Sunday, July 26, 2009

Kanbara Remains Unbeaten in Fuji Tozan Mountain Race

by Brett Larner

Heavy rain cut the 2009 Fuji Tozan Mountain Race down to size, but two-time defending women's champion Yuri Kanbara and 2006 men's winner Toru Miyahara nevertheless prevailed again to pick up this year's titles.

With conditions dangerous above Mt. Fuji's 2256 m-high 5th Stage on the July 24 race morning, organizers made the decision 30 minutes before the 7:00 a.m. start to shorten the event's 21 km long, 3000 m elevation gain Summit Race. Rather than reaching the summit, athletes in the long race would end at the 5th stage along with the event's 15 km long, 1480 m elevation gain 5th Stage Race entrants. This meant the true uphill specialists in the field such as Kanbara were at a competitive disadvantage against faster athletes who could withstand the relatively mild climb and paved first half of the 5th Stage course.

The rain let up just minutes before the start, leaving the fields in the two divisions with the coolest, most ideal conditions in recent Fuji Tozan history. Miyahara responded with a course-record 1:15:15 victory, beating runner-up Toru Azuma by over six and a half minutes. Kanbara's win was even more decisive. Facing down an expected challenge from rival Tomoko Tamamushi, Kanbara ran 1:33:00 to win by nearly 12 minutes, a feat all the more impressive considering that it did not include the part of the Fuji Tozan course which most plays to her strengths. For their victories Miyahara and Kanbara picked up invitations to the Oct. 25 Mt. Kinabalu mountain race in Malaysia.

Running on the same course an hour and a half later, first-timer Naoto Ikuta unseated two-time defending 5th Stage Race champion Takanori Ono to take the men's division in 1:21:48. Running the 5th Stage Race for the seventh time, Takako Seijo won the women's division for the first with a 1:53:12 clocking.

Click here for complete results from the 2009 Fuji Tozan Mountain Race.

2009 Fuji Tozan Mountain Race - Top Finishers
Summit Race - Men
1. Toru Miyahara - 1:15:15 - CR
2. Toru Azuma - 1:21:47
3. Takahiro Kurihara - 1:23:14
4. Kenichi Hirayama - 1:25:03
5. Suguru Emoto - 1:25:15

Summit Race - Women
1. Yuri Kanbara - 1:33:00
2. Junko Ishikawa - 1:44:53
3. Natsumi Mineshima - 1:45:59
4. Yoshimi Kasezawa - 1:48:59
5. Tomoko Tamamushi - 1:49:19

5th Stage Race - Men
1. Naoto Ikuta - 1:21:48
2. Yoichi Nakanishi - 1:26:04
3. Masahiro Ito - 1:27:44

5th Stage Race - Women
1. Takako Seijo - 1:53:12
2. Satohi Numasawa - 1:56:35
3. Kishiko Suto - 1:59:57

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

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