Skip to main content

Runner Nearly Hit by Truck During Hakone Ekiden: "I Thought I Was Gonna Die"

https://news.biglobe.ne.jp/sports/0104/blnews_170104_9095272654.html

translated by Brett Larner


On Jan. 4 news spread that a runner in the 93rd Hakone Ekiden had nearly been hit by a truck.  Video showing the incident was posted on Twitter, raising a public outcry about the police's handling of road closure and course safety. The Inter-University Athletic Union of Kanto (KGRR), organizers of the Hakone Ekiden, were contacted for comment.

The incident occurred on Jan. 3 during the five-stage, 109.6 km Day Two of the Hakone Ekiden from Ashinoko in Kanagawa to the Yomiuri Newspaper Building in central Tokyo.  At Hibiya Crossing late in the Tenth Stage, Kanagawa University anchor Koya Nakagami, running in 5th place, was almost struck by a vehicle on the course.  A major intersection with heavy traffic volume, at the time of the incident police were allowing cars at Hibiya Crossing to cross the course while the road on which Nakagami was running had a red light.

As Nakagami approached the intersection police officers on duty did not stop the flow of traffic, resulting in him running out into the path of oncoming cars. Right as he entered the intersection police officers can be heard calling out, "Please stop your vehicles!" but it was too late to prevent the situation.  A truck entered the intersection from Nakagami's left and it appeared that he would be hit, but at the last second he saw it coming, slowed, and stayed out of its path.  The evening of the 3rd Nakagami wrote about the incident on his Twitter feed, saying, "This was the first time I've nearly gotten in an accident during a race," and "I thought I was gonna die."

With regard to an athlete in one of their competitions nearly being struck by a car, the KGRR commented, "We can confirm the fact that this incident took place, but as the circumstances and causes are still under investigation we can make no further comment."  But, noting that no incident of this sort had ever occurred before, the spokesperson added, "The safety of the athletes is our primary concern and we cannot have this happen."  Regarding what is to come next, the KGRR is considering how to deal with Nakagami and what discussions need to be held with police concerning their road closure and course safety procedures.

Online public opinion was quick to condemn the police's role, questioning their methods and expressing fears for the athletes' safety in the police's hands:
"If the roads aren't closed 50 m in advance then it's meaningless."
"The problem is that the police were too slow in doing their job." 
 "I can't help but be scared to think that it's just a question of when an accident is going to happen."
"This incident was extremely dangerous to the athlete's life." 

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kawabata Over Kawauchi at Takashimadaira 20 km

Like a distant echo of the thunder of yesterday's Yosenkai 20 km reverberating across the city, Tokyo's other major 20 km road race took place this morning in the northwestern suburb of Takashimadaira. Narrowly surviving the loss of its main sponsor last year, the Takashimadaira Road Race offers a unique 5 km loop course that delivers fast times. Now in its 42nd year, Takashimadaira is a favorite for upper-tier universities that don't have to run the Yosenkai to requalify for the Hakone Ekiden, for other schools' second-stringers, and for top-level independents and amateurs.

This year's race was fronted by a group of runners from Izumo Ekiden winner Tokai University who didn't make Tokai's final Izumo roster, by London World Championships marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) and others from yesterday's Yosenkai winner Teikyo University and the Hakone-qualified Juntendo University and Komazawa University. In the same cool and lightly rainy…

Kawauchi and Kanematsu Win Rainy Shimantogawa 100 km

The 23rd edition of the Shimantogawa Ultramarathon took place Oct. 15 in Shimanto, Kochi. 1822 runners started the 100 km division, where Yoshiki Kawauchi (26, Saitama T&F Assoc.) and Aiko Kanematsu (37, Team RxL) took the men's and women's titles for the first time.

The 100 km division started under a heavy downpour at 5:30 a.m. in front of Warabioka J.H.S. The 576 participants in the 60 km division got off 4 1/2 hours later from Koinobori Park, with both races finishing at Nakamura H.S.

Kawauchi, the younger brother of "civil servant runner" Yuki Kawauchi, ran Shimantogawa for the second time, improving dramatically on last year's run to win in 6:42:06. "Last time I was 21st, a total disaster," Kawauchi said afterward. "My brother told me, 'Don't overdo it on the uphills,' and his advie helped me get through it. The scenery around Iwama Chinkabashi was really beautiful."

Kanematsu began running with her husband around age 30…

Osaka Marathon Elite Field

One of the world's ten biggest marathons, in its six runnings to date the Osaka Marathon has continued to avoid the addition of a world-class elite field of the same caliber as at equivalently-sized races like Tokyo, Berlin and Boston. In place of doling out cash to pros, Osaka's women's field has developed into a sort of national championship race for amateur women.

In the field this year are six, probably all six, of the amateur Japan women to have broken 2:40 in the last three years. Last year's top three, Yoshiko Sakamoto (F.O.R.), Yumiko Kinoshita (SWAC) and Hisae Yoshimatsu (Shunan City Hall) lead the way at the 2:36 +/- level, with a second trio of Marie Imada (Iwatani Sangyo), Mitsuko Ino (R2 Nishin Nihon) and Chika Tawara (RxL) all around the 2:39 level.

Last year's winner Sakamoto and 3rd placer Yoshimatsu squared off in September at Germany's Volksbank Muenster Marathon, Yoshimatsu tying Sakamoto's Osaka winning time of 2:36:02 to take 3rd over …