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A small relay race on Tanegashima is so moving that I can't stop crying!

A small relay race on Tanegashima is so moving that I can't stop crying!
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A small relay race on Tanegashima Island has an emotional and tear-jerking drama!

Every year, on the first Sunday of December, Tanegashima holds the Kumage Inter-District Ekiden Road Relay Race (Kumage Ekiden Tournament).

Speaking of ekiden, there are the nationally famous "Hakone Ekiden" and "Daigaku Ekiden," etc., which are broadcast live on TV, and many ekiden fans may be familiar with them, but compared to these, this is a small ekiden competition on the tiny island of Tanegashima.

Ekiden is a team game with great upheaval and excitement!

In the case of a marathon, if an athlete is not feeling well, he or she may quit the race of his or her own volition.

However, in an ekiden race, a team of runners join forces to run a marathon, which can create a different kind of drama than in a marathon.

In this article, I would like to introduce the drama of Ekiden, which is unique to this event in the countryside of Tanegashima.

What are the unique characteristics of Ekiden?

Ekiden is a type of team sport in which several athletes share the responsibility of running a long distance race. Ekiden is held mainly in Japan, with the Hakone Ekiden, University Ekiden, and High School Ekiden being the most well-known.

Ekiden is a competition in which multiple athletes run a set distance, pass the baton to each other at each section, and compete for the time needed to reach the finish line. When a national race is held, it is broadcast live on TV in real time, and many people cheer enthusiastically.

Ekiden is also a uniquely Japanese event, and is not often held in other countries.

In Tanegashima, too, the Kumage Area Intermunicipal Ekiden Race has been held for more than 50 years, starting and finishing at the Tanegashima Central Gymnasium in Nakatane Town.

On the Attraction of Ekiden

Some of the attractions of ekiden include the following

  1. It is a team-playing event: Ekiden is a team sport in which several athletes join forces to compete for a time. Athletes run not only for their own section, but also for the victory of the team as a whole. Therefore, cooperation and teamwork among athletes are important.
  2. Enthusiastic cheering: Enthusiastic cheering by spectators is essential in ekiden. Especially at national events, regional cheering groups parade through the streets to enthusiastically support the athletes. In addition, since the course of Ekiden often runs along public roads, the general public also gathers along the course to cheer the athletes on.
  3. The excitement of watching the athletes run: Ekiden runners are faster and more athletic than ordinary long-distance runners, making them exciting to watch. Especially in the final section of the race, the competitors are all aiming for the finish line at the same time, making for a heated race.
  4. Regional characteristics: Ekiden has a strong regional flavor, with representative teams from each region competing. Another attraction of Ekiden is the local scenery along the course, such as train stations and tourist spots, since the origin of Ekiden is a journey connecting "stations," a traditional means of transportation in Japan!

Comparing marathons and relay races, why relay races create drama

Ekiden, unlike marathons, is a competition in which several athletes compete as a team.

Therefore, in ekiden, an individual's physical condition can affect the performance of the entire team, and because teamwork is more important than individual competition, a strong sense of responsibility and support for other athletes and team members may also come into play.

Therefore, many athletes push themselves to run even when they are not in good physical condition because of their desire to do their best for the team and their sense of responsibility to their peers and team members. Then there are athletes who run beyond their ability and exceed their limits, but there is a strong sense of responsibility to the team.

In the case of a marathon, athletes may take their own health risks and safety considerations into account, and if they feel unwell during the race, they may take it easy and run slowly, walk, or even abandon the race.

However, because of the unpredictable problems and accidents that can occur in the race, thorough preparation is necessary in advance, but in reality, the athletes often work harder than they realize.

This hard work by the athletes is one of the things that creates a lot of drama and fascinates the audience.

This is true not only at national tournaments, but also at small regional tournaments.

Tanegashima's small relay race is so moving that it brings tears to my eyes Drama with full safety measures

Ekiden at Tanegashima, it is expected that the athletes will work too hard, so we are taking all possible measures to prepare for this.

University Ekiden 2023

Hakone Ekiden 2023

Tanegashima Island, where motorcycles play a major role in judging competitions and checking athletes' safety

Tanegashima Island is famous for its motorcycles, which are also famous in anime and other media, but they also play a major role in ekiden (relay races).

The competitors are preparing to follow on their bikes, and although they are wearing "judging" numbers, their true purpose is to ensure the safety of the riders.

Moreover, a considerable number of people from each district participate in this event, which makes it a safe bet.


Ekiden 01 on Tanegashima Island

Residents of the district spectating on the course

Tanegashima Island, there were Chikanai people? There are so many people watching the Ekiden course.

This is also a reassuring ally for the safety of the athletes.

The radio announces that the athletes are about to arrive at the relay point. The relay point becomes tense all at once.

Players arrive at the relay point

I see the lead car. And behind it, you can see the leading car.


Ekiden 09 on Tanegashima Island

Last fierce run to improve even one position for my friends

The fierce competition in front of the relay point was clearly visible as the contestants were running with all their might.

The following competitors are trying to catch up, while others are running away desperately to avoid being overtaken, and it is a fierce battle at a tremendous increase in speed.

The riders behind them are also making a furious pursuit, hoping to close the gap as much as possible.

Motorcycles are also running alongside. At the relay point, the tasuki is connected one after another.

This is the most exciting part of the Ekiden, and some people are watching from their rooms on the third floor.

Athletes connect the tasuki with both hands to make sure they are connected. The difference from a marathon is that there is not a single lazy runner.

Athletes fall down after connecting the tusk

Junior high school girl collapses after a hard run, well done!

There are junior high school girls here and there, sitting down and being supported by their friends.

A junior high school girl is acting strangely!

There is a junior high school girl who is acting strangely. Can't get up?

At this time, I was so freaked out that I shook my hand.

Teachers from the school rush over. My friends also rush over, and the atmosphere is a bit noisy.

I check his condition. I am relieved to see that he is conscious. Then they decide that an ambulance is needed.

We wait for the ambulance. The friends are watching over him, making sure his body does not get cold.

The fire department also anticipated this kind of situation, and an ambulance arrived as quickly as possible!

I was surprised at the speed of the ambulance, which arrived within a minute or two, but it was probably on standby, ready to be dispatched. The fire brigade on the remote island is too good.

I was impressed by the teachers at the school who explained to the paramedics, 'My daughter has a strong sense of responsibility, and it seems she worked too hard in the relay race.

It was decided to take her to the hospital for further examination as a precaution, but everyone was relieved to hear over the radio later that she had recovered safely and was in good spirits.


Ekiden 23 on Tanegashima Island

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A small relay race on Tanegashima Island is so moving that I can't stop crying! Summary

How was the article about the tiny little Ekiden relay race on Tanegashima Island?

Some may think that such a small relay race is trivial, but even if it is a small race, I am impressed by the desperate efforts of the relay runners.

It was also a time to catch a glimpse of the warm support of the town hall, school teachers, local bike teams, neighbors who immediately provided blankets for fallen children, and the quickness of the fire brigade.

The relay race was held on a remote island, so it was on a smaller scale than the famous large-scale relay races, but it was very moving to see the relay race up close in real life.

Thank you for watching to the end.

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-Japanese Tradition (English)