Originally the Ekiden is a relay marathon of roughly 109 km between Tokyo and Hakone, organized for the first time in 1920. On January 2nd of each year, the race starts in the vicinity of Tokyo station and goes along major roads (mainly #1 and #15) to Moto-Hakone. The first part up to Hakone is more or less flat but the last 20 km is a pretty brutal climb of more than 700 m elevation up to Moto-Hakone.
On January 3rd the race is hold in the oppositive direction, starting in Moto-Hakone and finishing in Tokyo.Each year 20 university teams are attending and each team sports 10 runners, 5 for the first and 5 for the second day relay. The Ekiden has become a very popular sports event and is nationwide televised by Nippon TV with thousands of supporters lining the streets between Tokyo and Hakone.
More is here : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hakone_Ekiden [English]
and here : http://www.hakone-ekiden.jp/ [Japanese]
Since many years [in the later part of the first decade of this century, Positivo Espresso riders have been running in front of the Ekiden field between Tokyo and Moto-Hakone on the first day of the race on January 2nd. The idea goes back to an American lawyer who wishes to stay unknown to the general public and who is anyway not in a position to ride this year due to a horrible traffic accident which involved him, a mama chari, a college student and his shoulder.
An account of last years ride can be found here: http://positivo-espresso.blogspot.com/2009/01/first-2009-positivo-espresso-team.html
It is an ideal opportunity to ride relatively fast & freely on otherwise congested roads between Tokyo and Moto-Hakone, being supported by the bored crowds that have nothing else to do but to wait for the runners. In particular the atmosphere on the climb between Hakone and Moto-Hakone and in the finish area is very dense and exciting with cheerleaders, marching bands and hard core supporters from the universities lined up.
The basic idea is to run ahead of the runners just after the roads are closed for general traffic so that one can have open roads all the way. As the police is omnipresent and not all traffic lights are turned off, progress is sometime hampered in the urban areas between Tokyo and Yokohama but this becomes gradually better further out. We wil make some stops at Combini to buy some food an drinks, but due to the crowds it might be better to take some food from home. The real challenge is the climb between Hakone and Moto-Hakone which covers about 13 km and 745 m elevation.
Mountain goats in good shape can do this climb in 45 – 60 minutes time. However, the Eliden runners are eqully fast. The challenge is to start the climb in time and make it up to the goal before the runners. This is very tough. And very much fun. After the climb we re-assemble at the rest area of Hakone Pass and have a warm meal. Riders who could not start the climb before the runners and were aftertaken before the climb begins can try to ride up the old Tokkaido (road 732 from Hakone-Yumoto- see map at km93).
Riders who are overtaken on the climb have to wait until all runners and cars have passed by and the roads are open again for traffic before they can make their way up. Once we are all together, we ride on route 20, the most beautiful cycling road in Japan to Jukoku Toge and then further on and down to Atami where we take the Shinkansen back to Tokyo. Of course, those who want to ride back are free to do so.
Participants [so far]
So far we have Kanzler + 2 friends, Dominic, Tom, Bryon, James, Graham and me from Positivo Espresso and Yair, Sergey and Koribeyer from TCC joingthe ride. It would be of course even better if our groups gets even bigger.
I prepared a map my ride route, covering the whole sistance between Tokyo and Atami of 132 km and 1,245m of climbing. Out of this, about 112 km are on the Ekiden roads and the remaining 20 km are cover the return road between the finish in Moto-Hakone and Atami.
Meeting points are marked with M.
The END marks first the goal of the Ekiden at Moto-Hakone and then the goal of the ride at Atami station.
We designated three major meeting points for all riders to join the ride. Th meeting points are marked with a M in a square in the above map, except for the first one which is the starting point.
Meeting point #1 is in Tokyo at the start of the race, at the crossing of Hibiya and Eitai Dori in front of exit C14. from there the total ride wil be 132 km. Ludwig and his two friends and Yair and perhaps Dominic will start there at precisely 7:40 AM. As we need to be in front of the runners, we will not start later than that.
Meeting point #2 is in Kawasaki, right after the bridge over the Tamagawa on route 1 in front of the Family Market Combini. We will meet their the riders from the Tokyo starting point and continue to ride at 8.25 AM latest. The distance to Atami from this meeting point is about 112 km. I (mob) will be waiting there and I assume that James, Tom, Graham and Bryon will start from there.
Meeting point #3 is in Fujisawa, mainly for the convenience of Koribeyer、on road #30 at the Fujisawa Eki Kitaguchi Iriguchi Crossing North of Fujisawa Station. We are going to be there at 9:45 AM. Again, we must start at 9:45 in order to stay in front of the runners. The distance from here to Atami is about 80 km.
Meeting point #4 is the restaurant MICHI NO EKI at Hakone pass. Here we gather after the cimb to eat something, and ride together to Atami. The runners wil arrive at Hakone about 13.30hr and traffic wil be open at 14:04hr. So I guess we can start to ride to Atami at about 14:30 hr latest.
It is highly unlikely that we will get overtaken by the runners before the climb. But somebody might get lost or overtaken on the climb, so what can be done?
If overtaken before the climb, please take road 732 from km 93 on the map which is the old Tokkaido. This is faster and much less crowded than the Ekiden road #1 so you will be faster up in Moto Hakone and ride then to the meeting point #4 at Michi no Eki at Hakone Pass.
If you are overtaken by the runners on the climb up, then wait until traffic is open again and ride up to Moto-Hakone and then further to Michi no Eki at Hakone Pass where we meet.
In case you want more safety, please send me an email or PM on the TCC blog with your mobile phone number so that we can stay in contact during the ride.
We shall be back in Atami by 15.30 hr latest and I assume that most of us will take the Shinkansen home. However, you can also ride home, although most of the ride will be in the dark on pretty big and crowded roads.
Please check the weather forecast for Moto-Hakone, for example here:
So far it looks good and let’s hope that it stays that way. No rian, but it will be cold in the range of 0 – 10 degrees Celsius and there mightbe patches of ice and snow in the shadows.
In case it is forecasted with ahigh probibility that it will rian or snow on the racing day in the Hakone area, we will cancel the ride. I will post on thge Positivo Espresso as well as on the TCC blog on the day before, so if you don’t see anything you can assume that we will ride.
Also it will be cold, but you wil get hot during the climbs. Part from shoe covers and long fingrered gloves it is best to have layers of clothing which you can easily add and removed to adjust for the changes in temperature inside and outside of your clothing. A windbreaker will be good for the fast and cold descent from Hakone to Atami.
Apart from you, your bike and the usual stuff (repair kit, lights etc.) you will need a bike bag for the ride bag on the Shinkansen from Atami. Also it is adviseable to bring some food from home as the portfolio of the Combinis along the road wil be rather small due to the large crowds in the area. Bring also your camera and dress funny if you think that this will give you more support from the crowds.
Togebaka / Hall Of Fame
For the riders in competitive mood, I shall mention that the portion of the route between Asahi bridge and teh signboard marking the highest point of road #1 is an officially approved Positivo Espresso „Togebaka“ or Hill climb time trial run of 13.2 km length and 745 m elevation difference with a best time of about 58 minutes so far.
Any questions ?
Let me know, send a comment.
See all of you on January 2nd.Happy New Year.