Monday, May 24, 2010

Hakone's New Star Takes First 5000 m Win - Taku Fujimoto

translated by Brett Larner

Taku Fujimoto (3rd yr., Kokushikan Univ.) took down Toyo University's "God of the Mountains" Ryuji Kashiwabara and other top Hakone runners to win his first Kanto Regional University Track & Field Championships 5000 m. Battling rain, Fujimoto ran with self-possession among the leaders for the entire race until with one lap to go he shot away to return holding a nearly 20-second PB of 13:38.68.* With no really noteworthy results in high school and constant injury problems since entering university Fujimoto's talent has finally blossomed. He now stands to become the newest star of next year's Hakone Ekiden.

Only four days before the Kanto 5000 m he was suffering from back trouble serious enough that he thought about pulling out, but with treatment from his team's trainer Coach Ogawa, the 1999 Kanto Regionals 5000 m winner, he recovered sufficiently to decide to give it a go.

Lined up ahead of Fujimoto at the head of the pack were nothing but stars. The "God of the Mountains" Kashiwabara, this year's Kanto Regionals 10000 m champ Benjamin Gando (Kenya/Nihon Univ.), the top non-African at this year's World XC junior race, Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.) and others were all battling, but the one who came out on top was the no-name Fujimoto. Tailing the aggressive and talented Murasawa over the final kilometer, Fujimoto lengthened his stride with exactly one lap to go and effortlessly pulled away to the win. "I feel like I woke up in someone else's life," he said, wide-eyed in shock. After the race Murasawa told him, "I'm not going to lose to you at 10000 m after this." Feeling intimidated at the prospect of what the rest of the year holds for him, Fujimoto told reporters, "That was a bit scary, and Kashiwabara? He's from another world."

Fujimoto himself picked up some power from the mountain gods. A week before the race he went to western Tokyo's Mt. Takao with his teammate Nishio, "because it's a power spot." Nishio ran a PB in the Kanto Regionals half marathon earlier the same day that Fujimoto won the 5000 m and beat Kashiwabara. Does that prove Mt. Takao's power? "Definitely."

With no other significant results from high school or university Fujimoto feels there are no self-imposed limits upon him. He is now Kokushikan University's key man in its bid to qualify for the Hakone Ekiden after missing out the last two years. "I want all of us to go together," he said, "but, well, right now I've never felt so alive." With plenty of time to develop even further Fujimoto may be one of the biggest surprise breakthroughs of the year.

*Translator's note: Fujimoto's time exactly ties Akinobu Murasawa's PB of 13:38.68 from last month.

Taku Fujimoto: 3rd yr., Kokushikan Univ. 166 cm, 53 kg. Born Sept. 11, 1989 in Tokuyama, Yamaguchi prefecture. Joined the track team in 6th grade after a friend talked him into it. As a 2nd-yr. at Takamizu Gakuen H.S. he won the junior 4 km race at the Fukuoka Int'l XC Meet but apart from team qualification never made it to the National High School Championships. 10000 m PB of 28:44.88. Has never run 20 km even in training. Family includes his parents and two brothers. Nickname: "Fujimon."

2010 Kanto Regional University T&F Championships - Top Results
click here or on event header for complete results

Men's 5000 m A-Heat
1. Taku Fujimoto (3rd yr., Kokushikan Univ.) - 13:38.68 - PB
2. Tetsuya Yoroizaka (3rd yr., Meiji Univ.) - 13:39.31 - PB
3. Akinobu Murasawa (2nd yr., Tokai Univ.) - 13:39.65
4. Yusuke Hasegawa (4th yr., Jobu Univ.) - 13:43.31
5. Yo Yazawa (3rd yr., Waseda Univ.) - 13:44.10
6. Ryohei Kawakami (3rd yr., Toyo Univ.) - 13:46.55 - PB
7. Hideyuki Tanaka (2nd yr., Juntendo Univ.) - 13:47.12 - PB
8. Dai Nakahara (2nd yr., Josai Univ.) - 13:47.89 - PB
9. Tsubasa Hayakawa (2nd yr., Tokai Univ.) - 13:48.87 - PB
10. Keisuke Tanaka (4th yr., Josai Univ.) - 13:50.15 - PB
11. Benjamin Gando (2nd yr., Nihon Univ.) - 13:51.19 - PB
12. Ryuji Kashiwabara (3rd yr., Toyo Univ.) - 13:51.21
13. Masaki Ito (3rd yr., Kokushikan Univ.) - 13:51.30 - PB
14. Yusuke Sato (2nd yr., Nihon Univ.) - 13:57.01 - PB
15. Kentaro Tone (3rd yr., Tokai Univ.) - 13:58.63
16. Naohiro Domoto (3rd yr., Nihon Univ.) - 13:58.71 - PB
17. Keita Shitara (1st yr., Toyo Univ.) - 13:59.09 - PB

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