translated and edited by Brett Larner
The 56th edition of the Kanaguri Memorial Kumanichi 30 km road race takes place at 9 a.m. on Feb. 19th in Kumamoto, Kyushu. It's the race where the best future prospects of Japanese long distance running gather to get their first experience battling over the longer distances, one where countless Olympians and World Championships team members have run. Two world records have been run at Kumanichi, but with a new course this year featuring 20 m hills the race has taken on a tougher, up-and-down character.
Among the eight invited men and two invited women, the favorite is the leading candidate for Japan's 10000 m squad at the London Olympics, Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta). What kind of race will he deliver before he shifts his focus to track season? His strong rival Takuya Ishikawa (Team Chugoku Denryoku) has withdrawn with injury to his right knee, but Ugachi's teammate Ryotaro Nitta (Team Konica Minolta) comes to the race on the winds of a typhoon having smashed his half-marathon PB at the Feb. 5 Kagawa Marugame International Half-Marathon. Ugachi and Nitta jogged part of the course together on Feb. 17 looked relaxed and fit. Shuji Yoshikawa (Team Kyudenko) also ran great in Marugame and will be a force to reckon with in Kumanichi.
Along with the amateur runners taking part in the new full marathon division, the Kumanichi 30 km features a field of 65, four of them women, along with the ten invited athletes. Closing ceremonies for the race will take place at 4:00 at the Hotel Nikko Kumamoto.