translated and edited by Brett Larner
On Dec. 1 Waseda University announced that ekiden head coach Yasuyuki Watanabe, 41, will retire at the end of his contract in March next year. His successor has not yet been determined.
One of Waseda's most famous alumni, Watanabe had spectacular success during his running career there, winning Hakone Ekiden stages three times including a classic Second Stage battle against Kenyan Stephen Mayaka (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.). In April, 2003 he was named assistant coach of Waseda's ekiden program and a year later in April, 2004 was promoted to head coach. In that capacity he set about restoring the fallen Waseda to its former glory. Under his leadership Waseda finished 2nd at the 2008 Hakone Ekiden, and in the 2010-2011 season it scored a rare triple crown, winning the Izumo Ekiden, National University Ekiden and Hakone Ekiden and becoming the first school to set course records at all three in one season.
Through a school spokesperson Watanabe said, "From the bottom of my heart I would like to thank everyone who has supported the team over the last twelve years."
Translator's note: One of Watanabe's last official appearances as head coach of Waseda, Japan's University of Oregon, will be with Waseda third-year Koki Takada, the 2014 Ageo City Half Marathon and 2014 Hakone Ekiden Second Stage winner, at the March 15 New York City Half Marathon.