Skip to main content

Bukkyo Ends Ritsumeikan's National Reign

by Brett Larner

With the memory of their 3-second loss at last year's National University Women's Invitational Ekiden to spur them on, Bukkyo University followed up on their win over rivals Ritsumeikan University at October's Morinomiyako Ekiden by handing Ritsumeikan their first-ever loss at the national championship ekiden. With four of its runners taking stage best titles, two setting new stage records and one equalling the existing stage record, Bukkyo covered the six-stage, 30.67 km course in Tsukuba, Ibaraki prefecture in 1:37:35, breaking Ritsumeikan's course record from last year by 58 seconds. Ritsumeikan was only two seconds slower than its record-setting performance last year but a full minute behind Bukkyo.

Bukkyo's Yuika Mori got the race started on the right note, leading a four-way breakaway on the 5.0 km First Stage and outkicking Kenyan Ann Kingori (Nihon Univ.) and 2008 National University 10000 m champion Michi Numata (Ritsumeikan Univ.) to win the stage in 15:44. Second Stage runner Chinami Mori (Bukkyo Univ.) tied the stage record of 9:25 for 3.0 km but lost the lead to Ritsumeikan's Namiko Yamamoto, who had a brilliant run to set a new stage record of 9:16.

The move proved Ritsumeikan's only challenge to Bukkyo's impending win. Bukkyo Third Stage runner Hikari Yoshimoto, the outstanding 2nd-year who beat 5000 m national champion Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya) and all international challengers to win the anchor stage of last month's International Chiba Ekiden, easily dispatched Ritsumeikan's Risa Takenaka, and after Bukkyo Fourth and Fifth Stage runners Mai Ishibashi and Shiho Takechi set new stage records there was little hope of Ritsumeikan's anchor, the #1-ranked Kazue Kojima, catching Bukkyo's 2009 World University 10000 m champion Kasumi Nishihara.

Nishihara has been dealing with injury issues this fall but did her best to become the first woman to beat Kojima in a university ekiden in this, the final race of Kojima's university career. For her part, Kojima went out in hopes of a final stage record to cap off her career and help deliver Ritsumeikan another win. Although she had the satisfaction of outrunning Nishihara by 24 second over the 7.67 km stage, Kojima only succeeded in tying the stage record of 24:31 which Nishihara set at last year's race and was simply out of range for the win. Her school days thus end with a bitter loss. Next year Kojima will join 2008 National Jitsugyodan Champions Team Toyota Jidoshoki.

As with last year, Meijo University led the also-rans, finishing 3rd in 1:41:16. Strong teams Tamagawa University and Josai University finished 4th and 5th with ailing aces, while Matsuyama University, coached by the husband of 2007 World Championships women's marathon bronze medalist Reiko Tosa (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo), was a surprise 6th. Despite holding two Kenyan aces and the talented Natsuko Goto, Nihon University finished a disappointing 10th.

2009 National University Women's Invitational Ekiden - Stage Best Performances
click here for complete results
First Stage - 5.0 km: Yuika Mori (Bukkyo Univ.) - 15:44
Second Stage - 3.0 km: Namiko Yamamoto (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 9:16 - new stage record
Third Stage - 5.5 km: Hikari Yoshimoto (Bukkyo Univ.) - 17:10
Fourth Stage - 3.5 km: Mai Ishibashi (Bukkyo Univ.) - 10:56 - new stage record
Fifth Stage - 6.0 km: Shiho Takechi (Bukkyo Univ.) - 19:25 - new stage record
Sixth Stage - 7.67 km: Kazue Kojima (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 24:55 - stage record tie

Top Team Results
1. Bukkyo Univ. - 1:37:35 - new course record
2. Ritsumeikan Univ. - 1:38:33
3. Meijo Univ. - 1:41:16
4. Tamagawa Univ. - 1:41:22
5. Josai Univ. - 1:42:27
6. Matsuyama Univ. - 1:42:33
7. Hakuho Univ. - 1:42:56
8. Josai Kokusai Univ. - 1:43:06
9. Kyushu Regional Select Team - 1:43:09
10. Nihon Univ. - 1:43:15

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Brett Larner said…
I have the feeling the six-time defending champions are not saying "Oh well" after losing for the first time in the history of this championship event. It certainly didn't look that way when they showed them after the race. I guess you have different standards.

Most-Read This Week

Kariuki Cracks Course Record at 30th Anniversary Ageo City Half Marathon

2017 Kanto Regionals 10000 m and half marathon D2 champion Simon Kariuki (Nihon Yakka Univ.)  overcame windy conditions at the 30th edition of the Ageo City Half Marathon to shave one second off the course record, winning in a PB 1:01:25.

Kariuki and 2017 Kanto Regionals D1 5000 m and 10000 m champ Patrick Mathenge Wambui (Nihon Univ.) took it out in the first km, setting up a fascinating duel between Kanto's top two collegiate men on the track.


Led by Hayato Seki, star runner of this year's Izumo Ekiden champ Tokai University in his half marathon debut, the main body of the Japanese pack gradually relinquished the lead to the Kenyan pair, down 50 seconds by 10 km and continuing to drift back from then. Ageo has typically seen its lead Japanese collegiate men running between high-61 and mid-62, but nobody in the field seemed willing to go ahead of Seki and the runner on his shoulder, 2017 World University Games half marathon gold medalist Kei Katanishi (Komazawa Univ.).


Near …

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…

Kosimbei, Kwemoi and Shitara Lead Hachioji 10000 m Field

Nestled deep in the misty foothills of the western Tokyo mountains, Hosei University's late November Hachioji Long Distance meet has quietly turned into one of the world's premier track 10000 m, its A-heat never quite dipping under 27 minutes yet but still producing record-setting depth and the two fastest Japanese men's 10000 m in history.
This year's entry list is another monster, with 27:02.59 man Nicholas Kosimbei (Toyota) leading 17 men with recent times under 28 minutes, twelve of them Kenyan, three Japanese and two Ethiopian. Fresh off a 27:22.73 win at last weekend's Nittai University Time Trials, two-time steeplechase junior world champion Jonathan Ndiku (Hitachi Butsuryu) is slated to pace what is scheduled to be a sub-28 race, but with Kosimbei, sub-27:30 men John Maina (Fujitsu) and Rodgers Chumo Kwemoi (Aisan Kogyo) and five others under 27:45 including last year's winnerRonald Kwemoi (Komori Corp.) on the list the front end should go faster. 
Rig…