by Brett Larner
Two important women-only ekidens celebrate their 30th anniversaries this weekend. In eastern Japan, Fukushima's East Japan Women's Ekiden features a scaled-down version of January's National Women's Ekiden, with teams made up of pro, collegiate, high school and junior high school athletes representing each of the 18 prefectures in the region. Defending champion Chiba fields a very different lineup from last year's winning team led by one of Japan's current best track runners Riko Matsuzaki (Team Sekisui Kagaku). Gunma, featuring last weekend's East Japan Corporate Women's Ekiden anchor stage course record setter Yuika Mori and Yamada Denki corporate teammate Shiho Takechi, Saitama and Shizuoka look to be Chiba's main competition. The East Japan Women's Ekiden will be broadcast live starting at noon on Nov. 9.
Further west in Fukui, the Fukui Super Ladies Ekiden delivers an interesting format pitting top corporate teams against their strongest university rivals. Last year's winning team Sekisui Kagaku is absent, meaning runner-up Canon AC Kyushu leads the field. Panasonic and Yamada Denki, 3rd and 4th in last weekend's East Japan Corporate Women's Ekiden, are also in the field minus some of their best people who will be running the East Japan Women's Ekiden. National University Women's Ekiden champion Ritsumeikan University leads the collegiate contenders, followed closely by last year's top three university teams in Fukui, Osaka Gakuin University, Meijo University and Bukkyo University.
(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved