Keep Running with Friends - UDC TOKYO

We asked members of UDC, a run crew with three locations across Japan, about the joys of running with friends.

  • Photograph: Hao Moda

UDC (Ultra Dash Crew) is a run crew based in Okayama, Tokyo, and Osaka, Japan; from their Instagram posts, they appear to be a group of serious runners who vigorously compete in marathons and track races in various locations. However, his face is full of smiles. It is clear that they are serious but also enjoy running. 

Launched in 2014, UDC began as a group of runners from Okayama Prefecture who, under the leadership of founder Yuki Nakahara, gathered early in the morning on weekends to run together.

Yuichiro Morita, a current member of UDC Tokyo, said,

"I saw the first Okayama Marathon held in my hometown, Okayama Prefecture, and started running with the goal of competing in the second event the following year. I was working in Nagasaki at the time, so I ran alone, but in 2017 I had to return to Okayama for work. Right around that time, UDC was looking for members. From there, I started running as a member of UDC!"

It was not only local runners like Morita-san who contacted us after seeing our Instagram posts. As they continued their activities, they were frequently contacted by runners visiting Okayama on trips and business. Together, they would run through the streets of Okayama, sometimes not only running, but also hosting overnight camps and other events to entertain their guests. Runners who sympathized with their hospitality and activities began to spread UDC's activities in Tokyo and Osaka.

Just run the distance you can run every day.

UDC Tokyo, which operates in Tokyo, has no regular practice days or rules. Members who can get together on track release days are invited to practice, and group runs are held to provide an opportunity to interact with guests visiting Tokyo and other run crews.

Ayano Shimizu had no exercise experience when she was a student. She became a founding member of UDC Tokyo when she joined a gym to get rid of her lack of exercise and discovered the joy of running.

"When my friend invited me to join, I was hesitant because I am not a fast marathon runner and the team name was Ultra Dash! I was hesitant because I wasn't fast enough to run a marathon and the name of the team was Ultra Dash! I was comfortable with the fact that there were no mandatory team rules or barriers, such as having to run sub-three times or participate in competitions. When we post our runs on social media, the hashtag is #just run the distance you can run every day. It made me realize that it is a very good thing to just run, without worrying about time or distance."

When UDC members participate in marathons in various locations, nearby members come to cheer them on, and there seems to be a lot of interaction among the UDCs in the three locations. Seeing their friends running has encouraged many of them to take on the challenge of running a race themselves, and many of them enter the Okayama Marathon in the fall.

The Okayama Marathon, held in the birthplace of the UDC, is a special race that brings together UDC members from all three locations once a year.

Having fun with friends

Ryunosuke Furukawa did not have a negative image of running, even when he was in the soccer team as a student.

"The first full marathon I ran was a life experience, and I felt that it would be the only one. But I came across running as a sport that was totally different from the old, penultimate running, and I came across UDC after completing a full marathon. Since then, I've been influenced by the members on a daily basis and have naturally continued running to this point!"

Mai Arizuka won the Shonan International Marathon in 2022 and has a current full marathon personal best time of 2 hours 45 minutes 08 seconds.

「I have never been athletic and have never done sports, but a friend invited me to run a full marathon once. The total distance was about 50 km in training before the race. I was able to finish the race but quit running once there.

After that, I started running again when I moved to a new house. I practiced hard and went for it, and I was 30 minutes faster than my first full marathon. I am happy that I can feel it in my time, but more than that, I am happy that I can expand my running. Before, running = only pain and suffering, but with practice, I can run slower and longer, and my running repertoire has expanded.

The four members we interviewed were of the same generation, each of whom started running when they were in their late twenties or thirties, and met at UDC for different reasons.

"I thought running was impossible, but when I wanted a hobby or felt like I needed something to do because I wasn't getting enough exercise, I suddenly decided to try running. I just tried running, and nothing but good things came out of it," said Shimizu, to which the other three participants nodded broadly.


Finally, we asked him about the "AIRLY COTTON TANK" he wore during the photo shoot.

"I always prefer patterned wear with an emphasis on design, but I also find one-tone wear with an unobtrusive logo to be cute. Team wear with a big logo on the front is exciting, but this is simple with an unobtrusive logo, so it can be used on a daily basis, and it's good for everyone to wear together," said Shimizu.

"Running in cotton wasn't even an option, but it dries very quickly. In the summer, I inevitably sweat right after I start running, but it absorbs it once and dries up after that, so I didn't feel any discomfort," said Morita, who liked the functionality of the fabric.

The photo shoot took place on a weekend in July. The day before the shoot, the crew had already gathered for a group run. Despite this, the crew loved running so much that they continued to run after the shoot. By running together and sharing the joy of running, we were able to see how the crew members were able to improve each other and foster a sense of unity in the UDC run crew.

UDC Tokyo

【Model Size】
Morita-san (179cm) GREEN M Size
Furukawa-san(178cm) BLUE M Size

Shimizu-san(157cm) GREEN S Size
Ariduka-san(173cm) PINK M Size