Sunday, May 22, 2011

Fujimoto Wins 2nd-Straight Kanto Regionals 5000 m

by Brett Larner


Emerging from nowhere to win last year's Kanto Regional University T&F Championships men's 5000 m with the memorable words, "I feel like I woke up in someone else's life," Taku Fujimoto (Kokushikan Univ.) did it again, winning a three-way sprint finish against #1-ranked university man Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.) and Asian half-marathon jr. area record holder Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.) to take his second-straight Kanto 5000 m title on May 22 at Tokyo's National Stadium. Expected competition from rivals Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Meiji Univ.) and Benjamin Gandu (Kenya/Nihon Univ.) never materialized as Murasawa, who missed a World Championships 10000 m qualifying mark by less than a second at last month's Hyogo Relays, was relentless in pushing the pace through humidity and wind. Osako and Fujimoto, both of whom broke 3:48 for the first time last weekend in the Kanto Regionals 1500 m, sat on his shoulders, steadily applying the pressure. Murasawa tried to get away with a long surge over the final km but, although he managed to hold off Osako, Fujimoto's last kick proved too strong. Fujimoto took the win in 13:49.69 with Murasawa just behind in 13:49.91 and Osako another step back in 13:50.32, reiterating that his surprise win last year was far from a fluke.

The Div. 2 men's 5000 m was also interesting as newcomer Joseph Onsarigo (Kenya/Sozo Gakuen Univ.), coached by Samuel Wanjiru's mentor Stephen Mayaka, outran Takushoku's pair of Kenyan aces John Maina and Duncan Muthee for the win in 13:53.28. First-year Mitsunori Asaoka (Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) was the first Japanese finisher, 3rd overall in 14:05.93. Further back, Muthee, the winner of last weekend's Kanto Div. 2 10000 m, battled Ikuto Yufu (Komazawa Univ.), who outkicked Maina last weekend for the Kanto Div. 2 1500 m title. The 1500 m champ vs. the 10000 m. champ over 5000 m, and although both relatively underperformed Yufu came out ahead, 6th in 14:13.99.


The half-marathon is one of the events that sets the Kanto Regionals meet apart, ten laps of a difficult, twisting, hilly course through and around the National Stadium run in two sections with starts timed three minutes apart. Conditions this year were flatulently awful, with nearly 30 degree temperatures, high humidity, strong winds and unrelenting sunshine. Times were accordingly among the slowest on record. The lead pack in the Div. 1 group, including two-time defending champion Cosmas Ondiba (Kenya/Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) and 2009 Ageo City Half Marathon winner Shota Hiraga (Waseda Univ.), set off on course record pace in complete disregard of the conditions, and without exception all of them paid for it.

Eventual winner Hirotaka Tamura (Nihon Univ.) never made an attempt to run among the leaders in the early stages, only advancing to take control in the last quarter of the race. 4th-placer Soichiro Ichikawa (Waseda Univ.), a virtual no-name among the three-deep Waseda squad, likewise held back and advanced late in the race in a brilliant performance that fell just 3 seconds short of earning him the runner-up spot. Ondiba and Hiraga paid for their early speed, finishing only 6th and 7th, while Tamura's brother Yusuke Tamura (Josai Univ.) rounded out the top 8. The Div. 2 heat was more conservative, as a large pack led by last year's winner and Hakone Ekiden Sixth Stage record holder Kenta Chiba (Komazawa Univ.) held together throughout the race, winner Daiki Nomoto (Takushoku Univ.) pulling away from Chiba only in the final km.

In the weekend's other distance events, women's 10000 m champion and first-year student Mai Shinozuka (Chuo Univ.) came back to double with another win in the 5000 m. Kanto university women's distance running is relatively weak compared with the men's competition as most of the top women go to the Kansai region, but with a double title to name less than two months into her university career Shinozuka is someone whose name may be worth filing away.

Jobu University first-year Shun Sato also got attention with a strong breakaway win in the men's Div. 2 3000 m steeplechase, winning in 8:52.95 against more experienced competition. Sato's time would have been good enough to win the far deeped Div. 1 heat, where Kosei Yamaguchi (Josai Univ.) won in 8:53.74.

2011 Kanto Regional University T&F Championships
Part Two, National Stadium, Tokyo, 5/21-22/11
click section headers for video

1. Hirotaka Tamura (Nihon Univ.) - 1:05:11
2. Sho Matsueda (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 1:05:36
3. Daichi Motomura (Tokai Univ.) - 1:05:36
4. Soichiro Ichikawa (Waseda Univ.) - 1:05:39
5. Kentaro Tone (Tokai Univ.) - 1:06:16
6. Cosmas Ondiba (Kenya/Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 1:06:17
7. Shota Hiraga (Waseda Univ.) - 1:06:21
8. Yusuke Tamura (Josai Univ.) - 1:06:24

1. Daiki Nomoto (Takushoku Univ.) - 1:06:14
2. Kenta Chiba (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:06:19
3. Kensuke Ujihara (Jobu Univ.) - 1:06:29
4. Aritaka Kajiwara (Shoin Univ.) - 1:06:37
5. Masaru Aoki (Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) - 1:06:42

1. Mai Shinozuka (Chuo Univ.) - 16:27.88
2. Haruna Takada (Hakuo Univ.) - 16:37.66
3. Moeno Nakamura (Josai Kokusai Univ.) - 16:40.04
4. Nanaka Izawa (Juntendo Univ.) - 16:42.47
5. Hiromi Katakai (Josai Univ.) - 16:42.70

1. Taku Fujimoto (Kokushikan Univ.) - 13:49.69
2. Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.) - 13:49.91
3. Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.) - 13:50.32
4. Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Meiji Univ.) - 13:57.64
5. Yo Yazawa (Waseda Univ.) - 13:59.39
6. Keita Shitara (Toyo Univ.) - 13:59.16
7. Benjamin Gandu (Kenya/Nihon Univ.) - 14:03.57
8. Tsubasa Hayakawa (Tokai Univ.) - 13:04.66

1. Joseph Onsarigo (Kenya/Sozo Gakuen Univ.) - 13:53.28
2. John Maina (Kenya/Takushoku Univ.) - 13:55.17
3. Mitsunori Asaoka (Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) - 14:05.93
4. Keisuke Fujii (Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 14:07.10
5. Hiromitsu Kakuage (Komazawa Univ.) - 14:12.29
6. Ikuto Yufu (Komazawa Univ.) - 14:13.99
7. Duncan Muthee (Kenya/Takushoku Univ.) - 14:15.46
8. Wataru Ueno (Komazawa Univ.) - 14:16.51

1. Kosei Yamaguchi (Josai Univ.) - 8:53.74
2. Fumiya Tanji (Tsukuba Univ.) - 8:55.82
3. Shuhei Shirota (Chuo Univ.) - 8:56.84
4. Yusuke Fusejima (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 8:56.92
5. Shun Yamaryo (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 8:57.99

1. Shun Sato (Jobu Univ.) - 8:52.95
2. Shunsuke Mikata (Asia Univ.) - 8:55.95
3. Yuki Itaya (Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 9:00.79
4. Takaaki Osako (Teikyo Univ.) - 9:02.97
5. Tomoki Shibayama (Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 9:06.99

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

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