translated by Brett Larner
The Monteroza corporation, owner of bar chains Shirokiya, Uotami and Warawara, announced on Feb. 1 that Nihon University's Benjamin Gandu, winner of the highly competitive Second Stage at the Jan. 1-2 Hakone Ekiden, will join the company as a member of its track and field team following his graduation next month. Running against other schools' best athletes on the Second Stage, Gandu passed twelve people to complete the 23.4 km stage in 1:08:46, the fastest of the day. After joining the company Gandu will continue to use Nihon University's facilities as his training base, working to improve his track and half marathon times before moving on to a career in the marathon. Gandu commented, "I've very happy to have the opportunity to have a career as an athlete through the support of Monteroza. With their backing my goal is to run the Olympic marathon." Gandu will next race in the Feb. 3 Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon, where he was 4th last year in a PB of 1:01:06. He was born May 21, 1991 in Kenya.
The Monteroza team was founded in April, 2003 when a new employee with a background as an athlete joined the company. This year it celebrates 10 years of competition. The nine current members, all top-class Japanese athletes, compete in disciplines including hurdles, high jump, pole vault, long jump, triple jump, discus, javelin, decathlon and long distance. Not limited only to domestic competition, Monteroza athletes have competed against the best in the world at the World Championships and Asian Games.
In addition to competing, team members are actively helping to fight the growing lack of physical fitness among elementary school students by hosting children's programs across the country, showing the nation's kids what elite athletes can do and sharing with them the fun and excitement of track and other sports.