Skip to main content

Universal Entertainment Scores First National Corporate Women's Ekiden Title Since 2012

2012 national champions Universal Entertainment returned to the top Sunday in Sendai, running down breakaway leader Panasonic late in the race to win the 2017 National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships.

Panasonic was an unexpected highlight, winning the first three stages and building a 42-second lead by the start of the 3.6 km Fourth Stage, the race's shortest leg. There Panasonic's Chiaki Tobe struggled, losing ground to Universal Entertainment, defending national champ Japan Post, and Shiseido, who drew within 10 seconds.

On the 10.0 km Fifth Stage Universal's Moeno Nakamura, a member of its 2012 national champion squad, took her time closing on Panasonic's Shiori Morita, not fully closing the gap until exactly halfway through the stage and then pushing ahead to open a 12-second lead of her own. Behind her, marathon university national record holder Sairi Maeda of the Daihatsu team delivered what was no doubt the run of the day, making a superb comeback from injuries that kept her out of action for almost two years to win the stage and move Daihatsu up from 6th to 4th.



With a 12-second lead and 6.795 km to cover Universal anchor Yuka Sarumida, just 18 and making her corporate league ekiden debut, didn't have a safe enough margin to be guaranteed the overall win. Needing a solid run she delivered with a stage win, bringing her team home in 1st in 2:16:45. Panasonic anchor Sakiko Naito was only 10 seconds off Sarumida's stage-winning time, tying Panasonic's best-ever finish at 2nd in 2:17:07. Had its best runner, 2015 Rotterdam Marathon winner Asami Kato, been in action they might have pulled off an upset win.


Only 16th last year without Maeda, Daihatsu prevailed in a three-way battle with Japan Post and Daiichi Seimei for 3rd in 2:17:52, all three teams finishing within 5 seconds of each other. Tenmaya, Yamada Denki and Shiseido rounded out the eight-deep podium, with past national champion Toyota Jidoshokki an unlucky 9th, just 16 seconds behind Shiseido and earning a trip back to October's qualifying race for its troubles.

Now in its second year with a November date rather than its traditional mid-December timing, corporate women's ekiden season doesn't quite draw to a close yet. In mid-January some teams will regroup at the Kitakyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden to square off against top high school and university teams, while many of the best women will represent their home prefectures in the real season-ender, Kyoto's National Women's Ekiden.

2017 Queen's Ekiden

37th National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships
Sendai, Miyagi, 11/26/17
22 teams, 6 stages, 42.195 km
click here for complete results

Top Team Results - top eight qualify for 2018
1. Universal Entertainment - 2:16:45
2. Panasonic - 2:17:07
3. Daihatsu - 2:17:52
4. Japan Post - 2:17:54
5. Daiichi Seimei - 2:17:57
6. Tenmaya - 2:18:54
7. Yamada Denki - 2:19:13
8. Shiseido - 2:19:44
-----
9. Toyota Jidoshokki - 2:20:00
10. Kyudenko - 2:20:32

Top Individual Stage Performances
First Stage - 7.0 km: Kaori Morita (Panasonic) - 22:03
Second Stage - 3.9 km: Nanami Watanabe (Panasonic) - 12:14
Third Stage - 10.9 km: Yuka Hori (Panasonic) - 35:22
Fourth Stage - 3.6 km: Shuru Bulo (Toto) - 11:31
Fifth Stage - 10.0 km: Sairi Maeda (Daihatsu) - 32:50
Sixth Stage - 6.795 km: Yuka Sarumida (Universal Entertainment) - 21:17

© 2017 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Comments

TokyoRacer said…
It was a fun race to watch, with the top 8 frequently changing positions. So great to live in Japan where ekidens like this are broadcast live in their entirety (although there were a lot of commercials).
By the way, for overseas fans of Kayoko Fukushi, she ran the long 10.9km 3rd leg, but didn't do so well, passing no other teams and being passed by one. She got married last March....

Most-Read This Week

Nittai University Head Coach Masaaki Watanabe Fired Over Abuse Scandal

On Sept. 12 Nittai University announced that it will fire ekiden team head coach Masaaki Watanabe, 55, over the current power harassment scandal surrounding him. According to the university's public relations office, interviews by the alumni association with five current and one former team member reported multiple acts of violence by Watanabe including kicking athletes' legs and grabbing them by the chest.

The interviews also reported that Watanabe verbally abused and threatened student athletes and attacked their character. When runners fell off pace during workouts he was reported to have shouted, "Get the hell out of this university!" and, following the runners in a car, "I am going to f*cking run you over and kill you." Injured team members were also reported to have been subject to verbal humiliation by Watanabe, including, "Look at this f*cking cripple," and "You f*cking deserve it." Watanabe admitted the accusations but said tha…

Weekend Overseas Japanese Results

Lost in the luminosity of Eliud Kipchoge's world record and Gladys Cherono's women's course record at the Berlin Marathon were a score of Japanese results there and elsewhere overseas, ranging from the sparkling to the dull. Cherono and 2nd and 3rd placers Ruti Aga and Tirunesh Dibaba all broke Mizuki Noguchi's Berlin Marathon course record of 2:19:12 which has stood since she set that national record mark in 2005.

A kilometer behind Dibaba, Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) followed up her 2:22:44 debut in Osaka in January with a 2:22:23 PB for 5th, making her just the fourth Japanese woman ever to break 2:23 twice in her career. 2:23:46 woman Honami Maeda (Tenmaya) ran 2:25:23 for 7th, beating Tenmaya teammate Rei Ohara whose 2:27:28 put her only 10th but qualified her for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics marathon trials, only the second athlete after 2018 Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) to qualify for the trials under the two-race average wildcard opt…

Kazami Breaks 100 km World Record at Lake Saroma

Running on the same course where Japan's Takahiro Sunada set the road 100 km world record of 6:13:33 twenty years ago, 2:17:23 marathoner Nao Kazamibested a deep and competitive field to win the Lake Saroma 100 km Ultramarathon in a world record 6:09:14.

Part of a front group of at least five that went through the marathon split in 2:33:36, on pace for 6:04:01, Kazami lost touch with the lead as rivals Koji Hayasaka and Takehiko Gyoba surged just before halfway to open a roughly 30 second lead that lasted until nearly 75 km. But in the last quarter of the race Kazami, a graduate of Hakone Ekiden powerhouse Komazawa University, was the only one who could sustain anything close to the early pace, overtaking Hayasaka and Gyoba before pulling away to open a lead of over 11 minutes. Kazami's mark took more than 4 minutes off the world record, and he also bettered the 100 km track world record of 6:10:20 set in 1978 well before he was born by the late Don Ritchie.
Trying to stay wi…