Revered Japanese distance race relays idea of peace

taipeitimes.com -- Jan 04
The long-distance road-running relay sport of ekiden is a national institution in Japan, where New Year’s races command massive TV audiences and turn unknown athletes into overnight stars.

Now ekiden’s greatest modern coach believes it can also become a global event on the Olympic stage — and even contribute to world peace.

Ekiden involves teams of runners covering long-distance relay stages of varying lengths, and has been held in Japan for more than a century.

The event took its inspiration from the samurai-era couriers who carried messages between Tokyo and the former imperial capital, Kyoto.

Ekiden is virtually unknown outside of Japan, but Susumu Hara, head coach of the all-conquering Aoyama Gakuin University team, believes it can become popular around the globe.