Skip to main content

Sera H.S. Going for History at National High School Ekiden Championships

by Brett Larner

Sunday is the next stop on the national championship ekiden season calendar, the National High School Ekiden Championships in Kyoto, both the boys’ and girls’ races broadcast live nationwide to millions of fans starting at 10:20 for the girls’ race and 12:30 for the boys. JRN will cover both races live on @JRNLive.

The seven-stage, 42.195 km boys’ race is about one thing and one thing only: can defending champion Sera H.S. of Hiroshima take down the legendary 2:01:32 course record set in 2004 by future Olympic marathon gold medalist Samuel Wanjiru and his Sendai Ikuei H.S. teammates? Last year Sera ran the fifth-fastest time in Nationals history, winning easily in 2:03:18. This year they return even better, with a lineup that could compete against many of the best university teams over 5000 m. How good are they? Judge for yourself.


None of the other 55 teams even comes close. Their strongest competition Gakuho Ishikawa H.S. of Fukushima, led by #1-ranked Japanese high schooler Hyuga Endo, averages just 14:15.59, meaning for Sera it’s a race against the clock and history.

Defending champion in the five-stage, 21.0975 km girls’ race, Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S. likewise returns as the favorite led by sisters Nozomi and Tomomi Musembi Takamatsu. On paper they're back almost exactly as strong as last year, but they lack the same margin of safety and have shown cracks throughout the year with senior Nozomi in particular seeming to have lost some of her spark. Yamanashi Gakuin Prep H.S. and Gunma’s Tokiwa H.S. both look to be in range of Osaka Kunei should anything go wrong up front, promising a closer race than for the boys. For both Tokiwa and Yamanashi Gakuin it would be a first-ever national title, for Yamanashi Gakuin adding to their boys’ 2013 win.


Complete entry lists are available on broadcaster NHK’s outstanding Nationals website, with plenty more information including complete Nationals history on the official race website. American Bruce Carrick maintains an outstanding database of Japanese high school results, with top seven 5000 m averages for all 56 boys’ teams and top five 3000 m averages for the 56 girls’ teams.

© 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Toyo University Leads Defending Champ Aoyama Gakuin on Hakone Ekiden Day One

The team that brought Japan's greatest race into the modern era with its historic 2012 sub-3 min/km win, Toyo University came out swinging to win Day One of the 2018 Hakone Ekiden.

Intensely popular with fans, Toyo has struggled this season with its entire senior class out with injury. With its fate in the hands of its younger members Toyo 1st-year Kazuya Nishiyama, freshly 19 in November, stepped up and took control of the race with both hands. Midway through the fast First Stage Nishiyama surged hard to go out front alone, 2017 World University Games half marathon gold medalist Kei Katanishi (Komazawa Univ.) and relative unknown Yuhei Urano (Koku Gakuin Univ.) the only ones to try to go with him. Nishiyama covered the 21.3 km stage in 1:02:16, equivalent to a 1:01:40 half marathon, with Urano and Katanishi around 15 seconds back. 3-time defending champ Aoyama Gakuin University was 25 seconds behind in 5th at the first exchange, 2017 Izumo Ekiden winner Tokai University another …

Kawauchi Breaks Sub-2:20 World Record in Sub-Zero Temperatures

Battling freezing temperatures and wind chill that took things down to -23C, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran a 2018 world-leading 2:18:59 at the Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, taking 30 minutes off the course record and breaking American Doug Kurtis' historic sub-2:20 world record with his 76th career sub-2:20.

Kawauchi spent Dec. 29 to 31 training on the Boston Marathon course ahead of his upcoming appearance as part of the John Hancock Elite Athlete Team and planned to run Marshfield at the tail end of his trip. The Marshfield Road Runners club, organizers of the marathon, had their longstanding race USATF certified ahead of his appearance.


Wearing full-length tights in a marathon for the first time, in Marshfield Kawauchi planned to run the first of the hilly course's two laps in 1:09 flat to give himself room to work with in breaking 2:20. But in the wind and cold he struggled to stay on pace, ice crystals coating his face as he hit halfway in 1:10:29…

Aoyama Gakuin Runs Down Toyo for Fourth-Straight Hakone Ekiden Title

In a rare reversal of Day One standings, Aoyama Gakuin University ran down Toyo University early in on Day Two to win its fourth-straight Hakone Ekiden title. At both the Izumo Ekiden and National University Men's Ekiden this season, Toyo struggled to cope with the absence of its entire senior class due to injury, running up front much of the way but lacking the depth to keep the lead in the final stages. Hakone played out like an opera-scale version of the same familiar story, its brilliant Day One win backlit by the headlights of rapidly approaching fate.

Second on Day Two's opening stage, the 20.8 km Sixth Stage with around 800 m elevation loss, both of the last two years, AGU 3rd-year Yuji Onoda just missed the course record en route as he ran down Toyo's Shunsuke Imanishi and put AGU almost a minute ahead by the time he handed off. AGU's next two runners Keisuke Hayashi and Yuta Shimoda both won their stages, Hayashi, a relative unknown on the roster, running 1:0…