In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Ueda Dentetsu Bessho train line in Nagano, 100 local college students raced the train in ekiden style. Following the train line's route, the ekiden was planned by students at Nagano University, located on the Bessho Line, as a celebration of the line's history.
The race began at 4:00 p.m. Friday, with the train and student team starting simultaneously at Ueda Station. Running as a 100-runner relay, the students attempted to beat the train to its terminus, Bessho Onsen Station 11 km away. The student team fell behind in the early going, but as the train stopped at each of the 13 stations along its line they made up ground and ultimately made it to the finish line at Bessho Onsen just seconds ahead of the train.
Kenta Imanishi of the Bessho Onsen Ekiden Organizing Committee commented, "The 100th anniversary is a one-time deal, but we hope to keep doing other activities so that people can learn more about the Bessho Line." Nagano University students have helped with fundraising to help restore the iron bridge and other parts of the Bessho Line that were damaged in Typhoon #19 two years ago.
translated by Brett Larner