Runners in the 2009 International Chiba Ekiden
third leg

Ekiden (駅伝) is a term referring to a long-distance relay running race, typically on roads.[1][2] The Japanese term originally referred to a post-horse or stagecoach which transmitted communication by stages.


The term originated in Japan, although the concept of a long distance relay race is not unique to any country. The first ekiden race was sponsored by the Yomiuri Shimbun in 1917, and was run over three days between the old Japanese capital of Kyoto and the modern capital of Tokyo, a distance of 508 km, to celebrate the anniversary of the moving of the capital to Tokyo.

As written in Japanese, Ekiden combines the characters for "station" (駅) and "transmit" (伝). This name was coined by the poet Toki Zemmaro (1885–1980), who was head of the Yomiuri Shimbun's Social Affairs Department at the time. The original concept of the race hearkens back to Japan's old Tōkaidō communication and transportation system in which stations were posted at intervals along the road. In the race, each runner on a team runs the distance from one "station" to the next, and then hands off a cloth sash, or tasuki, to the next runner.

The lengths of ekiden in Japan can vary greatly, as can the number of runners on a team. For example, in the national junior high ekiden championship, 5 girls cover 12 kilometers and 6 boys cover 18 kilometers. The national high school championship involves 5 girls in a 21 kilometer race and 7 boys in 42.195 kilometer race. In the national inter-prefecture championships, 9 women run 42.195 kilometers and 7 men run 48 kilometers. For the collegiate Hakone Ekiden, a 2-day event, 10 male athletes for each team run 219 kilometers. Each runner covers just over a half marathon. The mid-December National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships, 6 runners cover 42.195 kilometers. In the January 1 National Corporate Men's Ekiden Championships, 7 runners cover 100.0 kilometers. For the mid January national open championships (teams composed of selected junior high, high school and open athletes), the distances are 42.195 for the women and 48.0 for the men. Notably in distance, in the Round-Kyūshū Ekiden, a 10 days event, 72 segments cover 1064 kilometers around Kyushu Island and it is the longest relay race in the world. Read more detail at Japan Running News.

In Japan

Typical university cheering leaders at a collegiate ekiden race, with mixture of American style cheerleaders and traditional Japanese yell leaders

One of the most popular modern ekiden in Japan is the Hakone Ekiden, which features teams of 10 male students from various Japanese universities of the Tokyo (Kanto) region. This race from central Tokyo along Tokyo Bay, past Yokohama to Hakone and back is held over two days at the New Year, covering 219 kilometers. It is a popular spectator sport that draws large crowds (a million or more) along the whole route and receives full network television coverage nationwide over the two days.[2][3][4] Runners in the race compete to set individual records (e.g., stage times, number of schools passed) as well as to support their teams, and the race is considered to display many aspects of Japanese culture and spirit,[2] including individual perseverance, identity within a group, and the importance within the Japanese hierarchy of allegiance to a major university. In the latter matter, there is a similarity to American school sports allegiance. The competitive level compares well with the highest levels of American universities. This comparison is based on participants' (Hakone Ekiden and NCAA Division 1 championships) personal best marks at 5000 meters, although in the Hakone Ekiden each runner covers just over a half marathon.

Secondary schools

Comparison to cross country

For the athletes, ekiden provides an experience quite different from for track and field. In Japanese secondary and tertiary education, ekiden racing gives the school's long distance runners a team racing experience that parallels but is yet different from cross country running as practiced in North American secondary and tertiary schools.[5]

School-based teams and competition in the name of one's school are highly prized concepts common to both Japan and North America. It has been pointed out that such fervor over school sports is not shared by all, such as Korea where after-school academic clubs are more the norm,[6] a point of worry for some track and field enthusiasts.[7]

Other similarities between high school cross country as conducted in North America and high school ekiden in Japan include the season (autumn), approximate team size (5 to 7 competitors), and competition taking place on non-track venues. The differences are significant.

Unlike the American school sports clear distinction of "track season" and "cross country season", the Japanese autumn ekiden races are intermingled with standard track competitions, although many autumn track meets have a narrow focus, calling themselves "long distance" meets. Japan has a very highly structured format leading to a national high school championship for track in early August and for ekiden in late December,[5] whereas the USA school format ends at state championships in both sports. Japanese school ekiden teams compete infrequently, some only once or twice between September and December, unless they qualify to go on to higher levels; nationals are held in late December. American school cross country teams typically race almost weekly during September and October, with a narrowed set of school teams competing for state championships in late October or November. December post season American races like the Nike Cross Nationals and the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships are not officially school based.

Ekidens are usually road races, and as such require intensive route management and police traffic control. Cross country races can include grass, mud, sand, and steep slopes. Each ekiden competitor runs a different distance, whereas all cross country runners run the same course and start at the same time . Some Japanese high school ekiden stages are longer and some stages are shorter than the "standard" 5000 meters for USA high school cross country (see below). Ekiden competition does not highlight the single individual winner of the race as in cross country, but ekiden analysis does highlight individual fastest runners in each stage; these runners may be in the middle of the field. Each ekiden runner has to run without reference to his or her own teammates for help in judging pace,[5] whereas cross country team races can include strategies like "pack" running. This same contrast can be made between track and ekiden; only the runners in the first ekiden stage run as a group; later stage runners must judge for themselves the appropriate pace and the decisions to challenge and pass other runners, whose abilities might be significantly different and whose position was determined by the efforts of preceding teammates.

All-Japan High School Ekiden Championships

National championships are held for junior high and high school teams in late December. A series of city (2010 Tokyo city championships video), prefecture and regional championships in November (Japanrunningnews) select the representative school teams for the national championship in late December.[8]

Race format

Although there is no single definition of ekiden format, for purposes of the Japanese national championships for junior high school and high school, the format has been set. High school girls cover a half marathon; 5 runners follow the 6 – 4.1 – 3 – 3 – 5 kilometer pattern (total 21.1 kilometers). High school boys cover a full marathon; 7 runners follow the 10 – 3 – 8.1075 – 8.0875 – 3 – 5 – 5 kilometer pattern (total 42.195 kilometers).[9] See the Kyoto 2011 girls course map; 2011 boys course map; an interactive map for 2011 showing elevation change too.

Race results

Race Results click here For 2011 team results in Japanese, check: girls boys. The following links provide extensive English results for 2010 and 2011. Japan Running News provides extensive English commentary: 2011 pre race commentary and 2011 post race commentary.

All-Japan junior high school ekiden championship

In mid December, 48 teams representing all the regions and prefectures of Japan gather in Yamaguchi City of Yamaguchi Prefecture for the annual All-Japan Junior High School Ekiden Championships. For junior high school girls, a team of 5 girls run stages that follow the 3 – 2 – 2 – 2 – 3 kilometer pattern (total 12 kilometers). The boys team consists of 6 runners following the 3 – 3 – 3 – 3 – 3 – 3 kilometer pattern (total 18 kilometers).[10] The 2011 race was the 19th annual competition. The junior high championship ekiden is not a road race but rather each runner runs a loop within the confines of a park. The boys team (6 boys) complete 18 kilometers, in a 3k-3k-3k-3k-3k-3k pattern. The girls team (5 runners) complete 12 kilometers, in a 3k-2k-2k-2k-3k pattern. In 2008 the winning boys team had an average pace of 5:01.9/mile or 9:26/3000 meters; the girls team had an average pace of 5:21.6/mile or just over 10:00/3000 meters.[11] Further articles in Japanese: 2008 Meet Site, 2008 Team Results; 2009 Meet Site, 2009 Team Results; 2010 Meet Site, 2010 Team Results; 2011 Meet Site.

Many of the elite high school and junior high school runners from these two races will be selected to represent their prefectures in the All-Japan Interprefectural Ekiden Championships.

Local and regional

Nihonkai Boys Ekiden – Nihonkai Kurayoshi Girls Ekiden

A 5-stage 21.0975 km high school girls ekiden is held in Kurayoshi, Tottori. Ninety high school teams participated in the 26th annual meet on October 2, 2011. meet website. In the boys race, the 31st annual Nihonkai Ekiden, 128 teams participated in the 7 stage race. Both the boys and girls races are exactly the same configuration as the national high school championships.

East Japan Women's Ekiden

The annual East Japan Women's Ekiden is held in Fukushima, Fukushima. Nine stages cover 42.195 kilometers. It is a regional version of the Empress Cup National Women's Ekiden in January, with 18 prefectural teams made up of runners ranging from junior high to professional. The winning team in the 24th annual running in 2008 was from Tokyo, with a time of 2:19:15.[12]

2011 Stage Best Performances

First Stage (6.0 km) – Yuko Shimizu (Nagano Pref.) – 19:04

Second Stage (4.0 km) – Hitomi Nakamura (Kanagawa Pref.) – 12:58

Third Stage (3.0 km) – Haruka Wada (Saitama Pref.) – 9:58

Fourth Stage (3.0 km) – Yuka Kobayashi (Tochigi Pref.) – 9:18

Fifth Stage (5.0875 km) – Yurie Doi (Chiba Pref.) – 16:21

Sixth Stage (4.1075 km) – Sakiko Naito (Chiba Pref.) – 12:44 – Course Record

Seventh Stage (4.0 km) – Saki Nakayama (Saitama Pref.) – 13:01

Eighth Stage (3.0 km) – Yukine Oguchi (Nagano Pref.) – 9:15

Ninth Stage (10.0 km) – Mika Yoshikawa (Kanagawa Pref.) – 32:25

2011 Top Team Results

1. Kanagawa Pref. – 2:16:57 – CR

2. Nagano Pref. – 2:17:03 (CR)

3. Chiba Pref. – 2:18:55

4. Fukushima Pref. – 2:19:19

5. Saitama Pref. – 2:19:22

6. Tokyo – 2:19:28


Banners naming participating schools will be visible throughout the typical ekiden race course.

In addition to the above mention Hakone Ekiden Japanese Wiki page at the beginning of the new year, there are many other collegiate ekiden races.

Izumo Ekiden

The Izumo Ekiden in Izumo City, Shimane Prefecture of western Japan marks the beginning of the collegiate ekiden season and is for male university athletes. Teams come from all over Japan. The race is 6 stages (8k, 5.8k, 8.5k, 6.5k, 5k, 10.2k.) covering 43.1 kilometers. The 20th annual race was held on October 13, 2008.[13] Since 1998, a select team of Ivy league alumni runners from the United States has competed and found the competition quite stiff. The Ivy league representatives have finished in the last half of the field each time.[14] In the October 10, 2011 race, the Ivy League Team of Christopher Landry, Scott Smith, Landon Peacock, Andrew Benford, Thomas Robbins and Jonathan Grey finished 8th out of 21 teams official results website.

All-Japan Collegiate Women's Ekiden Championship (Morinomiyako Ekiden)

The annual All-Japan Collegiate Women's Ekiden Championship, begun in 1981 and also called Morinomiyako Ekiden, is held in Sendai Miyage Prefecture at the end of October. It is a 6-stage, 38.6 kilometer race from Miyagi Track and Field Grounds to Sendai City Hall. Video showing Sendai course and terrain.

All-Japan Collegiate (Men's) Ekiden Championship

On the first Sunday of November, the men compete in the 8 stage, 106.8 kilometer National Collegiate Ekiden Championship in Aichi and Mie Prefectures.[15] This race is the second of the season's big three, the first being the Izumo Ekiden and the last being the Hakone Ekiden. Here, 27 teams battle for the national title. The race starts in front of Atsuta Shrine in Nagoya City and then proceeds out of the city, along the coast and 106.8 kilometers later to Ise Grand Shrine in Ise, Mie Prefecture. Two versions of the course map are available: the meet website's own map, and TV Asahi's google map version. TV Asahi provides 2011 video highlights.

Biwako University Ekiden

More than 20 Kansai area universities gather for the eight-stage, 83.6 km Biwako University Ekiden. It has been likened to the Kanto area's Hakone Ekiden.[16]

Shikoku Ekiden

The Shikoku Ekiden is five-stage, 21.0975 km, run November 20, 2011.

All-Japan Collegiate Women's Invitational Ekiden

Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, is host to the All-Japan Collegiate Women's Invitational Ekiden, the 6th annual having been held on December 23‚ 2008. The race is 6 stages and a distance of 30.67 kilometers.[17] (Japanese wiki page). 2009 results in English. The competition was recessed for 2010 and 2011, with hopes of securing sponsorships in 2012 or later, says the Inter-University Athletic Union of Japan PDF.

Tokyo-Hakone Ekiden

Waseda University's runner in 2007 Hakone Ekiden 10th Leg.

January 2 and 3 is the date for the annual Hakone Ekiden. The Izumo and National Collegiate ekidens plus the Hakone Ekiden have been coined the triple crown of collegiate ekiden.[18]


Fukui Super Ladies' Ekiden, November 11, 2011 for university and corporate women's teams (meet site).

Other major collegiate ekiden races include Western Japan Regional University Women's Ekiden, Eastern Japan Regional University Women's Ekiden, National Invitational Ekiden

Kansai Intercollegiate Ekiden


Other major events

All-Japan Interprefectural Ekiden Championships


The All-Japan Interprefectural Ekiden Championships are held in January. The Empress Cup – Interprefectural Women's Ekiden is held in Kyoto (course map), on the third Sunday in January. The Interprefectural Men's Ekiden is held in Hiroshima (course map), in recent years on the fourth Sunday of January.

Hokkaido Aomori Prefecture Akita Prefecture Iwate Prefecture Yamagata Prefecture Miyagi Prefecture Fukushima Prefecture Niigata Prefecture Tochigi Prefecture Gunma Prefecture Ibaraki Prefecture Nagano Prefecture Saitama Prefecture Chiba Prefecture Tōkyō Metropolis Kanagawa Prefecture Toyama Prefecture Ishikawa Prefecture Gifu Prefecture Fukui Prefecture Yamanashi Prefecture Shizuoka Prefecture Aichi Prefecture Shiga Prefecture Kyoto Prefecture Mie Prefecture Nara Prefecture Hyōgo Prefecture Ōsaka Prefecture Wakayama Prefecture Tottori Prefecture Okayama Prefecture Shimane Prefecture Hiroshima Prefecture Yamaguchi Prefecture Kagawa Prefecture Tokushima Prefecture Ehime Prefecture Kōchi Prefecture Fukuoka Prefecture Ōita Prefecture Saga Prefecture Nagasaki Prefecture Kumamoto Prefecture Miyazaki Prefecture Kagoshima Prefecture Okinawa Prefecture Tōkyō Metropolis Kanagawa Prefecture Ōsaka Prefecture Wakayama PrefectureRegions and Prefectures of Japan 2.svg
About this image

Men's All-Japan Interprefectural Ekiden Championship

Runners in 2007 meeting 7th Leg.

In the Men's All-Japan Interprefectural Ekiden Championship (RESULTS), 7 runners run 48 kilometers in stages of 7k 3k 8.5k 5k 8.5k 3k and 13k[19] (Hiroshima course map). In both races, each team is composed of runners selected to represent one prefecture, a total of 47 teams in each race. The majority of the team members are high school and junior high school elite runners. Junior high runners are assigned to the two 3k stages and high school runners are assigned to the 7k, the 5k and 8.5k stages. Open runners are placed in the remaining 8.5k stage and the 13k stage.[20] In 2009 the team from Nagano took its 5th title in 6 years.[21][22][23][24] Results and discussion 2009, 2010, 2011, in English. Live 2012 internet and television coverage, official meet website in Japanese.

Women's All-Japan Interprefectural Ekiden Championship – The Empress Cup

The Women's All-Japan Interprefectural Ekiden Championships – Empress Cup – is held in Kyoto on the third Sunday in January. The 2012 running marks the 30th annual event. Forty-seven teams from the 47 prefectures of Japan compete. The course is the same as the course for the high school boys national ekiden race held on the third Sunday of December (see above) (map in Japanese), except that the women's relay has 9 stages (rather than 7) over the 42.195 kilometers. The stages are 6k, 4k, 3k, 4k, 4.0175k, 4.0875k, 4k, 3k, and 10k. The two 3k stages are reserved for junior high athletes and generally high school athletes run the five stages that are 4k or just over 4k. Collegiate and open runners take the 6k and 10k stages. The mixed-age squads maintain a rapid pace.

In 2009, the team from Kyoto took its 13th championship and, as of that year, in the ekiden's 20 years Kyoto has only twice placed outside the top 6.[25][26][27][28][29][30] Okayama took its first ever title in 2010, Kyoto reclaimed it in 2011, and in 2012 Kyoto finished second, a minute back from the winning team from neighboring Osaka.[31]

School-Age participants

Of the 94 junior high school boys running the 3k stages in 2009, 62 were between 8:30 and 9:10. Of the 94 junior high school girls running 3k stages, 39 were between 9:21 and 10:00. Of the 188 high school girls running the 4 legs of 4000m to 4175m, 68 were under 10:00/3k pace. The 141 high school boys ran 3 distances: 7k (34 were between 20:10 and 21:00) or 5k (25 were between 14:28 and 15:00) or 8.5k (28 were between 23:55 and 26:00).


International_Chiba_Ekiden|Chiba International Ekiden

Inaugurated in 1988, the November Chiba International Ekiden (2008–2011 results posted) was two separate races – one for men and one for women. From 2007, it has changed format into a combine male/female race.[32][33] In 2008, 13 teams from 11 countries participated; in 2011 it was 12 teams from 10 countries. The race is contested in six stages over 42.195 kilometers, exactly a marathon. Course MAP. The race begins and ends at the Chiba Sports Center Track and Field Complex (on the monorail). The first 5k stage, third 10k stage, and fifth 10k stage are reserved as men's stages, while 5k second stage, 5k fourth stage and 7.195k sixth stage are reserved for women.[34] Race commentaries in English: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 2011.

Yokohama International Women's Ekiden

The Yokohama International Women`s Ekiden, from 2000 to 2008, was won 7 times by foreign teams. Results 1983–2009. The 27th annual running of the race on February 22, 2009, was the final time. The race was run in six-stages over a 42.195 kilometer course beginning and ending at Yokohama's Red Brick Warehouse (Akarenga) arts space. lineups for all teams (in Japanese) "With last year's demise of the Tokyo International Women's Marathon, the ekiden is being replaced with a new Yokohama International Women's Marathon to take place in November."[35] (Japanese wiki page).


The All-Japan Corporate Ekiden Championships structure involves regional qualifying races (more details) throughout Japan in November followed by a national championship for women in December and men on New Year Day.

All-Japan Women's Corporate Ekiden Championship

The All-Japan Women's Corporate (Jitsugyodan) Ekiden Championship are held in mid December after 3 regional qualifying ekiden ( result 2011 summary). Television broadcast homepage, with results (Japanese). Race results and discussion in English: 2008 ; 2009; 2010; 2011 race preview; English 2011 post race summary.

All-Japan Men's Corporate Ekiden Championship

The All-Japan Men's Corporate Team Ekiden Championships, held in Maebashi, Gunma Prefecture on New Years Day, is also referred to as New Year Ekiden. This race for men's teams covers 100 kilometers in 7 stages.[36][37] It has been claimed that the high TV viewership of this meet makes it the central motivating event in the annual calendar for professional Japanese male runners. Television coverage web page; course map video. Race results and discussion in English: English 2010; 2011; 2012.

Asahi Ekiden

Main article: w:ja:朝日駅伝

Following the men's New Year's Day race in Gunma, the men race again in Fukuoka Prefecture, the Asahi Ekiden (Japanese wiki page). The 60th annual version was held on January 12, 2009. A mixture of corporate and university teams competed, 21 teams taking part in the 7-stage, 99.9 kilometer ekiden.[38] race web site (in Japanese), map. The 2011 running was the final running of the race, sponsor announcement.

Women's Kita-Kyushu Ekiden

The corporate women's teams take their turn, racing in the Women's Kita-Kyushu Ekiden. The 20th annual race was held on January 18, 2009, from Fukuoka to Kokura on Japan's southern island of Kyushu. results (in Japanese).[39] The distance is 32.8 kilometers. The open division women run it in 5 stages and the high school women's teams run it in 6 stages. First place in 2009 was 1:43:56 for the open and 1:47:22 for the high school. Eighth place for both was just over 1:50. 1:50 is about a 10:03 3k pace. The 2012 race was the 23rd competition; official video of 2012 race.

Minami Kyushu Ekiden

On February 1, 2009, 51 one teams competed the 63rd annual 7 stage 61.25 km race starting in Ebino City, Miyazaki Prefecture. The first place team managed a 15:15/5k pace and the 8th place team was 15:45/5k pace.

Gifu to Nagoya Ekiden

February 1, 2009 marked the 63rd annual Gifu (Gifu Prefecture) to Nagoya (Aichi Prefecture) Ekiden for men. The race is 6 stages covering 52.6k for the open division and 6 stages covering 40.2k for the high school division. The open winners in 2009 covered the distance in 2:31:14 (14:25 5k pace) and the high school winners were 1:59.15 (14:50 5k pace). The 8th place high school boys team managed a 15:15 5k pace.

Kanto Region

Kanto Region is a region of Japan, and the south and western portions includes Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures. The winter months provide a full schedule of community races. The races below are listed in calendar order, starting in October. The listing is not exhaustive for the region and does not include the exclusively secondary and tertiary school and professional ekidens which are linked to the prefecture and national championships (see above). And the many other regions of Japan would have similar calendars.

Tamagawa Ekiden Carnival

The first Saturday in October (October 5, 2011) is the date set for the Tamagawa Ekiden Carnival. The race is an out-and-back relay along the Tama River, map. Each runner goes out and returns to the central meet site. The long course version is 23 kilometers (10 km~5 km~3 km~5 km), and the short course version is 12 kilometers (5 km~3 km~1 km~3 km). The race is held at Furuichi track and field facility (古市場陸上競技場), and a good map can be found at the facility's Facebook page: race location map; clicking brings up a Bing map. This ekiden strives to be inclusive of all ages and abilities.

East Japan International (Sagamihara) Ekiden

The first Sunday in October is when the East Japan International Ekiden (東日本国際駅伝) is held in (Sagamihara, Kanagawa). The meet proclaims itself for teams from "my pace" to "elite." It is held in Sagamihara's Sagami General Depot (ja:相模総合補給廠); entrance via Gate 5. The proximity of American and Japanese culture lends the international flavor to the event. A post-race American lunch picnic is a special feature. The race event is sponsored by Running Kanagawa and various local governments.

There are entry categories for all ages and speeds. Relay distances are 25k, 20k, and 15k, all divided into 4 stages. Registration is usually closed by mid August. (Contact information 〒231-0004 横浜市中区元浜町3–21–2 ヘリオス関内ビル4F East Japan International Ekiden, TEL:045-222-8412). The meet website proclaims that 2,645 teams were entered in 2011.

Shounan (Hiratsuka Kanagawa) Ekiden

The third Sunday in November (November 20, 2011) is the date for the Shounan Hiratsuka Ekiden (湘南ひらつか駅伝) in Hiratsuka (Kanagawa) (map and information). The format is 4 stage race, but the distance per stage varies from 1 km (lower elementary) to 5 km (open). Male, female and mixed teams are welcomed, limited to 70 teams; individuals who come can be linked up with a team on day of meet.

Okutama (Tokyo) Ekiden

On the first Sunday of December, the Okutama Ekiden has been run in the mountain valleys of Ōme of Western Tokyo annually since 1936. It is a mixture of local university teams, serious running clubs and high school teams. In the December 4, 2011 race, 111 open teams, 29 college teams, 4 high school teams, and 50 women's teams participated.

One of the hallmarks of this ekiden is that it literally parallels a train line and races from station to station to station. Course map pdf. Based on the 2011 race, men's teams run 6 stages totaling 47 kilometers (7.4 km – 8.4 km – 6.5 km – 6.3 km – 8.4 km – 7.4 km). This race begins 10:00 at the Ome City Hall. The women's ekiden is 3 stages over 11.1 kilometers (3.6 km – 3.6 km – 3.9 km). It begins at Mitake Station (御嶽駅前) at 11:30. Slow teams are subject to a time limit. Start picture. A foreign runner`s report

Saitama Elementary Ekiden

The first Saturday of December marks the Saitama Elementary Ekiden, held at Kumagaya Sports Park. In 2011, 44 mixed club teams competed in the following pattern: girl boy girl boy girl boy. Each runner ran 1.5 kilometers. Results.

Saitama Ekiden

The second Sunday of January (January 15, 2012) is the annual Saitama Ekiden. The 2012 race was the 79th annual. The open men's race is 6 stages covering 50.9 kilometers. High school boys cover 41.7 km in 6 stages. Open women and high school girls cover 22.8 km in 5 stages. Application for participation closed November 11, 2011. Meet website, secondary site. The race begins in Fukaya City and ends in Ageo, with the shorter races starting at way points in between. Forty open boys and men's teams, 40 high school boys teams, and almost 20 high school girls teams typify recent participation levels. 2012 results in Japanese.

A junior high race is conducted at the same time, the recent meets involving 60 junior high girls teams and 60 junior high boys. Girls run (3.2 km~2 km~2 km~2 km~3 km), and boys run (3.2 km~3 km~3 ~3 ~3 ~3 ). The junior high race is conducted within Kumagaya Sports Park.

Shibuya (Tokyo) New Ekiden

On the third Sunday of January, a four-stage 11.6 km ekiden is held annually in Yoyogi Park of Shibuya (Tokyo). The race is called Shibuya New Ekiden (しぶやニュー駅伝確定結果). The 58th annual running was January 20, 2008 and was attended by over 204 teams. See Mayor`s report in English, a 2009 Namban Running Club report.

The January 15, 2012 race was the 62nd annual race. According to the 2012 results page (a series of pdfs), 35 girls junior high teams, 72 boys junior high teams, 27 open women's teams, 152 open men's teams, and 26 over-40 teams participated, a significant growth in recent years. Additionally 25 other 7-member teams of mixed age (which must have male and female from upper elementary and from junior high, plus an over 40 contestant and an open male and female contest over high school) competed, by adding on two 1,350 meter stages for the elementary runners and an additional 2,900 meter stage for a total of 7 stages.

The ekiden is run in heats, so that each category has its own start time. Preregistration for this annual event is open during the second and third week of November, at the Shibuya Sports Center and the Ward Central Office.

Sagamihara (Kanagawa) Ekiden

The third Sunday in January is the traditional date for the Sagamihara (Kanagawa) Ekiden, sponsored by the Sagamihara Amateur Sports Association. The race is held at Asamizo-Stadium park (park website in Japanese). The 2012 competition was the 72nd annual event.

Competition is categorized into junior high, high school, collegiate and open. Collegiate and open teams (10 in 2012) start the 6 stage race at 9:00 and run a 6-stage course around the outside of the park. The 2012 winning time was 1:53:12. The high school teams (20 in 2012, gender unspecified), starting at 9:10, do the same. Winning time in 2012 was 1:56:30. Open teams (69 teams in 2012, gender unspecified) start a 5-stage race at 9:20, using the same inside-the-park course that the junior high teams run later. The junior high 5-stage race begins at 10:30. In 2012, nearly 20 teams for each gender participated, the boys winner was 44:24 (1 minute slower than the open winner) and the girls winner was 51:06.

Tokyo German Village (Chiba) Ekiden

The fourth Saturday in January has been designated for the Tokyo German Village Ekiden, which began in 2011. January 28, 2012 was the second. The race is conducted in the park of Tokyo German Village, Chiba. The 4-member teams complete 20 km, with each stage running two 2.5 km laps within the park. Pair runs and "chibiko" children's runs are also held. The event is limited to 600 teams. There is a post-race BBQ and beer garden. Information and video.

OkuMusashi (Saitama) Ekiden

On the last Sunday of January, the OkuMusashi Ekiden (see 奥むさし駅伝競走大会) has been held in Hannō City, Saitama Prefecture, since 2002. A similar competition had been held for 48 years, but was ended in 1999. The current race is an ekiden, with participating teams being a mixture of local university teams, serious running clubs and high school teams; the vast majority are male teams. In 2012 (the tenth annual), 59 high school teams representing 52 high schools entered, along with 161 teams from universities and running clubs. Most university squads use this race to give younger runners a chance for competition, giving the high school teams a chance to finish near the top. Hanno city meet page in Japanese.

Runners run up the Koma River valley; view from train paralleling the race, on the other side of the river

The race is 38.792 kilometers (net vertical gain of 120 meters but with many gentle ups and downs), starting at Higashi Hanno station. The course winds through the city of Hanno, then up the long, narrow valley toward Chichibu, with a turn-around at Nishi Agano station. There are 6 legs or stages, the first three being up hill to Nishi Agano and the returning 3 descending back to Hanno City. The first and last leg are just over 9 kilometers, and the middle stages are between 4.2 and 5.4 k and the exchange points are situated near rail stations along the valley. The race uses highway 299 (which is blocked off for the race) up the narrow, winding valley and parallels the Koma River and the Seibu rail line.

Runners run up the Koma River valley; view from train paralleling the race, on the other side of the river

A special train is timed to take spectators up the valley, departing Higashi Hanno station just after the start and arriving at the race turn-around, at Nishi Agano station, in time to catch the action. Along the way, glimpses of the race can be seen from the rail cars. A timely return train brings spectators back to the finish. For more details, see a running course description for casual runners.

Odaiba Ekiden

Sunday January 29, 2012, was the 4th annual Odaiba Ekiden, held at Shiokaze Park (潮風公園). The race is conducted within the park and is divided into 5 stages of 5.0k for high school and above, 3.0k for elementary school and above. Registration closes in mid-December. (Information: 〒108-0023 港区芝浦3–1–19 港区スポーツセンター内; TEL 03(3452)4151; Website with map; more information. Odaiba is a popular waterfront park and shopping area, in the bay in front of the city of Tokyo.

Runners begin the first stage of the 14.9k ekiden in Hachiōji. See a wide-angle start picture

Hachioji (Tokyo) All-Kanto Yume Kaido Ekiden

On the first Sunday of February, from in front of Hachioji JR Station, the city of Hachiōji-sponsored All-Kanto Hachioji Yume Kaido (Dream Street) Ekiden (全関東八王子夢街道駅伝競走大会) begins. Meet website, 2011 start picture, course map. The course proceeds past Nishi Hachioji Station and loops around Keio Hazama and Meijirodai stations.

The 2012 edition of the race is the 62nd annual. Since 2001 the meet has expanded its categories, with increased emphasis on junior high and on separating men's open and collegiate. For the February 5, 2012 meet, 203 men's open teams, 78 men's collegiate teams, 68 women's open (including a few collegeiate) teams, 72 boys' high school teams, 23 girls' high school teams, 25 boys' junior high teams and 16 girls' junior high teams were entered, nearly 500 relay teams. (Registration for the meet is open from first of November to first of December.) The printed meet program names approximately 1000 volunteers, not including innumerable police and traffic regulators along the 10 kilometers of city streets.

Hachioji is home to a large number of colleges. What is notable is that so few colleges and universities fielded a women's team for this race.

The race starts in two waves, at 10:00 (high school boys and collegiate and open men) and 10:10 (junior high boys and all women's teams). Teams in the first wave run 20.7 kilometers, divided into 4 stages (4.7k – 6.2k – 5.4k – 4.4k). The teams in the second wave run 14.9 kilometers; the high school and open women divide the distance into 4 stages (4.7k – 2.3k – 3.4k – 4.4k) and the junior high teams divide the distance into 5 stages. Details in Japanese.

Tokyo International Exchange Ekiden

The Tokyo International Exchange Ekiden (国際交流駅伝) is held on the second Saturday of February (February 11, 2012 – registration closes mid January). Information can be found at the non profit Japan Society for International Exchange in Sports, with a 2012 informational pdf. The race is limited to contestants 18 and older. Teams of three members link to relay the tasuki in three 5 km stages. The course begins and ends at Takebashi, encompassing one loop around the Tokyo Imperial Palace for each stage.

Runners gather at the finish line at Lake Sagami State Park for speeches and awards. Cooperative compliance with such ceremony is a hallmark of Japanese events.

Kanagawa Ekiden

The Kanagawa Ekiden, held on the second Sunday of February, is an inter-city competition. Teams represent cites or towns, and are composed of a mixture of junior high, high school and open/collegiate runners. Junior high The 2012 competition is the 66th annual meet. Since 2003, the course has been a 51.5 kilometer race (in seven stages) from Hadano City's Chuo Sports Park (秦野市中央運動公園) to Lake Sagami State Park (県立相模湖公園). Hadano city is not far from the US Atsugi Naval Air Facility. Lake Sagami is west of Hachioji and Takao. Sagamiko Station is one stop beyond Takao, with 2 or 3 local trains per hour connecting. The Sagamiko State Park is a ten-minute walk from the station.

The race starts at 9:00 and runners will start appearing at Sagamiko State Park shortly after 11:30.

The teams for this race are mostly, but not entirely, students. Though it is a competition between communities, participation is not open to the general running public. Results of present and past competitions, in Japanese. The race format places junior high boys in the first leg (3.0 km) and junior high or high school girls in the 4th leg (2.7 km). The other 5 legs are longer, usually run by males, and with no age restrictions.

Nissan Stadium (Kanagawa) Ekiden

On the third Saturday of February (February 18, 2012 – the 5th annual race) Nissan Stadium is the host of an ekiden. A 22.2 km 4 stage relay (8.2~4.7~4.7~4.6) for junior high age and up, and an 14.3 km 4 stage "Enjoy" relay (5.1~3.1~3.1~3.0) for elementary and up. Registration closes early-mid January; limit 500 teams each category. Meet host Nissan Stadium's race webpage. (Contact information: 〒105-0013 東京都港区浜松町2–6–8 伸和ビル6階 TEL:03-6459-0011).

Tamagawa Riverside Ekiden

Kawasaki City hosts the Tamagawa Riverside Ekiden in Kawasaki on the third Sunday of March (March 18, 2012). It runs along the Tamagawa, or the Tama River. The competition is limited to 1350 teams, and registration is closed by the first of February.

Competition is divided into three categories: family/kids (2 km~1 km~1 km~2 km), short for junior high and above (3 km~3 km~2 km~1 km), and long for high school and above (10 km~5 km~3 km~3 km~5 km). Mixed teams are permitted and masters (40+) teams can run the long course. Website includes map, another map; host city meet website.

Tama-ko (Tokyo) Ekiden

Tama-ko is the lower of two man-made lakes west of Tokorozawa and partially within Higashi Yamato City. Another map (reverse angle).

The Tama-ko Ekiden near Lake Tama on the Lake Tama Bicycle Trail is an example of a citizen's ekiden, hosted by the city of Higashi Yamato in western Tokyo, south of the lake.

The Tama-ko Ekiden has two versions. The men's open and high school boys' (may include girl members) teams run a combined 4-stage relay of 28.968 km around Lake Tama. The remaining contestants of a wide assortment of categories run a 4-stage race of 9.628 km within the confines of Sayama Koen park; (Park map).

The race is held on Vernal Equinox – 春分の日, which in 2012 is on Tuesday, March 20. It is a national holiday in Japan. Registration typically ends January 31; there is a limit of 300 teams. In 2009, over 240 4-person teams competed, representing all ages. Meet information in Japanese; Local contact information: 電話:042-563-2111, 〒207–8585  東京都東大和市中央3–930.

The race of 2012 is the 22nd annual event. Interestingly, for many of the first 20 years, the reconstruction of the dam forming Lake Tama forced the event organizers to eliminate the round-the-lake format and use local streets instead of the park.

Tokyo Ekiden Carnival

The Ekiden Carnival, held in early May (May 8, 2011 – registration closed April 11), is conducted along the Arakawa River Cycling Road: (course map), access map..

There are 3 courses: (10 km~5 km~3 km~5 km)(5 km~5 km~5 km~5 km) and (5 km~3 km~1 km~3 km).

Yokota (Tokyo) Ekiden

This ekiden is hosted by the American forces at their facilities on the western side of Tokyo. The race is open to everyone but is limited to 1000 teams; 4 members each run 5k. The event on June 6, 2009 is the 25th annual ekiden. The host organization is Yokota Striders.

In other regions

Kyushu Isshu Ekiden – Grand Tour Kyushu

The Prince Takamatsu Cup Nishinippon Round-Kyūshū Ekiden, held annually and from 2011 referred to Grand Tour Kyushu, follows a thousand-kilometer (72 stages covering 1056.6 km) course in Kyūshū and is sponsored by the Nishi Nippon Shimbun (newspaper) of Fukuoka.[40] The race begins in Nagasaki and consists of one loop of the coast of Japan's southernmost main island of Kyushu, heading south, turning and heading north through Miyazaki, and ending in Fukuoka (map); the original 10-day venue has been reduced to 8 days of running, with 6 to 8 legs each day. The 60th running was held October 30 to November 6, 2011 website. Nine teams represent their prefectures. 2010 results in English, 2011 midrace results in English.

Outside Japan


Honolulu Rainbow EKIDEN: The Honolulu Rainbow EKIDEN began in March 3, 2013 as Hawaii's first "Ekiden" relay race for amateur runners. The event features teams consisting of 3 to 5 runners who will compete in a long distance relay race. Each runner will run from Kapiolani Park to Diamond Head and return to Kapiolani Park where they will hand over a sash (ribbon rei) to the next runner who will run the same course. Each lap is approx 5 km (3.1 miles).[41]

Honolulu Ekiden & Music Festival: The first annual Honolulu Ekiden & Music Festival was held on May 12, 2013. Certified by the USATF the course consists of six different sections; the course totals 42.195 km/26 miles . Starting at the base of Diamond Head at Kapiolani Park, the course progresses eastward along the coast and winds past Hanauma Bay wiith a turnaround point at Sandy Beach Park. A maximum number of six (6) runners may participate on a team. For teams with less than six members, a runner or runners may run more than one section consecutively. Individual runners are also welcome to participate.[42]


Guam Ko'Ko' Road Race – Ekiden Relay: The Guam Ko'ko' Race is the island's elite ekiden relay and half-marathon, so named to raise awareness of the plight of Guam's territorial bird, the Guam rail or ko'ko'.[43]


Acerta Brussels Ekiden: 1,250 teams, 7,500 participants (2012 numbers).[44]

Next edition: Oct. 17th, 2015.

New Zealand

Rotorua Ekiden: 42.2 km course basically following the Rotorua Marathon course around Lake Rotorua. Currently on its 12th Edition on 10 October 2015.[45]


Anglesea Ekiden: Part of Athletics Victoria cross country season, this Ekiden takes place on Victoria's Surf Coast in Angelsea. The inaugural edition takes place on 15 August 2015.[46]


The Longest Day Ekiden Relay Race: 42.2 km course which takes place in Toronto, since 2013.[47]


Mizuno Ekiden

Organised by Mizuno Singapore,[48] Mizuno Corporation's regional headquarters for Asia Pacific,[49] it is the first dedicated ekiden race in Singapore with no individual runner categories.[50] The race is also Japanese themed with a matsuri (Japanese festival) race village at the finish line.[51]

See also


  1. Halpern, Jack. New Japanese English Character Dictionary. Kunkyusha, Tokyo. 1990. Page 812
  2. 1 2 3 Otake, Tomoko. One for All. Dec. 28, 2008 The Japan Times accessed Feb. 19, 2009.
  3. Nakamura, Ken. The new year starts off with Ekiden Championships in Japan. 04 January 2001 IAAF News ©1996–2008 International Association of Athletics Federations, accessed Feb 19, 2009.
  4. http://japanrunningnews.blogspot.com/2011/12/watch-new-year-ekiden-and-hakone-ekiden.html
  5. 1 2 3 ESPN: ekiden-a-closer-look-at-the-japanese-way accessed Jan. 6, 2012
  6. Yang, Young-in. Extra Curricular Activities – Differences between Korean High School Students and American High School Students. http://www.northpark.edu/home/documents/esl/younginyang.doc accessed Feb 10, 2009
  7. How to Save Korean Track and Field Sports. Editorial, English Chosun.com accessed Feb 10, 2009.
  8. 2008地区高校駅伝ハイライト (2008 Regional High School Ekiden Highlights), 月刊陸上競技 January 2009 巻 43 巻第 1号 (Track and Field Monthly, January 2008, Vol 43 No. 1), pages 61–65 and 127–129 (offices in Chiyoda-ku Tokyo 102-0073)
  9. 「2008全国高校駅伝観戦ガイド」 (2008 All-Japan High School Spectator's Guide),1月別冊付録 (January Supplement), 陸上競技マガジン (Track and Field Magazine, January 2009) 第59巻第1号 ( Vol 59 No. 1), pages 32–33
  10. 「第16回全国中学校駅伝」("16th annual All-Japan Junior High Ekiden"), 陸上競技マガジン (Track and Field Magazine, February 2009) 第59巻第1号 ( Vol 59 No. 3), pages 48–51, 152–161 (office in Chiyoda-ku Tokyo Japan 101-8381)
  11. 和田悟志 (Wada Satoshi). 「第16回全国中学校駅伝」 (16th All-Japan Junior High School Ekiden), 陸上競技マガジン (Track and Field Magazine, February 2009) 第59巻第3号 ( Vol 59 No. 3), page 48-51.
  12. (Japanese wiki page)
  13. Larner, Brett. Nihon University's Gitau Steals Izumo Ekiden Victory From Komazawa (updated). October 14, 2008 JapanRunningNews, accessed Feb. 18, 2009.
  14. Izumo Ekiden Preview. September 24, 2008 somewherefast.blogspot.com. Accessed Feb. 19, 2009.
  15. Japanese Wiki page
  16. Larner, Brett. Nov. 21, 2011. Weekend Track and Ekiden Roundup – Karoki, Waithira, Kinukawa, Yamamoto Take Wins . (English). Accessed Feb 2, 2012.
  17. The 5th All-Japan Collegiate Women's Ekiden. December 24, 2007, Tsukuba University tsukuba.ac.jp (English). Accessed Feb 18, 2009.
  18. Nakamura, Ken. The New Year Starts off with Ekiden Championships in Japan 04 January 2001 iaaf.org/aboutiaaf/news. accessed Feb 19, 2009.
  19. Japanese wiki page
  20. Larner, Brett. Entry Lists for National Interprefectural Women's Ekiden Released. December 26, 2008 japanrunningnews.blogspot. accessed Feb. 18, 2009.
  21. Nagano Men 2 Successive Titles; Kyoto Women 5 Successive Titles. Track and Field Magazine (Japanese), March 2009, vol 55 #5, pages 22–25, 58–77.
  22. All Japan Interprefectural Men's Ekiden. Track and Field Monthly (Japanese), March 2009, vol 43 #4, pages 91–93, 100–102, 154–155.
  23. Nakamura, Ken. Nagano Prefecture Wins Inter-Prefectural Men's EkidenJanuary 18, 2009, International Association of Athletics Federations. iaaf.org. accessed Feb 19, 2009.
  24. Larner, Brett. Nagano Breaks National Interprefectural Ekiden Course Record. January 18, 2009 Japanrunningnews.blogspot. accessed Feb 19, 2009.
  25. All Japan Interprefectural Women's Ekiden. Track and Field Monthly (Japanese), March 2009, vol 43 # 4, pages 94–97, 108–111, 156–157.
  26. Larner, Brett. Moe Kyuma Surprise Star of Kyoto's 5th-Straight National Interprefectural Women's Ekiden Win. January 11, 2009 Japanrunningnews.blogspot. accessed Feb 19, 2009.
  27. Nakamura, Ken. Kyoto Prefecture wins fifth straight Inter-Prefectural Women's Ekiden title. January 11, 2009, International Association of Athletics Federations. iaaf.org/news. accessed Feb 19, 2009.
  28. Nakamura, Ken. Kyoto Dominates Inter-Prefectural Women's Ekiden. January 13, 2008, International Association of Athletics Federations. iaaf.org/news. accessed Feb 19, 2009.
  29. Nakamura, Ken. Kyoto Three-peat in Women's Ekiden. 14 January 2007, International Association of Athletics Federations. iaaf.org/news. accessed Feb 19, 2009.
  30. Nakamura, Ken. Inter-Prefectural Women's Ekiden in Kyoto. 16 January 2002, International Association of Athletics Federations. iaaf.org/news. accessed Feb 19, 2009.
  31. Results and discussion in English: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012. {http://www.womens-ekiden.jp/ Official meet website] in Japanese.
  32. Nakamura, Ken. 15 nations send teams to contest the 2006 Chiba Ekiden marathon relay – PREVIEW. November 22, 2006, International Association of Athletics Federations. iaaf.org. accessed Feb 18, 2009.
  33. Nakamura, Ken. New mixed race format for Chiba International Ekiden – Preview. November 21, 2007, International Association of Athletics Federations. iaaf.org. access Feb 18, 2009.
  34. Nakamura, Ken. Ethiopia sweeps Chiba Ekiden. November 24, 2008, International Association of Athletics Federations. iaff.org. accessed Feb 18, 2009.
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  37. Nakamura, Ken. Led by Kenya's Gideon, Nissin Foods the favourite at Monday's New Year Ekiden in Maebashi. December 30, 2006, International Association of Athletics Federations. iaaf.org Accessed Feb.19, 2009.
  38. Larner, Brett. Yuki Iwai Cracks 15 km World Record Mark as Team Asahi Kasei Wins 3rd-Straight Asahi Ekiden. January 13, 2009 japanrunningnews.blogspot. accessed Feb. 19, 2009.
  39. Nakamura, Ken. Other Ekiden action in Japan. 18 January 2009, International Association of Athletics Federations. iaaf.org, scroll to bottom of page. accessed Feb 18, 2009.
  40. Japanese wiki page
  41. http://www.honoluluekiden.com/ekiden.aspx
  42. http://hnlekiden.com
  43. http://www.guamkokoroadrace.com/go/about-the-race
  44. http://www.acertabrusselsekiden.be/
  45. http://ekiden.co.nz/
  46. http://athsvic.org.au/events/competitions/avcompetitions/xcr/
  47. https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Longest-Day-Ekiden-Relay-Race/632440493438614
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  49. Japanese Corporation Sets Up Regional Office in Singapore Asian Golf Industry Federation, accessed 10 June 2016
  50. Physios Get to Walk the Talk in Mizuno Ekiden Relay Build Up Straits Times, accessed 20 May 2016
  51. Panditurai, Yogaraj. "Running by trust and not by sight". Straits Times. Retrieved 23 June 2016.
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