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Eight Meets in Two Days: 19 yr-old Karoki 27:23 Debut, Fukushi Double 5k/10k Win, Mitsuya PB and More

by Brett Larner

This weekend saw eight major meets across Japan, two university regionals and six corporate team regionals. With too many results to list in detail JRN gives you a quick review of the major performances starting with the university meets. Click each meet or event for complete results.

  • Kanto Regional University Championships, Tokyo: Detailed in a separate article with video links, Kenyans Benjamin Gando (Nihon Univ.) and Duncan Mozay (Takushoku Univ.) took both windy men's 10000 m heats, Gando in 28:27.18 and Mozay in 29:15.43. The top seven in the A-heat broke 29 minutes, including two Waseda University frosh, Suguru Osako and Fuminori Shikata. Both 18 year-olds now have PBs in the 28:30's, boding well for Waseda's chances this year. Osako lost out in a three-way sprint finish against Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Meiji Univ.) and Ryuji Kashiwabara (Toyo Univ.) who finished 2-3 with Yoroizaka taking 21 seconds off his PB to clock 28:34.12. The women's 10000 m was relatively calm until another three-way sprint finish, with Chisato Saito (Josai Univ.) coming out on top in 33:57.12 just a stride ahead of teammate Miki Yamada.
  • Kansai Regional University Championships, Osaka: 2008 national university women's 10000 m champion Michi Numata (Ritsumeikan Univ.) was the favorite for the win but was outkicked in a surprise win for teammate Machiko Ichikawa who ran 33:07.32. In the men's 5000 m the top two broke the standing meet record, with Toshiki Imazaki (Ritsumeikan Univ.) winning in 14:04.83 and Hiroki Mitsuoka (Kyoto Sango Univ.) 2nd in 14:06.00.

Turning to corporate results:
  • Higashi Nihon Jitsugyodan Championships, Tokyo: The fastest times of the weekend in both men's and women's distance events came at the Higashi Nihon meet. On the men's side, Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin) won yet another three-way sprint finish against sub-27 man Josephat Ndambiri (Team Komori Corp.) and, in his 10000 m debut, 19 year-old Bitan Karoki (Team S&B). Ngatuny ran 27:22.46, with Ndambiri next in 27:23.46 and Karoki 3rd in 27:23.62. Both Ngatuny and Ndambiri lost out to Jonathan Ndiku (Team Hitachi Cable) and Daniel Gitau (Team Fujitsu) in the 5000 m, with Ndiku emerging with the win in 13:27.54 after losing to Gitau in the 1500 m. Kenyans also took the top positions in all the women's races from 800 m to 10000 m.
  • Chubu Jitsugyodan Championships, Gifu: Outside Tokyo the best result of the weekend came from Kenyan John Thuo (Team Toyota), who won the men's 10000 m in 27:31.95 by a margin of nearly 40 seconds to continue his strong spring season.
  • Kyushu Jitsugyodan Championships, Kita-Kyushu: 2010 Kenyan XC champion Paul Tanui (Team Kyudenko) ran 28:16.49 to win the men's 10000 m by a slim 3-second margin over 2009 World Championships 10000 m last-place finisher Yuki Iwai (Team Asahi Kasei). Former Toyo University captain Tomoya Onishi (Team Asahi Kasei) was 3rd in a PB of 28:28.74. Recent Komazawa University graduate Takuya Fukatsu (Team Asahi Kasei) won the men's 10000 m B-heat in 28:52.29 over Hakone Ekiden legend Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu). Imai's teammate and 13:18/27:41 man Yu Mitsuya showed that he is on the way back from his failed marathon debut at February's Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon with a 3:46.32 PB to win the men's 1500 m.
  • Chugoku Jitsugyodan Championships, Hiroshima: Kenyans Danielle Filomena Cheyech (Team Uniqlo) and Joseph Gitau (Team JFE Steel) both took double 5000 m and 10000 m wins. Recent Meiji University graduate Takuya Ishikawa (Team Chugoku Denryoku) had impressive runs to finish 2nd behind Gitau at both distances.
  • Hokuriku Jitsugyodan Championships, Niigata: The most minor of the corporate regionals, Hokuriku's only noteworthy result came in the men's 10000 m where Kenyan John Wainaina (Team Omokawa) won in a comfortable 29:27.77.
  • Kansai Jitsugyodan Championships, Marugame: The only corporate circuit meet of the weekend without a single Kenyan winner was in Osaka-centric Kansai, the only district which does not allow teams to hire foreign-born runners. The lack of suitable competition meant easy wins for multiple national record holder Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) in the women's 5000 m and 10000 m, where she ran minimal-effort performances of 15:41.32 and 32:30.42. Atsushi Ikawa (Team Otsuka Seiyaku), who had a memorable marathon debut at Beppu-Oita in February, was the only man to break 29 minutes in the 10000 m, clocking 28:57.69.

Both the Kanto and Kansai Regionals continue next weekend. The highlight of the Kansai meet will be a 5000 m matchup between teammates Hikari Yoshimoto, the newly-minted 10000 m university national record holder, and Kasumi Nishihara, the 2009 World University Games 10000 m gold medalist, both of 2009 national champions Bukkyo University. Kanto features both the men's and women's 5000 m as well as the men's half marathon.

Most of the top corporate runners will be in Kyushu next weekend for the Golden Games in Nobeoka meet. The men's 5000 m looks exceptional, with 13:19.00 runner Kensuke Takezawa (Team S&B) and 27:38.25 man Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) lining up in the Kenyan heat with the likes of Ngatuny, Tanui, Ndiku and more. Takezawa has said his goal this season is to break his 5000 and 10000 m PBs, either of which would put him close to the national record. Sato is likewise on the cusp of a national record at 10000 m, so he may also be in it for something big. It could be an historic race.

(c) 2010 Brett Larner
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