The Tango University Ekiden, the major ekiden for schools in the Kansai Region, will hold its 85th edition on Nov. 18. In 2013 the race returned to the Tango area of northern Kyoto after 9 years being held on the shores of Lake Biwa. To commemorate the event's landmark anniversary, 6-time Hakone Ekiden champion Aoyama Gakuin University will make a special appearance in the Tango University Ekiden this year without counting in its results.
AGU head coach Susumu Hara had approached the organizers in the Kansai collegiate athletics federation some time ago about his team running, and with the 85th anniversary on the horizon plans were finalized. In order to cover AGU's travel from Tokyo and other costs for its athletes and staff, local government officials conducted a "government crowdfunding" scheme in which locals could donate a portion of their taxes.
The scheme has been used in the last three years to fund a TV broadcast of the race, and this time the target of ¥1 million [~$6750 USD] was raised within a month of the scheme's launch date on July 25. The fund has currently raised ¥1.3 million and is scheduled to run through Oct. 15. A city official commented, "Since AGU's participation was announced in the media and through AGU's own channels, the response has been phenomenal. We plan to use any surplus funds raised to help improve the level of our event."
translated by Brett Larner