Full Name: Linda Kapembeza
Hometown: I've lived all my adult life in Johannesburg, South Africa, but I grew up in Harare, Zimbabwe.
Current Residence: Saitama,Japan
Occupation: English Teacher
1. Filmmaker (and podcaster) Billy Yang was your primary inspiration for the “The Running Voyager” podcast. What aspect of his storytelling appealed to you? With the abundance of running podcasts out there, what makes yours unique?
What drew me in about Billy was his authenticity. I think the way he spoke just seemed real to me and when I watched his movies or listened to his podcast it made me realise that so much more was possible than the mundane.
There are so many running podcasts out there, but it's something Billy might have said or even Rich Roll: there are some stories that only you can tell and will resonate with a certain group of people. Also, say for example me: I can interview the same guest as someone else but we’ll get a different response because our style is different.
Also, because of my personality, I would connect with a different crowd than say someone else with a different personality. There are so many runners’ stories to be told especially from South Africa, Africa as a whole, and now that I am in Japan there are many stories to be told here. I hope that I can share these with the world.
2. What are some kernels of knowledge you’ve obtained from your podcast guests? Perhaps a story or quote that has informed your training or kept you motivated during low points in training?
For me, every guest I’ve interviewed has kind of given me motivation just when I needed it, but my first interview was with Mike Sewell, and he said to me (just after we finished recording) that I should remember why I decided to become a podcaster. Not to chase after money or clout, but because I love connecting with people, this has kept me going when I wanted to quit podcasting or when I second guessed myself.
3. You experienced some culture shock upon moving to Japan from South Africa in March of 2022. What prompted the move? How have you adjusted to your new home and what aspects of your previous home do you miss?
I had always promised myself, I would travel the world after my kids were out of school. I’m a single mum and my daughter started varsity and my son was in his last year of school. I decided to take the leap. It’s taken me a while but I’m finally adjusting now.
I feel like only in the past three or so months I have started to enjoy Japan. Relocating to a new country is harder than it seems. I miss the local running community in South Africa, my family especially my kiddos and also my friends.
4. How would you describe the running scene in Japan? Is the trail scene catching fire there like it is elsewhere?
I am trying to get more involved in the Japanese trail running community, the fact that I don’t speak Japanese well has made me a bit hesitant, but I’m hoping to change that in the coming year.
There’s a big event they have at the start of the New Year called the Ekiden. Ekiden is a type of long distance road running relay, where teams compete against each other. Each runner typically covers 21km or a half marathon on their own. They're often televised and draw in large numbers of spectators..
Trail running is definitely big here and Japan has some top performers out there, including Miyazaki Kimino who did so well at Tarawera (2nd female in the 100 mile). This country has the most amazing trails and there’s a lot of traffic on the trails: mostly hikers and many elderly people as well.
There’s also a decent expat running community here in Tokyo made up of people from all over the world. I hope I can build a bridge and get people from outside Japan to understand running here, because I think it’s fascinating.
5. Who are a few dream guests that you would like to interview?
One was Cody Reed - and that happened. Then I thought, Naomi Brand - and that happened. I would say Billy Yang, Beau Miles, and Camille Heron. My list is too long! My most ambitious goal yet is to be able to speak Japanese properly enough to actually interview some of the local ultra-runners in Japan.
6. You’ve completed numerous marathons, trail ultras, and even the David Goggins 4x4x48 challenge. How did your love of running “escalate” to these grueling endurance events?
I’m not quite that serious of a runner, but I started running after I got divorced years ago and it slowly escalated from there. I actually need/ enjoy these challenges, they light a fire in me and make my life fun.
7. What other races/adventures do you have planned in the coming year?
I’m hoping to run the Dodo in Mauritius in June, the Cappadoccia Ultra in Turkey in October (63.6k) in October, and a new race in Zimbabwe around the same time as the Runyanga Ultra (the baby distance). It’s going to be a tame year, but who knows things might get more exciting in the next few months!