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Yuriko Kobayashi: "I Want to Lead Our Team" at Yokohama International Women's Ekiden

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The Yokohama International Women's Ekiden takes place this Sunday, Feb. 24. The 42.195 km course consists of 6 stages through the streets of downtown Yokohama. The Japanese team met the press at a pre-race conference on Feb. 22.

A victory here would be Japan's first Yokohama win in 3 years. Team member and 1500 m national record holder Yuriko Kobayashi, 19, (Team Toyota Jidoshokki), said, "I'm the youngest person here but I want to lead our team to win. I don't want to let us down. I want to learn about international running culture from the foreign runners too." Kobayashi brushed aside questions about her conflict with Rikuren over being banned from jitsugyodan races for enrolling in university after joining a jitsugyodan team. "I'm leaving that to the coaches. I don't let it distract me."

Beijing Olympics 10,000 m qualifier, anchor of the winning Japanese team at last fall's International Chiba Ekiden and proud 'Mama Runner' Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) said, "Whatever the race, I'm happy to run on a national team. I was sick over the New Year's holidays but was at our training camp on Tokunoshima until the 18th and felt much better. I will run well."


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