Ekiden (駅 伝 竞走jap, Ekiden kyōsō, dt as: "Station message passing race ") is a collective name for relay races in the long-haul segment.

This form of competition evolved from a communication and transport system of the 17th century between the Shōgunatssitz Edo (now Tokyo) and Kyoto imperial residence. The first sporting Ekiden competition was sponsored in 1917 by the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper and led over three days and 516 km from Kyoto to Tokyo to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the transfer of the capital of Japan. Instead of a message of a band ( " Tasuki " ) is passed at today's Ekiden contests. The length of the individual stages as well as the entire route varies: while in the school sector distances are common, in which the individual stages between 2 and 10 kms long, the world's longest Ekiden race goes around Kyushu over a distance of 1064 km, divided into 72 stages.

The best-known form of the Ekiden Marathon Relay is the. In its normalized form with six runners and the stage length 5 km, 10 km, 5 km, 10 km, 5 km and 7.195 km it is a discipline that is included in the list of track and field world records the IAAF. The world record for men is 1:57:06 hours, set up by Kenya ( Josphat Muchiri Ndambiri, Martin Irungu Mathathi, Daniel Mwangi Muchunu, Mekubo Mogusu, Onesmus Nyerre, John Kariuki ) on 23 November 2005 in Chiba; female employment is 2:11:41 hours, set up by China ( Jiang Bo, Dong Yanmei, Zhao Fengting, Ma Zaijie, Lan Lixin, Lin Na) on 28 February 1998 in Beijing.

Since the 1980s, efforts were made to establish Ekidenläufe performance in the sporting field internationally. 1988 about a 50 - km relay in the center of New York City was held. In the years 1992, 1994, 1996 and 1998, the IAAF World Championships was made ​​in the marathon relay. After setting this championship is such a high-profile Ekiden race limited almost exclusively to Japan. The most famous international race will be held on Labor Day in November in Chiba place ( with about 15 squadrons from all continents ) since 1988. Since 2007, go there mixed seasons at the start.

In contrast, mainstream sporting area Ekidenläufe internationally are enjoying increasing popularity. In Switzerland, the Ekiden is offered in its normalized form only in Basel as part of the Run to the Beat Basel. An example of an Ekiden on longer distance is the Swiss SOLA relay race. An organized through virtual collaboration Ekiden is the Germany Relay, a relay race across Germany, which has so far taken place twice. Even in open races over the marathon distance a Ekiden is now often offered as a side competition, in part, to introduce amateur runners at longer distances, in part, to achieve higher numbers of participants. Many companies runs are organized according to the principle Ekiden.