Skip to main content

Ritsumeikan Continues Dynasty at National University Women`s Ekiden

by Brett Larner

The Ritsumeikan University women`s ekiden team extended its national championship dynasty at the 5th All-Japan University Women`s Invitational Ekiden in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture on Dec. 24, defeating 19 other teams to win the event for the 5th time. Despite a strong challenge from Bukkyo University, who set new stage records on 3 of the 6 stages, Ritsumeikan once again prevailed over this 30.67 km course.

1st Stage: 5 km
All 20 runners on the first stage stayed together until the 2 km point when a few began to drift away from the back of the pack. At the 3 km point Ryoko Kisaki of Bukkyo broke away, dropping a 3:00 km between 3 and 4 km. Juntendo University`s Yuka Inatomi and Nihon University`s Kenyan 'exchange student' Ann Kingori followed, Kingori dropping Inatomi with 500 m to go. Neither was close to Kisaki, who was strong right to the finish in a new stage record time.

1. Bukkyo: 15:39 (Ryoko Kisaki, 4th yr., new stage record)
2. Nihon: 15:50 (Ann Kingori, 2nd yr.)
3. Juntendo: 15:52 (Yuka Inatomi, 4th yr.)

2nd Stage: 3 km
Nihon`s other Kenyan exchange student, Jemima Maina, went out aggressively to catch Bukkyo`s Chizuru Ideta but did not realize that Ideta herself was running new stage record pace. Maina faltered after 2 km and slowed dramatically, almost overtaken by the pack which enveloped Juntendo after 1.5 km. Ritsumeikan`s Kaori Onuma emerged from the pack before the handoff zone to take the 3rd position.

1. Bukkyo: 25:10 (Chizuru Ideta, 3rd yr.: 9:32 new stage record)
2. Nihon: 25:35 (Jemima Maina, 1st yr.: 9:45)
3. Ritsumeikan: 25:36 (Kaori Onuma, 1st yr.)

3rd Stage: 5.5 km
Ritsumeikan`s Kazue Kojima immediately passed Nihon`s Manami Takeuchi and began to advance on Bukkyo`s Yuika Mori, her rival since early high school days. At 2 km Meijo University`s Seika Nishikawa also overtook Takeuchi, eliminating Nihon from the top 3 slots. Kojima passed Mori at 4.1 km but Mori maintained contact and with 200 m to go sprinted back into the lead. Nevertheless, Kojima`s performance was good for a new stage record.

1. Bukkyo: 43:18 (Yuika Mori, 2nd yr.: 18:08)
2. Ritsumeikan: 43:19 (Kazue Kojima, 2nd yr.: 17:43 new stage record)
3. Meijo: 43:49 (Seika Nishikawa, 2nd yr.: 17:56)

4th Stage: 3.5 km
Bukkyo`s Rino Hakushi and Yukie Nakadomari of Ritsumeikan ran together for the 1st km, but with Nakadomari`s far superior PBs it was only a matter of time before she pulled away. Meijo`s Kaori Ito also advanced, significantly narrowing the gap between herself and 2nd place.

1. Ritsumeikan: 54:44 (Yukie Nakadomari, 3rd yr.: 11:25 stage best)
2. Bukkyo: 55:10 (Rino Hakushi, 3rd yr.: 11:52)
3. Meijo: 55:32 (Kaori Ito, 1st yr.: 11:43)

5th Stage: 6 km
Ritsumeikan`s 5th stage runner Akiko Matsunaga ran with special motivation. Ritsumeikan won October`s All-Japan University Women`s Ekiden with 5 of its 6 runners winning stage best honors. Matsunaga came 2nd on her leg in that race. She was determined to come away with the stage best title this time, but despite a solid run was outdone by Bukkyo`s Eriko Ogino who ran a new stage record. Mika Kawai of Meijo soldiered on in the 3rd position.

1. Ritsumeikan: 1:14:27 (Akiko Matsunaga, 3rd yr.: 19:43)
2. Bukkyo: 1:14:46 (Eriko Ogino, 2nd yr.: 19:37 new stage record)
3. Meijo: 1:15:28 (Mika Kawai, 2nd yr.: 19:56)

6th Stage: 7.67 km
Bukkyo`s anchor was star 1st-yr. recruit Kasumi Nishihara with a PB of 15:41. Nishihara had confidently predicted that if she was within 20 seconds of the leader she could win the anchor leg, making for Bukkyo`s 1st national ekiden title. When Ogino delivered her the tasuki with only a 19-second margin the stage looked set for a dramatic finish as Ritsumeikan`s anchor Noriko Higuchi held a 5000 m PB over 20 seconds slower than Nishihara`s. Both runners went on to do the unexpected, with Higuchi far outrunning the uncomfortable-looking Nishihara to widen the gap to 39 seconds. Meijo`s anchor Eri Sato managed to move a few steps closer to Nishihara but nowhere near to being in range of 2nd place. Tokyo Nogyo University`s Mariko Sase surprised all with a stage-best run to take 4th place away from a rebounding Juntendo.

1. Ritsumeikan: 1:39:33 (Noriko Higuchi, 4th yr.: 25:06)
2. Bukkyo: 1:40:12 (Kasumi Nishihara, 1st yr.: 25:26)
3. Meijo: 1:40:52 (Eri Sato, 3rd yr.: 25:24)
stage best: Mariko Sase, 3rd yr., Tokyo Nogyo: 25:04

Complete results will be added when the race website is updated.

Note: The race website linked above includes video interviews with runners from the top 12 schools in the ekiden.

© 2007 Brett Larner
All rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

World Athletics' Rapid About-Face on Shoe Regulations Leaves Runners in Confusion: "It's Like They're Playing With a Stacked Deck"

On Aug. 10 World Athletics announced that revised regulations on competition footwear that it had released on July 28 had already gone into effect on that date for track events. At the time of the new regulations' announcement WA had initially said that they would take effect on Dec. 1. The regulations effectively ban the use of thick-soled shoes Nike's dominant Vaporfly and Alphafly on the track and disallow any performances run in them.

WA's July 28 announcement of revised regulations was made in preparation for the postponed Tokyo Olympic Games. The new regulations specify the thickness of the sole that may be use in shoes for various disciplines, with field events apart from the triple jump and track events up to 400 m limited to 20 mm, the triple jump, track events 800 m and longer, and cross-country up to 22 mm. Nike's current models, which dominate the long distance market, have thicknesses of 36 mm for the Vaporfly and 39.5 mm for the Alphafly.



The revised reg…

Running The Original 2020 Tokyo Olympics Marathon Course Part Two - Men's Marathon

Pre-corona, today would have been the men's marathon at the Tokyo Olympics, originally in Tokyo, then bumped off to Sapporo. For the sake of completion, for the third year in a row I ran most of the Tokyo course at the time that the race would have happened, starting at 6:00 a.m., taking temperature and humidity measurements every 30 minutes, and finishing back at the Olympic Stadium at 8:15 a.m. around the time that many of the top men would have been coming in.


Like last week's run at the original time of the women's marathon, conditions today wouldn't have been a problem for anyone who had done any kind of preparation to run a summertime marathon. Counter to the forecast, which predicted sunny skies the whole way, right before the schedule start time cloud cover rolled in over the city, helping to keep temperatures down. Humidity was high, but as per the forecast the temperature actually went down over the first 90 minutes. The humidity rose in relation to the cool…

Study Finds 63.9% of Elite Japanese Track and Field Athletes Use Supplements

The degree to which elite-level Japanese track and field athletes utilize supplements has become clearer. Nearly 2/3 of athletes regularly use a supplement, with higher usage among women than men, higher usage among seniors than juniors, and higher usage in long distance than in other disciplines. Those are the findings of a paper by Shogo Tabata of the Keio University Sports Medicine Center published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

Supplement usage is higher among athletes than in the general population, with some studies suggesting a typical usage level of about 60%. There are a wide variety of supplements such as vitamins and minerals, but few have clear evidence of efficacy. At the same time, some products have been known to include banned substances, creating the risk of "unintentional doping" by those who use them carelessly.

Although the number of reported cases of Japanese athletes caught for doping is small, the proportion of them d…