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Mitsubishi Overpowers National Champions Asahi Kasei at Kyushu Corporate Men's Ekiden

For the second year in a row, the Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems corporate team edged defending national champion Asahi Kasei to win the 54th Kyushu Corporate Men's Ekiden Championships, the final qualifying race for the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden national championships.

Fresh out of the blocks, London World Championships marathon team member Hiroto Inoue got Mitsubishi off to a good start with a win by 8 seconds over 2016 national XC champion Takashi Ichida of Asahi Kasei on the 12.4 km First Stage. Mitsubishi increased its lead over Asahi Kasei to 1:54 by the end of the Fourth Stage thanks to stage wins from 2nd and 4th men Enock Omwamba and Ryota Matono.

Over the second half Asahi Kasei fought back with its 5th and 6th runners Shuho Dairokuno and Takuya Fukatsu winning their stages, Fukatsu breaking the Sixth Stage record by 11 seconds to put Asahi Kasei into the lead by 4 seconds at the final exchange. Mitsubishi anchor Toshiki Sadakata wasted no time in trying to turn that around, quickly catching Asahi Kasei's Taiki Yoshimura and edging away to break the tape in 1st, his 17-second margin of victory even tighter than last year's 27-second separation between the two rival teams.

With the number of qualifying spots available to Kyushu team increased by one this year thanks to Asahi Kasei's 2017 national title there was no danger of any of the big name teams not qualifying. Asahi Kasei had enough in reserved to run a B-team that included 10000 m national record holder Kota Murayama and his twin brother Kenta, the B-team taking 7th overall but not eligible for another New Year spot.

Inoue's London teammate Kentaro Nakamoto finished only 9th on the Fifth Stage but nevertheless helped the Yasukawa Denki team qualify with ease at 4th overall. Qualifying for the first time, the Hiramatsu Byoin hospital team took the bonus spot available this year thanks in part to a strong anchor run from former independent Aritaka Kajiwara.

54th Kyushu Corporate Men's Ekiden Championships

Kitakyushu, Fukuoka, 11/23/17
20 teams, 7 stages, 81.8 km
click here for complete results

Top Team Results - top 8 qualify for New Year Ekiden
1. Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems - 4:02:31
2. Asahi Kasei A - 4:02:48
3. Kyudenko - 4:05:04
4. Yasukawa Denki - 4:07:33
5. Toyota Kyushu - 4:07:52
6. Kurosaki Harima - 4:08:15
7. Asahi Kasei B - 4:10:00*
8. Nishitetsu - 4:10:43
9. Jitsugyodan Select Team - 4:12:47*
10. Hiramatsu Byoin - 4:15:44
* not eligible for New Year Ekiden

Top Individual Stage Results
First Stage - 12.4 km
1. Hiroto Inoue (MHPS) - 36:26
2. Shinichiro Nakamura (Kyudenko) - 36:26
3. Takashi Ichida (Asahi Kasei A) - 36:34

Second Stage - 7.4 km
1. Enock Omwamba (MHPS) - 20:57
2. Abraham Kipyatich (Asahi Kasei A) - 21:14
3. Paull Tanui (Kyudenko) - 21:17

Third Stage - 13.0 km
1. Keijiro Mogi (Asahi Kasei B) - 37:14
2. Naoya Takahashi (Yasukawa Denki) - 37:26
3. Hayato Mera (MHPS) - 37:35

Fourth Stage - 8.2 km
1. Ryota Matono (MHPS) - 24:55
2. Ryo Saito (Asahi Kasei B) - 25:13
3. Takumi Honda (Asahi Kasei A) - 25:44

Fifth Stage - 13.4 km
1. Shuho Dairokuno (Asahi Kasei A) - 39:53
2. Shohei Otsuka (Kyudenko) - 40:25
3. Masashi Sakamoto (Toyota Kyushu) - 40:33

Sixth Stage - 13.0 km
1. Takuya Fukatsu (Asahi Kasei A) - 37:29 - CR
2. Yuma Eda (Toyota Kyushu) - 37:56
3. Shinji Yoshimoto (Kurosaki Harima) - 38:02

Seventh Stage - 14.3 km
1. Toshiki Sadakata (MHPS) - 43:18
2. Taiki Yoshimura (Asahi Kasei A) - 43:39
3. Aritaka Kajiwara (Hiramatsu Byoin) - 43:44

© 2017 Brett Larner, all rights reserved


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