Skip to main content

Sendai Ikuei Girls and Saku Chosei Boys Return to the Top at National High School Ekiden Championships

Returning to the top for the first time since 1994 and 2008, the Sendai Ikuei H.S. girls and Saku Chosei H.S. boys pulled off comeback wins to take the national titles at the 2017 National High School Ekiden Championships.


14 seconds back from the lead after the opening leg of the five-stage, 21.0975 km girls' race, Sendai Ikuei's Helen Ekarare blasted a 12:25 course record for the 4.0975 km Second Stage to put her team 34 seconds ahead of early leader Nagano Higashi H.S. Stuck in 3rd, 2016 national champion Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S. Osaka Kunei's third and fourth runners Ayaka Murao and Saya Nakajima tried to turn it around with back-to-back stage wins but could only come within 3 seconds of Nagano Higashi by the start of the anchor leg.

There first-year Sendai Ikuei anchor Rina Kimura dropped the best performance of the after Ekarare's stage record, covering the 5.0 km anchor stage in 15:34. Bringing Sendai Ikuei home in 1st for the first time since long before anyone on the team was born, Kimura crossed the finish line in 1:06:35, the 2nd-fastest winning time in Nationals history and just 9 seconds short of the record. Nagano Higashi held off last year's winner Osaka Kunei by 5 seconds to take 2nd in 1:07:41.


In the boys' race Saku Chosei H.S., whose 2008 team featuring future marathoners Suguru Osako (NOP) and Akinobu Murasawa (Nissin Shokuhin) still holds the record for the fastest winning time by an all-Japanese team, 2:02:18 for the seven-stage, 42.195 km course, got off to a strong start as leading man Yuhi Nakaya won the 10 km First Stage in 29:15. Saku Chosei's lead grew to 30 seconds on the Second Stage, but on the Third Stage Kenyan Charles Nijioka brought defending national champ Kurashiki H.S. back into the action, winning the 8.1075 km stage in 23:11 and putting Kurashiki 38 seconds ahead of Saku Chosei.

Saku Chosei's Keita Honma cut Kurashiki's lead down to 12 seconds as he won the Fourth Stage, but a Fifth Stage win by Kurashiki's Kazuki Ono reopened the lead slightly. First-year Mebuki Suzuki was Saku Chosei's hero of the day, winning the 5.0 km Sixth Stage in 14:20 to put Saku Chosei in front by 18 seconds at the final handoff. Anchor Arashi Yamamoto blew the race apart, extending Saku Chosei's lead to almost a minute and a half and bringing the team home to its second-ever national title in 2:02:44.

Last year's winner Kurashiki held on to 2nd in 2:04:11, with the Sendai Ikuei H.S. boys joining the national champion girls' team on the podium with a 3rd-place finish in 2:04:59. 2014-15 winner Sera H.S. was a non-factor, finishing only 20th in the field of 47 teams.

29th National High School Girls Ekiden

Kyoto, 12/24/17
47 teams, 5 stages, 21.0975 km
click here for complete results

Top Team Results
1. Sendai Ikuei H.S. (Miyagi) - 1:06:35
2. Nagano Higashi H.S. (Nagano) - 1:07:41
3. Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S. (Osaka) - 1:07:46
4. Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.(Kyoto) - 1:08:30
5. Chikushi Joshi Gakuen H.S. (Fukuoka) - 1:08:37
6. Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S. (Hyogo) - 1:08:46
7. Kojokan H.S. (Okayama) - 1:08:55
8. Kamimura Gakuen H.S. (Kagoshima) - 1:09:04
9. Sera H.S. (Hiroshima) - 1:09:26
10. Isahaya H.S. (Nagasaki) - 1:09:36

Stage Best Performances
1st Stage (6.0 km) - Yuna Wada (3rd yr., Nagano Higashi H.S.) - 19:09
2nd Stage (4.0975 km) - Helen Ekarare (3rd yr., Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 12:25 - CR
3rd Stage (3.0 km) - Ayaka Murao (2nd yr., Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S.) - 9:40
4th Stage (3.0 km) - Saya Nakajima (3rd yr., Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S.) - 9:22
5th Stage (5.0 km) - Rina Kimura (1st yr., Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 15:34

68th National High School Boys Ekiden

Kyoto, 12/24/17
47 teams, 7 stages, 42.195 km
click here for complete results

Top Team Results
1. Saku Chosei H.S. (Nagano) - 2:02:44
2. Kurashiki H.S. (Okayama) - 2:04:11
3. Sendai Ikuei H.S. (Miyagi) - 2:04:59
4. Oita Tomei H.S. (Oita) - 2:05:00
5. Ichinoseki Gakuin H.S. (Iwate) - 2:05:20
6. Hamamatsu Nittai H.S. (Shizuoka) - 2:05:22
7. Sapporo Yamanote H.S. (Hokkaido) - 2:05:25
8. Suma Gakuen H.S. (Hyogo) - 2:05:32
9. Kyushu Gakuin H.S. (Kumamoto) - 2:05:36
10. Suijo H.S. (Ibaraki) - 2:06:05

Stage Best Performances
1st Stage (10.0 km) - Yuhi Nakaya (3rd yr., Saku Chosei H.S.) - 29:15
2nd Stage (3.0 km) - Kaishin Hattori (1st yr., Saku Chosei H.S.) - 8:06
3rd Stage (8.1075 km) - Charles Nijioka (3rd yr., Kurashiki H.S.) - 23:11
4th Stage (8.0875 km) - Keita Honma (3rd yr., Saku Chosei H.S.) - 23:28
5th Stage (3.0 km) - Kazuki Ono (3rd yr., Kurashiki H.S.) - 8:41
6th Stage (5.0 km) - Mebuki Suzuki (1st yr., Saku Chosei H.S.) - 14:20
7th Stage (5.0 km) - Masaki Shimodate (3rd yr., Ichinoseki Gakuin H.S.) - 14:20

© 2017 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Fukushi Leads Wacoal to Top of Wild National Corporate Women's Ekiden Qualifier

In one of the wildest elite-level ekidens in memory, half marathon national record holder Kayoko Fukushi ran her best race in almost 3 years to anchor the Wacoal team to the win at the Princess Ekiden, the qualifying race for next month's National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships.

The field of 27 teams raced 6 stages totaling 42.195 km for one of 14 spots at Nationals alongside last year's top 8. Things were complicated by the disqualification of 2017 national champion Universal Entertainment, which found itself back at the Princess Ekiden to requalify. Sayaka Sato got things off to a good start for Sekisui Kagaku, winning the 7.0 km First Stage in 22:36 just off the CR. 4 seconds back was Shiori Yano, whose Canon AC Kyushu team missed Nationals by a minute last year. and another 5 seconds behind was Miku Daido of the debuting Iwatani Sangyo team.



Coached by marathon national record holder Mizuki Noguchi's former coach Hisakazu Hirose, Iwatani Sangyo's next …

The Kawauchi Counter

Yuki Kawauchi's 2018 race results: Jan. 1: Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, U.S.A.: 2:18:59 - 1st - CR
Jan. 14: Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:03:28 - 7th
Jan. 21: Yashio Isshu Ekiden, Saitama: 1:01:03 - 1st - ran entire 20.0 km ekiden solo and beat all 103 teams of 6 runners each
Jan. 28: Okumusashi Ekiden First Stage (9.9 km), Saitama - 29:41 - 6th
Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
Feb. 11: Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon, Shimane - cancelled due to heavy snow
Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama - 1:04:26 - 1st
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:04:49 - 12th
Mar. 11: Yoshinogawa Riverside Half Marathon, Tokushima - 1:05:50 - 1st - CR
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan - 2:14:12 - 1st
Mar. 24: Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials, Saitama
              5000 m Heat 4: 14:53.95 - 1st
              5000 m Heat 6: 14:36.58 - 2nd
           …

Weekend Road Race Roundup

Saturday's Hakone Ekiden Qualifier half marathon was the main event of the weekend, but between that and early ekiden season track time trials across the country there were a few other notable results at home and abroad.

In Sendai, the second running of the Tohoku Miyagi Fukko Marathon took place, an event launched last year to commemorate those lost in the 2011 tsunami and to show the area's recovery. In its first running organizers brought in then-future 2:06 man Hiroto Inoue to lead the field. This year it was 2017 Gold Coast Marathon winnerTakuya Noguchi (Konica Minolta), who took more than 5 minutes off the course record with a workout-effort 2:18:37 for the win. Aki Odagiri (Takemura Seisakusho) won the women's race in 2:46:07.

In Toyama, 2018 Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran the Namerikawa Hotaruika Half Marathon a week after a disappointing run at the Chicago Marathon. Running completely solo he won in 1:05:18, beating 2nd place b…