Skip to main content

Hyogo Defends National Men's Ekiden Title With Perfect Team Performance

by Brett Larner

Click photo for video highlights via race broadcaster NHK.

Hyogo Prefecture took its second-straight National Men's Ekiden title Jan. 20 in Hiroshima with a perfect team performance that held off rivals Tokyo and Aichi Prefecture. With anchor Satoru Kitamura (Team Nissin Shokuhin) ailing after potentially career-ending injuries last year and a disastrous performance three weeks ago at the New Year Ekiden the rest of the Hyogo team knew that they needed a margin of at least a minute by the start of the anchor stage to have a chance at holding off  Tokyo and Aichi anchors Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B) and Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota), and, aided by ideal conditions, they timed it perfectly.

Last year's First Stage winner Keisuke Nakatani (Hyogo/Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) took it out fast and accelerated each km on the 7.0 km leg, just missing the course record but giving Hyogo a 2-second lead.  3.0 km Second Stage runner Chikashi Ikeda (Hyogo/Kakogawa Yamate J.H.S.) stretched that out to 13 seconds, just missing the course record which local Shiki Shinsako (Hiroshima/Shiwa J.H.S.) managed to clip in 8:29 further back in the pack.  8.5 km Third Stage runner Keisuke Fujii (Hyogo/Chuo Gakuin Univ.) fell afoul of Nike Oregon Project-bound Suguru Osako (Tokyo/Waseda Univ.), ran just off the course record to put Tokyo ahead for the only point in the race, while Osako's former Waseda teammate Yusuke Mita (Aichi/Team JR Higashi Nihon) advanced to 3rd to set up the expected race between the three pre-race favorites.

8 seconds down from Tokyo at the start of the 5.0 km Fourth Stage, Yuhi Akiyama (Hyogo/Suma Gakuen H.S.) tied his track 5000 m PB to set a new course record of 14:07 and give Hyogo a lead of exactly 1 minute, with Aichi just 8 seconds back from Tokyo in 3rd.  Tokyo's Rintaro Takeda (Waseda Jitsugyo H.S.) ran a stage best to close 10 seconds on the 8.5 km Fifth Stage, but on the 3.0 km Sixth Stage Hyogo's Haruki Nishimura (Miki J.H.S.) made what ended up being crucial move of the race for his team's chances, reopening the lead to its greatest margin of the day, 1:15 over Tokyo.  Aichi, with the strongest anchor in the field, was another 14 seconds back.

Hyogo anchor Kitamura started off well and did what he could, holding a steady pace near 3:00/km for the 13.0 km Seventh Stage.  Behind him, New Year Ekiden First Stage winner Miyawaki of Aichi ran down past 1500 m and 5000 m national champion Ueno of Tokyo in just over 1 km, but after initially running relaxed and letting Miyawaki go Ueno went to work at 3 km and caught back up.  For the first half of the stage they alternated running ahead of each other, not so much working together as trying to shake each other off. In what may have been the smartest race Ueno has ever run at a distance over 5 km, he pushed the pace just before halfway to inch away from Miyawaki and start to close the gap to leader Kitamura.  At 9 km the gap was down to 47 seconds, 28 seconds by 11 km.  Kitamura began to show signs of pain as he came into the final straightaway to the finish in front of Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Museum but mustered up a last push with 1 km to go.  He looked home free, but behind him Ueno threw in a last kick befitting a 1500 m national champ, eating up the distance but too late as Kitamura crossed the line just 5 seconds ahead.  Hyogo beat Tokyo 2:19:51 to 2:19:56 for the full 48.0 km course in what may have been the first time two teams have broken 2:20 in the event's 18-year history.  "Yeah, that was pretty stressful," Kitamura laughed in post-race interviews.  Precisely judged and executed, Hyogo's performance was a masterpiece of team running.

Miyawaki, coming off injuries in the fall and reportedly experiencing some pain again since his New Year Ekiden stage win, underperformed but still brought Aichi across the line in 3rd in 2:20:35, just holding off Saitama Prefecture anchor Keita Shitara (Toyo Univ.) who ran down Chiba Prefecture anchor Yusuke Sato (Nihon Univ.) for an unexpected 4th in 2:20:55.  27:44 local Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Hiroshima/Team Asahi Kasei) looked as though he would catch Shitara and Sato but ran out of steam in the final 3 km.  Coming down the last straight he was caught by 2013 Hakone Ekiden winner Nittai University ace Keigo Yano (Nagano) but responded with a final surge to repass Yano one step from the finish.  Yoroizaka got the home crowd ovation, but to the surprise of all Yano took the anchor stage win on time, running 4 seconds faster than Ueno.  Akita Prefecture rounded out the eight-deep podium.

Further back, London Olympics marathoners Kentaro Nakamoto (Yamaguchi/Team Yasukawa Denki) and Ryo Yamamoto (Kyoto/Team Sagawa Express) crossed the line just 4 second apart in 16th and 17th.  The National Men's Ekiden marks the end of the national-level ekiden season, with just a few large regional events left over the next few weeks.  For most runners the next two months will include cross-country, half marathons and marathons before the spring track season begins in April.  Nakamoto, 6th in London, will line up next in two weeks at the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon in a bid to shore up his position on the roster of candidates for Augusts's Moscow World Championships marathon team.

2013 National Men's Ekiden Top Results
Hiroshima, 1/20/13
47 teams, 7 stages, 48.0 km
click here for complete results

Top Team Results
1. Hyogo - 2:19:51
2. Tokyo - 2:19:56
3. Aichi - 2:20:35
4. Saitama - 2:20:55
5. Chiba - 2:21:06
6. Hiroshima - 2:21:20
7. Nagano - 2:21:20
8. Akita - 2:21:33
9. Oita - 2:21:37
10. Nagasaki - 2:21:40

Stage Best Performances
First Stage - 7.0 km
1. Keisuke Nakatani (Hyogo/Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) - 19:56
2. Soma Ishikawa (Tochigi/Sano Nihon Prep H.S.) - 19:58
3. Yusuke Nishiyama (Mie/Iga Hakuo H.S.) - 20:00

Second Stage - 3.0 km
1. Shiki Shinsako (Hiroshima/Shiwa J.H.S.) - 8:29 - CR
2. Tomoki Ota (Shizuoka/Hamano J.H.S.) - 8:32
3. Hayato Seki (Nagano/Chino Tobu J.H.S.) - 8:33

Third Stage - 8.5 km
1. Suguru Osako (Tokyo/Waseda Univ.) - 23:39
2. Kenta Murayama (Miyagi/Komazawa Univ.) - 23:57
3. Yuki Matsuoka (Kyoto/Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 23:58
4. Naoki Okamoto (Hiroshima/Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 23:59
5. Minato Oishi (Shizuoka/Team Toyota) - 24:01
6. Yusuke Mita (Aichi/Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 24:04
7. Keisuke Fujii (Hyogo/Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 24:08
8. Ikuto Yufu (Oita/Komazawa Univ.) - 24:11
9. Tatsuya Oike (Gifu/Juntendo Univ.) - 24:15
10. Hiroyuki Ono (Gunma/Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 24:17

Fourth Stage - 5.0 km
1. Yuhi Akiyama (Hyogo/Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 14:07 - CR
2. Nanami Arai (Chiba/Yachiyo Shoin H.S.) - 14:29
2. Jinnosuke Matsumura (Yamaguchi/Saikyo H.S.) - 14:29

Fifth Stage - 8.5 km
1. Rintaro Takeda (Tokyo/Waseda Jitsugyo H.S.) - 24:50
2. Yuki Hirota (Hyogo/Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) - 25:00
2. Kazuki Takahashi (Akita/Omagari Kogyo H.S.) - 25:00

Sixth Stage - 3.0 km
1. Masahide Saito (Saitama/Otone J.H.S.) - 8:52
2. Shun Ando (Akita/Kamikoani J.H.S.) - 8:55
3. Akihiro Gunji (Tochigi/Nishi Nasuno J.H.S.) - 8:57

Seventh Stage - 13.0 km
1. Keigo Yano (Nagano/Nittai Univ.) - 37:54
2. Yuichiro Ueno (Tokyo/Team S&B) - 37:58
3. Rui Yonezawa (Fukui/Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 38:04
4. Keita Shitara (Saitama/Toyo Univ.) - 38:05
5. Fumihiro Maruyama (Oita/Team Asahi Kasei) - 38:11
5. Tomoya Onishi (Gifu/Team Asahi Kasei) - 38:11
7. Yusei Nakao (Shizuoka/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 38:21
8. Chihiro Miyawaki (Aichi/Team Toyota) - 38:23
9. Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Hiroshima/Team Asahi Kasei) - 38:26
10. Ryo Yamamoto (Kyoto/Team Sagawa Express) - 38:27

(c) 2013 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…