translated and edited by Brett Larner
A long distance and marathon powerhouse, the 2017 New Year Ekiden national champion Asahi Kasei team has recruited Kenyan athletes for the first time. Surpassing even the 10000 m national record of 27:29.69 set by Asahi Kasei's Kota Murayama, 24, the pair of Kenyans includes a 32-year-old veteran who has run sub-27 and a young 23-year-old. With experience coaching Kenyans at the Aisan Kogyo corporate team through the end of March, Isamu Sennai has also joined the Asahi Kasei staff in preparation for the Kenyans' arrival.
At this year's New Year Ekiden corporate men's national championships, 30 of the 37 teams in the field featured foreign athletes. In the midst of such a field, Asahi Kasei scored the first win by a Japanese-only team in 18 years. Founded in 1946, Asahi Kasei produced greats including twins Shigeru and Takeshi Soh, 1991 World Championships marathon gold medalist Hiromi Taniguchi and 1992 Barcelona Olympics silver medalist Koichi Morishita. Its current lineup features a large number of the country's best including Rio Olympics marathoner Satoru Sasaki and twins Kenta and Kota Murayama. Its prestige is further strengthened by the addition of two of the best from the "long distance kingdom" of Kenya, promising further evolution in its future.
Translator's note: The article does not mention the Kenyan athletes' actual names. They are Kenneth Kipkemoi and Abraham Kipyatich.