2019 Summer Journal #11 2019 Summer Journal #11

若岡拓也インタビュー「楽しさも、苦しさも、走り続けることで見えるもの」 TAKUYA WAKAOKA Interview“The enjoyment and pain of running”

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Interview
「楽しさも、苦しさも、走り続けることで見えるもの」

Interview
“The enjoyment and pain of running”

生まれ育った石川県金沢市にて新聞記者として約7年間勤め、いつしかジャングルや砂漠を駆け抜ける「極地ランナー」へ転身していた若岡拓也さん。「生まれて高校まで金沢で過ごして、そこから都内の大学に進学しました。卒業してから1年間フラフラしていたんですけど、もともと新聞社でバイトをしていたので、勝手の分かる業界かなと思って」。当時は地元に戻るつもりはなく、希望の職もなかった。強いて言えば趣味の写真を生かせる職がいい。そう思い、新聞記者という道を選んだ。在職中は職場から地方の支局への行き来など、取材で飛び回る毎日だったそう。そして勤務期間7年目、30歳を目前にして彼の考えは変わり始めた。「30歳を目前にして、このままやっていても発展がないというか。取材で話を聞いてアウトプットしていくのですが、あまり自分に残っているものがないなって感じてきました」と、現状の自分に対し、焦りや不安が募ってきた。そしてこれから先のプランを決めることなく、突然の退職を決意。怒涛の勤務生活から解放され、ようやく自分自身と向き合える時間ができた時、ふと過去に取材した人物を思い出した。

「そういえば砂漠や南極を走るランナーを取材していた。自分でもやってみようかな」。そう決意してから3 ヶ月後、彼はブラジルの密林を250km駆け抜けるジャングルマラソンへ参加し、完走を遂げていた。過去に陸上競技やランニングの経験は全くなかったが「大きな挑戦を成し遂げたい」。ただその一心が走る原動力となっていた。アマゾンのジャングルを250km、1週間かけて走るレースは生半可な気持ちでは挑めない。参加者も世界中から集まるとはいえ、たったの50名。若岡さんが参加したレースでは完走率60%ほどと、過酷さを物語る。「ジャングルの走り方」のような、いわゆる参考書となるものも世に出回っていない。そのような状況の中、ネットのわずかな情報を頼りに準備を整え、時間のある限りトレーニングに励んだ。

Takuya Wakaoka worked as a newspaper reporter for about seven years in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture, where he was born and raised. Changing jobs, he became a “long-distance runner,” who runs unnoticed in jungles and deserts. “I lived in Kanazawa from birth until high school, and then entered a university in Tokyo. I drifted for a year after graduating. I had once had a part-time job at a newspaper company, and thought it was a business I knew about.” After graduating, he had no intention of returning to his home town at the time, yet also no dream job. If anything, he wanted a job where he could use his interest in photography. With that, he chose the path of a newspaper reporter. He would go back and forth from his workplace to regional branches and spend everyday rushing about for news coverage. His thoughts began to change when he faced the age of 30, his seventh year working as a journalist. “When I was turning 30, I realized I would not progress if I kept doing the same thing. I would listen and report on stories for coverage, but I felt that there was not much left within myself.” Reflecting upon him-self, his impatience and worries only grew. Without having a plan for what to do after, he suddenly decided to quit. Released from his tempestuous work life, he finally had time to face himself, and there he suddenly remembered someone he had reported on in the past.

“I was reminded that I had reported on a runner who had ran through the desert and Arctic region. I wanted to try it for myself.” Three months after deciding to do this, he participated in a jungle marathon and ran for 250km in a Brazilian jungle, and finished the entire race. Although he had zero experience in track and field events in the past, or even running in general, he says, “I wanted to achieve a major challenge.” His dedication be-came the driving force of his running. It is not possible to tackle a week-long race spanning 250km in the Amazonian jungle half-hearted. Only 50 people gathered as participants from around the world. The fact that the completion rate for the race reaches only 60%, is testament to its rigorousness. There are also no “manuals” for jungle running on the market anywhere in the world. Under these circumstances, Takuya prepared himself relying on the scant amount of information available on the internet, and dedicated him-self to training in the limited amount of time he had.

レース中は誰かと並走する時間よりも、基本的に対自分の時間。自分の足でどこまで走れるのか。その好奇心と欲求を満たすことに面白さを感じるそうだ。「苦しくても前に進んでいけば、着実に終わっていくことが楽しいなと思いました。どうせ同じことをやるんだったら、思いっきり楽しんでやったほうがいい。そういう考えになった」と、飄々と話す若岡さんだが、取材時の撮影のために、山に入り、走り始めるとまるで別人のように。表情は生き生きと変化し、一歩一歩踏み出す足は、例え障害物の多い山道であっても導かれるように自然と一体となる。

「極端な場所を走るレースなので、毎回ある種覚悟を決めて参加しているのですが、同時に日常生活が以前とは違っていいなと思うようになりました。屋根があるだけで快適です」

今後も様々なレースに参加していく予定の若岡さんだが、いつか達成したい大きな挑戦は大陸横断だそう。自分の足の可能性を信じ、挑戦し続けることが彼の人生そのものだ。

Rather than time spent running against others, races are essentially a length of time you spend challenging yourself. Where can you go on your own two feet? It is interesting to satisfy his curiosity and desire. “Even if it’s difficult, I find it enjoyable that as long as I am going forward, I am heading towards the finish line. If I am doing the same thing, I might as well enjoy it with all my heart. That is how I feel.” Takuya, who speaks in a carefree way, is completely different once he enters the mountains to run. His expression changes in a lively way, and his feet advance step by step, naturally joining to lead him, even on the most difficult mountain paths.

“These races run through the most extreme locations, so each time I participate I go through a variety of preparations, at the same time I think how good it is that my everyday life is different to that of before. It’s comfortable just having a roof over my head.”

Takuya, who has plans to participate in various races going forward, says the major goal he wants to achieve someday is crossing a continent. He believes in the possibilities of his own feet, and continuously challenging himself is his life.

若岡拓也
1984年生まれ、金沢市出身。元新聞記者。2014年に退職後、ブラジルのアマゾンを1週間かけて250km走るステージレース「ジャングルマラソン」に出場。食糧や衣類などの荷物10kgを背負ったまま、ジャングルを駆け抜け、完走を果たす。帰国後、福岡県の東端に位置する上毛町に引っ越し、15年7月から地域おこし協力隊として活動。ライターと兼業しつつ、国内外のステージレースで優勝、入賞するなど走り回っている。 17年8月から山小屋で生活している。

TAKUYA WAKAOKA
Born in 1984, in Kanazawa City. Former newspaper reporter. After retiring from journalism in 2014, Takuya Wakaoka entered a week-long “jungle marathon,” spanning 250km in the Amazon in Brazil. Carrying a 10kg pack of provisions and clothes on his back, he ran through the jungle and completed the race. After returning to Japan, he moved to Kouge Town, located in the easternmost part of Fukuoka Prefecture. In July 2015, he began working as a volunteer for regional migration. His second job is as a writer, and he runs while winning races in Japan and abroad and competing. In August 2017, he began to live in a mountain hut.

2019年8月20日(火) Aug 20th, 2019

写真: 山田薫
文章: メディアサーフコミュニケーションズ株式会社

Photographer: Kaoru Yamada
Text: Media Surf Communications Inc.


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