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Nikko to Host New University Women's Ekiden on Tough Uphill Course

http://mainichi.jp/sports/news/20140529k0000m050113000c.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The Nikko municipal government in Tochigi prefecture announced May 28 that women will soon be handing off the tasuki on Nikko's mountain roads at the first running of the Nikko Irohazaka Women's Ekiden on Nov. 30.  The uphill course will feature six stages totalling 23.4 km, zigzagging its way up 700 m of climb.  A city spokesperson commented, "We want to develop this into a race that will make people say, 'The men have Hakone, and the women have Nikko.'"

The new race is being organized by the "'Nikko: The Runner's Paradise' Executive Committee," a joint project of the local tourism board, sports bureau and others.  To help the event grow into a major post-autumn foliage season draw, it will also feature a mass-participation race on Nikko's famous "Nikko Utsunomiya Doro" toll road a day earlier on Nov. 29.

Organizers are aiming for twenty university women's teams in the future, but in a survey sent to member schools of the Inter-University Athletics Union of Japan only nine programs committed to taking part.  By expanding the criteria to allow alumni teams and mixed undergrad/alumni teams they hope to reach their target of twenty for this year's inaugural race.

The course will start at a park in the city, running up the normally one-way downhill Daiichi Irohazaka road to a finish near Chugushi at Futarasan Shrine on the shore of Lake Chuzenji.  With 700 m of climb it will be one of the toughest ekiden courses in the country.  The Hakone Ekiden may have its "God of the Mountain," but a new "Goddess of the Mountain" will be born this autumn on the roads of Nikko.

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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
Upcoming race schedule: Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan
Mar. 25: Kuki Half Marathon, Saitama
Apr. 16: Boston Marathon, U.S.A.
May 5: Toyohirakawa Half Marathon, Hokkaido
June 2: ASICS Stockholm Marathon, Sweden
June 17: Okinoshima 50 km Ultramarathon, Shimane
July 1: Gold Coast Airport Marathon, Australia
Aug. 2…