by Brett Larner
Less than a week after a brilliant run in the Izumo Ekiden, Toyo University senior Tomoya Onishi barely missed becoming the second university student to break the hour mark on the Takashimadaira Road Race's 20 km course, winning his second straight Takashimadaira title in 1:00:05.
Takashimadaira serves as an early-season tuneup for Tokyo-area universities, with three or four schools sending a mix of ace runners wanting a controlled time trial effort on the roads and B-squad members who did not run in either the previous week's Izumo Ekiden or the previous day's Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai [Qualifying] 20 km but still have a chance of making the final team for Hakone.
Toyo fielded a full squad including half its team from the Oct. 13 Izumo Ekiden, but gave star first-year Ryuji Kashiwabara and Izumo team members Hiroyuki Uno and Masaya Mori a rest. Izumo Ekiden runner-up Komazawa University sent a smaller group, none of whom had run Izumo. Kanagawa University and Shuto University Tokyo likewise sent their secondary teams, each school's top twelve athletes having run the previous day's Yosenkai race.
Onishi, who won last year's race in 1:00:52, controlled the field right from the gun, running each iteration of the four-lap criterion course progressively faster. In sunny and warm conditions which became steadily windier, Onishi led a large pack through a relatively slow first 5 km lap of 15:15. A 15:00 second lap dropped the pack down to eight made up of five Toyo runners, two from Komazawa, and the race's lone professional, Tsuyoshi Igarashi of Team JR Higashi Nihon. As the winds picked up Onishi pressed on in search of a sub-hour mark. By the end of the 14:58 third lap the pack was down to just Onishi, teammate Shogo Otsu, and Igarashi. Despite a strong headwind at the finish, Onishi managed a 14:50 final 5 km to finish just over an hour. Otsu and Igarashi were a short distance behind, with the student runner beating out the professional in a sprint finish.
Toyo and Komazawa will next face each other in November's All-Japan University Ekiden championships.
Takashimadaira Road Race 20 km - Top Finishers
1. Tomoya Onishi (Toyo Univ.) - 1:00:05
2. Shogo Otsu (Toyo Univ.) - 1:00:15
3. Tsuyoshi Igarashi (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 1:00:16
4. Shuichi Fujiyama (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:01:03
5. Ryo Takami (Toyo Univ.) - 1:01:09
6. Hikaru Tominaga (Toyo Univ.) - 1:01:38
7. Tatsuya Yokoyama (Toyo Univ.) - 1:01:46
8. Kotaro Fujioka (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:01:46
9. Atsuyoshi Tobisaka (Toyo Univ.) - 1:01:53
10. Taishu Iwai (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:02:10
Takashimadaira Road Race - Course Records
Men's 20 km: Hideaki Date (Tokai Univ.) - 58:51 (2006)
Women's 20 km: Asami Obi (Team Starts) - 1:07:15 (2004)
Men's 10 km: Karamore Tsunaki (Team Honda) - 29:06 (1995)
Women's 10 km: Julia Mombi (Team Phiten) - 32:42 (2004)
Men's 5 km: Nobuaki Nagai (Dream AC) - 14:49 (2005)
Women's 5 km: Ai Mitamura (Team Phiten) - 16:24 (2004)
(c) 2008 Brett Larner
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