Skip to main content

44 Universities to Bid for 13 Places at Oct. 19 Hakone Ekiden Qualifier

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20131003-00000926-yom-spo

translated and edited by Brett Larner



On Oct. 3 the Inter-University Athletic Union of Kanto [KGRR] announced the entry list for the Oct. 19 Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai qualifier road race in Tokyo's Showa Kinen Park.  Forty-four universities led by 2013 Hakone Ekiden 11th-placer Yamanashi Gakuin University will compete for places at the Hakone Ekiden's 90th running on Jan. 2-3, 2014.  In honor of Hakone's 90th anniversary its field size has been increased from the traditional twenty to twenty-three teams, meaning that the top thirteen schools at the Yosenkai will have the honor of competing in Japan's most prestigious sporting event alongside the ten schools that earned seeded places by finishing in the top ten at Hakone this year.



Each athlete at the Yosenkai runs 20 km, with his team's score determined by the cumulative time of its top ten finishers.  Up to this year the scores for the 7th-place and below teams have included points earned at May's Kanto Regional University Track and Field Championships, but beginning this year this additional point system has been eliminated.  Also eliminated is the Kanto Region University Select Team made up of top-finishing individuals from schools that do not make the Hakone cut as teams.  Its elimination means that the number of schools able to qualify for Hakone increases from nine to ten, with three additional places added to commemorate Hakone's 90th edition.



Translator's note: The Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai is one of Japan's greatest races.  Any readers in the Tokyo area should join the thousands of fans who go out to Showa Kinen Park on the 19th to soak in the atmosphere of a race packed with university bands, cheerleader squads and booster clubs.

The elimination of the Kanto Regionals point system is a plus for smaller schools and fairness.  In the past, large, wealthy, well-established universities that can afford to develop sprint and field event squads along with a distance team have earned points based on the overall performance of their entire track and field team at the Kanto Regionals meet. Virtually every year this has resulted in big old boy network universities with weak distance squads making Hakone via this crutch over smaller schools whose distance teams actually ran faster at the Yosenkai qualifier.  No more.

On the other hand, the elimination of the Kanto Region University Select Team is a major blow for smaller schools.  People like 2013 World Championships marathoner Yuki Kawauchi, his 2011 World Championships marathon teammate Yoshinori Oda and the currently ascendant Aritaka Kajiwara all chose to attend academically-strong universities over a running-focused center of power but still got to run in the Hakone Ekiden thanks to the Select Team.  Its elimination means that new programs and outsider schools will no longer be able to attract any talented high schoolers, and that anyone who develops under their program will not get to fulfill the dreams of every Japanese boy who begins running and race in Hakone.  Kawauchi has written articulately and passionately about this subject on his blog.  The KGRR's move positions its priorities solidly on developing an high average level among its distance runners at the expense of individual development, an accurate reflection of the dilemma currently facing Japanese distance running as a whole.

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Nittai University Head Coach Masaaki Watanabe Fired Over Abuse Scandal

On Sept. 12 Nittai University announced that it will fire ekiden team head coach Masaaki Watanabe, 55, over the current power harassment scandal surrounding him. According to the university's public relations office, interviews by the alumni association with five current and one former team member reported multiple acts of violence by Watanabe including kicking athletes' legs and grabbing them by the chest.

The interviews also reported that Watanabe verbally abused and threatened student athletes and attacked their character. When runners fell off pace during workouts he was reported to have shouted, "Get the hell out of this university!" and, following the runners in a car, "I am going to f*cking run you over and kill you." Injured team members were also reported to have been subject to verbal humiliation by Watanabe, including, "Look at this f*cking cripple," and "You f*cking deserve it." Watanabe admitted the accusations but said tha…

Weekend Overseas Japanese Results

Lost in the luminosity of Eliud Kipchoge's world record and Gladys Cherono's women's course record at the Berlin Marathon were a score of Japanese results there and elsewhere overseas, ranging from the sparkling to the dull. Cherono and 2nd and 3rd placers Ruti Aga and Tirunesh Dibaba all broke Mizuki Noguchi's Berlin Marathon course record of 2:19:12 which has stood since she set that national record mark in 2005.

A kilometer behind Dibaba, Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) followed up her 2:22:44 debut in Osaka in January with a 2:22:23 PB for 5th, making her just the fourth Japanese woman ever to break 2:23 twice in her career. 2:23:46 woman Honami Maeda (Tenmaya) ran 2:25:23 for 7th, beating Tenmaya teammate Rei Ohara whose 2:27:28 put her only 10th but qualified her for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics marathon trials, only the second athlete after 2018 Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) to qualify for the trials under the two-race average wildcard opt…

Kazami Breaks 100 km World Record at Lake Saroma

Running on the same course where Japan's Takahiro Sunada set the road 100 km world record of 6:13:33 twenty years ago, 2:17:23 marathoner Nao Kazamibested a deep and competitive field to win the Lake Saroma 100 km Ultramarathon in a world record 6:09:14.

Part of a front group of at least five that went through the marathon split in 2:33:36, on pace for 6:04:01, Kazami lost touch with the lead as rivals Koji Hayasaka and Takehiko Gyoba surged just before halfway to open a roughly 30 second lead that lasted until nearly 75 km. But in the last quarter of the race Kazami, a graduate of Hakone Ekiden powerhouse Komazawa University, was the only one who could sustain anything close to the early pace, overtaking Hayasaka and Gyoba before pulling away to open a lead of over 11 minutes. Kazami's mark took more than 4 minutes off the world record, and he also bettered the 100 km track world record of 6:10:20 set in 1978 well before he was born by the late Don Ritchie.
Trying to stay wi…