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Honda Kicks Off Season With Win at 66th Towada Hachimantai Ekiden

by Brett Larner

Ekiden season got off to an early start with the 66th running of Akita's Towada Hachimantai Ekiden on Aug. 7.  The Honda corporate team, less Moscow World Championships marathoner Masakazu Fujiwara and other A-list members, outran rival Yakult for the win after a slow start.  The Yakult A team led for the first three of the day's five stages thanks in part to a superb stage record of 36:12 on the 13.4 km Second Stage by new Kenyan ace Bernard Kimani, while Honda fell as low as 4th.  On the 16.4 km Fourth Stage new Honda recruit Wataru Ueno, a graduate of Komazawa University and Sendai Ikuei H.S., had a strong corporate ekiden debut as he made up the 30-second gap to leader Yutaro Fukushi of Yakult before opening a lead of nearly two minutes.

With Fukushi having fallen to 3rd behind Komori Corporation, Yakult anchor Soji Ikeda, another Komazawa alum, did his best to run down Honda's Hayato Saito on the tough uphill Fifth Stage, but although he overtook Komori's Tatsunori Hamasaki and closed the gap to Saito to 1:30, Saito was just too far away.  Honda covered the 73.7 km course in 3:48:03 for the win.  Yakult A was next in 3:49:33, Ikeda holding off Hamasaki in the final stretch.  With a Third Stage win by marathoner Keita Akaba, Komori Corporation was 3rd in 3:49:35.

66th Towada Hachimantai Ekiden Top Results
Kazuno, Akita, 8/7/13
5 stages, 73.7 km, 32 teams
click here for complete results

Top Team Results - 73.7 km
1. Honda - 3:48:03
2. Yakult A - 3:49:33
3. Komori Corporation - 3:49:35
4. Fujitsu - 3:50:46
5. JR Higashi Nihon - 3:51:35

Individual Results

First Stage - 13. 6 km
1. Yuki Takamiya (Yakult A) - 40:57
2. Yusuke Sato (Fujitsu) - 41:04
3. Takehiro Yamanaka (Honda) - 41:05
4. Kiyokatsu Hasegawa (JR Higashi Nihon) - 41:15
5. Yasuhito Ikeda (NTT Nishi Nippon) - 41:27

Second Stage - 13. 4 km
1. Bernard Kimani (Kenya/Yakult A) - 36:12 - CR
2. David Njuguna (Kenya/Yakult B) - 37:25
3. Takuya Yokoyama (JR Higashi Nihon) - 38:27
4. Kenta Kitazawa (Yachiyo Kogyo) - 38:43
5. Shogo Matsugaki (NTT Nishi Nippon) - 38:47

Third Stage - 16.2 km
1. William Malel (Kenya/Honda) - 46:31
2. Joseph Onsarigo (Kenya/Nanyu City Hall) - 47:10
3. Kazuyoshi Shimozato (Komori Corp.) - 47:31
4. Kassa Mekashaw (Ethiopia/Yachiyo Kogyo) - 48:23
5. Tomohito Takenaka (NTT Nishi Nippon) - 48:33

Fourth Stage - 16.4 km
1. Keita Akiba (Komori Corp.) - 50:04
2. Kazuhiro Kuga (Fujitsu) - 50:35
3. Wataru Ueno (Honda) - 50:44
4. Masahiro Kawaguchi (Yakult B) - 51:00
5. Makoto Harada (JR Higashi Nihon) - 51:25

Fifth Stage - 14.1 km, significant uphill
1. Soji Ikeda (Yakult A) - 50:28
2. Hayato Saito (Honda) - 50:44
3. Tatsunori Hamasaki (Komori Corp.) - 50:53
4. Norimasa Nishina (Fujitsu) - 51:26
5. Yasuaki Kojima (East Japan Corp. Select Team) - 51:37

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
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