Komazawa Defends National University Ekiken Title by 8 Seconds Over Aoyama Gakuin – The Foreigners magazine In tokyo
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Komazawa Defends National University Ekiken Title by 8 Seconds Over Aoyama Gakuin

Written by on November 8, 2021


Despite missing star 2nd-year Mebuki Suzuki, last year’s national champion Komazawa University pulled-off a late stage reversal to win a second-straight National University Men’s Ekiden title by one of the tightest margins in the race’s history. 

First-year Shoji Sato broke the course record on the opening leg by 2 seconds to put Komazawa out front, but a string of weak runs on the middle stages knocked it off the eight-deep podium. It took until the Sixth Stage for Komazawa’s luck to turn around with 2nd-year Taiyo Yasuhara taking them from 9th to 4th. That put #1 man Ren Tazawa in position to take the lead by 18 seconds over the perpetually strong Aoyama Gakuin University with the fastest-ever time by a Japanese man on the stage, 50:36 for 17.6 km.

AGU anchor Takayuki Iida reeled in Komazawa’s Yuki Hanao midway through the 19.7 km stage, but instead of going by he tucked in. Hanao responded by gradually slowing down, saving his energy for a last move that came with 2 km to go. His kick was too much for Iida, and Hanao easily pulled away to open an 8-second lead by the end of the stage. Komazawa covered the 8-stage, 106.8 km course in 5:12:58.

En route there was a lot of turnover, with Juntendo University, Izumo Ekiden winner Tokyo Kokusai University and Waseda University all taking turns up front before Komazawa took over. Juntendo’s Ryuji Miura, a finalist in the steeplechase at this summer’s Olympics, had an especially good run to put Juntendo in the lead, and TKU had new stage records from both 2021 Hakone Ekiken MVP Vincent Yegon and 3rd-year Ken Tansho.

The race for the last place on the 8-deep podium and a guaranteed return trip to next year’s Nationals was very tight at the final exchange, with three teams within a minute of 8th-place Chuo University and more just further back. But Chuo succeeded in holding on, knocking longtime podium resident Toyo University off for the first time in over a decade. The National University Select Team overtook Nittai University for 15th, but with fifteen Kanto Region schools in the field the top non-Kanto program was Kansei Gakuin University in 16th.

53rd National University Men’s Ekiken

Aichi-Mie, 7 Nov. 2021

27 teams, 8 stages, 106.8 km

Top Individual Stage Results

First Stage – 9.5 km

1. Shoji Sato (Komazawa Univ.) – 27:05 – CR

2. Yamato Yoshii (Chuo Univ.) – 27:05

3. Yoshinori Shimazaki (Koku Gakuin Univ.) – 27:06

Second Stage – 11.1 km

1. Ryuji Miura (Juntendo Univ.) – 31:30

2. Ryuto Igawa (Waseda Univ.) – 31:48

2. Masaki Kodama (Meiji Univ.) – 31:48

Third Stage – 11.9 km

1. Vincent Yegon (Tokyo Kokusai Univ.) – 32:46 – CR

2. Joseph Lemeteki Razini (Takushoku Univ.) – 33:21

3. Hironori Kishimoto (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) – 33:55

Fourth Stage – 11.8 km

1. Yuki Takahashi (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) – 34:08

1. Kosuke Ishida (Toyo Univ.) – 34:08

3. Daiki Ozawa (Meiji Univ.) – 34:11

Fifth Stage – 12.4 km

1. Issei Sato (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) – 35:57

2. Yusaku Nomura (Juntendo Univ.) – 36:05

3. Takuro Miura (Chuo Univ.) – 36:19

Sixth Stage – 12.8 km

1. Ken Tansho (Tokyo Kokusai Univ.) – 37:12 – CR

2. Taiyo Yasuhara (Komazawa Univ.) – 37:30

2. Fuma Nakamura (Teikyo Univ.) – 37:30

Seventh Stage – 17.6 km

1. Ren Tazawa (Komazawa) – 50:36

2. Kotaro Kondo (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) – 50:54

3. Kiyoto Hirabayashi (Koku Gakuin Univ.) – 52:22

Eighth Stage – 19.7 km

1. Kenzo Ijichi (Koku Gakuin Univ.) – 58:33

2. Shunsuke Shikama (Juntendo Univ.) – 58:54

3. Takayuki Iida (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) – 59:02

Top Team Results

top 8 qualify for 2022 Nationals

1. Komazawa University – 5:12:58

2. Aoyama Gakuin University – 5:13:06

3. Juntendo University – 5:14:20

4. Koku Gakuin University – 5:14:53

5. Tokyo Kokusai University – 5:15:13

6. Waseda University – 5:16:29

7. Meiji University – 5:16:46

8. Chuo University – 5:17:06

—–

9. Hosei University – 5:17:39

10. Toyo University – 5:17:58

11. Chuo Gakuin University – 5:19:09

12. Tokai University – 5:19:10

© 2021 Brett Larner, all rights reserved



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