On Friday November 23rd 2012 the 24th International Chiba Ekiden road relay race will be held in Japan. Ekiden is an extremely popular spectator sport in the country and is expected to attract large crowds along the route; live television coverage will be available in Japan and the event will also be broadcast live on the internet.
The race will see mixed male and female Teams compete over the full marathon distance in 6 stages:
1st leg: Men 5km
2nd leg: Women 5km
3rd led: Men 10km
4th leg: Women 5km
5th leg: Men 10km
6th leg: Women 7.195km
From the event’s inauguration in 1988 until the 2007 running there were two races, one specifically for women and the other for men. Interestingly, unlike a lot of other distance road events there have been a variety of Nations taking Gold. From 2002 until 2006, however, the Men’s and Women’s races were dominated by Kenya and Ethiopia. Preceding this Japan, South Africa, Morocco, Australia, New Zealand and Romania all won Gold in either the Men’s or Women’s events (this being said, it is worth noting that Japan completely dominated the Women’s event from 1992 until 2001).
Since the races were Mixed there has been a battle for dominance between Japan, Ethiopia and Kenya with Japan taking Gold with a collegiate team in 2010! This year promises to see the battle continue.
Although Japan or Ethiopia are yet to announce their squads it can be considered a safe bet that both will field very strong teams – Ethiopia in light of their sweep of the podium at the Chicago Marathon and Japan because they are on home turf and attempting to regain their 2010 title from Kenya, who won in 2011.
Kenya are sending over a strong team to Japan, led by London 2012 5000m Bronze medallist Thomas Longosiwa. He will be joined by two time World Cross Country Junior Gold medallist Philip Mosima and the 2008 World Cross Country Bronze medallist Lucas Rotich. Two notable women to be included in the Kenyan squad are Joyce Chepkurui, who has the black mark of an Olympic DNF against her name after failing to finish the 10,000m final at London 2012 and Gladys Cherono who has the auspicious accolade of becoming the first ever woman to win Gold at both 5000m and 10,000m at the 2012 African Championships!
Head on over to Japan Running News for further information closer to the event and also to find out where you can watch the event live online – it promises to be an exciting, competitive and interesting race!