Skip to main content

National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships Preview (updated)

by Brett Larner

Sunday's National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships kick off a busy string of championship road relays across Japan, with no less than eight major events in five weeks.  The Dec. 16 race in Sendai is the peak of the year for corporate-league women, with the country's top marathoners and track runners from twenty-nine teams squaring off over a six-stage, 42.195 km course.  TBS will broadcast the ekiden live nationwide beginning at 11:50 a.m. local time.  It should be possible for overseas viewers to use Keyhole TV to catch the race, but JRN will also offer live coverage via Twitter @JRNLive.

The favorites look to be evenly divided between the three national divisions.  Team Universal Entertainment won the East Japan regional qualifier last month by 3 1/2 minutes over defending national champion Team Daiichi Seimei and comes to Nationals seeded #1.  A major factor in Universal's performance was a win on East Japan's longest stage by Mizuho Nasukawa, who subsequently finished 2nd at the Yokohama International Women's Marathon.  Much of Universal's chances will depend on how well Nasukawa has recoved in the four weeks since Yokohama.  Daiichi Seimei was missing ace Yoshimi Ozaki at East Japan and, should she be back and at her best, will be far more dangerous.

Central Japan's Team Denso was 5th last year and won its regional qualifier in 2:16:57, giving it the #2 position in the field.  Featuring 2011 national 10000 m champion Kayo Sugihara and former Sera H.S. standout Susan Wairimu Denso should be in a position to give Universal a race.  Not far behind from Central Japan and ranked 4th overall is Team Toyota Jidoshokki, led by 1500 m national record holder Yuriko Kobayashi.

West Japan dominates the field, with six of the ten teams to have broken 2:20 at the qualifiers hailing from that region.  Team Wacoal leads the way with a 2:17:38 course record win courtesy two new stage records by Olympian Kayoko Fukushi and younger star Chihiro Takato and is the probable favorite for the national title.  Team Daihatsu, featuring London Olympics marathoner Ryoko Kizaki, and Team Sysmex, with marathon national record holder Mizuki Noguchi on its list, should also be factors.  West Japan teams Tenmaya, Otsuka Seiyaku and Juhachi Ginko round out the sub-2:20 teams on the list.

Update: Start lists have now been released.  Absent from defending champion Daiichi Seimei's lineup is 2009 World Championships marathon silver medalist Yoshimi Ozaki.  The longest leg, the 10.9 km Third Stage, looks great, with 10000 m national champion Mika Yoshikawa (Team Panasonic), 5000 m national champion Hitomi Niiya (Team Univ. Ent.), half marathon and 5000 m national record holder Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal), 10000 m national record holder Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo), 1500 m national record holder Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshokki), 2011 World Championships marathoners Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) and Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) and more.

The 3.6 km Fourth Stage, the day's shortest, features Kenyans Sally Chepyego (Team Kyudenko), Susan Wairimu (Team Denso), Grace Kimanzi (Team Starts), Felista Wanjugu (Team Univ. Ent.), Beatrice Wainaina Murugi (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) and Doricah Obare (Team Hitachi).

The 10. 0 km Fifth Stage includes marathon national record holder Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex), London Olympics marathoners Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) and Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) and Ome 30 km winner Asami Kato (Team Panasonic).

2012 National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships 
Top Team Entries With Time at Regional Qualifier
Sendai, 12/16/12
click here for start list

Universal Entertainment (East Japan) - 2:15:58
Denso (Cental Japan) - 2:16:57
Wacoal (West Japan) - 2:17:38 - CR
Toyota Jidoshokki (Central Japan) - 2:17:49
Daihatsu (West Japan) - 2:18:43
Sysmex (West Japan) - 2:19:23
Daiichi Seimei (East Japan) - 2:19:25
Tenmaya (West Japan) - 2:19:38
Otsuka Seiyaku (West Japan) - 2:19:39
Juhachi Ginko (West Japan) - 2:19:58

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Men's Marathon Rout - JAAF Executives Announce Resignation

http://www.nikkansports.com/olympic/rio2016/athletics/news/1698472.html

translated by Brett Larner

In the Rio de Janeiro Olympics men's marathon on Aug. 21, Satoru Sasaki (30) was the top Japanese man at 16th in 2:13:57.  Suehiro Ishikawa (36) was 36th, with Hisanori Kitajima (31) placing 94th.

At the end of athletics competition Japan's total was two medals and two top eight finishes, a total exceeding the JAAF's target one medal but falling short of its goal of five top eight finishes.  JAAF strengthening committee chairman Kazunori Asaba (55) announced that he intends to resign his position following the Rio Olympics.  Strengthening committee vice-chairman Katsumi Sakai (56) and director of men's marathoning Takeshi Soh (63) are also expected to join the exodus of resignations.  Japanese athletics will be forced to make a fresh start before the Tokyo Olympics.

Yuta Shitara Breaks Japanese Men's Half Marathon National Record in Berlin Marathon Tuneup at Usti nad Labem Half

A week after his 28:55 at the Birell Prague Grand Prix 10 km and just eight days out from the Berlin Marathon, Yuta Shitara (Honda) made the great leap forward, taking 8 seconds off Atsushi Sato's 2007 half marathon Japanese national record, finishing 8th at the Czech Republic's Usti nad Labem Half Marathon.

Shitara is probably most well-known outside Japan for going through halfway under 62 minutes during his marathon debut at this year's Tokyo Marathon and still ending up with a 2:09:27, but he's been turning heads in Japan since his second year at Toyo University when he broke a stage record at the 2012 Hakone Ekiden and outkicked the U.S.A.'s Dathan Ritzenhein to finish in 1:01:48 at the NYC Half two months later, until this year the fastest time ever by a Japanese man on U.S soil.

Three weeks before Tokyo this year he ran a 1:01:19 PB at the Marugame Half. Many people would call that a solid tuneup three weeks out from a serious marathon, but eight days? In P…

Kawauchi Leaves for Oslo After Trying 100 m Time Trial

The civil servant runner admits to being shocked. 2017 London World Championships marathoner and men's captain Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) left from Tokyo's Narita Airport for Norway the evening of Sept. 13 to run the Sept. 16 BMW Oslo Marathon.

On Sept. 9 at the National University Track and Field Championships, Yoshihide Kiryu (Toyo Univ.) became the first Japanese man to break 10 seconds in the 100 m when he set a new national record of 9.98. The news has been the talk of the nation ever since. Kawauchi said, "It's pretty amazing. It took up the front page of every newspaper." What can he run for 100 m? "My PB is 13.1, but right now, 13.9," he admitted.

Kawauchi ran that time, "in the morning the day before yesterday," he said. "I did two time trials. I even wore spikes. I ran them for real and only did 13.9. To be honest, it was pretty shocking." Although short sprints are well outside his area of expertise it seemed…