by Brett Larner
On the second of two straight weeks of regional track championship meets the most exciting racing came at the biggest Japanese collegiate meet, the Kanto Regional University Track & Field Championships. Mai Shinozuka (Chuo University) won the women's 5000 m to record her second-straight 5000 m - 10000 m double. Looking to complete a 1500 m - 5000 m - 10000 m triple, Kenyan first-year Enoch Omwamba (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) fell victim to Waseda University ace Suguru Osako, who came on strong late in the race to win the Division 1 men's 5000 m in 13:47.44 less than a second ahead of Omwamba. The Division 2 race was dominated by two new African first-years from relatively unknown schools. William Malel (Kenya/Sozo Gakuen Univ.) won in a meet-record 13:25.82 as Leul Gebresilase (Tokyo Kokusai Univ.), a rare Ethiopian collegiate, held of Komazawa University's Shinobu Kubota for 2nd in 13:55.25. Top-ranked Kenyan Benjamin Gandu (Nihon Univ.) rounded out the Kanto Regionals action with a 1:04:13 in the Division 1 half-marathon, Daiki Nomoto (Takushoku Univ.) winning the Division 2 race in 1:05:35.
In pro action, Olympic marathon team members Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) and Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) had two of the most noteworthy results, each scoring a new 10000 m PB. Nakamoto, who qualified for the London Olympics in March with a 2:08:53 marathon best, broke 29 minutes for the first time as he finished 9th at the Kyushu Corporate Track & Field Championships in 28:54.59, not far off winner Yu Mitsuya (Team Toyota Kyushu) in 28:47.62. Shigetomo, winner of January's Osaka International Women's Marathon in 2:23:23, won the Chugoku Corporate Track & Field Championships women's 10000 m in a new best of 33:25.48 despite recent injury troubles. Both are slated to run next weekend's Bupa London 10000 m road race as part of a Rikuren-sponsored trip to spend time on the London Olympics marathon course.
Shigetomo's junior teammate Akari Ota (Team Tenmaya) complete a 3000m-5000 m double with a meet-record 9:28.26 in the women's 3000 m, with Kenyan Joseph Gitau (Team JFE Steel) winning the 10000 m in 28:52.47 after running poorly in last weekend's 5000 m. Back in Kyushu, Kenyan Rose Maranga (Team Toto) won the junior women's 3000 m in 9:23.40 while marathoner Mika Okunaga (Team Kyudenko) took the win in the 10000 m in 33:32.53.
In the Africanless Kansai region Takaya Iwasaki (Team Shikoku Denryoku) won the men's 10000 m in 28:59.28, Nakamoto's Olympic marathon teammate Ryo Yamamoto (Team Sagawa Express) 3rd in 29:02.11. The women's 10000 m in Kansai was more competitive, Miho Ihara (Team Shikoku Denryoku) outrunning teammate Yoko Aizu for the win 32:34.55 to 32:36.22, and women's 5000 m times were likewise quick, Chihiro Takato (Team Wacoal) winning 15:40.72.
The Kanto region had the fastest corporate times of the weekend, Kenyan Doricah Obare (Team Hitachi) winning the women's 10000 m in 32:17.28 over year-leading half-marathoner Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei), 2nd in 32:31.04. Five-time 1500 m national champion Mika Yoshikawa (Team Panasonic) outran Kenyan Grace Kimanzi (Team Starts) in the 5000 m 15:33.48 to 15:39.75, while 2011 corporate track champ Kasumi Nishihara (Team Yamada Denki) easily won the 3000 m in 9:20.07. Two-time steeplechase junior world champion Jonathan Ndiku (Kenya/Team Hitachi Logistics) beat 2012's top-ranked Japanese man in the 5000 m, 13:33.58 and 13:38.57 respectively, but the men's 10000 m was a surprise as not a single one of the Kenyan men entered in the race started. 5000 m national record holder Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) was there to pick up the win in a conservative 28:53.69.
(c) 2012 Brett Larner
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