Skip to main content

Hakone Ekiden to Introduce "Kanto Regionals Performance Slot"

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20140402-00000016-sph-spo
http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2014/04/01/kiji/K20140401007892070.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On April 1 the Inter-University Athletic Union of Kanto [KGRR] announced the formation of a new "Kanto Regional University Track and Field Championships performance slot" for one team at the Hakone Ekiden.  Over a five-year period of time from this year through 2018, the Division I university that scores the largest number of points at May's Kanto Regionals meet will be guaranteed a place at the 95th Hakone Ekiden in 2019.  Universities earn points based on members of their men's track and field teams in all events placing in the top eight in their individual events at the Kanto Regionals meet.  If the same school finishes in the seeded bracket at the 2018 Hakone Ekiden, the Kanto Regionals performance slot will be discarded and will not pass to the team with the second-highest five-year point score.

At the KGRR-organized Hakone Ekiden, from 2003 through 2013, the lowest three qualifying spots at October's Yosenkai qualifying race were determined by combining universities' times with points earned by their complete track and field teams' performances at the Kanto Regionals meet.  For the 2014 Hakone Ekiden the Kanto Regionals point system was discontinued, with the decision made to use it only in Hakone's five-year anniversary editions.

Translator's note: The Hakone Ekiden, the Kanto region university men's road relay championships every Jan. 2-3, is Japan's single largest and most prestigious sporting event, with nationwide TV audiences on the scale of 30% viewership for the two-day, fourteen-hour-plus broadcast.  

Because of the pull of Hakone, Kanto is by far the most competitive region in Japanese university men's distance running, and as a consequence of this May's Kanto Regional University Track and Field Championships, where all Hakone-bound schools compete, is far more competitive than September's National University Men's Track and Field Championships, where a smaller number of Kanto-based athletes compete against runners from schools in other, weaker regions.

The Kanto Regionals point system discontinued for the 2014 Hakone Ekiden was intended to encourage universities to develop all track and field disciplines rather than focus exclusively on Hakone at the expense of sprints, middle distances, jumps and throws.  In effect, however, it served mainly as a prop for large, wealthy, old-boy schools with the resources to develop an overall track and field team rather than concentrating on producing a quality distance squad capable of making the Hakone Ekiden like many smaller, lesser-known schools without the same resources. Virtually every year from 2003 to 2013 a smaller, newer school that made the qualifying bracket at October's Yosenkai qualifier on time was shut out of Hakone in favor of a larger, older school whose distance squad ran slower but got a boost on points thanks to its sprinters and field athletes' performances five months earlier.  

The effects of qualifying for the Hakone Ekiden on the name value of a small university cannot be overstated.  Many of the schools that run Hakone are known nationally only because their distance teams made Hakone, and this has a tremendous impact on their enrollment and alumni relations.  In this respect, the Kanto Regionals point system was a manifestation of the protection of the establishment and discouragement of newcomers representative of Japanese business and politics.

Comments

TokyoRacer said…
Nice finish photo!

Most-Read This Week

Kawabata Over Kawauchi at Takashimadaira 20 km

Like a distant echo of the thunder of yesterday's Yosenkai 20 km reverberating across the city, Tokyo's other major 20 km road race took place this morning in the northwestern suburb of Takashimadaira. Narrowly surviving the loss of its main sponsor last year, the Takashimadaira Road Race offers a unique 5 km loop course that delivers fast times. Now in its 42nd year, Takashimadaira is a favorite for upper-tier universities that don't have to run the Yosenkai to requalify for the Hakone Ekiden, for other schools' second-stringers, and for top-level independents and amateurs.

This year's race was fronted by a group of runners from Izumo Ekiden winner Tokai University who didn't make Tokai's final Izumo roster, by London World Championships marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) and others from yesterday's Yosenkai winner Teikyo University and the Hakone-qualified Juntendo University and Komazawa University. In the same cool and lightly rainy…

Osaka Marathon Elite Field

One of the world's ten biggest marathons, in its six runnings to date the Osaka Marathon has continued to avoid the addition of a world-class elite field of the same caliber as at equivalently-sized races like Tokyo, Berlin and Boston. In place of doling out cash to pros, Osaka's women's field has developed into a sort of national championship race for amateur women.

In the field this year are six, probably all six, of the amateur Japan women to have broken 2:40 in the last three years. Last year's top three, Yoshiko Sakamoto (F.O.R.), Yumiko Kinoshita (SWAC) and Hisae Yoshimatsu (Shunan City Hall) lead the way at the 2:36 +/- level, with a second trio of Marie Imada (Iwatani Sangyo), Mitsuko Ino (R2 Nishin Nihon) and Chika Tawara (RxL) all around the 2:39 level.

Last year's winner Sakamoto and 3rd placer Yoshimatsu squared off in September at Germany's Volksbank Muenster Marathon, Yoshimatsu tying Sakamoto's Osaka winning time of 2:36:02 to take 3rd over …

Kawauchi and Kanematsu Win Rainy Shimantogawa 100 km

The 23rd edition of the Shimantogawa Ultramarathon took place Oct. 15 in Shimanto, Kochi. 1822 runners started the 100 km division, where Yoshiki Kawauchi (26, Saitama T&F Assoc.) and Aiko Kanematsu (37, Team RxL) took the men's and women's titles for the first time.

The 100 km division started under a heavy downpour at 5:30 a.m. in front of Warabioka J.H.S. The 576 participants in the 60 km division got off 4 1/2 hours later from Koinobori Park, with both races finishing at Nakamura H.S.

Kawauchi, the younger brother of "civil servant runner" Yuki Kawauchi, ran Shimantogawa for the second time, improving dramatically on last year's run to win in 6:42:06. "Last time I was 21st, a total disaster," Kawauchi said afterward. "My brother told me, 'Don't overdo it on the uphills,' and his advie helped me get through it. The scenery around Iwama Chinkabashi was really beautiful."

Kanematsu began running with her husband around age 30…