January 17, 2014,19:30 +0900(JST) This Year Begins with New Year Ekiden
On January 1, the New Year Ekiden took place in Gunma, and our team competed in the race for the first time, which I would like to write about today.
I stayed in Tokyo on December 31 and went to Gunma by bullet train early the next morning. It might have been the first time that I have seen the sunrise on New Year’s Day on a bullet train in my long business career.
In the race consisting of seven stages (stretching 100 km), runners made their start in front of the Gunma Prefectural Government Office (Maebashi City), ran through the southern part of the prefecture, and returned to the prefectural government office. Many of our group’s staff and their families from across Japan - approximately 150 people - wearing matching windbreakers, went ahead of our runners in separate buses and cars before they began to run in their stages and rooted for them ardently. Fortunately, it was a fine day and not too cold, and the weather was not so bad for cheering on runners outdoors.
In the first half of the race, our team competed favorably with strong teams and temporarily reached 13th place, raising my expectation that the team might become a high ranking winner. However, in the middle stages, our team began to lag behind. Although they never gave up and subsequently rallied, they eventually came in 25th out of 37 teams. This might be a bitter result to the runners, but I feel that their experience at the national level event will become a valuable asset in the future.
As spectators, we also appreciated the fun of an Ekiden as a team sport in which each member tries to make up for a delay generated by someone else. Moreover, I feel that many people realized the joy of getting united and cheering on not only our runners but also other companies’ athletes.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my appreciation to those who rooted for our runners on the streets or in their living rooms.