Asics has founded an annual virtual relay marathon called the Asics World Ekiden. The footrace is split into six legs – three of 5 km, two of 10 km and one of 7.2 km – adding up to the usual marathon distance of 42.2 km.Teams of up to six people can compete, each handing to the next runner a digital version of Japan’s traditional ekiden “baton,” the tasuki, which in the physical world is actually a band of fabric. The race’s digital platform works through the Japanese brand’s Race Roster and Runkeeper apps. Competitors can listen to the race with customizable audio or track their team’s progress and rank in real time with an Apple Watch, Garmin device or Fitbit. Inspiration for the race came from both Japanese tradition and polls conducted by Asics among athletic people, leading to the conclusion that most of them have come to miss collective goals and group competition over the course of the pandemic. The Asics World Ekiden is open to all, and registration for this year’s inaugural edition opened on Oct. 1 through the Runkeeper app and on, which also offers training plans and news on the race. Teams must complete their relay sometime within the time range of Nov. 11-22.