Skip to main content

Kanaguri Memorial 5000 m Kicks Off Track Season

by Brett Larner

Update: Women's 1500 m NR holder Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) has switched from the 1500 m to the 5000 m.


This weekend marks the official start of track season across Japan.  With many of the Kanto-region Hakone Ekiden university men's teams matching up for dual meets and one five-school meet hosted by Daito Bunka University, the top Olympic hopefuls will be lining up far south in Kumamoto for Saturday's 21st Kanaguri Memorial Middle and Long-Distance Track Meet.

The men's 5000 m A-heat looks to be by far the race of the weekend.  The entry list includes 2011 World XC silver medalist Paul Tanui (Kenya/Team Kyudenko); 2010 World XC junior silver medalist Clement Langat (Kenya/Team Subaru); Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin), one of the two Japanese men currently holding an Olympic-qualifying mark; Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota) and Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta), two of the three men with Olympic A-standard 10000 m times; most of the other Olympic track contenders, Takuya Fukatsu (Team Asahi Kasei), Yusuke Takabayashi (Team Toyota), Kensuke Takezawa (Team S&B) and Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B); Komazawa University aces Shinobu Kubota, Wataru Ueno and Ikuto Yufu; and more.  Notable absences include Olympic-mark holders Kazuya Watanabe (Team Shikoku Denryoku) and Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Meiji Univ.).  2011 World University Games 10000 m gold medalist and 2011 National University 1500 m champion Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.) is pursuing a different path to his goal of making the Olympic 10000 m, bypassing the 5000 m for the 1500 m.

The women's 5000 m A-heat also looks good, with national champion Megumi Kinukawa (Mizuno) the obvious favorite despite winter injury troubles.  With the apparent departure of Kenyan Ann Karindi from Team Toyota Jidoshokki, Kinukawa's only real competition is Hiroko Shoi (Team Nihon ChemiCon), but the field also includes top talent Tomoka Inadomi (Team Wacoal), Tomoka Kimura (Chikushi Joshi Gakuen H.S.) and Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera). As with Osako, women's 1500 m national record holder Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) is scheduled to start her season in the 1500 m where she will face Kenyans Sally Chepyego (Team Kyudenko) and Rose Maranga (Team Toto) along with domestic rivals Mika Kobayashi (Suma Gakuen H.S.), Azusa Saito (Niigata Albirex AC) and Risa Yokoe (Suma Gakuen H.S.).

Although the meet is likely to be only an early-season rust-buster, if even half the field on the entry starts it will be a good indication of where people stand ahead of the spring's other major chances to clock Olympic-qualifying times, most notably Stanford University's Cardinal Invitational which will see a large Japanese contingent.  Click here for complete Kanaguri Memorial entry lists.

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Chebii Returns - Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon Elite Field

Defending champ Ezekiel Chebii (Kenya) returns to lead the field for the Mar. 4 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon. Chebii is one of three men in the field with recent 2:06 times, his 2:06:07 in Amsterdam two years ago leading Tadesse Abraham (Switzerland) and Abera Kuma (Ethiopia) to form a clear trio of favorites.

Making up the second pack are four current sub-2:10 Japanese men, 2017 Gold Coast winner Takuya Noguchi (Konica Minolta), Rio Olympian Satoru Sasaki (Asahi Kasei), and Sasaki's teammates Takuya Fukatsu and Fumihiro Maruyama. The addition of sub-61 half marathoner Kenta Murayama in his second shot at the marathon after a failed debut in Tokyo two years ago makes for a formidable quartet of men from 2017 and 2018 New Year Ekiden national champion Asahi Kasei all aligned in training and talent.

With Japan's depth it's never surprising to see a relatively anonymous runner make a breakthrough and factor into the action. Yoshiki Takenouchi (NTT Nishi Nihon) was one of the …

Yamazaki, Ndirangu, Kamulu and Shitara Top Weekend Road Racing Action

Snow and cold impacted road races across Japan over the weekend, but at the top level almost every event went off as planned. In his marathon debut, Shota Yamazaki (Yakult) downed two-time defending champ Ryoichi Matsuo and debuting training partner Takumi Honda of the locally-based New Year Ekiden national champion Asahi Kasei corporate team to take the top spot at the Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon in a three-way sprint finish.

Shaking off first-timer Keisuke Tanaka (Fujitsu) late in the race, Yamazaki did all the work in the lead trio with the Asahi Kasei duo hanging off both of his shoulders. Hitting a bridge with 750 m to go Honda surged into the lead with Matsuo following. Yamazaki fell back, looking behind him with 500 m to go and seeming to have settled for 3rd. At 400 m to go Matsuo went to the front and looked to be on track to become only the second man to win Nobeoka three times, but as the pair rounded the final corner Yamazaki came back with a kick that left both his riv…

In Memory of Ken Young

I'm very saddened to hear of the passing of Ken Young, founder of the Association of Road Racing Statisticians. If you're not familiar with Ken or the ARRS, Amby Burfoot's 2016 piece on him in Runners World, The Endless Toil of the Big Data Guy, says everything you need to know. Back in the early days of JRN, Ken was one of several industry people to contact me after I published JRN's first hit article, 397 Under 70 Minutes: The 20th Ageo City Half Marathon. He wanted verification of the results and, seemingly having missed Ageo before, asked me to research its history and past results.

That soon led to me transliterating results from Japanese road, track and cross-country races for him on a weekly basis, results otherwise unavailable to the outside world except for some already covered by Japanese contributors Ken Nakamura and Shigenobu Ota. For the last 10 years I've spent about 10 hours on average every Sunday night and Monday morning, sometimes Tuesday, someti…