by Brett Larner
At the Jan. 20 Kita-Kyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden, 2012 National High School Ekiden champions Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. outran all competition to break the existing 32.8 km course record by 41 seconds. Kita-Kyushu features an interesting format that sees top high school team running against pro teams with the open division's 11.7 km final stage divided into two for the younger high school division teams.
Locals Team Kyudenko led through the first three stages, with Kenyan ace Sally Chepyego scoring a course record 18:11 for the 5.9 km Second Stage. 2012 National Corporate Ekiden champions Team Universal Entertainment and Ritsumeikan Uji just a second behind dueled for 2nd before the high school champions pulled ahead on the Third Stage thanks to a stage win by the team's star Nanako Kanno. Ritsumeikan Uji's fourth runner Mai Hirota delivered another stage win to bring the team even with Kyudenko at the handoff to the Fifth Stage.
For Kyudenko, Universal Entertainment and other open-division teams the Fifth Stage was 11.7 km, while Ritsumeikan Uji and other high schools faced 4.9 and 6.8 km subdivisions of the stage. Despite the best efforts of Kyudenko anchor Misaki Kato she was no match for the younger runners running shorter distances, and Ritsumeikan Uji pulled ahead to cross the finish line first in a new course record of 1:45:52. Team Tenmaya anchor Rei Ohara, who lost to high schooler Miyuki Uehara (Kagoshima Joshi H.S.) at last weekend's National Women's Ekiden, was also too much for Kato, outrunning her by more than a minute to give Tenmaya 1st in the open division.
With the Kita-Kyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden the national-level women's ekiden season comes to a close. The focus now turns to longer distances on the road, with next weekend's Osaka International Women's Marathon and places on the Moscow World Championships marathon team taking up the biggest share of the attention. JRN will cover Osaka live via Twitter on @JRNLive. Check back later in the week for a preview and viewing details.
2013 Kita-Kyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden Top Results
high school division: 16 teams, 6 stages, 32.8 km
open division: 11 teams, 5 stages, 32.8 km
click here for complete results
Top Team Results - High School Division
1. Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. - 1:45:52 - CR
2. Chikushi Joshi Gakuen H.S. - 1:47:43
3. Kamimura Gakuen H.S. - 1:49:01
4. Suma Gakuen H.S. - 1:49:12
5. Isahaya H.S. - 1:51:40
Top Team Results - Open Division
1. Tenmaya - 1:46:27
2. Kyudenko - 1:46:39
3. Canon AC Kyushu - 1:47:38
4. Kyocera - 1:47:41
5. Universal Entertainment - 1:48:46
Stage Best Performances
First Stage - 4.2 km: Ayako Jinnouchi (Team Kyudenko) - 13:23
Second Stage - 5.9 km: Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudeko) - 18:11 - CR
Third Stage - 5.1 km: Nanako Kanno (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 16:19
Fourth Stage - 5.9 km: Mai Hirota (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 19:47
Fifth Stage - open - 11.7 km: Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya) - 36:54
Fifth Stage - H.S. - 4.9 km: Yuki Fujiwara (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 16:08
Sixth Stage - H.S. - 6.8 km: Momoka Katada (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 21:18
(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved