Skip to main content

Komazawa Ready to Repeat as Ivies Set for Izumo Ekiden Top Eight - Preview

by Brett Larner



As XC season rolls on for their NCAA counterparts, Japan's collegiate men get moving Monday with the first of the Big Three University Ekidens, the Izumo Ekiden. A six-leg road relay with an average length of 7.52 km, Izumo features the top ten teams from Japan's biggest race, the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden, all based in the Tokyo-area Kanto Region, six schools from western Japan, four select teams from other parts of the country, and one select team of Ivy League graduates from the U.S.

The weekend after Izumo, Kanto Region universities that didn't make Hakone's top ten race in Tokyo's Showa Kinen Park at the Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai 20 km qualifier, where another ten will go on to Hakone glory.  The first weekend in November the best of Kanto and the rest of the country race from Nagoya to Ise at the eight-leg, 106.8 km National University Men's Ekiden Championships, the second of the Big Three.  Two weeks later most of the twenty schools running Hakone will send their full rosters to the Ageo City Half Marathon to pare down the contenders for their final lineup of ten men and six alternates for the biggest of the Big Three, the focus of the entire year, the ten-leg, 217.1 km Hakone Ekiden.


The top twelve teams at the 2014 Izumo Ekiden. Click to enlarge.

It's a steady progression from the 7.52 km average for the six stages at Izumo to the 13.35 km average for Nationals' eight stages to Hakone's ten-stage 21.71 km average, and compared to Hakone Izumo is short and fast.  Depending, of course, on when exactly the approaching typhoon #19 hits.  Last year's course record-setting winner Komazawa University returns as the heavy favorite.  Captain Shogo Nakamura broke 62 minutes at this year's World Half Marathon championships, sophomore Keisuke Nakatani has developed rapidly with new bests of 13:38.08 and 28:30.52, and since setting a new stage record at Izumo last year star senior Kenta Murayama has set new PBs of 13:34.53, 27:49.94 and 1:00:50.  Overall they are down very slightly from last year's course record-setting lineup but Komazawa remains the clear #1.

Their toughest competition is the previous course record holder, 2012 Izumo winner Aoyama Gakuin University.  Under head coach Susumu Hara AGU has developed steadily over the last five years from anonymity to one of the best, featuring tremendous depth and six-man averages of 13:56.78 and 28:38.56.  Despite missing its top senior Genki Yagisawa, Meiji University is the other main contender, close behind AGU on depth and average times but regularly underperforming in ekiden season.  If Meiji has it together they will be a threat to YGU and, if all goes perfectly, Komazawa.

2011 Izumo winner Toyo University and 2010 course record setter Waseda University are both down dramatically in strength this year, forming the top of a second tier with 2008-09 champion Nihon University, Teikyo University, and a strong Ivy League Select Team featuring Donald Cabral and Joe Stilin of Princeton and Dan Lowry of Brown.  The Ivies come in ranked 7th, and with a solid performance they could improve on their 8th place finishes in 2011 and 2012.

The third group of schools features 2013 Hakone Ekiden winner Nittai University, now in a rebuilding cycle after the graduation of most of its 2013 lineup, top non-Kanto Region school Ritsumeikan University, and the likable underdogs Daito Bunka University led by 2013 Ageo City Half Marathon winner Takashi Ichida and his twin brother HiroshiTakushoku University rounds out the ten schools from Kanto and should be racing further back with the Kansai Region's Kwansei Gakuin University and other lower-tier competition.

The Izumo Ekiden is broadcast live nationwide on Fuji TV starting at 1:00 p.m. Japan time on Monday, Oct. 13.  The broadcast is rarely streamed outside Japan, but follow @JRNLive for live coverage brought to you by Japan Running News.

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kawauchi Named Captain of Japanese National Team for London World Championships

At a JAAF event at the British Embassy in Tokyo on July 21, marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (30, Saitama Pref. Gov't) was named men's captain of the Japanese national team for next month's London World Championships. Javelin throw national record holder Yuki Ebihara (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) was chosen as women's captain.

In a wide-ranging and impassioned speech 4 minutes and 20 seconds long, Kawauchi stoked the team's morale as he told attendees, "I think that there are athletes here today who look at London as just a checkpoint along the way to the Tokyo Olympics. But as a representative of Japan it is not enough just to be there competing. I feel it strongly. You must produce results at this event, the London World Championships. This is the task assigned to each and every one of us. It is critical that we work seriously to achieve our goals. The Japanese people want nothing less. What can we as athletes do for them? More than just wearing the uniform, each of us mus…

'$500,000 USD Prized Asian Premier Marathon Series 2017-18 Launched in Beijing'

http://athleticsasia.org/index.php/k2-component/143-500-000-usd-prized-asian-premier-marathon-series-2017-18-launched-in-beijing

A very interesting World Marathon Majors-style development with prize money only for Asian athletes. Equally interesting is the absence of a Japanese race in the series. Japanese marathoners would dominate the series if they ran its three component races, their only real current competition in Asia coming from East African-born Bahraini athletes.

Hayakawa and Ichiyama Win Shibetsu Half

2nd in 2015 and 3rd last year, Tsubasa Hayakawa (Toyota) finally succeeded in scoring 1st at the Shibetsu Half Marathon, outrunning 2013-14 winner Masato Imai (Toyota Kyushu) by 6 seconds to win in 1:03:38. Hayakawa pushed it from the early stages of the race, Imai the only one to try to stay with him but ultimately losing touch. 2016 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon winner Melaku Abera (Kurosaki Harima) was 3rd in 1:03:51.

士別ハーフマラソン
日差しが強くなってきました…💦 pic.twitter.com/qRfUei3aRt — はたのまき (@machakin77) July 23, 2017
The women's field was split between two distances, 10 km and half marathon. Kanako Takemoto (Daihatsu) won the 10 km in 34:27 by a margin of almost 10 seconds over an Otsuka Seiyaku trio led by Ayaka Inoue. 2017 National Cross-Country champion and last year's 10 km runner-up Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) took the top spot in the half marathon, outrunning teammate and national record holder Kayoko Fukushi and others to win in 1:14:01. Fukushi finished 4th in 1:15:41 behind last ye…