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Team Toyota Scores Course Record at 66th Meigi Ekiden

by Brett Larner

2011 New Year Ekiden national champion Team Toyota added another win to its resume, running 2:30:45 to set the course record at the 66th running of the six-stage, 52.6 km Meigi Ekiden, Feb. 5 in Nagoya.  Runner-up Team Toyota Boshoku also went under the old course record, recording a time of 2:31:58.  Suzuki Hamamatsu AC, featuring the superb Martin Mathathi and Toyota Boshoku's former ace Yusei Nakao, had an improvement over last year's performance thanks to the addition of Nakao, finishing 3rd in 2:32:34.  Defending champion Team Aichi Seiko was only 4th in 2:33:55.

Nakao led off strongly for Suzuki, winning the first stage with a few seconds to spare.  Nicholas Makau (Kenya) put the small Team Yachiyo Kogyo into the lead with a course record 20:51 for the 7.3 km Second Stage, but Toyota's Yuya Ito responded with a course record of his own on the 6.0 km Third Stage, clocking 16.58 to put Toyota into the lead.  Fourth Stage record holder Mathathi overtook Toyota's junior Kenyan James Rungaru to retake the lead for Suzuki, but Toyota's remaining two runners both ran the fastest times on their stages to give Toyota the win, Kazuki Tomaru running 15:05 for 5.3 km and anchor Chihiro Miyawaki, one of the three Japanese men currently holding an Olympic 10000 m A-standard mark, running a new stage record of 33:48 for 11.8 km.

In the six-stage, 40.2 km high school division, Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. almost led start to finish but were overtaken briefly on the 9.8 km Second Stage by Iga Hakuho H.S. Toyokawa Kogyo's Teruaki Yuda came back with a stage record 15:28 for the 5.3 km Fourth Stage to recover the lead, and Toyokawa Kogyo carried on over the final two km without incident to win in 2:00:06 by a margin of 25 seconds over Iga Hakuho.  Former powerhouse Saku Chosei H.S. oscillated between 2nd and 4th throughout the race, ultimately finishing 3rd in a field of fifty high school teams.

2012 Meigi Ekiden
Nagoya-Gifu, 2/5/12
general divsion: 6 stages, 52.6 km, 37 teams
high school division: 6 stages, 40.2 km, 50 teams
click here for complete results

General Division
Stage Best Performances
First Stage (12.4 km) - Yusei Nakao (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 35:59
Second Stage (7.3 km) - Nicholas Makau (Kenya/Team Yachiyo Kogyo) - 20:51 - CR
Third Stage (6.0 km) - Yuya Ito (Team Toyota) - 16:58 - CR
Fourth Stage (9.8 km) - Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 26:41
Fifth Stage (5.3 km) - Kazuki Tomaru (Team Toyota) - 15:05
Sixth Stage (11.8 km) - Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota) - 33:48 - CR

Top Team Results
1. Toyota - 2:30:45 - CR
2. Toyota Boshoku - 2:31:58 (CR)
3. Suzuki Hamamatsu AC - 2:32:34
4. Aichi Seiko - 2:33:55
5. NTN - 2:34:45

High School Division
Stage Best Performances
First Stage (7.3 km) - Yuta Koyama (Toyokawa Kogyo H.S.) - 21:41
Second Stage (6.0 km) - Yusuke Nishiyama (Iga Hakuho H.S.) - 17:34
Third Stage (9.8 km) - Ryohei Nishiyama (Iga Hakuho H.S.) - 29:09
Fourth Stage (5.3 km) - Teruaki Yuda (Toyokawa Kogyo H.S.) - 15:28 - CR
Fifth Stage (5.2 km) - Yuki Ando (Toyokawa Kogyo H.S.) - 15:24
Sixth Stage (6.6 km) - Genichi Narita (Saku Chosei H.S.) - 19:47

Top Team Results
1. Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. - 2:00:06
2. Iga Hakuho H.S. - 2:00:31
3. Saku Chosei H.S. - 2:01:22
4. Aichi H.S. - 2:02:26
5. Chukyo H.S. - 2:02:57

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
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