The Mission to Seafarers has raised $1.3m from its Adventure Race Japan challenge.

The event was held from 18 to 21 May on the Izu Peninsula, with 64 teams from 19 countries tackling the Green Dragon and Black Dragon races in testing weather and mountainous terrain.

The racers included 37 women and 155 men aged from 22 to 65. Sixty competitors came from Japan-based companies and 57 from Singapore.

The early start of the first day of racing was accompanied by an uplifting song from Sakura Kuma, chief executive of APM Terminals Japan. Along the route, racers faced squat and creativity challenges using natural resources.

The day ended with a dinner sponsored by Abo Shoten, at which participants were treated to videos and speeches by gold sponsors APM Terminals, Ocean Network Express and Arrow Shipbroking, as well as the mission’s regional director in East Asia, Stephen Miller, and Adventure Race Japan committee member Ken Hasui of Norstar Shipping.

On the next day, the teams tackled a shorter yet more challenging route featuring steeper inclines, but due to high winds, a planned stand-up paddleboarding challenge was cancelled.

Teams were recognised for outstanding performance in various categories at the awards ceremony and gala dinner, where Mitsui OSK Lines chief executive Takeshi Hashimoto and Yukito Higaki, president of Shoei Kisen Kaisha, both gold sponsors, presented prizes. The dinner was sponsored by the UK P&I Club, while Norstar sponsored the evening’s drinks.

Hashimoto shared his ambition to achieve both the fastest and highest fundraising team at the next event. Other gold sponsors were Swire Shipping, Swire Bulk, Womar Logistics and Fleet Management.

Funds raised will support key areas of the charity’s operations.

A significant portion will go to its Emerging Port Strategy, covering the years from 2022 to 2026, which aims to provide a strategic approach to new and existing operations in Asia and globally.

Funds will also be allocated for more sustainable practices to reduce the environmental impact of the mission’s activities; the creation of extra green spaces at seafarer centres; and the establishment of Key Welfare Hubs in Singapore and Rotterdam offering an enhanced service on shipping routes with a considerable throughput of seafarers.

The Mission to Seafarers’ successful Family Support Network in the Philippines and India will receive support, helping it continue providing counselling, financial guidance, basic social and welfare services, transport services and training for seafarers and their families.

Director of development Jan Webber said the race exemplifies the power of collaboration and perseverance, bringing together diverse cultures and styles to champion the welfare of seafarers.

“This event proved to be the most ambitious and successful event organised by a maritime welfare charity and certainly within the history of the Mission to Seafarers,” she said.

The Reverend Canon Andrew Wright, the charity’s secretary general, who took part as the oldest competitor, said the outcome surpassed expectations.

“I can say from experience how very challenging it was — for those of all ages and abilities! My congratulations go to all who took part,” he said.

To be in such a beautiful part of Japan was especially wonderful, he added.

“As I struggled up the very steep slopes on the days of the challenge, I was reminded … life can often be an uphill struggle, especially so for seafarers in recent years.”

Award and race winners

Green Dragon Race Overall winner (fastest time and highest fundraising)
1st BW Hikers, 2nd Sole Mates, 3rd Brave Blossoms

Black Dragon Race Overall winner (fastest time and highest fundraising)
1st BSM Global, 2nd MOL A, 3rd Core Burners

Green Dragon Race Fastest team
1st TST, 2nd BW Hikers, 3rd Shoei

Black Dragon Race Fastest team
1st ISC, 2nd MOL A, 3rd Core Burners

Green Dragon Race Highest fundraiser
1st Norstar Green Dragons, 2nd Sole Mates, 3rd BW Hikers

Black Dragon Race Highest fundraiser
1st Keido and IDO (joint winners), 2nd City of Edinburgh, 3rd Norstar Black Dragons