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Gitau Controls Windy First Weekend of Kanto Regional University Track and Field Championships

by Brett Larner


Daniel Gitau (Nihon Univ.) wins the windy 10000 m at the 2009 Kanto Regional University Track and Field Championships. Click here for complete race video via Flotrack.


Kenyan fourth-year Daniel Gitau (Nihon Univ.) followed in the footsteps of the now-graduated Mekubo Mogusu (Team Aidem) with a double win in the men's 1500 m and 10000 m on the first weekend of the 2009 Kanto Regional University Track and Field Championships May 16 and 17 at Tokyo's National Stadium. Harsh, windy conditions prevented fast times, particularly in the 10000 m, but Gitau had an easy win in the 1500 m in 3:44.18.

Setting off at 2:45/km pace in the 10000 m with Mogusu watching in the stands, the 2008 national university 10000 m champion Gitau worked together with first-year teammate Benjamin Gando, Mogusu's successor Cosmas Ondiba (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) and Japanese star Ryuji Kashiwabara (Toyo Univ.) to battle the wind. As the pace slowed midway Gitau broke away at around 5000 m, opening a lead of close to 100 m before beginning to falter.

Meiji Univeristy ace Kodai Matsumoto came up from the third pack to catch Ondiba and Kashiwabara in the final kilometer and the three made major headway against Gitau's lead. The pair of Japanese runners dropped Ondiba as they fought each other over the last lap but could come no closer than 5 seconds to Gitau, who clocked 28:39.94 to claim his second regional title of the weekend.

It looked as though Matsumoto would have the stronger kick over the home stretch, but Kashiwabara summoned the same strength which gave him a 3rd place finish behind Mogusu and Gitau last year and outleaned Matsumoto at the line to take 2nd in 28:44.97, almost identical to his 28:44.42 mark last year but in far tougher conditions. Matsumoto's 28:45.10 was a PB by 5 seconds, impressive given the wind and creditable for the mature racing strategy he employed.

Gitau's teammate Natsuko Godo, who rose to become a major player in the Kanto women's ekiden scene last fall, staged an upset in the women's 10000 m with a 33:36.72 win over defending champion Yui Sakai (Josai Univ.). Although Sakai was far from her regular self, a distant 3rd in 34:22.68, Chisato Saito (Josai Univ.) held on to give Godo a race and was 2nd in 33:38.97. Maya Hirokawa (Tamagawa Univ.) had an even slimmer win over Kayoko Ishikawa (Juntendo Univ.) in the women's 1500 m, winning by 0.02 seconds in 4:30.51.

The Kanto Regional University Track and Field Championships continue May 23 and 24. Daniel Gitau will attempt to replicate Mogusu's 2008 triple with a win in the half marathon.

2009 Kanto Regional University Track and Field Championships Pt. I - Distance Event Top Finishers
click here for complete results

Women's 10000 m
1. Natsuko Godo (Nihon Univ.) - 33:36.72
2. Chisato Saito (Josai Univ.) - 33:38.97
3. Yui Sakai (Josai Univ.) - 34:22.68

Men's 10000 m
1. Daniel Gitau (Nihon Univ.) - 28:39.94
2. Ryuji Kashiwabara (Toyo Univ.) - 28:44.97
3. Kodai Matsumoto (Meiji Univ.) - 28:45.10 - PB

Women's 1500 m
1. Maya Hirokawa (Tamagawa Univ.) - 4:30.51
2. Kayoko Ishikawa (Juntendo Univ.) - 4:30.53
3. Miho Watanabe (Chuo Univ.) - 4:32.85

Men's 1500 m
1. Daniel Gitau (Nihon Univ.) - 3:44.18
2. Tasuku Arai (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 3:48.27
3. Kenta Matsubara (Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) - 3:48.97

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
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