One of the things I look forward to over the New Year’s holiday is watching the Hakone Ekiden. When I was younger, and my father-in-law would watch it every year, I never understood what was interesting about it, just a bunch of boys/men running. Then one year I sat down and watched it with him. I found myself caught up in the drama and excitement and now I never miss it.
I have been trying to figure out what it is that makes the ekiden special. I think that it is due to the team effort involved and the passion the runners and teammates have. Perhaps it is uniquely Japanese that they push themselves to the breaking point, continuing to run even if they are on the verge of collapse. The heartbreak when a coach has to catch a runner to stop him when he knows he can’t go on or the utter desolation on the faces of the boys who don’t manage to pass the “tasuki” on to the next runner due to the time limitation, never fails to bring tears to my eyes.
Starting the year watching those runners give their all to, not even winning, but just completing the course, always inspires me to try my best at whatever I undertake during the year. If you haven’t watched the Hakone Ekiden before, I recommend it!