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Panasonic and Kamimura Gakuen H.S. Win Kitakyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden

The last major women's ekiden of the season happened north of Fukuoka Sunday at the 34th Kitakyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden. Top high school, university and corporate league teams run head-to-head at Kitakyushu, with the longest stage split into two for the high school division.

7th at November's National Corporate Women's Ekiden, Panasonic was first across the finish line after running down 2019 and 2020 high school division winner Kamimura Gakuen H.S. mid-race. After a good start from Panasonic's Nanami Watanabe, Kamimura Gakuen's Brenda Jepchirchir ran down Panasonic's Sakiko Naito on the 3.8 km 2nd stage. But Kaori Morita was quick to turn it back around for the Panasonic on the stage, turning a 2-second deficit into a 33-second lead in just 3.9 km. Morita handed off to her twin sister Shiori Morita, and from there the corporate leaguers ran unchallenged, winning for first time in 1:28:14.

Kamimura Gakuen, 3rd at December's National High School Ekiden, held on to 2nd place over the Kyudenko corporate team over the 3rd and 4th legs, but even with the advantage of having 5.9 km and 4.5 km segments versus the corporate leaguers' 10.4 km anchor stage they couldn't stay there. Kyudenko anchor Yuri Karasawa was just too strong for Kamimura Gakuen's Yuzuki Ueno and Hina Ogura, overtaking them by 8 seconds to cross the finish line 2nd in 1:28:48. Kamimura Gakuen was next in 1:28:56 to win the high school division for the third time in four editions.

34th Kitakyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden

Kitakyushu, Fukuoka, 22 Jan. 2023

Top Individual Stage Results
First Stage (5.3 km) - Mariya Noda (Kitakyushu Shiritsu H.S.) - 16:49 - CR
Second Stage (3.8 km) - Eva Cherono (Toto) - 11:34
Third Stage (3.9 km) - Kaori Morita (Panasonic) - 12:42
Fourth Stage (3.8 km) - Yuka Sarumida (Univ. Ent.) - 11:53
Fifth Stage (open - 10.4 km) - Yuri Karasawa (Kyudenko) - 34:30
Fifth Stage (H.S. - 5.9 km) - Kana Mizumoto (Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S.) - 19:00
Sixth Stage (H.S. - 4.5 km) - Hina Ogura (Kamimura Gakuen H.S.) - 14:59

Top Team Results
Open - 9 teams, 5 stages, 27.2 km
1. Panasonic - 1:28:14
2. Kyudenko - 1:28:48
3. Universal Entertainment - 1:29:11
4. Higo Ginko - 1:31:04
5. Iwatani Sangyo - 1:31:13

High School - 17 teams, 6 stages, 27.2 km
1. Kamimura Gakuen H.S. - 1:28:56
2. Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S. - 1:29:56
3. Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. - 1:30:32
4. Isahaya H.S. - 1:30:44
5. Kitakyushu Shiritsu H.S. - 1:32:27

© 2023 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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