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

Aoyama Gakuin Back on Top of Izumo Ekiden

Leading start to finish, 2015-2016 Izumo Ekiden champ Aoyama Gakuin University overcame last year's winner Tokai University and a tough challenge from Toyo University to win Izumo's 30th anniversary edition.

In hot and sunny conditions that followed the passing of Typhoon #25 AGU's Taisei Hashizume got things rolling, opening a six-second lead over Toyo's Akira Aizawa on the 8.0 km First Stage. Tokai's Yuichiro Nishikawa was 20 seconds back in 6th.

Takato Suzuki increased AGU's lead on the 5.8 km Second Stage with a 16:26 stage win. Indoor mile national record holder Ryoji Tatezawa was next-fastest in 16:29, running down four teams including Toyo to put the defending champs into 2nd. The lone crack in Toyo's armor, Kazuya Nishiyama ran only 16:54 to drop Toyo back to 3rd some 34 seconds off the lead.

Back in 4th place, Takushoku University captain Workneh Derese ran a 25:17stage best on the 8.5 km Third Stage to overtake both Toyo and Tokai, but with AGU…

Kisaisa Wins Second-Straight Yosenkai Half Marathon in 1:00:44, Komazawa University Averages Ten Men Under 1:03

The Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai is the qualifying race for Japan's most prestigious road race, the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden. University men's teams in the Tokyo area that didn't make the top ten at Hakone the year before square off in Tokyo's Showa Kinen Park with teams of up to twelve. The top ten score, their cumulative times determining the team's placing with the top eleven teams advancing and high-placing individuals from schools that don't make the cut rounded up to form a select team.

The Yosenkai has long been the world's #1 20 km road race by a wide margin, with winning times among the fastest in the world for the distance and the same kind of incredible depth seen at November's Ageo City Half Marathon and March's National University Men's Half Marathon. In light of changes in the IAAF's ranking system and the level of performance at the Yosenkai, this year organizers took the historic step of changing it from its traditional distance to …

Osako Brings Japanese National Record Back to Chicago

Just over seven months since Yuta Shitara broke Toshinari Takaoka's longstanding 2:06:16 national record from the 2002 Chicago Marathon with a 2:06:11 in Tokyo in February, U.S.-based Suguru Osako brought the record back home to Chicago with a 3rd-place finish in 2:05:50.

Running the same pattern as in his first two marathons, Osako sat back in the lead men's pack, never exerting himself as it whittled down to the core members. Just past the turn into Chinatown near 35 km his Nike Oregon Project teammate and 2017 Chicago winner Galen Rupp fell off the front group to leave Osako in contention with former NOP member Mo Farah, 2:04 Ethiopian Mosinet Gemerew, former Asahi Kasei runner Kenneth Kipkemoi and 2017 world champion Geoffrey Kirui.

As in Boston and Fukuoka last year, when the real move came, this time in the form of a surge by Farah and Gemerew, Osako was left behind to battle it out for 3rd. While Farah kicked away for the win by 13 seconds in a European record 2:05:11,…