translated by Brett Larner
In the 62nd and final edition of the seven-stage, 99.9 km Asahi Ekiden from Fukuoka to Kita-Kyushu, Team Kyudenko took its third win and first in five years, clocking 4:50:58. New Year Ekiden 4th placers Team Yasukawa Denki were 2nd, while Team Asahi Kasei finished 3rd. Defending champion Team Honda was only 4th.
Kyudenko's Paul Tanui put the team ahead on the First Stage, and all the way to anchor Mao Fukuyama Kyudenko's runners finished in the top three on stage time, keeping the team in 1st by a margin of 50 seconds over Yasukawa Denki.
Translator's note: The majority of Team Yasukawa Denki actually outperformed Team Kyudenko, with more Yasukawa Denki runners taking 1st or 2nd on their stage than Kyudenko runners. Yasukawa Denki was within four seconds of Kyudenko at the end of the Third Stage, but, reinforcing that you are only as strong as your weakest link, a poor performance on the Fourth Stage by Yasukawa Denki's Hisanori Kitajima, brilliant at last week's New Year Ekiden, put them down over two minutes after Kyudenko's Kazuhiro Maeda took the stage best. Yasukawa Denki's final three runners all outran Kyudenko's but could not close the gap.
Maeda, 2nd in his marathon debut at the 2009 Tokyo Marathon, will run next month's Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon.
2011 Asahi Ekiden
Top Team Results - 99.9 km
1. Team Kyudenko - 4:50:58
2. Team Yasukawa Denki - 4:51:48
3. Team Asahi Kasei - 4:53:13
4. Team Honda - 4:54:21
5. Team Kanebo - 4:55:11
Stage Best Performances
First Stage (14.6 km) - Paul Tanui (Team Kyudenko/Kenya) - 42:30
Second Stage (9.9 km) - Makoto Tobimatsu (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 30:08
Third Stage (11.2 km) - Masayuki Obata (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 30:35
Fourth Stage (14.8 km) - Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) - 42:43
Fifth Stage (15.9 km) - Desta Alemu (Team Yasukawa Denki/Ethiopia) and Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei) - 46:13
Sixth Stage (16.8 km) - Ibrahim Jeilan (Team Honda/Ethiopia) - 47:21
Seventh Stage (16.7 km) - Minoru Ikebe (Team Honda) - 46:49