Skip to main content

Grand Tour Kyushu to End With This Year's 62nd Running

http://www.nishinippon.co.jp/nnp/f_sougou/article/24670

translated by Brett Larner

A fixture in local culture with runners from Kyushu, Okinawa and Yamaguchi handing off the tasuki on the late autumn roads of Kyushu, the organizers of the Grand Tour Kyushu ekiden announced that the historic event will come to an end following this year's 62nd running from Oct. 27 to Nov. 3.  Organizing board chairman Hiroshi Okazaki told reporters, "This race has long played an important role for the athletics world in Kyushu and across Japan, but we were forced to make this decision due to a combination of growing traffic and budget problems."

With enthusiastic support from dedicated athletes and fans alike the organizers have tried to make adaptations to keep the race alive.  To cope with increased automobile traffic timing rules for the white sash starts were tightened, the number of lead and accompanying vehicles was reduced and more police were employed along the course, but in recent years it has become increasingly difficult to guarantee the safety of all athletes.  The race's operating expenses have also increased.  Yasuyoshi Kuramoto, director of project planning for principal sponsor Nishi Nippon Newspapers Inc., commented, "We determined that the time had come to draw the curtain on this event with a long history as a constant part of Kyushu's middle and long-distance world."

With one after another runner contributing to covering 1000 km in ten days, the world's longest ekiden began as the Kyushu One-Circuit Ekiden seven years after the end of World War II in 1952 to commemorate the restoration of Japanese sovereignty following the signing of the Treaty of San Francisco peace accord.  From its course through each of Kyushu's major cities sprang most of the greatest names in Japanese men's marathon history, from Kenji Kimihara, Shigeru Soh, Takeshi Soh, Kunimitsu Ito, Hiromi Taniguchi, Koichi Morishita and Toshinari Takaoka to this year's Moscow World Championships team members Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki), Hiroyuki Horibata (Team Asahi Kasei) and Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko).  Anniversary years have included all-star select teams from Asia, Hiroshima and the Hakone Ekiden university championships.

For its 60th running in 2011 the race was rebranded as the Grand Tour Kyushu, switching from its historical loop around the island of Kyushu to an eight-day format with non-continuous stages.  Under this format the overall winner was determined by the cumulative time of all eight days.

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Chebii Returns - Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon Elite Field

Defending champ Ezekiel Chebii (Kenya) returns to lead the field for the Mar. 4 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon. Chebii is one of three men in the field with recent 2:06 times, his 2:06:07 in Amsterdam two years ago leading Tadesse Abraham (Switzerland) and Abera Kuma (Ethiopia) to form a clear trio of favorites.

Making up the second pack are four current sub-2:10 Japanese men, 2017 Gold Coast winner Takuya Noguchi (Konica Minolta), Rio Olympian Satoru Sasaki (Asahi Kasei), and Sasaki's teammates Takuya Fukatsu and Fumihiro Maruyama. The addition of sub-61 half marathoner Kenta Murayama in his second shot at the marathon after a failed debut in Tokyo two years ago makes for a formidable quartet of men from 2017 and 2018 New Year Ekiden national champion Asahi Kasei all aligned in training and talent.

With Japan's depth it's never surprising to see a relatively anonymous runner make a breakthrough and factor into the action. Yoshiki Takenouchi (NTT Nishi Nihon) was one of the …

Kawauchi Takes Six Minutes Off Kitakyushu Marathon Course Record to Lead Weekend Results

After a seven-week break from the marathon, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) scored his third-straight marathon win, second-straight course record and came just shy of a third-straight negative split as he ran a completely solo 2:11:46 to take almost six minutes off the Kitakyushu Marathon course record. Following up on negative split wins at December's Hofu Yomiuri Marathon and January's Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, the latter a course record by half an hour, Kawauchi was on his own in the first 100 m in Kitakyushu and never looked back.

In the hilly first 10 km his pace fluctuated from high-2:12 to high-2:10, but once Kawauchi got into the flatter section of the course he settled out on track for a high-2:11 to low-2:12 time. After a 1:05:51 split at halfway he slowed slightly on the outbound trip to the turnaround near 31 km, but picking it up again after 35 km he marked a 6:34 from 40 km to the finish to stop the clock at 2:11:46,  a 1:05:55 second half …

The Kawauchi Counter

Yuki Kawauchi's 2018 race results: Jan. 1: Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, U.S.A.: 2:18:59 - 1st - CR
Jan. 14: Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:03:28 - 7th
Jan. 21: Yashio Isshu Ekiden, Saitama: 1:01:03 - 1st - ran entire 20.0 km ekiden solo and beat all 103 teams of 6 runners each
Jan. 28: Okumusashi Ekiden First Stage (9.9 km), Saitama - 29:41 - 6th
Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
Feb. 11: Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon, Shimane - cancelled due to heavy snow
Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
Upcoming race schedule: Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan
Mar. 25: Kuki Half Marathon, Saitama
Apr. 16: Boston Marathon, U.S.A.
June 2: ASICS Stockholm Marathon, Sweden
July 1: Gold Coast Airport Marathon, Australia
Aug. 26: New Caledonia International Marathon, New Caledonia
Sept. 2: Wakkanai Heiwa Marathon, Hokk…