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Kanagawa and Canon Win Women's Ekidens

by Brett Larner

Two major women's ekidens took place Nov. 11 on opposite coasts of Japan.  For the second year in a row, the Kanagawa Prefecture team set a course record to outrun Nagano Prefecture for the win at the 28th running of Fukushima's East Japan Women's Ekiden, an event featuring teams made up of runners from junior high to pro from eighteen regions in eastern Japan.  Kanagawa's Rui Aoyama led off with a win by a hair over last year's stage winner Yuko Shimizu of Nagano after a brutal head-to-head battle of surges on the 6.0 km First Stage.  Nagano's second runner Honoka Yuzawa took over the lead, a position Nagano occupied for three stages before losing it for good to Kanagawa on the Fifth Stage.  Kanagawa covered the nine-stage, 42.195 course in 2:16:16 to break its own course record set last year, with Nagano ultimately finishing nearly two minutes back in 2:18:12.

The Tokyo team, only 6th last year, had a strong showing over the second half of the day thanks to stage wins by Fifth Stage runner Sayo Nomura and anchor Hanae Tanaka, who nearly succeeded in running Nagano down as she brought Tokyo home in 2:18:29 after starting the 10.0 km stage with a deficit of nearly two minutes.  The top six teams cleared 2:20, with hosts Fukushima Prefecture 6th in 2:19:24.  Yamagata Prefecture suffered a rare ekiden DQ when one of its runners cut a 180' turn short by a few meters due to poorly-place cones.  The team was allowed to finish the race, but its final time was not counted in the official results.

Across the country, the six-stage, 30.0 km Fukui Super Ladies Ekiden featuring top pro, university and club teams, also saw its 28th running.  Canon AC Kyushu was the surprise winner, advancing from as low as 10th to 4th place at the start of the 8.0 km anchor stage.  The team's final runner Chieko Kido turned in a solid 26:07 to run down the three women ahead of her and give Canon the win over national collegiate champion Ritsumeikan University by 15 seconds in 1:38:00.  Team Wacoal, missing ace Kayoko Fukushi, was close behind in 3rd in 1:38:22.

The anchor stage overall was tense and dramatic, with the top four women including Kido all starting within 13 seconds of each other, less than 30 seconds separating the top five at the finish, and almost a complete turnover among the top six on the anchor stage.  Defending Fukui champion Bukkyo University's Sairi Maeda took top honors on the last stage, running 26:06 to move Bukkyo up from 7th to 4th.

28th East Japan Women's Ekiden
Fukushima, 11/11/12
9 stages, 42.195 km, 18 teams
click here for complete results

Stage Best Performances
First Stage (6.0 km) - Rui Aoyama (Kanagawa Pref.) - 18:51
Second Stage (4.0 km) - Honoka Yuzawa (Nagano Pref.) - 12:54
Third Stage (3.0 km) - Sakiko Naito (Chiba Pref.) - 9:53
Fourth Stage (3.0 km) - Wakana Kabasawa (Gunma Pref.) - 9:32
Fifth Stage (5.0875 km) - Sayo Nomura (Tokyo) - 16:23
Sixth Stage (4.1075 km) - Miki Kobayashi (Saitama Pref.) - 13:05
Seventh Stage (4.0 km) - Kanna Tamaki (Nagano Pref.) - 12:49
Eighth Stage (3.0 km) - China Takano (Ibaraki Pref.) - 9:19
Ninth Stage (10.0 km) - Hanae Tanaka (Tokyo) - 32:13

Top Team Performances
1. Kanagawa Pref. - 2:16:16 - CR
2. Nagano Pref. - 2:18:12
3. Tokyo - 2:18:29
4. Chiba Pref. - 2:19:08
5. Saitama Pref. - 2:19:23
6. Fukushima Pref. - 2:19:24
7. Tochigi Pref. - 2:20:34
8. Niigata Pref. - 2:20:39
9. Ibaraki Pref. - 2:20:59
10. Akita Pref. - 2:21:28

28th Fukui Super Ladies Ekiden
Fukui, 11/11/12
6 stages, 30.0 km, 52 teams
click here for complete results

Stage Best Performances
First Stage (6.0 km) - Doricah Obare (Kenya/Team Hitachi) - 18:57
Second Stage (3.0 km) - Miyuki Mandai (Osaka Gakuin Univ. A) - 9:29
Third Stage (4.0 km) - Mai Tsuda (Ritsumeikan Univ. A) - 12:39
Fourth Stage (4.0 km) - Mutsumi Ikeda (Ritsumeikan Univ. A) - 12:48
Fifth Stage (5.0 km) - Yukari Abe (Team Panasonic) - 16:20
Sixth Stage (8.0 km) - Sairi Maeda (Bukkyo Univ. A) - 26:06

Top Team Performances
1. Canon AC Kyushu - 1:38:00
2. Ritsumeikan Univ. A - 1:38:15
3. Team Wacoal - 1:38:22
4. Bukkyo Univ. A - 1:38:40
5. Team Panasonic - 1:38:50
6. Osaka Gakuin Univ. A - 1:39:19
7. Team Sekisui Kagaku - 1:39:36
8. Team Hitachi - 1:40:30
9. Kyoto Sangyo Univ. - 1:40:40
10. Team Edion - 1:41:10

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
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