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2013 International Chiba Ekiden Leads Weekend Action (updated)

by Brett Larner

Saturday's 2013 edition of the International Chiba Ekiden tops this weekend's list of international long distance action, with thirteen mixed men's and women's teams from around the world competing over Chiba's six stage, 42,195 km course.  Two-time defending champion Kenya returns with a team led by 2010 and 2013 World XC women's gold medalist Emily Chebet Muge and 2010 World XC men's gold medalist Joseph Ebuya.  Japan provides the toughest competition, with a team including all three men from the Moscow World Championships 10000 m, Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.), Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) and Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta) along with their Moscow women's 5000 m teammate Misaki Onishi (Team Sekisui Kagaku).  2012's 3rd-placer U.S.A. returns a quality squad of domestic talent but should again face tough challenges for the podium from the team it beat to get there last year, Russia, the 2008 Beijing Olympics 1500 m silver medalist Nick Willis-led New Zealand team, and the 2010 Chiba-winning Japanese University Select Team.  Canada, hosts Chiba Prefecture, and, with the great Irina Mikitenko as an alternate, Germany, make up the rest of the upper end of the field.

Fuji TV's live broadcast of the 2013 International Chiba Ekiden starting at 1:00 p.m. may be available to overseas viewers via Keyhole TV or other sources, but look also for JRN's live coverage of the race via Twitter @JRNLive.  Click here for a more detailed field listing and preview.  Complete start lists with running order are available here.

A breakdown of the best matchups on each stage based on the current starting lists:

First Stage (men, 5.0 km)
Joseph Ebuya (Kenya) - 12:51.00 - 2010 World XC gold medalist
Suguru Osako (Japan) - 13:20.80 - 1st, 2013 Nat'l Univ. Ekiden 2nd Stage (13.2 km) - 38:08
Will Leer (U.S.A.) - 13:21.55
Nick Willis (New Zealand) - 13:27.54 - 2008 Olympics 1500 m silver medalist
Yegor Nikolayev (Russia) - 13:35.33
Kenta Murayama (Univ. Select Team) - 13:47.19 - CR, 2013 Nat'l Univ. Ekiden 4th Stage (14.0 km) - 39:24; CR, 2013 Izumo Ekiden 3rd Stage (7.9 km) - 22:36

Second Stage (women, 5.0 km)
Lucy Van Dalen (New Zealand) - 15:21.08
Nicole Sifuentes (Canada) - 15:27.58
Ayuko Suzuki (Univ. Select Team) - 15:31.45 - 2013 World Univ. Games 10000 m gold medalist
Caroline Nyagakwa (Kenya) - 15:35.35
Risa Kikuchi (Japan) - 15:36.28 - 1st, 2013 East Japan Women's Ekiden 2nd Stage (4.0 km) - 12:52
Gulshat Fazlitdinova (Russia) - 15:43.58

Third Stage (men, 10.0 km)
Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Japan) - 27:40.69 - 2nd, 2013 E. Japan Corp. Men's Ekiden 2nd Stage (15.3 km) - 44:20
Girma Mecheso (U.S.A.) - 27:52.38
Evgeny Rybakov (Russia) - 28:05.75
Dylan Wykes (Canada) - 28:12.82
Daniel Muteti (Kenya) - 13:08.00
Zane Robertson (New Zealand) - 13:13.83 - 1st, 2012 Int'l Chiba Ekiden 1st Stage (5.9 km) - 13:29

Fourth Stage (women, 5.0 km)
Esther Ndiema (Kenya) - 14:57.16
Misaki Onishi (Japan) - 15:21.73 - 1st, 2013 Fukui Super Ladies Ekiden 1st Stage (6.0 km) - 19:08
Maren Kock (Germany) - 15:27.65
Viktoriya Pohoryelska (Ukraine) - 15:28.35
Kellyn Johnson (U.S.A.) - 15:31.66
Natalya Aristarkhova (Russia) - 8:50.76 (3000 m)

Fifth Stage (men, 10.0 km)
Edwin Mokua (Kenya) - 27:38 (road)
Yuki Sato (Japan) - 27:38.25 - CR, 2013 E. Japan Corp. Men's Ekiden 2nd Stage (15.3 km) - 44:18
Sean Quigley (U.S.A.) - 27:50.78
Anatoliy Rybakov (Russia) - 28:06.54
Yuma Hattori (Univ. Select Team) - 28:22.43 - CR, 2013 Izumo Ekiden 5th Stage (6.4 km) - 17:54
Marius Ionescu (Romania) - 29:01.83

Sixth Stage (women, 7.195 km)
Emily Chebet Muge (Kenya) - 30:47.02 - 2010, 2013 World XC gold medalist
Sayuri Oka (Japan) - 32:06.79 - 1st, 2013 W. Japan Corp. Women's Ekiden 3rd Stage (10.2 km) - 32:29
Laura Thweatt (U.S.A.) - 32:15.51
Corinna Harrer (Germany) - 32:30.41
Nanaka Izawa (Univ. Select Team) - 32:39.31 - 1st, 2013 Nat'l Univ. Women's Ekiden 5th Stage (9.2 km) - 29:53
Lanni Marchant (Canada) - 32:46 (road) - NR holder, marathon - 2:28:00

Chiba is not the only noteworthy race this weekend, though.  At the southern end of the country, the Kyushu Jitsugyodan Ekiden closes out the corporate men's regional qualifying for the New Year Ekiden corporate men's national championships.  The Asahi Kasei team is the perpetual favorite in the Kyushu region, but the Koichi Morishita-coached Toyota Kyushu team, featuring 2013 New York City Marathon 6th-placer Masato Imai and 2013 Great North Run 6th-placer Ryuji Watanabe, looks set to give them a scare both this weekend and on Jan. 1.  At least one major East Japan corporate team's head coach has picked Toyota Kyushu to win the big show, and the push for that title will start this weekend.  Also in the southwestern half of the country is the 75th Kansai University Men's Ekiden Championships, relocated this year to the Tango peninsula from its past site at Lake Biwa.

On the calendar in the eastern half of the country are the Kanto Region University Men's 10000 m Time Trials meet and the Fuchu Tamagawa Half Marathon, both in Tokyo, and Saitama's Koedo Kawagoe Half Marathon.  The Kanto meet has developed into a chance for runners bound for the sport's biggest event, the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden, to boost their 10000 m bests ahead of their coaches' final selections for their Hakone rosters. Last year the meet featured scholarships for any Kanto region university man who ran a sub-29 PB at the meet, an incentive that spurred the top fifteen men in the A-heat to go under the 29-minute mark, all but one in PB times.  With a high-quality entry list and a stunning rate of development across the region this year's meet could outshine those results.

Fuchu used to be the premier fall half marathon on the Japanese calendar for the country's university men, but with the advent of the Ageo City Half Marathon Fuchu's stock has fallen in recent years.  Still, each year the race features a quality contingent from nearby 2013 Izumo Ekiden and National University Ekiden champion Komazawa University and runners from a smattering of other schools, so the potential for a quality race is still there.  The Koedo Kawagoe half is a new event in just its fourth running.  A week after running the fourth-fastest half marathon time of his career in Ageo, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) will be lining up in Kawagoe to get a piece of the 1:05:33 course record set last year by Sho Matsumoto (Nikkei Business) before heading to Fukuoka next week.

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved


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