translated by Brett Larner
The Jitsugyodan Track and Field Federation released the entry lists on Dec. 17 for the upcoming 53rd New Year Ekiden, the championship event for Japan's professional male runners.
This year's roster is packed with Beijing Olympians. Defending champion Team Konica Minolta's squad includes 5000 m and 10000 m runner Takayuki Matsumiya. 2007 winner Team Chugoku Denryoku will field marathoners Tsuyoshi Ogata and Sato Atsushi. The third Beijing marathoner, Satoshi Osaki, who withdrew from the Olympic marathon with an injury, is back in form to lead Team NTT Nishi Nihon. Team Fujitsu's lineup features 3000 m steeplechaser Yoshitaka Iwamizu, a newcomer to the team in 2008.
Team Kanebo is led by Satoshi Irifune, who was the top Japanese finisher and 2nd overall at the Fukuoka International Marathon earlier this month, becoming the first man to be named to the Japanese national marathon team for next summer's World Track and Field Championships. Satoru Kitamura, the top Japanese finisher in September's All-Japan Jitsugyodan Track and Field Championships 10000 m, joins Team Nissin Shokuhin as its star rookie after graduating from Nittai University earlier in the year.
The New Year Ekiden begins at 9:05 a.m. on Jan. 1. The 7-stage, 100 km course traverses much of Gunma Prefecture. Start lists and team order details will be released on Dec. 31.