Skip to main content

Asahi Kasei Sets Course Record at Last New Year Ekiden Qualifier

by Brett Larner

Team Asahi Kasei dominated the final regional qualifier for the New Year Ekiden men's national corporate ekiden championships, leading wire-to-wire to set a course record of 3:50:53 at the seven-stage, 78.8 km Nov. 23 Kyushu Corporate Ekiden Championships.  Asahi Kasei runners won the first four stages, with Daegu World Championships marathon 7th-place finisher Hiroyuki Horibata outrunning Team Toyota Kyushu ace Masato Imai to take the 12.2 km Fourth Stage in 34:38.  Fifth Stage Asahi Kasei runner Takehiro Arakawa was beaten on time by Africans Paul Tanui (Team Kyudenko) and Alemu Desta (Team Yasukawa Denki) but had a big enough lead that he was in no danger of being run down.  Asahi Kasei's sixth runner Kenichi Shirashi ran a stage best to further widen the team's lead, with anchor Yuki Iwai bringing the team in for the course record win and a place at the New Year Ekiden.  With several of its best members sitting the regional race out Asahi Kasei will once again head to the New Year Ekiden as one of the favorites if its star runners are back near 100%.

The real races came for 2nd and 7th place.  Toyota Kyushu, Kyudenko and Yasukawa Denki led a tight three-way race for 2nd, the lead turning over repeatedly.  Yasukawa Denki slipped behind late in the race but the final finishing order wasn't determined until the anchor stage where despite going 1-2 on time anchors Ryuji Watanabe (Team Toyota Kyushu) and Daegu World Championships marathoner Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) couldn't manage to run down Kyudenko anchor Masanori Sakai.  Toyota Kyushu finished 14 seconds behind Kyudenko, with Yasukawa Denki another 31 seconds back in 4th.  Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki and Team Kurosaki Harima took 5th and 6th to pick up New Year Ekiden positions.  With seven places available, Team Nishitetsu and Team Sumco started the anchor stage simultaneously, turning the 14.2 km leg into a man-on-man battle between Nishitetsu's Kazuya Ishida and Sumco's Kodai Haraguchi.  Running side-by-side throughout the stage, Ishida emerged the stronger in the final straight as he kicked away to finish 5 seconds up on Haraguchi, sending his team to Nationals and consigning Sumco to the leftovers.

Toyota Kyushu's Imai finished 2nd on the Fourth Stage behind Horibata.  Kyudenko's Kazuhiro Maeda likewise had a good run, 3rd on the First Stage just two seconds behind the stage winner.  Both Imai and Maeda are scheduled to run next week's Fukuoka International Marathon where they, along with amateur runner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) are the favorites forearning a spot on Japan's 2012 Olympic marathon team.

2011 Kyushu Jitsugyodan Ekiden Championships
Fukuoka-Kitakyushu, 11/23/11
seven stages, 78.8 km, 18 teams
click here for complete results

Stage Best Performances
First Stage (13.4 km) - Kazuya Deguchi (Team Asahi Kasei) - 40:32
Second Stage (10.2 km) - Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei) - 31:31
Third Stage (10.5 km) - Fumihiro Maruyama (Team Asahi Kasei) - 28:54
Fourth Stage (12.2 km) - Hiroyuki Horibata (Team Asahi Kasei) - 34:38
Fifth Stage (9.2 km) - Paul Tanui (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) - 25:19
Sixth Stage (9.1 km) - Kenichi Shiraishi (Team Asahi Kasei) - 26:30
Seventh Stage (14.2 km) - Ryuji Watanabe (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 41:56

Top Team Performances - top seven teams qualify for New Year Ekiden
1. Asahi Kasei - 3:50:53 - CR
2. Kyudenko - 3:52:28
3. Toyota Kyushu - 3:52:42
4. Yasukawa Denki - 3:53:13
5. Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki - 3:57:37
6. Kurosaki Harima - 3:59:04
7. Nishitetsu - 4:00:32
-----
8. Sumco - 4:00:37
9. Kokubu SDF Base - 4:06:´╝É0
10. Togami Denki - 4:12:00

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Tokai University Outruns Defending Champ Aoyama Gakuin to Win First Izumo Ekiden Title in Ten Years

Kanagawa's Tokai University outran two-time defending champion Aoyama Gakuin University to win the 2017 Izumo Ekiden, its first win at one of the Big Three university men's ekidens under head coach Hayashi Morozumi and Tokai's first Izumo title since 2007.

Formerly head coach at Nagano's Saku Chosei H.S. where he produced the fastest-ever all-Japanese high school team and standout Suguru Osako (Nike Oregon Project) on a cross-country based training regimen, since taking over at Tokai in 2011 Morozumi has set about systematically developing the Tokai program into one with the greatest depth in Japanese university running. On paper AGU had a slight advantage over Tokai over the first half of Izumo's six stages, but with Tokai's second half runners, including its top two men Shota Onizuka and Hayato Seki, ranked at the top of their stages AGU needed a decent lead by halfway to stand a chance.

From the start it wasn't to be. In hot and sunny conditions Tokai&#…

From Madarao to the World - Tokai University's Hayato Seki

Long-awaited by university ekiden fans, the 2017 ekiden season is underway. The Izumo Ekiden was held Monday, with Tokai University living up to expectations to score the win. The athlete who broke the finish line tape as Tokai's anchor was second-year Hayato Seki. This year Seki has run PBs of 13:35.81 for 5000 m and 28:23.37 for 10000 m, marking his growth into one of the unquestionable stars of the university ekiden scene.

A week earlier, the Madarao Forest Trails race was held on Oct. 1. Flashback to the 2012 edition of the race five years ago. The winner in the 16 km Beginner Class men's race was none other than Seki, then in his third year of junior high school. The picture below is of his win at the 2012 Madarao Forest Trails race. Even though he was only a junior high school student Seki ran brilliantly, opening up a huge lead of well over four minutes over the 2nd-placer.


After that Seki entereed Nagano's ekiden powerhouse Saku Chosei H.S. and has now grown into …

Kawauchi and Kanematsu Win Rainy Shimantogawa 100 km

The 23rd edition of the Shimantogawa Ultramarathon took place Oct. 15 in Shimanto, Kochi. 1822 runners started the 100 km division, where Yoshiki Kawauchi (26, Saitama T&F Assoc.) and Aiko Kanematsu (37, Team RxL) took the men's and women's titles for the first time.

The 100 km division started under a heavy downpour at 5:30 a.m. in front of Warabioka J.H.S. The 576 participants in the 60 km division got off 4 1/2 hours later from Koinobori Park, with both races finishing at Nakamura H.S.

Kawauchi, the younger brother of "civil servant runner" Yuki Kawauchi, ran Shimantogawa for the second time, improving dramatically on last year's run to win in 6:42:06. "Last time I was 21st, a total disaster," Kawauchi said afterward. "My brother told me, 'Don't overdo it on the uphills,' and his advie helped me get through it. The scenery around Iwama Chinkabashi was really beautiful."

Kanematsu began running with her husband around age 30…