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Hakone CR Holder Toyo University Celebrates Opening of New Four-Story Ekiden Team Building

translated and edited by Brett Larner
click here for a photo of the new running-dedicated Toyo University Kawagoe Training Center

Hakone Ekiden course record holder Toyo University is celebrating the opening of its new running program building at the school's Kawagoe campus.  The four-story reinforced concrete building takes up a spacious 2540 square meters and features dorm rooms for 100 team members, a weight room, training facilities and study rooms.  Until now the running team shared quarters with Toyo's rugby team, but with a 400 m track right outside their new building the school's runners are now in a perfect environment. This year rival Nittai University made off with the Hakone title, but from its state-of-the-art new home Toyo is poised to reclaim its position as Japan's #1 running university.

The new building contains 28 dorm rooms for either 2 or 4 students each.  Altogether 100 people can live in the facility.  Having been involved in every step of the design process, head coach Toshiyuki Sakai, 36, explained how the building's windows all face a nearby park, saying, "If you can see the track all day long it keeps you from relaxing properly."  Of the dining room's pink curtains he said, "We wanted an environment with a warm atmosphere for meals."  The weight room is equipped with a specialized flooring material. The bath facility, which can accomodate 30 people at a time, includes an ice bath for effective recovery. Overall, the building is more than capable of hosting visiting groups.

All of this is part of coach Sakai's plan to reform and shape his athletes' awarenesses.  For the lucky few who will spend their university years in this environment, he hopes it will be an opportunity to look beyond themselves to something higher.  "If you want to grow you have to change," he said.  "I hope that here our runners will learn a feeling of gratitude for those who support them, develop strong interpersonal relationships, and cultivate a desire to take on the best in the world."  The building's new walls hold not only the team but the highest of ideals.

Following an official opening ceremony, Toyo's men moved into the new facility after practice on Mar. 21. In a display case directly inside the front entrance where the team's athletes cannot avoid seeing them are Toyo's trophies and memorabilia from its 2009, 2010 and 2012 Hakone Ekiden victories.  The shoes that "God of the Mountain" Ryuji Kashiwabara wore in powering those victories occupy a central place in the display.

The disappointment at having lost to Nittai University by a wide margin this year has not faded, but the team has a cheerful outlook.  First-year Yuma Hattori, who finished 3rd on this year's Ninth Stage, said, "We can approach our training now with feeling fresh."  First Stage winner Masaya Taguchi, second-year, said, "We have the obligation to repay what they've invested in us."  With Mt. Fuji in sight from their new home, Toyo's eyes are looking toward reclaiming the Hakone title and to what lies above and beyond.

Toyo University Kawagoe Training Center
Grounds: 400 m track, warmup area, field area

First Floor: Head Coach's office, reception, weight room, training room, kitchen, dining room, equipment storage room, display area

Second Floor: eight two-person dorm rooms, bath facility, dressing room

Third and Fourth Floors: twenty four-person dorm rooms, study rooms, laundry room, staff meeting room, physiotherapy room, veranda


Brett Larner said…
JRN associate editor Mika Tokairin's comment on this story: "It's pretty safe to say that Kashiwabara was responsible for this building being built."

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