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【Center News】Para-Ekiden in Tokyo 2017:Photo Report of the Para-Ekiden

The Para-Ekiden in Tokyo 2017 took place on March 12 under clear blue skies. This was the second Para-Ekiden in Tokyo race, and all 153 runners of 17 teams (14 prefectures) completed their runs. Team Yoshimoto (as unofficial participants) and AAA (as guest performers) brought lively entertainment to the event. Let us take a look at the day with photographs.

Blind singer-songwriter Koshi Kishita and Chihiro Watanabe put on the opening concert.

Special guests arrive, including Ryota Yamasato of Nankai Candies, Junichi Komoto of Jicho Kacho, Toshiyuki Itakura and Atsushi Tsutsumishita of Impulse, and more!

The runners, the true protagonists of the day, arrive. Members of the Yoshimoto Cheerleading Squad led a chorus of the song "Ashita ga arusa (There is always tomorrow)" which everyone sang and clapped along to.

Opening concert performer Koshi Kishita also sang the national anthem.

The athlete's oath was taken by Shizuka Hangai (Fukushima Peach Diamond), Maki Yamada (Sawayaka Lemon), Masaoki Kokusho (Cheeba-kun) and Ayaka Iwamatsu (Shinano Purples).

Local mascots came to cheer on their prefectures, including Tokkikki (Niigata), Takeda Hishimaru (Yamanashi), Kobaton (Saitama), Yuri-to (Tokyo) and more.

The first section of the marathon (visual impairment) started with the signal gun fired by Yuriko Koike, Governor of Tokyo (left in photo).

Paralympians joined the race as well, such as long jumper Uran Sawada (left in photo) and judoka Shizuka Hangai.

After the first section, Satoru Yoneoka and guide runner Naoki Okumura (Tokyo Wakuwaku Enjoy) were interviewed by Governor Koike.

Inside the field, Miss Universe Riyo Mori and members of Team Yoshimoto (Hiroyuki Baba of Robert, Komoto, Yamasato, Itakura and Tsutsumishita) tried their hand at wheelchair basketball.

Deaf and hard-of-hearing runners ran the second section. Guests cheered them on with the sign language for clapping: raising your hands up to the head and waving them.

Koichiro Yamanaka (Tokyo Wakuwaku Enjoy), Deaf Japan record holder for the 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter marathons, took the second section victory!

Naoki Matsumoto (Cheeba-kun) showed a great performance in his wheelchair for the third section (wheelchair, men's).

Rina Goto (Gunma Karakaze RUN) running the fourth section (non-disabled, women's)

Shota Gomi (Yamanashi Meteor) won the fifth section (intellectual disability) for the second consecutive year!

Amputee Keita Tezuka (Atsuize!! Saitama) taking on the sixth section (limb impairment)

All teams practiced for the sash hand-off between standing and wheelchair runners. Smooth hand-overs have an impact on the final result!

After the race, there was still more to enjoy. This photo shows the performance by the disabled team of the Fugaku Taiko drum troupe.

Last was the closing ceremony. Team "Very Good Tochigi" took first place and the Governor's Award.

The Nippon Foundation Chairman Award recognizes the team that garnered the most cheering. This time it went to first-time participant "TEAM MIYAGI."

Kazuyoshi Niitsu (Shinano Purples), Satsuki Kinuno (Tokyo Wakuwaku Enjoy), Tsutomu Nagata (Niigata Comet), Kazuhiro Ohashi (Cheeba-kun), Saki Takamuro (Tokyo Wakuwaku Enjoy) and more, received the section victories at the closing ceremony.

The performance group AAA, who had helped to liven up the venue together with Team Yoshimoto, put on a grand finale, bringing together a stadium full of runners, spectators and volunteer workers.

Unofficial participants [Team Yoshimoto]

[First Section] The group Ochanomizu Danshi ran the first section,
with Shiihashi Justaway (left) wearing an eye mask and Omoshiro Sato as guide runner.

[Second Section] Hiroshi Yamamoto of Robert ran with earplugs.

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