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Financial Times and Nikkei to headline sponsor the inaugural FT Nikkei UK Ekiden, bringing iconic Japanese relay racing to the UK

Julia Longbottom CMG, Britain’s Ambassador to Japan, made an exciting announcement during her address at the Japan Society annual lecture hosted at Nomura International on March 11. She revealed the inception of the UK’s first-ever “ekiden” running relay race, generously sponsored by the FT and Nikkei Inc as the headline sponsors.

Scheduled for June 24, the inaugural UK race will trace a historic path from Oxford to Windsor alongside the picturesque Thames Path. Coincidentally, this event aligns with the centenary celebration of Japan’s renowned Hakone Ekiden, a significant milestone in the sport’s history observed earlier this year in January.

“I have the privilege of announcing that the partnership of the FT and Nikkei have agreed to sponsor the [UK ekiden], so it will be called the FT Nikkei UK Ekiden. We hope it will be something that will last long into the future and help deepen the ties between Japan and the UK.”

Longbottom expressed her gratitude

The ekiden tradition dates back centuries, originating from a time when runners relayed crucial messages and goods between stations along predetermined routes. The term “ekiden” itself signifies “station” and “convey or to tell.” Over time, ekiden has evolved into a beloved relay race format in Japan, highlighting teamwork, endurance, and camaraderie.

“This event not only introduces the iconic ekiden race to the UK but also presents a unique opportunity to unite a diverse array of individuals, companies, universities, and charities engaged in UK-Japan communities to showcase the spirit of teamwork in an exhilarating format.”

Anna Dingley, Founder of the UK Ekiden, remarked

“The FT has been part of Nikkei Inc since 2015. In the spirit of cooperation and the success of our global alliance, we’re delighted to support this uniquely Japanese event as it debuts in the UK. It’s a wonderful opportunity to cement ties between our countries and cultures.”

John Ridding, CEO of FT, expressed enthusiasm

“The FT Nikkei UK Ekiden embodies the spirit of unity and shared success that characterises the close cooperation between Nikkei and the FT, and between Japan and the UK. It’s an honour for Nikkei to be a part of an historic event that will bridge distances through the universal language of sport.”

Tsuyoshi Hasebe, President & CEO of Nikkei Inc., echoed these sentiments

The UK Ekiden will feature 21 teams comprising 10 runners each, representing a mix of corporates, universities, and UK Japan-related organisations, reflecting various facets of the UK-Japan relationship.

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