Hōsei and Sōdai, two of the most prestigious universities in the Hakone Ekiden: “The surprising reason for the difference in seeding | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Hōsei and Sōdai, two of the most prestigious universities in the Hakone Ekiden: “The surprising reason for the difference in seeding

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on LINE
Kensuke Yamaguchi (4th year), the final runner of Waseda University, finished in 13th place, losing his seeding for the first time in three years (Image: Kyodo News)

I can already see in front of me. I can already see in front of me, so let’s go at once!

When coach Tomoo Tsubota gave him a shout-out, Hosei University junior Yu Kawakami raised his right hand lightly.

I thought I could do it.

Kawakami told the press after the race. Just one kilometer before the finish line in Otemachi, Tokyo, Kawakami, running in the final section, overtook Yuta Yoshitomi, a fourth-year student at Tokai University, to take 10th place overall and win the seeding.

The 98th Hakone Ekiden ended with an overwhelming victory for Aoyama Gakuin University. The 98th Hakone Ekiden, which ended with an overwhelming victory for Aoyama Gakuin University, was not only a battle for the championship, but also a closely watched race for the top 10 seedings, which would allow the team to participate unconditionally in the next year’s Hakone Ekiden. This year again, the battle was chaotic until just before the finish line. The final tenth place went to the University of Law, which overcame Tokai University at the last minute to win the seed right for the first time in three years.

Ekiden commentator Tetsuhiko Kim, who himself competed in the Hakone Ekiden with Waseda University, said.

Yoshitomi of Tokai University was dizzy (from low blood sugar), but Kawakami was in a good position. Kawakami was in a good position. When he received the tag, the gap to Tokai University was 32 seconds. It was a very tight gap, but I sensed that Yoshitomi’s pace was not good, so I quickly passed him.

Foreshadowing” that led to the big comeback

While Kawakami has been the focus of attention as the key to Hoho University’s seeding, Kim believes that there was a “foreshadowing” behind the big comeback.

He said, “In most of the sections of the race, each runner was running in about 10th place (there were 20 teams competing). The final runner, Kawakami, has been the focus of much attention, but the runners in front of him were able to maintain a stable position, and that’s what made the big comeback possible.

In this year’s Hakone Ekiden, all the universities except Seigaku are very close in ability. No matter who finished in the top rank, it was not surprising that they were not seeded. The key was to avoid mistakes and failures. There were no outstanding rankings in each section, but I think that the fact that the University of Law was able to pass the torch to the final section without making any mistakes led to the seeding.

Kawakami expressed his relief after the race.

Kawakami said after the race that she was relieved. “There is a difference between heaven and hell between having (the seeding) and not having it, and it will change the way I spend my year. This is the Hakone that will lead to next year.

On the other hand, the prestigious Waseda University lost its seedings for the first time in three years, as it slumped to 13th place overall, although it was not underestimated. Mr. Kim reveals the surprising reason for their defeat.

The strategy of Waseda University was to get ahead of the pack and run away with the race. From the first section of the outward route, they had Tatsuhito Igawa (3rd year), Yuhi Nakatani (4th year), Naoki Ota (4th year), and other speedy runners in the 27-minute range for 10,000m, all in the early stages of the race. However, they were unable to improve on their 16th, 14th, and 13th place finishes.

Not only the three of them, but all the athletes from Waseda University were not in good shape. Unlike the University of Law, most of them languished at the bottom of the section. This is not a very good way to aim for the top. Waseda University is a traditional school that has won the Hakone 13 times. It attracts the best athletes from all over the country and knows the training methods and theories to win. Perhaps there was an unexpected accident that affected the entire team. I heard that NHK, where I was doing live commentary, was unable to get any comments from Waseda University just before the game. This is unusual.

Yutaka Sagara, the coach of Waseda University, who lost his seeding right and will have to start from the preliminary round, left a frustrated comment after the match.

We couldn’t get the players on the same page. In today’s Hakone, you can’t cheat. We need to put aside our naivety and start fighting as a team. ……”

With or without the right to be seeded, the difference between heaven and earth in the HAKONE Ekiden is enormous. With joy and regret in their hearts, the athletes look ahead to the next race.

  • Photo Kyodo News

Photo Gallery1 total

Photo Selection

Check out the best photos for you.

Related Articles