Monday, May 2, 2011

Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational - Karoki Arrives, Fukushi and Ugachi Just Off National Records

by Brett Larner

Always a big meet on the Japanese calendar, Stanford University's May 1 Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational produced some exceptional performances. For Bitan Karoki (Team S&B), on the entry lists as 'Bedan' but listed as 'Bitan' on his IAAF profile and elsewhere, it was an international coming-out party as he became the third Japan-based Kenyan in nine days to set a world leader in men's 10000 m, 1st in a 10-second PB of 27:13.67 after dropping the rest of the field with comedic ease. The leading Japanese men's and women's half-marathoners of the year, Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta) and Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal), each set the year-leading Japanese time for 10000 m, Ugachi with a 20-second PB of 27:41.97 just 2 seconds off a World Championships A-standard time and 6 seconds off the national record despite tripping and nearly falling late in the race, and Fukushi 3rd in 30:54.29 in her best time since 2002 and first time under 31 since 2006, likewise missing the national record by 6 seconds.

Karoki, who came a hairsbreadth from breaking Samuel Wanjiru's stage record at the 2009 National High School Ekiden, set course records earlier this year at both the Chiba and Fukuoka XC Meets, clocking 27:52 for 10 km XC at the latter and then filling in the next day as an emergency replacement pacer for the first 10 km of the Tokyo Marathon. In Stanford he ran a hilarious race, abruptly taking off with 62-second laps with 3200 m to go after spending the first half lazing in the middle of the pack and casually looking around, opening a gap of nearly 100 m on the rest of the field and waving to the crowd as he came down the home stretch. It was a measure of how strong his run was that he won by 11 seconds despite every runner in the top ten running a PB apart from the first-timers. With a more controlled effort a sub-27 should be just around the corner.

Ugachi and all-time #3 Japanese man Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) were the only Japanese runners to show some aggression, trading spots in the lead pack before Sato, coming off a recent injury, fell back. Sato ultimately just cleared the 28:00.00 World Championships B-standard, adding his name to list of contenders for this summer's team. Ugachi was focused and made a move to advance in the pack late in the game but tangled up with another athlete's legs and nearly fell, costing him the seconds he needed to clear 27:40.00 for an World Championships A-standard. He did, however, clear the London Olympics 27:45.00 A-standard, reinforcing his position as the top current Japanese man.

World Championships marathon team member Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) ran a solid if unremarkable tuneup, clocking 28:24.59 after a 2:09:03 debut at February's Tokyo Marathon. The other Japanese men ran according to expectations based on recent fitness, with the possible exception of Karoki's teammate Yusuke Hasegawa (Team S&B), who finished last but still cleared 29 minutes. In the B-heat, Daisuke Shimizu (Team Kanebo) came within a few steps of winning as he ran 28:20.98, a time that would have put him 4th among Japanese runners in the A-heat. All four Japanese men in the B-heat cleared 28:50, meaning that all eleven Japanese 10000 m at Stanford broke 29 minutes, two breaking 28. And Karoki. Not a bad day, all things considered.

Fukushi ran an uncharacteristically controlled race, going out at a steady 30:30-30:40 pace and working together with Kenyan Sally Kipyego (OTC) and American Shalane Flanagan (Kimbia) to stay on track. Considering the stress she has been under with being in Christchurch for February's earthquake and then returning to Japan just in time for her home of Aomori prefecture to be hit hard by the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, Fukushi was remarkably focused and in control of herself. Unable to keep it together in the final laps when both Kipyego and Flanagan pulled away to clear Yoko Shibui's Japanese national record of 30:48.89, Kipyego with a PB and world-leading time of 30:38.35, Fukushi was nevertheless rewarded with her best 10000 m in 9 years, a welcome return to near-peak form that is all the more promising considering that she just announced that she is likely to go for the marathon for the London Olympics. Shibui's mark, the one national record Fukushi has been unable to take at distances from 3000 m to half-marathon, may well remain the one that got away and the one that haunts her to the end.

Further back in the 10000 m, Kayo Sugihara (Team Denso) led the second pack throughout the race and managed a 31:34.35 PB for 6th, a World Championships A-standard mark that puts her up with Fukushi and Hikari Yoshimoto (Bukkyo Univ.) at the leading end of the Daegu 10000 m contenders. Ekiden ace Yuko Shimizu (Team Sekisui Kagaku) also had a good run with a PB of 32:14.71 for 10th.

In other events, five-time 1500 m national champion Mika Yoshikawa (Team Panasonic) was solid in the women's 5000 m A-heat, leading much of the race before ending up 6th in 15:38.15, a good early-season performance that puts her at #2 among Japanese women. 1500 m man Kazuya Watanabe (Team Shikoku Denryoku) improved on his two-week-old 5000 m PB as he ran 13:38.90, likewise the #2 time among Japanese men for the year but only good for 13th. 5000 m B-heat man Takayuki Hamaguchi (Team Shikoku Denryoku) and steeplers Hiroyoshi Umegae (Team NTN) and Aoi Matsumoto (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) were all off their game, Hamaguchi and Umegae finishing deep down their fields and Matsumoto abruptly DNF'ing after looking strong near the front of the steeple pack.

2011 Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational - Top Results
click event headers for complete video
1. Bitan Karoki (Kenya/Team S&B) - 27:13.67 - PB, WL
2. Bobby Curits (Reebok) - 27:24.67 - PB
3. Ben St. Lawrence (Australia/Melbourne TC) - 27:24.95 - NR
4. Chris Thompson (OTC) - 27:27.36 - PB
5. Tim Nelson (Nike/Kimbia) - 27:28.19 - PB
6. Matt Tegenkamp (Nike/Kimbia) - 27:28.22 - debut
7. Stephen Sambu (Kenya/Arizona Univ.) - 27:28.64 - PB
8. Leonard Korir (Kenya/Iona Univ.) - 27:29.40 - debut
9. Kevin Chelimo (Kenya/OTC) - 27:30.50 - PB
10. Juan Luis Barrios (Mexico/Nike) - 27:30.68 - PB
14. Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta) - 27:41.97 - PB
19. Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 27:59.60
24. Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) - 28:14.43
27. Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) - 28:24.59
28. Yusuke Takabayashi (Team Toyota) - 28:24.84
31. Kensuke Takezawa (Team S&B) - 28:52.56
32. Yusuke Hasegawa (Team S&B) - 28:54.55

1. Sally Kipyego (Kenya/OTC) - 30:38.35 - PB, WL
2. Shalane Flanagan (Nike/Kimbia) - 30:39.57
3. Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) - 30:54.29
4. Lineth Chepkurui (Kenya/Nike) - 31:24.20 - PB
5. Molly Huddle (Saucony) - 31:28.66
6. Kayo Sugihara (Team Denso) - 31:34.35 - PB
7. Eloise Wellings (Australia/Melbourne TC) - 31:41.31 - PB
8. Jen Rhines (Adidas) - 31:43.00
9. Alissa McKaig (Zap Fitness) - 32:14.51 - PB
10. Yuko Shimizu (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 32:14.71 - PB
15. Miho Ihara (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 33:08.55 - debut
18. Kumi Ogura (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 33:37.89

1. Brandon Bethke (Quiksilver) - 13:25.82
2. Elliott Heath (Stanford Univ.) - 13:26.14
3. Thomas Farrell (Oklahoma State Univ.) - 13:26.59
13. Kazuya Watanabe (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 13:38.90 - PB

1. Nicole Sifuentes (Saucony) - 15:27.84
2. Sandra Lopez (Mexico) - 15:28.71
3. Angela Bizzarri (Brooks) - 15:28.74
6. Mika Yoshikawa (Team Panasonic) - 15:38.15

1. Billy Nelson (U.S.A.) - 8:22.44
2. Kyle Acorn (Nike) - 8:23.27
3. Ben Bruce (OTC) - 8:26.90
16. Hiroyoshi Umegae (Team NTN) - 8:42.38
DNF - Aoi Matsumoto (Team Otsuka Seiyaku)

1. Amos Sang (Kenya/Abilene Christian Univ.) - 28:20.35
2. Daisuke Shimizu (Team Kanebo) - 28:20.98
3. Tony Okello (Santa Monica TC) - 28:23.89
15. Tomoyuki Morita (Team Kanebo) - 28:40.05
23. Takaya Iwasaki (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 28:48.39
24. Ryo Matsumoto (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 28:48.97

1. Phillip Reid (Asics Aggies) - 13:39.67
2. Kenyon Neuman (Boulder R.C.) - 13:40.22
3. Kevin Schwab (Oklahoma) - 13:40.81
22. Takayuki Hamaguchi (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 14:37.05

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved


TokyoRacer said...

Congratulations, Brett. You called it perfectly (Karoki).

Brett Larner said...

At your service. I was wrong on Hasegawa, but everything else was pretty close to expectations/predictions.

Karoki was hillarious. Can't wait to see him run 26.

Martin said...

Good report ! What an event right ?!!
Here are some shots of Japanees athletes, if you want high rez version, just let me know !

Brett Larner said...

Thanks, Martin, some great pics in there.