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This trail runner just ran up and down Japan’s highest mountain 4 times
Ruy Ueda made a record-breaking speed ascent of Mount Fuji’s four trails in 9 hours and 56 minutes, and we’re mesmerised – find out how he did it right here.
To climb Mount Fuji once in your lifetime is considered a rite of passage in Japan. The mountain is held in almost sacred awe and it takes most parties around 10 hours to summit. So to run up and down its four trails to the top in one go is quite a thing. To do that in under 10 hours is just mind-blowing.
That’s what trail running sensation Ruy Ueda has just achieved.
The 28-year-old athlete has set a new Fastest Known Time (FKT) for running all of Mount Fuji’s four trails non-stop, a total distance of 57.06km with 6,772m of ascent. He completed the feat in nine hours, 55 minutes and 41 seconds, a world record when ratified.
Watch the film about his stunning feat here:
Mount Fuji in One Stroke
Ruy Ueda aims to set the new fastest-known time for running all of Mount Fuji’s main trails in one stroke.
Only two people have previously completed the feat – one a mountaineer who took 23 hours, the other a runner who set a time of 11h 53m 44s.
Speaking afterwards at the finish line, where his wife and young daughter had come to welcome him, an emotional Ueda said: “I’m just really happy to break the record at this symbolic Mount Fuji, and I've surprised myself as well with the time of under 10 hours.”
There are four main routes to the summit – the Fujinomiya, Gotemba, Subashiri and Yoshida trails. Ueda set off at 4:51am on July 13 and the weather was mixed. Mount Fuji is famous for its variable conditions. The start was delayed due to rain and throughout the day Ueda had to battle rain and fog.
After blazing up the Fujinomiya climb, he successfully descended and ascended the Gotemba, Subashiri and Yoshida trails before completing the crater loop for a final descent down Fujinomiya.
At the bottom of each climb supporters had set up an aid station where he was able to change his shoes, grab something to eat and hydrate before setting off back up the mountain again.
Along the way and on the summit he passed dozens of Japanese hikers in heavy mountain gear, surprised at this mountain athlete in shorts and running vest.
One of the biggest challenges was the altitude. At 3,700m there is far less effective oxygen than at sea level, making it harder to breathe – but Ueda is one of the world’s top altitude runners.
He finished third in the 2021 Skyrunning World Championships. That same year he became the first Asian Skyrunning World Champion after winning the Men’s Vertical Kilometer in Lleida, Spain. To prepare his body for this challenge Ueda travelled to the Alps and trained with ultrarunner Florian Neuschwander, competing in Austria’s Hochkönigman, where he won the downhill race, and France’s Mont Blanc marathon, where he came third.
It came to life as a way to showcase Japan's beauty
The project Mount Fuji in One Stroke was two years in the planning and was a way to showcase the possibilities of trail running in a country where it’s still seen as a niche sport. “It came to life as a way to showcase Japan’s beauty,” Ueda added. “Of course, if people start taking an interest in trail running after seeing this, then that would also be a big win.”
After crossing the finish line at Fujinomiya trail station at 2:46pm local time, Ueda sat down momentarily but recovered soon enough to give a speech to his supporters. He was emotional and told them it had been one of the hardest challenges he’d ever done. “It was tough,” he said.
There was little time to celebrate. Ueda is already focused on the next challenge – competing in the Skyrunning World Championships again in autumn.
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