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

'$500,000 USD Prized Asian Premier Marathon Series 2017-18 Launched in Beijing'

http://athleticsasia.org/index.php/k2-component/143-500-000-usd-prized-asian-premier-marathon-series-2017-18-launched-in-beijing

A very interesting World Marathon Majors-style development with prize money only for Asian athletes. Equally interesting is the absence of a Japanese race in the series. Japanese marathoners would dominate the series if they ran its three component races, their only real current competition in Asia coming from East African-born Bahraini athletes.

Kawauchi Named Captain of Japanese National Team for London World Championships

At a JAAF event at the British Embassy in Tokyo on July 21, marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (30, Saitama Pref. Gov't) was named men's captain of the Japanese national team for next month's London World Championships. Javelin throw national record holder Yuki Ebihara (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) was chosen as women's captain.

In a wide-ranging and impassioned speech 4 minutes and 20 seconds long, Kawauchi stoked the team's morale as he told attendees, "I think that there are athletes here today who look at London as just a checkpoint along the way to the Tokyo Olympics. But as a representative of Japan it is not enough just to be there competing. I feel it strongly. You must produce results at this event, the London World Championships. This is the task assigned to each and every one of us. It is critical that we work seriously to achieve our goals. The Japanese people want nothing less. What can we as athletes do for them? More than just wearing the uniform, each of us mus…

Hayakawa and Ichiyama Win Shibetsu Half

2nd in 2015 and 3rd last year, Tsubasa Hayakawa (Toyota) finally succeeded in scoring 1st at the Shibetsu Half Marathon, outrunning 2013-14 winner Masato Imai (Toyota Kyushu) by 6 seconds to win in 1:03:38. Hayakawa pushed it from the early stages of the race, Imai the only one to try to stay with him but ultimately losing touch. 2016 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon winner Melaku Abera (Kurosaki Harima) was 3rd in 1:03:51.

士別ハーフマラソン
日差しが強くなってきました…💦 pic.twitter.com/qRfUei3aRt — はたのまき (@machakin77) July 23, 2017
The women's field was split between two distances, 10 km and half marathon. Kanako Takemoto (Daihatsu) won the 10 km in 34:27 by a margin of almost 10 seconds over an Otsuka Seiyaku trio led by Ayaka Inoue. 2017 National Cross-Country champion and last year's 10 km runner-up Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) took the top spot in the half marathon, outrunning teammate and national record holder Kayoko Fukushi and others to win in 1:14:01. Fukushi finished 4th in 1:15:41 behind last ye…