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Fujiwara and Watanabe Win on the Roads At Opposite Ends of Japan

by Brett Larner

Two weeks after finishing 4th and 6th in 1:02:44 and 1:02:58 at the Great North Run half marathon, London Olympian Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) and the Koichi Morishita-coached Ryuji Watanabe (Team Toyota Kyushu) scored wins on the roads at opposite ends of Japan.

Running at Hokkaido's Hakodate Half Marathon against a strong domestic field including perennial rival Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) who was 8th at the Great North Run, Fujiwara bided his time in hot conditions before attacking 2008 World Half Marathon 5th-placer Yusei Nakao and Taiga Ito of Suzuki Hamamatsu AC with 1.5 km to go and taking the win in 1:04:19.  "It was quite hot out there, so it ended up being a slow day," Fujiwara told JRN post-race.  After not having raced domestically since last December, though, he added, "Everyone made it a great race and I'm really happy to have gotten the win."  It was only the third road race victory of Fujiwara's career.

Kawauchi was 4th in 1:04:51.  "The athletes around me, Fujiwara included, had their craft down," he commented.  "That was pretty disappointing."  Fujiwara and Kawauchi will next square off at December's Fukuoka International Marathon.

In the women's race, fresh from a 10000 m title at last weekend's National Corporate Track and Field Championships, Kenyan Doricah Obare (Team Hitachi) won easily in 1:13:06 over 2010 Nagoya International Women's Marathon winner Yuri Kano (Team Shiseido), 2nd in 1:15:44 in her first race in recent memory.  Click here for a nice collection of photos from Hakodate.

Far to the south in Kyushu, Watanabe continued his recent hot streak with his first win at the Fukuoka Prefecture Road Championships 10-Miler.  With two runner-up finishes to his name Watanabe applied pressure punctuated with surges to get rid of his teammates, defending champion Yuya Konishi and last year's 3rd-place finisher Yuki Oshikawa. Unchallenged over the last stretch of the race, he won in 48:34 with Oshikawa well back in 48:52 for 2nd.  Konishi dropped out near 11 km after losing touch with the two leaders. Both Watanabe and Oshikawa scored places on the defending champion Fukuoka team for the final running of the prestigious Grand Tour Kyushu ekiden late next month and on into November.

23rd Hakodate Half Marathon
Hakodate, Hokkaido, 9/29/13
click here for complete results

Men
1. Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) - 1:04:19
2. Yusei Nakao (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:04:24
3. Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:04:38
4. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 1:04:51
5. Kenya Sonota (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:05:29

Women
1. Doricah Obare (Kenya/Team Hitachi) - 1:13:06
2. Yuri Kano (Team Shiseido) - 1:15:44
3. Sumiko Suzuki (Team Hokuren) - 1:17:47

67th Fukuoka Prefecture Road Championships
Omuta, Fukuoka, 9/29/13
click here for complete results

Men's 10 Miles
1. Ryuji Watanabe (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 48:34
2. Yuki Oshikawa (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 48:52
3. Shinnosuke Ogura (Team Kurosaki Harima) - 49:04
4. Tsubasa Akagi (Team Nishitetsu) - 49:06
5. Kaoru Hirosue (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 49:11
DNF - Yuya Konishi (Team Toyota Kyushu)

High School Boys' 10 km
1. Yuki Ueda (Tamana Kogyo H.S.) - 31:14
2. Koki Tokunaga (Omuta H.S.) - 31:24
3. Tomotaka Yasuda (Omuta H.S.) - 31:37

Women's 5 km
1. Maki Saito (Fukuoka Univ.) - 16:39
2. Wakana Itsuki (Fukuoka Univ.) - 16:40
3. Hitomi Sakaguchi (Fukuoka Univ.) - 16:44

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
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