Hakone Ekiden

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The first section of the 2012 Hakone Ekiden

Hakone Ekiden (箱根駅伝?), which is officially called Tokyo-Hakone Round-Trip College Ekiden Race (東京箱根間往復大学駅伝競走 Tōkyō Hakone kan Ōfuku Daigaku Ekiden Kyōsō?),[1] is one of the most prominent university ekiden (relay marathon) races of the year held between Tokyo and Hakone in Japan on 2 and 3 January. The race is telecast on Nippon Television.

This two-day race from Ōtemachi to Hakone and back is separated into five sections on each day.[2] Due to slight variations in the courses, the first day distance is 108.0 km while the distance on the second day is 109.9 km.[3] Only male runners are allowed to run.

Rules[edit]

Five sections are provided between Tokyo and Hakone each way. Each runner runs one section, alternates with the next runner at a station. Each team has ten runners, running with their teams' sashes which are handed over to the next runner on the team at each station.

If a runner cannot get to a station within twenty minutes after the top runner reached it, the next runner starts with a substitute sash. The time difference is added to the goal time.

Participation[edit]

Daito Bunka University cheer staff demonstrates that school spirit is an important aspect of the Hakone Ekiden.

Twenty universities, which belong to The Inter-University Athletic Union of Kanto (関東学生陸上競技連盟 Kantō gakusei rikujō kyōgi renmei?), can participate in this Ekiden. Ten of them are seeded teams that qualify by virtue of finishing in the top ten the previous year. The remaining ten qualify through the Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai, a 20 km qualifier held in the October preceding the race. Before 2014, nine teams would qualify through the Yosenkai and a final team, the Kanto Region Select Team, would be constituted by a selection of top runners from universities that did not qualify as one of the 19 participating teams.

Seed rights[edit]

Teams above 10th place get seeded and can participate in the Hakone Ekiden the next year.

Forfeiture[edit]

If a runner retires en route to a station because of an accident, his team is treated as retired. Although runners for following sections may run, their times are not officially recorded.

Courses[4][edit]

The first half, January 2[edit]

The first section (21.4 km) From Ōtemachi, Tokyo to Tsurumi, Yokohama

This is one of the most important sections because the first runner’s rank affects how the team performs in this marathon relay. Teams usually enter a strong runner run in this section. The whole course is flat, but there are some slopes at Shin-Yatsuyamabashi (新八ツ山橋?) and Rokugōbashi (六郷橋?).

The second section (23.2 km) From Tsurumi to Totsuka

Traditionally, the fastest runner in each team usually runs on this course. This course is very severe because there are two long and steep slopes.

The third section (21.5 km) From Totsuka to Hiratsuka

In this section, there are strong sea winds, though considered scenic, with Mt. Fuji and Sagami Bay as opposing backdrops. Many spectators go to this section to cheer runners. The number of them is the largest of all sections.

The fourth section (18.5 km) From Hiratsuka to Odawara

This section is the shortest of all sections. There are many slopes, so it is difficult for runners to keep their pace.

The fifth section (23.4 km) From Odawara to Lake Ashi, Hakone

This section is the longest one. Runners must run up steep slopes, which is about 800m high. This is considered the most severe section.

The second half, January 3[edit]

The sixth section (20.8 km) From Lake Ashi, Hakone to Odawara

At first runners run up a little, then they run down steep slopes. These slopes are very hard on runners' legs, so a lot of them slow down just before goal. They start running at about 8 o’clock. To protect themselves against the cold, many of them wear uniforms with long sleeves.

The seventh section (21.3 km) From Odawara to Hiratsuka

The difference of temperature between the start and the goal is larger than any other section. This course is almost flat until 9 km, but after that there are some ups and downs. The record of this section is the oldest of all section.

The eighth section (21.5 km) From Hiratsuka to Totsuka

The first half of this section is almost flat, but second one has a slope so-called Yugyōji-no-saka (遊行寺の坂?) which causes runners severe difficulties. Some teams which run around the 10th place start to worry whether they are seeded or not.

The ninth section (23.2 km) From Totsuka to Tsurumi

This section is the longest in the second day’s sections. There are many downs, so runners must control their speed. At this section, many teams reverse their places.

The tenth section (23.1 km) From Tsurumi to Otemachi, Tokyo

This is the last section of Hakone marathon race (Ekiden). This course is almost flat, but sometimes a strong wind blows among the very tall building. There are many fans who cheer runners, so runners feel a strong pressure not to disappoint the fans.

Origin[5][edit]

Hakone Ekiden was started in 1920. Shizo Kanaguri, who is known as the father of the Japanese marathon, conceived the idea. His enthusiastic idea of bringing up a runner who could compete in the world became the driving force of establishing Hakone Ekiden. When Kanaguri was a Tokyo Koto Shihan school (Koshi) student, he participated in Olympic Games in Stockholm in 1912 as one of the representative Japanese marathon runners. He had to give up his race on the way, however.[6]

In the meantime, the first ekiden, Tokaido ekidentohokyoso (東海道駅伝徒歩競走?) was held in 1917 between Sanjō Ōhashi, Kyoto and Ueno Shinobazunoike (上野不忍池?) Tokyo, celebrating 50 years after Tokyo became the capital. This race was a big relay race between Kyoto and Tokyo (516 km) held by Yomiuri Shimbun for three days. It succeeded and became the original form of Hakone Ekiden. Kanaguri was influenced by the success of the race and persuaded many universities that they should race in the Hakone Ekiden. As a result, Waseda Univ., Keio Univ., Meiji Univ. and Tokyo Kōshi replied to his offer and Hakone Ekiden started. Hakone Ekiden was started with great energy of the pioneers in Japanese sports society. It started during World War I, so industrial areas gradually expanded to the west and the Tokaido road was widen. Reflecting this active atmosphere, the Japanese sports society, including ekiden one, were developing great challenging spirits at that time.

Level of Competition in 2010[edit]

To give a taste of the quality of competition in the Hakone Ekiden, consider the profile of the athletes in the 2010 (86th) race. Of the 380 athletes (190 runners and 190 alternates) that represent the 19 universities, 328 have run under 14:40 for 5,000 meters; 150 at 14:20 and 33 under 14:00.[7] This figure compares very strongly with USA collegiate men from all schools: athletic.net's list of collegiate men 5000 meters in 2009, which lists approximately 400 athletes at 14:40, 200 at 14:20 and 60 under 14:00 in 2009. Stepping up to the 10,000 meter distance, the same sources show that these 19 Tokyo universities list over 190 runners with personal bests under 30:00 (14 more sub 30 minute runners make up an all-star team of runners from other Tokyo universities); about 90 USA collegians ran under 30:00 in 2009.

Anecdotes[edit]

At first, Hakone Ekiden was held irregularly, and runners usually started in the afternoon so that runners could study in the morning. Thus runners, especially in fifth section, had to run at night. Moreover, the start and finish points were provided but the course was not, so runners could choose their own way.

After the war, many students in high school were unwilling to enter university or college because they were poor, and this prohibited them from running the ekiden. As a result, teams had to participate for a time with inexperienced runners: rugby players, skiers or other sports players. However, as entry to tertiary education increased, universities could organize stronger teams.

Hakone Ekiden has become one of the most famous sports events in Japan. The whole race has been broadcast live on Nippon Television each year since 1987. More than one million people cheer runners on along the course. The Hakone Ekiden Museum was built in 2005.

Problems[edit]

Today[when?] the Hakone Ekiden has various problems.

International Students[edit]

In 1989, an international student ran for the first time as a team member of Yamanashi Gakuin University, and made quite an impact upon onlookers. Since 2005 the sponsor has limited the number of registered international students to 2 per team, and the number of participating international students to 1. The international students are also banned from running certain marquee legs such as the final stage of the first or second day. This means there is no possibility of Japanese television audiences having to watch a non-Japanese athlete cross the finish line first. However, debate continues about the participation of international students in the race. Supporters of international students insist that it is a form of discrimination that runners are selected according to their nationality rather than their capability and are banned from racing for the tape. Detractors complain about the athletic gap between Japanese and foreign students is too large.

Withdrawals for the Race[edit]

Recently, many withdrawals have occurred. More qualified runners are entering as the Hakone Ekiden becomes more popular. In addition, managers do not want them to stop from the perspective of team, and they cannot stop them because all runners have trained for many years to reach the goal. However, unprepared participants risk the prospect of a career-ending injury.

Criticism[edit]

The Hakone Ekiden has become popular sports events in Japan, so universities have good staff and runners to increase their chances. Non-university teams, such as company teams, do not have such staff. Moreover, to run such a long way as the Hakone Ekiden may shorten young runners' running lives. According to many critics, this has caused a decline in Japanese male marathoners, such as in participation in the Olympic games marathon. On the other hand, female Japanese runners, who are not allowed to participate in the Hakone Ekiden, have done well in marathons. For example, Naoko Takahashi won the gold medal at the Olympic games in Sydney and Mizuki Noguchi won one in Athens.

Adjunct Participation[edit]

Since 2008 a group of cyclists has proceeded the race in an annual tradition. The primary challenge is to stay just ahead of the runners enjoying the open roadway afforded by the race closure. Very few cyclists are able to maintain the fast pace up the final grade and must resolve to drop out and join the ranks of all the other spectators cheering the runners.

Winners[edit]

Year th Univ
1920 1 Tokyo University of Education
1921 2 Meiji Univ
1922 3 Waseda Univ
1923 4 Waseda
1924 5 Meiji
1925 6 Muiji
1926 7 Chuo Univ
1927 8 Waseda
1928 9 Meiji
1929 10 Meiji
1930 11 Waseda
1931 12 Waseda
1932 13 Keio Univ
1933 14 Waseda
1934 15 Waseda
1935 16 NIhon Univ
1936 17 Nihon
1937 18 Nihon
1938 19 Nihon
1939 20 Senshu Univ
1940 21 Nihon
1943 22 Nihon
1947 23 Meiji
1948 24 Chuo
1949 25 Meiji
1950 26 Chuo
1951 27 Chuo
1952 28 Waseda
1953 29 Chuo
1954 30 Waseda
1955 31 Chuo
1956 32 Chuo
1957 33 Nihon
1958 34 Nihon
1959 35 Chuo
1960 36 Chuo
1961 37 Chuo
1962 38 Chuo
1963 39 Chuo
1964 40 Chuo
1965 41 Nihon
1966 42 Juntendo Univ
1967 43 Nihon
1968 44 Nihon
1969 45 Nippon Sport Science Univ
1970 46 Nippon Sport Science
1971 47 Nippon Sport Science
1972 48 Nippon Sport Science
1973 49 Nippon Sport Science
1974 50 Nihon
1975 51 Daito Bunka Univ
1976 52 Daito Bunka
1977 53 Nippon Sport Science
1978 54 Nippon Sport Science
1979 55 Juntendo
1980 56 Nippon Sport Science
1981 57 Juntendo
1982 58 Juntendo
1983 59 Nippon Sport Science
1984 60 Waseda
1985 61 Waseda
1986 61 Juntendo
1987 63 Juntendo
1988 64 Juntendo
1989 65 Juntendo
1990 66 Daito Bunka
1991 67 Daito Bunka
1992 68 Yamanashi Gakuin Univ
1993 69 Waseda
1994 70 Yamanashi Gakuin
1995 71 Yamanashi Gakuin
1996 72 Chuo
1997 73 Kanagawa Univ
1998 74 Kanagawa
1999 75 Juntendo
2000 76 Komazawa Univ
2001 77 Juntendo
2002 78 Komazawa
2003 79 Komazawa
2004 80 Komazawa
2005 81 Komazawa
2006 82 Asia Univ
2007 83 Juntendo
2008 84 Komazawa
2009 85 Toyo Univ[8]
2010 86 Toyo
2011 87 Waseda
2012 88 Toyo
2013 89 Nippon Sport Science
2014 90 Toyo

Shizo Kanaguri Trophy[edit]

This prize is awarded to the most valuable runner. This was founded in 2004(80th) to admire Shizo Kanaguri's accomplishment.

Year th Name Univ
2004 80 Yukiharu Kanegae IUAU Team (Tsukuba Univ)
2005 81 Masato Imai Juntendo Univ
2006 82 Masato Imai Juntendo Univ
2007 83 Yuki Sato Tokai Univ
Masato Imai Juntendo Univ
2008 84 Jun Shinotou Chuo Gakuin Univ
2009 85 Ryuji Kashiwabara Toyo Univ
2010 86 Ryuji Kashiwabara Toyo Univ
2011 87 Akinobu Murasawa Tokai University
2012 88 Ryuji Kashiwabara Toyo Univ
2013 89 Shota Hattori Nippon Sport Science Univ
2014 90 Kento Ohtsu Toyo Univ

Records[edit]

They overtook the highest number of runners in one section.

Place number Name Univ th/Section
1 20 Gitau Daniel Nihon Univ 85/2[9]
2 17 Akinobu Murasawa Tokai Univ 87/2[10]
3 15 Takuro Nakagawa Juntendo Univ 79/2
Gitau Daniel Nihon Univ 84/2
5 13 Hideaki Date Tokai Univ 84/2
Yuki Sato Tokai Univ 85/3
7 12 Makoto Hattori Tokyo Nogyo Univ 50/2
Kensuke Oda Kanto Gakuin Univ 79/2
Ombeche Mokanba Yamanashi Gakuin Univ 81/2
Mekubo Mogusu Yamanashi Gakuin Univ 82/2
11 11 Masato Imai Juntendo Univ 81/5
Kōsaku Hoshina Nippon Sport Science Univ 82/2
Gitau Daniel Nihon Univ 86/2

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 200 events: YOMIURI GROUP POWER: YOMIURI SHIMBUN MEDIA KIT, Yomiuri Shimbun
  2. ^ "箱根駅伝公式Webサイト -衛星画像マップ-" (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 2008-01-01. Retrieved 2008-01-02. 
  3. ^ "箱根駅伝公式Webサイト" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2008-01-02. 
  4. ^ "箱根駅伝コースマップ" (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 2008-01-11. Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  5. ^ "箱根駅伝とは―歴史―" (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 2008-01-22. Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  6. ^ Kamiya, Setsuko, "Hakone Ekiden gave relay races new fascination", Japan Times, 7 December 2010, p. 3.
  7. ^ 第86回箱根駅伝パーフェクトガイド (2010 86th Hakone Ekiden Spectator's Guide), 1月別冊付録 (January Supplement), 陸上競技マガジン (Track and Field Magazine, January 2010) 第60巻第1号 ( Vol 60 No. 1), pages 11-30
  8. ^ "東洋大復路もV、初の総合優勝…箱根駅伝" Yomiuri Shimbun, January 3, 2009
  9. ^ "日大・ダニエル、驚異の新記録「20人抜き」" Yomiuri Shimbun, January 2, 2009
  10. ^ "Upstaged / Kashiwabara helps Toyo pass Waseda in final stage, move into position for 3-peat" Yomiuri Shimbun, January 2, 2011

External links[edit]