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Shitaraless Honda Wins East Japan Corporate Ekiden

Qualification for the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden corporate men's national championships got underway on the Nov. 3 holiday in Japan's most competitive region, East Japan, with the 58th East Japan Corporate Men's Ekiden Championships. Running without half marathon national record holder Yuta Shitara, 2015 winner Honda returned to the top with an exciting anchor stage win in 3:47:55 for the 7-stage, 77.5 km course.

The Hitachi Butsuryu team's leading man Yuki Muta got them off to a good start on the opening stage, but a 1-2 punch from DeNA's Kenta Murozuka and Bedan Karoki put DeNA 20 seconds ahead of the early leaders. 7th on the First Stage, Honda worked its way up to 3rd by the end of the Third Stage just a second behind Hitachi Butsuryu.

Honda moved into 2nd on the next stage, but its gap to leader DeNA stayed steady at 21 seconds. Fujitsu passed Hitachi Butsuryu for 3rd thanks to a stage win from Ken Yokote, and a new stage record of 22:52 for the 7.8 km Fifth Stage from Yusuke Sato put Fujitsu ahead of Honda and 21 seconds behind DeNA. In his debut with the Hitachi Butsuryu team Keita Shitara, twin brother of Honda's Shitara, also broke the Fifth Stage to keep hold of 4th, a solid performance ahead of his marathon debut in Fukuoka next month.

Hitachi Butsuryu's Toshiyuki Yanagi followed Shitara with the fastest time on the Sixth Stage, passing all three teams ahead of him and returning Hitachi Butsuryu to 1st with one stage to go and a 3-second lead over Honda. With just 32 seconds separating the top four the 13.5 km anchor stage was bound to be close, and a 40:27 from Yuki Matsumura was enough to put Honda ahead and into the winner's position. Fujitsu moved back into 2nd, DeNA taking 3rd and Hitachi Butsuryu dropping back to 4th. A stage win from Tomohiro Tanigawa brought the Konica Minolta team within 9 seconds of Hitachi Butsuryu but was only enough to put the past national championships 5th.

Back at the cutoff for New Year Ekiden qualification, past regulars Komori Corporation and JR Higashi Nihon fell out of the bracket, caught by the Police Headquarters, which put ten officers under 30 minutes at last month's Takashimadaira 10 km, and the Sunbelx supermarket team, which runs an entertaining advertising campaign featuring its Kenyan ace Ezekiel Cheboitibin hawking the week's specials to the Japanese public. They and the eleven more mainstream teams ahead of them now head into prep for the raison d'être for the entire corporate team system, the New Year Ekiden national championships.

58th East Japan Corporate Men's Ekiden Championships

Kumagaya, Saitama, 11/3/17
25 teams, 7 stages, 77.5 km
click here for complete results

Top Team Results - top 13 qualify for New Year Ekiden
1. Honda - 3:47:55
2. Fujitsu - 3:48:42
3. DeNA - 3:48:51
4. Hitachi Butsuryu - 3:49:10
5. Konica Minolta - 3:49:19
6. Nissin Shokuhin - 3:49:46
7. Yachiyo Kogyo - 3:50:02
8. Kanebo - 3:50:51
9. Yakult - 3:52:26
10. Subaru - 3:52:29
11. Press Kogyo - 3:54:07
12. Police Headquarters - 3:54:13
13. Sunbelx - 3:54:14
14. Komori Corporation - 3:54:46
15. JR Higashi Nihon - 3:55:19

Top Individual Stage Performances
First Stage (11.6 km) - Yuki Muta (Hitachi Butsuryu) - 34:09
Second Stage (15.3 km) - Kenta Murozauka (DeNA) - 45:08
Third Stage (9.2 km) - Bidan Karoki (DeNA) - 25:33
Fourth Stage (9.5 km) - Ken Yokote (Fujitsu) - 28:06
Fifth Stage (7.8 km) - Yusuke Sato (Fujitsu) - 22:52 - CR
Sixth Stage (10.6 km) - Toshiyuki Yanagi (Hitachi Butsuryu) - 30:16
Seventh Stage (13.5 km) - Tomohiro Tanigawa (Konica Minolta) - 40:22

© 2017 Brett Larner, all rights reserved


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