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Yamanashi Gakuin University Tops Kanto Region Qualifier for November's National University Men's Ekiden

by Brett Larner

November's National University Men's Ekiden is the second of the Big Three University Ekidens, midway in distance and prestige between October's season-opening Izumo Ekiden and January's legendary Hakone Ekiden.  Schools that finished outside the seeded bracket at last year's Nationals have to requalify this month, with the toughest of the qualifying races, the Kanto Region qualifier, happening yesterday in Urawa, Saitama.  Twenty Kanto Region schools fielded eight runners, two from each school in four heats of 10000 m on the track.  The total times of all eight runners are combined to determine the team standings, with the fastest nine schools going on to the national race come November.

Despite not winning a single heat, Yamanashi Gakuin University took the top spot in 4:03:52.82 with runner-up placings in heats 2, 3 and 4 from Junya Uemura, Kenta Ueda and Dominic NyairoNihon University was next in 4:05:20.92 thanks in part to Patrick Wambui winning the fastest heat over YGU's Nyairo.  Nittai University, Takushoku University, Teikyo University, Koku Gakuin University and Chuo Gakuin University took the next five spots to seal up their places at Nationals.

Kanagawa University and Soka University looked set to take the remaining two spots with several good placings in the first three heats, in particular from Soka's Noriaki Oyama who outkicked YGU's Ueda to win Heat 3.  But in Heat 4 Kanagawa's Atsushi Yamato and newcomer Muiru Muthoni from Soka both dropped out, eliminating their teams from the standings.  With a 29:09.76 best Yamato only needed to have run 31:38.78 for Kanagawa to qualify, while Muthoni, a first-year with just a 29:45.32 best, had to manage a 30:34.39 for Soka to make the grade. 

In their places Daito Bunka University and Kokushikan University squeezed into the qualifying bracket.  Juntendo University was the unlucky 10th-placer, just 8 seconds slower than Kokushikan on aggregate time.  The unseasonably hot weather took its toll on times, with team times 5 minutes slower than last year on average.

48th National University Men's Ekiden Kanto Region Qualifier
Komaba Sports Park Field, Urawa, Saitama, 6/18/16
click here for complete results

Team Results - top 9 qualify for Nationals
1. Yamanashi Gakuin Univ. - 4:03:25.82
2. Nihon Univ. - 4:05:20.92
3. Nittai Univ. - 4:05:43.63
4. Takushoku Univ. - 4:05:52.94
5. Teikyo Univ. - 4:05:54.35
6. Koku Gakuin Univ. - 4:05:56.00
7. Chuo Gakuin Univ. - 4:06:02.86
8. Daito Bunka Univ. - 4:06:39.23
9. Kokushikan Univ. - 4:06.58.04
10. Juntendo Univ. - 4:07:06.47
DNF - Kanagawa Univ.
DNF - Soka Univ.

Heat 1
1. Yuki Murakami (Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 30:41.91
2. Yusho Miyazaki (Nittai Univ.) - 30:46.60
3. Koya Nakagami (Kanagawa Univ.) - 30:51.62

Heat 2
1. Hotaka Murofushi (Nittai Univ.) - 30:29.86
2. Junya Uemura (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 31:00.68
3. Yuki Suzuki (Kanagawa Univ.) - 31:02.21

Heat 3
1. Noriaki Oyama (Soka Univ.) - 30:15.29
2. Kenta Ueda (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 30:19.03
3. Hideaki Sumiyoshi (Kokushikan Univ.) - 30:19.18

Heat 4
1. Patrck Mathenge Wambui (Nihon Univ.) - 28:45.84
2. Dominic Nyairo (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 28:46.80
3. Workneh Derese (Takushoku Univ.) - 28:54.20
4. Kengo Suzuki (Kanagawa Univ.) - 29:08.40
5. Kai Takeshita (Teikyo Univ.) - 29:10.82
DNF - Atsushi Yamato (Kanagawa Univ.)
DNF - Muiru Muthoni (Soka Univ.)

© 2016 Brett Larner
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