I have participated in the Mizuno Ekiden Run since it’s inauguration in 2015 and every edition of the race is different because there are always new developments that cater to runners of all ages and background. This year will see Mizuno Singapore staging the third edition of the Mizuno Ekiden Run, which is a relay-styled long distance run and it will be held at The Promontory @ Marina Bay on 19 August 2017.
Capping the capacity at 5,000 runners, this year’s race hopes to target an increased participation from regional countries with the introduction of the ‘Running Club Category’. The Running Club category is open to all running clubs in Southeast Asia that have been active for at least three months and all team members must be residents or permanent residents of any ASEAN country. The winning team of the ‘Running Club Category’ can stand to win the top prize of SGD$2,200 worth of cash and vouchers.
If you have not participated in the Mizuno Ekiden Run before and you’re wondering how such a relay-styled long distance run is carried out, here’s how it is done; runners will participate in teams of four where the first runners of each team will flag off while donning a traditional tasuki sash. Upon completing his or her leg of the relay, the sash will be passed to the second runner who will be waiting at the transition area. This process will continue until the sash is donned by the fourth runner, who will then finish the race and join the rest of his or her team members at the finish line.
The first ekiden race was held in 1917, in conjunction with celebrating the anniversary of the moving of the capital to Tokyo. The ekiden race was held over three days between the old Japanese capital of Kyoto and the modern capital of Tokyo with the total distance amounting to 508 km.
The original concept of the race stems from Japan’s communication and transportation system during the olden days, in which stations were posted at intervals along the road. The word Eki, means station and den, represents transmit. The tasuki can be likened by many to a baton in track-and-field relay races, but in actual fact, the tasuki means more than just a baton. Each tasuki is thought to represent the honour not only of the team itself but of the university, company, or region that the team comes from. Thus, it is the tasuki’s symbolic significance that makes an ekiden race unique.
On a more personal note, I have always enjoyed running the Mizuno Ekiden because it spurs my team to display remarkable performance in intense and challenging situations while fostering friendship and showcasing commendable Japanese values such as perseverance, resilience and teamwork.
Since this year’s race will take place from 4 pm in the late afternoon onwards, the weather will be pretty hot so do hydrate yourselves sufficiently and strategize accordingly to get the most out of the race.
What I enjoy most about the Mizuno Ekiden is the Matsuri Race Village where I could have a nice celebratory dinner with my teammates over a wide array of traditional and popular Japanese gourmet such as sushi, ramen, and desserts after a good race. If you’re a fan of all things Japanese; you should definitely head down to the Matsuri Race Village since entry is free and there’s a string of Japanese activities and performances lined up for everyone to enjoy and appreciate.
As for the race registration, runners can register in teams of four across four categories; the Open Category (42.195km), the Open Category (21.1km), the Corporate category (21.1km), and the newest category in 2017, the Running Club category.