“The Big Backpack Man”
Every day we are bombarded with advertisements extolling the lightness of the latest technical product, freshly released from the research laboratories of major manufacturers of trail equipment. For a long time we were used to see the samples which are there with little scales, to measure the grams of every item of clothing. Now however, the “lightness craze” seems to have struck even the last of the recreational runners.
The clear sign that we have lost the plot is the fact that more and more often we hear athletes complaining about necessary equipment because it would add “unnecessary weight”…
Luckily, a 47 year old Japanese man from Tokyo arrives, as thin as a rake, and disrupts all our logic. Makoto Yoshimoto, only 160 cm in height and 55 kg in weight, allows himself the luxury of facing the Tor 2011 wearing a smile which fatigue can never take away from his lips and a backpack which would be good for a Himalayan expedition.
If you ask him “Why are you doing it?”, his response is both simple and disarming: «If you go to a wedding you dress in a wedding suit, don’t you? Here, in the same way, if I go up mountains, I want to dress in a manner appropriate to the mountain. I always use the backpack even if the mountain is only 500 metres high”.
Makoto does not even know how much the backpack weighed which he used for the Tor. It does not even cross his mind “to quantify” the load that he would have had to carry on his back for a week. «I have no idea – he tells me with a smile spreading across his face- but it must be a double-digit number, seeing as the backpack alone weighs 3 kg».
He then gives me a list of the contents of the backpack. I quickly skim it until I see an item which I really do not understand: a newspaper. “Did you bring a newspaper?”, I ask him wide-eyed. «But of course, it is more useful than it seems!». He then sees my perplexed expression and explains it to me: “A newspaper is very useful: you can use it to start a fire. You can put it under your clothes to keep you warm. You can lie on it on the ground and use it has a mattress…».
Bib number 568 – 298th - 148:33:54 at the Tor des Géants
Spirito Trail, November 2011 / extract