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World U20 Bronze Medalist Wesley Ledama Breaks CR by Over One Minute at Towada Hachimantai Ekiden

by Brett Larner



Just 17 years old, 2016 Bydgoszcz World U20 Championships men's 5000 m bronze medalist Wesley Ledama of Kenya turned up at Akita's Towada Hachimantai Ekiden running for the Subaru corporate team to rock a new record on the 13.6 km First Stage.  Hammering experienced 32-year-old Ethiopian Kassa Mekashaw (Team Yachiyo Kogyo) into the ground, Ledama took almost a minute and a half off the 39:49 stage record set last year by Kenyan Charles Ndungu (Team Komori Corp.) as he handed off in 1st in 38:28.  Mekashaw likewise broke the record, next into the first exchange zone in 38:35, with Yuki Takamiya (Team Yakult A), the top Japanese man at this year's Tokyo Marathon and winner on Towada's First Stage in 2014, 3rd in 40:27.

Both Yachiyo Kogyo and Yakult ran down Subaru on the 13.4 km Second Stage, stage record holder Bernard Kimanyi (Team Yakult A) coming just 2 seconds short of Shota Kai (Team Yachiyo Kogyo) for the lead at the second exchange zone.  Shun Inoura (Team Yachiyo Kogyo) built his team's lead back up to 27 seconds on the 16.2 km Third Stage, but on the 16.4 km Fourth Stage Yakult's Ryu Takaku overtook Yachiyo Kogyo's Kazuyoshi Chiba and opened a 21-second lead before handing off to anchor Masahiro Kawaguchi.

Facing 14.1 km of steep uphill Kawaguchi ran strong, extending Yakult's lead to 53 seconds to win for the second year in a row in 3:48:57.  Yachiyo Kogyo, with a solid team performance that saw four of its five runners make the top three on their stages, was 2nd in 3:49:50.  Last year's runner-up Komori Corporation, short its Olympian ringer Ronald Kwemoi, caught Subaru on the Third Stage for 3rd and held on to that position for the rest of the race, finishing in 3:51:53.

69th Towada Hachimantai Ekiden
Kazuno, Akita, 8/7/16
5 stages, 73.7 km, 37 teams
click here for complete results

Top Team Results
1. Yakult A - 3:48:57
2. Yachiyo Kogyo - 3:49:50
3. Komori Corp. - 3:51:53
4. Subaru - 3:53:44
5. JR Higashi Nihon - 3:55:50
-----
DNF - Comody Iida

Top Individual Stage Results
First Stage - 13.6 km
1. Wesley Ledama (Subaru) - 38:28 - CR
2. Kassa Mekashaw (Yachiyo Kogyo) - 38:35 (CR)
3. Yuki Takamiya (Yakult A) - 40:27

Second Stage - 13.4 km
1. Bernard Kimanyi (Yakult A) - 36:09
2. David Njuguna (Yakult B) - 37:32
3. Shota Kai (Yachiyo Kogyo) - 37:59

Third Stage - 16.2 km
1. Charles Ndungu (Komori Corp.) - 47:27
2. Shun Inoura (Yachiyo Kogyo) - 48:12
3. Cyrus Njui (Team M&K) - 48:13

Fourth Stage - 16.4 km
1. Shoya Kurokawa (JR Higashi Nihon) - 50:42
2. Ryu Takaku (Yakult A) - 50:46
3. Kazuyoshi Chiba (Yachiyo Kogyo) - 51:34

Fifth Stage - 14.1 km uphill
1. Shun Gorotani (Comody Iida) - 52:20
2. Sho Sakuma (Komori Corp.) - 52:43
3. Masahiro Kawaguchi (Yakult A) - 52:58

© 2016 Brett Larner
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