Skip to main content

Busy Two Weeks of Track and Road Action Ahead

by Brett Larner

This weekend is the first of two successive weekends featuring regional track championships and an elite half marathon.  The Kansai Regional University T&F Championships, the most competitive university women's region in the country, starts things off May 10 and runs through the 13th, the first major meet following the graduation of Bukkyo University's collegiate 10000 m record holder Hikari Yoshimoto (Team Yamada Denki).  Entry list standouts include Chinami Mori (Bukkyo Univ.), Sayuri Oka (Osaka Taiku Univ.) and Eriko Kushima (Kyoto Sangyo Univ.).

The Kanto Region University T&F Championships, the center of university men's running and typically a higher-level meet than the National University Championships, is split between this weekend and next.  Women's competition is thinner than in Kansai, but the meet will see talented twins Haruka and Moe Kyuma making their Regionals debut for Tsukuba University in the 10000 m.  The men's 10000 m, scheduled for Sunday, has too many good names to mention, but among the Japanese entrants watch out for the Shitara twins Keita and Yuta to push each other to new PB marks in low-28 territory.  An unusually large number of African first-years will be debuting in Kanto, among them Enock Omwamba (Kenya/Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) and Daniel Kitonyi (Kenya/Nihon Univ.) from two of the powerhouse schools traditionally using Kenyans as well as a group from relatively unknown schools, including Leul Gebresilase (Ethiopa/Tokyo Kokusai Univ.) William Malel (Kenya/Sozo Gakuen Univ.) and Harry Mulenga (Kenya/Soka Univ.).

The 1500 m at Kanto is scheduled for Saturday and features two of the best Japanese collegiates, Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.) and Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.), on the list, but both are also on the list for the weekend's most competitive meet, Saturday's Golden Games in Nobeoka.  In the 5000 m Murasawa, who was the top Japanese man in the Payton Jordan 10000 m in 27:50.59, is slated to face the likes of World XC silver medalist Paul Tanui (Kenya/Team Kyudenko), 13:18 man Yu Mitsuya (Team Toyota Kyushu) and former national champion Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B), while Osako, the 2011 World University Games 10000 m gold medalist, will be chasing the Olympic A-standard in the 10000 m against 2007 World Championships 10000 m bronze medalist Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), former Hakone Ekiden star Ryuji Kashiwabara (Team Suzuki) and at least five sub-28 Japanese men if he starts.  The women's 5000 m in Nobeoka most notably includes the strong Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) and national record holder Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal).

With much of the best pro talent lining up in Nobeoka the first of two weekends of regional corporate league track championships is a little thin, but noteworthy among them is the Chugoku Regional Corporate Championships where former Sera H.S. star Charles Ndirangu (Team JFE Steel) will seek to extend his nine-race-strong winning streak into the double digits in his second race since going pro last month.

Sunday's Sendai International Half Marathon, late spring's most competitive, is also thinner than in past years but is making a welcome return after being cancelled following last year's disasters.  Sub-60 Kenyan Mekubo Mogusu (Team Nissin Shokuhin) will face his university-era rival Daniel Gitau (Kenya/Team Fujitsu) and Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon winner Harun Njoroge (Kenya/Team Komori Corp.) up front, while the Japanese field includes popular marathoners Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) and Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.).  The women's field suffers greatly from the withdrawal of marathon national record holder Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex), leaving twins Hiroko and Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) the favorites alongside Noguchi's teammate Megumi Seike (Team Sysmex).

The following weekend features the second half of the Kanto Regional University Championships and the second round of regional corporate track championships, with the East Japan region weighing in as the toughest at the corporate level.  Look also for the second edition of the Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon, where Mathathi and Kawauchi return as the top invited men.  Overseas, with support from JRN Suehiro Ishikawa and Takahiro Yamanaka, teammates of 10000 m world champion Ibrahim Jeilan at Honda, will run the Great Manchester Run 10 km along with the likes Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopia) and Patrick Makau (Kenya).

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kariuki Cracks Course Record at 30th Anniversary Ageo City Half Marathon

2017 Kanto Regionals 10000 m and half marathon D2 champion Simon Kariuki (Nihon Yakka Univ.)  overcame windy conditions at the 30th edition of the Ageo City Half Marathon to shave one second off the course record, winning in a PB 1:01:25.

Kariuki and 2017 Kanto Regionals D1 5000 m and 10000 m champ Patrick Mathenge Wambui (Nihon Univ.) took it out in the first km, setting up a fascinating duel between Kanto's top two collegiate men on the track.


Led by Hayato Seki, star runner of this year's Izumo Ekiden champ Tokai University in his half marathon debut, the main body of the Japanese pack gradually relinquished the lead to the Kenyan pair, down 50 seconds by 10 km and continuing to drift back from then. Ageo has typically seen its lead Japanese collegiate men running between high-61 and mid-62, but nobody in the field seemed willing to go ahead of Seki and the runner on his shoulder, 2017 World University Games half marathon gold medalist Kei Katanishi (Komazawa Univ.).


Near …

Breaking Down the Best-Ever Japanese Marathon Times By Country

Japanese marathoners these days have the reputation of rarely racing abroad, and of rarely racing well when they do. Back in the day that wasn't true; Japanese marathoners have won all the World Marathon Majors-to-be except New York, and two of the three Japanese men to have run 2:06 and all three women to have run 2:19 did it outside Japan. Whatever the extent to which things did turn inward along the way, the last few years have seen an uptick in Japanese runners going farther afield and running better there than any others before them.

The lists above and below show the fastest times run by Japanese athletes in different countries to 2:20:00 for men and 2:45:00 for women. Japanese men have run sub-2:20 marathons in 37 countries around the world including Japan, with Japanese women having cleared 2:45 in 33 countries including at home. Breaking it down by IAAF label times, more Japanese men have run label standard times abroad, but women have typically performed at a higher label…

Kosimbei, Kwemoi and Shitara Lead Hachioji 10000 m Field

Nestled deep in the misty foothills of the western Tokyo mountains, Hosei University's late November Hachioji Long Distance meet has quietly turned into one of the world's premier track 10000 m, its A-heat never quite dipping under 27 minutes yet but still producing record-setting depth and the two fastest Japanese men's 10000 m in history.
This year's entry list is another monster, with 27:02.59 man Nicholas Kosimbei (Toyota) leading 17 men with recent times under 28 minutes, twelve of them Kenyan, three Japanese and two Ethiopian. Fresh off a 27:22.73 win at last weekend's Nittai University Time Trials, two-time steeplechase junior world champion Jonathan Ndiku (Hitachi Butsuryu) is slated to pace what is scheduled to be a sub-28 race, but with Kosimbei, sub-27:30 men John Maina (Fujitsu) and Rodgers Chumo Kwemoi (Aisan Kogyo) and five others under 27:45 including last year's winnerRonald Kwemoi (Komori Corp.) on the list the front end should go faster. 
Rig…