School.
As any good student knows (possibly after a quick perusal of Wikipedia to double check), the marathon race takes its name from a Greek legend in which a messenger, Pheidippides, ran to Athens from the eponymous city of Marathon, to announce the defeat of the Persians. Upon uttering his announcement, ‘nikomen’ (meaning ‘we have won’, nothing to do with Japanese meat filled buns) he collapsed and died. And how is this brave sacrifice commemorated? All over the world people run a little over 26 miles, many dressed as chickens. Chickens for Christ’s sake! The danger element has been lost, so it is time to bring it back. The Mamachari Marathon can be contested outside any High School in Nagoya, beginning precisely one hour before the start of school. From outside the gates, contestants must run around the outside of the school grounds until the bell rings. Doesn’t sound dangerous you say? Well, have you ever seen high schoolers ride their mamachari bicycles? They are the most reckless and dangerous individuals on the road. And on the pavement for that matter. So, as they weave, text, ride side by side by side, friends sitting on the rear racks, iPods on, the runners must take absolutely no evasive action. The one who completes the most circuits without ending up in a mesh of mangled metal will have the right to claim nikuman. Or whatever.
Event: Takagawa Triathlon
Location: Takagawa Koen
The standard triathlon is an event of endurance and dedication unparalleled in the world of sport. Whilst the Nagoya version may be less demanding physically, it more than makes up for this fact with its danger. Like its namesake, the Takagawa Triathlon consists of three main sections: swim, run, cycle. Participants begin at the northern end of the koi carp pond. From there they will dive in and swim the length of the pond, capturing one of the delightfully coloured carp along the way. Exiting the pond, fish underarm, the participant must out sprint not only their rivals, but also the elderly security guards. They will exit the park through the main gate, hop on their awaiting bicycle and ride away to safety. The biggest carp to evade prison, wins.
Event: Doggy Discus
Location: Meijo Koen
The discus was a staple event for the ancient Greeks who, as a race, understood that there is no greater barometer of physical prowess than seeing how far you can throw stuff. But let’s be honest, it’s pretty dull, isn’t it? For a start, that discus is far too aerodynamic. It’s bound to go far. And it doesn’t even try to bite you. So, amongst the pleasant environs of Meijo Koen, contestants must, quite simply, choose a dog and see how far they can throw it. The furthest throw wins. Be careful to ensure that any dog that has a lead does not have an owner connected at the other end. Whilst ignoring this suggestion does not result in disqualification, it may greatly diminish your throwing range as well as vastly increasing the probability of having your face smashed in.
Event: High Dive
Location: TV Tower
Diving from ten metres into a pool designed with precise engineering to eliminate as much backsplash as possible? Meh. Try 100 metres onto solid concrete. That’s a real sport. Upon arriving at the 100m high observation deck of Nagoya’s TV Tower, participants must find a way to bypass the security netting and hurl themselves towards the ground. Umpires will be awarding points for poise, agility, difficulty of moves and an ability to not scream terrified obscenities on the way down. Do not forget to place a bucket of water on the ground so you can land safely. Well, it works in cartoons.
Event: Happy Hour 4×4 Relay
Locations: Hub Fushimi, Hub Sakae, Hub Nagoya, OXO Nagoya
The pinnacle of any Olympics tends to be the sprinting events, throwing out the Games’ greatest of heroes, from Linford Christie to Michael Johnson, from Flojo to Usain Bolt, and the Nagoya Olympics will be no different. However, none of these stars, fine specimens of physical fitness that they are, would stand a chance in the Nagoya Olympics Happy Hour 4×4 Relay. Contestants will start at Fushimi subway station where the first leg will commence at precisely 5pm. They will then run to the Hub Pub where they will order and drink, as quickly as possible, four large gin and tonics. With their glasses drained, they will hand over their baton to their waiting teammate who will exit the pub in the direction of Sakae (modes of transport may be walking, subway or bus). Once in Sakae the contestant will order and drink four large Moscow Mules, handing over for the third leg. The next destination is Nagoya Hub, so subway or bus is advisable. Upon arrival they will consume four large Cuba Libres and hand over for the fourth and final leg. This is where the expert sprint-drinkers will come into their own, running across town to the Nagoya OXO and ordering four pints of lager. With no ice to fill out the glass, the participant must be in peak physical condition as they drain pint after pint after pint. The winner is the team to finish first. Failure to complete the race before 7pm, Happy Hour’s end, will result in disqualification and the necessity for further training that evening, in order to try again the next day.
And there you have it, the Nagoya Olympic Games. A test of endurance and physical fitness unrivaled anywhere in the world of sport. So, as the anthems are playing and the medals are handed out, where will you be? At the top of the podium, or in the depths of despair? Give your all, go for broke. Remember, the hopes and expectations of your nation rest on your shoulders. Do your country proud.