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Takezawa no Match for Ngatuny - Hokuren Distance Challenge Shibetsu Meet Results

by Brett Larner

Tough conditions kept times slow overall at the June 14 Shibetsu meet, the third in the six-part Hokuren Distance Challenge series in Hokkaido. Five of Japan's most promising distance runners ran in the meet, but even taking the slow times into account all fell short.

Of the five, Kensuke Takezawa (Team S&B) had the best showing. A World Championships and Beijing Olympics track runner while in university with a 5000 m PB of 13:19.00, Takezawa ran the 5000 m in Shibetsu, his debut at the distance since turning pro in April, in the hopes of clearing the Berlin World Championships B-standard ahead of this month's National Track and Field Championships. Winner Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin) was very nearly the only athlete in the meet to run an outright creditable time, taking the 5000 m in 13:16.78, but while Takezawa fell short of the 13:29.00 mark he needed his time of 13:38.25 was good enough for 2nd and showed that he is on his way to full recovery from his most recent round of injuries. Takezawa outran former university ace Yuki Matsuoka (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) and his great rival, Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin). Sato's time of 14:00.33 in his first pro race against Takezawa was surprising given that he ran recently ran a 10000 m PB of 27:38.25. Takezawa's teammate Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B), another former university great, a high school teammate of Sato's, and currently the only man qualified to run the 5000 m in Berlin, was a surprise non-start, eliminating the chance for a great showdown.*

5000 m national record holder and defending national champion Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) won the 5000 m B-heat over 2008 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon winner Tomoya Adachi (Team Asahi Kasei) and his identical twin brother Yuko Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta), but his time of 13:54.63 was over 40 seconds off his record and suggests he is recovering from injuries. Matsumiya won last year's national 5000 m title by a slim margin over an injured Takezawa but looks as though he will be hard-pressed to keep Takezawa from taking his first national title this year.

Team Wacoal runners Tomoka Inadomi and Miho Notagashira took the top two spots in the women's 5000 m, but the main story of the race was 1500 m national record holder and 5000 m Beijing Olympian Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) dropping out partway through. Kobayashi injured one of her thighs in April and was forced to take over a month off. Shibestu marked her return to competition but it was evidently too much too soon. Kobayashi is scheduled to run both the 1500 m and the 5000 m at this month's Nationals. 10000 m junior national record holder Megumi Kinukawa (Team Mizuno) continued her own struggle back from injuries, finishing only 8th in the 5000 m but improving on her season debut by nearly a minute. Beating Kinukawa by one place was World Championships 10000 m A-standard holder Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera).

The Hokuren Distance Challenge series continues next month following the National Track and Field Championships. Click here for complete results from the Shibetsu meet.

*At nearly time as the Hokuren Distance Challenge Shibetsu meet, one of the top university seniors, Josai Univ.'s Yuta Takahashi, ran in the 5000 m at the DKB-ISTAF meet in Berlin in an attempt to get a World Championships qualifying mark by running against some of the best foreign competition, including world record holder Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia. Takahashi fell flat, coming in last by over 35 seconds in a dismal 14:23.49.

2009 Hokuren Distance Challenge Shibetsu Meet - Top Finishers
Men's 10000 m
1. Takehiro Arakawa (Team Asahi Kasei) - 29:03.35
2. Takashi Ota (Team Konica Minolta) - 29:04.70
3. Takeshi Kumamoto (Team Toyota) - 29:14.74
4. Tomo Tsubota (Team Konica Minolta) - 29:17.02
5. Shinji Yamashita (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 29:26.00
6. Naoto Yoneda (Team Konica Minolta) - 29:30.23
7. Teruto Ozaki (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 29:41.81
8. Kazuki Ikenaga (Team Konica Minolta) - 29:47.65
9. Toshinari Suwa (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 29:57.42
10. Masamichi Shinozaki (Nittai Univ.) - 29:58.74

Men's 5000 m A-heat
1. Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 13:16.78
2. Kensuke Takezawa (Team S&B) - 13:38.25
3. Yuki Matsuoka (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 13:51.89
4. Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 14:00.33
5. Yuki Nakamura (Team Kanebo) - 14:11.12
6. Daisuke Matsufuji (Team Kanebo) - 14:20.68
-----
DNS - Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B)
DNS - Bene Zama (Team Nissin Shokuhin)

Women's 5000 m
1. Tomoka Inadomi (Team Wacoal) - 15:55.75
2. Miho Notagashira (Team Wacoal) - 15:56.29
3. Hiromi Koga (Team Denso) - 15:58.37
4. Hiroko Shoi (Team Nihon ChemiCon) - 16:11.86
5. Takami Ota (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 16:16.48
6. Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 16:28.20
7. Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 16:29.12
8. Megumi Kinukawa (Team Mizuno) - 16:44.89
9. Yukino Ninomiya (Team Hokuren) - 16:46.75
10. Miho Nomiyama (Team Denso) - 17:05.43
-----
DNF - Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshoki)

Men's 5000 m B-heat
1. Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) - 13:54.63
2. Tomoya Adachi (Team Asahi Kasei) - 13:55.67
3. Yuko Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) - 14:02.72

Women's 3000 m
1. Shoko Mori (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) - 9:25.11
2. Murugi Wainaina (Toyokawa H.S.) - 9:33.49
3. Yumi Hirata (Team Shiseido) - 9:35.07

Men's 3000 m SC
1. Kazuya Namera (Saku AC Hokkaido) - 8:57.23
2. Akiyoshi Kamijo (Team YKK) - 9:08.98

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
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