Skip to main content

Tokyo Kokusai University's Hamato Ready to Tackle Hakone's Mountain for His Fellow Disaster Survivors

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/feature/hakone/20151214-OHT1T50013.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On Dec. 13 the Tokyo Kokusai University men's ekiden team went to Koma Shrine in Hidaka, Saitama to pray for success in their first-ever appearance at the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden.  Afterward they returned to their training ground in Sakado for practice, everything looking smooth as they made their final preparations for Japan's biggest race.  Set to take on the legendary Fifth Stage thanks to his talent at running uphill, 2nd-year Takaya Hamato has special motivation in his Hakone debut.  A native of Yamada, Iwate, his home was complete destroyed in the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami.  Now Hamato has vowed to produce something special to give encouragement to his fellow survivors back home.

Hamato grew up in a port town but is fearless in his uphill running.  When he was a 2nd-year at Iwate's Ichinoseki Gakuin H.S. he took part in a practice session with the Tokyo Kokusai University team.  Running eight laps of a tough and hilly 2.5 km cross-country course he far outshone all the older university runners, finishing the run in 1st and showing outstanding potential.  Tokyo Kokusai head coach Shuji Oshida, 53, was immediately optimistic about Hamato's chances, saying, "Right from the time he entered university I've wanted to use him on the Hakone Fifth Stage."

Although Hamato's immediate family survived the 2011 disasters, some of his relatives lost their lives in the tsunami that followed the earthquake.  His determination to encourage and support other survivors through his running is strong.  "I want to show them that even someone from our area can still make Hakone," he said.  A champion's spirit hidden inside his petite 164 cm-tall frame, Hamato is ready to tackle the mountain come January 2.

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Toyo University Leads Defending Champ Aoyama Gakuin on Hakone Ekiden Day One

The team that brought Japan's greatest race into the modern era with its historic 2012 sub-3 min/km win, Toyo University came out swinging to win Day One of the 2018 Hakone Ekiden.

Intensely popular with fans, Toyo has struggled this season with its entire senior class out with injury. With its fate in the hands of its younger members Toyo 1st-year Kazuya Nishiyama, freshly 19 in November, stepped up and took control of the race with both hands. Midway through the fast First Stage Nishiyama surged hard to go out front alone, 2017 World University Games half marathon gold medalist Kei Katanishi (Komazawa Univ.) and relative unknown Yuhei Urano (Koku Gakuin Univ.) the only ones to try to go with him. Nishiyama covered the 21.3 km stage in 1:02:16, equivalent to a 1:01:40 half marathon, with Urano and Katanishi around 15 seconds back. 3-time defending champ Aoyama Gakuin University was 25 seconds behind in 5th at the first exchange, 2017 Izumo Ekiden winner Tokai University another …

Nakamoto and Kawauchi to Run Boston

Japan's Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) and Kentaro Nakamoto (Yasukawa Denki) will run the 2018 Boston Marathon as part of the John Hancock Elite Athlete Team. Kawauchi holds world records for everything from most career sub-2:12 marathons to most sub-2:20, while Nakamoto is Japan's best championships marathoner of modern times with four top 10 finishes at the Olympics and World Championships.

Longtime rivals, their duel at the 2013 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon was one of the classics of Japanese marathoning, both running sub-2:09 PBs as Kawauchi set a still-standing course record of 2:08:15. The pair has a 3-3 record in the marathon so far, their most recent meeting coming at last summer's London World Championships where Kawauchi ran Nakamoto down in the last kilometer to take 9th. Boston will be their 7th and likely final face-off.

Our 2018 #BostonMarathon International Elite Field includes 46 of the world’s best marathoners from 13 countries. Watch to see the …

Kawauchi Breaks Sub-2:20 World Record in Sub-Zero Temperatures

Battling freezing temperatures and wind chill that took things down to -23C, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran a 2018 world-leading 2:18:59 at the Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, taking 30 minutes off the course record and breaking American Doug Kurtis' historic sub-2:20 world record with his 76th career sub-2:20.

Kawauchi spent Dec. 29 to 31 training on the Boston Marathon course ahead of his upcoming appearance as part of the John Hancock Elite Athlete Team and planned to run Marshfield at the tail end of his trip. The Marshfield Road Runners club, organizers of the marathon, had their longstanding race USATF certified ahead of his appearance.


Wearing full-length tights in a marathon for the first time, in Marshfield Kawauchi planned to run the first of the hilly course's two laps in 1:09 flat to give himself room to work with in breaking 2:20. But in the wind and cold he struggled to stay on pace, ice crystals coating his face as he hit halfway in 1:10:29…