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Fukuoka International Cross Country Meet - Results

by Brett Larner

The Mar. 7 Fukuoka International Cross Country Meet lived up to its name as foreign runners took three of the day's four main races. Beijing Olympic marathoners Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya) and Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) had mixed results as they and others ran in the last selection race for this year's World Cross Country Championships team on a warm and windy day.

Senior Men's 10 km
The senior men's race featured many of Japan's top runners, including Atsushi Sato in training for next month's London Marathon, Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) fresh from training in Kenya in preparation for an attempt on the 10000 m national record later this spring, and Yu Mitsuya (Team Toyota Kyushu) getting ready for his final World Championships as a track runner before moving to the marathon next year.

Middle distance runner Yasuhiro Tago (Team Chugoku Denryoku) took the field out, but before the end of the 1st km the race's lone Kenyan, Joseph Kiptoo Birech, finished warming up and opened a gap on the rest of the field effortlessly. Sato and Mitsuya went in pursuit and made contact just before the end of the first 2 km loop. During the second loop Mitsuya dropped back, replaced by Suehiro Ishikawa (Team Honda) who took over from Birech and led through the third loop. Birech retook the lead as the Yuki Sato (Tokai Univ.) and Makoto Fukui (Team Fujitsu) fell back to reduce the lead pack to six.

At the start of the final lap Seigo Ikegami (Team Honda) attacked on the flat, Birech and Atsushi Sato in pursuit. On the loop's steep uphill they passed Ikegami, Sato drawing into the lead before being overtaken on the following downhill. Sato remained a step behind Birech throughout the lap as Ikegami fell behind as was overtaken by a resurgent Mitsuya. Sato attacked again on the first of the three small hills just before the final straight, but as he drew even Birech put down his speed and kicked for the win in 29:15, Sato just a second behind in 29:16. Mitsuya held off Ikegami and Ishikawa for 3rd in 29:26.

Sato was dissatisfied with his performance after the race, saying he had come to win. Asked about the Olympic marathon, where he finished last, and about his plans for London where he will again face Samuel Wanjiru, Jaouad Gharib, Tsegaye Kebede, Martin Lel, Abderrahim Goumri and many of the other big name runners from the Olympics, Sato was forthright as he said, "At the Olympics I was afraid of running against those guys, but I realize now that I have to get out and run the big races. Atsushi Sato is going to resurrect his marathon and asks for all of you to support him."

Senior Women's 6 km
Yurika Nakamura, the only Japanese woman to finish the Beijing Olympic marathon, was the focus of the pre-race attention having just come from an extended training camp in New Zealand where she spent much of her time running cross country courses as she looks for a new direction for her marathoning. Nakamura took the lead from the start, with Russian Kseniya Agafonova and Tomoka Inadomi (Team Wacoal) just off her shoulders and a pack of five including top university runner Kazue Kojima (Team Ritsumeikan) just behind. All looked well until halfway, when Nakamura began to fade, first overtaken by Agafonova and Inadomi and then sinking back into the pack.

With one lap to go Agafonova leapt away from her pursuers and ran on to victory, only Inadomi coming close to staying with her. The Russian won in 19:33, Inadomi 2nd in 19:50. Yuki Numata (Team Shimamura) and Korei Omata (Team Acom) ran a short distance behind but were overtaken by Kojima in the final km. Numata managed to hang on and outkick Kojima for third in 19:59.

Junior Men's 8 km and Junior Women's 6 km
In the high school races, Sera High School's Kenyan ringer Bitan Karoki dropped down from winning the senior race at the Chiba International Cross Country Meet to hand domestic star Akinobu Murasawa (Saku Chosei H.S.) his first lost in four national cross country meets. Murasawa tried to stay with Karoki but lost out in the later stages of the race. Murasawa had the consolation of outrunning his only Japanese rival, Wataru Ueno (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) who was 3rd. Both Murasawa and Ueno, along with Yutaro Fukushi (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) beat Kenyans Ezekiel Chebotibin (Fukuoka Daiichi H.S.) and Michael Githinji (Aomori Yamada H.S.).

The junior women's 6 km was a close race and fast enough that the top three would have finished within the top six of the senior women's race. Chiba 2nd and 3rd place finishers Nanaka Izawa (Toyokawa H.S.) and Emi Kameyama (Tokaidai Fuzoku Daisan H.S.) went 1-2, with Chiba 6th placer Erika Ikeda (Chiharadai H.S.) moving up to 3rd. All three finished within 5 seconds of each other and more or less sealed their places on the junior national team for this month's World Championships in Amman, Jordan. Chiba winner Chitose Shibata (Kumagaya Joshi H.S.) faded to 5th.

2009 Fukuoka International Cross Country Meet - Top Finishers - Click each division for complete results.

Senior Men's 10 km
1. Joseph Kiptoo Birech (Kenya) - 29:15
2. Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 29:16
3. Yu Mitsuya (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 29:26
4. Seigo Ikegami (Team Honda) - 29:27
5. Suehiro Ishikawa (Team Honda) - 29:33
6. Hiroyoshi Umegae (Team NTN) - 29:39
7. Makoto Fukui (Team Fujitsu) - 29:41
8. Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) - 29:47
9. Yuki Sato (Tokai Univ.) - 29:54
10. Masayuki Obata (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 29:57

Senior Women's 6 km
1. Kseniya Agafonova (Russia) - 19:33
2. Tomoka Inadomi (Team Wacoal) - 19:50
3. Yuki Numata (Team Shimamura) - 19:59
4. Kazue Kojima (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 20:03
5. Korei Omata (Team Acom) - 20:05
6. Chisa Nishio (Team Starts) - 20:11
7. Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya) - 20:17
8. Yoshika Tatsumi (Noritz) - 20:18
9. Shoko Mori (Team Acom) - 20:24
10. Rie Matsumoto (Team Nihon ChemiCon) - 20:28

Junior Men's 8 km
1. Bitan Karoki (Sera H.S.) - 23:11
2. Akinobu Murasawa (Saku Chosei H.S.) - 23:24
3. Wataru Ueno (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 23:37
4. Yutaro Fukushi (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) - 23:46
5. Ezekiel Chebotibin (Fukuoka Daiichi H.S.) - 23:49

Junior Women's 6 km
1. Nanaka Izawa (Toyokawa H.S.) - 20:06
2. Emi Kameyama (Tokaidai Fuzoku Daisan H.S.) - 20:08
3. Erika Ikeda (Chiharadai H.S.) - 20:11
4. Asami Kato (Toyokawa H.S.) - 20:12
5. Chitose Shibata (Kumagaya Joshi H.S.) - 20:12

Junior Men's 4 km
1. Atsushi Nishimura (Sera H.S.) - 12:20
2. Akinori Yamashita (Sera H.S.) - 12:21
3. Hiroki Ishido (Sera H.S.) - 12:25

Junior Women's 4 km
1. Minami Nakaarai (Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 13:35
2. Miki Hayashi (Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 13:38
3. Minami Hasegawa (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 13:46

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
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