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  • Writer's picturePhillip Radcliffe

The 99th Annual Hakone Ekiden Race

Updated: Jan 13, 2023

(Japanese translation below)

By Reona Nagae

When Japanese people think about New Year’s events, Hakone Ekiden comes to mind. The event is held annually on January 2 and January 3, and it is televised live on NTV. It is a 217.1 km round-trip race divided into five legs between Tokyo and Hakone. University and graduate school students located in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, and Yamanashi and who are members of The Inter-University Athletic Union of Kanto can participate in the event.

This event dates back to 1920. It was the suggestion of Shiso Kanaguri, one of the Japanese marathon runners who participated in the 1912 Stockholm Olympics. He defaulted during the meet and returned home in despair. He made good use of his experience to aim for the training of world-class runners.

On February 14, 1920, the first meeting was held by runners from Waseda University, Keio University, Meiji University, and Tsukuba University. As of 2022, it has been held 98 times with the exception of during World War Ⅱ.

There are many points worthy of note in the event. The first is the second leg, called "Hana no Ni-ku" in Japanese. The second leg is the longest the distance covered compared to other legs and is commonly run by the team's ace to give an impetus. There is an expression in Japanese saying "Gobounuki,'' which means to pass more than one competitor. In 2009, Daniel Gitau at Nihon University achieved the record for most overtakes by passing 20 runners on this leg.

The second is for the best uphill runners, called "Yama no Kami" in Japanese. The "Yama no Kami" is a title given to a runner who runs through the five legs which have the highest elevation differences with amazing speed. Masato Imai was the first runner to be called "Yama no Kami" by an announcer during the live broadcast in 2007. Every year, the audience hopes that a new "Yama no Kami" will appear.

The record has been updated through time. One way to enjoy the event is to look at the friendship among the runners and the history of the university. If you are relaxing at home at the beginning of the year, you should watch the Hakone Ekiden.


長江 玲央那

日本人は正月の行事と言えば、箱根駅伝を思い浮かべます。箱根駅伝は毎年1月2日と3日に開催され、日本テレビで放映されます。東京と箱根の間を5区間に分け、合計 217,1㎞を走ります。東京、神奈川、千葉、埼玉、茨城、栃木、群馬、山梨に所在し、関東学生陸上競技連盟に加盟している大学と大学院生が参加可能です。


1920年2月14日、早稲田大学、慶應義塾大学、明治大学、東京高等師範(現在の筑波大学)のランナーによる第1回大会が開催されました。2022年現在、第二次世界大戦期間を除いて、98回開催されています。*注)筑波大学は1973年開学、1920年に出場したのは前身の東京高等師範で、第一回の逆転優勝は有名なエピソード 。





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