A quick weekend preview as JRN is in international transit for the holidays.
- The Nittai University Time Trials track series wraps up Saturday with its annual women-only edition featuring fast 3000 m, 5000 m and 10000 m heats.
- Sunday sees the National High School Ekiden Championships go down, with both the boys' and girls' races broadcast live nationwide and commercial-free on NHK. The level of competition is extremely high; based on track credentials the 2012 NCAA XC champions University of Oregon women's team would have struggled to make the top ten in last year's girls' race, while the boys' race features at least five high schoolers with 5000 m bests under 14:00. The National High School Championships offer the first chance to see future greats, like Samuel Wanjiru in the past, in action.
- The Dec. 23 national holiday on Monday is the date of the first running of the newly relaunched National University Women's Invitational Ekiden Championships on a course around the slopes of Mt. Fuji. With a Seventh Stage featuring almost 200 m of climb and a date putting it in line with other major championship ekidens hopefully this newly updated event will help elevate the prestige of the university women's ekiden circuit.
- Last and definitely not least for U.S. fans, Dec. 23 also features the Sanyo Women's Road Race 10 km and half marathon, where American Olympian Desi Davila goes up against top-ranked Japanese women Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren), Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku), Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya), Yuko Watanabe (Team Edion) and many more.
Look for complete results and reports as the weekend goes on.
(c) 2013 Brett Larner
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