by Brett Larner
As he kicks off his second year of professional running, Ethiopian steeplechase national record holder Yacob Jarso (Team Honda) continues to solidify his hold on the title of best African on the Japanese pro circuit. For the second time this month Jarso outkicked rivals Josephat Ndambiri (Team Komori Corp.) and Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin) to win, this time with an extended push over the last lap of the Hyogo Relay Carnival Grand Prix 10000 m in Kobe on Apr. 26. Strong winds and high temperatures following a storm front kept times comparatively slow, but although his winning time of 27:38.67 cleared the World Championships A-standard of 27:47.00 Jarso was unsatisfied. "In my country," he told reporters following the race, "this kind of time is not good enough to make the national team. I must try harder next time."
World Cross Country Championships team member Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) was the only Japanese runner to try to run with the five Africans in the lead pack. "[The foreigners'] pace wasn't so fast today, so I thought I could stay with them," he said in a post-race interview. He finished a distant 6th in 28:28.37 as the top Japanese finisher, missing the World Championships B-standard of 28:12.00. Berlin World Championships marathoner Satoshi Irifune (Team Kanebo) was 8th overall in 28:41.23, nearly a minute off his 10000 m times of last spring and summer. Appearing emaciated in his televised interview, Irifune shrugged off the relatively weak showing and said it met his goals for a track race in the midst of serious marathon training. His new teammate Masato Kihara (Team Kanebo) was a surprise DNS.
Cheyech leads Ozaki, Nakamura, Fujinaga, Ogi and Kisaki in the women's Grand Prix 10000 m. Photo sent in by JRN reader Jason Meyeroff.
Kenyan Danielle Filomena Cheyech took down a cast of top Japanese marathoners in the women's Grand Prix 10000 m, running 5 seconds off her best time to win in 32:03.76. Beijing Olympics marathoner Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya) was 2nd in 32:13.89, while 2007 World Championships marathoner Mari Ozaki took 3rd in 32:20.92. 2009 Berlin World Championships marathon team member Yoshiko Fujinaga (Team Shiseido) was 7th in 32:58.78, more than a minute off her PB.
In other major distance events results from the Hyogo Relay Carnival's two days of competition:
・Harun Njoroge (Team Komori Corp.) outleaned young star Ryuji Kashiwabara (Toyo Univ.) to win the Asics Challenge men's 10000 m, 28:20.13 to 28:20.99. Kashiwabara's time was a PB and faster than that run by any Japanese runner in the A-heat Grand Prix 10000 m. With it he was selected for the national team for this summer's World Student Games. Komazawa University ace Tsuyoshi Ugachi was a short distance behind the pair and was likewise under the best Grand Prix domestic time.
・Kenyan Jelliah Tinega (Team Daihatsu) set a new meet record of 15:41.56 to win the Asics Challenge women's 5000 m. Tinega was 30 seconds ahead of 2nd place finisher Takami Nishiyama (Team Shikoku Denryoku).
・New Ethiopian recruit Nahom Mesfin (Team Kanebo) won the men's Grand Prix 3000 mSC by a hair over Japanese ace Hiroyoshi Umegae (Team NTN), 8:42.85 to 8:42.95. Umegae is slated to run next weekend's Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational in California.
・Mika Yoshikawa (Team Panasonic) had a strong showing in the women's Japan Invitational 3000 m, beating out her Kenyan teammate Christine Muyanga and two of Team Wacoal's best runners with a time of 9:10.70, a 14-second PB.
・High school student Minami Nakaarai (Suma Gakuen H.S.) challenged Kenyan pros Felista Wanjugu (Team Aruze) and Grace Kimanzi (Team Starts) in the women's Grand Prix 1500 m, splitting the uprights as she finished 2nd.
・Takeshi Kuchino (Team Fujitsu) set a meet record of 1:49.15 to win the men's Grand Prix 800 m.
Click here for complete event-by-event results from the 2009 Hyogo Relay Carnival. Top results from the major events are listed below. Click linked event headers for video highlights and linked athletes' names for interviews courtesy of Sun TV. The complete set of event highlight and winner interview videos from the Grand Prix events is located here.
2009 Hyogo Relay Carnival - top finishers
Men's Grand Prix 10000 m
1. Yacob Jarso (Team Honda) - 27:38.67
2. Josephat Ndambiri (Team Komori Corp.) - 27:40.32
3. John Thuo (Team Toyota) - 27:44.03
4. Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 27:45.03
5. Mekubo Mogusu (Team Aidem) - 28:08.00
6. Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 28:28.37
7. Atsushi Ikawa (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 28:36.19
8. Satoshi Irifune (Team Kanebo) - 28:41.23
9. Daisuke Matsufuji (Team Kanebo) - 28:57.05
10. Masayuki Obata (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 29:05.88
Women's Grand Prix 10000 m
1. Danielle Filomena Cheyech (Team Uniqlo) - 32:03.76
2. Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya) - 32:13.89
3. Mari Ozaki (Team Noritz) - 32:20.92
4. Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) - 32:24.00
5. Remi Nakazato (Team Daihatsu) - 32:29.45
6. Madoka Ogi (Team Juhachi Ginko) - 32:32.43
7. Yoshiko Fujinaga (Team Shiseido) - 32:58.78
8. Aya Nagata (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) - 33:00.80
9. Seika Iwamura (Team Daihatsu) - 33:13.27
10. Chika Horie (Team Aruze) - 33:19.20
Men's Asics Challenge 10000 m
1. Harun Njoroge (Team Komori Corp.) - 28:20.13
2. Ryuji Kashiwabara (Toyo Univ.) - 28:20.99 - PB
3. Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Komazawa Univ.) - 28:23.62
Women's Asics Challenge 5000 m
1. Jelliah Tinega (Team Daihatsu) - 15:41.56 - CR
2. Takami Nishiyama (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 16:11.70
3. Sayuri Baba (Team Sekisui) - 16:16.88
Men's Grand Prix 3000 m SC
1. Nahom Mesfin (Team Kanebo) - 8:42.85
2. Hiroyoshi Umegae (Team NTN) - 8:42.95
3. Masatoshi Kikuchi (Team Fujitsu) - 8:50.26
Women's Japan Invitational 3000 m
1. Mika Yoshikawa (Team Panasonic) - 9:10.70 - PB
2. Christine Muyanga (Team Panasonic) - 9:12.61
3. Tomoka Inadomi (Team Wacoal) - 9:15.84
Women's Grand Prix 1500 m
1. Felista Wanjugu (Team Aruze) - 4:21.55
2. Minami Nakaarai (Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 4:22.37
3. Grace Kimanzi (Team Starts) - 4:23.39
Men's Grand Prix 800 m
1. Takeshi Kuchino (Team Fujitsu) - 1:49.15 - CR
2. Masato Yokota (Keio Univ.) - 1:50.23
3. Yoshihiro Shimodaira (Team Fujitsu) - 1:50.37
(c) 2009 Brett Larner
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