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Fukuoka Wins 72-Stage, 1056.2 km Kyushu Isshu Ekiden

http://www.nishinippon.co.jp/movie/20081109/20081109_0001.shtml

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Click here for video highlights of each prefectural team's finish.

The 57th Nishi Nihon Interprefectural Kyushu Isshu Ekiden, a 10 day, 72 stage, 1056.2 km competition around the edge of Japan's southernmost main island, wrapped up on Nov. 9 with the Fukuoka Prefectural team taking its 4th consecutive victory. At the end of the previous day Fukuoka was ahead of rival Miyazaki Prefecture in cumulative time and had won 7 of the 9 individual day titles. Fukuoka led the final day for the first of its 7 stages totalling 98.1 km, but Miyazaki ran all out to take the daily lead away, holding down 1st place for the 2nd through 6th stages. Only on the 7th stage did Fukuoka come back to retake the lead, coming to the finish in front of Fukuoka's Nishi Nihon Newspaper Group Head Office in the top spot to tie up 8 of the 10 day victory titles. Fukuoka won its 4th consecutive overall victory, beating Miyazaki by 19 minutes and 21 seconds in cumulative time over the ekiden's 10 days.

Fukuoka's Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) took the stage best title on the day's 1st leg, with Kagoshima Prefecture's Kiragu Njunuga (Daiichi Kogyo Univ.) was just 2 seconds behind in 2nd place, delivering Kagoshima into the top 4 for the first time in 13 years, a performance which won him the Kyushu Isshu Ekiden's Best Newcomer award. Miyazaki's Yuki Iwai (Team Asahi Kasei) took the lead on the 2nd stage, with subsequent Miyazaki runners widening the lead to 46 seconds. It was, however, insufficient, as Fukuoka's anchor Takeshi Arisumi came back for the win. Miyazaki settled for 2nd but had the consolation of its ace Ryuji Ono (Team Asahi Kasei) receiving the ekiden's MVP award. Along with Njunuga's award, Kagoshima received the Most Improved Team award after taking 1:08:01 off its 2007 time.

A complete breakdown of individual and team prizes can be found here.

2008 Nishi Nihon Interprefectural Kyushu Isshu Ekiden
Team Results
1. Fukuoka Pref. - 53:26:54
2. Miyazaki Pref. - 53:46:15
3. Nagasaki Pref. - 54:29:40
4. Kagoshima Pref. - 56:13:20
5. Oita Pref. - 56:40:02
6. Saga Pref. - 56:44:05
7. Kumamoto Pref. - 56:57:31
8. Yamaguchi Pref. - 57:24:25
9. Okinawa Pref. - 58:15:48

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