THE Chiba International Ekiden looks set to have a distinct Ballarat flavour, with Ballarat athletics coach Rod Griffin and long distance runner Duer Yoa named as part of the Australian contingent.
Griffin has been assigned the role of head coach for the eight-strong team for the second year in a row, while the Sudanese-born Yoa has been named as the men’s emergency for the event, which runs in Japan’s Chiba City on November 23. The Chiba International Ekiden is one of the most recognised events of its kind, with 13 countries taking part this year.
Each country fields teams of six runners, three men and three women, for the 42.195-kilometre event, each of whom have to run a different leg of the race, varying between five and 10 kilometres a leg.
Australia won back-to-back titles in 1991-1992, but has struggled to remain competitive in recent years.
“I’m so pleased that Duer has been given the opportunity to come across and see this world-class race because he could well be back here competing next year,” Griffen said.
Yoa will use this weekend’s Melbourne half-marathon as preparation for the Ekiden, if he is required to compete. If he performs well on the weekend then Japanese sporting company Mizuno could offer him sponsorship for the following year.
Steve Kelly will lead the Australian contingent.
Meanwhile, another of Griffin’s understudies, Courtney Scott, will represent Ballarat in Australia’s premium 10-kilometre road race at the Burnie 10 on October 20.