Skip to main content

Track Season Kicks Off With Saturday's Kanaguri Memorial Meet

by Brett Larner

Japan's outdoor track season gets underway Saturday with the 22nd edition of the Kanaguri Memorial Meet in Kumamoto.  With light rain forecast throughout the day, after a morning of elementary and junior high sprint relays and middle-distance events the afternoon features nothing but distance with season-opening 1500 m, 3000 m and 5000 m heats.

On the men's side, the 1500 m includes 10000 m national champion Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin), past steeplechase national champions Aoi Matsumoto (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) and Tsuyoshi Takeda (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), 61-minute half marathoner Yusuke Takabayashi (Team Toyota), Ethiopian Bikila Demma Daba (Team Kanebo) and, back from time served at the Nike Oregon Project, #1-ranked collegiate Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.). Absent rival Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S., 2012 National High School Ekiden champion Toyokawa H.S. starts off its title defense campaign with four team members slated to run in Heat 6 of the high school 5000 m.

At least three of the five open men's 5000 m heats look pretty interesting.  Heat 4 sees the year's #1-ranked Japanese marathoner Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) return to action for the first time since running 2:08:00 at February's Tokyo Marathon, backed by 2013 Hakone Ekiden stage winners Shota Hattori (Nittai Univ.) and Yuta Shitara (Toyo Univ.) and Kenyans Jeremiah Karemi (Team Toyota Kyushu), Benjamin Ngandu (Team Monteroza), Duncan Muthee (Takushoku Univ.) Micah Njeru (Team Toyota Boshoku) and Enock Omwamba (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.).

Almost every name in the 5000 m A-heat, Heat 5, deserves mention, but a few of the highlights include three of Japan's best-ever half marathoners, namely Fumihiro Maruyama (Team Asahi Kasei), Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota) and Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta), past 5000 m national champions Kazuya Deguchi (Team Asahi Kasei) and Yuichiro Ueno (DeNA RC), collegiate half marathon champion Shogo Nakamura (Komazawa Univ.), 30 km collegiate national record holder Keita Shitara (Toyo Univ.) and Kenyans Paul Kuira (Team Konica Minolta), Patrick Mutunga (Team Toyota Boshoku), Josphat Ndambiri (Team Komori Corp.), Charles Ndirangu (Team JFE Steel), Paul Tanui (Team Kyudenko) and Edward Waweru (Team NTN).

In the women's races, Heat 2 of the open 1500 m includes 800 m national champion Ayako Jinnouchi (Team Kyudenko), Kenyans Beatrice Wainaina Murugi (Team Toyota Boshoku) and Mary Waithira (Team Toyota Boshoku), outstanding collegiates Minami Nakaarai (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) Risa Shibuya (Bukkyo Univ.) and World XC junior women's team members Yui Fukuda (Suma Gakuen H.S.) and Saki Yoshimizu (Chikushi Joshi Gakuen H.S.).

Four members of 2012 National High School Ekiden winner Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. are entered in Heat 4 of the high school 3000 m, where their competition includes the doubling Yoshimizu and her World XC teammate Azusa Sumi (Toyokawa H.S.).  Heat 2 of the open women's 5000 m includes both Murugi and Sally Chepyego (Team Kyudenko), identical twin marathoners Hiroko and Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyudenko), former Ritsumeikan Univ. stars Michi Numata (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) and Risa Takenaka (Team Shiseido) and, with a Japanese women's year-leading run at last week's Stanford Invitational, Nanaki Izawa (Juntendo Univ.).

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Chebii Returns - Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon Elite Field

Defending champ Ezekiel Chebii (Kenya) returns to lead the field for the Mar. 4 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon. Chebii is one of three men in the field with recent 2:06 times, his 2:06:07 in Amsterdam two years ago leading Tadesse Abraham (Switzerland) and Abera Kuma (Ethiopia) to form a clear trio of favorites.

Making up the second pack are four current sub-2:10 Japanese men, 2017 Gold Coast winner Takuya Noguchi (Konica Minolta), Rio Olympian Satoru Sasaki (Asahi Kasei), and Sasaki's teammates Takuya Fukatsu and Fumihiro Maruyama. The addition of sub-61 half marathoner Kenta Murayama in his second shot at the marathon after a failed debut in Tokyo two years ago makes for a formidable quartet of men from 2017 and 2018 New Year Ekiden national champion Asahi Kasei all aligned in training and talent.

With Japan's depth it's never surprising to see a relatively anonymous runner make a breakthrough and factor into the action. Yoshiki Takenouchi (NTT Nishi Nihon) was one of the …

Kawauchi Takes Six Minutes Off Kitakyushu Marathon Course Record to Lead Weekend Results

After a seven-week break from the marathon, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) scored his third-straight marathon win, second-straight course record and came just shy of a third-straight negative split as he ran a completely solo 2:11:46 to take almost six minutes off the Kitakyushu Marathon course record. Following up on negative split wins at December's Hofu Yomiuri Marathon and January's Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, the latter a course record by half an hour, Kawauchi was on his own in the first 100 m in Kitakyushu and never looked back.

In the hilly first 10 km his pace fluctuated from high-2:12 to high-2:10, but once Kawauchi got into the flatter section of the course he settled out on track for a high-2:11 to low-2:12 time. After a 1:05:51 split at halfway he slowed slightly on the outbound trip to the turnaround near 31 km, but picking it up again after 35 km he marked a 6:34 from 40 km to the finish to stop the clock at 2:11:46,  a 1:05:55 second half …

The Kawauchi Counter

Yuki Kawauchi's 2018 race results: Jan. 1: Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, U.S.A.: 2:18:59 - 1st - CR
Jan. 14: Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:03:28 - 7th
Jan. 21: Yashio Isshu Ekiden, Saitama: 1:01:03 - 1st - ran entire 20.0 km ekiden solo and beat all 103 teams of 6 runners each
Jan. 28: Okumusashi Ekiden First Stage (9.9 km), Saitama - 29:41 - 6th
Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
Feb. 11: Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon, Shimane - cancelled due to heavy snow
Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
Upcoming race schedule: Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan
Mar. 25: Kuki Half Marathon, Saitama
Apr. 16: Boston Marathon, U.S.A.
May 5: Toyohirakawa Half Marathon, Hokkaido
June 2: ASICS Stockholm Marathon, Sweden
June 17: Okinoshima 50 km Ultramarathon, Shimane
July 1: Gold Coast Airport Marathon, Australia
Aug. 2…