by Brett Larner
In its third edition in the foothills of Mt. Fuji, the National University Women’s Invitational Ekiden Championships, renamed, appropriately enough, the Mt. Fuji Women’s Ekiden, continues to grow in popularity and stature. This year it moves from the Dec. 23 national holiday to Dec. 30, putting it into a prestigious block alongside the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden corporate men’s national championships and the biggest of them all, the university men’s Hakone Ekiden on Jan. 2 and 3. Whether Mt. Fuji will reach the same level of popularity remains to be seen, but it’s a sign of faith in the event’s viability, its hilly course offering real racing and not just a handout to the fastest school.
The fastest school is again two-time defending champion Ritsumeikan University of the Kansai region, fresh from a course record win at October’s Morinomiyako Ekiden against the best from the Kanto region and the rest of the country. With wins on all six stages at Morinomiyako including a stage record from second-year Kotona Ota who played a major role in Ritsumeikan’s win last year as a first-year it will be a challenge for anyone to catch them no matter how much the hills level the playing field.
If any school can do it it will be top Kanto region school Daito Bunka University, winner of last month’s all-uphill Nikko Irohazaka Women’s Ekiden in course record time. Daito Bunka won four out of six stages there with one record by Soyoka Segawa and second-place finishes on the other two stages. A lot will depend on fourth-year Sakurako Fukuuchi, in training for her marathon debut at next month’s Osaka International Women’s Marathon.
Last year’s 3rd-placer Osaka Gakuin University was only 6th at Morinomiyako, meaning they will need a step back toward last year’s form to compete with Ritsumeikan and Daito Bunka. Other schools likely to turn up in the chase pack include Matsuyama University, 3rd at Morinomiyako, Nittai University with a 4th at Morinomiyako and 3rd in Nikko, and Morinomiyako 5th-placer Meijo University.
The Mt. Fuji Women’s Ekiden will be broadcast like on Fuji TV starting at 10:00 a.m. on Dec. 30. Follow @JRNLive for live coverage and check back here on JRN for detailed results of the university women’s season-ender post-race.
3rd Mt. Fuji Women’s Ekiden Entry List
National University Women’s Ekiden Championships
20 teams, 7 stages, 43.4 km, 50 m net climb
click here for complete field listing
1. Ritsumeikan University (Kansai)
2. Daito Bunka University (Kanto)
3. Matsuyama University (Chugoku-Shikoku)
4. Nittai University (Kanto)
5. Meijo University (Tokai)
6. Osaka Gakuin University (Kansai)
7. Tokyo Nogyo University (Kanto)
8. Kansai University (Kansai)
9. Fukuoka University (Kyushu)
10. Josai University (Kanto)
11. Kyoto Sangyo University (Kansai)
12. Hakuoh University (Kanto)
13. Bukkyo University (Kansai)
14. Kanoya Taiiku University (Kyushu)
15. Kansai Gaikokugo University (Kansai)
16. Tohoku Fukushi University (Tohoku)
17. Tamagawa University (Kanto)
18. Toyo University (Kanto)
19. East Japan Select Team
20. Weat Japan Select Team
21. Shizuoka Select Team
© 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved