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20-Year-Old Genki Yagisawa Breaks Through to Sub-13:30 at Nittai Time Trials

by Brett Larner
photos by Kazuyuki Sugimatsu
videos by Ekiden News

The 232nd edition of 2013 Hakone Ekiden champion Nittai University's regular time trial meet series was the biggest on record.  After a Saturday dedicated to distances ranging from 800 m to 10000 m, Sunday dawned early for 45 heats of 5000 m, 42 for men and 3 for women, the first starting at 7:30 a.m. and the last at 9:20 p.m.  Mass-producing quality, the 5000 m heats averaged 42 runners each with the two largest having 48 finishers.  Late in the day the heats were beginning every 15 minutes like clockwork.  Performances were equally deep, with the women's 5000 m A-heat seeing the most women ever under 16:30, 38, and the men's 5000 m A-heat with 30 under 14:05 falling just short of the record of 33.

The performance of the weekend went to 20-year-old Meiji University junior Genki Yagisawa, a former high school star who has so far struggled to live up to expectations on the university ekiden circuit.  Running in the 5000 m A-heat Yagisawa scored a massive 27-second PB of 13:28.79 for 2nd behind a PB run from Sendai Ikuei H.S. ace Hiram Ngatia (Kenya) and ahead of the likes of 2010 World XC junior silver medalist Clement Langat (Kenya/Team Subaru), his time making him only the second Japanese 20-year-old to ever go sub-13:30.  For comparison, current #1 under-23 American Chris Derrick's best at the same age was one second slower, 13:29.74, with only four American 20-year-olds including Alberto Salazar ever clocking better times.

Meiji runners as a whole had an outstanding night, three others clocking sub-14 PBs between the A and B-heats led by sophomore Yuki Muta's 13:47.58 win in the B-heat. Meiji has shown early-season strength in past years only to fade by the time of January's Hakone main event, but with this many men breaking through to the next level they could be a challenger for the win in Japan's biggest sports event.

Hakone rivals Aoyama Gakuin University, Chuo Gakuin University, Hosei University, Nihon University and Tokai University also scored big with multiple runners running new sub-14 or sub-29 bests.  Tokai's results were the most noteworthy, three of its runners going sub-29 for the first time.  Tokai has long relied on one or two aces to carry the team's weight, a strategy that has rarely pulled it through.  In 2011 Hayashi Morozumi, who guided Saku Chosei H.S. to become one of Japan's best teams and cultivated most of Japan's top current young men including Akinobu Murasawa (Team Nissin Shokuhin), Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.), Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) and Yuichiro Ueno (DeNA RC), took over as Tokai's head coach. The team struggled for its first two years under his leadership, but the breakthrough en masse at this weekend's Nittai meet could be the first sign that his methods are starting to take effect.

Along with Ngatia, Yagisawa and the Meiji performances, other noteworthy runs on the men's side included:

  • A 27:48.55 PB win by the Honda corporate team's new Kenyan William Malel, the team's replacement for 2011 world 10000 m champion Ibrahim Jeilan (Ethiopia).
  • A 13:36.79 breakthrough PB by Aritaka Kajiwara of the minor Press Kogyo team. Kajiwara is a graduate of the equally-minor Shoin University and ran the Hakone Ekiden on the Kanto Region Select Team, receiving the tasuki from future great Yuki Kawauchi on the Seventh Stage at the 2009 Hakone.
  • A 13:37.93 PB by 2010 Youth Olympics 3000 m 4th-placer Kazuto Nishiike (Hosei Univ.).
  • 18-year-old Kenta Ueda of Yamanashi Gakuin Prep H.S., 2000 m junior high school national record holder and the son of Yamanashi Gakuin University head coach Masahito Ueda, broke 14 for the first time with a best of 13:58.85.

Kenyan Pauline Kamulu (Team Toto) and 2010 National Corporate Women's Ekiden champion Team Tenmaya's next rising star Akari Ota led the way in the record-setting women's 5000 m A-heat, both running 15:30 PB marks with Kamulu getting the win.  All ten of the women in the top ten scored PBs, special mention going to Kureha Seki of 2012 National High School Ekiden champion Ritsumeikan Uji H.S., 7th in a PB of 15:42.36.  38 women cleared 16:30, eclipsing the previous record of 36 set at Nittai last December.  The women's 3000 m was more subdued, with corporate team Shimamura's Yukari Abe running 9:13.29 to win over a virtually all-high school top ten.

The Nittai University Time Trials series continues Oct. 26-27 with its 233rd edition.

232nd Nittai University Time Trials
Nittai University, Yokohama, 9/28~29/13
click here for complete results

Men's 10000 m Heat 12
1. William Malel (Kenya/Team Honda) - 27:48.55 - PB
2. Cyrus Njui (Kenya/Team Hitachi Butsuryu) - 28:11.81
3. Macharia Ndirangu (Kenya/Team Aichi Seiko) - 28:13.34
4. Joseph Onsarigo (Kenya/Nanyu City Hall) - 28:20.57
5. Yuki Iwai (Team Asahi Kasei) - 28:33.66
6. Hiroto Inoue (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 28:39.08 - PB
7. Tomoya Shirayanagi (Team Toyota Boshoku) - 28:41.24
8. Keita Akiba (Team Komori Corp.) - 28:44.30
9. Yuki Hirota (Tokai Univ.) - 28:44.34 - PB
10. Soji Ikeda (Team Yakult) - 28:47.91

Men's 5000 m Heat 42
1. Hiram Ngatia (Kenya/Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 13:26.73 - PB
2. Genki Yagisawa (Meiji Univ.) - 13:28.79 - PB
3. Clement Langat (Kenya/Team Subaru) - 13:31.10
4. Leul Gebreselassie (Ethiopia/Tokyo Kokusai Univ.) - 13:31.19 - PB
5. Daniel Mwiba (Kenya/Nihon Univ.) - 13:35.45 - PB
6. Aritaka Kajiwara (Team Press Kogyo) - 13:36.79 - PB
7. Paul Kuira (Kenya/Team Konica Minolta) - 13:37.46
8. Kazuto Nishiike (Hosei Univ.) - 13:37.93 - PB
9. David Njuguna (Kenya/Team Yakult) - 13:44.21 - PB
10. Cyrus Kingori (Kenya/Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 13:44.41 - PB

Men's 5000 m Heat 41
1. Yuki Muta (Meiji Univ.) - 13:47.58 - PB
2. Kazuya Namera (Team Subaru) - 13:50.65 - PB
3. Takuya Fujikawa (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 13:51.40 - PB
4. Yoshihiro Wakamatsu (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 13:52.70
5. Ryota Matoba (Team Komori Corp.) - 13:54.22 - PB
6. Shin Kimura (Meiji Univ.) - 13:54.27 - PB
7. Muryo Takase (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 13:54.35
8. Takamitsu Hashimoto (Team Komori Corp.) - 13:55.25 - PB
9. Shinichiro Tai (Hosei Univ.) - 13:56.35 - PB
10. Yusuke Ogura (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 13:56.48 - PB

Women's 5000 m Heat 3
1. Pauline Kamulu (Kenya/Team Toto) - 15:30.46 - PB
2. Akari Ota (Team Tenmaya) - 15:30.82 - PB
3. Rina Yamasaki (Team Panasonic) - 15:40.23 - PB
4. Sayo Nomura (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 15:40.78 - PB
5. Mao Kuroda (Team Wacoal) - 15:41.49 - PB
6. Yuki Hidaka (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 15:41.98 - PB
7. Kureha Seki (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 15:42.36 - PB
8. Yuko Aoki (Canon AC Kyushu) - 15:42.62 - PB
9. Sakiko Matsumi (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 15:44.40 - PB
10. Rika Shintaku (Team Shimamura) - 15:46.50 - PB

Women's 3000 m Heat 8
1. Yukari Abe (Team Shimamura) - 9:13.29
2. Megumi Aoba (Yamanashi Gakuin Prep H.S.) - 9:16.53 - PB
3. Kaori Morita (Eda H.S.) - 9:18.31
4. Yui Fukuda (Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 9:18.77
5. Kanna Tamaki (Nagano Higashi H.S.) - 9:20.52 - PB
6. Kayo Asaba (Team Denso) - 9:21.86
7. Shiori Morita (Eda H.S.) - 9:24.12
8. Kaho Morino (Mishima Kita H.S.) - 9:24.51
9. Yuki Maehata (Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 9:24.66 - PB
10. Mako Sakaguchi (Yamanashi Gakuin Prep H.S.) - 9:25.41

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

photos (c) 2013 Kazuyuki Sugimatsu
all rights reserved


Anonymous said…
Hey Brett,

I was stunned by the sheer numbers of runners competing, and I was just wondering how many college runners were among the 30 who went under 1405? Is there any comparison to the NCAA season in terms of numbers under 14min - I imagine the NCAA would have more, but it can't be by much?
Brett Larner said…
Heat 42, the A-heat, had 13 university men under 14:05, 10 of them under 14:00. There were also 3 high schoolers under 14:00. Of these numbers, 4 were Africans.

Heat 41, the B-heat, had 9 more university men, all Japanese, under 14:05, 6 of them sub-14:00.

It's probably worth noting that the 10000 m A-heat also had 6 university men under 29:00, all Japanese, with one more in the C-heat.

I'll check the database for total numbers of U.S. and Japanese college-aged men sub-14 but I wouldn't be quick to take the bet that there are more in the NCAA. Cf.

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