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Komazawa University Smashes Izumo Ekiden CR With Near-Perfect Performance

by Brett Larner

2012 National Champion Komazawa University came out swinging at the start of university ekiden season, winning the Izumo Ekiden for the first time in 15 years with a 2:09:11 course record at the six stage, 44.5 km event's 25th running on Oct. 14.  2013 National University Half Marathon champion Shogo Nakamura got the race off on the right foot, surging halfway into the 8.0 km First Stage to give the #1-seeded Komazawa a 20-second lead that only grew as each stage went by.  Sub-29 first-year Keisuke Nakatani added a few seconds to the lead over the 5.8 km Second Stage, but it was a spectacular 22:36 course record by star junior Kenta Murayama on the 7.9 km Third Stage, a full 12 seconds better than the old record set by Japan's current #1 distance runner, Komazawa alum Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta) that blew the race apart for the rest of the field.  Murayama evidently learned something in his long conversation with Bernard Lagat (U.S.A.) following this year's New York City Half Marathon as he delivered a closing kick the likes of which is rarely seen in Japanese distance running to hand off to Komazawa 10000 m record holder Ikuto Yufu.

Yufu and Fifth Stage man Yusuke Nishiyama cruised through their stages with the second-fastest marks, leaving team captain Shinobu Kubota a comfortable margin with which to run the 10.2 Sixth Stage for the overall course record.  Despite running 26 seconds slower than last year, Kubota easily eclipsed Aoyama Gakuin University's year-old record of 2:09:41 by 30 seconds to bring Komazawa home in 2:09:11.  With a title defense up next month at the National University Ekiden Championships Komazawa's season is looking bright if it can sustain its key men's fitness.

Defending champion AGU was part of a chase pack behind Komazawa with 2013 Hakone Ekiden winner Nittai University, #6-ranked Chuo Gakuin University and #10 Hosei University, with last year's runner-up Toyo University 6th after leadoff man Masaya Taguchi faltered and #3-ranked Waseda University and #4-ranked Meiji University farther back.  Despite a Second Stage win from 13:28.79 junior Genki Yagisawa Meiji was never a factor, but Toyo and Waseda spent the rest of the race playing catchup to the chase pack.  By the Fourth Stage Nittai had dropped Chuo Gakuin for 2nd, but on the Fifth Stage a course record run from 28:22.43 sophomore Yuma Hattori brought Toyo up to 2nd where it stayed all the way to the finish, 53 seconds faster than last year but over a minute behind Komazawa.  Japan's #1 collegiate Suguru Osako tried to bring the struggling Waseda squad into the seeded top three but was just too far back from Nittai anchor Keigo Yano. #5-ranked Nittai ran a solid 2:10:59 for 3rd, with Waseda 48 seconds back for 4th. Defending champion Aoyama Gakuin ran well to round out the top five in 2:12:09.

Chuo Gakuin, impresssively tough and with a Fourth Stage record by senior Yudai Okamoto was in top three contention until the anchor stage but equalled its pre-race #6 ranking.  Meiji was the only top-level team with an off day, ranked #4 but finishing 7th. With its 2012 3rd-place varsity due to run next weekend's Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai qualifier, Chuo University's JV squad had a surprisingly good showing, finishing 10th overall just ahead of the top team from outside the Kanto Region, Kyoto Sangyo University at 11th. The #11-ranked Ivy League Select Team was never in contention, 10th after the First Stage and falling to an eventual 14th-place finish.

University ekiden season continues on Saturday with the Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai 20 km qualifier in Tokyo, the race that determines the second tier of 13 teams for the 23-school field for the 90th running of Hakone on Jan. 2-3.  The upper tier of schools line up next at the National University Ekiden Championships on Nov. 3 before putting all their focus on Japan's biggest and best sporting event, the Hakone Ekiden.

25th Izumo Ekiden
Izumo, 10/14/13
twenty-two teams, six stages, 44.5 km
click here for complete results

Top Team Performances
1. Komazawa University - 2:09:11 - CR
2. Toyo University - 2:10:17
3. Nittai University - 2:10:59
4. Waseda University - 2:11:47
5. Aoyama Gakuin University - 2:12:09
6. Chuo Gakuin University - 2:12:24
7. Meiji University - 2:13:09
8. Hosei University - 2:13:20
9. Juntendo University - 2:13:29
10. Chuo University - 2:14:40
11. Kyoto Sangyo Univ. - 2:15:22
12. Teikyo Univ. - 2:16:07
13. Kwansei Gakuin Univ. - 2:17:13
14. Ivy League Select Team - 2:18:08

Stage Best Performances
First Stage (8.0 km)
1. Shogo Nakamura (Komazawa Univ.) - 23:25
2. Shota Hattori (Nittai Univ.) - 23:45
3. Kazuto Nishiike (Hosei Univ.) - 23:46
4. Yusuke Ogura (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 23:47
5. Hironori Tsuetaki (Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 23:51
10. Joe Stilin (Ivy League) - 24:29

Second Stage (5.8 km)
1. Genki Yagisawa (Meiji Univ.) - 16:32
2. Keisuke Nakatani (Komazawa Univ.) - 16:44
3. Yuta Oikawa (Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 16:45
4. Koki Takada (Waseda Univ.) - 16:47
5. Shohei Tomita (Nittai Univ.) - 16:49
10. Mark Amirault (Ivy League) - 17:31

Third Stage (7.9 km)
1. Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.) - 22:36 - CR
2. Hideto Yamanaka (Nittai Univ.) - 22:49
3. Yuta Shitara (Toyo Univ.) - 23:14
4. Yuki Matsumura (Juntendo Univ.) - 23:26
5. Shuhei Yamamoto (Waseda Univ.) - 23:29
14. Dan Lowry (Ivy League) - 24:40

Fourth Stage (6.2 km)
1. Yudai Okamoto (Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 17:46 - CR
2. Ikuto Yufu (Komazawa Univ.) - 18:03
3. Jun Nobuto (Toyo Univ.) - 18:05
4. Hikaru Kato (Nittai Univ.) - 18:13
5. Rintaro Takeda (Waseda Univ.) - 18:15
19. Kyle Merber (Ivy League) - 19:39

Fifth Stage (6.4 km)
1. Yuma Hattori (Toyo Univ.) - 17:54 - CR
2. Yusuke Nishiyama (Komazawa Univ.) - 18:31
3. Ken Yokote (Meiji Univ.) - 18:38
4. Shota Kai (Nittai Univ.) - 18:45
5. Kazuki Ozawa (Juntendo Univ.) - 18:50
17. Trevor Van Ackeren (Ivy League) - 20:12

Sixth Stage (10.2 km)
1. Shinobu Kubota (Komazawa Univ.) - 29:52
2. Keita Shitara (Toyo Univ.) - 29:59
3. Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.) - 30:00
4. Daichi Kamino (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 30:27
5. Keigo Yano (Nittai Univ.) - 30:38
12. Brendan Martin (Ivy League) - 31:37

Alternates' 5000 m
1. Genta Yodokawa (Toyo Univ.) - 14:06.77 - PB
2. Ryo Kuchimachi (Toyo Univ.) - 14:07.23 - PB
3. Shinya Saito (Toyo Univ.) - 14:07.54
4. Shuya Kurokawa (Komazawa Univ.) - 14:08.99 - PB
5. Yoshihiro Nishizawa (Komazawa Univ.) - 14:11.65

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved


Brett Larner said…
JRN's pre-race rankings were pretty decent. Actual placing with pre-race ranking:

1. Komazawa University - ranked #1 pre-race
2. Toyo University - #2
3. Nittai University - #5
4. Waseda University - #3
5. Aoyama Gakuin University - #7
6. Chuo Gakuin University - #6
7. Meiji University - #4
8. Hosei University - #10
9. Juntendo University - #8
10. Chuo University - #13
11. Kyoto Sangyo Univ. - #12
12. Teikyo Univ. - #9
13. Kansai Gakuin Univ. - not ranked
14. Ivy League Select Team - #11
KanGaku said…

The 13th school's official English name is "Kwansei Gakuin Univeristy."
TokyoRacer said…
Surprised that Osako was only 3rd on the last leg - it looked like he was blazing along, while Kubota looked ordinary. I guess it's because Osako has a more dynamic running form. In fact, the announcer, Kin I think, compared him to Galen Rupp, who Kin tracked at the last Chiba Intnl Ekiden.
Osako may have slowed down in the last k, though, as he realized he could not catch Nittai.
Brett Larner said…
I know, I not convinced it's not a mistake. Seko and the other announcers were talking about Osako looking like he had a shot at the stage record. 29:00 I could believe, but 30:00? He was still blazing at the end. Both Kubota and Shitara were laboring and yet they ended up with faster times. It doesn't make much sense.

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translated and edited by Brett Larner
photo © 2012 Dr. Helmut Winter, all rights reserved