Ekiden Guide

As summarized from Wikipedia…

an ekiden (??) is a long-distance relay road race. As written in Japanese, ekiden combines the characters for “station” (?) and “transmit” (?). The original concept of the race hearkens back to Japan’s old T?kaid? communication and transportation system in which stations were posted at intervals along the road. In the race, each runner on a team runs the distance from one “station” to the next, and then hands off a cloth sash, or tasuki, to the next runner. The ekiden is considered to display many aspects of Japanese culture and spirit, including individual perseverance, identity within a group, and the importance within the Japanese hierarchy of allegiance to a group.

With this in mind, it’s important to remember that an ekiden is more than just a relay race and that you should try to follow its customs. Some points to remember:

• The most important thing to be aware of is that when you sign up for an ekiden you’re making a commitment to your teammates. Cancelling at the last minute means that you are preventing the other people from running (or if they can run with a partial team, giving the team a Did Not Finish result).
• Most ekidens have a “call,” a time and place you must be present to show officials your number bib. Each ekiden is different; some have full-team calls, some individual, and some none. Find out the details on your call beforehand from whoever in Namban is organizing the ekiden.
• When you receive the tasuki, put it on across your chest and over one shoulder, tighten it as necessary, and tuck the loose end into your shorts. For this reason, organizers sometimes tell runners to tuck in their singlets.
• Don’t carry the tasuki in your hand until you approach the end of your stage.
• When handing off the tasuki, hold it horizontally between both hands at chest height.
• When receiving the tasuki, grab it in the middle between the previous runner’s hands. Don’t take the tasuki before the incoming runner crosses the handoff zone line, and don’t step on the line as you take the tasuki.
• If you are the anchor, don’t take off the tasuki before finishing.
• Don’t use unauthorized substitutes, especially one who has run another stage on your or another team.

Team Organizers
Ideally in a club like this, everyone with sufficient language ability would take turns organizing entries for different races. If you are capable of filling out entry forms and reading regulations, please volunteer to organize an event. Some points to follow when organizing an event:

• Entry forms should be filled out fully, accurately and legibly.
• In the case of ekidens, you can ask entrants to pay in advance at the time of registration; cancellation results in the entrant’s fees paying for the replacement or going into the club treasury.
• At the time of entry, ekiden teams should include a designated alternate (or two) not running on another team, particularly for ekidens which allow designated alternates.
• If you organize an event, you are responsible not only for filling out the entry forms, but for actively communicating all important information to runners, including time, place, directions, details about the call if any, and idiosyncrasies of the particular race, and for actively confirming that participants know and understand the rules and necessary information. You should give a short verbal reconfirmation of rules and relevant info to all runners in a short group meeting before people run.

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