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Barnburner Expected at Yokohama's Women's Ekiden, US Dream Team Has Good Chance
by Victah Sailer, photorun.net
February 22, 2007

Strong teams from the USA, Russia and Kenya, should provide a major display of woman's running prowess and fireworks at the Yokohama Ekiden this Sunday. These 3 nations may provide one of the strongest fields ever assembled for an ekiden relay. Weather forecast is expected to be 4C/39F to 10C/49F and cloudy on this out and back relay course.

On the first leg (5km), Jen Rhines (USA) is favored with a PR of 14.55 and is doing a full track season, after taking a break from marathoning and will go against 2005 World Marathon Champion, Catherine Ndereba (KEN-PR15.27) and Maria Konolova (RUS)-PR15.45. Expect Catherine and Maria to be a lot closer than their personal best. Catherine was one of the best road racers for years and enjoys running in Japan.

Olympic Silver Medalist Deena Kastor (USA)-PR30.50  is coming off a fantastic 7th US Cross Country Championship 8km win and should face tough competition over the 2nd leg of 10km from former World Cross Country Champion in Edith Masai (KEN)-PR30.30 and 2006 European 10km champion, Inga Abitova of Russia-PR30.31. Last year, at the Vattenfall Berlin Half Marathon, Masai was able to easily pull away from Kastor who ranked #1 Women's Marathoner, this should one of those fantastic finishes going into the 2nd exchange zone.

Expect an interesting 3rd leg (6km) to test Carrie Tollefson (USA-PR 15.04) coming from sub freezing temperatures in her home of Minnesota, to upstage Oleysa Syreva (RUS-PR15.25) and Irene Limika (KEN-PR15.18),  as they will hand it over to the fastest 5km woman in the field, Lilia Shobukhova (RUS-PR14.47) to open up some road on Elva Dryer (PR15.03) and Caroline Chepkorir (KEN)16.27 during the 4th stage (6km)

Heading into the 5th leg, Galina Bogomolova (RUS-PR30.26) should really open up a wide lead for the Russian woman, as she has the fastest 10k time coming into Yokohama. US Champion, Katie McGregor (USA-31.21) should be able to keep it close on the last exchange. The 6th leg(5.195Km) is where Amy Rudolph (USA-PR 14.56) should be able to make it a very close finish with  Regina Rakhimkulova (RUS-PR15.23) The race to the finish at the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse, should be a dandy.

*Race website here

(Editor's Note: Carrie Tollefson is the replacement for Sara Slattery who is out with a stress reaction)

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