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Osaka Geijutsu University Takes Nikko Irohazaka Women's Ekiden

13 teams from 12 universities raced the 4th edition of the all-uphill Nikko Irohazaka Women's Ekiden Nov. 26 in Nikko, Tochigi. Osaka Geijutsu University took the top spot for the first time in 1:32:53, with Hakuoh University the top-finishing Tochigi school at 5th.

The first runners in the ekiden started in Nikko's Daiyagawa Park. Running around the Nikkonoshaji UNESCO World Heritage Site, the women in the race handed off the tasuki on the sharp curves leading up the mountain to the finish at Nikko Futarasan Shrine on the shores of Lake Chuzenji. All together the six women on each teach covered 23.4 km with 875 m of net climb, local residents and each school's supporters cheering them on from the roadside the entire way.

Starting the Fourth Stage in 3rd, Osaka Geijutsu fourth-year Riri Shiraishi moved up to 1st, and on the Fifth and Sixth Stages the team increased its lead over the rest of the field. First-year anchor Yumika Nagahama smiled and raised both arms in the air as she broke the finishing tape. Shiraishi looked back on the race with satisfaction at achieving the win, saying, "We were here to win. The uphill was harder than I expected, but we'd done the hard training for it and I was confident that we wouldn't loose on the climb."

Hakuoh's result was an improvement on its 7th-place finish last year. Running the Fifth Stage for the third year in a row, fourth-year Rumi Sakata smiled as she said, "Going around the curves one by one I focused on improving our position, and that helped me stay on the attack. I hope that next year's team can take strength from the local support and target the win."

Translator's note: Osaka Geijutsu anchor Yumika Nagahama may be better remembered as the snow-covered leader at January's National Women's Ekiden, a race criticized in Chinese media for being too cruel due to the conditions. Needless to say, she evidently survived that race to go on to bigger things.

4th Nikko Irohazaka Women's Ekiden

Nikko, Tochigi, 11/26/17
13 teams, 6 stages, 23.4 km, 875 m net climb
click here for complete results

Top Team Results
1. Osaka Geijutsu University - 1:32:53
2. Tokyo Nogyo University A - 1:34:24
3. Kansai Gaikokugo University - 1:36:49
4. Tokyo Nogyo University B - 1:39:01
5. Hakuoh University - 1:39:10

Top Individual Stage Performances
First Stage (4.7 km, ~100 m climb) - Kanoko Otsu (Osaka Geijutsu Univ.) - 17:05
Second Stage (5.2 km, ~200 m climb) - Rino Kojima (Chuo Univ.) - 18:12
Third Stage (3.5 km, ~100 m climb) - Sae Harada (Tokyo Nogyo Univ. A) - 15:26
Fourth Stage (3.0 km, ~100 m climb) - Riri Shiraishi (Osaka Geijutsu Univ.) - 13:54
Fifth Stage (3.5 km, ~100 m climb) - Chisato Nagai (Osaka Geijutsu Univ.) - 14:22
Sixth Stage (3.5 km, ~25 m descent) - Yumika Nagahama (Osaka Geijutsu Univ.) - 12:10

source article:
translated by Brett Larner


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