Nippon Sport Science leads ekiden

Kyodo

Captain Shota Hattori reeled in Toyo University on the mountainous fifth leg as Nippon Sport Science University grabbed a slim lead in the first half of the Tokyo-Hakone men’s collegiate ekiden road relay on Wednesday.

Hattori and his four teammates traversed the 108-kilometer course from Tokyo’s Otemachi district to the spa resort of Hakone in Kanagawa Prefecture in 5 hours, 40 minutes, 15 seconds.

Waseda University, the 2011 Tokyo-Hakone ekiden champion, was in second and will start Thursday’s 109.9-km return trip 2:35 after Nippon Sport Science.

Toyo University, which is gunning for its second consecutive overall title, is four seconds further behind in third.

Aoyama Gakuin University, which won the Izumo Ekiden that marks the beginning of the collegiate ekiden for male university students, was sixth while All-Japan Collegiate Ekiden champion Komazawa University could only manage ninth.

Hattori negotiated the 23.4-km longest and steepest section from Odawara to Lake Ashinoko, Hakone at a breakneck pace, charging out of second to finish in 1:20:35.