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Weekend Track Roundup

by Brett Larner

It was a relatively quiet long weekend across Japan, with a smattering of prefectural track championships across the country in the hot sun ahead of an approaching typhoon.  At the Kyoto Prefecture Championships, Bukkyo University-related runners cleaned up, taking the top five spots in the women's 5000 m led by recent graduate Kasumi Nishihara's meet record 15:39.28.  An impressive mark considering that it was run in temperatures in the mid-30's with high humidity.    Fresh from being named to the Japanese 10000 m squad for next month's World Championships, Bukkyo's top current runner Hikari Yoshimoto won the women's 3000 m in 9:14.75, her first win after a few relatively flat months.

Bukkyo's major rival Ritsumeikan University mostly gave the Kyoto meet a miss, opting instead for the West Japan University Championships in Gifu.  There team leader Risa Takenaka also set a meet record in the 5000 m, running 15:59.07 in even hotter, wetter conditions than Nishihara had in Kyoto.

The most major domestic action actually took place overseas at the Kenyan Championships, where a raft of the best Japan-based Kenyans lined up in the 10000 m to shoot for one of the two guaranteed places on Kenya's World Championships team.  After an evenly-paced first 6000 in 16:36 on track for 27:40 at altitude, 20-year-old Bitan Karoki (Team S&B) used the same strategy he employed to win Stanford University's Cardinal Invitational 10000 m earlier this season, abruptly blasting away from the field as he ran the next 2000 m at 26:30 pace.  Karoki opened a lead of nearly 100 m over the world-class field and seemed to have the race sewn up, but with just a few hundred meters to go he suddenly began to look shaky before collapsing to the track, a victim perhaps of the effects of altitude.  Peter Kirui just outkicked Wilson Kiprop for the win in 27:32.1, both men earning assured World Championships.  2007 bronze medalist Martin Mathathi (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) was 3rd in 27:38.6 for a provisional placing on the team, just clipping Boston Marathon winner Geoffrey Mutai.  2011 World Cross Country Championships silver medalist Paul Tanui (Team Kyudenko), the second-fastest Kenyan so far this season, was 5th a short way back in 27:44.

2011 Kyoto Prefecture T&F Championships
July 15-17, Kyoto
Women's 5000 m Heat 2
1. Kasumi Nishihara (Team Yamada Denki) - 15:39.28 - MR
2. Sairi Maeda (Bukkyo Univ.)  15:55.26
3. Chinami Mori (Bukkyo Univ.) - 15:58.20
4. Shiho Takechi (Bukkyo Univ.) - 16:03.04
5. Mai Ishibashi (Bukkyo Univ.) - 16:04.45
6. Eriko Kushima (Kyoto Sango Univ.) - 16:11.99
7. Tomoka Inadomi (Team Wacoal) - 16:17.55
8. Aya Goto (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 16:19.15

Women's 3000 m Heat 3
1. Hikari Yoshimoto (Bukkyo Univ.) - 9:14.75
2. Mai Hirota (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 9:18.20
3. Nanako Kanno (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 9:19.67
4. Ayano Ikegami (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 9:21.62
5. Chinami Mori (Bukkyo Univ.) - 9:25.55
6. Mai Ishibashi (Bukkyo Univ.) - 9:27.65
7. Shiho Takechi (Bukkyo Univ.) - 9:30.57

2011 West Japan University T&F Championships
July 15-17, Gifu
Women's 5000 m
1. Risa Takenaka (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 15:59.07 - MR
2. Sayuri Oka (Osaka Taiku Univ.) - 16:22.61
3. Michi Numata (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 16:27.88

Kenyan National Championships
July 15-17, Nairobi
Men's 10000 m
1. Peter Kirui (Administration Police) - 27:32.1
2. Wilson Kiprop - 27:32.9
3. Martin Mathathi (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 27:38.6
4. Geoffrey Mutai (Police) - 27:38.9
5. Paul Tanui (Team Kyudenko) - 27:44
DNF - Bitan Karoki (Team S&B)

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
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