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Posted: November 25, 2009  : Add to Mixx! Subscribe to stories like this

(RWire) Athletics: Japan Wins International Chiba Ekiden

Team USA finishes 5th at 21st edition of marathon road relay

By Ken Nakamura

CHIBA, Japan - (November 23, 2009) - In the absence of the defending champion Ethiopia, Japan won the 2009 International Chiba Ekiden on Monday, a national holiday. At the 6-leg annual co-ed marathon road relay, Japan took the lead in the second stage thanks to a near record run by Yuriko Kobayashi and Team Japan never relinquished its lead. In fact, they extended their lead in each of subsequent stages, except for the final stage. The runners on the Japan team recorded the stage best in four out of six stages, but the winning time - 2 hours, 5 minutes, 58 seconds - was still 31 seconds behind the record Ethiopia set in 2008 over the 26.2 mile course, when they too recorded the stage best in four out of six stages. The Japanese Collegiate team finished runner-up in 2:07:47, while the pre-race favorite Kenya finished third in 2:08:34, despite the run by two World Marathon champions - Abel Kirui and Catherine Ndereba. Kirui won the marathon at the recent Berlin World Championships, while Ndereba won the world title in 2003 and 2007. Team USA - led by Ian Burrell who ran the second fastest 10K (29:14) during the third stage - finished 5th in 2:09:42.

How the race unfolded:

Stage 1 - 5K (men):
Ryuji Kashiwabara of JPN Collegiate team took off from the start and covered the first 800 meters in blazing 2:10. Yuichiro Ueno of JPN tried to stay close, but the gap of more than 30 meters opened up by the time the runners left the stadium for the streets of Chiba. Ueno, Craig Mottram of Australia and Nicholas Kamakya of Kenya worked together to close the gap on Kashiwabara and caught him by 1.5K into the race. The leader, Kamakya passed 2.5K in 6:35, followed by Mottram and Ueno. At 3.5K into the first stage, Mottram took the lead and passed 4K in 10:40. He was the fastest in the end of the 5K stage; Mottram covered the distance in 13:23, 9 seconds ahead of Ueno, who in turn was one second ahead of Kamakya of Kenya.

Stage 2 - 5K (women):
Three K into the 5K second stage, Yuriko Kobayashi of JPN caught and passed Nikki Chappel of AUS to take the lead. Kobayashi covered the 5K stage in 15:09, one second short of her record set last year. At the end of the stage, Japan led Australia by 9 seconds.

Stage 3 - 10K (men):
The JPN Collegiate team passed AUS to move into second place 8.7K into the stage, while with the fastest stage by Kensuke Takezawa, JPN extended their lead over the second place JPN Collegiate team to minute and 10 seconds.

Stage 4 - 5K (women):
The team JPN further increased their lead over the second place with the record tying run by Yukiko Akaba who covered the first 1K in 3:05, second in 3:05 and third in 3:03 before covering the 5K stage in 15:34, which tied the stage record. In this stage, Kenya finally started to make their move. With the second fastest stage by Iness Chenonge, 2002 Commonwealth Games' bronze medalist, KEN moved up from sixth to third, but they were still minute and 58 seconds behind the leader JPN at the end of the stage.

Stage 5 - 10K (men):
The Kenya was supposed to close the gap with Abel Kirui, the world marathon champion. However, although Kurui passed JPN Collegiate team 5K into the stage, Atsushi Sato of JPN, who was sixth at the marathon in Berlin recorded the faster time, 28:57 for 10K to 29:10 for Kirui, and Team Kenya fell further behind Japan in the penultimate stage. With the final stage of 7.195K left in the race, JPN lead KEN by two minutes and 11 seconds. The race was essentially over.

Stage 6 - 7.195K (women):
Catherine Ndereba of Kenya fell further behind Japan and later Hikari Yoshimoto of JPN Collegiate team passed Ndereba 1.9K into the stage to move into second. The Team Japan won by minute and 49 seconds with a winning margin larger than the last year.

21st Hanji Aoki Cup Int'l Chiba Ekiden Road Relay
Chiba, JPN, Monday, November 23, 2009

Weather: Sunny; temperature: 12C; humidity: 50%; wind: 0.1m/s NNE

1) JPN, 2:05:58
2) JPN Collegiate, 2:07:47
3) KEN, 2:08:34
4) Chiba, 2:09:26
5) USA, 2:09:42
6) RUS, 2:11:19
7) AUS, 2:11:35
8) CAN, 2:12:24
9) ITA, 2:13:13
10) ROU, 2:14:28
11) CHN, 2:14:47
12) BLR, 2:15:11
13) POL, 2:16:08
14) FIN, 2:16:48
Sweden, DNF

Stage / Distance / Time / Name
#1 - 5K
13:23 Craig Mottram (AUS)
13:32 Yuichiro Ueno (JPN)
13:33 Nicholas Manza Kamakya (KEN)
13:53 Jordan Horn (USA), 8th

# 2 - 5K
15:09 Yuriko Kobayashi (JPN)
15:27 Nikki Chapple (AUS)
15:48 Kazue Kojima (JPN Collegiate)
16:18 Meghan Armstrong (USA), 7th

#3 - 10K
29:07 Kensuke Takezawa (JPN)
29:14 Ian Burrell (USA)
29:24 Boash Ongaga Mayaka (KEN)

#4 - 5K
15:34 Yukiko Akaba (JPN)
15:46 Iness Chenonge (KEN)
16:13 Yuika Mori (JPN Collegiate)
16:28 Lindsay Allen (USA), 6th

#5 - 10K
28:57 Atsushi Sato (JPN)
29:10 Abel Kirui (KEN)
29:20 Andrew Carlson (USA)

#6 - 7.195K
23:12 Hikari Yoshimoto (JPN Collegiate)
23:39 Yurika Nakamura (JPN)
23:41 Hitomi Niiya (Chiba)
24:29 Jennifer Donovan (USA), 6th

More race information at:

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