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Ritsumeikan Dominates With Record-Setting Fifth-Straight National University Women's Ekiden Win

by Brett Larner

Four-time defending National University Women's Ekiden champion Ritsumeikan University delivered one for the record books, winning a fifth-straight title Sunday in Sendai as it broke the 38.0 km course record in 2:02:52.  With all six of its runners winning their individual stages including a 29:24 record for the 9.2 km Fifth Stage from Kotona Ota, the sheer quality of Ritsumeikan's win had fans talking on social media about the need for ekiden terminology like baseball's no-hitters and perfect games.  Regardless, this was about as dominant a performance as you could hope to see in an ekiden, every team member hitting it 100% running entirely alone with an unbreakable lead.

Last year's runner up Daito Bunka University was 2nd again after a great battle throughout the race with Kanto Region rival Nittai University and Aichi's Meijo University, one of only two schools to crack Ritsumeikan in the last 12 years.  But despite good performances from most of its runners, in particular its Fifth Stage ace Sakurako Fukuuchi, Daito Bunka was simply no match for Ritsumeikan as it finished nearly a kilometer behind in 2:05:40.  Matsuyama University came up late in the race to overtake Nittai and Meijo for 3rd in 2:06:24, with less than a minute and a half separating them from 8th-place Kansai University.  Fukuoka University was the unlucky 9th-placer, shut out of the 8-deep seeded bracket for next year's Nationals in 2:08:57.

Like recent Hakone Ekiden-winning teams Aoyama Gakuin University and Toyo University, the Ritsumeikan women were so dominant that there is little doubt they would be solid contenders against the best of the corporate leagues in December's National Corporate Women's Ekiden.  Probably not much doubt about how they would do in the NCAA XC Championships next month either.  Look for Ritsumeikan to clean up at the year-ending Mt. Fuji University Women's Ekiden and beyond.

National University Women's Ekiden Championships
Sendai, Miyagi, 10/25/15
26 teams, 6 stages, 38.0 km
complete results coming shortly

Overall Results - top 8 seeded for 2016
1. Ritsumeikan University (Kyoto) - 2:02:52 - CR
2. Daito Bunka University (Saitama) - 2:05:40
3. Matsuyama University (Ehime) - 2:06:24
4. Nittai University (Kanagawa) - 2:06:28
5. Meijo University (Aichi) - 2:06:35
6. Osaka Gakuin University (Osaka) - 2:07:18
7. Tokyo Nogyo University (Tokyo) - 2:07:46
8. Kansai University (Osaka) - 2:07:53
-----
9. Fukuoka University (Fukuoka) - 2:08:57
10. Josai University (Saitama) - 2:09:20

Individual Stage Results
First Stage - 6.4 km
1. Natsuki Omori (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 20:42
2. Moeno Shimizu (Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) - 20:49
3. Ami Hirose (Kansai Univ.) - 20:51

Second Stage - 5.6 km
1. Kureha Seki (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 17:45
2. Rina Koeda (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 18:16
3. Maho Shimizu (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) - 18:17

Third Stage - 6.8 km
1. Ena Kagayama (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 21:58
2. Fuyuka Kimura (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 22:14
3. Yuri Karasawa (Nittai Univ.) - 22:26

Fourth Stage - 4.8 km
1. Ai Ikemoto (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 15:47
2. Soyoka Segawa (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 16:03
3. Karin Yasumoto (Nittai Univ.) - 16:04

Fifth Stage - 9.2 km
1. Kotona Ota (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 29:24 - CR
2. Sakurako Fukuuchi (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 30:13
3. Honoka Yuzawa (Meijo Univ.) - 30:15

Sixth Stage - 5.2 km
1. Yukari Wada (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 17:16
2. Kimiko Sato (Kyoto Sangyo Univ.) - 17:28
3. Shiho Yahagi (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 17:36

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

yuza said…
Ritsumeikan were brilliant once again, but because they were so dominant it was rather dull viewing. However, the tussle between Fukuuchi (looks to have potential) and Yuzawa up the hill was a good one.


What is Ritsumeikan's secret? Is it coaching? Or are they just better at recruiting?



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Lexicon

Betsudai - the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon
daigaku - university
ekiden - a long-distance relay race
faito - a courseside audience cheer; see ganbatte
ganbatte (ganbare) - a courseside audience cheer; see faito
gasshuku - an intensive training camp
Hakone Ekiden - the annual university men`s championships
jitsugyodan - corporate-sponsored professional running teams
onsen - a hot spring
Q-chan - Naoko Takahashi, the 2000 Sydney Olympics women`s marathon gold medalist, Olympic record holder and first woman to break 2:20 in the marathon
rikujo - track and field, the marathon, and other running events
Rikuren - the JAAF
tasuki - the sash which is handed off during an ekiden
zannen - too bad
otaku - a nerdy, socially awkward person, usually male, who is obsessed with some esoteric topic

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