by Brett Larner
Sunday's Fukuoka International Marathon isn't the only major race happening on Japan's southernmost main island of Kyushu that day. Across the island in Kumamoto is the 34th Kumamoto Kosa 10 Mile Road Race.
What the Ageo City Half Marathon is to half marathons, Kumamoto Kosa is to 10-milers: the deepest, toughest in the world. Where Ageo sees university men lining up by the hundreds to prove to their coaches that they are worthy of running in the Hakone Ekiden, Japan's corporate jitsugyodan runners do Kumamoto Kosa as a selection and tune-up race for the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden national championships. Almost everybody who's not running Fukuoka is on the starting line. It's a Japanese-only time trial, thank you very much, as foreign runners are politely given a one-minute head start and scored in a separate "International Division" even though all are based in Japan and run for the same teams as the Japanese runners.
Looking at the entry lists this year both divisions look pretty tantalizing. It's unlikely everyone on the lists will actually start, but some of the people who should be there include Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin), Martin Mathathi (Team Suzuki), Julius Gitahi (Team Nissin Shokuhin), Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin), Ryuji Ono (Team Asahi Kasei), Yuki Iwai (Team Asahi Kasei), Masaya Shimizu (Team Asahi Kasei), Satoru Kitamura (Team Nissin Shokuhin) and on and on and on. Assuming they start, the winners in each division are virtually a foregone conclusion: 59:50 half marathoner Gideon Ngatuny and 27:38 10000 m runner Yuki Sato of Team Nissin Shokuhin. Whether this happens remains to be seen. Unfortunately not live, as Kumamoto Kosa is not broadcast on national television, but JRN will bring you the results as soon as they're available.
(c) 2009 Brett Larner
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