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Why Tokyo Kokusai University's First-Ever Ekiden Tasuki Will Be Deep Blue When it Makes Hakone Debut

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/feature/hakone/20151018-OHT1T50196.html

translated by Brett Larner

On Oct. 17 at the 92nd Hakone Ekiden qualifier 20 km road race in Tachikawa, Tokyo, Tokyo Kokusai University finished 9th to make Hakone for the first time in its short five-year existence.  On Oct. 18th head coach Shuji Oshida, 53, revealed that the color of the team's first-ever tasuki [sash] will be Deep Blue, a term also meaning konjo, symbolizing pure guts and spirit.  Like the fearless Dokonjo Gaeru [Big Guts Frog] anime character, these Dokonjo Runners will target making the seeded top ten in their Hakone debut.

The morning after achieving its historic accomplishment of making the sport's biggest stage in their school's 50th anniversary year, the runners gathered to make even bigger plans.  Meeting at 10 a.m. at the team's training facility in Sakado, Saitama, they listened as coach Osuda told them with conviction and a grin, "We're the 19th-ranked team, but we have a chance to make the seeded bracket.  Your New Year's journey to Hakone is yet to come."

The team's tasuki, the heart and soul of the ekiden, is already ready.  Immediately after the team secured its qualification, Tokyo Kokusai University president Nobuyasu Kurata presented them with a blue tasuki.  "This color shall be known as Deep Blue, a term also meaning courage and spirit," he told them, his face profoundly serious.

Aoyama Gakuin University Fresh Green, Komazawa University Wisteria, Toyo University Iron Blue, Waseda University Scarlet.  Each of the powerhouse schools' tasuki color is synonymous with its name.  Deep Blue is also known as Prussian Blue, the name associated with Yamanashi Gakuin University.  In its fifth year as a program this ascendant team is ready to take its first step to carve a place in Hakone history for Tokyo Kokusai University Deep Blue.

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How it Happened

Ancient History I went to Wesleyan University, where the legend of four-time Boston Marathon champ and Wes alum Bill Rodgers hung heavy over the cross-country team. Inspired by Koichi Morishita and Young-Cho Hwang’s duel at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics I ran my first marathon in 1993, qualifying for Boston ’94 where Bill was kind enough to sign a star-struck 20-year-old me’s bib number at the expo.

Three years later I moved to Japan for grad school, and through a long string of coincidences I came across a teenaged kid named Yuki Kawauchi down at my neighborhood track. I never imagined he’d become what he is, but right from the start there was just something different about him. After his 2:08:37 breakthrough at the 2011 Tokyo Marathon he called me up and asked me to help him get into races abroad. He’d finished 3rd on the brutal downhill Sixth Stage at the Hakone Ekiden, and given how he’d run the hills in the last 6 km at Tokyo ’11 I thought he’d do well at Boston or New York. “If M…

The Kawauchi Counter

Yuki Kawauchi's 2018 race results: Jan. 1: Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, U.S.A.: 2:18:59 - 1st - CR
Jan. 14: Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:03:28 - 7th
Jan. 21: Yashio Isshu Ekiden, Saitama: 1:01:03 - 1st - ran entire 20.0 km ekiden solo and beat all 103 teams of 6 runners each
Jan. 28: Okumusashi Ekiden First Stage (9.9 km), Saitama - 29:41 - 6th
Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
Feb. 11: Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon, Shimane - cancelled due to heavy snow
Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama - 1:04:26 - 1st
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:04:49 - 12th
Mar. 11: Yoshinogawa Riverside Half Marathon, Tokushima - 1:05:50 - 1st - CR
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan - 2:14:12 - 1st
Mar. 24: Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials, Saitama
              5000 m Heat 4: 14:53.95 - 1st
              5000 m Heat 6: 14:36.58 - 2nd
           …

“The Miracle in Fukuoka” - Real Talk From Yuki Kawauchi on “Taking on the World” (part 1)

http://sports.yahoo.co.jp/column/detail/201701120002-spnavi

translated by Brett Larner

Ahead of his nomination to the London World Championships Marathon team, Sportsnavi published a three-part series of writings by Yuki Kawauchi on what it took for him to make the team, his hopes for London, and his views on the future of Japanese marathoning.  With his place on the London team announced on Mar. 17, JRN will publish an English translation of the complete series over the next three days. See Sportsnavi's original version linked above for more photos. Click here for part two, "Bringing All My Experience Into Play in London," or here for part three, "The Lessons of the Past Are Not 'Outdated.'"


The Fukuoka International Marathon was held on Dec. 4 last year. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) took part despite nursing injuries he had sustained in training. Falling rain contributed to less than ideal conditions during the race, but from the very early stages…