translated and edited by Brett Larner
Having returned to the victor's stand for the first time in two years, 2014 Hakone Ekiden overall winner Toyo University held a victory rally Jan. 16 at its Hakusan Campus in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo. Members of the champion team were greeted by deafening cheering from the crowd of university women. The 700-seat Inoue Enryo Hall was sold out and packed to overflowing, almost entirely by female university students. When the athletes whose running on the Hakone course wowed the nation Jan. 2 and 3 appeared, the hall was filled with screaming as if it was a pop idol concert. Head coach Toshiyuki Sakai, 37, told his athletes sternly, "Do not get the wrong idea."
Set to become the team's star runner next season, second-year Yuma Hattori did not betray a smile as he declared Toyo's intent to defend its title, saying, "Next year we will do everything we can to win again."