translated and edited by Brett Larner
105 teams competed in four different divisions at the 83rd Saitama Ekiden on Feb. 7. Saitama Sakae H.S., the overall winner at last weekend's Okumusashi Ekiden, ran the six-stage, 42.195 km men's course in 2:10:14, faster than any of the corporate or university teams in the race, to seal a fourth-straight high school division win. Following up its Hakone Ekiden debut last month, Tokyo International University was close behind in 2:10:20 to win the general division, with the Saitama T&F Assoc. team winning the local team division. The Saitama Sakae H.S. girls ran 1:12:59 for the five-stage, 20.5 km women's race to win for the third year in a row.
The Saitama Sakae boys' opening runner Takahisa Mitsui and third runner Ryoji Tatezawa both scored overall stage wins, Tatezawa outran marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) by 31 seconds over 12.1 km. Three of the four other Saitama Sakae boys also ran the fastest high school times on their stages. On the track in Kumagaya Sports Park Stadium, Saitama Sakae anchor Hidekazu Tsujikata ran down Tokyo Kokusai's Tatsuki Ishii to steal the win. Post-race Saitama Sakae head coach Yoichi Kamiyama commented, "I figured that the race would be against the universities that had run the Hakone Ekiden, but I knew that if we could show up and be competitive then we'd have the chance to win."