See official website
for a map of the course.
Runners lined up in Tsukuba Central Park, with six-time-winner Ritsumeikan University from Kyoto the favourite.
A group of runners reached the first hand-off after 5k, with Ritsumeikan's Risa Takenaka a close second to Kyoto Sangyo University's Itoh, who finished in 16:06.
Kyoto Sangyo lead into the second 3k leg, followed by Ritsumeikan and three more runners. On the home-straight Meijo University's Urakawa took the lead, but could not quite shake RItsumeikan's Komai. The time for these 3k was 25:35.
Ritsumeikan's Kojima eased into the third leg (5.5k), but took the lead at 2k, finishing with a 25sec. lead over Meijo, which was closely followed by Bukkyo University.
The lead did not change at the next hand-off, but Bukkyo closed in on Meijo, catching up with the second-placed team at about 1k of the fifth leg (6k), eventually taking second position, but Ritsumeikan remained 25sec. ahead, keeping the lead into the sixth leg. Bukkyo left Meijo behind with about 1k left, Ritsumeikans's Iwakawa handed off to ace-anchor Numata with about 20sec., with Meijo another 10sec. back.
The anchor-leg of 7.67k started with Bukkyo's Nishihara surprisingly closing in on Numata, leaving her with just 9sec. lead at the half-way-mark. People were hoping for a surprise after six years of unchallenged dominance by Ritsumeikan, but Numata ran a gutsy last k, staying clear of Bukkyo by about 3sec.!
Well, thanks to Nishihara, fans had a reason to cheer at the stadium!
Meijo finished third, about one minute back, Nichidai's Kenian exchange-student Ann Kingori managed to to move up her school to fourth, followed by Jousai and Tokyo University of agriculture.
As Ritsumeikan's Uji high-school seems to rule the high-school events, it may be a long time for the others to catch up!