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Three-day Ekiden race


The First Ekiden Race Went on for Three Days in 1917


Start scene at Sanjo Ohashi Bridge
On 27 April 1917, two athletes wearing a sash started from Sanjo Bridge for Shinobasunoike, Ueno, Tokyo. This is how the first ekiden race began. Runners of the two teams, namely the east team and the west team, ran the course divided into 23 sections stretching 514km day and night for three days.
A student of Doshisha University reportedly joined this historic start and accompanied the runners as far as Kusatsu, Shiga to cheer them. There were no bridges across big rivers such as the Kiso River so that to our surprise, the runners crossed rivers by ferry. The 13th runner of the east team cut his Achilles' tendon. Then the 14th runner with a sash handed over at the point where the 13th runner dropped out ran two sections of about 42km. Through such an accident, the ekiden race was closed with the victory of the east team.
Today in Kyoto, Interscholastic Ekiden Championship, Interprefectural Women's Ekiden Championship, and other races take place every winter. Sensing the feeling of winter from ekiden races, people in Kyoto cheer the runners from both sides of the street.

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