translated by Brett Larner
Three-time Hakone Ekiden Fifth Stage winner Ryuji Kashiwabara (3rd yr., Toyo Univ.) has withdrawn from his planned run for the Fukushima Prefecture team at today's National Interprefectural Men's Ekiden in Hiroshima due to pain in his right knee. If he recovers in time, his next target race will be the 10 km race at the Feb. 26 Fukuoka International XC Meet.
Kashiwabara was scheduled to run the 8.5 km Third Stage, but after discussion between the Toyo and Fukushima Prefecture teams it was decided that he would be withdrawn. "If he ran in his current condition it would be a lot of unnecessary pressure, so for his own sake we pulled him," explained Toyo head coach Toshiyuki Sakai, 34. He went on to say that while Kashiwabara is currently experiencing pain in his right knee and left heel, the ailments are not serious and they have focused on him being ready for the Fukuoka International XC Meet in one month's time.
Competing off the roads on the rough surfaces and hills of a cross-country course is a point of pride for Hakone's "God of the Mountain." The Fukuoka International XC Meet is a selection race for March's World XC Championships in Spain. It may well become the staging ground for Kashiwabara's big step up to take on the world.
Translator's note: Kashiwabara's run against Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.) and Yoichiro Akiyama (Team Honda) on the Third Stage was one of the highlights of last year's Interprefectural Ekiden. Kashiwabara went on to spend most of 2010 injured but despite being less than 100% still won this year's Hakone Ekiden Fifth Stage in a time faster than any other athlete has ever run.