Toyota Boshoku Beats Toyota to Win Chubu Region New Year Ekiden Qualifier
Written by tokyoclub on November 13, 2021
Toyota Boshoku didn’t take the lead until the final leg, anchor Yuji Onoda, 25, playing the critical role in his team’s success. Onoda started the last stage 23 seconds behind Toyota’s Atsushi Yamato but reeled him in within 4 km. Onoda and Yamato were teammates at Aichi’s Toyokawa H.S. and had run together countless times, giving each of them insight into how the other was moving. “Usually I wouldn’t be able to overtake him like that,” said Onoda. “I figured he must not be in peak condition.” That convinced Onoda that he wouldn’t have any problems if he took over the lead so early on the stage.
A graduate of Aoyama Gakuin University, Onoda is in his third season with Toyota Boshoku. At the Hakone Ekiden he ran the downhill Sixth Stage all four years, winning the stage twice, earning a reputation as a downhill expert and making an important contribution to AGU’s overall wins.
According to Toyota Boshoku head coach Shinya Shirayanagi, in recent years his team had become resigned to losing to the powerful Toyota squad, but the win this year has helped blow away that negative atmosphere. Having downed the three-time national champion Toyota team, that feeling is sure to carry Toyota Boshoku through to the national race on Jan. 1. “We were competitive right through to the final stage,” said Shirayanagi.
2022 will mark Toyota Boshoku’s 25th-straight New Year Ekiden appearance, but the team has not made the 8-deep podium since finishing 7th in 2013. The win in the Chubu race gives it a chance of aiming to go higher than ever.
translated by Brett Larner