Hakone Ekiden, which is officially called Tokyo-Hakone Round-Trip College Ekiden Race (Tokyo Hakone kan Ofuku Daigaku Ekiden Kyoso), is one of the prominent university ekiden (relay marathon) races of the year held between Tokyo and Hakone in Japan on 2 and 3 January. The race is telecast on Nippon Television.
This two-day race from Otemachi to Hakone and back is separated into five sections on each day. Due to slight variations in the courses, the first day distance is 108.0km while the distance on the second day is 109.9km.
Five sections are provided between Tokyo and Hakone each way. Each runner runs one section, alternates with the next runner at a station. Each team has ten runners, running with their teams' sashes which are handed over to the next runner on the team at each station.
If a runner cannot get to a station within twenty minutes after the top runner reached it, the next runner starts with a substitute sash. The time difference is added to the goal time.
Daito Bunka University cheer staff demonstrates that school spirit is an important aspect of the Hakone Ekiden.
Twenty universities, which belong to The Inter-University Athletic Union of Kanto, can participate in this Ekiden. Ten of them have seed rights which they got the previous year, nine are the best nine universities in a preliminary contest, and the tenth is a group of runners made up of those who do not belong to any of the 19 universities but achieved a good record in a preliminary contest.
Teams above 10th place get seeded and can participate in the Hakone Ekiden the next year.
If a runner retires en route to a station because of an accident, his team is treated as retired. Although runners for following sections may run, their times are not officially recorded.