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Takechi, Kyuma Twins Lead Bukkyo University and Tsukuba University to Regional Ekiden Wins

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The university women's ekiden season kicked off Sept. 29 with the Kansai Region (Kobe/Kyoto/Osaka area) qualifier for the Oct. 28 National University Women's Ekiden Championships in Sendai.  22 schools ran in the six-stage, 30 km Kansai qualifier in Kobe's Shiawase no Mura, with defending champion Bukkyo University taking its second-straight and fourth-overall win in 1:37:54.  Last year's national champion Ritsumeikan University finished 4th in Kansai.  Along with Bukkyo and Ritsumeikan, five other schools from the Kansai Region made the cut for Nationals.

Having run on the Shiawase no Mura course since her days at Tomogaoka H.S., Bukkyo's Shiho Takechi had the fastest time on the anchor stage for the second year in a row.  Takechi ran 47 seconds faster than the next-fastest woman on the anchor stage, making a major contribution to Bukkyo's overwhelming victory.  Now a senior, Takechi is the team's captain this season.  In the spring she had trouble getting in good shape, but at last month's National University Track and Field Championships she ran 15:56.78 for 3rd, her first time in a year to go sub-16.  "I didn't have any problems with my training this summer," she said with a smile.  Showing her leadership, she added, "I think that was a good example for the other runners."  Targeting a third-straight win last year, Bukkyo finished 2nd.  Now in her final year, Takechi swore to find vindication.  "We don't have any big stars this year, so we all have to work together to improve our overall level.  That's how we're going to win."

A day later, first-year twins Haruka and Moe Kyuma led Tsukuba University to its first Kanto Region (Tokyo/Yokohama area) qualifier win in ten years, covering the six stage, 30.6 km course in Chiba New Town in 1:38:26.  Tsukuba's fourth-ever Kanto title, the win secured the school a place at Nationals for the first time in nine years.  Both Kyuma twins won their stages, Moe taking the Fourth Stage and Haruka claiming the anchor stage. Daito Bunka University was 2nd as both schools broke the course record, with four other schools earning places at the National Championships.  Altogether 26 schools nationwide qualified for Nationals, with two further schools set to be named to the field on Oct. 3 in honor of the National University Women's Ekiden Championships' 30th anniversary.

The superbly talented twins have brought new life to the former powerhouse Tsukuba University. Their experience as members of Kyoto's two-time National Women's Ekiden Championships team proved crucial to Tsukuba's fortunes.  On the 5.8 km Fourth Stage Moe took the lead.  Tsukuba dropped behind on the Fifth Stage, but on the 7.8 km Sixth Stage Haruka passed Daito Bunka University's anchor in the first km, ultimately opening a one-minute gap before the Tsukuba jersey broke the tape after a ten-year dry spell.  Her time of 24:43 was a new stage record.  The National University Track and Field Championships 10000 m winner last month, Haruka said, "I have to be critical of myself for slowing down near the end, but I'm very happy that we won," showing no small share of pride.

Tsukuba has won the National University Women's Ekiden Championships twice, finishing 7th in its last appearance in 2003.  Needless to say, with Nationals having moved to Sendai in 2005 this year will be the school's first time on the new course.  This year the team's uniform has also changed, its runners now sporting fuchsia blue singlets.  Leading the way for a new era at a famous school, the twins are excited for their Nationals debut.  "I love the sense of accomplishment you get in an ekiden," said Haruka.  "I think we are going to do well at Nationals."  Moe added, "I want to win my stage to help make sure that the team is right up front."  If they can crack the domination of the Kansai Region they will be shaking up the existing order at Nationals, where Kanto always takes a back seat to the sisters' native Kansai.

2012 Kansai Regional University Women's Ekiden
Shiawase no Mori, Kobe, 9/29/12
six stages, 30 km
top seven teams qualify for National University Women's Ekiden Championships
click here for complete results

Top Team Results
1. Bukkyo University A - 1:37:54
2. Osaka Gakuin University A - 1:40:19
3. Kyoto Sangyo University - 1:40:34
4. Ritsumeikan University - 1:40:48
5. Osaka Geidai University - 1:42:59
6. Kansai University - 1:44:13
7. Nara Sangyo University - 1:46:25
8. Hyogo University - 1:47:54
9. Kobe Gakuin University - 1:48:03
10. Koka Joshi University - 1:48:16

Stage Best Performances
First Stage (3.9 km) - Mutsumi Ikeda (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 12:30
Second Stage (3.3 km) - Miyuki Mandai (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) - 10:12
Third Stage (6.5 km) - Chinami Mori (Bukkyo Univ. A) - 21:11
Fourth Stage (6.5 km) - Chika Ogawa (Bukkyo Univ. A) - 21:50
Fifth Stage (3.3 km) - Chisaki Takegami (Bukkyo Univ. A) - 10:34
Sixth Stage (6.5 km) - Shiho Takechi (Bukkyo Univ. A) - 21:18

2012 Kanto Region University Women's Ekiden
Chiba New Town, Chiba, 9/30/12
six stages, 30.6 km
top six teams qualify for National University Women's Ekiden Championships
click here for complete results

Top Team Performances
1. Tsukuba University - 1:38:26 - CR
2. Daito Bunka University - 1:39:26 (CR)
3. Tamagawa University A - 1:40:47
4. Hakuoh University - 1:41:02
5. Chuo University - 1:41:22
6. Josai University - 1:41:45
7. Juntendo University - 1:41:58
8. Nittai University - 1:43:16
9. Tokyo Nogyo University A - 1:44:34
10. Toyo University - 1:45:37

Stage Best Performances
First Stage (4.6 km) - Nami Hashimoto (Josai Univ.) - 14:55
Second Stage (4.5 km) - Yasuka Ueno (Tsukuba Univ.) - 14:03
Third Stage (3.3 km) - Yuko Iwata (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 10:23 - CR
Fourth Stage (5.8 km) - Moe Kyuma (Tsukuba Univ.) - 18:29
Fifth Stage (4.6 km) - Sakurako Fukuuchi (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 14:46 - CR
Sixth Stage (7.8 km) - Haruka Kyuma (Tsukuba Univ.) - 24:43 - CR


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