January 13, 2015,17:30 +0900(JST) Looking Forward to Your Support Again This Year!
How did you spend the New Year's holiday?
I started the New Year by rooting for our athletics club competing in the New Year Ekiden (the 59th All-Japan Men's Corporate Team Ekiden Championships), the long-distance relay road race held every year in Gunma on January 1, a little before going back to work this year.
Although the weather was moderate when the race started at 9:15, the clouds began to spread gradually afterwards. As the sky was getting darker, it was also getting colder. In the latter half of the race, cold winds began to blow down from Mt. Akagi, which was lightly covered with snow. This climate phenomenon, typical in the winter in the Joshu region, made the race conditions a bit tougher for the runners.
▲Athletes running in a group in the first stage
This was the second time for our team to compete in the race, following last year. This year, however, Kensuke Takezawa, who demonstrated excellent performance at each of last year's New Year Ekiden and last November's Ekiden for Business Corporations in the Kansai Region, could not join the race.
▲Staff from Sumitomo Electric Industries rooting for their runner in the third stage
While each team consisted of excellent runners who had fully exhibited their talents in the Hakone Ekiden and other famous races, the members of our team were struggling to overtake the runners ahead of them in all stages, probably because they felt intense pressure. When Noritaka Fujiyama, the final runner of our team, entered the long home stretch, he was running in 26th place. Then making a final desperate surge, he passed the runner 10 m ahead of him just before the finish.
▲Competing with each other right before the finish line in the seventh stage
Although our team finished the race in 25th, as they did last year, their time was 35 seconds faster despite the weather conditions being worse than last year both in temperature and wind. I feel that the team as a whole is becoming stronger.
I would like to thank all of you for cheering for our team. I hope that the athletics club will continue to work hard in their training so they can live up to your expectations.