by Brett Larner
The Japanese track season continued the May 7-8 weekend with the first of three straight weekends of regional corporate championships. The Chugoku Regional Championships held its 5000 m the night of May 7, with Yuko Watanabe (Team Endion) and Hironori Arai (Team Chugoku Denryoku) having surprise wins in 16:08.48 and 13:58.65 over top-ranked woman Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya) and Kenyan Joseph Gitau (Team JFE Steel). The rest of the meet including the 10000 m will be held this coming weekend of the 14th-15th.
The Chubu region held its entire championships on the 7th and 8th, meaning many runners doubled at 5000 m and 10000 m in less than 24 hours. Kenyan John Thuo (Team Toyota), who ran a then-world-leading 10000 m last month at the Hyogo Relay Carnival meet, had the best run of the weekend, taking the men's 10000 m in 27:52.86. His teammate Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota) was the top Japanese finisher, 5th in 29:10.06 with a 57-second last lap. Kenyan Samuel Ndungu (Team Aichi Seiko) took the men's 5000 m with ease in 13:57.76. Mao Kuroda (Team Yutaka Giken) won the women's 10000 m in 34:21.47 while Yukie Nagata of the newly-relocated Team Toyota Jidoshokki won a slow women's 5000 m in 16:35.71.
The biggest news of the weekend, however, came at the Golden Grand Prix in Kawasaki, where the women's 4x100 m relay team, featuring 100 m and 200 m national record holder Chisato Fukushima (Hokkaido Hi-Tec AC) and rival Momoko Takahashi (Team Fujitsu) set a national record of 43.39 to win over a competitive Australian squad, the latest step in the continued progression of Japanese sprinting. The men's 4x100 m was also quick, with both Japanese teams going under 39 seconds. 2010 World Junior 200 m champion Shota Iizuka (Chuo Univ.) anchored the B-team to a 38.94 finish with the A-team, including 100 m national champion Masashi Eriguchi (Team Osaka Gas) and 2008 Beijing Olympics bronze medalist Shinji Takahira (Team Fujitsu) running 38.78 for the win.
(c) 2011 Brett Larner
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