Hakone Ekiden Marathon Relay

This morning, Nagano woke up finding itself buried under snow!

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Mum and I have decided to hole up with bags of chocolate and cups of coffee & tea and install ourselves in front of the TV. On screen is a broadcast of the Hakone Ekiden – a relay marathon race fought between 23 Japanese universities over 2 days…

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Ekiden is one of the new year sport events extremely popular amongst the Japanese. The history of the competition stretches back to 1917, originally founded by Yomiuri Shinbun, one of the Japanese broad-sheet papers. A distance of 219km is run by 10 male runners in turn, each athlete covers just over a half marathon…

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The attraction of the race is its nail-biting unpredictability.
Unlike a normal marathon race, the final result is hugely affected by how good (or bad) each section is run by each runner. This year, a runner representing Yamanaahi Gakuin University succumbed to stress fracture in his left ankle during the second section and had to retire as we witnessed his anguish on TV.

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Each athlete carries a Tasuki – a fabric sash in each university colour, and relays it to his teammate at a handing-over station. The runners sprint towards the station in a last-ditch effort, their suffering is etched on their faces. And many of them collapse with exhaustion by the road side after handing over their precious Tashki…

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A highlight of the first day of the race is undoubtedly the fifth section, a course consisted of the uphills of Hakone which tests the endurance of the athletes to their maximum…

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The race will finish tomorrow and we will be glued to TV again for sure…

7 thoughts on “Hakone Ekiden Marathon Relay

    • I find this race is typically Japanese! It is not about a star athlete but all to do with teamwork. Each runner bows to the audience and supporting staff after they finish their runs… The pictures came out much better than I expected! 😋 x

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