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Japanese runner finishes 10.9K Ekiden leg without shoes, runs PB

Missing both shoes Hiromi Katakai covered 10K in 33:32

Hiromi Katakai was a member of the Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo team at last weekend’s Queen’s Ekiden National Championships in Japan. Katakai’s run was fairly unremarkable until 6.7K into the 10.9K leg, when, as Japan Running News reports, she kicked off her running shoes to complete the course in her sock feet. Despite her less-than-ideal gear situation, she still managed to split a 20-second personal best through 10K, running 33:32. 

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According to JRN, her previous personal best was 33:52 for a 10K, which she shattered over the weekend and then continued for another 900m. She reportedly didn’t sustain any serious injuries from the run, aside from the cuts on her feet. While her team didn’t place in the top 10, Katakai’s run is a great example of racing hard, no matter the circumstances. 

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Katakai’s time (and the fact that she was beaten by several other women) is further proof of the remarkable depth of Japanese distance running. The runner’s mark would make her a competitive Canadian over the distance, especially considering that she went another 0.9K. For example, our Canadian record is only 31:44 and has stood for 30 years. 

The word ekiden comes from the combination of the Japanese characters for ‘station’ and ‘transmit’. In the Edo period of Japanese history (1603-1867), couriers traversed the Tokaido road between Edo (the historic name for Tokyo) and the imperial capital city of Kyoto — a distance of approximately 508K, to deliver messages. Nowadays, ekiden’s are a popular type of relay race. There is no specific ekiden distance or number of team members. 

The Japan Post team won the event in a course record of 2:13:34. The course was 42.195K in length. Full results can be found here