Intro to the Ekiden
I’m on my way to Japan, where I’ll compete at the Izumo Ekiden on October 10th. An Ekiden is a road relay race, and this one has six legs, all between 5.8 and 10.2 kilometers. Apparently the Ekiden is very popular in Japan, and the Japanese runners are very strong; we routinely get crushed and our best finish ever was ninth last year. There’s a 5k for the alternates the following day, and it is often won in 14 minutes -- that means that there is a Japanese university whose seventh man runs 14 flat.
I’m racing with a team of Ivy League graduates; I believe that we’re the only western team in this race. We’ve been invited back the past nineteen years and I consider it quite the honor; not just to race against some phenomenal athletes whom I would never race otherwise, but also to be exposed to a different culture that highly values distance running. I’ve heard that the race is televised on national TV, and that spectators line the course averaging six people deep the entire way -- fourty-five kilometers.
As a relay race, the Ekiden is all about the team versus team matchups; I figure this is what it makes so popular. I’m excited to learn more about it, and take back what I can to the States. Maybe there are some clues here that can help rebuild track & field’s popularity.
We’ll be in Japan for a week. Thursday I land in Tokyo, and the day after we travel to Izumo. In the next post, I’ll talk about my training the last couple months and my preparation for this race.
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I'm Ben Rainero, creator of BiggerLog. Here's where I'll write more in depth about my training, my thoughts on competitive distance running, and the design process behind the log website. You can also check out my running log here.