Thursday, October 31, 2013

Komazawa the Favorite for Sunday's National University Ekiden

by Brett Larner

Defending national champion Komazawa University returns as the favorite for Sunday's 45th edition of the National University Men's Ekiden Championships, eight stages of road action covering the 106.8 km from Nagoya to Ise.  Last year Komazawa set a new course record of 5:12:43 to take a record tenth national title under head coach Hiroaki Oyagi.  This year its chances of adding to that legacy look good after a course record win three weeks ago at the first of the Big Three university ekidens, the Izumo Ekiden.  At that point all Komazawa's cylinders looked to be firing, and with longer average stage lengths Nationals should again play to the champions' strengths if the team has maintained peak fitness and can complement its Izumo squad with two more equally strong members.

Its main competition is a familiar group of schools led by Toyo University, runner-up at both the 2012 Nationals and this year's Izumo with 2013 Hakone Ekiden champion Nittai University, 3rd at Izumo, and 2010 national champion Waseda University right there in the fold.  With eleven men on its squad holding sub-14 bests for 5000 m Meiji University looks like another contender, but the team struggled to put together a quality performance at Izumo as it finished only 7th there.

Kanto Region schools dominate the field, but there is no shortage of talent from elsewhere in the country. Kyoto Sangyo University, the top-placing program from outside Kanto at Izumo, leads Ritsumeikan University, whose women's team won an eighth title at last weekend's National University Women's Ekiden Championships, and other schools hungry to get a piece of the Kanto action.

TV Asahi will broadcast the National University Men's Ekiden Championships live nationwide from 7:00 a.m. to 1:40 p.m. Japan time on the 3rd.  Overseas viewers should be able to watch the race online via Keyhole TV.  Check back for detailed coverage as the race unfolds.

45th National University Men's Ekiden Championships
Nagoya-Ise, 11/3/13
8 stages, 106.8 km, 25 teams

Kanto Region
Komazawa Univ.
Toyo Univ.
Waseda Univ.
Nittai Univ.
Meiji Univ.
Nihon Univ.
Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.
Hosei Univ.
Aoyama Gakuin Univ.
Chuo Gakuin Univ.
Teikyo Univ.
Daito Bunka Univ.
Juntendo Univ.

Kyushu Region
Daiichi Kogyo Univ.
Nippon Bunri Univ.

Kansai Region
Kyoto Sango Univ.
Kwansei Gakuin Univ.
Ritsumeikan Univ.
Osaka Keizai Univ.

Tokai Region
Chukyo Univ.
Gifu Keizai Univ.

Hokuriku Region
Niigata Univ.

Hokkaido Region
Sapporo Gakuin Univ.

Tohoku Region
Tohoku Univ.

Chugoku/Shikoku Region
Hiroshima Univ.

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

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