It’s like they’d been training all year for this moment.

The Nara Marathon, held in Nara on the second Sunday in December every year, is a 42.195-kilometre (26.2-mile) long course that’s known to be a challenging one for runners.

This year, participants found themselves facing an even greater challenge during the course, when a horde of deer suddenly decided to stampede through the runners as they made their way past Nara Park.

Nara Park is home to over 1,200 deer which are believed to be the messengers of the gods, affording them protected status as a natural treasure and allowing them free rein to roam throughout the area as they like.

The gods must’ve had some urgent news for someone somewhere on the weekend, because during this year’s race on 12 December, the animals suddenly made a beeline across the road, right as runners were running past.

Video of the incident shows the deer initially running along the pavement, until one of them ducks under the tape that had been set up by the side of the road. Once that deer breaks through the barrier, all the others follow, some jumping over the tape like gazelles and others running right through it, with one even barrelling straight into a runner.

▼ Take a look at the video below

This is the first time for a stampede of deer to interfere with the marathon in the ten years it’s been held in the city. The person who took the video told Nippon News Network they’d never seen this many deer running this fast in Nara before.

While nobody knows exactly why the deer decided to break onto the road at such speed, people online had a few things to say about it:

“Did they spot a senbei seller in the middle of the intersection?”
“Humans running on public roads must look disturbing to them.”
“They obviously wanted to compete in the marathon!”
“If they’re messengers of the gods, that runner must’ve received good luck.”
“It’s been unusually quiet without tourists during the pandemic so maybe the commotion startled them?”

It’s true that tourist numbers have plummeted in Nara lately, which means the deer haven’t been feasting on as many senbei rice crackers as usual. The Nara Deer Preservation Foundation that looks after the welfare of the animals says there’s enough food in the park to sustain them without rice crackers, though, so we can probably rule out a craving for senbei as the cause of the outbreak.

It may be that the deer were suddenly startled by something that led them to start running on the pavement by the road in the first place, and herd mentality led them to become increasingly skittish until they made a break for the open road. Or it could just be one of those mysterious deer phenomenons, like shikadamori, a gathering that nobody is able to explain.

Thankfully, though, no humans or deer were injured in the sudden clash that occurred between them on the weekend. Which is nice to know, as the deer usually get along so well with people they even bow to them.

Source: Jin
Featured image: Pakutaso
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!