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