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Aoyama Gakuin rules Hakone ekiden again

Kyodo

Aoyama Gakuin University won the Tokyo-Hakone collegiate ekiden road relay for the third straight year Tuesday after completing the two-day race with a lead of more than 7 minutes.

Aoyama Gakuin, starting with a 33-second advantage carried over from Monday’s first leg from Tokyo’s Otemachi business district to Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, never surrendered the lead over the five-segment return journey to the capital, clocking a total time of 11 hours, 4 minutes, 10 seconds for the round trip.

Aoyama Gakuin, which had claimed its first-ever victory in the event two years ago, became the sixth school to win three consecutive overall titles and the first since Komazawa University, which pulled off a four-peat through 2005.

Toyo University, the 2014 overall winner, moved up from fourth after the first day to finish runner-up for the second year in a row with a time of 11:11:31. Waseda University, in second place after Monday’s leg, was third.

Twenty-one teams from the Kanto region competed in the event’s 93rd edition, comprising a five-segment 107.5-km race on the first day and a 109.6-km final day run.

Yuta Shimoda, the eighth runner for Aoyama Gakuin, ran away to build a 5½-minute lead over Waseda.

In the penultimate segment, Kinari Ikeda padded Aoyama Gakuin’s lead by another minute, while Toyo overtook Waseda for second place. In the final segment, Aoyama Gakuin anchor Yuya Ando held on for victory.