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Izumo Ekiden Starting Order and Preview

by Brett Larner

The organizers of the 28th Izumo Ekiden have released the starting order for Monday's six stage, 45.1 km race.  Below are the top runners on each stage from the field of twenty university teams and their best times for distances close to what they will be racing.  Click here for JRN's detailed preview.  Complete starting lists are available here in Japanese.  Follow @JRNLive for live coverage throughout the race beginning at 1:00 p.m. Japan time.

Last year's course record-setting winner Aoyama Gakuin University is back as the favorite, but it's due for a serious challenge from last year's runner-up Yamanashi Gakuin University and the ascendant Tokai University.  Going by PB YGU runners lead AGU's on all but the Fifth Stage.  Both schools' anchors return, but last year YGU's Dominic Nyairo was a minute faster than AGU's Tadashi Isshiki over the 10.2 km Sixth Stage.  YGU may build up a lead over the first four stages and lose some ground on the Fifth Stage, or it may just stay with AGU until the last leg.  Either way, Nyairo, sub-28 for 10000 m on the track since last year, is bound to run away with it unless AGU can build a big lead over a strong competitor.  Tokai is just as strong, leading AGU on its runners' PBs for the first five stages and YGU on four of the first five, meaning that the young team could bring a more complicated dynamic to the action if its three starting first-years can handle the pressure on the first three stages of the race.  In any case, AGU and Tokai have to find a way to deal with Nyairo to have a chance of winning.

Last year's 3rd, 4th and 6th-placers Komazawa University, Toyo University and Waseda University, the last three Izumo winners before AGU, aren't far behind but lack the complete arsenal to last the whole way if the three favorites are fully functional.  Waseda in particular should be near the front over the first two stages before dropping back, its leading runner Kazuma Taira the fastest on the stage by 5000 m best at 13:38.64 and second-fastest for 10000 m.  Komazawa and Toyo are both missing one of their best men due to injuries, but while they may make up some ground on the Third Stage, where Toyo will run 2015 national university 5000 m champ Hazuma Hattori and Komazawa its fastest 10000 m runner Naoki Kudo, overall they aren't likely to stay in the front-end action.

The Ivy League Select Team's Will Geoghegan is the fastest man in the entire field over 5000 m with a 13:17.85 best, but rather than putting him on one of the first two stages where he could keep the team in the action during the early going, head coach Jack Fultz has opted to put him on the 6.4 km Fifth Stage.  Typically the weakest stage in the race, Geoghegan's 5000 m best is over 35 seconds faster than the Fifth Stage's next-best man, Waseda's Makoto Mitsunobu.  The Ivy League may just pull off the second individual stage win in its 19-year history at Izumo.  Let's hope they're still far enough up in the field to make the TV broadcast if it happens.

First Stage - 8.0 km
Kazuma Taira (4th yr., Waseda Univ.) - 13:38.64 / 28:46.04
Shota Onizuka (1st yr., Tokai Univ.) - 13:43.61 / 28:55.26
Takumi Komatsu (4th yr., Nittai Univ.) - 13:49.50 / 29:13.96
Yusuke Nishiyama (4th yr., Komazawa Univ.) - 13:51.19 / 28:58.01
Takumi Yokokawa (1st yr., Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 13:52.45 / 29:52.78
Kenta Ueda (3rd yr., Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 13:56.04 / 28:48.92
Takato Suzuki (1st yr., Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 13:58.48 / 30:12.26
Geoffrey Gichia (2nd yr., Daiichi Kogyo Univ.) - 14:00.15 / 29:17.12
Shun Sakuraoka (4th yr., Toyo Univ.) - 14:01.58 / 28:22.97
Henry Sterling (Dartmouth / Ivy League) - 14:01.71 / 30:16

Second Stage - 5.8 km
Shogo Hata (4th yr., Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 13:40.79
Shiki Shinsako (1st yr., Waseda Univ.) - 13:47.97
Ryoji Tatezawa (1st yr., Tokai Univ.) - 13:48.89
Kazuki Tamura (3rd yr., Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 13:50.43
Masaki Takamoto (3rd yr., Komazawa Univ.) - 13:58.19
Yusho Miyazaki (2nd yr., Nittai Univ.) - 13:59.72
Kakeru Nakamura (1st yr., Toyo Univ.) - 14:02.85
John Gregorek (Columbia / Ivy League) - 14:12.48

Third Stage - 8.5 km
Hazuma Hattori (4th yr., Toyo Univ.) - 13:34.64 / 28:55.31
Hayato Seki (1st yr., Tokai Univ.) - 13:41.28 / 28:48.63
Naoki Kudo (3rd yr., Komazawa Univ.) - 13:52.97 / 28:23.85
Takaya Sato (4th yr., Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 13:53.15 / 28:26.70
Yuta Shimoda (3rd yr., Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 13:53.96 / 28:33.77
Kazuya Shiojiri (2nd yr., Juntendo Univ.) - 13:55.55 / 28:32.85
Chris Bendtsen (Princeton / Ivy League) - 13:57.46 / 28:49.08
Rintaro Takeda (4th yr., Waseda Univ.) - 13:58.83 / 29:04.20
Akira Tomiyasu (3rd yr., Nittai Univ.) - 14:09.94 / 28:49.53

Fourth Stage - 6.2 km
Kazuto Kawabata (3rd yr., Tokai Univ.) - 13:49.33
Ryutaro Ichitani (3rd yr., Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 13:51.46
Ryota Motegi (4th yr., Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 13:53.46
Yohei Suzuki (4th yr., Waseda Univ.) - 13:53.58
Fuminori Shimo (2nd yr., Komazawa Univ.) - 13:54.21
Sota Watanabe (1st yr., Toyo Univ.) - 14:08.63
Steve Mangan (Dartmouth / Ivy League) - 14:19.11

Fifth Stage - 6.4 km
Will Geoghegan (Dartmouth / Ivy League) - 13:17.85
Makoto Mitsunobu (3rd yr., Waseda Univ.) - 13:53.08
Shuto Mikami (2nd yr., Tokai Univ.) - 13:55.08
Yuya Ando (4th yr., Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 13:57.75
Yuji Asaishi (4th yr., Komazawa Univ.) - 13:58.19
Sho Nagato (2nd yr., Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 14:05.73
Shunya Nomura (3rd yr., Toyo Univ.) - 14:06.07

Sixth Stage - 10.2 km
Dominic Nyairo (2nd yr., Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 27:56.47 
Tadashi Isshiki (4th yr., Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 28:23.40
Shohei Otsuka (4th yr., Komazawa Univ.) - 28:34.31
Haruki Minatoya (2nd yr., Tokai Univ.) - 28:46.59
Koki Ido (4th yr., Waseda Univ.) - 28:54.84
Toyo Univ. (4th yr., Toyo Univ.) - 29:10.11
Jake Sienko (Columbia / Ivy League) - 29:38.94

© 2016 Brett Larner
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