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

Kazami Breaks 100 km World Record at Lake Saroma

Running on the same course where Japan's Takahiro Sunada set the road 100 km world record of 6:13:33 twenty years ago, 2:17:23 marathoner Nao Kazamibested a deep and competitive field to win the Lake Saroma 100 km Ultramarathon in a world record 6:09:14.

Part of a front group of at least five that went through the marathon split in 2:33:36, on pace for 6:04:01, Kazami lost touch with the lead as rivals Koji Hayasaka and Takehiko Gyoba surged just before halfway to open a roughly 30 second lead that lasted until nearly 75 km. But in the last quarter of the race Kazami, a graduate of university ekiden powerhouse Komazawa University, was the only one who could sustain anything close to the early pace, overtaking Hayasaka and Gyoba before pulling away to open a lead of over 11 minutes. Kazami's mark took more than 4 minutes off the world record, and he also bettered the 100 km track world record of 6:10:20 set in 1978 well before he was born by the late Don Ritchie.
Trying to sta…

Boston Marathon Champion Yuki Kawauchi and Olympian Suguru Osako Join 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon Elite Field

A Bank of America Chicago Marathon press release

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon announced today that reigning Boston Marathon champion and “citizen runner” Yuki Kawauchi and 2016 Olympian and Nike Oregon Project runner Suguru Osako will join the elite competition as they both seek to become the first Chicago Marathon champion from Japan since Toshihiko Seko took the crown in 1986.

"I'm really happy to have the chance to race in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon and the Abbott World Marathon Majors," Kawauchi said. "I'm looking forward to running the same race where Toshinari Takaoka set the former national record and so many other great Japanese athletes have run well. My results in the other American Abbott World Marathon Majors races, Boston and New York, were pretty good, and I'll do everything I can to line up in Chicago ready to produce good results there too."

“Yuki and Suguru are exciting additions to our elite field,” said Executive Rac…

Kawauchi Wins 7th-Straight Okinoshima 50 km

Running the Okinoshima 50 km Ultramarathon on his late father's home island of Oki for the eighth year in a row, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran 2:52:55 to win it for the seventh straight time. Starting strong on the relatively flat first 10 km where he clocked 33:26, low-2:47 pace, Kawauchi slowed to just over 2:50 pace on the course's toughest hills between 10 and 30 km. A sub-2:50 was still in range at that point, but over the last 20 km he faded further to finish in the second-slowest of his Okinoshima wins.



The day before the race Kawauchi paced children in Okinoshima's kids' run. Following that he greeted participants and local supporters at an expo event where he was hailed onstage as the Boston Marathon winner. As per his usual routine, his next race will be the July 1 Gold Coast Marathon in Australia.

© 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved