Thursday, September 22, 2011

Andrew Benford Selected to USA Team for Izumo Ekiden (Izumo, Japan)

Andrew Benford,
shown en route to a 5th place finish
at the 2011 Cow Harbor 10K
in Northport, NY on September 17th,
will compete on the USA Team
for the Izumo Ekiden Relay in Japan on October 10th.

Benford on his was to winning
the 3K/5K double at the
2011 Atlantic 10 Conference
Indoor Championships.
University of Richmond graduate (UR '11) and current assistant coach, Andrew Benford (Ravenswood, WV) has been selected to the Team USA for the Izumo Ekiden Relay Race in Izumo, Japan next month.  The Izumo Ekiden is one of three national collegiate championship races held each year in Japan and is a huge TV draw with the races shown live, in their entirety to a national audience.  Benford, who earned NCAA DI All-America honors this past spring in the 3,000M Steeplechase, will join 5 other U.S. athletes on the 6 leg relay race.

Here is the wikipedia entry describing the legs:  "The race will be held on October 10th. The Izumo Ekiden in Shimane Prefecture of western Japan marks the beginning of the collegiate ekiden season and is for male university athletes. The race is 6 stages (8k, 5.8k, 8.5k, 6.5k, 5k, 10.2k.) covering 43.1 kilometers. The 23rd annual race was held on October 10, 2011.  Since 1998, a select team of Ivy league alumni runners from the United States has competed and found the competition quite stiff. The Ivy league representatives have finished in the last half of the field each time."

To be eligible for race team members must meet the World University Games age limits (under 23).  This year the U.S. will send their strongest team ever and will travel to Japan from October 5th through October 12th, with the race contested on October 10th.  Team members for the race will be:

ATHLETES..............5K PR/10K PR
-Andrew Benford....13:55/30:03(Road)
-Chas Gillespie.........14:01/30:00:00
-Jon Grey.................13:46/28:40:00
-Christo Landry........13:53/28:30.07
-Colin Leak..............13:53/29:37:00
-Landon Peacock..................13:42
-Scott Smith.............13:51/28:35:00
-Ted Price.............14:30/30:30:00 (Alternate)
-Thomas Robbins.....14:42/30:42:00 (Alternate)

Benford finishing 5th in the challenging
2011 Cow Harbor 10K on Sept. 27th.
According to USA Team Leader, Jack Fultz:  "If you've never run an Ekiden Relay before, each leg after the first is more of a time trial experience rather than Mano-a-Mano....Getting accustomed to visually anchoring on someone in front of you while focusing on your own rhythm and relaxation for the majority of the leg is KEY to running an even or negative split leg. This is crucial to running a good race..."

"The Izumo Ekiden is one of three national collegiate championship races held each year. It is comprised twenty-one teams and of six relay legs of 8K, 5.8K, 8.5K, 6.5K 5.0K and 10.2K and totaling 44K. Two athletes will be considered alternates in case of injury or illness and will get to race a 5K in a beautiful track stadium after the relay is completed.  The other two races are the Nagoya Ekiden, run in November with 8 legs totaling about 120K, and the Tokyo-Hakone Ekiden, run on January 1 - 2 for a total of 217K. All three are televised live nationally in their entirety" said Fultz.

Benford competing in the 2011 USATF National
Championships 3K SC in Eugene, Oregon where he
finished 15th.
 "This will be our 16th year competing in Izumo but this program began in 1990, competing in the Nagoya Ekiden until about 1995", according to Fultz. "We are yet to finish in the top ten of the 21 teams at Izumo and I'm very excited about our prospects this year though because we're by far the strongest we've ever been (on paper anyway)."

For more information check out Owen Washburn's blog from the 2008 race.   There are links to several other blogs too, including Max King's recap from a few years ago (King recently just won the IAAF World Mountain Running Championships Race in Albania.).

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