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Yamada Denki and Chiba Prefecture Win Weekend Women's Ekidens

by Brett Larner

Two different women's ekidens led the weekend's action, both in their 31st runnings but each with a highly different format. On the west coast in Fukui, corporate, university and club teams went head to head at the six-stage, 30.0 km Fukui Super Ladies Ekiden.  Just 7th last year, the Yamada Denki corporate women led start to finish bookended by stage wins from star members Shiho Takechi and Kasumi Nishihara to take the win in 1:36:48.

2nd place saw heavy turnover, with the Kyudenko team briefly moving up mid-race thanks to Kenyan Mariam Waithera before returning to overtake Canon AC Kyushu for 2nd in 1:38:03 thanks to a strong run from anchor Yuka Miyazaki.  Canon held on to 3rd by 5 seconds in 1:38:31despite anchor Chisaki Takegami struggling late in the 7.45 km stage.  Last year's winner Osaka Gakuin University was only 9th but still claimed the top university team position.

On the east coast in Fukushima the Tokyo team very nearly duplicated Yamada Denki's wire-to-wire lead at the East Japan Women's Ekiden.  Like January's National Women's Ekiden, East Japan features prefectural teams with star corporate and university women fronting lineups of top local high school and junior high school runners.  Tokyo led for the first seven of the 42.195 km race's nine stages, its lead maxing out at 58 second on the Fifth Stage before starting to contract. 

Starting 12 seconds back, Chiba Prefecture's eighth runner Kotone Hoshina rocked a stage win to put Chiba 22 seconds ahead over just 3.0 km.  Anchor Sayaka Kuwahara outran Tokyo's Hanae Tanaka by another 14 seconds over 10.0 km to give Chiba the win in 2:17:27.  Tokyo was next in 2:18:03, well ahead of 3rd-place Tochigi Prefecture whose anchor Mirai Waku ran a brilliant 32:11 stage best to move Tochigi up from 6th.

31st Fukui Super Ladies Ekiden
Fukui, 11/8/15
40 teams, 6 stages, 30.0 km
click here for complete results

Top Team Results
1. Yamada Denki A - 1:36:48
2. Kyudenko - 1:38:03
3. Canon AC Kyushu - 1:38:31
4. Shimamura - 1:38:36
5. Daihatsu - 1:38:47
6. Panasonic - 1:38:51
7. Hitachi - 1:39:22
8. Sekisui Kagaku - 1:39:44
9. Osaka Gakuin Univ. A - 1:39:52
10. Yamada Denki B - 1:39:53

Stage Best Performances
First Stage (6.55 km) - Shiho Takechi (Yamada Denki A) - 20:56
Second Stage (3.0 km) - Risa Kikuchi (Hitachi) - 9:17
Third Stage (4.0 km) - Megumi Hirai (Canon AC Kyushu) - 12:38
Fourth Stage (4.0 km) - Mariam Waithera (Kyudenko) - 12:13
Fifth Stage (5.0 km) - Yuika Mori (Yamada Denki A) / Yuka Takemoto (Canon AC Kyushu) - 16:13
Sixth Stage (7.45 km) - Kasumi Nishihara (Yamada Denki A) - 24:28

31st East Japan Women's Ekiden
Fukushima, 11/8/15
18 teams, 9 stages, 42.195 km
click here for complete results

Top Team Results
1. Chiba Prefecture - 2:17:27
2. Tokyo - 2:18:03
3. Tochigi Prefecture - 2:18:58
4. Kanagawa Prefecture - 2:19:18
5. Saitama Prefecture - 2:20:08

Stage Best Performances
First Stage (6.0 km) - Hanami Sekine (Tokyo) - 18:57
Second Stage (4.0 km) - Tomoka Kimura (Chiba) - 12:48
Third Stage (3.0 km) - Yuri Ishikawa (Tokyo) - 10:04
Fourth Stage (3.0 km) - Emiho Ii (Gunma) - 9:31
Fifth Stage (5.0875 km) - Michiru Otsuki (Tokyo) - 16:43
Sixth Stage (4.1075 km) - Natsuki Sekiya (Chiba) - 12:48
Seventh Stage (4.0 km) - Yumika Fujisawa (Kanagawa) - 13:02
Eighth Stage (3.0 km) - Kotone Hoshina (Chiba) - 9:21
Ninth Stage (10.0 km) - Mirai Waku (Tochigi) - 32:11

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
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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
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