Skip to main content

Tenmaya and Kamimura Gakuen Win KItakyushu Women's Ekiden

The 30th Kitakyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden took place Jan. 20 with a 32.7 km course divided into 5 stages for the open division and 6 for the high school division and a start and finish in front of Kitakyushu City Hall. Tenmaya took the top spot in the open division for the first time in 6 years in 1:46:32, while 2018 National High School Ekiden champion Kamimura Gakuen H.S. won the high school division in 1:47:41, its first win in 16 years.

Since the start of the year Tenmaya's star runner Rei Ohara has been suffering back pain and came to Kitakyushu undertrained as a result. That didn't stop her from running the fastest time on the anchor stage, covering the 11.4 km leg in 36:33. "Once I got started it was a lot easier to move than I'd expected," she said post-race. "Our first four runners ran really well, and thanks to them I was able to be the one to break the tape at the finish line."

A relieved Tenmaya head coach Yutaka Taketomi commented, "She held her pace all the way to the end." But with Ohara scheduled to run the Jan. 27 Osaka International Women's Marathon he expressed concern, saying, "I'm still thinking about how to deal with the two weeks of training she missed."

In the high school division the big story was Kamimura Gakuen first-year Cynthia Baire. In the blink of an eye, just before 1 km into the Second Stage the Kenyan exchange student's long legs and dynamic stride carried her past Suma Gakuen H.S. into the top position. "It was hard at the end, but I was confident," she said afterward. Baire covered the 5.9 km stage in a course record 18:07, almost a minute faster than the fastest woman in the open division and opening a huge lead.

Kamimura Gakuen first-year Hana Torii was also making her ekiden debut, picking up from Baire on the Third Stage. "I wasn't going to give up 1st place," she said. Torii handed off safely to team captain Ayumi Hirata, whose stage-winning run extended Kamimura Gakuen's lead to almost three minutes and set up the team's last two runners for the win.

The national title that Kamimura Gakuen won in December was the first in school history and one it had long hoped for.  But the team's members weren't content with just that. Baire trained with the junior high school and high school boys from Kagoshima's National Men's Ekiden team, while the Japanese athletes focused on training hard with the members who weren't picked for the Nationals roster in December. "I definitely wanted to be part of the team this time to make up for the disappointment of not getting to run at the National race," Torii said.

After a time trial on Jan. 16 four runners who weren't part of December's lineup including Torii were picked for the Kitakyushu team, giving a boost to the Kamimura Gakuen program as a whole. Ending the season undefeated, the younger teammates gained both confidence and experience. "We saw some good material here," said head coach Tetsuzo Arikawa. "We can make a new start." The nation's top ekiden programs will be taking notice.

30th Kitakyushu Womens Invitational Ekiden

Kitakyushu, Fukuoka, 1/20/19
20 teams, 6 stages, 32.7 km
complete results

Top Team Results - Open Division
1. Tenmaya - 1:46:32
2. Universal Entertainment - 1:48:11
3. Panasonic - 1:48:43
4. Osaka Gakuin University - 1:51:57
5. Kagoshima Ginko - 1:53:17

Top Team Results - High School Division
1. Kamimura Gakuen H.S. - 1:47:41
2. Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S. - 1:50:05
3. Sera H.S. - 1:51:07
4. Kitakyushu Municipal H.S. - 1:51:54
5. Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. - 1:52:01

Top Individual Stage Results
First Stage (4.3 km) - Hikari Onishi (Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 13:48
Second Stage (5.9 km) - Cynthia Baire (Kamimura Gakuen H.S.) - 18:07 - CR
Third Stage (5.1 km) - Akari Muramatsu (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 17:01
Fourth Stage (6.0 km) - Mai Shinozuka (Universal Entertainment) - 19:14
Fifth Stage (H.S. - 4. 8 km) -  Chihiro Sato (Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S.) - 16:30
Sixth Stage (H.S. - 6.6 km) - Haruka Takada (Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S.) - 21:47
Sixth Stage (open - 11.4 km) - Rei Ohara (Tenmaya) - 36:33

source articles:
translated and edited by Brett Larner

Buy Me A Coffee


Most-Read This Week

Nikkan Sports Reports Olympic Ticket Lottery Success Rate of 2.95% Within Company

The Nikkan Sports newspaper company conducted a survey of its employees' success rate at scoring tickets to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the ticket lottery drawing following the announcement of the lottery's results on June 20. Including the opening and closing ceremonies, track and field, gymnastics, tennis, badminton, baseball, softball and medal sessions in other major sports, out of the 1288 sessions for which Nikkan employees applied they won tickets to a total of 38 sessions. The success rate among survey respondents was just 2.95%, an indication of how hard it was to get tickets to Japan's home soil Olympics.

Translator's note: Of the 28 sessions I applied for I won tickets to three, two in athletics and one in archery. Including only medal sessions, I got tickets to two of the 22 to which I applied, both in athletics. Interestingly, one of the ones I didn't get was stadium seating for the men's marathon finish, showing what a hot ticket that is going be.


17-Year-Old Ryuji Miura Breaks 3000 m Steeplechase High School Record in World-Leading Time

At the Kinki Region High School Track and Field Championships Saturday in Osaka’s Nagai Stadium, 17-year-old Ryuji Miura of Rakunan H.S. took down one of the oldest records in Japanese athletics, breaking the 30-year-old 3000 m steeplechase high school record by 5 seconds to win in 8:39.49.

Running in heavy rain after clocking the fastest time in the qualifying rounds, Miura went straight to the front in the final and was on his own within 200 m. From the start the record was in reach as he went through 1000 m in 2:49 and 2000 m in 5:43, building up a lead of about 200 m over the rest of the field.

Miura’s final time of 8:39.49 was the fastest in the world this year by an U18 athlete and 6th-best among U20 men, a new Japanese U18 record and all-time #2 for the U20 category. He came short of the outright Japanese high school record of 8:19.21 held by future marathon great Daniel Njenga, but took 5 seconds off the Japanese citizen high school record of 8:44.77 set back in 1989 by futu…

National Track and Field Championships Preview - Jumps

Japan's National Track and Field Championships kick off this Thursday in Fukuoka. It's the start of an important cycle for Japan, with national representation at this fall's Doha World Championships on the line in the lead-up to next year's Tokyo Olympics. Anyone who has cleared the Doha standard in their event will make the team if they win at Nationals, with other qualifiers and hgh-ranked athletes having to wait until mid-September to learn their fates. Over the next four days JRN will break down the favorites in each event.

In the jumps, not a single athlete in any event on the women's side looks to have a realistic chance of making it to Doha without a big PB in the next couple of months. All four of last year's women's national champions, Haruka Nakano (Nippatsu) in the high jump, Juri Nanbu (Chukyo Univ.) in the pole vault, Ayaka Kora (Tsukuba Univ.) in the long jump and Eri Sakamoto (Nihon Shitsunai TC) in the triple jump, return. Of them only Kora…