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Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. and Tenmaya Win Kitakyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden

by Brett Larner

The 2012 Kitakyushu Invitational Women's Ekiden came close to an upset as Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. came close to running down the leading pro teams, as close as 18 seconds to taking the lead spot.  Ritsumeikan Uji started off in 7th overall and 3rd among high school teams, but a strong Second Stage run by Nanami Aoki moved them up to 3rd overall and the lead high school position.  Team ace Nanako Kanno won the 5.1 km Third Stage outright in a solid 16:26,  overtaking the pro Team Kyocera and coming within 22 seconds of leader Team Kyudenko, no small feat considering that Kyudenko's Second Stage runner Sally Chepyego (Kenya) won her leg by 26 seconds.

Past Olympian Naoko Sakamoto (Team Tenmaya) overtook Ritsumeikan Uji's Asaka Iwai by 2 seconds on the 5.9 km Fourth Stage, but both advanced on Kyudenko, Tenmaya to within 16 seconds and the high schoolers to 18 seconds.  Kyudenko anchor Mika Okunaga needed a big run to stay ahead of Tenmaya's Rei Ohara but came up short, finishing only 6th on the 11.7 km Fifth Stage on time to drop from 1st of 3rd in the pro division.  Ohara gave Tenmaya the win, with half-marathon specialist Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) also catching Kyudenko for 2nd.  The high school teams split the anchor stage into two shorter legs, 4.9 km and an anchor run of 6.8 km, but despite this advantage Ritsumeikan Uji's final two runners could not stay with Ohara.  Ayano Ikeuchi won the high school anchor stage to bring Ritsumeikan Uji across the line 55 seconds behind Tenmaya and 36 seconds ahead of Kyocera, 1st in the high school division by over two minutes.

2012 Kitakyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden
Kitakyushu, 1/22/12
open division: 11 teams, 5 stages, 32.8 km
high school division: 17 teams, 6 stages, 32.8 km
click here for complete results

Stage Best Performances
First Stage - 4.2 km
1. Ayako Jinnouchi (Team Kyudenko) - 13:36
2. Yui Fukuda (Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 13:37
3, Mei Suzuki (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 13:41

Second Stage - 5.9 km
1. Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) - 18:28
2. Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) - 18:54
3. Shiori Yano (Kitakyushu Municipal H.S.) - 19:02

Third Stage - 5.1 km
1. Nanako Kanno (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 16:26
2. Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 16:38
3. Takako Yamada (Team Edion) - 16:43

Fourth Stage - 5.9 km
1. Naoko Sakamoto (Team Tenmaya) - 19:22
2. Risa Yokoe (Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 19:48
3. Asaka Iwai (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 19:53
3. Yuki Hidaka (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 19:53

Fifth Stage (open) - 11.7 km
1. Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya) - 36:48
2. Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 37:21
3. Keiko Nogami (Team Juhachi Ginko) - 37:28

Fifth Stage (H.S.) - 4.9 km
1. Shoko Sonoda (Chikushi Joshi Gakuen H.S.) - 16:29
2. Uran Hamada (Kamimura Gakuen H.S.) - 16:31
3. Yuki Fujiwara (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 16:49

Sixth Stage (H.S.) - 6.8 km
1. Ayano Ikeuchi (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 20:52
2. Miki Yasutomi (Kamimura Gakuen H.S.) - 21:33
3. Saki Yoshimizu (Chikushi Joshi Gakuen H.S.) - 22:00

Top Team Performances - Open
1. Team Tenmaya - 1:46:04
2. Team Kyocera - 1:47:35
3. Team Kyudenko - 1:47:50
4. Team Juhachi Ginko - 1:48:51
5. Team Edion - 1:48:55

Top Team Performances - High School
1. Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. - 1:46:59
2. Kamimura Gakuen H.S. - 1:49:10
3. Chikushi Joshi Gakuen H.S. - 1:49:36
4. Suma Gakuen H.S. - 1:50:03
5. Yamada H.S. - 1:51:35

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

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