Skip to main content

Sendai Ikuei Course Record at Tohoku Region High School Ekiden

by Brett Larner

Earlier this season Samuel Wanjiru's disaster-hit alma mater Sendai Ikuei H.S. had a big run to win the Miyagi Prefecture High School Ekiden.  Sendai Ikuei followed up Nov. 10 with another big one, setting a 2:04:43 course record to win the seven-stage, 42.195 km Tohoku Region High School Ekiden over rival Aomori Yamada H.S.  Sendai Ikuei started slow, running 3rd behind early leader Tamura H.S. and Aomori Yamada after the first two stages before current Kenyan ace Hiram Ngatia got things into gear.  Ngatia outran Aomori Yamada's John Maina to set a 22:53 record on the 8.1075 km Third Stage, handing off to Fourth Stage runner Tadashi Isshiki in 2nd.  Isshiki, one of the best Japanese high schoolers this year, had little trouble making up the 5-second deficit to leader Aomori Yamada over the 8.0875 km stage, setting a 23:51 course record of his own to put Sendai Ikuei 18 seconds up.  Sendai Ikuei's next two runners kept up the lead before anchor Yuki Ajima put it away with a 14:26 stage record for 5 km.  Aomori Yamada finished 35 seconds back in 2:05:18 to likewise clear the old stage record.

Sendai Ikuei's performance is most noteworthy for what it suggests for December's National High School Ekiden Championships.  In 2004 Sendai Ikuei set the course record of 2:01:32 at the National race thanks in part to a brilliant stage record by senior Samuel Wanjiru, the race that first made Wanjiru's name in Japan.  The current team is close to the best it has had since then.  Its time at the Tohoku ekiden was more than 3 minutes off the Wanjiru-era Nationals mark, but with continued progress in the remaining weeks and a faster course awaiting them Sendai Ikuei may be in position to have a go at the record come December.

The day was almost a double for Sendai Ikuei's girls' team.  On a five-stage, 21.0975 km course, the Sendai girls went out hard, leading with three successive stage bests including a new record of 9:54 on the 3.0 km Third Stage by senior Natsumi Yoshida.  Up 45 seconds, Sendai Ikuei maintained the lead over the 3.0 km Fourth Stage despite first-year Mizuki Abukawa running only the 7th-fastest time on the stage.  It all fell apart on the 5.0 km anchor leg, however, as senior Eri Kitayama could only muster up a 17:12.  Starting in 3rd, Aomori Yamada H.S. Kenyan first-year Rosemary Wanjiru had the individual performance of the day as she blasted a 15:29 to knock 22 seconds off the stage record and bring Aomori Yamada home in 1st in 1:09:29, more than a minute ahead of the hapless Sendai Ikuei.  Morioka Joshi H.S. anchor Mizuki Hirano also put in a quality run of 16:28 to overtake Kitayama for 2nd in 1:10:18.

The top teams will meet again next month at the National High School Ekiden Championships.  Both the boys' and girls' Nationals are scheduled for Dec. 25 in Kyoto and will be broadcast live and commercial-free on NHK.  Check back closer to race date for previews and information on watching online.

2011 Tohoku Region High School Ekiden
Nagai, Yamagata, 11/10/11
click here for complete results

Boys - Stage Best Performances
First Stage (10.0 km) - Kenya Sonota (Aomori Yamada H.S.) - 30:06
Second Stage (3.0 km) - Shinji Sakai (Tamura H.S.) - 8:43
Third Stage (8.1075 km) - Hiram Ngatia (Kenya/Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 22:53 - CR
Fourth Stage (8.0875 km) - Tadashi Isshiki (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 23:51 - CR
Fifth Stage (3.0 km) - Akihito Kobari (Gakuho Ishikawa H.S.) - 9:15
Sixth Stage (5.0 km) - Arata Yamamoto (Aomori Yamada H.S.) and Shohei Yoshida (Iwaki Sogo H.S.) - 14:44
Seventh Stage (5.0 km) - Yuki Ajima (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 14:26 - CR

Top Teams - seven stages, 42.195 km
1. Sendai Ikuei H.S. - 2:04:43 - CR
2. Aomori Yamada H.S. - 2:05:18 - CR
3. Gakuho Ishikawa H.S. - 2:07:31
4. Ichinoseki Gakuin H.S. - 2:07:36
5. Hanawa H.S. - 2:08:49

Girls - Stage Best Performances
First Stage (6.0 km) - Michi Horikawa (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 19:29
Second Stage (4.0975 km) - Hanami Sekine (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 13:41
Third Stage (3.0 km) - Natsumi Yoshida (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 9:54 - CR
Fourth Stage (3.0 km) - Kaede Ogasawara (Morioka Joshi H.S.) and Rika Sawata (Hanawa H.S.) - 10:01
Fifth Stage (5.0 km) - Rosemary Wanjiru (Kenya/Aomori Yamada H.S.) - 15:29 - CR

Top Teams - five stages, 21.0975 km
1. Aomori Yamada H.S. - 1:09:29
2. Morioka Joshi H.S. - 1:10:18
3. Sendai Ikuei H.S. - 1:10:41
4. Yamagata Johoku H.S. - 1:10:53
5. Hanawa H.S. - 1:10:54

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kiplagat, Ichiyama, Tadese and Shitara Lead Marugame Half Elite Field

The Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon is always one of Japan's deepest races of the year on the men's side, its 2012 running setting a world record for the most men under 64 minutes in a single half marathon in history. On the women's side the field is always smaller but still home to the 1:07:26 Japanese national record set by Kayoko Fukushi (Wacoal) back in 2006.

Edna Kiplagat (Kenya), Sara Hall (U.S.A.) and Betsy Saina (Kenya) lead the women's international field, two-time defending champ Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) giving Marugame a miss this year. Fresh off a 1:09:14 PB at last month's Sanyo Ladies Half, Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) leads a trio of Japanese women with recent sub-1:10 times, something that has become a puzzling rarity lately. Fukushi is also back, her recent best of 1:12:04 a long way from her best days.

Speaking of which, world record holder Zersenay Tadese (Eritrea) will be looking to break 60 minutes for the first time since 2015. His toughest…

Cheboitibin, Kiprono and Sonoda Top Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon Elite Entries

With just over two weeks to go the organizers of the Feb. 4 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon have released their elite field for this year's race. With its history as an elite men-only race Beppu-Oita's women's field is still tiny given its status as an IAAF silver label race, but this year promises a good race between two local 2:32 women, 2016 winner Hiroko Yoshitomi (Memolead) and Yuka Takemoto (Canon AC Kyushu), that should see the 2:39:57 course record fall. Defending champ Haruka Yamaguchi (AC Kita) also returns with a 2:38:43 PB from last fall that puts her range of the course record as well.

The men's race is heavier-duty, with a spot in the MGC Race Tokyo Olympic Trials available to the top Japanese man under 2:11:00 and to up to five others if they clear 2:10. Hayato Sonoda (Kurosaki Harima) and Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) are the only Japanese men in the field to have run those kinds of times in the last couple of years, and with support from 2:09~2:10 men

Tokyo Marathon to Move to March Date Beginning in 2019

At a press conference in Tokyo on Dec. 12, the Tokyo Marathon Foundation announced that beginning in 2019, the Tokyo Marathon will move from its current date on the last Sunday of February to the first Sunday of March. The next Imperial succession is set to take place in 2019, meaning that February 23 will become the Emperor's Birthday national holiday starting in 2020. The race date is being preemptively moved to avoid any potential overlap.

According to the Foundation, setting up and breaking down the facilities necessary to hold the Tokyo Marathon takes several days. With the finish area being positioned in front of the Imperial Palace there were concerns that problems would arise due to the large number of people who would gather in the area to celebrate the Emperor's birthday.

Translator's note: The Tokyo Marathon previously experimented with a March race date in 2009 but abandoned it to return to February the next year. Since 1994 the first Sunday of March has been t…