Skip to main content

Runner Nearly Hit by Truck During Hakone Ekiden: "I Thought I Was Gonna Die"

https://news.biglobe.ne.jp/sports/0104/blnews_170104_9095272654.html

translated by Brett Larner


On Jan. 4 news spread that a runner in the 93rd Hakone Ekiden had nearly been hit by a truck.  Video showing the incident was posted on Twitter, raising a public outcry about the police's handling of road closure and course safety. The Inter-University Athletic Union of Kanto (KGRR), organizers of the Hakone Ekiden, were contacted for comment.

The incident occurred on Jan. 3 during the five-stage, 109.6 km Day Two of the Hakone Ekiden from Ashinoko in Kanagawa to the Yomiuri Newspaper Building in central Tokyo.  At Hibiya Crossing late in the Tenth Stage, Kanagawa University anchor Koya Nakagami, running in 5th place, was almost struck by a vehicle on the course.  A major intersection with heavy traffic volume, at the time of the incident police were allowing cars at Hibiya Crossing to cross the course while the road on which Nakagami was running had a red light.

As Nakagami approached the intersection police officers on duty did not stop the flow of traffic, resulting in him running out into the path of oncoming cars. Right as he entered the intersection police officers can be heard calling out, "Please stop your vehicles!" but it was too late to prevent the situation.  A truck entered the intersection from Nakagami's left and it appeared that he would be hit, but at the last second he saw it coming, slowed, and stayed out of its path.  The evening of the 3rd Nakagami wrote about the incident on his Twitter feed, saying, "This was the first time I've nearly gotten in an accident during a race," and "I thought I was gonna die."

With regard to an athlete in one of their competitions nearly being struck by a car, the KGRR commented, "We can confirm the fact that this incident took place, but as the circumstances and causes are still under investigation we can make no further comment."  But, noting that no incident of this sort had ever occurred before, the spokesperson added, "The safety of the athletes is our primary concern and we cannot have this happen."  Regarding what is to come next, the KGRR is considering how to deal with Nakagami and what discussions need to be held with police concerning their road closure and course safety procedures.

Online public opinion was quick to condemn the police's role, questioning their methods and expressing fears for the athletes' safety in the police's hands:
"If the roads aren't closed 50 m in advance then it's meaningless."
"The problem is that the police were too slow in doing their job." 
 "I can't help but be scared to think that it's just a question of when an accident is going to happen."
"This incident was extremely dangerous to the athlete's life." 

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 Hakone 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 stay wi…

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