Skip to main content

Former Hakone Ekiden Director Yoshiyuki Aoba Named Head Coach at Nihon University

Nihon University, 18th at this year's Hakone Ekiden, has named former Daito Bunka University head coach and former Inter-University Athletic Union of Kanto (KGRR) director Yoshiyuki Aoba, 77, as its new head coach. It is almost unheard-of for someone who has risen to the top position of the KGRR, organizers of the Hakone Ekiden, to return to coaching. Previous head coach Yoshiyuki Musha, 36, has retired from coaching and will remain at Nihon University in another capacity.

With 12 Hakone Ekiden titles to its name, ranking it #3 in the event's history, and 89 Hakone appearances, the second-most in history, the change is a surprising move from the powerhouse Nihon University. The young Musha stepped down following this year's 18th-place finish, the sixth year in a row that Nihon has missed a prestigious top ten finish, leaving the door open for the 77-year-old veteran Aoba to come in.

Aoba graduated from Nihon University, becoming head coach at Daito Bunka University at just age 25. He quickly transformed the new team into one of the strongest in Kanto, winning Hakone four times and producing standout athletes like four-time Hakone Fifth Stage winner Hatsuo Okubo and 1996 Atlanta Olympic marathoner Kenjiro Jitsui.

After retiring from Daito Bunka in 2020, Aoba took the powerful position of KGRR director. He now serves as honorary director. The move to Nihon represents his first time coaching in 20 years. Aoba's home is close by the Daito Bunka athlete dormitory in Higashi Matsuyama, Saitama, but he will now live in the Nihon team dormitory in Inagi, Tokyo alongside athletes almost 60 years younger than him. "All I can say is that he's still got the hands-on competitive spirit, even at that age," a person close to Aoba said in admiration.

Like other universities, Nihon University has currently suspended official team activities due to the coronavirus crisis. In the midst of this difficult situation, the return of a legend is sure to draw attention.

Yoshiyuki Aoba - Born June 16, 1942 in Otamura, Saitama. 77 years old. He began running when he entered Chichibu Nokokagaku H.S. As a 3rd-year he was a member of Chichibu Nokokagaku's first-ever National High School Ekiden-qualifying team. After graduating in 1961 he started working for Chichibu Railways, but a year later he entered Nihon University. As a 4th-year he finished 3rd on the 1966 Hakone Ekiden's First Stage. After graduating he began working at the Saitama Prefectural Government, but after two years he became head coach at Daito Bunka University, where he remained until 2000. Under his leadership Daito Bunka won Hakone four times, in 1975, 1976, 1990 and 1991. In the 1990-1991 season Daito Bunka became the first school to ever achieve the triple crown, winning the Izumo Ekiden, National University Ekiden, and Hakone Ekiden. He served as KGRR director from 2007 to 2016.

source article:
translated by Brett Larner

Buy Me A Coffee


Most-Read This Week

Hokkaido's Asahikawa Ryukoku H.S. Builds 330 m Greenhouse Indoor Track

Targeting its sixth-straight win at the Oct. 23 Hokkaido Prefecture High School Girls Ekiden, Asahikawa Ryukoku H.S. has complete construction of the Asahikawa Ryukoku Indoor Track, at 330 m in length the nation's largest running-specific circuit course entirelyely enclosed in vinyl greenhouse material. The ceremony marking the track's official completion is scheduled for Oct. 28th. In a part of the country known for heavy snowfall, the hope is that Asahikawa Ryukoku's new year-round training ground will help it make the jump to becoming a factor at the national level. The indoor track was built on the 1650 square meter campus of the former Asahikawa Toei H.S., where Asahikawa Ryukoku H.S. will relocate next summer. Coated in durable vinyl, the massive white torus of the track stands out from its surroundings. Ranging from 5.4 m to 7.2 m in width, the track's housing is wide enough to accommodate four lanes. In the future, two lanes will be covered with artificial turf

Kanazawa Marathon to Stop Runners at 21 Locations Due to Election

Due to be held the same day as voting in the upcoming election for the House of Representatives, runners at the Kanazawa Marathon can expect to be stopped at over 20 intersections on the course in order to allow voters on their way to the polls to pass without interference.  Scheduled to be held Oct. 31 after last year's race was canceled, the Kanazawa Marathon will take place while voting polls for the House of Representatives election are open. On race day, road closures for the marathon will be in place for up to 6 hours, but the locations of 14 polling stations on the course mean that voters will need to be able to cross through intersections. 50,000 voters are expected to use these locations, and while city officials are calling for people to utilize early voting or polling stations not affected by road closures then have made the decision to place security personnel at 21 intersections to stop runners when necessary. The Kanazawa Marathon already has this policy in place at

February's Ome 30 km Road Race Canceled Due to Pandemic

On Oct. 14 the organizers of Tokyo's Ome 30 km Road Race announced that the popular event's 55th running, scheduled for Feb. 20, 2022, will not go ahead and will instead be postponed a year. Organizers said that due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic they had concerns about being able to stage the event in a way safe for runners, local residents, race staff and volunteers. The Ome 30 km's 55th running was originally scheduled for February, 2021 but was postponed to 2022, meaning the new decision will in effect be a two-year postponement.  The Ome 30 km Road Race was founded in 1967. Starting in the western Tokyo suburb of Ome, the race follows a mountainous route along the upper Tama River gorge and back. Featuring both 30 km and 10 km races, the race seen wins from Olympic gold medalists like Naoko Takahashi  and Mizuki Noguchi , and is one of Japan's most popular races for amateur runners, with over 12,000 finishers every year. In place of the 2022 event, organizers