Skip to main content

Hakone Ekiden Preview on the Way

I am generally staying away from writing about my own running in Japan. That said, this morning I did my annual run up the Hakone Ekiden 5th stage, a 23.4 km course starting at sea level, peaking at 874 m after 19 km, then dropping 100 m or so to finish next to a lake in the mountains. It was an inspirational run and doubly exciting as preparations were underaway all along the course for the 84th Hakone Ekiden Jan. 2-3.

For those unfamiliar with the Hakone Ekiden, it is nominally the East Japan University Men`s championship race, featuring 19 schools and one all-star team running a 10-stage, 217.9 km course from Tokyo into the mountains and back over the course of 2 days. I say nominally in that Hakone has become the center of much of the Japanese running world, with the top Hakone schools attracting the best runners from throughout Japan, many of whom make this ekiden the focus of their lives and thus do not continue on as professionals after graduation. The level of public enthusiasm, television viewership and corporate sponsorship connected with Hakone are literally difficult to believe. There is even a superb Hakone Ekiden Museum next to the first day`s finish line / second day`s start line.

I will be writing and posting a preview of the 84th Hakone Ekiden as soon as I can. There is a huge number of interviews with this year`s ace runners, predictions about the race from Japanese distance running luminaries, even a very interesting series of interviews with low-ranking members of each Hakone team. I would love to be able to put up translations of all of these, especially the interviews with the unknown guys, but as this blog is not (yet) my full-time job it is impossible. Even if you can`t read Japanese I recommend taking a look at the interviews and team profiles which the Yomiuri newspaper has here:

The Hakone Ekiden official website is also a must:

As I said, I will put up a full preview as soon as possible, most likely on the 31st. I will also post reports on race day.


Most-Read This Week

World Athletics' Rapid About-Face on Shoe Regulations Leaves Runners in Confusion: "It's Like They're Playing With a Stacked Deck"

On Aug. 10 World Athletics announced that revised regulations on competition footwear that it had released on July 28 had already gone into effect on that date for track events. At the time of the new regulations' announcement WA had initially said that they would take effect on Dec. 1. The regulations effectively ban the use of thick-soled shoes Nike's dominant Vaporfly and Alphafly on the track and disallow any performances run in them.

WA's July 28 announcement of revised regulations was made in preparation for the postponed Tokyo Olympic Games. The new regulations specify the thickness of the sole that may be use in shoes for various disciplines, with field events apart from the triple jump and track events up to 400 m limited to 20 mm, the triple jump, track events 800 m and longer, and cross-country up to 22 mm. Nike's current models, which dominate the long distance market, have thicknesses of 36 mm for the Vaporfly and 39.5 mm for the Alphafly.

The revised reg…

Running The Original 2020 Tokyo Olympics Marathon Course Part Two - Men's Marathon

Pre-corona, today would have been the men's marathon at the Tokyo Olympics, originally in Tokyo, then bumped off to Sapporo. For the sake of completion, for the third year in a row I ran most of the Tokyo course at the time that the race would have happened, starting at 6:00 a.m., taking temperature and humidity measurements every 30 minutes, and finishing back at the Olympic Stadium at 8:15 a.m. around the time that many of the top men would have been coming in.

Like last week's run at the original time of the women's marathon, conditions today wouldn't have been a problem for anyone who had done any kind of preparation to run a summertime marathon. Counter to the forecast, which predicted sunny skies the whole way, right before the schedule start time cloud cover rolled in over the city, helping to keep temperatures down. Humidity was high, but as per the forecast the temperature actually went down over the first 90 minutes. The humidity rose in relation to the cool…

Study Finds 63.9% of Elite Japanese Track and Field Athletes Use Supplements

The degree to which elite-level Japanese track and field athletes utilize supplements has become clearer. Nearly 2/3 of athletes regularly use a supplement, with higher usage among women than men, higher usage among seniors than juniors, and higher usage in long distance than in other disciplines. Those are the findings of a paper by Shogo Tabata of the Keio University Sports Medicine Center published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

Supplement usage is higher among athletes than in the general population, with some studies suggesting a typical usage level of about 60%. There are a wide variety of supplements such as vitamins and minerals, but few have clear evidence of efficacy. At the same time, some products have been known to include banned substances, creating the risk of "unintentional doping" by those who use them carelessly.

Although the number of reported cases of Japanese athletes caught for doping is small, the proportion of them d…