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Toyo University Takes First-Ever Izumo Ekiden Win (updated)

by Brett Larner

Updated by request with top ten times per stage.


Keita Shitara anchors Toyo University in for its first-ever Izumo Ekiden win. Click photo to enlarge.

2009 and 2010 Hakone Ekiden champion Toyo University, always weak in the early season in past years, came out swinging at the start of the university men's ekiden season to take down defending champion and course record holder Waseda University and top-ranked Komazawa University for its first-ever win at the Izumo Ekiden Oct. 10 in Izumo, Shimane.

With Waseda hampered by injuries and missing three members of last year's winning squad it was always near the front but never held a clear lead.  Komazawa spent the entire race digging itself out after star first-year Kenta Murayama blew his university ekiden debut and finished only 13th out of 21 on the 8.0 km First Stage.  Toyo ace Ryuji Kashiwabara's opening run was actually its weakest of the day as he finished only sixth.  Toyo Second Stage runner Ryohei Kawakami held position, then Third Stage sophomore Yuta Shitara became the hero of Toyo's squad as he unexpectedly outran Waseda's star new recruit Shuhei Yamamoto to take both the lead and the stage best.  Toyo's Fourth and Fifth Stage runners Takaaki Tanaka and Takanori Ichikawa strengthened Toyo's lead with stage best runs, leaving injured anchor Keita Shitara, the twin brother of Third Stage runner Yuta, a 30-second margin that he was able to maintain all the way to the finish.

Komazawa, the heavy pre-race favorite with its entire team having sub-14 minute 5000 m PBs and most members also holding sub-29 10000 m PBs, played catch-up throughout the race after the First Stage, with Second Stage runner Wataru Ueno one of four men to break the stage record.  Its next three runners advanced one position at a time, but Komazawa's anchor Shinobu Kubota had the team's biggest run as he surprised all by outrunning top men Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.) and John Maina (Kenya/Takushoku Univ.) for the stage best, catching Waseda anchor Shota Hiraga near the end of the stage for 2nd.  Murasawa and Maina advanced to put their teams into 4th and 5th, but neither managed to pull out the fireworks many expected.

Nittai University and Meiji University took 6th and 7th, Nittai with strong showings from Third and Fourth Stage runners Takumi Honda and Shoji Takada and Meiji with a new stage record from Olympic A-standard 27:44.30 senior Tetsuya Yoroizaka on the Second Stage.  Yoroizaka said in post-race interviews that he is less than 100% but that he was glad to start off the season with a stage record and looks forward to building back up to peak fitness later in the season.

U.S.A. team's Third through Sixth Stage runners at Sakuradamon, Tokyo, 10/12/11.

Rounding out the top eight with its best-ever performance was the U.S.A. University Select Team.  One of the four strongest teams in the field on paper, the American team spent the race hovering on the verge of top ten after First Stage runner Christo Landry finished 9th, but anchor Jon Grey ran an outstanding fourth-best on the stage and was able to run down Chuo University and Aoyama Gakuin University to move up into 8th, a surprise to many Japanese fans more accustomed to seeing the team finish near the rear of the field.  With just a moderate further improvement the team could challenge for the top five, a welcome development at Izumo.

Toyo's win, Komazawa's rockiness, Waseda's vulnerability after its unstoppable 2010-11 triple course record season, and the sheer number of flat or injured top-echelon runners makes the 2011-2012 season look far more unpredictable than expected.  Key upcoming races include next weekend's Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai 20 km qualifying race for the Kanto-region schools that did not participate at Izumo, and November's Ageo City Half Marathon.  The next of the Big Three university ekidens, the National University Men's Ekiden Championships takes place Nov. 6.  If Toyo can maintain its uncharacteristic early-season strength its chances of regaining the Hakone Ekiden crown it lost to Waseda by only 21 seconds last season look very good.

2011 Izumo Ekiden
Izumo, Shimane, 10/10/11
click here for complete results

Stage Best Performances
First Stage (8.0 km): Duncan Muthee (Kenya/Takushoku Univ.) - 22:48
Second Stage (5.8 km): Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Meiji Univ.) - 15:56 - CR
Third Stage (7.9 km): Yuta Shitara (Toyo Univ.) - 23:08
Fourth Stage (6.2 km): Takaaki Tanaka (Toyo Univ.) - 18:36
Fifth Stage (6.4 km): Takanori Ichikawa (Toyo Univ.) - 19:02
Sixth Stage (10.2 km): Shinobu Kubota (Komazawa Univ.) - 29:30

Top Team Performances - 44.5 km, 21 teams
1. Toyo Univ. - 2:10:43
2. Komazawa Univ. - 2:11:09
3. Waseda Univ. - 2:11:13
4. Tokai Univ. - 2:12:07
5. Takushoku Univ. - 2:12:55
6. Nittai Univ. - 2:13:09
7. Meiji Univ. - 2:13:26
8. U.S.A. Univ. Select Team - 2:14:33
9. Chuo Univ. - 2:14:46
10. Aoyama Gakuin Univ. - 2:14:49

Top Ten Performances by Stage
First Stage (8.0 km)
1. Duncan Muthee (Kenya/Takushoku Univ.) - 22:48
2. Kiragu Njuguna (Kenya Daiichi Kogyo Univ.) - 22:55
3. Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.) - 23:01
4. Takehiro Deki (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 23:04
5. Tsubasa Hayakawa (Tokai Univ.) - 23:10
6. Ryuji Kashiwabara (Toyo Univ.)- 23:21
7. Kazuki Noda (Kyoto Sangyo Univ.) - 23:25
8. Kei Fumimoto (Meiji Univ.) - 23:32
9. Christo Landry (U.S.A.) - 23:33
10. Shota Shinjo (Chuo Univ.) - 23:39
13. Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.) - 23:54

Second Stage (5.8 km)
1. Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Meiji Univ.) - 15:56 - CR
2. Wataru Ueno (Komazawa Univ.) - 16:12 (CR)
3. Ryohei Kawakami (Toyo Univ.) - 16:16 (CR)
4. Yutaro Fukushi (Nittai Univ.) - 16:18 (CR)
5. Shuhei Shirota (Chuo Univ.) - 16:31
6. Yo Yazawa (Waseda Univ.) - 16:32
7. Takuya Fujikawa (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 16:34
8. Hiroyuki Ishikawa (Tokai Univ.) - 16:44
9. Keiji Kuwabara (Koku Gakuin Univ.) - 16:49
10. Takashi Maie (Takushoku Univ.) - 16:51
11. Scott Smith (U.S.A.) - 16:55

Third Stage (7.9 km)
1. Yuta Shitara (Toyo Univ.) - 23:08
2. Shuhei Yamamoto (Waseda Univ.) - 23:09
3. Takumi Honda (Nittai Univ.) - 23:23
4. Shuho Dairokuno (Meiji Univ.) - 23:28
5. Daiki Nomoto (Takushoku Univ.) - 23:29
6. Hiromitsu Kakuage (Komazawa Univ.) - 23:38
7. Kentaro Tone (Tokai Univ.) - 23:45
8. Hiroki Sugawa (Chuo Univ.) - 23:51
9. Kohei Ogino (Koku Gakuin Univ.) - 23:56
10. Landon Peacock (U.S.A.) - 24:02

Fourth Stage (6.2 km)
1. Takaaki Tanaka (Toyo Univ.) - 18:36
2. Yusuke Mita (Waseda Univ.) - 18:42
3. Shoji Takada (Nittai Univ.) - 18:45
4. Ikuto Yufu (Komazawa Univ.) - 18:46
5. Ryo Nakagawa (Tokai Univ.) - 18:57
6. Andrew Bedford (U.S.A.) - 19:05
7. Yutaka Sasai (Kyoto Sango Univ.) - 19:20
8. Daiki Hirose (Meiji Univ.) - 19:26
8. Shuhei Nakayama (Koku Gakuin Univ.) - 19:26
10. Yu Nishijima (Chuo Univ.) - 19:33

Fifth Stage (6.4 km)
1. Takanori Ichikawa (Toyo Univ.) - 19:02
2. Kazuhiro Kuga (Komazawa Univ.) - 19:09
3. Yuki Maeda (Waseda Univ.) - 19:24
4. Yuya Takayanagi (Nittai Univ.) - 19:41
5. Yuto Aiba (Chuo Univ.) - 19:50
6. Norihiro Komatsu (Tokai Univ.) - 19:51
6. Soji Takahashi (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 19:51
8. Toshiki Oshita (Koku Gakuin Univ.) - 20:09
9. Yuto Kai (Takushoku Univ.) - 20:10
10. Yuya Fujii (Kyoto Sangyo Univ.) - 20:13
14. Thomas Robbins (U.S.A.) - 20:44

Sixth Stage (10.2 km)
1. Shinobu Kubota (Komazawa Univ.) - 29:30
2. Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.) - 29:40
3. John Maina (Kenya/Takushoku Univ.) - 29:48
4. Jon Grey (U.S.A.) - 30:14
5. Keita Shitara (Toyo Univ.) - 30:20
6. Shota Hiraga (Waseda Univ.) - 30:25
7. Masato Kikuchi (Meiji Univ.) - 30:43
8. Natsuki Terada (Koku Gakuin Univ.) - 31:02
9. Shota Hattori (Nittai Univ.) - 31:19
10. Junichi Shioya (Chuo Univ.) - 31:22

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Mary Boggs said…
Is there a way to view the results in English? Or even a copy of the team rosters in English? Thanks.
Brett Larner said…
There aren't any complete results in English but I'll put up top ten on each stage shortly.

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