Skip to main content

Hakone Ekiden to Introduce "Kanto Regionals Performance Slot"

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.


TokyoRacer said…
Nice finish photo!

Most-Read This Week

1500 m Olympian Assefa Wins Nagoya, 22-Year-Old Sekine 2:23:07 Debut

Two-time 1500 m Olympian Meskerem Assefa (Ethiopia) ran down favorite Valary Jemeli (Kenya) with 4 km to go to win the 2018 Nagoya Women's Marathon, with the home town crowd wowed by the debut of the latest next big thing, 22-year-old Hanami Sekine (Japan Post).

Supported by three pacers, a lead pack of seven including Assefa, Jemeli, Sekine, Ethiopian Bahraini Merima Mohamed, Saitama International Marathon winner Flomena Cheyech Daniel (Kenya) and top-ranked Japanese women Reia Iwade (Dome) and Rei Ohara (Tenmaya) went through halfway in a decent 1:11:32. This proved too hot for a few of the past next big things to have run well in Nagoya the last few years, as Sairi Maeda (Daihatsu), 2:22:48 in Nagoya three years ago, and Mao Kiyota (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), 2:23:47 last year, were off the back of the pack in the first 10 km.

By 25 km Cheyech, Ohara and Iwade joined them off the back, leaving only Sekine in contention with the African trio of Jemeli, Assefa and Mohammed. Sekine, a…

Japan Dominates Asian Cross Country Championships

Japan dominated the 14th Asian Cross Country Championships Thursday in Guiyang, China, winning all four team gold medals to hold the hosts China back to silver in every race.

Japan's only individual gold came in the Junior Women's race, one of its usual areas of strength. Yuna Wada led a Japanese sweep of the top four positions to win the 6 km race in 20:43 with scoring teammates Ririka Hironaka and Tomomi Musembi Takamatsu just behind.

Wada Yuna of Japan wins Junior Women’s 6km cross country race of 14th Asian Cross Country Championship . Japan also won Team championship — Asian Athletics (@asianathletics) March 15, 2018
With the meet also serving as China's National Championships Chinese athletes won the individual gold in the other three races, Dan Li, Cairen Suolong and Jianhua Peng all showing better closing speed to beat their Japanese rivals by 3~4 seconds. Li won the Senior Women's 8 km by 3 seconds over Japan's Yukari Abe, leadi…

Kawauchi and Kiyara Headline Wan Jin Shi Marathon

Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) returns to Taiwan's Wan Jin Shi Marathon this Sunday for his marathon of the post-Yuta Shitara era. The runner-up in Wan Jin Shi in 2016, Kawauchi is ranked #1 in the field and comes to Wan Jin Shi with wins in his last three marathons but faces a solid field including fellow sub-2:10 man Peter Kiplagat Sitenei, last year's runner-up Tsegaye Debele (Ethiopia), and the only man to beat him last time around, 2016 winner and course record holder William Chebon Chebor (Kenya). Kawauchi plans to use the hilly race as a tune-up for his main marathon of the spring season, April's Boston Marathon.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Rael Kiyara Nguriatukei (Kenya), winner of the 2012 Hamburg Marathon before being stripped of her title and suspended for a positive post-race test for norandrosterone, has the fastest recent time in the women's field with a 2:26:22 winning time at last year's Chongqing Marathon. Close behind is Chemtai …