Skip to main content

Watch the New Year Ekiden Live Online - Preview

by Brett Larner

January 1 means it's time for the National Corporate Men's Ekiden Championships, the New Year Ekiden. The New Year Ekiden is the focus of the year for professional runners in Japan, seven stages making up 100 km with the African ringers who prop up many of the best teams shoehorned into 8.3 km and Japanese aces stretching out over 22 km. More than the marathon, this is what Japan's top runners are peaking for, and the result is the highest-level racing of the year. Overseas viewers can watch TBS' 6-hour live broadcast online for free beginning at 8:30 a.m. Japan time on New Year's Day via Keyhole TV, available here. That's 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 31 on the west coast of the U.S., 6:30 p.m. on the east coast, or 11:30 p.m. in London. JRN will be doing live English commentary via Twitter @JRNLive. Should the feed max out we will switch over to @NewYearEkiden. For a course map click here. For complete entry lists click here.

Turning to the action, it promises to be a repeat of 2009, when three teams battled for the national title in a sprint finish after 100 km. Defending champion Team Nissin Shokuhin looks vulnerable after finishing 4th in the East Japan qualifier, with aces Gideon Ngatuny, Yuki Sato and Satoru Kitamura losing out to rivals in subsequent races. Team Honda, featuring 2008 World Jr. XC champion Ibrahim Jeilan and 2010 Tokyo Marathon winner Masakazu Fujiwara unexpectedly won East Japan and should be one of the main contenders. Close behind Honda, Team Kanebo, with 2010 27-minute men Masato Kihara and Tsuyoshi Makabe, and Team Konica Minolta, home of both 5000 m national record holder Takayuki Matsumiya and sub-62 half marathoner Tsuyoshi Ugachi, round out the main contenders from East Japan.

If the main criterion is 27-minute men then Kyushu qualifier winner Team Asahi Kasei must be considered the favorite. The all-Japanese Asahi Kasei team sports four men with times under 28 minutes, including the 2010 #1-ranked 10000 m and half marathon runner Tomoya Onishi, 2010 Komazawa University grad Takuya Fukatsu, and, returning to form with strong runs at last month's Kyushu Isshu Ekiden, Olympian Ryuji Ono and World Championships track runner Yuki Iwai.

Hiroshima-based Team Chugoku Denryoku is a perpetual force at the New Year Ekiden, but despite winning the Chugoku qualifier with ace Atsushi Sato absent from competition since his 3rd-place finish at February's Tokyo Marathon its chances look diminished. A better bet may be Chubu qualifier winner Team Toyota, which includes 27-minute runners John Thuo, Yoshinori Oda and Yusuke Takabayashi.

Team Sagawa Express unexpectedly won the Kansai qualifier and could surprise with a strong showing in the main event. Team YKK won the Hokuriku qualifier but, with Hokuriku being the weakest region by a wide margin, is unlikely to be in contention.

(c) 2010 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Men's Marathon Rout - JAAF Executives Announce Resignation

http://www.nikkansports.com/olympic/rio2016/athletics/news/1698472.html

translated by Brett Larner

In the Rio de Janeiro Olympics men's marathon on Aug. 21, Satoru Sasaki (30) was the top Japanese man at 16th in 2:13:57.  Suehiro Ishikawa (36) was 36th, with Hisanori Kitajima (31) placing 94th.

At the end of athletics competition Japan's total was two medals and two top eight finishes, a total exceeding the JAAF's target one medal but falling short of its goal of five top eight finishes.  JAAF strengthening committee chairman Kazunori Asaba (55) announced that he intends to resign his position following the Rio Olympics.  Strengthening committee vice-chairman Katsumi Sakai (56) and director of men's marathoning Takeshi Soh (63) are also expected to join the exodus of resignations.  Japanese athletics will be forced to make a fresh start before the Tokyo Olympics.

Yuta Shitara Breaks Japanese Men's Half Marathon National Record in Berlin Marathon Tuneup at Usti nad Labem Half

A week after his 28:55 at the Birell Prague Grand Prix 10 km and just eight days out from the Berlin Marathon, Yuta Shitara (Honda) made the great leap forward, taking 8 seconds off Atsushi Sato's 2007 half marathon Japanese national record, finishing 8th at the Czech Republic's Usti nad Labem Half Marathon.

Shitara is probably most well-known outside Japan for going through halfway under 62 minutes during his marathon debut at this year's Tokyo Marathon and still ending up with a 2:09:27, but he's been turning heads in Japan since his second year at Toyo University when he broke a stage record at the 2012 Hakone Ekiden and outkicked the U.S.A.'s Dathan Ritzenhein to finish in 1:01:48 at the NYC Half two months later, until this year the fastest time ever by a Japanese man on U.S soil.

Three weeks before Tokyo this year he ran a 1:01:19 PB at the Marugame Half. Many people would call that a solid tuneup three weeks out from a serious marathon, but eight days? In P…

Kawauchi Wins BMW Oslo Marathon in Fastest Time Since 1986

Running his first race of any distance since finishing 9th at last month's London World Championships, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) won Saturday's BMW Oslo Marathon in the fastest time in Oslo since before he was born.

Pre-race Kawauchi's goal was to take a shot at the 2:12:58 Norwegian all-comers record, the fastest time ever run on Norwegian soil. With a new two-loop course featuring a pair of tough hills interspersed by a flat seaside section on each loop his game plan was to try to run 3:10/km until midway through the second lap, then try to push it on the climb and descent of the last hill to make up whatever seconds he needed.

15 km into the first lap he was 10 seconds ahead of schedule in 47:20 and 90 seconds clear of 2nd place, but the steep hill starting a kilometer later took its toll and by 20 km he was 24 seconds behind.  Over the second lap the strong sunlight and warmer than usual temperatures and the two weeks he took off after London also began …