Skip to main content

Another Big Weekend on the Track and Roads

by Brett Larner

A second-straight weekend of regional track and field championship meets takes place across Japan this weekend.

The highlight is the second half of Japan's most competitive university meet, the Kanto Regional University Track & Field Championships, featuring the men's and women's 5000 m and men's half-marathon.  Kanto is relatively weak for women's running, but four women entered in the 5000 m have bests under 16 minutes and another half-dozen are close so look for a quality race between defending champion Mai Shinozuka (Chuo Univ.), Nanaka Izawa (Juntendo Univ.), Azusa Kurusu (Juntendo Univ.), twins Haruka and Moe Kyuma (Tsukuba Univ.),   Narumi Shirataki (Hakuoh Univ.) and more.

Having already won the Division 1 1500 m and 10000 m titles last weekend, Kenyan 1st-yr Enoch Omwamba (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) will be looking to complete the triple crown in the D1 5000 m where he will face the likes of sub-28 10000 m men Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.) and Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.), Hakone Ekiden champion Toyo University aces Keita and Yuta Shitara, and rival Kenyan newcomer Daniel Kitonyi (Nihon Univ.).  The Division 2 5000 m is also thick, with the top seed going to Ethiopian first-year Leul Gebresilase (Tokyo Kokusai Univ.) and his 13:31.52 PB.  Gebreseilase's competition includes 2011 national university 5000 m champion Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.), 2:10:02 marathoner Takehiro Deki (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) and Kenyans Duncan Muthee (Takushoku Univ.) and William Malel (Sozo Gakuin Univ.).

The favorite in the Division 1 half-marathon, always one of the highlights of the meet thanks to its unique multi-loop course through and around Tokyo's National Stadium, is 1:01:06 Kenyan Benjamin Gandu (Nihon Univ.).  His teammate and defending champ Hirotaka Tamura returns to go for another title, with a likely challenge also due up from Kento Otsu (Toyo Univ.) in his first race since his international debut at March's New York City Half Marathon.  Favorites in the Division 2 race include Kazuhiro Kuga (Komazawa Univ.) and Yudai Yamakawa (Teikyo Univ.).

In pro action, the biggest meet of the weekend is the East Japan Corporate Track & Field Championships.  10000 m world champion Ibrahim Jeilan (Ethiopia/Team Honda) is a regrettable early scratch, but on the entry lists are the likes of 2010 Tokyo Marathon winner Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda), former Hakone Ekiden Fifth Stage superstar Ryuji Kashiwabara (Team Fujitsu), women's 5000 m national champion Megumi Kinukawa (Mizuno), men's 5000 m national record holder Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta), sub-27 runner Josphat Ndambiri (Kenya/Team Komori Corp.), two-time world junior steeplechase champion Jonathan Ndiku (Kenya/Team Hitachi Logistics), past Kenyan XC champion Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin), 10000 m national champion Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin), five-time women's 1500 m national champion Mika Yoshikawa (Team Panasonic) and many more.

Regional corporate championship meets are also slated to take place in Chugoku, Kansai and Kyushu this weekend.  The highlight is bound to come in the Chugoku regional meet, where recently-graduated Sera H.S. ace Charles Ndirangu (Kenya/Team JFE Steel) will seek to make his unbeaten streak go up to eleven in the men's 10000 m.

On the roads, the biggest domestic race is the second running of the Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon featuring defending champion Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), the popular Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.), Olympic marathon silver medalists Catherine Ndereba (Kenya) and Lidia Simon (Romania) and others.  Overseas, national champion Team Nissin Shokuhin's Manabu Itayama will make an appearance at the Jakarta International 10 km, but the big race will come at the Great Manchester Run 10 km where Team Honda's Suehiro Ishikawa and Takahiro Yamanaka will run against the likes of marathon world record holder Patrick Makau (Kenya), past world record holder Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopia), Beijing Olympics marathon bronze medalist Tsegaye Kebede (Ethiopia) and others.  2008 Osaka International Women's Marathon winner Mara Yamauchi (GBR) will face the great Linet Masai (Kenya) in the women's race.  JRN is in Manchester with Ishikawa and Yamanaka throughout the weekend.  Check back for ongoing results from this and the other races listed above.

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kiplagat, Ichiyama, Tadese and Shitara Lead Marugame Half Elite Field

The Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon is always one of Japan's deepest races of the year on the men's side, its 2012 running setting a world record for the most men under 64 minutes in a single half marathon in history. On the women's side the field is always smaller but still home to the 1:07:26 Japanese national record set by Kayoko Fukushi (Wacoal) back in 2006.

Edna Kiplagat (Kenya), Sara Hall (U.S.A.) and Betsy Saina (Kenya) lead the women's international field, two-time defending champ Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) giving Marugame a miss this year. Fresh off a 1:09:14 PB at last month's Sanyo Ladies Half, Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) leads a trio of Japanese women with recent sub-1:10 times, something that has become a puzzling rarity lately. Fukushi is also back, her recent best of 1:12:04 a long way from her best days.

Speaking of which, world record holder Zersenay Tadese (Eritrea) will be looking to break 60 minutes for the first time since 2015. His toughest…

Kawauchi Outruns 103 Teams to Win Yashio Isshu Ekiden

2017 London World Championships marathon 9th-placer Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) gave local club and high school runners something to remember when he ran Sunday's Yashio Shinai Isshu Ekiden solo against 103 six-runner teams. Kawauchi spent most of the 20.0 km race in 2nd, briefly taking the lead at the end of the 3.9 km Second Stage before falling behind after a Third Stage course record run by Kotaro Minowa (Matsudo T&F Assoc.).

Down 13 seconds, Kawauchi came back to split a time 14 seconds faster for the 2.7 km Fifth Stage than its fastest ekiden runner, Yusei Otsuki (Kasukabe H.S. A). Now ahead of Matsudo and out front alone, Kawauchi saved his biggest running for last, dropping a 2:40 final km to split 14 seconds under the 12:34 course record for the 4.0 km anchor stage. Desperate to catch him, Matsudo anchor Shunsuke Matsui went 6 seconds under the old record to become its official new holder but couldn't match Kawauchi's closing speed.

Kawauchi's…

Cheboitibin, Kiprono and Sonoda Top Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon Elite Entries

With just over two weeks to go the organizers of the Feb. 4 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon have released their elite field for this year's race. With its history as an elite men-only race Beppu-Oita's women's field is still tiny given its status as an IAAF silver label race, but this year promises a good race between two local 2:32 women, 2016 winner Hiroko Yoshitomi (Memolead) and Yuka Takemoto (Canon AC Kyushu), that should see the 2:39:57 course record fall. Defending champ Haruka Yamaguchi (AC Kita) also returns with a 2:38:43 PB from last fall that puts her range of the course record as well.

The men's race is heavier-duty, with a spot in the MGC Race Tokyo Olympic Trials available to the top Japanese man under 2:11:00 and to up to five others if they clear 2:10. Hayato Sonoda (Kurosaki Harima) and Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) are the only Japanese men in the field to have run those kinds of times in the last couple of years, and with support from 2:09~2:10 men