Skip to main content

Ongori and Fukushi Rock 25th Fukui Ekiden

by Brett Larner

Kenyan star Philes Ongori (Team Hokuren) got the 25th anniversary Fukui Super Ladies' Ekiden started in style with a stage record performance on the 6 km 1st leg. After a conservative first kilometer in which she matched paces with fellow Kenyan Danielle Philomena Cheyech (Team Uniqlo) and top university woman Kazue Kojima (Ritsumeikan Univ.), Ongori sped away to clock 18:28, breaking the 12 year-old record by 7 seconds. Cheyech attempted to follow and initially opened a comfortable gap, but the gritty Kojima returned for a sprint finish in which Cheyech prevailed by only a stride, timed at 19:11 to Kojima's 19:12.

Hokuren's lead looked formidable as the team ran on course record pace through the end of the 4th stage, but despite a strong showing as anchor at last week's East Japan Jitsugyodan Women's Ekiden 5th leg runner Saori Nejo ran into trouble and lost ground to the chasers. Surprisingly, the team that was running her down was not 10-time champion Wacoal or another pro team but 2009 Morinomiyako Ekiden winner Bukkyo University.

While Ritsumeikan had chosen to run Fukui as an intramural competition with its squad split into three equal teams, Bukkyo put all its star power minus ailing ace Kasumi Nishihara into one A team. The A team's 4th and 5th leg runners Chinami Mori and Mai Ishibashi had particularly outstanding days, both outrunning Team Wacoal's pros by 4 seconds per kilometer to take large stage best titles. Anchor Hikari Yoshimoto caught Hokuren's Akane Sekino for the lead 2.5 km into the 8 km stage, but the celebrations were short-lived.

Behind her came Team Wacoal anchor Kayoko Fukushi, the 3000 m, 5000 m and half marathon national record holder. Fukushi ran like she hasn't since before her disastrous marathon debut in January 2008, going through 3 km in 9:02 before sailing past Bukkyo's Yoshimoto at 3.8 km. Fukushi continued on without slackening, opening 44 seconds on Yoshimoto and blasting a new stage record of 24:40 to give Team Wacoal its 11th Fukui win with a total time of 1:35:54 for the 30 km course. After the race an elated Fukushi told reporters, "I felt really light and fresh. It's been a long time since I felt so good."

Bukkyo University finished 2nd in 1:36:38. Had Nishihara, who suffered minor injury problems at last month's Morinomiyako Ekiden and is resting for December's Nationals, been on the team the finish would likely have been very close indeed.

Similarly, 3rd place finisher Team Hokuren, 38 seconds behind Bukkyo in 1:37:16, was missing its top Japanese runner Yukiko Akaba, who has also been having injury issues and is focusing on January's Osaka International Women's Marathon. A fit Akaba may have resulted in an entirely different outcome, but regardless Team Wacoal brought the strongest squad of the day.

2009 Fukui Super Ladies' Ekiden - Top Team Results
click here for complete team and individual results
1. Team Wacoal - 1:35:54
2. Bukkyo Univ. A - 1:36:38
3. Team Hokuren - 1:37:16
4. Team Denso - 1:38:51
5. Meijo Univ. A - 1:39:57
6. Ritsumeikan Univ. C - 1:40:53
7. Ritsumeikan Univ. A - 1:41:08
8. Kyoto Sangyo Univ. - 1:41:46
9. Fukui Pref. Select Team - 1:41:54
10. Bukkyo Univ. B - 1:42:24

Top Individual Stage Performances
1st Leg - 6.0 km
1. Philes Ongori (Team Hokuren) - 18:28 - new stage record
2. Danielle Philomena Cheyech (Team Uniqlo) - 19:11
3. Kazue Kojima (Ritsumeikan Univ. A) - 19:12

2nd Leg - 3.0 km
1. Betelhem Moges (Team Denso) - 9:07
2. Natsuko Honda (Ritsumeikan Univ. C) - 9:24
3. Kazumi Hashimoto (Team Hokuren) - 9:29

3rd Leg - 4.0 km
1. Kozue Matsumoto (Team Wacoal) - 12:44
2. Yuika Mori (Bukkyo Univ. A) - 12:45
3. Namiko Yamamoto (Ritsumeikan Univ. A) - 12:51

4th Leg - 4.0 km
1. Chinami Mori (Bukkyo Univ. A) - 12:37
2. Hiromi Chujo (Team Wacoal) - 12:52
2. Yuko Mizuguchi (Team Denso) - 12:52

5th Leg - 5.0 km
1. Mai Ishibashi (Bukkyo Univ. A) - 15:56
2. Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) - 16:15
3. Saori Nejo (Team Hokuren) - 16:21

6th Leg - 8.0 km
1. Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) - 24:40 - new stage record
2. Hikari Yoshimoto (Bukkyo Univ. A) - 25:56
3. Kayo Sugihara (Team Denso) - 26:19

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Roberto said…
Nice to see Fukushi back.

Most-Read This Week

Daniel and Kawauchi Win Saitama International Marathon

After missing a medal by 3 seconds at August's London World Championships, defending champ Flomena Cheyech Daniel (Kenya) made it two in a row as she won a tight battle against Shitaye Habtegebrel (Bahrain) to win the Saitama International Marathon in 2:28:39.

With the onus on Japanese women Reia Iwada (Dome) and Kaori Yoshida (Team RxL) to break 2:29:00 in order to qualify for Japan's new-format 2020 Olympic trials race, the pair of them did most of the heavy lifting for the first two-thirds of the race. Yoshida led the early kilometers before Iwade took over, and through strong head and tailwinds, over rolling hills and around sharp turns Iwade kept things moving just under target pace, shaking the pack down to just her, Daniel, Habtegebrel and relative unknown Bekelech Daba (Ethiopia) by 15 km.

Little changed up front until after the lead group hit the start of the hilliest 10 km on the course after 25 km. For the first time Iwade slipped to the rear of the pack, and on a …

Ekiden Weekend Roundup

Ekiden season is in full swing, and across the country it was another busy weekend. Although there were four major ekidens nationwide, the best action came as runners from high school to the pros tuned up for the string of national championship ekiden races stretching from the end of this month to mid-January. At Kanagawa's Nittai University Time Trials meet, two-time steeplechase junior world champion Jonathan Ndiku (Hitachi Butsuryu) pipped 5000 m junior world championships bronze medalist William Malel (Honda) at the line in the 10000 m A-heat, winning in 27:22.73 to Malel's 27:22.79. Four other Kenyans including Ndiku's junior teammate Richard Kimunyan broke 28 minutes as their coaches eye who to run at the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden.



Evans Yego of the tiny Sunbelx supermarket team won the more conservative 5000 m A-heat in 13:48.04, a race most notable for high schoolers Luka Musembi (Sendai Ikuei H.S.), Masato Suzuki (Suijo H.S.) and Reito Hanzawa (Gakuho Ishikawa H.S.) …

Breaking Down the Best-Ever Japanese Marathon Times By Country

Japanese marathoners these days have the reputation of rarely racing abroad, and of rarely racing well when they do. Back in the day that wasn't true; Japanese marathoners have won all the World Marathon Majors-to-be except New York, and two of the three Japanese men to have run 2:06 and all three women to have run 2:19 did it outside Japan. Whatever the extent to which things did turn inward along the way, the last few years have seen an uptick in Japanese runners going farther afield and running better there than any others before them.

The lists above and below show the fastest times run by Japanese athletes in different countries to 2:20:00 for men and 2:45:00 for women. Japanese men have run sub-2:20 marathons in 37 countries around the world including Japan, with Japanese women having cleared 2:45 in 33 countries including at home. Breaking it down by IAAF label times, more Japanese men have run label standard times abroad, but women have typically performed at a higher label…