by Brett Larner
It's less than 24 hours until the world's greatest 20 km race: the 87th Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai. A chance for Tokyo-area schools that did not score one of the ten seeded spots at January's prestigious Hakone Ekiden to qualify for one of nine second-tier places, the Yosenkai features dozens of universities fielding their twelve best runners in one mass race. Winning times are usually in the 58-59 minute range and have more than once dipped into 57 minute territory. Last year's race was the most competitive 20 km in history, with 163 runners breaking 1:02:30 and won in 59:08 by Tokai University frosh Akinobu Murasawa whose split for the winding, uphill final 8 km was 23:26, one second faster than top American university runner Chris Derrick ran the same weekend for the 8 km NCAA Pre-Nationals XC Meet. Click here to read last year's report.
Part of what makes the Yosenkai what it is is the atmosphere, with marching bands and cheering squads of alumni from each competing school everywhere on the tough course. Combined with the rarity of mass-start road races in the Japanese university schedule and what is ultimately at stake, a chance to help their team make it into Japan's greatest road race, the Yosenkai is electric and gripping. JRN will be on-site to cover the race live.
Nihon TV will broadcast the race with a delay beginning at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 16. Overseas viewers can watch online through Keyhole TV by clicking here. JRN will be doing live English commentary on the broadcast via Twitter at JRNLive.
(c) 2010 Brett Larner
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