Skip to main content

Bukkyo Breaks Ritsumeikan For First National Title

by Brett Larner

It was a familiar story: clocking an unprecedented fourth-straight new stage record at the major national university women's championship Morinomiyako Ekiden, ace senior Kazue Kojima led Ritsumeikan University, except for 2005 when it was 2nd the national champion every year since 2003, to break its own course record by nearly two minutes. But there was something strange. TV cameras showed Ritsumeikan's women crying and devastated at the finish. What had gone wrong? The answer: cross-town rival Bukkyo University had beaten them by another margin of nearly two minutes to take its first-ever national title.

Bukkyo's performance was just a few degrees off perfection. First Stage runner Mai Ishibashi took a slow first half before taking off in the second half to win the leg by 2 seconds over Ritsumeikan's Hanae Tanaka. From there on every Bukkyo runner just went out hell-bent at 100% from the start, recklessly running stage-record pace and daring Ritsumeikan to try to keep up. Most faded, but three of the team's six members managed to hang on for new individual stage records.

The lone Bukkyo runner to miss winning her stage was the team's star Kasumi Nishikawa, who was up against Ritsumeikan's mighty Kojima on the Third Stage. Nishikawa inherited a 31-second lead and proceded to open the gap even further, but as she faded in the final kilometers the experienced Kojima, who has never lost an ekiden stage in her university career, ratched down her til-then steady pace and closed to within 10 seconds. Nishihara held her off by running just 5 seconds slower than Kojima's old course record, but Kojima was easily the stronger as she broke her own record by 25 seconds.

Bukkyo's remaining runners over the second half of the ekiden were extremely impressive, in particular Fifth Stage runner Chinami Mori who bettered the old record by 25 seconds over 4.0 km, and anchor Hikari Yoshimoto who ran the first km of the 8.0 km Sixth Stage in 3:03 and broke the stage record by nearly 40 seconds. Although the team will lose Nishihara and captain Yuika Mori to graduation in the spring, its strong contingent of first years suggests a good future over the next few seasons. Ritsumeikan had no real flaws in its performance, with two new stage records and four stage 2nd-best marks. Bukkyo was just better. Ritsumeikan will suffer from Kojima's graduation but having had strong recruitment last year will still be in position to continue its rivalry with new champion Bukkyo.

There were another 24 teams in this year's Morinomiyako Ekiden, but none was in the same class as Bukkyo and Ritsumeikan. 2005 winner Meijo University was 3rd again, a familiar position since its last win, with Josai Kokusai University 4th. Josai University, Kyoto Sangyo University and Tokyo Nogyo University had an exciting battle for 5th and 6th, the final two seeded places for next year's national ekiden. Tokyo Nogyo came up short thanks to outstanding anchor performances by Josai's Miki Yamada and Kyoto Sangyo's Misato Yamakawa. Tamagawa University and Nihon University were among the disappointments, finishing well outside the seeded bracket in 9th and 12th.

2009 Morinomiyako Ekiden - National University Women's Ekiden Championships

Top Team Results - 38.6 km, six stages
1. Bukkyo Univ. - 2:03:32 - new course record
2. Ritsumeikan Univ. - 2:05:13 - new course record
3. Meijo Univ. - 2:08:17
4. Josai Kokusai Univ. - 2:09:47
5. Josai Univ. - 2:10:02
6. Kyoto Sangyo Univ. - 2:10:15
----- top six seeded for 2010
7. Tokyo Nogyo Univ. - 2:10:40
8. Hakuho Univ. - 2:11:03
9. Tamagawa Univ. - 2:11:16
10. Juntendo Univ. - 2:11:17

Top Individual Results - click here for complete results
First Stage (6.0 km) - Mai Ishibashi (Bukkyo Univ.) - 19:21
Second Stage (6.6 km) - Yuika Mori (Bukkyo Univ.) - 20:51 - new stage record
Third Stage (9.1 km) - Kazue Kojima (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 29:15 - new stage record
Fourth Stage (4.9 km) - Shiho Takechi (Bukkyo Univ.) - 15:23
Fifth Stage (4.0 km) - Chinami Mori (Bukkyo Univ.) - 12:42 - new stage record
Machiko Iwakawa (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 12:55 - new stage record
Sixth Stage (8.0 km) - Hikari Yoshimoto (Bukkyo Univ.) - 25:25 - new stage record

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kawauchi Named Captain of Japanese National Team for London World Championships

At a JAAF event at the British Embassy in Tokyo on July 21, marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (30, Saitama Pref. Gov't) was named men's captain of the Japanese national team for next month's London World Championships. Javelin throw national record holder Yuki Ebihara (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) was chosen as women's captain.

In a wide-ranging and impassioned speech 4 minutes and 20 seconds long, Kawauchi stoked the team's morale as he told attendees, "I think that there are athletes here today who look at London as just a checkpoint along the way to the Tokyo Olympics. But as a representative of Japan it is not enough just to be there competing. I feel it strongly. You must produce results at this event, the London World Championships. This is the task assigned to each and every one of us. It is critical that we work seriously to achieve our goals. The Japanese people want nothing less. What can we as athletes do for them? More than just wearing the uniform, each of us mus…

'$500,000 USD Prized Asian Premier Marathon Series 2017-18 Launched in Beijing'

http://athleticsasia.org/index.php/k2-component/143-500-000-usd-prized-asian-premier-marathon-series-2017-18-launched-in-beijing

A very interesting World Marathon Majors-style development with prize money only for Asian athletes. Equally interesting is the absence of a Japanese race in the series. Japanese marathoners would dominate the series if they ran its three component races, their only real current competition in Asia coming from East African-born Bahraini athletes.

Hayakawa and Ichiyama Win Shibetsu Half

2nd in 2015 and 3rd last year, Tsubasa Hayakawa (Toyota) finally succeeded in scoring 1st at the Shibetsu Half Marathon, outrunning 2013-14 winner Masato Imai (Toyota Kyushu) by 6 seconds to win in 1:03:38. Hayakawa pushed it from the early stages of the race, Imai the only one to try to stay with him but ultimately losing touch. 2016 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon winner Melaku Abera (Kurosaki Harima) was 3rd in 1:03:51.

士別ハーフマラソン
日差しが強くなってきました…💦 pic.twitter.com/qRfUei3aRt — はたのまき (@machakin77) July 23, 2017
The women's field was split between two distances, 10 km and half marathon. Kanako Takemoto (Daihatsu) won the 10 km in 34:27 by a margin of almost 10 seconds over an Otsuka Seiyaku trio led by Ayaka Inoue. 2017 National Cross-Country champion and last year's 10 km runner-up Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) took the top spot in the half marathon, outrunning teammate and national record holder Kayoko Fukushi and others to win in 1:14:01. Fukushi finished 4th in 1:15:41 behind last ye…