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47 Teams to Compete in Hakone Ekiden Qualifying Road Race

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On October 3rd the Kanto Regional University Track and Field Association announced the lineup for the 85th Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai Road Race. 655 runners from 47 universities are entered in the 20 km race which takes place at 9 am on Oct. 18 in and around Tokyo's Showa Kinen Park.

At this year's Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden, 9 teams earned seeded positions for the 2009 Hakone Ekiden. Another 13 teams will qualify for the 2009 Hakone Ekiden at the Yosenkai Road Race, along with the Kanto Regional University Select Team made up of top runners from non-qualifying schools entered in the Yosenkai. Altogether 23 teams will compete in Hakone, 3 more than usual in honor of the Hakone Ekiden's 85th anniversary.

Each university entered in the Yosenkai may field a single team of 10-14 runners. The cumulative time of the top 10 individual finishers from each school will be used to determine the overall finishing order, with the top 10-ranked schools going on to compete in the Hakone Ekiden. An additional 3 schools will be selected based on bonus points acquired at May's Kanto Regional University Track and Field Championships. Adding to the drama of this year's Yosenkai is the appearance of 3 top schools, Tokai, Juntendo and Daito Bunka, all of which failed to finish the 2008 Hakone Ekiden.

Appearing for the first time is tiny Sozo Gakuen University of Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture, coached by Stephen Mayaka (35), who as a Kenyan exchange student led Yamanashi Gakuin University to two wins in the Hakone Ekiden. Sozo Gakuen was founded in April, 2006. The school's men's ekiden team includes only 14 members, 12 of whom will run in the Yosenkai. Coach Mayaka, who trains together with his team, says, "It's a new school. My goal is for us to finish in the top 20. I love the Hakone Ekiden and hope that someday we will qualify."

For a listing of the 47 universities competing in the Yosenkai, click here.
For a listing of the 655 runners competing in the Yosenkai, click here.


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