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NAZ Elite team takes the win at inaugural Michigan Pro Ekiden

The Northern Arizona squad posted a joint marathon time of 2:10:11 to win at Wednesday's ekiden relay

Photo by: Instagram/naz_elite

Some of the best running teams in the U.S. travelled to Michigan to race in Wednesday’s in-person ekiden relay. The race—dubbed the Michigan Pro Ekiden—featured runners from seven squads, including NAZ Elite and Team Boulder. Extremely popular in Japan, ekiden relays see teams of runners split a marathon multiple ways. Canadian Rory Linkletter and the NAZ Elite took the win in 2:10:11, with Hanson’s A Team in second and the Minnesota Distance Elite in third.

Teams consisted of three men and three women. One man ran 5K, the next ran 6.1K and the last ran 10K, and it was the same for the women, working out to a total of 42.2K per crew. Leading off with the men’s 10K, NAZ Elite’s Tyler Day ran a 28:46 to give his team a 12-second lead over Hanson’s A in second. In Leg 2, Lauren Paquette extended the NAZ Elite lead to 29 seconds with a 19:19 split for 6.1K before trading off with Linkletter, who ran the men’s 5K leg. Shadrack Biwott, a 2:12 marathoner runner for Hanson’s B Team, grabbed the fastest 5K split of the day in 14:41, 12 seconds ahead of second-place Linkletter. Halfway through the race, the NAZ Elite team still had a healthy lead on the rest of the field. 

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With a 10K split of 32:37, Annie Frisbie of the Minnesota Elite did what she could to bring her team back within reach of the lead, but NAZ Elite’s Kellyn Taylor finished just 30 seconds behind her in second place to maintain her team’s lead. At this point, the NAZ Elite had built quite a buffer on second place, and unless one or both of their final runners had a horrible leg, they were set to run away with the win. 

U.S. Olympic marathon qualifier Jake Riley of Team Boulder won the men’s 6.1K leg in 17:23, but not too far behind was NAZ Elite’s Scott Fauble, whose teammate Danielle Shanahan closed out the relay with a 16:18 5K to solidify the squad’s 2:10:11 win. With a finishing time of 2:12:08, Hanson’s A Team finished almost two full minutes back of the NAZ Elite, and the Minnesota Distance Elite grabbed the last spot on the podium in 2:12:51. 

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The Michigan Pro Ekiden was an exciting event, and it gave some of North America’s best runners the chance to race while having some fun with their teammates at the same time. For full results from the event, click here.