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Kanaguri Memorial Track and Field Meet Kicks Off Japanese Track Season

by Brett Larner

The Japanese track season gets underway Apr. 4 in Kagoshima with the 2009 Kanaguri Memorial Track and Field Meet. Named after the 'Father of Japanese Marathoning,' Shizo Kanaguri, the meet includes events from 4 x 100 m to 5000 m with divisions ranging from elementary school students to professionals and is the first event of the 2009-2010 academic and fiscal year, meaning many athletes will be making their debuts in new uniforms. The highlights are the elite men's and women's 5000 m.

The entry list for the elite men's 5000 m promises an exciting race. It's unlikely all the major protagonists will start, but if even half of the big names appear it will be a fantastic matchup. Lining up on one side are the three African runners who ran each other under the 8 km road world record in January's New Year Ekiden, Josephat Ndambiri (Team Komori Corp.), Yacob Jarso (Team Honda) and Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin). All three are on an improvement curve, and Jarso in particular looks poised for a breakthrough. They will likely become a quartet thanks to the presence of Hillary Chenonge (Team Aisan Kogyo), the man with the fastest PB in the field. Ndamibiri's teammate Harun Njoroge and several other Kenyans are also on the list. Theoretically making his pro debut is Hakone Ekiden star Mekubo Mogusu (Team Aidem), but after a car accident in February Mogusu has been out of training and it is doubtful he will actually start.

The top domestic names are sub-28 minute 10000 m runners and Kyushu-based rivals Yu Mitsuya (Team Toyota Kyushu) and Ryuji Ono (Team Asahi Kasei). The pair is the best bet for a Japanese challenge to the probable African domination of the race. Mitsuya in particular is on a roll, having won a 10 mile road race and his 30 km road debut earlier this year. Other big names include Toshinari Suwa (Team Nissin Shokuhin), Yoshitaka Iwamizu (Team Fujitsu), Tomoya Adachi (Team Asahi Kasei), Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Komazawa Univ.), Yasuhiro Tago (Team Chugoku Denryoku), Hideyuki Anzai (Team JAL Ground Service) and Tomoaki Bungo (Team Asahi Kasei).

Beijing 5000 m Olympian and 1500 m national record holder Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) is the class of the elite women's 5000 m. Kobayashi appears to be edging her way toward longer distances; after a strong ekiden season it will be interesting to see how she starts 2009 off on the track. Ritsumeikan AP University Kenyan Mary Wangari is the closest to Kobayashi's level, but it is unlikely that she or any other runner in the field will challenge Kobayashi. Next to Kobayashi the strongest domestic runners include marathoner Mari Ozaki (Team Noritz), university star Kazue Kojima (Ritsumeikan Univ.) along with her teammates Michi Numata, Risa Takenaka and Ikumi Natsuhara, and professional road aces Megumi Seike (Team Sysmex), Madoka Ogi (Team Juhachi Ginko) and Yukino Ninomiya (Team Hokuren).

Click here for a complete listing of the men's entry list and here for the women's entry list. The elite men's 5000 m is on page 3 of the men's listing, while the elite women's 5000 m is on the right side of page 2 in the women's file.

2009 Kanaguri Memorial Track and Field Meet Entry Lists
Elite Men's 5000 m
Hillary Chenonge (Team Aisan Kogyo) - 13:04.70 (2005)
Josephat Ndambiri (Team Komori Corp.) - 13:05.33 (2005)
Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 13:11.81 (2008)
Yu Mitsuya (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 13:18.32 (2007)
Yacob Jarso (Team Honda) - 13:21.30 (2008)
Mekubo Mogusu (Team Aidem) - 13:27.14 (2005)
Ryuji Ono (Team Asahi Kasei) - 13:32.67 (2008)
Masayuki Obata (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 13:34.32 (2005)
Harun Njoroge (Team Komori Corp.) - 13:36.29 (2007)
Yoshitaka Iwamizu (Team Fujitsu) - 13:37.99 (2005)
Yasuhiro Tago (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 13:39.13 (2008)
Kazuharu Takai (Team Kyudenko) - 13:39.85 (2008)
Tomoaki Bungo (Team Asahi Kasei) - 13:40.11 (2008)
Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Komazawa Univ.) - 13:43.34 (2008)
Cosmas Ondiba (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 13:44.65 (2007)
Keita Tsuchihashi (Team Asahi Kasei) - 13:44.91 (2002)
Tomoya Adachi (Team Asahi Kasei) - 13:47.08 (2007)
Yoshikazu Kawazoe (Team Asahi Kasei) - 13:48.57 (2006)
Toshinari Suwa (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 13:50.08
Kenichi Shiraishi (Team Asahi Kasei) - 13:51.19 (2008)
Hideyuki Anzai (Team JAL Ground Service) - 13:51.76 (2007)
Yoshinori Suzuki (Team Fujitsu) - 13:55.29 (2007)
Yusuke Takabayashi (Komazawa Univ.) - 13:55.64 (2007)
Yasunori Murakami (Team Fujitsu) - 13:57.38
Tomonori Ikebuchi (Asia Univ.) - 14:08.60
Tomohiro Tanigawa (Takushoku Univ.) - 14:15.52
Nobuyuki Yamanaka (Asia Univ.) - 14:23.48

Elite Women's 5000 m
Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 15:07.37 (2008)
Mari Ozaki (Team Noritz) - 15:12.76 (2003)
Mary Wangori (Ritsumeikan AP Univ.) - 15:13.09 (2008)
Ikumi Wakamatsu (Team Denso) - 15:20.48 (1998)
Betelhem Moges (Team Denso) - 15:25.26 (2008)
Megumi Seike (Team Sysmex) - 15:26.31 (2008)
Yukari Soh (Team Asahi Kasei) - 15:29.45 (2005)
Madoka Ogi (Team Juhachi Ginko) - 15:34.02 (2006)
Kazue Kojima (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 15:35.87 (2008)
Michi Numata (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 15:43.83 (2008)
Yukino Ninomiya (Team Hokuren) - 15:45.10 (2008)
Miriam Mwangi (Ritsumeikan AP Univ.) - 15:51.69 (2008)
Hiroko Shoi (Team Nihon ChemiCon) - 15:53.03 (2003)
Mayumi Fujita (Team Juhachi Ginko) - 15:53.30 (2008)
Nazumi Tomonaga (Team Juhachi Ginko) - 15:53.41 (2008)
Ikumi Natsuhara (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 15:53.57 (2007)
Rie Matsumoto (Team Nihon ChemiCon) - 15:57.11 (2008)
Risa Takenaka (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 15:57.40 (2007)
Ai Igarashi (Team Sysmex) - 15:57.76 (2007)
Yoko Nishimi (Team Juhachi Ginko) - 15:58.18 (2007)
Miho Nomiyama (Team Denso) - 16:03.07 (2006)

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
all rights reserved


dennis said…
Why is Mari Ozaki focusing on the track? She has no chance on the track. She did horrible last season and fail to qualify for beijing. She hasn't run a marathon since osaka world champs. Why won't she try to qualify for the marathon?
Brett Larner said…

I think she was going to run Osaka in Jan. but got injured. This is probably part of her recovery. Don't worry, I'm sure she'll be back.
dennis said…
Is this a selection race for Berlin? All these runners are mediocre. The only good ones are Madoka Ogi, Megumi Seike, and Kobabashi. Does Megumi Seike train with Mizuki NOguchi? She's the one to watch.
Brett Larner said…

No, this isn't a selection race for Berlin. It's just the first big meet of the season. The main selection event is the National Track and Field Championships in June.

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