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New Year Ekiden Regional Qualifier Roundup

by Brett Larner

Four regions across Japan held their qualifying races on Sunday for the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden national corporate men's championships.  In the Chugoku region, Team Chugoku Denryoku suffered a scare in its pursuit of a 17th-straight win, trailing trailing Team Mazda until the sixth of the ekiden's seven stage before advacing to earn its place in Maebashi on New Year's Day.  Ideal conditions helped runners set new records on five of the ekiden's seven stages, led by a scintillating 19:41 record on the 7.2 km Second Stage by Ethiopian Ayele Abayneh (Team Mazda), who outran Team JFE ace Kenyan Charles Ndirangu by nine seconds.  Four teams in all from the Chugoku region qualified.

Six teams made the grade in the Kansai Region, where Team Sagawa Express won despite the absence of London Olympics marathoner Ryo Yamamoto.  Team Osaka Gas had a close victory over the Osaka Police Department team to pick up the last qualifying spot, but the big news of the race for fans across the country was the corporate ekiden debut of collegiate 5000 m national record holder Kensuke Takezawa (Team Sumitomo Denko).  Following graduation from Waseda University Takezawa joined the legendary non-ekidening S&B corporate team, but following the team's disbanding in summer, 2012 he returned home to Hyogo rather than follow the other S&B members to new sponsor DeNA.  Joining the new Sumitomo Denko team, Takezawa won the 10.87 km Third Stage in a superb 30:46 to help the team finish 4th and get into the qualifying bracket.  An Olympian and stage record holder at the Hakone Ekiden, 2014 will be Takezawa's first time lining up at the New Year Ekiden.

The Chubu and Hokuriku regions once again jointly held their qualifying races, with seven spots available to Chubu teams and two for those from Hokuriku.  In the Chubu division Team NTN led off strong with new records on both of the first two stages, but the Toyota Boshoku and Toyota A teams were relentless in closing the gap, Toyota Boshoku taking the title with stage wins on the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth legs.  Despite seven spots being available, only six teams finished as Team Chuo Hatsujo was eliminated after its Fourth Stage man Haruaki Kojima suffered a DNF and the Moriyama SDF Base team did not start.  The outcome on New Year Ekiden qualifying is unclear at this stage.  In the tiny Hokuriku division, annual winner YKK led off with a stage record by Kosuke Murasashi and never looked back.  The surprise of the race came in 2nd, where Team Sekino Reform unexpectedly beat perpetual runner-up Omokawa Lumber to pick up the region's second New Year Ekiden berth.

One more regional men's qualifier for the New Year Ekiden remains, Saturday's Kyushu Jitsugyodan Ekiden.  Look for JRN's detailed corporate season review and New Year Ekiden preview following the Kyushu race.

52nd Chugoku Jitsugyodan Ekiden
Sera, Hiroshima, 11/17/13
12 teams, 7 stages, 82.8 km
click here for complete results

Top Team Results - top four teams qualify for New Year Ekiden national championships
1. Chugoku Denryoku - 4:06:19
2. Mazda - 4:07:14
3. JFE Steel - 4:08:38
4. Chudenko - 4:15:28
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5. Takeda Pharm. - 4:33:16

Stage Best Performances
First Stage (13.0 km) - Taichi Takase (JFE Steel) - 38:29 - CR
Second Stage (7.2 km) - Ayele Abayneh (Mazda) - 19:41 - CR
Third Stage (11.6 km) - Naoki Okamoto (Chgoku Denryoku) - 34:46 - CR
Fourth Stage (9.5 km) - Yuki Moriwaki (JFE Steel) - 27:27
Fifth Stage (9.5 km) - Takumi Kiyotani (Chugoku Denryoku) - 28:19 - CR
Sixth Stage (19.0 km) - Rui Yonezawa (Chugoku Denryoku) - 56:40 - CR
Seventh Stage (13.0 km) - Akihiko Tsumurai (Mazda) - 38:38

56th Kansai Jitsugyodan Ekiden
Tanabe, Wakayama, 11/17/13
13 teams, 7 stages, 80.45 km
click here for complete results

Top Team Results - top six teams qualify for New Year Ekiden national championships
1. Sagawa Express - 4:00:32
2. Otsuka Seiyaku - 4:02:09
3. NTT Nishi Nihon - 4:03:37
4. Sumitomo Denko - 4:03:44
5. Sanyo Tokushu Seiko - 4:05:11
6. Osaka Gas - 4:06:16
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7. Osaka Police Dep't - 4:09:46

Stage Best Performances
First Stage (12.6 km) - Yukio Fujimura (Sumitomo Denko) - 40:15
Second Stage (7.68 km) - Naoto Morimoto (Sanyo Tokushu Seiko) - 23:05
Third Stage (10.87 km) - Kensuke Takezawa (Sumitomo Denko) - 30:46
Fourth Stage (9.5 km) - Masaki Sekido (NTT Nishi Nihon) - 27:23
Fifth Stage (16.0 km) - Kenta Iinuma (Sagawa Express) - 47:35
Sixth Stage (11.0 km) - Masanori Ishida (Sagawa Express) - 33:09
Seventh Stage (12.8 km) - Takayasu Hashizume (Sagawa Express) - 37:46

53rd Chubu Jitsugyodan Ekiden
Tahara, Aichi, 11/17/13
10 teams, 7 stages, 83.6 km
click here for complete results

Top Team Results - top seven teams qualify for New Year Ekiden national championships
1. Toyota Boshoku - 4:07:27
2. Toyota A - 4:08:46
3. NTN - 4:12:33
4. Aisan Kogyo - 4:13:27
5. Aichi Seiko A - 4:14:34
6. Toenec - 4:18:47
*The Chubu region had seven New Year Ekiden qualifying places available but only six eligible teams finished the race.

Stage Best Performances
First Stage (11.2 km) - Yuji Sasanuma (Team NTN) - 33:15 - CR
Second Stage  (8.3 km) - Edward Waweru (Kenya/Team NTN) - 22:29 - CR
Third Stage (10.0 km) - Chihiro Miyawaki (Toyota A) - 29:00
Fourth Stage (17.5 km) - Tomohiro Shiiya (Toyota Boshoku) - 52:22
Fifth Stage (13.3 km) - Yoshihiro Yamamoto (Toyota Boshoku) - 39:10
Sixth Stage (9.7 km) - Tomohiro Hayakawa (Toyota Boshoku) - 29:09
Seventh Stage (13.6 km) - Hideyuki Tanaka (Toyota A) - 40:34 - CR

43rd Hokuriku Jitsugyodan Ekiden
Tahara, Aichi, 11/17/13
4 teams, 7 stages, 83.6 km

Top Team Results - top two teams qualify for New Year Ekiden national championships
1. YKK - 4:12:36
2. Sekino Reform - 4:20:57
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3. Takada SDF Base - 4:22:02
4. Omokawa Lumber - 4:22:57

Stage Best Performances
First Stage (11.2 km) - Kosuke Murasashi (YKK) - 33:40 - CR
Second Stage  (8.3 km) - Alex Mwangi (Kenya/YKK) - 23:21
Third Stage (10.0 km) - Takanori Kawara (Sekino Reform) - 30:53
Fourth Stage (17.5 km) - Naohiro Yamada (YKK) - 52:35
Fifth Stage (13.3 km) - Teppei Suegami (YKK) - 40:16
Sixth Stage (9.7 km) - Yoshihiro Hinomoto (YKK) - 29:33
Seventh Stage (13.6 km) - Yuya Asaka (Takada SDF Base) - 41:38

© 2013 Brett Larner
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