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Inaugural FT Nikkei UK Ekiden race takes place in Thames Valley

The inaugural FT Nikkei UK Ekiden was held on Monday, bringing the spirit of Japanese relay racing to the UK for the first time ever in an official capacity. The race was headline sponsored by the Financial Times and Nikkei. 

The race took place on the eve of the emperor and empress of Japan’s state visit to the UK, the first in more than 25 years.

Photos are available for use by the media are here.

The long-distance relay race involved 18 teams of 10 runners who ran a 76-mile route along the scenic Thames Path, starting in Oxford and finishing in Windsor. Each runner wore the traditional Japanese tasuki (pictured) sash instead of using a baton.

The winning racing (university) teams were Oxford University (7:48:14), Cambridge University (8:25:12), Birmingham University (8:41:41). The winning team in the running (companies and clubs) category was Team Paris Marathon (9:15:07). 

Winners of the race were presented with wreaths and by FT CEO John Ridding. The UK Ambassador to Japan, Julia Longbottom, was also in attendance.

FT Group CEO John Ridding said: “It was wonderful to be a part of the first FT Nikkei UK Ekiden and to see the true spirit of this iconic race come alive. We’re thrilled to have supported this historic event which strengthens the cultural ties between Japan and the UK and demonstrates the value of teamwork, collaboration and international exchange at a time of divisions. Congratulations to the winners and everyone who participated.”

UK Ekiden founder Anna Dingley said: “It was inspiring to see the energy and endurance from the runners and to feel their sense of camaraderie, which is what the ekiden is all about. We are deeply impressed that the Hakone Ekiden reached the milestone of 100 races, and hope that the UK Ekiden also continues for the next 100 years. Thank you to all the runners and supporters”. 

The participating teams included University teams from Oxford, Cambridge, and Birmingham, as well as corporate teams from The FT, Nikkei, Arcus, Mizuno and Daiwa Capital Markets, Nikko Asset Management and Yu Life. Other teams were Momiji Charity, Team Paris Marathon, Namban Rengo, Jet Programme Alumni Featuring Runner’s World Magazine, RAF Medical Services and Henley Rowing Club Runners.

Sponsored by the FT and Nikkei, the race aims to showcase the long lasting cultural ties between Japan and the UK, as well as an opportunity for people to enjoy aspects of Japanese running culture.


For more information, please email: press@ukekiden.com

About the UK Ekiden

The Japanese long-distance relay format, ekiden, traces its roots back hundreds of years to a time when runners relayed important messages between stations along predetermined routes. The UK Ekiden, launched in admiration and celebration of the 100th Hakone Ekiden in January 2024, has incorporated many aspects of the Japanese race including passing a tasuki sash instead of a baton and an iconic route. The race emphasises teamwork, endurance and camaraderie, and will also serve to strengthen the close bonds between the UK and Japan. 

About the Financial Times

The Financial Times is one of the world’s leading business news organisations, recognised internationally for its authority, integrity and accuracy. The FT has a record paying readership of 1.4 million, more than one million of which are digital subscriptions. It is part of Nikkei Inc., which provides a broad range of information, news and services for the global business community

About Nikkei

Nikkei Inc. is a world-renowned media brand for Asian news, respected for quality journalism and for being a trusted provider of business news and information. Founded as a market news provider in Japan in 1876, Nikkei has grown into one of the world’s largest media corporations, with 37 foreign editorial bureaus and approximately 1,500 journalists worldwide. Nikkei acquired the UK-based Financial Times in 2015. Our combined digital and print circulation totals about 2.3 million, and we are continually deploying new technologies to increase our readership.

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