by Brett Larner
click any meet name for complete results
Japan's Golden Week national holidays saw a series of meets with noteworthy long distance results across the country. At the April 29 Nobeoka Spring Time Trials meet, 13:18 man Yu Mitsuya (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) continued his comeback from a year of injury in 2011 with a 13:50.27 win in the 5000 m A-heat. Former sub-28 high school sensation Ryuji Ono (Team Asahi Kasei) was likewise under 14 after a seemingly endless series of injuries. Closer to Tokyo, five-time women's 1500 m national champion Mika Yoshikawa (Team Panasonic) had an easy win in 3000 m at the Tokai University Time Trials meet, winning in 9:03.72 over teammate Akiko Matsuyama's 9:22.60.
Mitsuya and Ono doubled in the 10000 m four days later at the May 3rd Nobeoka Time Trials meet, going 1-2 with Mitsuya getting the win again in 28:49.61. Olympic marathon team member Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) returned to competition for the first time since his 2:08:53 PB at March's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, 14th in 29:37.23. The same day at the Shizuoka International meet, women's 1500 m national record holder Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) got her Olympic season off to a good start, winning the 5000 m in 15:30.95 over a solid field including 5000 m national champion Megumi Kinukawa (Team Mizuno), ekiden ace Yurie Doi (Team Starts), Kenyans Susan Wairimu and Grace Kimanzi and others. Paul Tanui (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) came out on top of the men's 5000 m in 13:19.18 against top-ranked Kenyan competition including Martin Mathathi (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and John Thuo (Team Toyota) and past 1500 m and 5000 m Japanese national champion Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B). Also on the 3rd, dominant high schooler Shiori Yano (Kita Kyushu Civic H.S.) won the National Junior Championships women's 5000 m in 15:59.93 in a sprint finish against twins Moe and Haruka Kyuma, 16:02.45 and 16:03.90 in their debuts wearing the Tsukuba University uniform. Ken Yokote likewise made his debut for Meiji University, winning the boys' 10000 m in 29:24.79 by a margin of over 45 seconds. Kota Murayama (Josai Univ.) won the boys' 5000 m in a modest 14:23.06, narrowly outkicking his twin Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.) and Genki Yagisawa (Meiji Univ.), both of whom were also under 14:24.
The May 6 Golden Grand Prix Kawasaki meet was light on distance action but did feature a world-leading 8:18.06 by Kenyan Jairus Kipchoge in the men's 3000 m SC, where the top four men all broke the meet record. Thicker distance action came at the nearby Nittai University Time Trials meet split over May 5 and 6. JRN independent favorite Minami Yamanouchi (Koriyama Hosei H.S. AC) was the star of the weekend, showing up in her characteristic heavy t-shirt and baggy basketball shorts to win the 3000 m A-heat in 9:30.55 on the 5th, then returning less than 24 hours later to take down a pro field including 10000 m national record holder Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) and 2010 Nagoya International Women's Marathon winner Yuri Kano (Team Shiseido) as she won the women's 5000 m A-heat in 16:05.13. Making up for a poor 25th-place showing at last month's Nittai Time Trials, Kenyan Johnson Kiumbani (Team Konica Minolta) outran teammate Paul Kuira (Kenya/Team Konica Minolta) by a step to win the men's 5000 m A-heat in 13:48.11. Naohiro Domoto (Team JR Higashi Nihon) was the top Japanese finisher, 3rd in 13:56.86.
(c) 2012 Brett Larner
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