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2015 Japanese Distance Rankings

Updated 12/26/15

JRN's 2015 Japanese track and road distance running rankings. Overall rankings are calculated using runner's times and placings in races over 5000 m, 10000 m, half-marathon and marathon and the strength of these performances relative to others in the top ten in each category. Click any image to enlarge.


© 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Marugame Overseas Elites Hold Running Sessions With Local Children

http://www.sankei.com/region/news/150131/rgn1501310073-n1.html

translated by Brett Larner

Overseas elite athletes scheduled to run the 69th edition of the Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon on Feb. 1 took part in sessions at elementary schools in Utazu and Marugame on Jan. 30, talking with local children and offering them advice and guidance in their running.  The sessions were part of the schools' "Real Experience" program, seeking to increase children's interest in activities like sports by letting them interact directly with athletes from around the world.

2014 Continental Cup women's 5000 m 4th-placer Eloise Wellings (32, Australia) visited Utazu Elementary School, taking questions from the children about how to develop fast form and proper breathing.  "Relax when you run," she told them.  "Inhale through your nose and try to exhale from both your nose and mouth."  Afterwards, students enjoyed the thrill of racing Wellings in short…

Arciniaga and Mutazaki Lead Field for 49th Ome 30 km Road Race

http://www.ohme-marathon.jp/news/2015/01/27/3284

translated by Brett Larner

We are pleased to announce the elite athletes for the 49th running of the Ome 30 km Road Race on Feb. 15.

30 km Division - Men

Nicholas Arciniaga (U.S.A.)
D.O.B.: June 30, 1983 (31 yrs old)
height/weight: 177 cm / 63 kg
bib number: 1
PBs
marathon: 2:11:30
half-marathon: 1:03:22
10000 m: 28:29.71
5000 m: 14:13.14
Major Accomplishments
2014 NYC Marathon: 10th
2014 Boston Marathon: 7th
2009 Ome 30 km: 5th
2008 Boston Marathon: 10th

Kiyokatsu Hasegawa (JR Higashi Nihon)
D.O.B.: Apr. 2, 1983 (31 yrs old)
height/weight: 174 cm / 57 kg
bib number: 2
PBs
marathon: 2:15:15
half-marathon: 1:02:26
10000 m: 28:45:23
5000 m: 14:05.93
Major Accomplishments
2012 Nagano Marathon: 5th
2011 Lake Saroma 100 km: 1st
2010 Tokyo Marathon: 10th
2009 Ome 30 km Road Race: 6th

Kohei Ogino (Fujitsu)
D.O.B.: Dec. 8, 1989 (25 yrs old)
height/weight: 174 cm / 58 kg
bib number: 3
PBs
marathon: 2:13:12
half-marathon: 1:03:18
10000 m: 28:56.00
5000 m: 14:19.76
Major Accomp…

Beppu-Oita, Marugame and Kanagawa Lead Weekend Action

by Brett Larner

It's a busy and snowy weekend across Japan with at least three major races leading the way.

On the southernmost main island of Kyushu, defending champion Abraham Kiplimo (Uganda) returns to the 64th running of the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon as the probable favorite after the withdrawal of top domestic contenderKentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) with injury earlier this week.  In Nakamoto's absence Kiplimo's main competition is Fekadu Lema (Ethiopia), but with a solid pack of 2:09-2:12 Japanese men there could be a surprise.  Relevant debuts include 1:01:31 half marathoner Yusuke Takabayashi (Team Toyota) and sub-63 Moroccan Abdelmajid El Hissouf.

In the women's race, 2014 100 km World Championships silver medalist Chiyuki Mochizuki (Canon AC Kyushu), a three-time Beppu-Oita winner, returns to face last year's winner Haruka Yamaguchi (Kita AC).  Click here for a complete elite field listing, and follow @JRNLive for live coverage during the race…

Kawauchi vs. Adachi at Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon

by Brett Larner

The Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon organizers have announced the field for their 53rd running on Feb. 8.  Run on the home ground of the Takeshi Soh-led Asahi Kasei corporate team, Nobeoka is primarily a developmental race focusing on first-timers and young athletes trying to get the marathon right and typically sees winning times in the 2:12~2:13 range.  It's noteworthy outside Japan mainly in that every year the people who run around that level in Nobeoka make up a major part of the runners included on their coaches' annual junket to the Chicago Marathon, where some go on to take a step toward bigger things.

Recently things have been getting a little faster in Nobeoka, with 2:11 winning times in two of the last three years.  This year the organizers have taken a slightly different tack, invited three experienced men who should be able to work together to take down the 2:11:05 course record.  Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) is the strongest by far with a…

Nakamoto Withdraws from Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon

http://www.jiji.com/jc/zc?k=201501/2015012600546&g=spo

translated by Brett Larner

On Jan. 26 the organizers of the Feb. 1 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon announced that elite athlete Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) has withdrawn from the race with pain and nerve problems in the gluteus and quadraceps of his left leg.  Nakamoto was 6th in the men's marathon at the 2012 London Olympics and 5th in the 2013 Moscow World Championships marathon.  In December he ran the Fukuoka International Marathon to make the 2015 Beijing World Championships marathon team but finished only 12th in 2:11:58.

Chida and Kamitanida Win Katsuta Marathon

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/local/ibaraki/news/20150125-OYTNT50223.html

translated by Brett Larner

The 63rd running of the Katsuta National Marathon took place Jan. 25 in Hitachinaka, Ibaraki.  A total of 20,280 runners took part in the combined men's and women's marathon and 10 km divisions.  In the men's marathon, Yosuke Chida (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) claimed his first win in 2:18:15, while 2013 women's winner Manami Kamitanida (Team Hitachi) returned to the top in 2:38:29.

Conditions at the 10:30 start were excellent, with blue skies, 12.0 degree temperatures, 33.2% humidity and a gentle 1.7 m/s northerly wind.  Starting on Omotemachi Mall, the marathon course passed in front of Katsuta Station before heading north on Route 245 to Tokaimura where it returned to Ishikawa Exercise Plaza.

In the men's race, Tatsuya Itagaki (Team JP Post) took the lead at 15 km, but near 32.7 km a chase group of three caught him.  Chida surged on the hills around 34 km, and when the rest…

Kawauchi Sits Ekiden Out With Lingering Left Ankle Sprain

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2015/01/26/kiji/K20150126009696350.html

translated by Brett Larner

With lingering effects from a sprained ankle, civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi (27, Saitama Pref. Gov't) sat out the Jan. 25 Okumusasahi Ekiden where he had won the Fourth through Sixth Stages over the last three years.  Kawauchi was scheduled to run the Second Stage this year, but he is still experiencing pain from spraining his left ankle in late December.  "I haven't done real training in almost a month," he said.  "This is the first time I've had an injury last this long since I started working."

Despite not running Kawauchi was busy behind the scenes, carrying a Saitama Prefectural Government banner and cheering on runners from his high school, Kasukabe Higashi H.S., from the side of the road with a loud and enthusiastic voice.  He indicated that he still plans to run the Feb. 1 Saitama Ekiden next week, saying, "I want to be out there som…

Gamera 2:22:09 Ukrainian NR for 3rd-Straight Osaka Women's Win - Chepyego Sets Osaka Half Marathon CR

by Brett Larner

Two-time defending champion Tetiana Gamera ran a 2:22:09 Ukrainian national record to win a third-straight Osaka International Women's Marathon in the race's 34-year history.  Gamera went to the front heading out of the park around Osaka's Nagai Stadium and onto the roads before 5 km, challenged only by the last woman to win Osaka before her, 2012 champ Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya).  In that race Shigetomo ran 2:23:23, more than 30 seconds up on Gamera's 2:23:58 best from her 2013 win, but without a sub-2:30 from Shigetomo since then the odds did not look to be in her favor.

Shigetomo and Gamera pushed the pace to near 2:22-flat while a chase pack of eight led by 38-year-old Jelena Prokopcuka (Latvia) and 39-year-old Mari Ozaki (Team Noritz) ran closer to 2:24-25 pace.  With a sub-2:22:30 requirement for auto selection to the 2015 Beijing World Championships team Shigetomo and Gamera hit the half in 1:11:15, but at the 180' turn just after halfway …

Time for the Next Generation? Osaka International Women's Marathon and Osaka Half Marathon Preview

by Brett Larner

The Osaka International Women's Marathon holds its 34th running Sunday, with two-time winner Tetiana Gamera (Ukraine) going for a third-straight win and Japanese women going for places on the 2015 Beijing World Championships team.  Gamera's best of 2:23:58 came in Osaka two years ago, and with the withdrawal of Kenyan Margaret Agai it means that if Gamera is anywhere near the same shape this time then her main competition is likely to be 38-year-old Jelena Prokopcuka (Latvia) whose best of 2:22:56 also came in Osaka a decade ago but is still running strong with a 2:24:07 in Nagoya last spring.

Japanese women are facing a sub-2:22:30 requirement for Beijing representation, more realistic than the laughable sub-2:06:30 requirement for men but still a time no Japanese woman has run since 2007.  Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) has the fastest time since then with a 2:23:23 in Osaka three years ago, but with nothing under 2:30 since then there's not much reason to…

2015 Tokyo Marathon Elite Field

by Brett Larner

Last year the Tokyo Marathon expanded on its claim to legitimacy as a World Marathon Major with new course records of 2:05:42 and 2:22:23, alongside the London Marathon one of only two races in the world all year to have 9 men sub-2:09 and its grand total of 14 men sub-2:10 making it far and away the deepest race in the world in 2014.  But the absence of much big-name talent and Tokyo's lack of genuine international orientation meant not many people noticed or cared.

Continuing to expand on its legitimacy, the Tokyo Marathon has partially remedied that by pulling in both quantity and some quality names for this year's race, especially on the men's side.  All told Tokyo features 21 men with bests from 2:03:02 to 2:09:30, the other spring World Marathon Majors Boston having 15 men from 2:03:38 to 2:09:37 and London 13 from 2:02:57 to 2:09:54.  Alongside last year's Tokyo course record-setting winner Dickson Chumba (Kenya) are Boston and New York City Ma…

Tokyo Police Conduct Anti-Terrorism Drill in Ginza in Preparation for Tokyo Marathon

http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXLASDG22H5E_S5A120C1CC0000/

translated by Brett Larner

With one month to go until the Tokyo Marathon, the Tokyo police department carried out an anti-terrorism traning drill on Jan. 22 on the section of the course running through the Ginza area of Tokyo.  Roughly 80 people took part, including riot police, Tsukiji officials and members of the local shopowners association.

The exercise revolved around a scenario in which officers on patrol before the race discovered a suspicious man in a parking lot near the course.  Police dogs detected the smell of gunpowder on the man's bag, leading to the discovery of explosives.  Riot police wearing protective clothing transported the explosives to a safe location.

Tsukiji director Shinya Mito spoke after the exercise, touching upon the threats by the group calling itself Islamic State to kill two Japanese hostages and warning, "Terrorism is not just a foreign problem.  It happens right here in our midst in …

Thoughts on Disqualification in the Ekiden and Latitude in Application of Rules

http://www.47news.jp/smp/EN/201501/EN2015012001001451.html

by Jun Ikushima
translated by Brett Larner

At Sunday's National Men's Ekiden the Aichi Prefecture team was disqualified after its opening runner threw the tasuki, the sash that ekiden runners exchange, across the line to the next runner as he struggled to finish, the second time in a month that this sort of rare disqualification happened after an almost identical scene at last month's National Corporate Women's Ekiden, pictured above.  Prominent sportswriter Jun Ikushima wrote the following editorial about Aichi's disqualification.

On Jan. 18 in Hiroshima, the Saitama team won the National Men's Ekiden for the first time, but unusually for an ekiden there was also a disqualification.  Responsible for running the First Stage for the Aichi team, Atsushi Yamato (Aichi H.S.) became unsteady just before the handoff zone and couldn't quite make it to the line.  He tried to hold out the tasuki to pass it to w…

1500 m National Record Holder Yuriko Kobayashi to Retire at End of Season

http://www.kobe-np.co.jp/news/sports/201501/0007673131.shtml

translated and edited by Brett Larner

1500 m national record holder Yuriko Kobayashi (26, Toyota Jidoshokki), a Beijing Olympian over 5000 m, will retire at the end of this season due to a series of injuries according to an announcement on Jan. 19.  After her retirement she plans to make a living on the lecture circuit and making guest appearances at major races across the country.

Kobayashi became a middle distance star while at Asahigaoka J.H.S. in Ono, Hyogo.  While at Suma Gakuen H.S. she won the National Championships and National High School Championships, setting the 1500 m national record of 4:07.86 in 2006.  Later the same year she won the National High School Ekiden's Second Stage to help Suma Gakuen win the national title. 

After graduating she joined the Toyota Jidoshokki team, making the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2009 Berlin World Championships teams.  She later spent time living in the United States training…

Osaka Kunei Unseats Ritsumeikan Uji at Kita-Kyushu Women's Ekiden

by Brett Larner

A week after the National Women's Ekiden marked the end of the main women's championship ekiden season, 9 pro and university teams and 15 high school teams lined up for the 26th edition of the Kita-Kyushu Women's Ekiden, a 5-stage, 32.8 km race that features an 11.7 km anchor stage split into two for the high school runners.  Last year's winning anchor Misaki Kato got defending open division champion Kyudenko off to a good start with an 18-second lead on the 4.2 km First Stage, and after Kenyan Sally Chepyego was through with the 5.9 km Second Stage Kyudenko's lead was up to well over a minute, a margin they held for the rest of the race to take a second-straight win in 1:45:23.

With a long streak of Kita-Kyushu wins behind it, defending H.S. division champion Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. got off to a slow start, 2nd among H.S. teams on the First Stage and more than 30 seconds behind Kato.  2014 National H.S. Ekiden championOsaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S. was…

Saitama Scores First-Ever National Title at 20th National Men's Ekiden

by Brett Larner
video highlights courtesy of race broadcaster NHK

Championship ekiden season wrapped up with Sunday's 20th running of the National Men's Ekiden starting and finishing at Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Museum.  Strong start to finish, the Saitama team outran Japan's 46 other prefectures to take its first national title in 2:19:14, the third-fastest time in race history.

Saitama was right there from the start, opening runner Ryoji Tatezawa up against five sub-14 athletes but taking 6th on the 7.0 km H.S.-only First Stage in 20:14 just 10 seconds behind leader Shota Onitsuka (Fukuoka).  Many of the pre-race favorites had trouble on the opening stage, defending champion Nagano 17th, 2012-13 winner Hyogo 18th, hosts Hiroshima just 32nd and powerhouse Aichi disqualified after its first runner Atsushi Yamato threw the tasuki across the line to second runner Shota Ezomori after falling repeatedly in the final 50 m while struggling to finish, a rare disqualification …

Kariuki Sets Okukuma Half Marathon Course Record

by Brett Larner

In a period that sees many of Japan's long-standing small elite races folding or changing to mass-participation formats the Okukuma Road Race, launched in 2013 in one of the most conservative areas of southern Japan, is something of a throwback, a small race of around 100 men with an accompanying high school boys' 10 km and women restricted to 5 km because, well, that's how they roll in Kumamoto.

In its third edition, Kyushu-based Kenyan John Kariuki (Daiichi Kogyo Univ.) led the top four at the Okukuma Half Marathon under last year's course record for the win in a new record of 1:03:16.  Essentially unchallenged, Kariuki had a lead of around 10 seconds at 10 km and held that margin to win by 13 seconds over London Olympics marathoner Ryo Yamamoto (SGH Group) with Shun Inoura, an alternate for Komazawa University's Hakone Ekiden runner-up team, another 3 seconds back in 1:03:32.

Still recovering from a sprained ankle a few weeks back, Asian Game…

Hometown Hiroshima Looking Like the Favorite - National Men's Ekiden Preview

by Brett Larner
click here for video highlights of the first 19 years of the National Men's Ekiden

Ekiden season rolls on for a few weeks more, but Sunday's 20th anniversary National Men's Ekiden marks the end of the month-long run of national championship ekiden races.  Teams made up of the best J.H.S., H.S., university and pro runners from each of Japan's 47 prefectures race over 48.0 km in 7 stages through the streets of Hiroshima, with NHK's live commercial-free broadcast showing many of Japan's future stars to a national audience for the first time.  Follow @JRNLive for live coverage starting at 12:30 p.m. on Jan. 18.

There's so much growth happening right now in Japanese men's distance running that there's almost no point filling a preview with details about which teams are packed with talent.  Most of them are.  Hometown Hiroshima is not fooling around with its lineup, featuring 27:38.99 man Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Asahi Kasei), 2015 Hakone Ekiden…

Oishi, Hoshi, Hattori to Make 30 km Debut at Feb. 15 Kumanichi Road Race

http://kumanichi.com/fsports/marathon/2015/kiji/20150117001.xhtml

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On Jan. 16 the organizing committee of the Kumamotojo Marathon announced the 18 men and women making up the elite field for the 59th running of the Kanaguri Hai Kumanichi 30 km Road Race scheduled for Feb. 15.  The list is packed with talent from this year's New Year Ekiden and Hakone Ekiden.

At the top of the corporate ladder are Minato Oishi, the Fifth Stage winner for New Year Ekiden national champion Toyota, and 2013's 5000 m national champion Sota Hoshi (Fujitsu).  Three-time Hofu Yomiuri Marathon winner Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Mongolia, NTN) and Kyushu Gakuin H.S. graduate Daiichi Motomura (Nissin Shokuhin) are also on the list.

At last year's Kumanichi 30 km Yuma Hattori (Toyo Univ.) won in a collegiate national record 1:28:52.  This year his younger brother Hazuma Hattori (Toyo Univ.) takes up the challenge, looking to establish a Hattori dynasty.  From Hakone Ekiden ru…

Kiplimo and Nakamoto Return to Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon

http://www.jiji.com/jc/zc?k=201501/2015011500641&g=spo

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The organizers of the Feb. 1 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon announced the names of this year's domestic and international elite fields on Jan. 15.  Defending champion Abraham Kiplimo (Uganda) returns to lead an overseas contingent of four.  On the Japanese side, 2013 runner-up Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) and 2011 Tokyo Marathoner Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) are scheduled to run.  This year's Beppu-Oita will count in the selection procedure for the 2015 Beijing World Championships marathon team.

64th Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon 
Elite Field Highlights
Beppu, Oita, 2/1/15
click here for complete field listing

Men
Daniel Njenga (Kenya/Yakult) - 2:06:16 (Chicago 2002)
Kentaro Nakamoto (Japan/Yasukawa Denki) - 2:08:35 (Beppu-Oita 2013)
Yoshinori Oda (Japan/Toyota) - 2:09:03 (Tokyo 2011)
Yuko Matsumiya (Japan/Team Hitachi Butsuryu) - 2:09:18 (Biwako 2005)
Abraham Kiplimo (Uganda) -…

Withdrawals and Additions to Osaka International Women's Marathon Elite Field

http://www.sankei.com/west/news/150114/wst1501140040-n1.html

translated by Brett Larner

The organizers of the Jan. 25 Osaka International Women's Marathon announced on Jan. 14 that foreign invited elite athletes Margaret Agai (Kenya) and Karolina Jarzynska (Poland) have withdrawn with leg injuries.  With a 2:33:50 best from last year's Hannover Marathon, Kenyan Bornes Jepkirui was also named as an addition to the field.

Flanagan, Kamino, Koech, Makikawa and Mathathi Headline Kagawa Marugame Half Marathon

http://www.shikoku-np.co.jp/sports/local/20150114000155

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On Jan. 13 the organizers of the Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon released the elite field for the 69th running of the race on Feb. 1.  48 elite men and women including 9 from overseas will make up the front end of what promises to be an exciting race this year.  Former Toyo University Hakone Ekiden star twins Keita Shitara (Team Konica Minolta) and Yuta Shitara (Team Honda) feature in the domestic men's field after making big impacts in their corporate league debuts at this year's New Year Ekiden.  Several members of New Year Ekiden 3rd-placer Nissin Shokuhin also lead the large corporate contingent in the general division.

London Olympics marathoner Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) will return again this year.  Top collegiate names scheduled to run include Daichi Kamino, whose course record run on the 2015 Hakone Ekiden's uphill Fifth Stage set the stage for Aoyama Gakuin U…

Their Father a Kenyan, Distance Star Takamatsu Sisters Power Osaka to National Title

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20150111-OHT1T50282.html

translated by Brett Larner

Rising stars in the women's long distance world, the Takamatsu sisters powered Osaka to its first National Women's Ekiden win in three years on Jan. 11 in Kyoto.  Their father a Kenyan, Tomomi Musembi Takamatsu (3rd year, Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin J.H.S.) ran the fastest time on the 3.0 km Third Stage to pass five people and put Osaka in 2nd before handing off to older sister Nozomi Musembi Takamatsu (2nd year, Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S.) who, even though losing ground, kept the team in contention with the leaders.  Both played important roles in Osaka winning over defending champion Kyoto by 1 second.

Just before the finish and Osaka's come-from-behind win both Takamatsu sisters were all smiles.  Having repeated her stage win from last year, Tomomi said, "I had a lot of strong competition on the Third Stage so I'm really happy to win it again."  Getting a shout of, "G…

18-Year-Old Shimoda Sets Takanezawa Half Marathon Course Record

by Brett Larner

An alternate for Aoyama Gakuin University's course record-setting team at last week's Hakone Ekiden, 18-year-old Yuta Shimoda led the field with a 1:03:16 course record at the 42nd running of the Takanezawa Genki Up Half Marathon on Jan. 11 in Takanezawa, Tochigi.  Shimoda's time was a PB by over 3 minutes and was enough to beat fellow AGU first-year alternate Yuki Nakamura by more than 45 seconds.  AGU runners took the top four spots, with Hakone 6th-placer Tokai University alternate Ryunosuke Hayashi 5th in 1:04:28, also under the old course record.  Nami Iwahara (Gazelle AC) won the women's division in 1:23:22.



Course records also fell at the Oita City Half Marathon in Kyushu.  2014 Kita-Kyushu Marathon winner Yuka Yano led a Canon AC Kyushu sweep of the top four spots in the women's race with a course record 1:13:41.  Ethiopian Melaku Aberu, a runner for the locally-based Kurosaki Harima team, outran Oita native and sub-2:10 marathoner Tomoya Ad…

Kawauchi Leads 18,000 to Win Kagoshima's Ibusuki Nanohana Marathon

http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASH1C3S25H1CTLTB00N.html

translated by Brett Larner
click photo for video highlights via asahi.com

The 34th Ibusuki Nanohana Marathon took place in Ibusuki, Kagoshima on Jan. 11.  18,150 runners from across the country took part, basking in the warm color of 10 million rapeseed flowers and cheers from local residents along the course.

2014 Asian Games bronze medalist and civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi (27, Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran as an invited athlete.  Due to a sprained left ankle Kawauchi ran a conservative 2:24:10 but was still first across the finish line.  "The crowd support along the course was wonderful and I took strength from it," he said.  Chika Tawara (Fukuoka Pref.) won the women's race in 2:51:51.

Osaka Outkicks Kyoto on the Track for National Women's Ekiden Win

by Brett Larner
video highlights courtesy of race broadcaster NHK

2012 National Women's Ekiden champion Osaka returned with a vengeance, running down defending champion Kyoto on the anchor stage to win the 2015 national title by one second with fast-closing rivals Hyogo and Aichi coming in within the next two seconds.

The National Women's Ekiden features teams from all 47 of Japan's prefectures, each team made up of its territory's best J.H.S., H.S., university and pro runners.  Kyoto got off to a rough start when its opening runner Nanako Kanno, 2nd on the 6.0 km First Stage last year, tripped and fell mid-stage, handing off in 10th 25 seconds behind leader Yuka Ando of Shizuoka.  Osaka was even rockier, last year's First Stage winner Natsuki Omori 8 seconds behind Kanno in 15th.  Undefeated in nearly a year, high schooler Azusa Sumi just missed the course record on the 4.0 km Second Stage to move the Aichi team into 1st by 3 seconds over Kagoshima.  The strong Hyo…