Skip to main content

Ritsumeikan Men Take Biwako University Ekiden

by Brett Larner

Picking up the pieces from its women's team's loss to crosstown rivals Bukkyo University at last month's Morinomiyako Ekiden, Ritsumeikan University's men followed through on their strong showing at the Izumo and National University Ekidens with a win at the 71st Biwako University Ekiden on Nov. 21. Western Japan's answer to the mighty Hakone Ekiden, Biwako is the season-ending championship event for university men outside the Kanto region.

19 times raced the eight-stage, 84.3 km event, one of Japan's oldest ekidens. Ritsumeikan, Kyoto Sangyo University and Daiichi Kogyo University were the heavy favorites going in to this year's Biwako, and the three followed expectations. Kyoto Sangyo's Kazuki Hayashi (3rd yr.) took the race out hard, clocking 32:55 for the 11.1 km First Stage. Ritsumeikan and Daiichi Kogyo sat in 4th and 5th behind Nara Sangyo University's Tadaharu Amano (2nd yr.) and Masashi Nakatsu (3rd yr.). Ritsumeikan's second and third runners, Toshiki Imazaki (1st yr.) and Yohei Fujiwara (4th yr.) both took stage bests but could not run down Kyoto Sangyo, whose Third Stage man Masahito Sumimoto (4th yr.) tied Fujiwara for the stage best at 32:49 for 11.0 km. Daiichi Kogyo likewise advanced but could not clear 3rd place despite Sixth Leg man Ryo Yamamoto (2nd yr.) tying for the stage best honors.

Not until the 9.6 km 4th stage, when rookie Fumihiko Ozaki (1st yr.) took another stage best for Ritsumeikan did the team move into the lead. From there until the finish they had a straight shot to the win, with stage best titles on the Fifth, Sixth and Eighth legs. Daiichi Kogyo's Kenyan star Kiragu Njuguna (2nd yr.) was the only one to break Ritsumeikan's control, clocking a 43.54 new stage record for the 15.1 km Seventh Leg to bump Ritsumeikan's Tomoya Nishino (4th yr.) into 2nd on the stage.

Njuguna also overtook Kyoto Sangyo's Hiroki Mitsuoka (3rd yr.) to put Daiichi Kogyo into 2nd, but the progress was shortlived as Kyoto Sangyo's anchor Shota Uno (1st yr.) outran Daiichi Kogyo's Daichi Shuto by a minute to retake the runner-up spot.

Ritsumeikan's winning time was three minutes off its course record from 2005, but the win was a welcome salve to the school's pride after the women's team's loss to Bukkyo. Njuguna continues to look like as though he is developing into the inheritor of the top Kenyan university runner in Japan.

2009 Biwako University Ekiden - Top Team Results
click here for complete results
1. Ritsumeikan Univ. - 4:12:42
2. Kyoto Sangyo Univ. - 4:15:06
3. Daiichi Kogyo Univ. - 4:15:46
4. Kansai Gakuin Univ. - 4:19.34
5. Nara Sangyo Univ. - 4:21:24
6. Osaka Keizai Univ. - 4:22:12
7. Kansai Univ. - 4:24:20
8. Chukyo Univ. - 4:24:22
9. Osaka Kyoiku Univ. - 4:24:24
10. Kobe Univ. - 4:24:55

Stage Best Performances
First Leg - 11.1 km - Kazuki Hayashi (3rd yr., Kyoto Sangyo Univ.) - 32:55
Second Leg - 7.3 km - Toshiki Imazaki (1st yr., Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 20:48
Third Leg - 11.0 km - Masahito Sumitomo (4th yr., Kyoto Sango Univ.) - 32:49
and Yohei Fujiwara (4th yr., Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 32:49
Fourth Leg - 9.6 km - Fumihiko Ozaki (1st yr., Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 28:49
Fifth Leg - 8.8 km - Hiroyuki Tanaka (2nd yr., Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 27:34
Sixth Leg - 12.8 km - Ryo Yamamoto (2nd yr., Daiichi Kogyo Univ.) - 39:31
and Hiroki Terasaki (4th yr., Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 39:31
7th Leg - 15.1 km - Kiragu Njuguna (2nd yr., Daiichi Kogyo Univ.) - 43:54 - new stage record
8th Leg - 7.7 km - Naoki Masuda (3rd yr., Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 24:05

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

How it Happened

Ancient History I went to Wesleyan University, where the legend of four-time Boston Marathon champ and Wes alum Bill Rodgers hung heavy over the cross-country team. Inspired by Koichi Morishita and Young-Cho Hwang’s duel at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics I ran my first marathon in 1993, qualifying for Boston ’94 where Bill was kind enough to sign a star-struck 20-year-old me’s bib number at the expo.

Three years later I moved to Japan for grad school, and through a long string of coincidences I came across a teenaged kid named Yuki Kawauchi down at my neighborhood track. I never imagined he’d become what he is, but right from the start there was just something different about him. After his 2:08:37 breakthrough at the 2011 Tokyo Marathon he called me up and asked me to help him get into races abroad. He’d finished 3rd on the brutal downhill Sixth Stage at the Hakone Ekiden, and given how he’d run the hills in the last 6 km at Tokyo ’11 I thought he’d do well at Boston or New York. “If M…

The Kawauchi Counter

Yuki Kawauchi's 2018 race results: Jan. 1: Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, U.S.A.: 2:18:59 - 1st - CR
Jan. 14: Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:03:28 - 7th
Jan. 21: Yashio Isshu Ekiden, Saitama: 1:01:03 - 1st - ran entire 20.0 km ekiden solo and beat all 103 teams of 6 runners each
Jan. 28: Okumusashi Ekiden First Stage (9.9 km), Saitama - 29:41 - 6th
Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
Feb. 11: Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon, Shimane - cancelled due to heavy snow
Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama - 1:04:26 - 1st
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:04:49 - 12th
Mar. 11: Yoshinogawa Riverside Half Marathon, Tokushima - 1:05:50 - 1st - CR
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan - 2:14:12 - 1st
Mar. 24: Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials, Saitama
              5000 m Heat 4: 14:53.95 - 1st
              5000 m Heat 6: 14:36.58 - 2nd
           …

Guinness Certifies Kawauchi's World Record 78 Career Sub-2:20 Marathons After Half Marathon in Panda Costume

Known as the Civil Servant Runner, Saitama Prefectural Government employee Yuki Kawauchi's career record of 78 sub-2:20 marathons was officially recognized as the Guinness World Record at a ceremony in his hometown of Kuki, Saitama on Mar. 25.  Raised in Kuki, Kawauchi began working for the Saitama Prefectural Government after graduating from university. Running while working full-time as a civil servant, he has qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic trial race.

Earlier this month on the 18th Kawauchi ran Taiwan's Wan Jin Shi Marathon, winning in 2:14:12. His 78th time running faster than 2 hours and 20 minutes, his achievement was certified as the official Guinness World Record. He actually broke the previous record on Jan. 1 at the Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon in the U.S.A. with his 76th sub-2:20 but followed up with two performances, one in February and the other last week, before Guinness could ratify the record.

The official recognition ceremony took place Mar. 2…