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Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems and Nissin Shokuhin Group Win New Year Ekiden Regional Qualifiers

by Brett Larner


Corporate men's ekiden season got started Thursday with two regional qualifiers for the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden coporate men's national championships.  In the Kyushu Region, Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems went back and forth with favorite Asahi Kasei throughout the race to score its first-ever regional win.  Shuho Dairokuno (Asahi Kasei) got things started right with a 1:22 lead over Ryo Kiname (MHPS) on the 12.9 km First Stage.  Mitsubishi's new Kenyan Enock Omwamba caught Asahi Kasei's Takaya Arake on the Second Stage, both teams handing off to their third runners at the same time.  Hiroto Inoue (MHPS) opened a 42-second lead over Kenta Murayama (Asahi Kasei), but on the next stage Murayama's twin brother Kota Murayama, the 10000 m national record holder, cut Mitsubishi's lead down to 11 seconds.  Takashi Ichida turned it into a 59-second Asahi Kasei lead on the Fifth Stage, but Mitsubishi's sixth man Hayato Mera came back to within 1 second at the handoff to the anchor stage.  Over the 14.7 km Seventh Stage Mitsubishi's Toshiki Sadakata blew past Asahi Kasei's Yuki Arimura to give Mitsubishi a 27-second margin of victory.  With only seven real corporate teams in the region, the top seven teams in the field made the cut for the New Year Ekiden.


In the Tokyo-area East Japan Region, favorite Nissin Shokuhin Group led almost start to finish, leading man Masaki Toda opening a four-second margin on the 11.6 km First Stage.  Nissin's second man Akinobu Murasawa fell to 6th on the 15.3 km Second Stage but was only 5 seconds out of 1st.  Nissin's next man Leonard Barsoton had no trouble turning that into a 45 second lead, and from there to the finish Nissin Shokuin remained unchallenged.  Nissin's final margin of victory was 45 seconds over surprise runner-up Kanebo, now coached by marathon national record holder Toshinari Takaoka.  The Toshihiko Seko-led DeNA team took 3rd, meaning two relatively minor teams outrunning recent New Year Ekiden champions like Konica Minolta, Fujitsu and the strong Honda team.


Fourteen teams qualified for the New Year Ekiden, and the day's biggest drama came in the race for the final qualifying position.  Starting the 13.5 km anchor stage four seconds ahead of ND Software, the Sunbelx supermarket team held on to 14th all the way until the last lap of the track.  In his last kick ND Software anchor Akihito Kobari kicked past Sunbelx's Ryosuke Arakawa to snatch away 14th and the last ticket to the national championships.  For many of the smaller teams making it to the New Year Ekiden can be life or death, their sponsor funding depending on their success.  For ND Software it was a triumph.  For Sunbelx, potentially serious.

53rd Kyushu Corporate Men's Ekiden
Kitakyushu, Fukuoka, 11/3/16
14 teams, 7 stages, 82.6 km
click here for complete results

Top Team Results - top seven teams qualify for New Year Ekiden
1. Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems - 4:02:57
2. Asahi Kasei - 4:03:24
3. Toyota Kyushu - 4:05:16
4. Yasukawa Denki - 4:05:39
5. Kyudenko - 4:07:57
6. Kurosaki Harima - 4:10:32
7. Nishitetsu - 4:11:53
-----
8. Oita Select Team A - 4:21:35
9. Asahi Kasei Nobeoka - 4:23:07
10. Kyocera Kagoshima - 4:24:17

Stage Best Performances
First Stage (12.9 km) - Shuho Dairokuno (Asahi Kasei) - 36:55
Second Stage (7.4 km) - Mamiyo Nigussie (Yasukawa Denki) - 20:49
Third Stage (13.0 km) - Hiroto Inoue (MHPS) - 37:04
Fourth Stage (8.2 km) - Kota Murayama (Asahi Kasei) - 24:08
Fifth Stage (13.4 km) - Takashi Ichida (Asahi Kasei) - 39:43
Sixth Stage (13.0 km) - Hayato Mera (MHPS) - 37:40
Seventh Stage (14.7 km) - Toshiki Sadakata (MHPS) - 43:34

57th East Japan Corporate Men's Ekiden
Kumagaya, Saitama, 11/3/16
26 teams, 7 stages, 77.5 km
click here for complete results

Top Team Results - top fourteen teams qualify for New Year Ekiden
1. Nissin Shokuhin Group - 3:47:45
2. Kanebo - 3:48:34
3. DeNA - 3:49:07
4. Yakult - 3:49:24
5. Honda - 3:49:32
6. Hitachi Butsuryu - 3:49:38
7. Konica Minolta - 3:49:42
8. Fujitsu - 3:50:07
9. Yachiyo Kogyo - 3:52:14
10. Subaru - 3:52:58
11. Press Kogyo - 3:53:13
12. JR Higashi Nihon - 3:53:52
13. Komori Corp. - 3:54:49
14. ND Software - 3:55:54
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15. Sunbelx - 3:55:56
16. Police Headquarters - 3:56:11
17. Comody Iida - 4:02:35

Stage Best Performances
First Stage (11.6 km) - Masaki Toda (Nissin Shokuhin Group) - 33:27
Second Stage (15.3 km) - Shun Inoura (Yachiyo Kogyo) - 45:03
Third Stage (9.2 km) - Leonard Barsoton (Nissin Shokuhin) - 25:47
Fourth Stage (9.5 km) - Keigo Yano (Nissin Shokuhin) - 27:58 - CR
Fifth Stage (7.8 km) - Hiroki Matsueda (Fujitsu) / Abiyot Abinet (Yachiyo Kogyo) - 23:14 - CR
Sixth Stage (10.6 km) - Shuhei Shirota (Kanebo) - 30:20
Seventh Stage (13.5 km) - Tomohiro Tanigawa (Konica Minolta) - 40:05

© 2016 Brett Larner
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