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SPORTS COMMUNICATIONS - 第155回「応援していたら応援されていた 〜ツール・ド・東北〜」

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白戸太朗「スポーツ“TRY”アングル」(第3木曜) : 第155回「応援していたら応援されていた 〜ツール・ド・東北〜」
投稿日時: 2014-09-18 19:30:00

 今年も三陸の人々は温かかった。走る選手達を応援し続ける人たち、エイドステーション(補給所)で選手に食べ物を配るボランティアスタッフ。皆が笑顔で、一所懸命に選手を歓迎しているのが伝わってくる。でもその向こうに見えるのは震災の傷跡……。いろいろな想いを巡らせながら、僕たちはペダルを踏み続けた。
(写真:気仙沼の町を駆け抜ける選手たち)

 昨年に引き続き開催された「ツール・ド・東北」は東日本大震災の被災地沿岸で開催されるサイクリングイベント。当初は「復興もできていない街をサイクリング?」「イベントをやる前にやることがあるのでは」と非難されたが、Yahooと河北新報が勇気を持ってスタートさせたイベントだ。縁あって記念すべき1回目となった昨年も走らせてもらったが、あまりに美しい海と惨酷な爪痕とのギャップ、そして人の優しさに胸が詰まって、走りながら涙が溢れてきたのを覚えている。大会中に他の参加者と話をしたが、皆同じような感想で「復興を応援しに来たのに、逆に励まされた」というコメントが多かった。サイクリストの間では大変話題になった大会だった。

 そんなこともあり、大会は今年、募集定員もコースも拡大。昨年の倍以上にあたる3000人の参加者を最短60キロコースから新設の220キロコースを含む4つのコースに分けた。今年も参加させてもらった僕は気仙沼フォンドという220劵魁璽垢鯀った。このコースは石巻をスタートし、気仙沼で折り返してくるという長丁場。正直なところ、仕事で自転車に触れる立場の僕でも「油断していると完走できないかも」と、不安になる距離とタフなコースだ。しかし、実際に走ってみると、そんな心配は杞憂に。気仙沼の熱い応援と、惨酷なまでの景色に刺激を受け、スムーズに走り終えることができたのである。

 知ったつもりになっていた被災地の実情

 以前、気仙沼を訪れたのは震災から1年前後のことで、その後4カ月間ほど行き来していた。気仙沼大島で、被災してなくなってしまったランニングイベントを復活させようという試みだった。その時、あまりの惨状に胸が苦しくなったのをよく覚えている。それから2年半が経過し、どの程度復興が進んでいるのかを見るのが今回の目的の一つ。そんな僕の前に現れた景色は……正直、驚いた。いや、唖然としたと言った方が正確かもしれない。荒れ果てていた沿岸部地域がようやく空き地に見えるくらい整備された程度で、まだあちこちに被災したままになっている建物があるし、修繕された建物の方が少ないくらいだったのだ。大きくマイナスに振られた町は、再スタート地点というより、まだゼロにも戻っていないというのが僕の印象である。被災から3年半が経過し、東京ではなんとなく「復興は進んでいる」というイメージがあり、震災の記憶も風化し始めているなかで、現実の厳しさを改めて突きつけられた。
(写真:コース周辺の沿岸部は整備中の場所が目立った)

 もちろん、そんな実情は様々なメディアで報じられているのだろう。しかし人間は興味のあるものは注意深く目を通し、記憶に残すものだが、そうでないものには記述の存在さえ気が付かない。きっと時間が経過すれば、東北以外ではそんな状況になっていくのだろう。「自分は問題意識を持っている」と自負があっただけに、今回の現実との落差には恥ずかしいやら、がっかりしたやら……。きっと世の中には僕のような人が、程度の差こそあれ増えていきているはずだ。分かっているつもりで、分かってない。現実、現状を知っているつもりで、知ってない。そんな意識と記憶の風化を防ぐ意味でも、今回は大変重要な機会だった。人の言葉やネットに溢れる写真ではなく、自分の肌で感じ理解する。これは自身で足を運ばなければ分からない。改めてそんな当たり前のことを再認識しながら、走っていたというわけだ。

 本当はこんなイベントでなくとも、この地を自転車で走ればいい。しかし、知らない道を走るのはそれなりの準備が必要だし、この大会サポート体制は安心して走れる良さがある。なにより、同じ目的を持った仲間と一緒に走るのは心地良い。だから定員の3000人を超える応募があり、抽選になってしまうほどの人気ぶりだったのだろう。「10年は続けます」と昨年、Yahooの宮坂学社長が言い切っていたが、僕も10年くらいは毎年走って、その復興の過程を自分の目で確かめたいと思う。「ツール・ド・東北」は今年の盛況ぶりを見れば来年は益々の人気になることは間違いないだろう。

 大会翌日、普通の日々に戻った石巻を走っていると、まだ復興が進んでいない沿岸部の景色に心を痛める。でも、そこですれ違う地元の人々からもらえる笑顔と挨拶。現状は厳しいけど、人々は強いし、その心は間違いなくリカバーに進んでいる。そんな光も影も感じながら、来年の再訪を誓って石巻を後にした。

白戸太朗(しらと・たろう)プロフィール
 スポーツナビゲーター&プロトライアスリート。日本人として最初にトライアスロンワールドカップを転戦し、その後はアイアンマン(ロングディスタンス)へ転向、息の長い活動を続ける。近年はアドベンチャーレースへも積極的に参加、世界中を転戦していた。スカイパーフェクTV(J Sports)のレギュラーキャスターをつとめるなど、スポーツを多角的に説くナビゲータとして活躍中。08年11月、トライアスロンを国内に普及、発展させていくための新会社「株式会社アスロニア」の代表取締役に就任。昨年1月に石田淳氏との共著で『挫けない力 逆境に負けないセルフマネジメント術』(清流出版)を出版。
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