translated by Brett Larner
Twenty-two teams are lined up to compete in the first of the season's big three university ekidens, Oct. 13's 20th anniversary Izumo Ekiden, a six-stage 44 km event covering a course from Izumo Great Shrine's main gate to the Izumo Dome.
With a twelve-year gap since its last victory at Izumo, Waseda University is fielding a team featuring four first-year students,* among them Tomoya Nakayama. Nakayama's father is the legendary Takeyuki Nakayama, who finished 4th in the Seoul and Barcelona Olympic marathons and now coaches Team Aichi Steel,** leading many to view Tomoya as Waseda's 'secret weapon.' Waseda head coach Yasuyuki Watanabe commented, "I entered them [in Izumo] so I could try someone on one of the competitive stages. I'll definitely be using some of the first-years." Team captain Kensuke Takezawa (fourth-year), who ran the 5000 m and 10000 m at the Beijing Olympics, will lead Waseda's team.
Tokai University ace Yuki Sato (fourth-year) will attempt to pull Tokai to an unprecedented fourth straight Izumo Ekiden victory.***
*Waseda staged a recruiting coup this year by successfully landing the national top three men in the graduating high school class of '08, among them Nakayama.
**Besides the achievements listed, Takeyuki Nakayama was the national record holder at both 10000 m and marathon. He was also a bitter rival of Waseda's most famous running alumnus, Toshihiko Seko. Tomoya's choice of Seko's alma mater was deeply ironic.
***Tokai DNF'd at the 2008 Hakone Ekiden and must run in the 20 km Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai (Qualifying Road Race) on Oct. 18, just five days after the Izumo Ekiden.