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Daito Bunka University Defends Nikko Irohazaka Women's Ekiden Title

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The 3rd edition of the Nikko Irohazaka Women's Ekiden took place Nov. 27 in Nikko, Tochigi.  Fifteen teams from fourteen universities six stage, 23.4 km course with 875 m net elevation gain, with Daito Bunka University winning for the second year in a row in 1:32:41.  Hakuoh University was the top Tochigi team at 7th. Daito Bunka started slow, in 8th at the end of the First Stage but its second runner Kasumi Yamaguchi setting a new stage record. Daito Bunka moved up gradually through the field from there, finally going from 2nd to 1st on the anchor stage.  Osaka Geijutsu University was 2nd, with the Tokyo Nogyo University A-team taking 3rd.

The Nikko Irohazaka Women's Ekiden is organized by local businesses and the Nikko city government, who together aim to earn a name for Nikko as "The runner's holy land."  The ekiden was established in 2014 with the hope of creating a "women's Hakone Ekiden."  Its course begins at 410 m elevation at Nikko Daiyagawa Park, passing the World Heritage Site shrines of Nikko before climbing up the Irohazaka ascent to Nikko Futarasan Shrine at 1285 m elevation.  According to organizers, with an almost entirely uphill route it is one of Japan's best mountain race courses.

Translator's note: The Nikko Irohazaka course almost perfectly matches the length and elevation gain of the Hakone Ekiden's legendary Fifth Stage. However, while one university man on a ten-man team runs Hakone's Fifth, Nikko Irohazaka divides it into six short sections with no woman running longer than 5.2 km.

3rd Nikko Irohazaka Women's Ekiden
Nikko, Tochigi, 11/27/16
15 teams, 6 stages, 23.4 km
click here for complete results

Top Team Results
1. Daito Bunka Univ. - 1:32:41
2. Osaka Geijutsu Univ - 1:33:06
3. Tokyo Nogyo Univ. A - 1:33:36
4. Kansai Gaikokugo Univ. - 1:33:47
5. Chuo Univ. - 1:34:47
6. Tokyo Nogyo Univ. B - 1:37:32
7. Hakuoh Univ. - 1:37:43
8. Toyo Univ. - 1:38:33
9. Seitoku Univ. - 1:38:35
10. Nihon Joshi Taiiku Univ. - 1:39:08

Stage Best Performances

First Stage (4.7 km, ~100 m ascent)  
1. Rino Goshima (Chuo Univ.) - 16:55

Second Stage (5.2 km, ~200 m ascent) 
1. Kasumi Yamaguchi (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 18:11 -  CR

Third Stage (3.5 km, ~100 m ascent) 
1. Ayano Morita (Osaka Geijutsu Univ.) - 14:53

Fourth Stage (3.0 km, ~100 m ascent) 
1. Noe Ito (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 13:30

Fifth Stage (3.5 km, ~400 m ascent) 
1. Nana Ogawa (Tokyo Nogyo Univ. A) - 14:40

Sixth Stage (3.5 km, ~25 m descent) 
1. Saki Minakawa (Tokyo Nogyo Univ. B) - 12:10

© 2016 Brett Larner
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