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National University Women's Ekiden - Preview pt. I

by Brett Larner

The 26th All-Japan University Women's Ekiden championship race, also known as the Morinomiyako Ekiden, takes place on Oct. 26 in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. Ritsumeikan University is poised to extend its winning streak to a third consecutive year, a feat so far accomplished only once in the event's history by Kyoto Sangyo University in the 1990's. Ritsumeikan will face strong challenges from last year's runner-up Bukkyo University as well as from 2005 winners Meijo University.

The Morinomiyako Ekiden began in 1983 as an international university women's ekiden competition held in Osaka on the last Monday of November, a national holiday in Japan. The ekiden consisted of six stages covering a total of 39 km. U.C.S.D. (U.S.A.) won the inaugural event, with other schools from Germany, England, Australia, The U.S.S.R., Korea, Brazil, China, and Italy taking part each year. In 1999 the race's format changed and it became the national championship ekiden for university women's teams.

In 2005 another major change took place, as the Morinomiyako Ekiden moved from its Osaka base to the northern city of Sendai. The new course was similar to that in Osaka, consisting of six stages covering 38.6 km. Meijo won the first running on the new course. The next year the event moved forward a month to the final Sunday in October, with Ritsumeikan taking the first of its consecutive victories.

Tomorrow JRN will present a preview of Ritsumeikan and four of its challengers for the 2008 national title. The Morinomiyako Ekiden takes place Sunday, Oct. 26 at 12:10 p.m. and will be broadcast nationally on Nihon Television.

(c) 2008 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

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