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Denso Wins Third-Straight National Corporate Women's Ekiden Title

by Brett Larner

National championship ekiden season got off to a good start at Sunday's National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships, where two-time defending champion Team Denso led seven teams under the 2:16:12 course record it set last year on the way to its third-straight win with new records on four of the 42.195 km course's six stages.

Denso's Yuki Mitsunobu led off, missing the First Stage record by 1 second as she handed off just behind Ayumi Sakaida (Team Daihatsu).  Denso's next two runners Naoko Koizumi and Yuka Takashima scored records on their stages to give their team a lead that was never broken despite new Fourth and Fifth Stage records by rivals Sally Chepyego (Team Kyudenko) and Risa Yokoe (Team Toyota Jidoshokki).  Denso anchor Nami Hashimoto was the only stage winner not to tie or set an individual record but her 21:26 for the 6.795 km Sixth Stage was more than enough to maintain Denso's lead of almost a minute over Toyota Jidoshokki.

Toyota Jidoshokki and the next five teams behind it all beat Denso's 2014 time, a sign of what a competitive year it was in the first edition of Nationals after the elimination of the regional qualifying ekiden system.  2010 national champion Team Tenmaya took the final place in the eight-deep bracket seeded for 2016, just missing the old record by 3 seconds in 2:16:15.  9th last year, Team Hokuren once again missed the seeded bracket at 9th in 2:16:43 to top the list of team headed back to next fall's national qualifier.

National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships Top Results
Sendai, Miyagi, 12/13/15
22 teams, 6 stages, 42.195 km
click here for complete results

Top Team Results - top 8 seeded for 2016
1. Denso - 2:14:22 - CR
2. Toyota Jidoshokki - 2:15:15 (CR)
3. Universal Entertainment - 2:15:30 (CR)
4. Yamada Denki - 2:15:46 (CR)
5. Sekisui Kagaku - 2:15:58 (CR)
6. Daiichi Seimei - 2:15:58 (CR)
7. Kyudenko - 2:16:01 (CR)
8. Tenmaya - 2:16:15
-----
9. Hokuren - 2:16:43
10. Panasonic - 2:17:05

Top Individual Stage Results
First Stage (7.0 km)
1. Ayumi Sakaida (Daihatsu) - 22:10 (CR tie)
2. Yuki Mitsunobu (Denso) - 22:11
3. Natsuko Goto (Univ. Ent.) - 22:12

Second Stage (3.9 km)
1. Naoko Koizumi (Denso) - 12:00 - CR
2. Yui Fukuda (Toyota Jidoshokki) - 12:05
3. Shiori Morita (Panasonic) - 12:13
3. Tomoka Kimura (Univ. Ent.) - 12:13

Third Stage (10.9 km)
1. Yuka Takashima (Denso) - 34:30 - CR
2. Miyuki Uehara (Daiichi Seimei) - 34:39 (CR)
3. Misaki Kato (Kyudenko) - 34:41

Fourth Stage (3.6 km)
1. Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Kyudenko) - 10:58 - CR
2. Pauline Kamulu (Kenya/Route Inn Hotels) - 11:06 (CR)
3. Felista Wanjugu (Kenya/Univ. Ent.) - 11:09 (CR)

Fifth Stage (10.0 km)
1. Risa Yokoe (Toyota Jidoshokki) - 32:15 - CR
2. Hanami Sekine (Japan Post Group) - 32:25 (CR)
3. Mirai Waku (Univ. Ent.) - 32:36 (CR)

Sixth Stage (6.795 km)
1. Nami Hashimoto (Denso) - 21:26
1. Chikako Mori (Sekisui Kagaku) - 21:26
3. Kaho Nishizawa (Daiichi Seimei) - 21:27

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
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