Skip to main content

New Year Ekiden Preview

by Brett Larner



The raison d'être for the Japanese men's corporate team comes bright and early every Jan. 1 with the New Year Ekiden national corporate men's championships.  37 teams from 6 regions square off over 100 km in a race that sees most of the athletes bringing their peak performance of the year; at the 2012 New Year Ekiden, winner Team Nissin Shokuhin ace Yuki Sato's record of 1:02:51 for the 22.0 km Fourth Stage was equivalent to a 1:00:16 half marathon, faster than the Japanese national record.  TBS will broadcast the race live starting at 8:30 a.m.  Overseas viewers should be able to watch online with Keyhole TV, with coverage also available via Twitter @JRNLive.

Nissin Shokuhin comes to the 2013 New Year Ekiden in range of a title defense, but much of its chances depend on Sato.  At November's East Japan regional qualifier he was only 4th on his stage, contributing to the team's loss to the Tsuyoshi Ugachi-led Team Konica Minolta.  It will take a performance close to his stage record last year, along with a solid debut from Nissin's junior Kenyan Leonard Barston, for Nissin to make up the distance to Konica Minolta, the favorite for the overall win.

Running without either of its Ethiopians, Team Honda was only one second behind Nissin at the East Japan qualifier and should also be up front throughout the race.  Noteworthy on Honda's lineup is the entry of Asmerow Mengistu rather than 2011 10000 m world champion Ibrahim Jeilan.  Team JR Higashi Nihon and Team Fujitsu were also strong in East Japan and have to be counted among the favorites.  The most-anticipated moment of this New Year Ekiden will surely be the pro ekiden debut of Fujitsu's Ryuji Kashiwabara, a celebrity throughout Japan after his four-straight Hakone Ekiden Fifth Stage wins while at Toyo University.

If any team can break East Japan's dominance it will be Kyushu's Team Asahi Kasei.  One of Japan's most legendary old-school teams, Asahi Kasei has recently been accumulating a tough lineup including Komazawa University and Meiji University aces Takuya Fukatsu and Tetsuya Yoroizaka along with Hiroyuki Horibata, who ran 2:08:24 in Fukuoka earlier this month.  If Horibata has recovered adequately then Asahi Kasei should be a player.  Kyushu runner-up Team Yasukawa Denki and Kansai region winner Team Sagawa Express, featuring Olympic marathoners Kentaro Nakamoto and Ryo Yamamoto, should be in contention for the top five, along with Chugoku champion Team Chugoku Denryoku.

Despite Jeilan's absence, the 8.3 km "International Stage" should provide some of the best race of the day.  The entry list includes the likes of Paul Tanui (Kenya/Team Kyudenko), Clement Langat (Kenya/Team Subaru), Charles Ndirangu (Kenya/Team JFE Steel), Josphat Ndambiri (Kenya/Team Komori Corp.), Jonathan Ndiku (Kenya/Team Hitachi Butsuryu) and Alemu Desta (Ethiopia/Team Yasukawa Denki).  Most of the top Japanese talent will be lined up on the 13.6 km Third Stage and 22.0 km Fourth Stage.

2013 New Year Ekiden
National Corporate Men's Ekiden Championships
Maebashi, 1/1/13
37 teams, 7 stages, 100.0 km

Top Team Entries
Konica Minolta (East Japan)
Nissin Shokuhin (East Japan)
Honda (East Japan)
Asahi Kasei (Kyushu)
JR Higashi Nihon (East Japan)
Sagawa Express (Kansai) 
Yasukawa Denki (Kyushu)
Shikoku Denryoku (Kansai) 
Toyota Kyushu (Kyushu)
Fujitsu (East Japan) 
Otsuka Seiyaku (Kansai)
Chugoku Denryoku (Chugoku) 
Toyota Boshoku (Chubu) 
Toyota (Chubu) 
Aichi Seiko (Chubu)
YKK (Hokuriku)

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kariuki Cracks Course Record at 30th Anniversary Ageo City Half Marathon

2017 Kanto Regionals 10000 m and half marathon D2 champion Simon Kariuki (Nihon Yakka Univ.)  overcame windy conditions at the 30th edition of the Ageo City Half Marathon to shave one second off the course record, winning in a PB 1:01:25.

Kariuki and 2017 Kanto Regionals D1 5000 m and 10000 m champ Patrick Mathenge Wambui (Nihon Univ.) took it out in the first km, setting up a fascinating duel between Kanto's top two collegiate men on the track.


Led by Hayato Seki, star runner of this year's Izumo Ekiden champ Tokai University in his half marathon debut, the main body of the Japanese pack gradually relinquished the lead to the Kenyan pair, down 50 seconds by 10 km and continuing to drift back from then. Ageo has typically seen its lead Japanese collegiate men running between high-61 and mid-62, but nobody in the field seemed willing to go ahead of Seki and the runner on his shoulder, 2017 World University Games half marathon gold medalist Kei Katanishi (Komazawa Univ.).


Near …

Breaking Down the Best-Ever Japanese Marathon Times By Country

Japanese marathoners these days have the reputation of rarely racing abroad, and of rarely racing well when they do. Back in the day that wasn't true; Japanese marathoners have won all the World Marathon Majors-to-be except New York, and two of the three Japanese men to have run 2:06 and all three women to have run 2:19 did it outside Japan. Whatever the extent to which things did turn inward along the way, the last few years have seen an uptick in Japanese runners going farther afield and running better there than any others before them.

The lists above and below show the fastest times run by Japanese athletes in different countries to 2:20:00 for men and 2:45:00 for women. Japanese men have run sub-2:20 marathons in 37 countries around the world including Japan, with Japanese women having cleared 2:45 in 33 countries including at home. Breaking it down by IAAF label times, more Japanese men have run label standard times abroad, but women have typically performed at a higher label…

Kosimbei, Kwemoi and Shitara Lead Hachioji 10000 m Field

Nestled deep in the misty foothills of the western Tokyo mountains, Hosei University's late November Hachioji Long Distance meet has quietly turned into one of the world's premier track 10000 m, its A-heat never quite dipping under 27 minutes yet but still producing record-setting depth and the two fastest Japanese men's 10000 m in history.
This year's entry list is another monster, with 27:02.59 man Nicholas Kosimbei (Toyota) leading 17 men with recent times under 28 minutes, twelve of them Kenyan, three Japanese and two Ethiopian. Fresh off a 27:22.73 win at last weekend's Nittai University Time Trials, two-time steeplechase junior world champion Jonathan Ndiku (Hitachi Butsuryu) is slated to pace what is scheduled to be a sub-28 race, but with Kosimbei, sub-27:30 men John Maina (Fujitsu) and Rodgers Chumo Kwemoi (Aisan Kogyo) and five others under 27:45 including last year's winnerRonald Kwemoi (Komori Corp.) on the list the front end should go faster. 
Rig…