Skip to main content

Ritsumeikan Uji Girls Confident of Ride to Top at National High School Ekiden Championships

translated by Brett Larner

Broadcast live nationwide and commercial-free on NHK, the 65th National High School Boys Ekiden Championships and 26th National High School Girls Ekiden Championships take place this Sunday, Dec. 21 in Kyoto with the boys running a seven-stage, 42.195 km course and the girls a five-stage, 21.0975 km course, both starting and finishing at Nishi Kyogoku Field.  Having represented Kyoto every time since the first National Championships, the Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. girls are set to run again.

Four members of last year's 4th-place Ritsumeikan Uji girls squad return, forming the core of this year's team.  Looking to return to the top after winning its 3rd National title in 2012, head coach Yoshinobu Ogino showed confidence int he team's chances as he commented, "Our athletes have become strong."

The top five girls on the team have an average 3000 m PB of 9:20, ranking them fifth in the nation.  Four of them ran in the National High School Track and Field Championships.  At the Nov. 16 Kinki Region High School Ekiden they ran 1:38 faster than at the Kyoto area qualifier for Nationals, winning an 18th Kinki Region title after an off year last year and gaining confidence by beating the #1-ranked high school in the country by average 3000 m best, Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S.

Senior Kureha Seki is the team's star runner.  In this year's National High School Track and Field Championships 3000 m she was the top Japanese finisher, 2nd overall.  "My speed is coming," she says of the growth she has achieved.  At last year's National High School Girls Ekiden Championships she fell during the First Stage, a memory that leaves her with bitter tears.  "This year," she declares, "my running is going to help us get the win."

The team's captain is junior Fumiko Ando.  In June she suffered a stress fracture in her left leg, but she recovered quickly to set a 3000 m PB in September.  At the Kinki Region High School Ekiden she showed her strength by running down 2014 Youth Olympics 3000 m gold medalist Nozomi Musembi Takamatsu (Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S.) for the win.  "I'm going to start fast and hang on," she said spiritedly of her plans for Sunday's race.

Along with Kinki Region High School Ekiden Third Stage winner Maako Konishi and First Stage runner Aki Manabe, last year's Nationals team member Saki Hashimoto is fit and healthy.  At a time trial meet earlier this month several first-years ran PBs, adding momentum to the team's drive for the win.  Having guided the Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. girls since they ran the first Nationals, head coach Ogino said, "They've got more experience than any other team.  I want them to run on the edge."

Entry Roster
Kureha Seki (3rd year)
Saki Hashimoto (3rd year)
Nagisa Hasegawa (3rd year)
Fukiko Ando (2nd year)
Aki Manabe (2nd year)
Maako Konishi (2nd year)
Chisa Isuji (1st year)
Honoka Yamamoto (1st year)


Most-Read This Week

Kawauchi and Kiyara Live Up to Expectations With Wan Jin Shi Wins

Returning to Taiwan's Wan Jin Shi Marathon after having first run it in 2016, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran 2:14:12 to score his fourth-straight marathon win in a third-straight wire-to-wire solo performance. Choosing the hilly Wan Jin Shi Marathon as his final main tuneup for next month's Boston Marathon, Kawauchi came out swinging, leading an all-African pack of seven by almost 10 seconds after the tough uphill opening 5 km and stretching that out to over two minutes by the turnaround point at halfway.

On track to break the 2:13:05 course record by more than two minutes. under sunny skies with temperatures climbing to 22C and nearly 80% humidity Kawauchi began to slow incrementally. Behind him, Johnstone Kibet Maiyo (Kenya) and Aredome Tiuyay Degefa (Ethiopia) separated from the chase pack and began to push each other in pursuit of the top spot. With every 5 km split the gap to Kawauchi narrowed. At 40 km Maiyo threw down to get rid of Degefa, blasting the dow…

Kawauchi and Kiyara Headline Wan Jin Shi Marathon

Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) returns to Taiwan's Wan Jin Shi Marathon this Sunday for his marathon of the post-Yuta Shitara era. The runner-up in Wan Jin Shi in 2016, Kawauchi is ranked #1 in the field and comes to Wan Jin Shi with wins in his last three marathons but faces a solid field including fellow sub-2:10 man Peter Kiplagat Sitenei, last year's runner-up Tsegaye Debele (Ethiopia), and the only man to beat him last time around, 2016 winner and course record holder William Chebon Chebor (Kenya). Kawauchi plans to use the hilly race as a tune-up for his main marathon of the spring season, April's Boston Marathon.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Rael Kiyara Nguriatukei (Kenya), winner of the 2012 Hamburg Marathon before being stripped of her title and suspended for a positive post-race test for norandrosterone, has the fastest recent time in the women's field with a 2:26:22 winning time at last year's Chongqing Marathon. Close behind is Chemtai …

Katanishi Scores Best-Ever Japanese Collegiate Placing at United Airlines NYC Half

Wearing bib #21 on his 21st birthday, 2017 World University Games half marathon gold medalist Kei Katanishi (Komazawa University) turned in the best-ever Japanese collegiate placing at the United Airlines NYC Half, taking 7th in 1:03:05 just 26 seconds off the win.

Katanishi and his Komazawa teammate Shogo Ise earned invites to the NYC Half by taking the top two Japanese collegiate spots at last November's Ageo City Half Marathon. Off the tougher new New York course both Katanishi and Ise ran in the lead group for the first two-thirds of the race, Ise near the front and Katanishi biding his time at the back of the pack. When the first real move came on the uphill approaching Times Square Katanishi was quick to reposition himself into the top three just off the shoulder of leader Dathan Ritzenhein (U.S.A.), staying in the action and looking smooth through the first set of Central Park hills. "I just took the early part easy and watched the others and what was going," Kat…