Skip to main content

Ritsumeikan University Wins Record-Setting Seventh National Title

http://mainichi.jp/sports/news/20121029k0000m050036000c.html

translated by Brett Larner

With 28 teams on the starting line for the six-stage, 38.6 km National University Women's Ekiden Championships on Oct. 28 in Sendai, defending national champion Ritsumeikan University celebrated the championships' 30th anniversary by running 2:06:05 to take a record-setting seventh national title.  Rival Bukkyo University was relegated to the runner-up position for the second-straight year, 1:05 behind Ritsumeikan, while Tsubuka University was 3rd in its first Nationals appearance in nine years, making the seeded top six for the first time in ten years.

Ritsumeikan sat in 4th at the end of the First Stage, 13 seconds behind the lead before junior Akane Yabushita took over with a stage-best run to put Ritsumeikan into the lead.  The team sustained the lead through the Third Stage and was unchallenged all the way to the finish.  After starting the Second Stage in the lead. Bukkyo senior Shiho Takechi fell behind late in the stage.  Her teammates were unable to make up the deficit on the remaining stages.  Osaka Gakuin University and, returning from a DNF last year, Daito Bunka University, made it into the seeded bracket for the first time, while five-year-straight 3rd-placer Meijo University was only 7th, its first time ever not earning a seeded spot.

Pre-race, Ritsumeikan coach Miyuki Tokura had predicted, "The Second Stage, with the highest concentration of fast runners, will be the key."  After having been mostly out of competition since January with knee problems, captain Yabushita's performance on the Second Stage was crucial to the team's win.  Yabushita, whose credentials include a 2nd-place finish in the 1500 m at last year's National Track and Field Championships, was nervous about racing, saying, "I didn't really know how far I had recovered my strength yet."  With a 13-second gap to Bukkyo rival Takechi, Yabushita took the lead with 700 m to go before the handoff and opened an 8-second lead, winning the stage for the third year in a row.  Yabushita passed on her momentum to Third Stage runner Mai Tsuda who likewise won her stage to all but seal the overall win for Ritsumeikan.

With four-time Nationals team members Hanae Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei), Risa Takenaka (Team Shiseido) and others having graduated last spring, Ritsumeikan's strength this year was to be found among its sophomores and juniors.  A month ago at the Kansai Regional University Ekiden Championships with Yabushita still injured and Tsuda suffering from fatigue Ritsumeikan was crushed by Bukkyo, finishing an all-but unthinkable 4th.  "Everybody was nervous going into that race," said Yabushita, "but what happened there got us all focused and ready to come here and win."  Having worked together to overcome their problems, all members of this year's winning team will return next year.  Another era of the Ritsumeikan dynasty may be just getting underway.

Comments

Most-Read This Week

18-Year-Old Waithaka Runs 10000 m World Leading Time at Nittai - Weekend Roundup

photo by @tsutsugo55225

For the second time in the last three weeks, a Japan-based Kenyan ran the fastest time in the world this year for 10000 m at Yokohama's Nittai University Time Trials series. On October 20th it was 2015 World U18 Championships 3000 m gold medalist Richard Kimunyan (Hitachi Butsuryu), 20, with a 27:14.70  that surpassed Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei's world-leading mark by almost five seconds. This time it was 2018 World U20 Championships 5000 m silver medalist Stanley Waithaka (Yakult), 18, taking almost two minutes off his PB to break Kimunyan's mark with a 27:13.01 win.

Both winners received support from 2014 Commonwealth Games steeplechase gold medalist Jonathan Ndiku (Hitachi Butsuryu), who ran season bests for 2nd place each time, 27:50.38 three weeks ago and 27:28.27 on Saturday. 2013 World U18 Championships 3000 m bronze medalist Alexander Mutiso (ND Software) was also under 28 minutes, running just off his PB at 27:42.16 for 3rd. Kazuma Taira (Kan…

2018 Japanese Distance Rankings - Updated 11/11/18

JRN's 2018 Japanese track and road distance running rankings. Overall rankings are calculated using runners' times and placings in races over 5000 m, 10000 m, half-marathon and marathon and the strength of these performances relative to others in the top ten in each category. Click any image to enlarge.


Past years:
2017 ・ 2016 ・2015 ・ 2014 ・ 2013 ・ 2012 ・ 2011

© 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Go Ahead and Call It a Comeback - Niiya Breaks Shibui's Course Record in Return to Road Racing

Ladies and gentlemen, Hitomi Niiya is back.

You might remember Hitomi Niiya from the 2013 Moscow World Championships 10000 m, where she led the entire way only to get destroyed over the last lap and finish 5th in 30:56.70. That made her the third-fastest Japanese woman ever over that distance, but not long after that race she quit the sport entirely, getting an office job as far away from athletics as she could and not running for almost five years.

But the pull of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is strong, and, now 30, early this year she made the decision to try to make a comeback. Under the eye of former men's 800 m national record holder Masato Yokota she ran a 3000 m and two 5000 m time trials on the track between April and October before choosing the East Japan Women's Ekiden for her return to the roads and the longer distances.

The East Japan Women's Ekiden celebrated its 34th running Sunday, 9 stages totaling 42.195 km through the Fukushima countryside with teams from eac…