Aoyama Gakuin’s Hakone Ekiden 3-peat makes history
Aoyama Gakuin University had its ups and downs during the two-day Tokyo-Hakone Intercollegiate Ekiden, but the two-time defending champion ultimately showed its <1> prowess, earning a <2> three-peat of the prestigious road relay race on Jan. 3 in Tokyo.
Sophomore Yuji Onoda gave his team momentum with a strong run in the downhill sixth <3> leg, the first section of the second day. Junior Yuta Shimoda later won the eighth leg to <4> build a safe lead, helping Aoyama Gakuin win the 217.1-kilometer race over 10 legs with a time of 11 hours 4 minutes 10 seconds.
Aoyama Gakuin became the sixth team to win the Hakone Ekiden in three <5> consecutive years. They are now the current title-holders in the Hakone, Izumo and All-Japan Championship races in one season — the collegiate ekiden <6> Triple Crown.
Toyo University moved up two ranks from the previous day to finish second in 11:11:31, while Waseda University dropped from second to third in 11:12:26. Juntendo University was fourth, followed by Kanagawa University.
Aoyama Gakuin coach Susumu Hara praised Shimoda’s performance, calling it “sensational.”