translated by Brett Larner
With goal of deepening the bonds between the disaster-hit northeast and the rest of the country before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the "Road to Tomorrow 1000 km Relay 2014" passed through Fukushima on Aug. 4. The day started at Misaki Park in Iwaki and featured Fukushima native Ryuji Kashiwabara (25, Team Fujitsu), famed for his blazing course records on the Hakone Ekiden's Fifth Stage. Kashiwabara ran a 2.6 km leg to Aquamarine Park and took part in a 1 km friendship run, smiling as he said, "The sea breeze was cool. I'm glad I did it. I hope that my running helps inspire someone to do something."
Last year Kashiwabara injured his right Achilles tendon and could not run for four months. "I wanted to do something to say thank you to everyone who supported me back home," he said. With regard to his plans for preparing for his marathon debut he was enthusiastic as he answered, "As soon as possible this summer. If you have the motivation you have to do something about it."
The relay began July 24 in Aomori, passing through Iwate and Miyagi prefectures before entering Fukushima July 31. On Aug. 2 comedian Akatsu ran the stage passing in front of the Prefectural Government Headquarters. By the time it reaches its finish line in Tokyo on Aug. 7 the relay will have covered 1238 km in fifteen days, with over 900 people taking part on foot and on bicycle.