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First of the Big Three - Izumo Ekiden Entry Lists

by Brett Larner



The Izumo Ekiden has released the entry lists for this year's race on Monday, Oct. 12. The season-opening race on the Big Three men's university ekiden season calendar, Izumo returns for its 27th year after being canceled just before the race last year when a major typhoon hit the area.  Ten of the best men's university teams from the Tokyo area start their trip to the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden in Izumo alongside six schools from other parts of Japan, four regional select teams, and, from the U.S. an Ivy League Select Team, all racing over six stages totaling 45.1 km.  Click the chart below for complete entry lists and rankings for the top twelve teams in the field.


Five of the top seven teams are missing their best runner, among them 2015 Hakone Ekiden course record setter Aoyama Gakuin University. Despite the absence of 4th-year Daichi Kamino, a 1:01:21 half marathoner, AGU is ranked #1 in the field overall and, with a course record-setting Izumo win in 2012 behind it when Kamino and the other 4th-years were just starting out, it looks like the solid favorite.  2013 winner Komazawa University is almost dead-even with Yamanashi Gakuin University for 2nd, YGU missing its star Kenyan Enock Omwamba but bringing in 1st-year reserve Dominic Nyairo for his university ekiden debut.  2011 winner Toyo University and 2010 course record setter Waseda University are likewise almost even at 4th in the rankings, Waseda missing captain and 2014 Ageo City Half Marathon winner Koki Takada.

Meiji University, Tokai University and Chuo Gakuin University occupy the next tier of contenders for the 8-deep podium, Meiji running without sub-28 man Ken Yokote and Tokai lacking several key seniors.  The Ivy League Select Team, featuring an overwhelming Princeton presence, comes in ranked 9th and will need a better-than-average run to make the podium.  The Ivies aside, Kyoto Sangyo University is the top-ranked school from outside the Tokyo area at 12th but is well within range of Josai University and Daito Bunka University and could pull off a rare top 10 finish.

JRN will be on-site throughout the weekend to cover the race for Meter magazine and the Tracksmith website.  Look for coverage here and at both Meter and Tracksmith, uniform sponsors of the Ivy League Select Team.  Catch the live nationwide broadcast on Fuji TV starting at 12:55 p.m. on the 12th.

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

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Kawauchi Wins 7th-Straight Okinoshima 50 km

Running the Okinoshima 50 km Ultramarathon on his late father's home island of Oki for the eighth year in a row, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran 2:52:55 to win it for the seventh straight time. Starting strong on the relatively flat first 10 km where he clocked 33:26, low-2:47 pace, Kawauchi slowed to just over 2:50 pace on the course's toughest hills between 10 and 30 km. A sub-2:50 was still in range at that point, but over the last 20 km he faded further to finish in the second-slowest of his Okinoshima wins.



The day before the race Kawauchi paced children in Okinoshima's kids' run. Following that he greeted participants and local supporters at an expo event where he was hailed onstage as the Boston Marathon winner. As per his usual routine, his next race will be the July 1 Gold Coast Marathon in Australia.

© 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Kipchirchir and Chebii Take on Three Gold Coast Winners

The men's race at Australia's Gold Coast Marathon is usually a Kenya-Japan head-to-head, Kenya taking six wins and Japan three in the last ten years. With not a single Ethiopian in the field for this year's 40th edition it looks set for it to happen yet again.

Sub-2:10 Kenyans Victor Kipchirchir, Douglas Chebii, Philip Sanga and the Japan-based Michael Githae will line up to take on three of the race's last four winners, 2017 champ Takuya Noguchi (Konica Minolta), 2015-16 winner and course record holder Kenneth Mungara (Kenya) and 2013 champ and perpetual top three placer Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't). Give the advantage to team Kenya in this bout, but as Noguchi and Kawauchi have proven Gold Coast is a race where Japanese men are legit contenders.

With the window for getting qualifying times for next year's MGC Race 2020 Olympic trials starting to close, the powers that be in Japan have taken note of the success of Noguchi and Kawauchi on the Gold Coast…

The Kawauchi Counter

Yuki Kawauchi's 2018 race results: Jan. 1: Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, U.S.A.: 2:18:59 - 1st - CR
Jan. 14: Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:03:28 - 7th
Jan. 21: Yashio Isshu Ekiden, Saitama: 1:01:03 - 1st - ran entire 20.0 km ekiden solo and beat all 103 teams of 6 runners each
Jan. 28: Okumusashi Ekiden First Stage (9.9 km), Saitama - 29:41 - 6th
Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
Feb. 11: Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon, Shimane - cancelled due to heavy snow
Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama - 1:04:26 - 1st
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:04:49 - 12th
Mar. 11: Yoshinogawa Riverside Half Marathon, Tokushima - 1:05:50 - 1st - CR
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan - 2:14:12 - 1st
Mar. 24: Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials, Saitama
              5000 m Heat 4: 14:53.95 - 1st
              5000 m Heat 6: 14:36.58 - 2nd
           …