Skip to main content

Nagano Becomes First Team to Win Sixth National Men's Ekiden Championship Title

by Brett Larner
click photo for video highlights courtesy of NHK

Five-time national champion Nagano made history at the 19th edition of the National Men's Ekiden Jan. 19 in Hiroshima, anchor Keigo Yano (Nittai Univ.) breaking away to make his team the first in event history to win a sixth national title as he broke the tape in 2:19:20, the third-fastest ever in National Championships history.

Never a clear leader in a pack race throughout the day, Nagano made its first move to the front on the 8.5 km Third Stage when past 1500 m and 5000 m national champion Yuichiro Ueno (DeNA RC) dropped a pack of Hakone Ekiden stars to take the lead.  With the mixed team of junior high, high school, university and pro athletes that makes the National Ekiden format one of the most interesting in national championship ekiden season, Nagano lost ground after Ueno and remained roughly even with a pack of four rivals. Not until halfway through the 13.0 km anchor stage did it gain a clear lead when last year 's stage winner Keigo Yano of Hakone Ekiden 3rd-placer Nittai University, winner of the Hakone Ekiden Ninth Stage just over two weeks ago, dropped pro rivals Ryo Kiname (Nagasaki) and Keiji Akutsu (Team Gunma) to win in 37:28, a full 26 seconds faster than his 2013 winning time.

Yano's Nittai teammate Shota Hattori (Saitama) ran big to advance through the field to 2nd, like Yano overtaking and dropping Kiname and Akutsu to make it a Nittai 1-2 in Saitama's best-ever placing of 2nd.  Akutsu outkicked Kiname for 3rd, both breaking the 2:20 barrier for the 48.0 km course with Akutsu crossing the line in 2:19:56.

19th National Men's Ekiden
Hiroshima, 1/19/14
47 teams, 7 stages, 48.0 km
click here for complete results

Top Team Results
1. Nagano - 2:19:20 - all-time #3
2. Saitama - 2:19:55
3. Gunma - 2:19:56
4. Nagasaki - 2:19:58
5. Miyazaki - 2:20:05
6. Fukushima - 2:20:16
7. Mie - 2:20:17
8. Fukuoka - 2:20:19
9. Kanagawa - 2:20:36
10. Hyogo - 2:20:41

Top Stage Performances
First Stage (7.0 km)
1. Tatsuhiko Hori (Fukuoka) - 20:11
2. Suguru Hirosue (Miyazaki) - 20:13
3. Kazuto Kawabata (Kyoto) - 20:14

Second Stage (3.0 km)
1. Kazuya Nishiyama (Gunma) - 8:30
2. Hyuga Endo (Fukushima) - 8:38
2. Munehiro Harada (Nagasaki) - 8:38
2. Yuta Kamibayashi (Kanagawa) - 8:38
2. Kiseki Shiozawa (Mie) - 8:38

Third Stage (8.5 km)
1. Yuichiro Ueno (Nagano) - 23:49
2. Yuma Hattori (Niigata) - 23:54
3. Masaya Taguchi (Miyazaki) - 23:56
4. Aritaka Kajiwara (Kanagawa) - 23:57
5. Keita Shitara (Saitama) - 23:59
6. Hideto Yamanaka (Osaka) - 24:00
6. Masato Kikuchi (Hokkaido) - 24:00
8. Naoko Okamoto (Hiroshima) - 24:07
8. Takumi Honda (Kumamoto) - 24:07
10. Genki Yagisawa (Tochigi) - 24:08

Fourth Stage (5.0 km)
1. Taishi Sakamoto (Kagoshima) - 14:32
2. Shuichiro Kondo (Kumamoto) - 14:34
3. Shota Onizuka (Fukuoka) - 14:36
3. Tomohiro Watanabe (Gifu) - 14:36

Fifth Stage (8.5 km)
1. Kohei Mukai (Nagasaki) - 24:43
2. Masaki Takamoto (Fukushima) - 24:44
3. Kenta Shimizu (Gunma) - 24:45
3. Hiroya Inoue (Hyogo) - 24:45

Sixth Stage (3.0 km)
1. Haruka Onodera (Shizuoka) - 8:38
2. Ryo Kayama (Fukuoka) - 8:43
3. Yuki Torikai (Chiba) - 8:44

Seventh Stage (13.0 km)
1. Keigo Yano (Nagano) - 37:28
2. Kaoru Hirosue (Miyazaki) - 37:40
3. Shota Hattori (Saitama) - 37:41
4. Shogo Nakamura (Mie) - 37:43
5. Taichi Takase (Okayama) - 37:57
6. Sota Hoshi (Fukushima) - 38:03
7. Yusei Nakao (Shizuoka) - 38:04
8. Akihiko Tsumurai (Hiroshima) - 38:05
8. Daiki Kubota (Kumamoto) - 38:05
10. Keiji Akutsu (Gunma) - 38:06

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

TokyoRacer said…
The high school kids on the first, fourth and fifth stages were really impressive. What depth of talent!
Brett Larner said…
I was pretty impressed with the junior high runners on Second Stage as well. They ran like university guys.
Metts said…
I too was impressed with both groups. How would the US JHS and HS runners hold up in this race environment?

Most-Read This Week

Asian Decathlon Champion Ushiro Cut From Doha Team After JAAF Guaranteed Him Spot Three Months Ago

On Sept. 17 it was learned that men's decathlon national champion Keisuke Ushiro (33, Kokushikan Club) has had his guaranteed spot on the Japanese national team for the Doha World Championships later this month eliminated. Ushiro won the gold medal at April's Doha Asian Championships, then won June's National Championships.

Under their published regulations for national representation in Doha, the JAAF guaranteed him a spot on the World Championships team for these accomplishments. But according to an involved party, IAAF regulations stipulate that the participation of area champions in certain events is dependent upon approval of the relevant technical delegate, and this appears to be the case in this instance. Ushiro has not cleared the World Championships qualification standard.

Ushiro did not attend the official Doha national team sendoff event held the same day in Tokyo. No explanation of the cancellation of his place on the team was offered to attendees at the event…

Ushiro Allowed to Compete at World Championships

At one point "misselected" by the JAAF to represent Japan at the World Championships beginning Sept. 27 in Doha, Qatar, Asian decathlon champion Keisuke Ushiro (33, Kokushikan Club) has been allowed to compete. The JAAF made the announcement on Sept. 20 that Ushiro was one of five athletes being added to Japan's roster. On his Twitter account Ushiro wrote, "I'm sorry to have made so many people worry about this, but I'm happy to say that today I got word that I'll be able to go to the World Championships. I'll do everything I can to be ready so I can get as close as I can to realizing my dream of medaling. Thank you all for your support."

As the 2019 Asian Championships gold medalist and 2019 national champion, the JAAF announced Ushiro as a member of the Doha team in June. But on Sept. 17 the IAAF informed the JAAF that Ushiro would not be allowed to compete due to not having cleared the qualification standard. The situation forced JAAF execut…

JAAF Executive Asaba on Mishandling of Ushiro's World Championships Team Nomination: "We Were Naive. The Level of Our Organization is Low"

At a Tokyo-area press conference on Sept 18, JAAF executive Kazunori Asaba explained the circumstances surrounding decathlon champion Keisuke Ushiro (Kokushikan Club) having his place on the Doha World Championships team cut. Ushiro had not cleared the World Championships qualification standard of 8200 points, but in April he won the gold medal at the Asian Championships. It was assumed that as area champion he would be qualified to participate in the World Championships, and when he won June's National Championships the JAAF told him he would be on the Worlds team.

Regarding the area champion's qualification for the World Championships, the IAAF states, "Area champions in individual events held at the World Championships automatically qualify regardless of whether they have achieved the qualification standard. This is not applicable to the 10000 m, 3000 m steeplechase, combined events, field events or road events, in which their participation subject to the approval of …