translated by Brett Larner
At the last major women's ekiden of the season, the 21st Kita-Kyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden on Jan. 24 in Kita-Kyushu, Team Tenmaya won the five-stage, 32.8 km open division for the first time in 15 years. Top-ranked Kojokan H.S. took its first win the six-stage, 32.8 km high school division. Both teams hail from Okayama Prefecture and carried over the momentum from Okayama's win at last week's National Interprefectural Women's Ekiden.
Tenmaya's Second Stage runner Yuka Izumi took the lead which Third and Fourth Stage runners Yoshie Kurisu and Kaori Urata lengthened with stage best runs. Tenmaya's anchor, Beijing Olympian Yurika Nakamura, was never seriously threatened as she cruised home for the win. Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo took 2nd after advancing in the later stages, while early leader Team Juhachi Ginko fell to 3rd. Team Acom, which will disband at the end of March, finished 7th.
Kojokan H.S. Second Stage runner Mahiro Akamatsu took the tasuki in 4th but moved all the way up to the lead with a stage best performance. The team fell to 3rd on the Fifth Stage, but anchor Katsuki Suga was able to get back on top. Kamimura Gakuen H.S. was 2nd thanks to stage best runs from Fourth and Fifth leg runners Eri Tayama and Ayaka Shibata. National runner-up Suma Gakuen H.S. was 3rd, while two-time defending champion Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. was 6th. Conditions at the start were cool and sunny with light southerly winds.
2010 Kita-Kyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden - Top Team Results
1. Team Tenmaya - 1:47:03
2. Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo - 1:47:42
3. Team Juhachi Ginko - 1:48:11
4. Team Yamada Denki - 1:49:17
5. Team Deodeo - 1:49:28
High School Division
1. Kojokan H.S. - 1:47:21
2. Kamimura Gakuen H.S. - 1:48:31
3. Suma Gakuen H.S. - 1:48:38
4. Kita-Kyushu Civic H.S. - 1:49:18
5. Chikushi Joshi Gakuen H.S. - 1:50:02