2009 Shibuya Ekiden
Namban Rengo teams dominated the January 18 Shibuya Ekiden capturing first place all of the adult divisions. Not only did Namban dominate the podium, we managed to stay out of trouble with the Shibuya race officials! In recent years we had drawn some attention for the wrong reasons, missing team calls and making a poor showing at the award ceremony. But this time, “Thanks to everyone’s cooperation, we didn’t get any complaint from the organizer! Such a big relief. We made it! ” exclaimed a surprised and ecstatic Mika Tokairin after the event.
Yuri, Rie, Yoshiko and Mika ran away with the lady’s division with Yuri finishing ahead of almost all the men and the rest of the team never looking back as they defended their crown. Kanako, Jo, Chika, and Yuka captured second thanks in part to Yuka’s impressive finishing kick.
In the open men’s division, Jason, Yusuke, Brett and Omar won in a course record time. Thanks to Christian’s excellent 9:08 run over the winding 2.9 kilometer course, and Gordon’s gutsy second leg, the Namban A team took third place. “I was honored to start on the first row of the fast first leg, and went out fast with Jason and other leaders” said Christian, “By 2.9k I was in fourth or fifth, quite a bit behind the leaders. Fortunately the team came back to make it into the top 3.”
“Blasting through 2.9k so early in the morning is pretty rough,” added Gordon. “Hopefully next year they will push the start time back to 4pm.”
The most dramatic victory of all came in the Master’s division. Keren Miers ran his first leg as part of a “brick” triathlon workout against the fastest competitors, and when he handed the sash to Fabrizio, Namban was over 47 seconds behind the leading team. “I was afraid Namban Masters was about to endure another long dark year of humiliation and regret,” said Fabrizio, “but I knew if the team dug dip within ourselves we had a chance to come back”. Despite 4kg weight gain after a month of his mother’s Italian cooking, Fabrizio recovered 31 seconds on the leading team. Juergen made up another 10 seconds on the leaders, so that Jay took the sash a mere 6-seconds behind the leading team and was able to sprint home to victory.
Thanks so much to Mika for organizing the event and a huge, festive lunch, and Fabrizio for his inspiration and sponsorship.
Namban A 3rd
(Christian, Gordon, Ed and Gerard)
*Namban related Yoyogi Koen Kokusai Senbatsu (Yoyogi Park International Selection team) 1st
(Jason, Yusuke, Brett and Omar)
Master Blaster 1st
(Keren, Fab, Juergen and Jay)
Namban A 1st
(Yuri, Rie, Yoshiko and Mika)
Namban B 2nd
(Kanako, Jo, Chika and Yuka)
Namban C 6th
(Tomoko, Hitomi, Mieko and Akiko)
Report by: Report by Jay Johannesen
Photo credits: Shoji Shimamitsu