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Meet the Team

There are many people in Japan and in the UK working hard to bring the UK Ekiden to life. Our advisory board is particularly instrumental in helping us connect with the supporters, ensure the race will be authentic and expand our reach.


Anna Dingley, Founder of UK Ekiden

Anna Dingley

Anna’s links between Japan and the UK extend over 30 years. She has worked in a wide range of roles in government, finance and for individual companies. She has served as a non executive board member for Japanese and British companies, and also as a trustee for the Japan Society. She is on the Creative Steering Committee for the UK Pavilion at the Osaka Expo 2025.

Alongside her work she has taken part in many sporting challenges around the world. When she heard the Hakone Ekiden was celebrating its 100th event, it was the inspiration to launch an Ekiden in the UK in 2024 to further enhance the links between the UK and Japan.

Japan Representative

Naomi Higa, Japan Representative of UK Ekiden

Naomi Higa

After 26 years living in the UK, Naomi recently returned to Japan and has picked up the virtual tasuki to support and contribute to the UK Ekiden from Tokyo.

An expert in global HR, compliance and general management, she works with international companies as they establish themselves in Japan, brings a wonderful level of efficiency and enthusiasm to and project.

Naomi is surrounded by runners – some particularly fast ones! – and has been keen to bring the UK Ekiden to life from its early days.

Advisory Board

Hironobu Ishikawa at UK Ekiden

Hironobu Ishikawa

Hironobu Ishikawa has been a global business man for several decades representing Mitsui & Co. Ltd across the world. His previous roles include Executive Managing Director in EMEA from 2013, and Senior Executive Managing Officer of Mitsui & Co., Ltd from 2015. He is currently Advisor for Kansai Biomass Recycling Network Co., Ltd, Director Re-Gas Energy UK, Director Osaka Steel Co., Ltd, and International Senior Advisor, Kreab K.K. He still finds time to support the UK Ekiden, with valuable advice, strategy and introductions in Japan.

Jake Barraclough at UK Ekiden

Jake Barraclough

Jake is a fanatic British runner and Daiwa scholar, currently based in Tokyo to experience Japan’s extraordinary running scene first-hand. He has not been disappointed! He is learning Japanese and aggressively pursuing his ambitious running goals. He finds himself joining a group of semi-elite runners and Hakone Ekiden veterans called Team MK, who have welcomed him into their midst. He tells us with these new training (and language) partners, the endless daily laps around Yoyoji park seem to fly by!

Brett Larner at UK Ekiden

Brett Larner

Brett Larner is the editor of Japan Running News, produced the documentary Inside the Outside — When the World Came to Fukuoka about the history of Japan’s Fukuoka International Marathon, and is a World Athletics authorized athlete representative. He moved to Tokyo in 1997 for graduate school and has been focused on the running scene ever since. He helps people from around the world understand the intricacies and excitement of Ekiden through Japan Running News.

Oscar Beardmore-Grey at UK Ekiden

Oscar Beardmore-Grey

Oscar is a communications specialist and multimedia producer based in Vancouver, Canada. He represents Momiji Charity on our advisory board, and has been supporting the UK Ekiden from day one. His experience ranges from producing, creating and editing documentaries and podcasts on various topics, to ensuring that the Momiji Charity continues to thrive and promote Anglo-Japanese relations.

Noel Thatcher, UK Ekiden

Noel Thatcher

Noel Thatcher is a distinguished six-time Paralympian athlete, securing five gold medals across the years 1984-2004. Proficient in both Japanese and English, he plays a pivotal role in promoting strong ties between Japan and the UK. Recognising his significant contributions, he was honoured with the Japanese Government Foreign Minister’s Commendation in 2019.

Mr. Thatcher has actively engaged in various cultural exchange programs, disseminating Japanese culture and language throughout the UK. His initiatives include collaborative efforts with schools, national sports organisations, the Japanese embassy, and UK-based Japanese organisations, further strengthening the cultural and linguistic bonds between the two nations.

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