National University Women’s Ekiden Preview
Written by tokyoclub on October 30, 2021
On the other hand, things can also be oddly progressive at times. Japan was the first country in the world to put on an annual women-only marathon, way back in 1979 before it had any real elite-level female marathoners. Just over a decade later it had its first world-level women’s marathon medalist, and a year after that the first of four-straight Olympic women’s marathon medals. There are a lot of women-only races, and a lot of men-only races, and at one point there was an entire circuit of women-only half marathons with no parallel for men. It’s a different take on equality.
Four-time defending champ Meijo University is the heavy hitter, and it’s hard to see anyone taking them down. 3rd-year Narumi Kobayashi has had a great year since Meijo’s last win, including a half marathon national title, a 5000 m PB of 15:33.69 to win June’s National University Individual Track and Field Championships, and a 10000 m PB of 31:22.34 in July inside the qualifying standard for next summer’s World Championships. 4th-years Yuna Wada and Tomomi Musembi Takamatsu have both run under 15:30, and with two others under 9:10 for 3000 m and four more under 16 minutes or 9:30 Meijo has the arsenal to deal with its competition.
Daito Bunka University has been 2nd every year of Meijo’s four-run streak. 2019 World University Games half marathon gold medalist Yuka Suzuki and steepler Reimi Yoshimura, the 2019 national champion and runner-up in 2020 and 2021, are its strongest runners, but with only one other team member under 16 minutes and two more under 9:30 it doesn’t have the depth to match Meijo at its best.
Last year’s 3rd-placer Nittai University and 4th-placer Ritsumeikan University, 3rd each of the three years before that, are both in the same boat with only two women each under 16 minutes. With 4 others under 9:30 for 3000 m Nittai is the stronger of the two and could actually challenge Daito Bunka for 2nd if either Suzuki or Yoshimura have problems.
Takushoku University doesn’t have the people to be a factor as a team, but it does have the most exciting 1st-year on the college circuit, 18-year-old Seira Fuwa, 15:20.68 for 5000 m and who beat Meijo’s Kobayashi to win this season’s National University Track and Field Champioinships 5000 m. 26 teams total will be on the starting line in Sendai.