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

Kawauchi Named Captain of Japanese National Team for London World Championships

At a JAAF event at the British Embassy in Tokyo on July 21, marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (30, Saitama Pref. Gov't) was named men's captain of the Japanese national team for next month's London World Championships. Javelin throw national record holder Yuki Ebihara (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) was chosen as women's captain.

In a wide-ranging and impassioned speech 4 minutes and 20 seconds long, Kawauchi stoked the team's morale as he told attendees, "I think that there are athletes here today who look at London as just a checkpoint along the way to the Tokyo Olympics. But as a representative of Japan it is not enough just to be there competing. I feel it strongly. You must produce results at this event, the London World Championships. This is the task assigned to each and every one of us. It is critical that we work seriously to achieve our goals. The Japanese people want nothing less. What can we as athletes do for them? More than just wearing the uniform, each of us mus…

'$500,000 USD Prized Asian Premier Marathon Series 2017-18 Launched in Beijing'

http://athleticsasia.org/index.php/k2-component/143-500-000-usd-prized-asian-premier-marathon-series-2017-18-launched-in-beijing

A very interesting World Marathon Majors-style development with prize money only for Asian athletes. Equally interesting is the absence of a Japanese race in the series. Japanese marathoners would dominate the series if they ran its three component races, their only real current competition in Asia coming from East African-born Bahraini athletes.

Hayakawa and Ichiyama Win Shibetsu Half

2nd in 2015 and 3rd last year, Tsubasa Hayakawa (Toyota) finally succeeded in scoring 1st at the Shibetsu Half Marathon, outrunning 2013-14 winner Masato Imai (Toyota Kyushu) by 6 seconds to win in 1:03:38. Hayakawa pushed it from the early stages of the race, Imai the only one to try to stay with him but ultimately losing touch. 2016 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon winner Melaku Abera (Kurosaki Harima) was 3rd in 1:03:51.

士別ハーフマラソン
日差しが強くなってきました…💦 pic.twitter.com/qRfUei3aRt — はたのまき (@machakin77) July 23, 2017
The women's field was split between two distances, 10 km and half marathon. Kanako Takemoto (Daihatsu) won the 10 km in 34:27 by a margin of almost 10 seconds over an Otsuka Seiyaku trio led by Ayaka Inoue. 2017 National Cross-Country champion and last year's 10 km runner-up Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) took the top spot in the half marathon, outrunning teammate and national record holder Kayoko Fukushi and others to win in 1:14:01. Fukushi finished 4th in 1:15:41 behind last ye…