The traditional first big race of the high school ekiden season was back Sunday, with the Kurayoshi Joshi Ekiden and Nihonkai Ekiden returning from corona cancelations the last two years. One race with different event names for girls and boys, 70 girls' teams ran the half marathon distance divided into 5 stages, and 96 boys' teams the marathon distance divided into 7 stages.
Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. won the girls' race for the first time since 2011. 4th after the 6.0 km First Stage, Ritsumeikan Uji's Ai Segawa opened a 30-second lead on the 3.0 km Third Stage that fourth runner Chiseno Ikeda and anchor Yumi Yamamoto extended to 1:21 by the end of the race. Ritsumeikan Uji won in 1:08:57, early leader Hakuoh Joshi H.S. hanging on to 2nd in 1:10:18 and Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S. taking 3rd in 1:10:42.
Kyushu Gakuin H.S. took the lead from the start in the boys' race, Shu Nagamoto winning the highly competitive 10.0 km First Stage in 29:04 with the top 21 all clearing 30 minutes. Hotoku Gakuen H.S. took the lead on the 8.1075 km Third Stage thanks to a brilliant run from Kazuma Maeda, who ran 22:57 to move his team up from 22nd to 1st. But by the Fifth Stage Kyushu Gakuin was back out front by 1 second over Kurashiki H.S., a lead it managed to stretch to 14 seconds over the final two stages. Kyushu Gakuin won in 2:05:11, Hotoku Gakuen 2nd in 2:05:25 and Kurashiki 3rd in 2:05:43. 2019 winner Saku Chosei H.S. was never higher than 3rd and ultimately took 5th in 2:06:30, 9 seconds behind Iga Hakuho H.S.
© 2022 Brett Larner, all rights reserved