ISU MSS19 Takes Part in Relay Race That Originated in Japan


The International Space University (ISU) Master of Space Studies class of 2019 (MSS19) participated in the annual Ekiden Race, introduced to ISU by visiting professor Gonglin Sun, himself a keen runner. MSS19 Farnoosh Sheini hangs up her bib and reports.

“The Ekiden race consists in a variety of endurance relay races where participants compete in groups of four to six runners. For the 2018 edition of the Ekiden Race, ISU MSS19 fielded two teams of six competitors. The race began on Place Jeanne Helbling in Strasbourg and had various relay tiers of 5km, 7.19km, 10km distances and a complete 42.19km distance race where competitors can test the limits of their endurance.
The Ekiden Race has its origins in Japan where it can be traced back to 1917. The original race stretched from Japan’s old imperial capital of Kyoto to its modern-day capital of Tokyo. Runners covered more than 500 kilometers over the course of three days. Ekiden translate to stage coach in the Japanese language.
The runners who represented the International Space University congregated inside The Village of Ekiden Strasbourg. For Ekiden 2018, under dynamic weather effects the ISU competitors anxiously awaited their competition as other teams began to gather around them near the first starting line. For some ISU runners this was just another race to add onto their long list of athletic achievements. For others this was their first race or organized athletic event ever. One thing was for sure, no ISU student was going to run alone. They were going to either falter or exhale as a team. As a starting shot fired across Strasbourg, ISU MSS19 began Ekiden 2018.

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Ekiden race Kickoff

The first ISU runners initiated the first 5km relay with the full support of the rest of the ISU class who cheered them on. With them they carried a relay band which they would pass on to the next set of runners awaiting them at the beginning of the 10km relay. In total, both ISU teams covered over 80 kilometers as a class. As each runner completed their individual relay, they joined the rest of their team to cheer on the next runners. By the time that the mid relay runners prepared to receive the relay band, their shoes and clothes were already soaked with the French rain. Yet it did not stop the competitors from burning the relay, and it did not stop MSS19 from cheering.             

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Relay Race Transition Between Runners Taiwo (left) and Farnoosh (right)

The ISU MSS19 class progressed through the relays. The energy was so positive that it could not be ignored through the ice-cold rain drops as each runner dug deep into their spirit to find the energy to keep on going. Like tears in the rain, sweat began to be undistinguishable from the natural hydro elements. Yet every single member of the ISU team rallied across their individual relay finish line. ISU MSS19 started the race as two separate teams, but conquered Ekiden 2018 as a class.

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Visiting Professor Gonglin Sun Defending the ISU colors

Very few graduate programs are as immersive as the Masters of Space Studies program delivered by the International Space University. It requires its candidates to devote their lives in their entirety for the period of twelve months, fulltime on campus activities, and countless hours of individual study.
Students are mentally challenged through various modules, individual assignments, team projects, and optional physical events such as the Ekiden challenge which built team cohesion. On October 29th, 2018, MSS19 competed as a class to complete Ekiden 2018, as each student completes the program and returns to their home and families, they will work with new groups of people and eventually lead their own teams in their chosen fields. Pending their contribution to the space industry. Their next Ekiden race might not be in Strasbourg, or even on Earth for that matter.”