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Aichi Men Make it a National Title Double - National Men's Ekiden Results

by Brett Larner
video highlights courtesy of race broadcaster NHK

The men of Aichi returned from the embarrassment of disqualification for an illegal handoff at last year's National Men's Ekiden to join their women and seal a double national title Sunday in Hiroshima.  Like the women's race last weekend, the National Men's Ekiden featured teams from each of Japan's 47 prefectures, each made up of top junior high school, high school, university and pro runners representing their home ground.

On-and-off snow meant shifting conditions throughout the seven-stage, 48.0 km race.  With corresponding ups and downs in the pacing, the 7.0 km high schooler First Stage was a bloodbath with three separate falls involving at least four teams.  Undefeated against other Japanese runners in the 2015-16 school year, Hyuga Endo (Fukushima) waited until the final sprint to take the lead, handing off 1 second ahead of more well-known rival Shota Onizuka (Fukuoka).  Gunma prefecture took over on the 3.0 km junior high school Second Stage thanks to a stage win from Yusuke Osawa and held on through the end of the Third Stage, but after a stage win on the 8.5 km Third Stage from Hideyuki Tanaka and another on the 5.0 km Fourth Stage by Norimichi Miwa Aichi took the lead and was never again challenged. 

Aichi's anchor Shuhei Yamamoto looked back repeatedly to check on the progress of hometown man Naoki Kudo (Hiroshima) but despite advancing in the first half of the stage the younger Kudo fell behind over the second half, ensuring that Yamamoto and the rest of the Aichi men would join their women in celebrating the national title.  Aichi crossed the line in 2:20:12, Kudo and Hiroshima 2nd in 2:20:43.  Shota Hattori, anchor for defending champion Saitama, faced a tough climb against his former university teammate Keigo Yano and track ace Yuki Sato (Shizuoka) but held on to take 3rd in 2:20:59.

And with that, and the cancellation of the Kitakyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden to the south due to heavy snow, championship ekiden season came to an end.  From here Japan's distance runners move in different directions, some pursuing cross country, others the half marathon, and the top echelon the marathon and the Rio Olympics.  Come April they reunite on the track in preparation for June's National Track and Field Championships Rio qualifier and for next fall's championship ekiden season kicking off at the Izumo Ekiden.

21st National Men's Ekiden
Hiroshima, 1/24/16
47 teams, 7 stages, 48.0 km
click here for complete results

Top Team Results
1. Aichi - 2:20:12
2. Hiroshima - 2:20:43
3. Saitama - 2:20:59
4. Shizuoka - 2:21:03
5. Nagano - 2:21:09
6. Fukushima -2:21:17
7. Gunma - 2:21:50
8. Fukuoka - 2:21:50
9. Hyogo - 2:22:10
10. Kanagawa - 2:22:12

Top Individual Stage Results

First Stage (7.0 km, high school)
1. Hyuga Endo (Fukushima) - 20:04
2. Shota Onizuka (Fukuoka) - 20:05
3. Takumi Yokokawa (Gunma) - 20:09

Second Stage (3.0 km, junior high school)
1. Yusuke Osawa (Gunma) - 8:38
2. Shungo Yokota (Niigata) - 8:41
3. Kota Maegaichi (Hiroshima) - 8:42

Third Stage (8.5 km, university/pro)
1. Hideyuki Tanaka (Aichi) - 24:39
2. Kazuharu Takai (Fukuoka) - 24:43
3. Keita Shitara (Saitama) - 24:44
4. Masato Kikuchi (Hokkaido) - 24:48
5. Shuho Dairokuno (Kagoshima) - 24:50
6. Ikuto Yufu (Oita) - 24:51
7. Yasunari Kusu (Ibaraki) - 24:53
8. Kaido Kita (Hiroshima) - 24:55
8. Hikaru Kato (Tokyo) - 24:55
10. Masahiro Takaya (Kanagawa) - 24:58
10. Chiharu Nakagawa (Shiga) - 24:58
10. Daisuke Koyama (Okayama) - 24:58

Fourth Stage (5.0 km, high school)
1. Norimichi Miwa (Aichi) - 14:17
2. Ryunosuke Chigira (Saitama) - 14:21
3. Ren Yonemitsu (Fukuoka) - 14:25

Fifth Stage (8.5 km, high school)
1. Hayato Seki (Nagano) - 24:21
2. Yuto Aoki (Aichi) - 24:34
3. Keita Yoshida (Hiroshima) - 24:41

Sixth Stage (3.0 km, junior high school)
1. Takehiro Sekiguchi (Saitama) - 8:47
2. Soshi Suzuki (Shizuoka) - 8:48
3. Hiroki Arai (Gunma) - 8:50
3. Hironori Kishimoto (Niigata) - 8:50

Seventh Stage (13.0 km, university/pro)
1. Keijiro Mogi (Tokyo) - 37:56
2. Yuki Sato (Shizuoka) - 38:00
3. Keisuke Nakatani (Hyogo) - 38:03
3. Yuki Oshikawa (Gifu) - 38:03
5. Kazuki Tamura (Yamaguchi) - 38:09
6. Ryu Takaku (Tochigi) - 38:14
7. Aritaka Kajiwara (Kanagawa) - 38:25
8. Shuhei Yamamoto (Aichi)- 38:31
8. Akihiko Tsumurai (Fukushima) - 38:31
10. Naoki Kudo (Hiroshima) - 38:34
10. Shota Hattori (Saitama) - 38:34

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

TokyoRacer said…
Seems like Kota Murayama did not do so well on the last stage. And who is Keijiro Mogi?
Brett Larner said…
Mogi is a young guy with Asahi Kasei who seemed to come out of nowhere last year. He beat Kenta Murayama and Masato Imai to finish as top Japanese man at the Kumamoto Kosa 10-miler in November. A big win for him today.

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