Bringing together everyone from the top junior high school runners to the pros, the National Women's Ekiden took place in Kyoto on Jan. 12. Hosts Kyoto outran Miyagi and Tokyo to win the national title for the 17th time, extending its lead as the winningest team in the National Women's Ekiden 38-year history.
The race started and finished at Kyoto's Takebishi Stadium, covering the full marathon distance in nine stages. Teams from all 47 prefectures competed for the national title. On the First Stage, Nagasaki's Ririka Hironaka, who last month cleared the Tokyo Olympics 5000 m qualifying standard, opened a lead of over 30 seconds on 2nd place and broke the stage record dating back to 2003.
Nagasaki held the lead over the next two stages, but near the end of the Fourth Stage they were run down by Nagano. On the Fifth Stage high school 3rd-year Rina Kimura tied the stage record to take Miyagi from 3rd past Nagano into 1st. But from the Fifth through Seventh stages a trio of runners from Kyoto's Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. ran stage-winning times, including stage record ties by Fifth Stage runner Azusa Mihara and Seventh Stage runner Yu Muramatsu, to move up through the field, putting junior high schooler Ai Segawa into position to take over the lead.
Kyoto anchor Mao Ichiyama from the Wacoal corporate team ran conservatively to protect the team's leading position, bringing them home for a record-setting 17th national title in 2:16:15. Miyagi was 10 seconds back in 2nd, with Tokyo another 11 seconds behind in 3rd.
38th National Women's EkidenKyoto, 1/12/20
47 teams, 9 stages, 42.195 km
Top Individual Stage Results
First Stage (6.0 km) - Ririka Hironaka (Nagasaki) - 18:39 - CR
Second Stage (4.0 km ) - Yuri Tasaki (Miyazaki) - 12:32
Third Stage (3.0 km) - Akari Matsumoto (Oita) - 9:19
Fourth Stage (4.0 km) - Haruka Kokai (Miyagi) - 12:54
Fifth Stage (4.1075 km) -Azusa Mihara (Kyoto) - 12:55 - CR tie
Sixth Stage (4.0875 km) - Tomo Muramatsu (Kyoto) - 12:57
Seventh Stage (4.0 km) - Yu Muramatsu (Kyoto) - 12:21 - CR tie
Eighth Stage (3.0 km) - Yumi Yamamoto (Oita) - 10:00
Ninth Stage (10.0 km) - Hitomi Niiya (Tokyo) - 30:57
Top Team Results
1. Kyoto - 2:16:15
2. Miyagi - 2:16:25
3. Tokyo - 2:16:36
4. Nagano - 2:16:37
5. Kagoshima - 2:17:04
6. Hyogo - 2:17:42
7. Gunma - 2:17:56
8. Osaka - 2:17:55
9. Okayama - 2:18:06
10. Nagasaki - 2:18:08
translated by Brett Larner