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2010 Track Season Starts With Kanaguri Memorial Meet

by Brett Larner

The 2010 Japanese track season starts tomorrow at Kumamoto's Kanaguri Memorial Track and Field Meet, named after Japan's first Olympic marathoner Shizo Kanaguri. Many of the country's top pro, university and high school runners will open their seasons in the meet's 5000 m and 1500 m events.

The men's 5000 m may be the most competitive of the meet, with top Japanese-based Kenyan Josephat Ndambiri (Team Komori Corp.) and three of the best young Japanese runners, Yu Mitsuya (Team Toyota Kyushu), Kensuke Takezawa (Team S&B) and Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B). Along with Mitsuya, Kenyan Mekubo Mogusu (Team Aidem) will be looking for a good season-starter after a failed marathon debut. Kenyan high school student Titus Waruru (Chinzai H.S.) doesn't have a strong PB but has been tearing up the high school road circuit over the last year and could run something big.

The women's 5000 m is likely to be a battle between Ethiopian Betelhem Moges (Team Denso) and Kenyans Doricah Obare (Team Hitachi) and Danielle Cheyech (Team Uniqlo), but a strong performance by Mari Ozaki (Team Denso) at January's Osaka International Women's Marathon showed she is back to near her past form. University star Kazue Kojima (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) will be making her pro debut, and the talented 10000 m junior national record holder Megumi Kinukawa (Team Mizuno) will try to take another step on the road back from the injuries that have kept her out of commission for almost two years.

In the men's 1500 m, national record holder Fumikazu Kobayashi (Team NTN) will be looking to get his season off to a good start after the humiliation of being shut out of last summer's World Championships by interloper Yuichiro Ueno. Kenyan Jonathan Ndiku (Team Hitachi Cable) and Ethiopian Nahom Mesfin (Team Kanebo) should be Kobayashi's main competition. Of particular interest is the presence of Mesfin's teammate Masato Kihara, who at age 20 ran a 1:01:50 half marathon, the fastest time ever by a Japanese university student on a record-legal course. Kihara is now coached by 3000 m, 10000 m and marathon national record holder Toshinari Takaoka who believes in spending years working on track speed before moving to the marathon.

Women's 1500 m national record holder Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshoki), no relation to the men's 1500 m national record holder, will make a return to the 1500 m after more success at 5000 m in the last two years. Her only real competition is likely to come from her Kenyan teammate Ann Karindi. Kobayashi and teammates Kazue Kojima and Ayaka Mori will be headed to California after the meet to run in next weekend's Mt. Sac Relays.

2010 Kanaguri Memorial T&F Meet - Entry List Highlights
click here for complete entry lists
Men's 5000 m
Josephat Ndambiri (Kenya/Team Komori Corp.) - 13:05.33
Yu Mitsuya (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 13:18.32
Kensuke Takezawa (Team S&B) - 13:19.00
Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B) - 13:21.49
Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya/Team Aidem) - 13:27.14
Nicholas Makau (Kenya/Yachiyo Kogyo) - 13:27.49
Titus Waruru (Kenya/Chinzai H.S.) - 13:47.00

Women's 5000 m
Doricah Obare (Kenya/Team Hitachi) - 15:04.87
Mari Ozaki (Team Noritz) - 15:12.76
Danielle Filomena Cheyech (Kenya/Team Uniqlo) - 15:19.47
Betelhem Moges (Ethiopia/Team Denso) - 15:25.26
Megumi Kinukawa (Team Mizuno) - 15:27.98
Keiko Nogami (Team Juhachi Ginko) - 15:28.47
Kazue Kojima (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) - 15:35.87
Seika Nishikawa (Team Sysmex) - 15:38.22

Men's 1500 m
Fumikazu Kobayashi (Team NTN) - 3:37.42 - NR
Jonathan Ndiku (Team Hitachi Cable) - 3:41.83
Nahom Mesfin (Ethiopia/Team Kanebo) - 3:43.31
Hiroshi Ino (Team Fujitsu) - 3:43.98
Daisuke Tamura (SDF Academy) - 3:44.42
Masato Kihara (Team Kanebo) - 3:45.00
Daiki Tsutsumi (SDF Academy) - 3:45.00

Women's 1500 m
Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) - 4:07.86 - NR
Ann Karindi (Kenya/Team Toyota Jidoshoki) - 4:12.75
Yukari So (Asahi Kasei AC) - 4:13.79
Ayumi Takada (Canon AC) - 4:17.00
Mutsumi Ikeda (Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 4:19.33

(c) 2010 Brett Larner
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