Japan falls short in Chiba ekiden

CHIBA (Kyodo) Four Ethiopian runners produced the fastest times in their respective legs to give the country victory in the Chiba international ekiden road relay in a meet record time Monday, beating defending champion Japan into second place.

Ethiopia crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 5 minutes, 27 seconds in the six-leg 42.195-km race, which was contested by 13 teams from 11 countries and mixed three men with as many women. Japan came home in 2:06:39 and Russia took third in 2:08.47.

Opening-leg runner Ali Abdosh, Dejen Gebremeskel, Belaynesh Fikadu and Hunegnaw Mesfin won their legs for Ethiopia, which fielded a team made up largely of junior runners. Japan’s Yuriko Kobayashi ran fastest in the second leg, overtaking world junior 5,000-meter champion Sule Utura to pull the host ahead at one point.