by Brett Larner
The 24th Fukuoka International Cross Country Meet takes place Saturday, Feb. 27. The second of Japan's two selection races for its World Cross Country Championships team, this year's entry list promises a great matchup in the senior men's 10 km race. Three of the leaders of Japan's upcoming 18-25 generation, university 10000 m national record holder Kensuke Takezawa (Team S&B), 1500 m and 5000 m double national champion Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B) and all-time Japanese #3 over 10000 m Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin), are scheduled to start. Takezawa and Ueno are current teammates, while Ueno and Sato were teammates at 2008 national champions Saku Chosei high school, the only school in Japan which includes cross country as a core part of its training. Should all three make it to the line it will be a chance to see them race head-to-head. Also in the field is last year's Tokyo Marathon runner-up and Berlin World Championships marathon team member Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko). 2005 World Championships marathon bronze medalist Tsuyoshi Ogata (Team Chugoku Denryoku) has withdrawn due to injury.
In the 6 km senior women's race, 10000 m junior national record holder Megumi Kinukawa (Team Mizuno) is slated to run her first race since her DNF at last summer's National Championships. A superbly talented runner in high school, Kinukawa has been cursed by illness and injury since graduating two years ago. With many tapping her as the next big star in Japanese women's running during her high school days, people will be watching to see whether she is on the way back. Her main competition for a spot on the World XC team will be 2007 Tokyo Marathon winner Hitomi Niiya (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) who came 2nd at the Chiba International Cross Country Meet earlier this month.
The Fukuoka Meet will be broadcast nationwide on TBS from 3:30 to 4:54 p.m on Feb. 27. Overseas viewers should be able to watch online for free using the Keyhole TV software available here. Live English commentary will be available on our Twitter feed JRNLive.
(c) 2010 Brett Larner
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