Running magazines are everywhere but few of them put long-form journalism before tips and product reviews. Runner Yuito Ueda has set out to change that with a periodical paced for the more thoughtful pavement pounder.
There are no footwear reviews, no models in next season’s running fashion and no tips on performance or stride mechanics: Hashiruhito (Runner) doesn’t fit the typical sports-magazine mould.
Instead, editor in chief Yuito Ueda’s magazine delves into the personal stories of amateurs: tales of motivation, routines, injury and the link between running and creativity. “Basically we hope people will read this and be inspired to go for a run,” says 33-year-old Ueda.
When Ueda set up his company 1milegroup in Tokyo in 2011, he was thinking of starting a sportswear brand. He came up with a name, Gloryapparel, and a website where he posted photos of city runners at night in Tokyo and New York. Running had become fashionable in Japan after Tokyo held its first marathon in 2007 but Ueda, a former analyst at a Japanese consultancy, felt the media was too focused on professional athletes, fads and consumerism.
His idea was for a magazine featuring people in the creative industries and the convergence of Tokyo’s running and street-fashion cultures. At the office he shares with other start-ups in Tokyo’s Minami Aoyama district, Ueda opens an issue of Japanese magazine Running Style. He points at a model in a jacket and tights who is caught in an awkward mid-stride pose. “She’s beautiful but she doesn’t look like she runs,” he says. “We would never do that.”
Since Hashiruhito’s 160-page launch issue in May 2014, Ueda’s team has covered musicians, artists, DJs, actors, models and designers. A second 176-page issue was published in April with longer interviews, fewer people and more photos. Ueda now plans to put out two issues a year. “Charisma is at the top of the list of things we look for in a person,” he says. “After that we find out whether they run.”
Ueda hits the road with his subjects before he interviews them, taking photographs reportage-style and creating an informality that means dialogue can take an unexpected turn: “One woman, a model, talked about someone she had been in love with,” he says.
On a clear Friday morning in May, Ueda spends a couple of hours with bassist and vocalist Shun and drummer Bunta from melodic hardcore punk band Totalfat. While the pair do a lap around the perimeter of Yoyogi Park, Ueda sprints back and forth and jumps onto walls, shooting away on a digital camera with a 50mm lens and on disposable film cameras.
Hashiruhito’s print run is a modest 12,000 copies but it has brought Ueda commissions from big names. New Balance and Puma hired him to publish their branding books, he has done work for Nike and has organised events with sportswear label Descente. Hashiruhito sales account for only a small percentage of annual revenues but the magazine remains his core project. “I took up running out of necessity when I was working long hours,” he says. “Every person runs for a different reason. We want to explore that in depth in a way that works best on the printed page.”