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Showing posts from December, 2023

100th Hakone Ekiden Preview

The New Year Ekiden corporate men's national championships are coming up in just over 24 hours, but there's a limit to how much you can do and we want to focus what energy's left on the Hakone Ekiden's 100th running on Jan. 2 and 3. A quick preview of the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden is here , and if you've got a VPN you'll be able to watch streaming of TBS' broadcast here . If you're still on Twitter follow our live coverage on @JRNLive and @tri_chaser . Good luck to Honda in its shot at a third-straight win, and to everyone else running there. Nippon TV is broadcasting both days of the Hakone Ekiden , with a pre-race show at 7:00 a.m. and the start at 8:00 a.m. each day. Use a VPN to watch streaming of Day One here , and of Day Two here . We'll be covering the race on  @JRNLive and on-site from the Day One finish and Day Two start at Lake Ashi. The story at this year's Hakone Ekiden: Can Komazawa University become the first school to win all t

Meijo Makes it Six at Mt. Fuji Women's Ekiden

Coming off a seventh-straight win at October's Morinomiyako Ekiden, five-time Mount Fuji Women's Ekiden national champion Meijo University led start to finish to win it again for the sixth year in a row Saturday in Shizuoka. Meijo's first four runners, Azumi Nagira , Nanaka Yonezawa , Miyu Yamada and Asuka Ishimatsu all won their stages to give Meijo what was pretty much an unbreakable lead. Undefeated in collegiate ekiden competition up to this point in her career, Meijo 3rd-year Nanase Tanimoto lost to Daito Bunka University 1st-year Sarah Wanjiru by 24 seconds on the 10.5 km Fifth Stage but still handed off to captain Yuka Masubuchi 1:04 ahead. Masubuchi ran a CR 19:27 for her 6.0 km to hand off to anchor Saki Harada on course record pace. On the tough anchor stage, 8.3 km climbing 175 m mostly in its second half, Harada proved the weak link on the team at only 5th-fastest in the field, but while that wasn't enough for Meijo to better its own CR Harada had no

Hakone's Lost Years

Nihon University's Tsunehiro Nagano, left, on anchor stage of 1943 Hakone Ekiden On January 2nd and 3rd, 2024, the Hakone Ekiden celebrates its official 100th running. But much like the Boston Marathon's official 100th running in 1996 which included a military relay in 1918 as an edition of the race, there are questions about what's being counted in that total. Launched in 1920 by Japan's first Olympic marathoner Shizo Kanakuri as a way to cultivate the next generation of marathoners, throughout its history the Hakone Ekiden has followed more or less the same general route, starting in the area of Tokyo Station, heading south to the Shonan seaside, turning west toward the mountains, then making a tough climb on the final leg of its first day to the mountain town of Hakone on the shores of Lake Ashi. On its second day it makes a return trip along the same route, starting with a brutal downhill, then following the shoreline before turning to head into central Tokyo and

Hakone in the African Era

In the early days of the Hakone Ekiden Koreans were the first group from outside Japan to run and make an impact on the event's history . 60 years after the first two Koreans ran Hakone, Kenyan Douglas Wakiihuri became the first Kenyan to come to Japan to run when he joined the S&B corporate team. After he won the 1987 Rome World Championships marathon and took silver a year later in the Seoul Olympics the door was open for Kenyan and other African athletes to follow Wakiihuri's lead to the corporate leagues, to universities, and even to high schools. Tsutomu Akiyama was responsible for bringing the first two Kenyans to Hakone, recruiting Joseph Otwori and Kennedy Manyisa Isena to go to Yamanashi Gakuin University . "I went to Kenya to see what the people and environment were like," he told JRN. "I watched a cross-country race and thought, 'We have to get someone like that to run for Yamanashi Gakuin.'" Yamanashi Gakuin had debuted at Hakon

The Korean Roots of Hakone

Meiji University's Nam Seungryong at the 1936 Berlin Olympics Like everywhere else, athletes from Kenya and Ethiopia have had a major impact at the Hakone Ekiden over the last 35 years. But almost 70 years before the first two Kenyans suited up in the Yamanashi Gakuin University colors, athletes from another country had an even bigger impact on the event's formative years, a legacy that is mostly forgotten now, or at least unacknowledged. Following Japan's annexation of Korea in 1910, it set about reshaping and modernizing the Korean educational system at all levels, founding universities like Keijo Imperial University in what later became Seoul, and bringing students to study at universities within Japan itself. But a college education remained a relative rarity, with less than 0.05% of the population having gone to university by the end of the Japanese occupation in 1945. The Hakone Ekiden began during this period, and at its 3rd running in 1922 two athletes from occup

Hakone at 100

We're less than a week out from the 100th running of the Hakone Ekiden , the two-day university men's road relay from central Tokyo to the foothills of Mt. Fuji and back that has become the biggest sports event in Japan. Tens of millions of people watch the live TV broadcast, millions more line the 217.1 km course, it has its own museum, and its own identity and place as a cultural icon. Over the next few days I'll be posting four excerpts from my upcoming book on the history of the race, May the Circle Be Unbroken: Hakone at 100 . The Hakone Ekiden came out of the same era that produced the world's other premier endurance races, specifically the Boston Marathon, Tour de France and Comrades Marathon. Comrades didn't come until a bit later in 1921, but Boston was first held in 1897, and six years later in 1903 the Tour de France got off the ground. In Japan Meiji University founded the Meiji University Race Club, the country's first collegiate track and field te