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Miyazaki Holds Off Fukuoka for Grand Tour Kyushu Win

by Brett Larner

click here for video of the Grand Tour Kyushu 2011's finish

Defending champion Miyazaki Prefecture came to the final day of the eight-day Grand Tour Kyushu 2011 with a lead of 4:31 over rival Fukuoka Prefecture, comfortable but not safe.  Over the first of the stage's three legs Miyazaki's runners progressively widened the lead, but on the fourth and fifth of the stage's six legs Fukuoka fought back.  Its Leg Five runner Shuji Yoshikawa came within 10 seconds of catching the Miyazaki, still down on total time but almost enough for the lead heading into the final leg.  Miyazaki's anchor, Daegu World Championships marathon 7th-placer Hiroyuki Horibata, fought back and reopened the lead to bring Miyazaki in to a successful title defense, winning in a total time of 38:04:48 to Fukuoka's runner-up 38:10:11.  3rd-place Nagasaki Prefecture was the only other team to break 39 hours for the new 739.9 km course, clocking 38:55:12.

Four men in the field held the distinction of winning all three of their runs over the course of the Tour's eight days, three of them from Miyazaki.  Fukuoka's Kenji Takeuchi was the lone runner from elsewhere, winning three runs in six days.  Miyazaki rookie and former Nittai Univ. ace Kazuya Deguchi also managed three wins in six days, while Miyazaki's Yoshikazu Kawazoe did it in seven days and Takehiro Arakawa over the full eight days of competition.  Next up for the majority of the pros in the field will be the Nov. 23 regional qualifier for the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden national championships.

Grand Tour Kyushu 2011
Nagasaki-Fukuoka, 10/30-11/6/11
click here for complete results

Stage Eight - six legs, 83.8 km - Miyazaki Pref. - 4:13:42
Leg One (17.3 km) - Fumihiro Maruyama (Miyazaki Pref.) - 51:57
Leg Two (15.8 km) - Takehiro Arakawa (Miyazaki Pref.) - 47:05
Leg Three (14.6 km) - Yoshikazu Kawazoe (Miyazaki Pref.) - 44:11
Leg Four (10.8 km) - Hiroki Kubota (Fukuoka Pref.) - 34:27
Leg Five (10.8 km) - Shuji Yoshikawa (Fukuoka Pref.) - 30:32
Leg Six (14.5 km) - Hiroyuki Horibata (Miyazaki Pref.) - 42:37

Final Standings - 51 legs, 739.9 km
1. Miyazaki Pref. - 38:04:48
2. Fukuoka Pref. - 38:10:11
3. Nagasaki Pref. - 38:55:12
4. Kagoshima Pref. - 39:45.44
5. Oita Pref. - 40:04:10
6. Kumamoto Pref. - 40:17:19
7. Yamaguchi Pref. - 40:21:35
8. Saga Pref. - 40:41:17
9. Okinawa Pref. - 41:26:14

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

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