The 27th National Junior High School Ekiden took place Dec. 15 in Saga's Kibogaoka Bunka Park. Aichi prefecture's Mutsumikita J.H.S. won the five-stage, 12.0 km girls' race in 41:43, while Tochigi prefecture's Ichigai J.H.S. took the six-stage, 18.0 km boys' race in 57:23. For both schools it was the first time to win the national title.
With a stage-winning run from their third runner the Mutsumikita girls moved up from 4th to 1st, holding steady over the last two stages to take the win. Nanao J.H.S. of Ishikawa prefecture was 25 seconds behind in 2nd, with Fukuoka's Asakawa J.H.S. 3rd.
The Ichigai boys ran a steady race to hold the top position throughout. Anchor Ginga Yokota started with the lead and just held off a tough challenge from Chiba's Abiko J.H.S., who came in just 9 seconds behind him for 2nd. Last year's national champion Katsura J.H.S. of Kyoto was 3rd.
translated by Brett Larner