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Ritsumeikan Wins Tango University Ekiden - Weekend Race Roundup

The Ageo City Half Marathon, which saw new men's and women's course records and a Swedish national record, was the biggest race of the weekend, but across the country and abroad were a half dozen other events with quality Japanese athletes.

Saturday morning in Kyoto was the Tango University Ekiden, the 80th edition of the Kansai Region's university men's ekiden championships. Last year's runner-up Ritsumeikan University finished up a strong season with a decision win, leading start to finish to cover the 8-stage, 84.1 km course in 4:16:00. 2017 winner Kwansei Gakuin University got off to a slow start, 44 seconds behind Ritsumeikan in 5th after the first stage and spending the rest of the race trying to catch up. After six stages it was only 26 seconds behind, but a 35:00 stage record for the 11.7 km anchor leg by Ristumeikan's Shinji Koiwa meant the end of Kwansei Gakuin's hopes. Kyoto Sangyo University was 3rd, briefly threatened mid-race by Hyogo Gakuin University but safely regaining its position.

Saturday evening saw corporate leaguers lining up for mid-season workouts at the Chugoku Corporate Time Trials meet in Hiroshima. Kohei Futaoka (Chundeko) took the top spot in the men's 10000 m in 28:38.17, beating Kenyan Cyrus Kingori (SGH Group) by 7 seconds. Yumika Katayama (Wacoal) won the women's 3000 m in 9:18.72, with her teammate Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) taking the 5000 m in 15:42.30. National record holder Kayoko Fukushi (Wacoal) was 6th in 15:50.63.

Sunday morning saw the Kobe Marathon make its debut as an IAAF bronze label race. Defending men's champ Khalil Lemciyeh (Morocco) took the lead after 10 km and never looked back, easily winning in 2:13:54. Runner-up Liam Adams (Australia) reeled in Hamza Sahili (Morocco) at 30 km before dropping him to take 2nd in 2:14:38, the fastest time of the year by an Australian man. Sora Tsukada (SGH Group) was the top Japanese man at 5th in 2:19:26.

The women's race in Kobe was a duel between Mongolian national record holder Munkhzaya Bayartsogt and Kenyan Susan Jerotich that went all the way to end before Jerotich pulled away for the win in a PB 2:31:38. Bayartsogt finished 10 seconds back in 2:31:48 just over 30 seconds off her NR. Nina Savina (Belarus) rounded out the top three in 2:33:36 with Miki Yokogawa (Hyogo Univ.) the top Japanese woman at 7th in 2:49:21.

Also Sunday morning, corporate men's qualification for the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden national championships wrapped up with the combined Chubu and Hokuriku Corporate Men's Ekidens. Toyota won the Chubu division for the fifth year in a row, running the 7-stage, 80.5 km course in 3:54:56 to lead seven qualifying teams. YKK won the Hokuriku division, with a total of two teams from that region advancing to the New Year Ekiden.

Overseas, several university women and men made their annual pilgrimage to the Netherlands' Zevenheuvelenloop 15 km. In a race that saw a new men's world record of 41:05 from Joshua Cheptegei (Uganda), Yuya Yoshida (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) took the top Japanese spot at 10th in 44:31. Ryuichi Hashimoto (Juntendo Univ.) was 13th in 44:58. Rika Kaseda (Meijo Univ.) was the top Japanese woman at 7th in 49:30 just over two minutes behind winner Stella Chesang (Uganda). Yukina Ueda (Tsukuba Univ.) also made the top 10 at 8th in 50:13, with Hikaru Sudo (Tohoku Fukushi Univ.) 11th in 51:24 and Ayaka Ogumi (Tamagawa Univ.) 13th in 52:37.

text and photos © 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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