by Brett Larner
Last year's runner up Daito Bunka University came back strong to take down defending champion Tokyo Nogyo University in course record time at Sunday's Nikko Irohazaka Women's Ekiden in Nikko, Tochigi. The most famous ekiden stage in Japan is the Fifth Stage at the university men's Hakone Ekiden, a 23.2 km run up a mountain with roughly 875 km of climb followed by descent and flat in the last few km. Nikko Irohazaka, the newest addition to the university women's calendar, takes almost identical dimensions and divides it into six stages, the toughest with 400 m of climb in 3.5 km.
Making its Nikko Irohazaka debut, Nittai University took an early lead with a First Stage win by Nanako Yasaku, who put Nittai 8 seconds ahead of Daito Bunka. Tokyo Nogyo took over on the Second Stage with a new course record run by Moeno Shimizu, Daito Bunka 13 seconds back on total time at the start of the Third Stage. DBU's Soyoka Segawa broke the course record on the Third Stage, but Tokyo Nogyo's Monaka Kobori was only 1 second slower and the lead remained almost unchanged.
The big change came on the Fourth Stage, where Daito Bunka's Shiho Yahagi was almost two minutes faster than Tokyo Nogyo's Miya Yokoyama, a permanent goodbye as DBU's lead only grew the rest of the way to its 1:29:49 course record win. Tokyo Nogyo fell almost four minutes behind total for 4th, overtaken by last year's 4th-placer Kansai Gaikokugo University and first-timer Nittai.
Nikko Irohazaka was the second stop on the season's tour for top university women's ekiden teams. Next up is the season-ending Mount Fuji University Women's Ekiden, now moved to an exciting new date on Dec. 30 that puts it into a block with the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden corporate men's national championships and the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden season-ender for university men. Four days of live TV ekiden broadcasts in the course of five. You couldn't ask for a better way to spend New Year's.
2nd Nikko Irohazaka Women's Ekiden
Niiko, Tochigi, 11/29/15
18 teams, 6 stages, 23.4 km, 875 m climb
click here for complete results
Top Team Results
1. Daito Bunka University - 1:29:49 - CR
2. Kansai Gaikokugo University - 1:32:20
3. Nittai University - 1:33:16
4. Tokyo Nogyo University A - 1:33:27
5. Chuo University - 1:35:15
6. Osaka Geidai University - 1:35:21
7. Tokyo Nogyo University B - 1:35:25
8. Hakuoh University - 1:36:05
9. Nihon Joshi Taiiku University - 1:38:23
10. Shoin University - 1:38:46
Stage Best Performances
1st Stage (4.7 km, ~100 m ascent): Nanako Yasaku (Nittai Univ.) - 16:57
2nd Stage (5.2 km, ~200 m ascent): Moeno Shimizu (Tokyo Nogyo Univ. A) - 18:12 - CR
3rd Stage (3.5 km, ~100 m ascent): Soyoka Segawa (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 14:51 - CR
4th Stage (3.0 km, ~100 m ascent): Shiho Yahagi (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 13:07
5th Stage (3.5 km, ~400 m ascent): Yukine Oguchi (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 14:17
6th Stage (3.5 km, ~25 m descent): Yumi Motohiro (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 11:56
(c) 2015 Brett Larner
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