As distance relay races grow in popularity through the Ragnar Race series as well increase in fame with races like Hood To Coast there is a good story written around the Japanese Ekiden.
I first became aware of this race when another locale runner and a friend of my roommate Ray Biersbach was participating in it as part of an Ivy League All-Star Team.
I became curious and was fascinated that it was a relay race, and the Ivy League runners were like an all star cross country squad. A fan of the Dream Team and NBA All Star Game this concept was just awesome.
Essentially its one of the closet things you get to college or highschool cross country. However, its a series of stages ranging in distance but closer to 10Ks rather then an 800m, and you work with your team to run across Japan. Where you aren’t running for yourself but for your teammates, its why I find greater enjoyment in putting in 18 miles at Hood to Coast versus 26 at the Victoria Marathon, cause I’m running for Will, Diem, Roberto, Ramon, Mark, etc… not just for me.
So please read this article from The Japan News. Its really an interesting read on why this race came into existence and it has parallels to why U.S. Basketball started creating the “Dream Team,” to counter previous Olympic short comings. I hope this stroy can help motivate you as the cold weather starts to sink in with most of America as the holiday malaise passes. RUNBEST!