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Ritsumeikan University Takes Eighth National University Women's Ekiden Title

by Brett Larner

Defending national champion Ritsumeikan University added an eighth title to its legacy Oct. 27 in Sendai, winning the 31st National University Women's Ekiden Championships after leading start to finish.  First Stage runner Natsuki Omori got things off by winning the 6.4 km opening leg by a second over Ayumi Uehara of Matsuyama University despite a fall midway through the stage, and from there the Ritsumeikan women never looked back.  Ritsumeikan runners won five of the day's six stages, only Juntendo University's Nanaka Izawa spoiling their day with a win on the 9.2 km Fifth Stage.

With the Kansai region typically seen as the center of collegiate women's distance running, four of this year's top ten schools were from the Kanto region, better known for the strength of its men's programs.  Daito Bunka University was the top Kanto school, 2nd overall on the strength of quality runs from its identical twins Eri and Mari Tayama. Coached by Keiichi Murai, the husband of past marathon great Reiko Tosa, Matsuyama University continued its development into one of the country's leading distance schools as it took 3rd just five years after making Nationals for the first time under Murai's leadership.  In a signal of a shift in eras, perpetual Ritsumeikan rivals Meijo University and Bukkyo University missed out on the top five, taking 6th and 7th more than four minutes behind Ritsumeikan.  Last year's 3rd-placer Tsukuba University had a disastrous run, finishing 16th of 26 teams as star twins Haruka and Moe Kyuma were both non-starters.

31st Morinomiyako Ekiden - National University Women's Ekiden Championships
Sendai, Miyagi, 10/27/13
click here for complete results

Overall Results - six stages, 38.0 km, 26 teams
1. Ritsumeikan Univ. - 2:03:02
2. Daito Bunka Univ. - 2:04:47
3. Matsuyama Univ. - 2:05:40
4. Kanaya Taiiku Univ. - 2:07:09
5. Nittai Univ. - 2:07:19
6. Meijo Univ. - 2:07:31
7. Bukkyo Univ. - 2:07:40
8. Kansai Univ. - 2:08:13
9. Josai Univ. - 2:08:23
10. Juntendo Univ. - 2:08:25

Stage Best Performances
First Stage (6.4 km) - Natsuki Omori (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 20:22
Second Stage (5.6 km) - Nanako Kanno (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 17:39
Third Stage (6.8 km) - Akane Yabushita (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 21:59
Fourth Stage (4.8 km) - Mai Hirota (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 15:48
Fifth Stage (9.2 km) - Nanaka Izawa (Juntendo Univ.) - 29:53
Sixth Stage (5.2 km) - Nanami Aoki (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 17:12

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
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