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Kyushu Corporate Ekiden Rounds Out Qualification for 60th Anniversary New Year Ekiden

by Brett Larner



Following other regional corporate league ekiden winners Honda (East Japan), Toyota (Chubu), YKK (Hokuriku), Otsuka Seiyaku (Kansai) and Mazda (Chubu), the Asahi Kasei team brought the qualification round for the 60th anniversary New Year Ekiden national corporate men's championships to a close with a win by more than a kilometer at Monday's Kyushu Corporate Ekiden.

The Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden is the primary reason for the existence of Japan's men's corporate team leagues and a nationally-televised event.  It is also one of the few championship ekidens without a seeded bracket, meaning that every team, even the winner, must run one of the November regional qualifying ekidens to re-qualify the next year.  This has a direct impact on Japanese men's ability to run fall marathons outside Japan.

With a huge group of new team members this year Asahi Kasei did what every team should, using its regional qualifier as a way to get its rookies used to corporate racing instead of running its older marathoners and marathon hopefuls.  Six of its seven runners were under 23, five of them in their first pro season.  If this became standard practice Japan's position as a marathon power could only improve.

With the New Year Ekiden turning 60 a total of 6 extra team places were available across the country, giving the chance for many smaller teams to make their New Year Ekiden debuts.  A total of 15 teams, more than 1/3 of the New Year Ekiden field, comes from the Tokyo-centric East Japan region.  Although each of the six regions ran on different courses with the exception of Chubu and Hokuriku, which held their regional qualifiers together, each race had a similar breakdown of stages and distances:

East Japan Region (Nov. 3) - 7 stages, 77.5 km
Chubu / Hokuriku Regions (Nov. 15) - 7 stages, 83.5 km
Kansai Region (Nov. 15) - 7 stages, 80.45 km
Chugoku Region (Nov. 15) - 7 stages, 80.8 km
Kyushu Region (Nov. 23) - 7 stages, 78.8 km

Below is a complete listing of the 43 teams to qualify for the 2016 New Year Ekiden with their average pace per km in their regional qualifiers.  JRN will publish a full preview closer to race date, but at this stage it looks like a four-way race between Honda and perpetual East Japan rival Nissin Shokuhin Group, Asahi Kasei and defending national champion Toyota, with outside challenges from East Japan's DeNA and Konica Minolta.  Stay tuned for more.

60th Anniversary New Year Ekiden Field
Maebashi, Gunma, 1/1/16
7 stages, 100.0 km, 43 teams

Honda (East Japan) - 2:55.9 / km
Nissin Shokuhin Group (East Japan) - 2:56.1 / km
Asahi Kasei (Kyushu) - 2:56.6 / km
Toyota (Chubu) - 2:56.9 / km
DeNA (East Japan) - 2:57.6 / km
Konica Minolta (East Japan) - 2:57.7 / km
Hitachi Butsuryu (East Japan) - 2:58.8 / km
Toyota Kyushu (Kyushu) - 2:58.9 / km
Yakult (East Japan) - 2:59.0 / km
JR Higashi Nihon (East Japan) - 2:59.5 / km
Fujitsu (East Japan) - 2:59.8 / km
Kyudenko (Kyushu) - 3:00.0 / km
Mitsubishi HPS Nagasaki (Kyushu) - 3:00.3 / km
Yasukawa Denki (Kyushu) - 3:00.4 / km
Aichi Seiko (Chubu) - 3:00.5 / km
Press Kogyo (East Japan) - 3:00.8 / km
Yachiyo Kogyo (East Japan) - 3:01.2 / km
Kurosaki Harima (Kyushu) - 3:01.3 / km
Komori Corp. (East Japan) - 3:01.3 / km
Subaru (East Japan) - 3:01.4 / km
NTN (Chubu) - 3:01.5 / km
Toyota Boshoku (Chubu) - 3:01.6 / km
YKK (Hokuriku) - 3:02.4 / km
Mazda (Chugoku) - 3:02.5 / km
Otsuka Seiyaku (Kansai) - 3:02.8 / km
Aisan Kogyo (Chubu) - 3:02.8 / km
SGH Group (Kansai) - 3:02.9 / km
Kanebo (East Japan) - 3:02.9 / km
Chuo Hatsujo (Chubu) - 3:03.0 / km
Toenec (Chubu) - 3:03.4 / km
Sunbel'x (East Japan) - 3:03.7 / km
Tokyo Police Department (East Japan) - 3:03.8 / km
Chugoku Denryoku (Chugoku) - 3:04.0 / km
NTT Nishi Nihon (Kansai) - 3:04.0 / km
Sumitomo Denko (Kansai) - 3:04.4 / km
Nishitetsu (Kyushu) - 3:04.7 / km
JFE Steel (Chugoku) - 3:05.3 / km
Osaka Gas (Kansai) - 3:06.2 / km
Omokawa Zaimokuten (Hokuriku) - 3:07.0 / km
Chudenko (Chugoku) - 3:07.3 / km
Osaka Police Department (Kansai) - 3:08.9 / km
Ryugataki SDF Base (Chubu) - 3:13.5 / km
Takeda Yakuhin (Chugoku) - 3:16.8 / km

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

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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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