ASICS today announces the inaugural ASICS World Ekiden 2020: the ultimate running challenge that will see teams of up to six people from across the globe come together to complete a combined marathon. Inspired by a century of Japanese running culture, the race will be split into six legs of varying distances, making it perfect for runners of all abilities and experience.
Trusted voices within their community, ASICS has founded two regional teams to be part of ASICS World Ekiden 2020; an amateur team to discuss motivators of participation; an experience team to share training tips and key race preparations. The first team include ASICS’ regional celebrities and influencers including Singapore actor Zong Zijie, radio host Aishah Sinclair from Malaysia, Indonesia actress Sahila Hisyam, Thai actors Toey Pongsakorn and Neng Sarun Naraprasertkul, Miss Universe Philippines Gazini Ganados. Athletes such as Singapore marathoner Serena Teoh, Malaysia marathoner Michelle Chua, Indonesia racewalker Hendro Yap, Thai sprinter Jirapong Meenapra, National Olympian Mary Joy Tabal from the Philippines, and Vietnamese long-distance runner Nguyen Van Lai will form the second team.
The ASICS World Ekiden 2020 will also combine the best of real-world and virtual racing thanks to a new race platform using both Race Roster™ and the ASICS Runkeeper™ app. From tracking their team progress in real-time on their Apple Watch, Garmin or Fitbit device to ranking themselves on live online leaderboards and enjoying a customised in-race audio experience, participants will experience the excitement, connection and motivation of team competition no matter how far apart they are. They will even have to pass their very own digital tasuki – the narrow band of fabric used in traditional Japanese Ekidens – to each other at the end of every leg.
Bringing people together when they’re apart
The launch of the ASICS World Ekiden 2020 comes in direct response to the findings of ASICS’ ongoing global research into the ever-changing needs of runners and sports fans the world over. The research, which kicked off immediately after the pandemic began, reveals that 42% of people who exercise regularly are finding it difficult to stay motivated as they don’t have a goal to work towards at the moment.
Meanwhile, three in four (74% globally) of team sport players say sport or exercise is more enjoyable when played with friends and teammates and two thirds (67% globally) admit to missing the chance to compete with others. Half (50% globally) even claim their mental wellbeing has been negatively impacted by being disconnected from teammates.
Through the ASICS World Ekiden 2020, ASICS aims to help people renew their connections with each other, enjoy the mental and physical benefits of team competition and re-energise their collective love of sport and exercise with a shared goal.
Yasuhito Hirota, President & Chief Operating Officer, ASICS, said: “It may be inspired by one of Japan’s most famous race formats, but the ASICS World Ekiden 2020 really is an event like no other. We know people are missing the motivation and connection they get from team sport, so we are really excited to bring people together from all over the world to train and compete together in pursuit of a shared goal. In the true spirit of the Ekiden, anybody can take part, and nobody will be running alone.”
To help teams prepare ahead of the highly-anticipated event, ASICS is offering them free access to a variety of products and services in the run-up to race day, including training, coaching and expert tips. To celebrate the achievement of everyone who takes part, all teams who complete the race will be automatically entered for a chance to win a bespoke, made-in-Japan, authentic tasuki for the entire team of six runners.
Yasuhito Hirota added: “At ASICS, listening to runners of all levels and understanding their evolving needs is at the heart of everything we do. Right now, that means helping bring back the mental, physical and social benefits that come with team sport. But as life continues to change in future, we’ll keep on innovating new products, services and events that deliver the experiences people want.”
Anyone can Ekiden – so the ASICS World Ekiden 2020 is open to all, with distances that attract all levels of runner. To take part, people simply sign up for free using Runkeeper or the ASICS hub https://www.asics.com/us/en-us/mk/asics-world-ekiden. Teams must complete their relay race between 11th and 22nd November 2020. For expert advice, training plans and the latest news and information about the ASICS World Ekiden 2020, follow #ASICSWorldEkiden or visiting https://www.asics.com/us/en-us/mk/asics-world-ekiden