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

Takushoku Teammates Lemeteki and Akasaki Sub-62 For 1-2 at Ageo City Half Marathon

Takushoku University teammates Joseph Razini Lemeteki and Akira Akasaki dominated the 2019 Ageo City Half Marathon, alternating the lead throughout almost the entire race to go 1-2 in school record times.

With invitations to the 2019 United Airlines NYC Half up for grabs to the top two Japanese collegiate finishers in the unofficial intramural tryout for Japan's most prestigious race, the 2020 Hakone Ekiden, things went out very conservatively by Ageo standards at just 3:00/km for the first 2 km. Not content with that, Akasaki, 3rd on his stage at both the Izumo Ekiden in October and the National University Ekiden earlier this month, picked up the race and carried it until 15 km. From 3 km to 8 km Akasaki split 14:33, pace for 1:01:24, condensing the pack behind him down to eight.


After the 10 km turnaround Akasaki's teammate Lemeteki made a bold move to gain contact with the lead group, and when he did it shaved things down to seven serious contenders. The front group stayed …

Japanese Amateur Yamaguchi and Ugandan Kusuro Break Kobe Course Records

Amateur Japanese club runner Haruka Yamaguchi (AC Kita) and Ugandan Geoffrey Kusuro had dominant wins at the 9th running of the Kobe Marathon Sunday, both running PBs and winning by almost 4 minutes in course record time.

Yamaguchi, who ran a PB 2:33:06 in Sydney in September and dropped a surprise 31:58 at last weekend's East Japan Women's Ekiden, slipped away early, never challenged by the pack of invited African elites or by friend and rival club runner Shiho Kaneshige (GRlab Kanto). Going through halfway faster than her half marathon PB in 1:13:08. She slowed slightly in the second half, especially on the large bridge out to the island finish line, but her win was never in doubt as she broke the tape in 2:27:39. Previously, the fastest pure amateur Japanese women's marathon performance was Chihiro Tanaka's 2:29:30 in Nagoya in 2002. Breaking that by almost two minutes, Yamaguchi staked her claim as Japan's best-ever amateur.


2nd through 5th were close together…

800 m High School National Record Holder Clay to Attend Texas A&M

2019 men's 800 m national champion and Soyo H.S. 3rd-year Aaron Tatsunami Clay will enroll in America's Texas A&M University next September, it was learned on Nov. 14. Until then he plans to remain based at Soyo in preparation to go for the win at next year's National Championships and to clear the 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualifying standard.

The prestigious Texas A&M is where Donovan Brazier (U.S.A.), winner of the gold medal in the men's 800 m at this fall's Doha World Championships, is enrolled. Soyo H.S. head coach Mitsuru Zeniya, 53, who accompanied Clay on a visit to see the university, was supportive of Clay's decision and goals, saying, "He just barely missed the World Championships qualifying standard. If he trains with athletes who are stronger than him he'll grow more."

Last year at the October Niigata Autumn Time Trials meet Clay set a national high school record of 1:47.51 for 800 m. At the National Championships in June this yea…