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Hachioji Long Distance, Akidor Back at Nittai, and National Corporate Women's Ekiden - Weekend Preview and Streaming

This weekend's main event is Saturday's Hachioji Long Distance meet at western Tokyo's Gion Stadium. The main program features seven heats of men's 10000 m, finely graded as top corporate and collegiate runners tune up for January's New Year Ekiden and Hakone Ekiden. The whole meet will be streamed live above starting at 14:00 local time, with the fastest heat kicking off at 18:20. 29 top Japan-based Kenyans are on the list including Gideon Rono (GMO) and Jonathan Ndiku (Hitachi Butsuryu), both sub-27:15 this season.

10 Japanese men are also in the fast heat in hopes of getting as close to the 27:10.00 World Championships qualifying standard as they can, notably featuring national champion Komazawa University power duo Ren Tazawa and Mebuki Suzuki and Hakone Ekiden First Stage CR holder Yamato Yoshii (Chuo Univ.) Tazawa's all-time JPN #2 27:23.44 is still a long way from the standard, but with #4 Kazuki Tamura (Sumitomo Denko), 27:28.92, and #8 Tomoki Ota (Toyota), 27:33.13, on the list too maybe they'll give Akira Aizawa's 27:18.75 NR a serious go. Weather conditions are looking pretty favorable.

Also on the track, the 301st edition of the Nittai University Time Trials series in Yokohama inverts its usual setup, with 26 heats of men's 5000 m on Saturday and everything else, 10 heats of men's 10000 m, 5 heats of women's 5000 m and 4 heats of women's 3000 m, on Sunday. The women's 3000 m A-heat looks like the best race of the meet, with Margaret Akidor (Comodi Iida) back after running a 14:44.83 PB for 5000 m on the same Nittai track two weeks ago.

The other main race on Sunday is the National Corporate Women's Ekiden in Miyagi. TBS will broadcast it live starting at 11:50 a.m. local time. 24 teams race 42.195 km in 6 stages, with the top 8 earning places at 2023's edition. Defending champ Sekisui Kagaku and 2021 runner-up Shiseido are still the heavy hitters, Shiseido having picked up a major boost to its chances in the spring with the transfer of women-only marathon NR holder Mao Ichiyama from the Wacoal team.

3rd-placer Denso is down on strength after the transfer of its top track runner Mikuni Yada, leaving the door open for one of the top teams from October's Princess Ekiden qualifier, Panasonic, Kyudenko, Tenmaya or Daiichi Seimei, to break through into the front half of the podium.

© 2022 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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