For those not familiar with the word ekiden, it means a running relay in Japanese. These races are wildly popular in Japan, where regular high-profile events feature teams powering through a long-distance race, passing on a tasuki (sash) to a teammate at the end of each leg.
They’re taken very seriously, but the free Asics World Ekiden virtual event is a fun opportunity for everyone to give ekiden racing a go this November.
In 2020’s inaugural Asics World Ekiden, 56,000 people from 179 countries took part. This year there’s an extra incentive to join in: Asics will donate £2 to the mental health charity Mind for every participant that registers.
The event takes place between 10th and 22nd November, during which time teams of up to six will complete a marathon between them. It’s all done virtually, so you log your leg on a tracking app and pass the virtual sash, or baton, on to your teammate to run the next stint of the 42.2km.
There are six legs in total: three 5Ks, two 10Ks, and one 7.2km leg, so achievable distances for most runners. A team of six makes the most sense, but you can enter with fewer runners and get some of them to run twice.
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The race will be tracked through the Asics Runkeeper app. You’ll be able to log your leg and see how your team is doing compared with others on the live online leaderboard from 11th November.
While doing an ekiden virtually isn’t quite as atmospheric as tackling one in real life, the Asics World Ekiden is a great chance to connect with running friends. And if you ever needed motivation to go out and run hard by yourself, doing it for your team during the ekiden will provide that in spades.
You can sign up for the event now, so get moving and enlist some running buddies to join you.
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.