Monday, June 15, 2009

Rough Water Swim, Zamami

This weekend marked the biggest athletic event on Zamami, or 'the weekend all the Japanese girls who Dave wants to date come to Zamami'. There are often couples wandering the back alleys and waterfront of Zamami on warm weekends, but on RWS weekend they are jogging. Everybody's fit, everybody's cool. There was even a girl wearing a Patagonia fishing hat whom, when I commented on it, volunteered that she loves fishing. And being fit. Siiiigh.. (she lives in Tokyo)

I committed at last year's event to participate this year, no matter how slow I am at swimming. Unfortunately my limited training was further shortened this last week when my goggles broke. But I [correctly] assumed I could just bum a pair off another swimmer at the event.

[Apparently tiny Speedos (the kind I was wearing) are no longer in style]

I found out the day before that the signup fee was $40, which was about $30 more than I wanted to pay. I didn't want the tshirt, I didn't want the gift bag, I didn't want the dinner, I just wanted to participate. So I purposely waited until the last minute to sign up hoping the lady would accept the 2000yen I had on me as my only cash. But the event was rescheduled a couple hours because of lightning, so she had no sympathy to my plight and would not budge on the 4000yen entry fee. I complained briefly (especially because there were over 50 bags of people who signed up but were not attending the event - why couldn't I just borrow their number?) and then an old lady made me feel bad by donating a 500yen coin to my cause (and she wouldn't take the money back).

I came back later with the money and wasn't offered a tshirt (I didn't want one anyway), nor was there even a gift bag (it was just a bag). The entire event was heavily sponsored by PowerBar, yet there wasn't a single PowerBar in attendance. How crazy is that? Pretty crazy.

So, 290 of us swam the 1.5km course, which was a big triangle. I had planned to oscillate between freestyle and breaststroke, but opted to stick with breaststroke exclusively because (A) I have always been faster with that stroke and (B) I was regularly getting cut off by old people so breaststroke offered greater visibility and maneuverability.

I finished 161st, in 28 minutesish. I have no idea what that time means, but I imagine it's pretty slow (10 minutes behind the winner).

That night they had a dinner/party which I was dancing eisa for. I decided to at least get something out of my entry fee and have a plate of dinner, but I was turned away at the door because the dinner was an extra $40. This put me over the edge, but luckily I only swore to myself. I pay $40 to run an entire 42k marathon, get a tshirt (of higher quality and better design), a gift bag, a medal and certificate, and get a free meal afterwards. For the Rough Water Swim, I paid $40 and got a PowerBar swimming cap. I understand I need to pay for the right to participate, but that is obscene.

The Rough Water Swim is a 6-7 race series through Kagoshima and Okinawa and it's operated out of Tokyo, so I assume some of those entry fees are paying for all the flights of the organizers. But as a Zamami resident who just wants to participate (there were four of us, none of whom are 'swimmers'), I am not particularly interested in funding that stuff, especially when there were 67 people who paid to come and didn't (so it's not like I cost the event anything). I expressed my concerns to a couple people, one of whom promised to pass them along during the wrap-up meeting (in the form of a suggestion that there be a discounted 'local' entry fee next year).

[Did I miss out by not getting a tshirt? No way.]


Wren said...

You spend 3 paragraphs bitching about the shirt and you give no info about the out come of 'the weekend all the Japanese girls who Dave wants to date come to Zamami'? Um, priorities, dude, priorities.

Dave said...

sorry, my bitterness over the shirt may have been an extension of not getting to know any of the girls.

Katy. said...

You may not have met any girls, but that pink dress they gave you is hot. :)