Friday, November 21, 2014

International Chiba Ekiden Leads Weekend Action (updated)

by Brett Larner

Monday's International Chiba Ekiden leads Japan's weekend action, with 13 teams from 11 countries competing over a 6-stage, 42.195 course that alternates men's and women's stages.  Defending champion Kenya returns with a surprisingly weak team of relative unknowns led by Matthew Kisorio in his first race wearing the Kenyan national vest since his drug suspension and, on its women's side, Mercy Kibarus.  On paper at least 7 teams have a shot at beating the 3-straight winners, but Kenya has come to Chiba with uncredentialed teams that have mopped the roads with the competition before and can't be ignored.

The last team to beat them was the Japanese University Team in 2010, and this year's JUT is just as strong.  Meiji University's Ken Yokote broke a stage record at the National University Ekiden Championships 3 weeks ago and, with support from Aoyama Gakuin University stars Yusuke Ogura and Tadashi Isshiki, Kyoto University's independent-minded Kentaro Hirai and three collegiate women with 5000 m bests under 15:40 including last year's Fourth Stage winner Natsuki Omori (Ritsumeikan Univ.) the JUT team will do well.

But the Japanese National Team will have something to say about.  Not having won Chiba since 2009, after a runner-up finish last year Japan this year brings in the country's top two university men, identical twins Kenta and Kota Murayama of Komazawa and Josai universities, to prop up its corporate lineup.  The women's half of the team is flawless, with all four of the four fastest Japanese women of 2014 over 5000 m led by the #1-ranked Ayuko Suzuki (JP Post Group), 15:14.96 last month and last year's Second Stage winner, on the roster including alternate.  Going by entry lists few teams look like they can touch Japan.

The main competition for Kenya, JUT and Japan comes from Russia and the U.S.A.  Last year's 3rd-placer Russia looks to be the stronger of the two, featuring Chiba veterans Yevgeny and Anatoly Rybakov and four women with 5000 m bests under 15:30 led by Natalya Popkova in 15:05.95.  The American men's team is solid, with sub-28 men Girma Mecheso and Christo Landry, but the U.S. falters somewhat on the women's side with only one woman, Katie Matthews, under 15:45.  A repeat of last year's 5th-place finish looks possible.

Other solid teams with potential to challenge up front include Australia, featuring sub-13:20 men David McNeill and Brett Robinson, Canada, Germany and, returning with last year's Third Stage course record setter Zane Robertson and brother Jake, New Zealand.  JRN will cover the International Chiba Ekiden live on @JRNLive.  Check back over the weekend for start lists, final rankings, and info on streaming of Fuji TV's live broadcast.

Chiba is not the only thing going on this weekend, though.  The 4th running of the Kobe Marathon happens Sunday, its small elite field included 2:11:25 man Kensuke Takahashi formerly of the Toyota corporate team and women's course record holder Chihiro Tanaka (AthleC AC).  Athens Olympics marathon women's gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) heads Kobe's quarter marathon division.  3 weeks after running the TCS New York City Marathon and a week after the 3rd-fastest half marathon of his career, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) also returns to the marathon distance at the 24th running of the Fukuchiyama Marathon, part of his tuneup for a shot at 2:07 next month.

In Tokyo, the historic Fuchu Tamagawa Half Marathon celebrates its 37th running.  Further west, university men from outside the Tokyo-centric Kanto region will have their season-ender at the Tango University Men's Ekiden, a race serving as the Kanto Region University Men's Ekiden Championships.  Even further west, regional qualifying action for the corporate men's New Year Ekiden national championships wraps up with the Kyushu Corporate Men's Ekiden, one of Japan's most competitive.

There's even some track action as the Kanto Region hosts its annual University 10000 m Time Trials meet, traditionally at Tokyo's doomed National Stadium but this year to be held at Keio University due to the National Stadium's impending demolition.  The meet features a series of finely-graded men's 10000 m heats going all the way down to those targeting 28:00-28:20 plus one women's 10000.  With many top university names including last weekend's Ageo City Half Marathon runner-up Takashi Ichida (Daito Bunka Univ.) and 2014 Copenhagen World Half Marathon Championships team member Hiroto Inoue (Yamanashi Gakuin University) on the entry list JRN will be on-hand to cover the meet live.

2014 International Chiba Ekiden
Chiba, 11/24/14
13 teams, 6 stages,  42.195 km
click here for complete start list

Japanese National Team
Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.) - 13:34.53 / 27:49.94 / 1:00:50 (half)
Kota Murayama (Josai Univ.) - 13:34.57 / 28:45.66 / 58:26 (20 km)
Masato Kikuchi (Team Konica Minolta) - 13:35.18 / 28:32.05 / 1:01:17 (half)
Minato Oishi (Team Toyota) - 13:36.40 / 28:18.73
Ayuko Suzuki (Team Japan Post Group) - 15:14.96 / 32:49.02
Reiko Matsuzaki (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 15:18.95 / 32:48.00
Misaki Onishi (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 15:21.73 / 32:58.00
Ayumi Hagiwara (Team Uniqlo) - 15:24.56 / 31:41.80

Japanese University Team
Ken Yokote (Meiji Univ.) - 13:45.63 / 28:38.73
Yusuke Ogura (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 13:56.48 / 28:27.73
Tadashi Isshiki (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 13:59.07 / 28:23.40
Kentaro Hirai (Kyoto Univ.) - 14:00.92 / 28:36.72
Rina Nabeshima (Kanoya Taiiku Univ.) - 15:31.89 / 33:08.00
Sairi Noda (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) - 15:37.74 / 33:16.70
Natsuki Omori (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 15:39.96
Kotona Ota (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 16:42.04

Other Team Roster Highlights

Australia
David McNeill - 13:18.60 / 28:03.02
Brett Robinson - 13:18.96 / 28:45.39
Duer Yoa - 13:50.50 / 29:06.74
Madeline Heiner - 15:27.75 / 32:50.00
Courtney Powell - 15:56.00

Canada
Lucas Bruchet - 13:33.20
Kelly Wiebe - 13:49.54 / 29:12.3
Natasha LaBeaud - 15:44.89 / 32:43.14
Rachel Cliff - 15:48.14
Lanni Marchant - 16:07.62 / 32:29.61

Chiba Prefecture
Takanori Ichikawa (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) - 13:48.57 / 28:36.34
Shinichiro Tai (Team Fujitsu) - 13:56.35 / 28:55.77
Shota Yamada (Chiba T&F Assoc.) - 14:00.98 / 29:02.84
Kanako Fujiishi (Juntendo Univ.) - 15:58.15

China
Guo Jian Dong - 13:43.47 / 28:17.60
Ding Hong Yang - 13:49.02 / 28:19.08
Guoxiong Su - 14:06.56 / 29:02.60
Ting Lian Fu - 15:47.82 / 32:39.99

Estonia
Sergey Tserepannikov - 14:26.67 / 30:12.21
Roman Fosti - 14:45.58 / 30:25.06
Jekaterina Pajuk - 15:54.94 / 33:46.00

France
Djamel Bashiri - 13:56.47 / 29:04.30
Pierre Urruty - 14:04.99 / 29:23.19
Jean Damascene Habarurema - 14:06.02 / 29:03.00
Ophelie Claude-Boxberger - 33:44.00

Germany
Florian Orth - 13:34.54
Simon Stuetzel - 13:41.13 / 28:56.24
Nico Sonnenberg - 13:55.65 / 29:02.44
Diana Sujew - 8:47.68 (3000 m)
Elina Sujew - 8:57.56 (3000 m)

Kenya
Matthew Kisorio - 12:57.83 / 26:54.25 / 58:46 (half)
Amos Kiprono Kaptich - 14:02.08 / 29:37.27
Henry Sang - 14:05.8 / 28:23.00
Mercy Kibarus - 15:20.01 / 32:30.15
Maureen Mutindi Muthiani - 15:40.10 / 32:56.11

New Zealand
Zane Robertson - 13:13.83 / 29:29.00
Jake Robertson - 13:15.54 / 27:45.46
Daniel Balchin - 13:57.26 / 31:11.70
Camille Buscomb - 15:38.74 / 34:00.00

Russia
Egor Nikolaev - 13:42.84
Rinas Akhmadeev - 13:58.38 / 28:32.01
Yevgeny Rybakov - 28:02.79
Anatoly Rybakov - 28:03.59
Natalya Popkova - 15:05.95 / 31:55.83
Elena Korobkina - 15:14.67
Alina Prokopeva - 15:23.78 / 31:57.38
Alla Kuliatina - 15:27.26

U.S.A.
Jake Riley - 13:32.82 / 28:08.36
Girma Mecheso - 13:34.83 / 27:52.38
Christo Landry - 27:59.22
Tyler Pennell - 13:42.00 / 28:23.54
Katie Matthews - 15:42.95 / 32:44.58
Liz Costello - 15:45.11 / 32:40.55
Rachel Ward - 15:47.05 / 32:15.85

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

2 comments:

Mark said...

Great info but not sure about some of the PRs...Kelly Wiebe of Canada ran a 29:12 10k on the road when he won the Vancouver Sun Run in 2012.

Brett Larner said...

Thanks for pointing that out. The PB I listed is what is on the official entry list. I'll update it with his Sun Run time, although it as 29:12.3 it rounds to 29:13.