Skip to main content

Even With Kawauchi's Public Opposition, Hakone Ekiden Select Team May Be Cut to Once in Five Years

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20130501-00000032-spnannex-spo

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On April 30 the Kanto Region University Athletics Federation (KGRR), administrators of the world's most competitive university men's long-distance circuit and organizers of its premier race, the Hakone Ekiden, announced that they plan to cut back the Hakone Ekiden's Kanto Region University Select Team, made up of the top individual runners from schools that fail to qualify as a team at October's Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai qualifier road race, from its current annual presence to once every five years on the occasion of Hakone's five-year anniversary editions.

The Select Team was introduced in 2003 at Hakone's 79th running, and the KGRR already plans not to include it at the 90th anniversary edition in 2014.  The KGRR has discussed whether to bring it back in 2015 or beyond, but at an executive board meeting on April 26 a proposal to include the Select Team only in five-year anniversary editions of Hakone was introduced.  If the plan is adopted at the KGRR's June board meeting, the Kanto Region Select Team will not be seen again until the 95th Hakone Ekiden in 2019.

The Select Team was originally introduced with the intent of giving talented runners at universities not strong enough to make the Hakone Ekiden as a team the chance to run the prestigious event.  Two of the five members of the last World Championships men's marathon team, Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) and Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't), ran Hakone as members of the Select Team, Kawauchi running the downhill Sixth Stage twice while a student at Gakushuin University.

However, the KGRR raised problems including the fact that some athletes made the Select Team all four years of their university careers, saying, "There are more demerits to having a Select Team than merits."  If the Select Team is cut, one more university will have the opportunity to qualify for Hakone in its place.  There is an argument to be made in that rather than a "miscellaneous" collection of individuals with different goals like the Kanto Region Select Team, the decision would give the chance for Hakone Ekiden glory to one more university team whose members had shared a dream and worked together to achieve it.

Nevertheless, having gained his first big step toward the world-class level via the Kanto Region Select Team, Kawauchi remains adamant in his public calls for the Select Team to be preserved for the benefit of younger athletes still to come.  "If it becomes only once every five years it means that there will be athletes who cannot aim for Hakone without doing a fifth year in school," Kawauchi said.  "If the KGRR's stance is that the demerits outweigh the merits, what possible reason could they have for bringing it back once every five years?  I can't understand what they're thinking at all."

Comments

TokyoRacer said…
He's right. That's a typical idiotic Japanese "compromise" that makes no sense at all.
yuza said…
Surely every second or third year is fine?

Most-Read This Week

Kiplagat, Ichiyama, Tadese and Shitara Lead Marugame Half Elite Field

The Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon is always one of Japan's deepest races of the year on the men's side, its 2012 running setting a world record for the most men under 64 minutes in a single half marathon in history. On the women's side the field is always smaller but still home to the 1:07:26 Japanese national record set by Kayoko Fukushi (Wacoal) back in 2006.

Edna Kiplagat (Kenya), Sara Hall (U.S.A.) and Betsy Saina (Kenya) lead the women's international field, two-time defending champ Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) giving Marugame a miss this year. Fresh off a 1:09:14 PB at last month's Sanyo Ladies Half, Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) leads a trio of Japanese women with recent sub-1:10 times, something that has become a puzzling rarity lately. Fukushi is also back, her recent best of 1:12:04 a long way from her best days.

Speaking of which, world record holder Zersenay Tadese (Eritrea) will be looking to break 60 minutes for the first time since 2015. His toughest…

Cheboitibin, Kiprono and Sonoda Top Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon Elite Entries

With just over two weeks to go the organizers of the Feb. 4 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon have released their elite field for this year's race. With its history as an elite men-only race Beppu-Oita's women's field is still tiny given its status as an IAAF silver label race, but this year promises a good race between two local 2:32 women, 2016 winner Hiroko Yoshitomi (Memolead) and Yuka Takemoto (Canon AC Kyushu), that should see the 2:39:57 course record fall. Defending champ Haruka Yamaguchi (AC Kita) also returns with a 2:38:43 PB from last fall that puts her range of the course record as well.

The men's race is heavier-duty, with a spot in the MGC Race Tokyo Olympic Trials available to the top Japanese man under 2:11:00 and to up to five others if they clear 2:10. Hayato Sonoda (Kurosaki Harima) and Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) are the only Japanese men in the field to have run those kinds of times in the last couple of years, and with support from 2:09~2:10 men

Tokyo Marathon to Move to March Date Beginning in 2019

At a press conference in Tokyo on Dec. 12, the Tokyo Marathon Foundation announced that beginning in 2019, the Tokyo Marathon will move from its current date on the last Sunday of February to the first Sunday of March. The next Imperial succession is set to take place in 2019, meaning that February 23 will become the Emperor's Birthday national holiday starting in 2020. The race date is being preemptively moved to avoid any potential overlap.

According to the Foundation, setting up and breaking down the facilities necessary to hold the Tokyo Marathon takes several days. With the finish area being positioned in front of the Imperial Palace there were concerns that problems would arise due to the large number of people who would gather in the area to celebrate the Emperor's birthday.

Translator's note: The Tokyo Marathon previously experimented with a March race date in 2009 but abandoned it to return to February the next year. Since 1994 the first Sunday of March has been t…