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2021 Izumo Ekiden Preview

It feels good to sort that headline. Canceled in 2020 amid the pandemic, the Izumo Ekiden is again to kick off college males’s ekiden season this Sunday. Fuji TV will broadcast the race reside beginning at 12:00 midday native time, with English reside tweeting @JRNLive

Quick and quick by Japanese requirements, Izumo has 18 college groups from throughout Japan and a couple of regional choose groups going through off over 6 phases averaging 7.5 km apiece. That skews the required talent set nearer to 5000 m than the half marathon distance vital at November’s Nationwide College Ekiden and January’s Hakone Ekiden, and with few half marathon racing alternatives over the past yr and a half it is instantly noticeable once you take a look at the entry lists how a lot coaches have been specializing in the observe as an alternative of the highway. Taken collectively than may imply a really quick race this yr.

10 groups within the subject are from the Tokyo-area Kanto Area, residence of Hakone. 9 of these have high 6 averages underneath 14 minutes for 5000 m and underneath 29 minutes for 10000 m, and the one workforce that does not, Toyo College, simply misses with averages of 13:51.95 and 29:01.07. Final time round in 2019 solely 4 groups did. 2021 Hakone champ Komazawa College is the undisputed heavyweight, with high 6 averages of 13:39.07 and 28:09.43, and in a break from the norm Komazawa, together with a number of the opposite colleges, does not even have 6 males amongst its 10 entries who’ve official half marathon instances to their names. Shoe tech is a part of the excessive common stage, but it surely’s additionally a partial reply to the query of what would occur if the Japanese males’s college system modified its most important focus from the half to the 1500 m to 5000 m vary like the united statesA.’s NCAA.

Regardless of shaken morale after the arrest of Hakone anchor Takuma Ishikawa earlier this season, Komazawa is the favourite, led by Third-year Ren Tazawa and 2nd-year energy duo Mebuki Suzuki and Takumi Karasawa. It is a younger workforce, with just one 4th-year, Kohei Tsukuda, making the entry roster. 

Waseda College, Japan’s College of Oregon, is Komazawa’s strongest rival, with 3 males, 4th-years Yuhi Nakaya and Naoya Ota and Third-year Ryuto Ikawa, all having damaged 28 minutes for 10000 m and a couple of extra, 4th-year Ryunosuke Chigira and 1st-year Taishi Ito, underneath 13:40 for 5000 m. Proper there with Waseda is final yr’s Hakone Ekiden Qualifier winner Juntendo College, led by 3000 mSC nationwide file holder and Olympic Seventh-placer Ryuji Miura. However each groups might want to make up a deficit of over 10 seconds per runner in skill to catch Komazawa.

Within the subsequent tier are 2019 Izumo winner Koku Gakuin College, 2018 winner Aoyama Gakuin College, the ascendant Tokyo Kokusai College, and 2017 winner Tokai College. KGU, whose 2019 anchor Hidekazu Hijikata went on to run 2:06:26 at Lake Biwa earlier this yr, is Waseda’s equal over 10000 m, however with weaker 5000 m credentials it could battle on the shorter phases. AGU at all times performs higher than its credentials on paper would recommend, so count on it to take a critical shot at successful and to be in it for no less than high 3. TKU is closely depending on 2021 Hakone MVP Vincent Yegon, who has confidently predicted he could make up over 2 minutes on the ten.2 km anchor stage. Tokai is lacking star 2nd-year Shotaro Ishihara, sufficient to knock it out of significant competition for the win however nonetheless with sufficient high quality individuals to provide it an opportunity at high 3.

Rounding out the highest 10 are Teikyo College, Toyo, and Hakone runner-up Soka College. Like AGU, all 3 are inclined to carry out higher within the large ekidens than they give the impression of being on paper. Toyo specifically this time has some buzz round it, with former 5000 m highschool nationwide file holder Kosuke Ishida set to make his collegiate debut only a week after shedding his file. 

The black gap of Japanese collegiate males’s lengthy distance, Hakone tends to tug virtually all the highschool expertise to the higher Tokyo space for college. That signifies that any time a program from one other a part of the nation beats even one of many Kanto Area colleges at Izumo or Nationals it is information. It rarely occurs, and this time Kyoto’s Ritsumeikan College appears to be like to have the very best likelihood among the many 12 non-Kanto colleges. However with a 24-second deficit per runner behind Soka on paper it could take an ideal day from Ritsumeikan and/or a blowup from one of many Kanto groups for Ritsumeikan to make the highest 10. In its favor is the absence of the American Ivy League Choose Crew, sitting Izumo out for the second yr in a row attributable to Japan’s inflexible pandemic-era immigration restrictions.

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