Meiji University Wins Hakone Ekiden Qualifier Half Marathon – The Foreigners magazine In tokyo
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Meiji University Wins Hakone Ekiden Qualifier Half Marathon

Written by on October 24, 2021

After a surprise finish outside the top 10 at this year’s Hakone Ekiden, Meiji University was back to do the expected, winning the Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai half marathon qualifier Saturday in Tachikawa, Tokyo by over 4 minutes.

In windy conditions things went out slowly up front, the lead group of 6 Kenyans hitting the first km in only 3:01. Last year’s winner Joseph Lemeteki Razini (Takushoku Univ.) made a push to get things into gear and Vincent Raimoi (Kokushikan Univ.), James Bunuka (Surugadai Univ.), Charles Kamau Wanjiku (Musashino Gakuin Univ.) and Paul Onyiego (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) all took turns leading, but it wasn’t until 14 km for Wanjiku to make a serous move. Running the rest of the way unchallenged, he took 1st in 1:01:23, more than a minute slower than Razini’s winning time last year. The only two people in the front group not to take the lead at some point, Samson Ndirangu (Ryutsu Keizai Univ.) and Noah Kiplimo (Nihon Yakka Univ.) were 2nd and 3rd in 1:01:41 and 1:01:47, with Raimoi and Razini 4th and 5th in 1:01:49 and 1:01:52.

In the main pack, U20 5000 m national record holder Yamato Yoshi (Chuo Univ.) waited until 19.5 km to attack, but he was quickly dropped by a counterattack from Keigo Kurihara (Chuo Gakuin Univ.). Kurihara ran himself into the ground, flailing and staggering in the final straight and just barely holding off Taisei Kato (Meiji Univ.) to take the top Japanese spot in 1:02:46 for 8th overall. Kato was next in 1:02:47, with Kei Takase (Senshu Univ.) 10th in 1:02:49. Yoshii ended up 13th in 1:02:51, over a minute slower than his 1:01:47 debut at last year’s Yosenkai.

With teams scored on the cumulative times of their first 10 finishers and the 10 fastest teams advancing to Hakone Meiji had an easy win in 10:33:22. Chuo University was 2nd again in 1:0:37:38, with Nittai University 3rd in 1:039:32. After a couple of weak seasons Yamanashi Gakuin University returned with a 4th-place finish, followed by Kanagawa University and Hosei University. After blowing the Yosenkai last year, Hakone regulars Chuo Gakuin University made it back into the fold at 7th thanks in part to Kurihara’s bold finish. 

The story of the day was Surugadai University, who took 8th to make Hakone for the first time in school history in head coach Kazuyoshi Tokumoto‘s tenth season of building the team up from scratch. Surugadai’s tenth scoring runner Takao Imai is a 31-year-old former U20 triathlon and duathlon national champion who left his job at a junior high school to go to university in hopes of making it to Hakone. Now is his fourth and final year at Surugadai, Imai was the critical last piece in the puzzle for the Surugadai team to actualize that dream.

Senshu University and Kokushikan University rounded out the list of qualifiers, Kokushikan holding off Razini’s Takushoku University by 55 seconds to make the cut. Along with Takushoku, Josai University failed to earn a return trip to Hakone this season, finishing only 15th. Unusually, 9 runners didn’t finish, either through dropping out or by being cut off after exceeding the time limit. As a result, 2 schools, Tokyo Rika University and Jochi University, failed to put 10 men across the finish line and were given no mark.

Next up on the collegiate men’s schedule is the Nov. 7 National University Men’s Ekiden, where the teams already qualified for Hakone will face off against the best of the rest of the country. November’s Ageo City Half Marathon, one of the highlights of the season, has been canceled again this year. The shift away from the half marathon distance to a focus on 5000 and 10000 m due to the lack of racing opportunities is a new variable in the Hakone equation, and the result it produces could be felt for years to come.

Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai Half Marathon

qualifying race for 2022 Hakone Ekiden

Tachikawa, Tokyo, 23 Oct., 2021

Top Individual Results

1. Charles Kamau Wanjiku (Musashino Gakuin Univ.) – 1:01:23

2. Samson Ndirangu (Ryutsu Keizai Univ.) – 1:01:41

3. Noah Kiplimo (Nihon Yakka Univ.) – 1:01:47

4. Vincent Raimoi (Kokushikan Univ.) – 1:01:49

5. Joseph Razini (Takushoku Univ.) – 1:01:52

6. James Bunuka (Surugadai Univ.) – 1:02:15

7. Paul Onyiego (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) – 1:02:15

8. Keigo Kurihara (Chuo Gakuin Univ.) – 1:02:46

9. Taisei Kato (Meiji Univ.) – 1:02:47

10. Kei Takase (Senshu Univ.) – 1:02:49

11. Charles Ndungu (Nihon Univ.) – 1:02:50

12. Kiyoto Suzuki (Meiji Univ.) – 1:02:50

13. Yamato Yoshii (Chuo Univ.) – 1:02:51

14. Yoshiteru Tamatsuki (Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) – 1:02:52

15. Tamaki Fujimoto (Nittai Univ.) – 1:02:55

16. Sota Fukutani (Tsukuba Univ.) – 1:02:58

17. Masaki Kodama (Meiji Univ.) – 1:02:58

18. Yoshiki Kushida (Meiji Univ.) – 1:02:59

19. Shunsuke Saito (Rikkyo Univ.) – 1:03:00

20. Kyosuke Teshima (Meiji Univ.) – 1:03:01

21. Yuito Matsukura (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) – 1:03:01

22. Yuta Nakayama (Nihon Yakka Univ.) – 1:03:02

23. Duncan Kisaisa (Senshu Univ.) – 1:03:04

24. Kodai Kurakami (Jobu  Univ.) – 1:03:09

25. Hiroko Hashimoto (Meiji Univ.) – 1:03:09


50. Daniel Kayiok (Obirin Univ.) – 1:03:47

75. Safumi Sugi (Meiji Univ.) – 1:03:58

100. Kazuya Mishiro (Kokushikan Univ.) – 1:04:22

150. Kaito Tsuboi (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) – 1:04:58

200. Hyuma Abe (Tokyo Univ. Grad School) – 1:05:47

250. Kento Uchida (Rikkyo Univ.) – 1:06:26

300. Masayuki Fujikawa (Ikuei Univ.) – 1:07:38

350. Gen Saito (Shonan Koka Univ.) – 1:08:58

376. Kengo Yokota (Tokyo Rika Univ.) – 1:09:56

Team Results

teams scored on cumulative time of first 10 finishers

10 fastest teams qualify for 2022 Hakone Ekiden

1. Meiji University – 10:33:22

2. Chuo University – 10:37:38

3. Nittai University – 10:39:32

4. Yamanashi Gakuin University – 10:41:15

5. Kanagawa University – 10:41:57

6. Hosei University – 10:42:12

7. Chuo Gakuin University – 10:43:08

8. Surugadai University – 10:44:47

9. Senshu University – 10:44:58

10. Kokushikan University – 10:45:41


11. Takushoku University – 10:46:36

12. Daito Bunka University – 10:48:08

13. Tsukuba University – 10:48:14

14. Jobu University – 10:49:29

15. Josai University – 10:49:32

© 2021 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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