Skip to main content

Toyo University Gets the Star Treatment

by Brett Larner
Toyo photos by Mika Tokairin

A day after winning its second-straight Hakone Ekiden title, Toyo University had a busy Monday morning. The entire team and coaching staff appeared on the nationally-broadcast Sukkiri morning talk show, equivalent to Good Morning America, which devoted today's episode to interviewing team members and asking for their comments on clips from Saturday and Sunday's race. Sukkiri brought in marathon legend Toshihiko Seko for additional expert commentary and questioning.

Following the TV appearance, a good deal of which focused on second-year Ryuji Kashiwabara's record-setting Fifth Stage run, the team went straight to Toyo sponsor Nike's flagship store in the heart of the Harajuku/Omotesando fashion district for a lunchtime in-store appearance.

Nike had done up the large display windows along Omotesando, Tokyo's most fashionable street, with Hakone uniforms from the four teams it sponsors and oversized lettering which read "Congratulations Toyo University!" The store was packed to overflowing with fans, most of whom were young women, with latecomers crowding the street outside and looking in through the windows.

The runners and coaches greeted the fans and then one-by-one signed a large display board cutout in the shape of a Nike shoe.

Following one more group bow the team was whisked through the cheering crowd by security staff like the rock stars they are.

In a related story, Swiss runner Christian Sommer, a student at Tokyo University Graduate School, sent JRN a picture of himself on the way to working as a course marshall at this year's Hakone Ekiden. Sommer may have been the first-ever European to run the Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai 20 km qualifier road race when he ran on Tokyo's team at October's 2009 edition. All runners who race the Yosenkai are required to work as marshalls on both days of Hakone. Sommer worked on the ace Second Stage on Day One and the competitive Ninth Stage on Day Two.

(c) 2010 Brett Larner
Toyo photos (c) 2010 Mika Tokairin
all rights reserved

Comments

Simon said…
"The store was packed to overflowing with fans, most of whom were young women."

One can only dream...

Many thanks for your dedicated Hakone coverage Brett. Timezone differences made it impossible to watch the whole thing but what I did see was inspirational stuff. Cheers.
Brett Larner said…
At your service, Simon.

When Mika and I were leaving we heard one cute college-aged woman gushing to her friend the equivalent of, "OH - MY - GOD! They were SO COOL!"

A friend who ran Hakone a few years ago told me there are groupies at every exchange zone -- women, not all of them college-aged, trying to give pictures of themselves with their phone numbers written on the back to the guys who had finished their stages.

Nice to see that a few of the bigger online outlets have linked my Hakone coverage but I'm a little surprised there's no love for the New Year Ekiden. An unknown Kenyan guy who just turned 19 two weeks ago running 22:02 for 8.3 k and beating two 26-min 10k guys, one of them a World Championships medalist, not good enough?
Simon said…
Ha, love the groupie story!

Regarding the New Year Ekiden, is it not the case that the event is overshadowed even in Japan by Hakone? Good to see that Atsushi Sato had a strong run though.

Most-Read This Week

Daniel and Kawauchi Win Saitama International Marathon

After missing a medal by 3 seconds at August's London World Championships, defending champ Flomena Cheyech Daniel (Kenya) made it two in a row as she won a tight battle against Shitaye Habtegebrel (Bahrain) to win the Saitama International Marathon in 2:28:39.

With the onus on Japanese women Reia Iwada (Dome) and Kaori Yoshida (Team RxL) to break 2:29:00 in order to qualify for Japan's new-format 2020 Olympic trials race, the pair of them did most of the heavy lifting for the first two-thirds of the race. Yoshida led the early kilometers before Iwade took over, and through strong head and tailwinds, over rolling hills and around sharp turns Iwade kept things moving just under target pace, shaking the pack down to just her, Daniel, Habtegebrel and relative unknown Bekelech Daba (Ethiopia) by 15 km.

Little changed up front until after the lead group hit the start of the hilliest 10 km on the course after 25 km. For the first time Iwade slipped to the rear of the pack, and on a …

Breaking Down the Best-Ever Japanese Marathon Times By Country

Japanese marathoners these days have the reputation of rarely racing abroad, and of rarely racing well when they do. Back in the day that wasn't true; Japanese marathoners have won all the World Marathon Majors-to-be except New York, and two of the three Japanese men to have run 2:06 and all three women to have run 2:19 did it outside Japan. Whatever the extent to which things did turn inward along the way, the last few years have seen an uptick in Japanese runners going farther afield and running better there than any others before them.

The lists above and below show the fastest times run by Japanese athletes in different countries to 2:20:00 for men and 2:45:00 for women. Japanese men have run sub-2:20 marathons in 37 countries around the world including Japan, with Japanese women having cleared 2:45 in 33 countries including at home. Breaking it down by IAAF label times, more Japanese men have run label standard times abroad, but women have typically performed at a higher label…

Kosimbei, Kwemoi and Shitara Lead Hachioji 10000 m Field

Nestled deep in the misty foothills of the western Tokyo mountains, Hosei University's late November Hachioji Long Distance meet has quietly turned into one of the world's premier track 10000 m, its A-heat never quite dipping under 27 minutes yet but still producing record-setting depth and the two fastest Japanese men's 10000 m in history.
This year's entry list is another monster, with 27:02.59 man Nicholas Kosimbei (Toyota) leading 17 men with recent times under 28 minutes, twelve of them Kenyan, three Japanese and two Ethiopian. Fresh off a 27:22.73 win at last weekend's Nittai University Time Trials, two-time steeplechase junior world champion Jonathan Ndiku (Hitachi Butsuryu) is slated to pace what is scheduled to be a sub-28 race, but with Kosimbei, sub-27:30 men John Maina (Fujitsu) and Rodgers Chumo Kwemoi (Aisan Kogyo) and five others under 27:45 including last year's winnerRonald Kwemoi (Komori Corp.) on the list the front end should go faster. 
Rig…