by Brett Larner
Video courtesy of Julie Setagaya. The A-heat begins at 1:23:25 with the bell lap at 1:50:10.
The latest in a series of track time trials this fall to help Japanese men reach the Olympic 10000 m A-standard of 27:45.00 before the spring season, the Nov. 26 Hachioji Long Distance time trials meet in Tokyo's western suburbs saw a small piece of history as Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta) ran 27:40.69 to break Yu Mitsuya's record for the fastest 10000 m ever run by a Japanese man on Japanese soil. Like Mitsuya, who was paced through his record run by teammate and Sendai Ikuei H.S. grad Samuel Wanjiru (Team Toyota Kyushu), Ugachi was paced by Kenyan teammate Paul Kuira, also a Sendai Ikuei alumnus, who finished together with Ugachi in a new PB of 27:40.60. The surprise came a few steps behind them, where 20-year-old Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota), on a sharp improvement curve throughout the year, took 20 seconds off his own PB to finish under the Olympic A-standard in 27:41.57, just missing Mitsuya's old record of 27:41.10. In post-run comments Ugachi said, "I wasn't really planning to run this that fast, just around 27:45, but the conditions were really good. We just cruised through the first half and then held steady in the second half. If I'd been pushing this it would have been a lot faster." Only 5 seconds to go to the national record. For Miyawaki's part, several hours after the race he tweeted, "Thanks for all the congratulations, but I think some people misunderstand what this means. It doesn't mean I'm going to the Olympics yet."
The B-heat was also noteworthy, as one of Kokushikan University's two aces, Masaki Ito, ran a PB of 28:28.64 to win over the mostly-pro field in the build-up to January's Hakone Ekiden. Daegu World Championships marathoner Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) was 11th in the B-heat in a decent 28:51.11 in his first race back from an Achilles injury he suffered during the World Championships.
Both Ugachi and Miyawaki earned places on the all-time Japanese 10000 m top ten list, Ugachi now the 4th-fastest and Miyawaki the 6th-fastest. Already the year-leading Japanese man for 10000 m and half-marathon, the record cements Ugachi's standing as the #1 man in the country, while Miyawaki, who went pro straight from high school, now stands as the best of the under-22 set. Miyawaki's addition to the ranks means that along with Meiji University senior Tetsuya Yoroizaka Japan now has a full contingent of three men with the A-standard. Others will have one more chance to join that list this season. Next weekend's Nittai University Time Trials features a 10000 m including all four Team S&B runners on the year's-best list for 5000 m, Yusuke Hasegawa, Yuta Takahashi, Kensuke Takezawa and Yuichiro Ueno, with pacing from teammate Bitan Karoki, winner of the Cardinal Invitational 10000 m.
2011 Hachioji Long Distance Meet
Hachioji, Tokyo, 11/26/11
click here for complete results
Men's 10000 m Heat 1
1. Paul Kuira (Kenya/Team Konica Minolta) - 27:40.60 - PB
2. Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta) - 27:40.69 - PB
3. Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota) - 27:41.57 - PB
4. Alex Mwangi (Kenya/Team YKK) - 27:51.98
5. Kenta Matsumoto (Team Toyota) - 29:36.70
Men's 10000 m Heat 2
1. Masaki Ito (Kokushikan Univ.) - 28:28.64 - PB
2. Tatsunori Hamasaki (Team Komori Corp.) - 28:29.16
3. Charles Kibet (Kenya/Team Toyota Boshoku) - 28:31.19
4. Minato Oishi (Team Toyota) - 28:34.66
5. Atsushi Yamazaki (Team Subaru) - 28:36.82
11. Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) - 28:51.11
(c) 2011 Brett Larner
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