Aoyama Gakuin University won the 100th Tokyo-Hakone collegiate ekiden road relay Wednesday in a record total time of 10 hours, 41 minutes, 25 seconds.

Aoyama Gakuin beat the previous record it set in 2022 by more than 2 minutes while claiming its seventh Hakone ekiden victory, all coming in the last 10 years.

Pre-race favorite Komazawa University finished a distant second in 10:48:00 in a bid to become the first team to sweep collegiate ekiden's three major races in consecutive seasons.

Aoyama Gakuin University anchor Shunya Udagawa crosses the finish line in Tokyo's Otemachi business district on Jan. 3, 2024, securing the university's seventh victory in the two-day Tokyo-Hakone collegiate ekiden road relay. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Komazawa won the Izumo Ekiden in October and the national championship in November.

Aoyama Gakuin started the 109.6-kilometer return leg -- from the mountainous hot spring resort of Hakone in Kanagawa Prefecture to Tokyo's Otemachi business district -- with a 2-minute, 38-second lead.

Aoyama Gakuin's sixth to 10th runners each ran faster than their Komazawa counterparts, clocking a combined 5:23:12.

"I'm happy to have run in this Hakone ekiden and won the title, which was my dream since I entered this school," said Aoyama Gakuin's seventh runner and senior Kento Yamauchi, who made his debut in the annual race that began in 1920.

Josai University placed third in 10:52:26 for the school's highest-ever finish. The top three finishers remained unchanged in the standings from the end of Tuesday's outward journey.

Komazawa manager Atsushi Fujita said, "We wanted to finish first, so second place is a disappointment. I have a lot of regrets. We'll work hard and come back."

Spectators were allowed to cheer runners on for the first time in four years, reflecting the easing of the coronavirus pandemic.

A total of 23 schools in the Kanto region centering on Tokyo took part in the race, three more than usual, as it marked its 100th edition.

Related coverage:

Athletics: Aoyama Gakuin Univ. takes Tokyo-Hakone ekiden Day 1 lead