Skip to main content

Again For the Team - Omwamba and Yamanashi Gakuin Post-Hakone Fracture

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/ekiden/2014/news/20140107-OYT1T01067.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Eliminated from the Jan. 2-3 90th running of the Hakone Ekiden when second year Enock Omwamba fractured the fibula in his right leg and dropped out 9.7 km into Hakone's Second Stage, Yamanashi Gakuin University's remaining athletes were able to refocus themselves and complete the race with all they had.  Head coach Masahito Ueda commented, "Even though their times won't be in the record books, they will live on in people's memories and in the team's history," reflecting on how this year's race will influence the future.

This year's results will remain unofficial, but each of Yamanashi Gakuin's athletes ran his part of the Hakone course full of compassion for the injured Omwamba.  After the race captain Yutaro Matsuyama, who ran the Seventh Stage in his final Hakone as a senior, said, "As captain I didn't leave the team in position to get off to a good start [since they have to requalify for Hakone at October's Yosenkai 20 km], but I think the younger guys on the team have already renewed themselves and started over today [on Day Two of Hakone, where YGU's time placed in 9th of 23 despite not counting in the results]."

Anchoring senior Yuma Mori, who did an extra year at Yamanashi Gakuin after sustaining a stress fracture and being forced to give up Hakone last year, ran an excellent time that would have put him at 5th on the Tenth Stage.  "Omwamba's going to be OK too," he said, expressing his belief that his teammate will make a full comeback.

After the race at the team's post-race assembly near the Hakone finish line in Otemachi, Tokyo in front of alumni and other university supporters, team members gathered around Omwamba, smiling as they patted him on the head and put their hands on his shoulder, showing that they were of one heart as a team.  On crutches, Omwamba said, "It was devastating, but I will run again for the team," his competitive spirit still burning strong.

Coach Ueda praised the athletes who fought hard enough that Yamanashi Gakuin would have placed 9th on Day Two, saying, "Each of them represented himself in his running with a strong spirit of moving forward from this to face next year.  Last year we weren't good enough, but this year they competed win strength.  From this teeth-clenching disappointment we have to come back hitting twice as hard next year."  For coach Ueda and the Yamanashi Gakuin athletes the curtain has already opened on their next challenge.

Comments

Metts said…
How can you not like the positive attitudes displayed from this team? In contrast, what is Komazawa thinking right now?
Metts said…
I used to like Komazawa; watched all their summer camp training vidoes on youtube etc., and all their interviews with their coach. Still like their athletes etc. for their effort, but remember even in the videos the coach would be very vocal in their training sessions. Toyo, Aoyama, and Yamanashi coaching styles seem to bring out the best in their athletes, its the best coaching styles for them. Maybe Oyagi gets the most out of his athletes, it works for him. But is it the best way overall these days?

Most-Read This Week

Kawauchi Breaks Nobeyama Ultra Course Record

2018 Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) won the longest race of his career to date Sunday in Nagano, taking over six minutes off the Yatsugatake Nobeyama Kogen 71 km Ultramarathon in 4:41:55.

A training run for next month’s Stockholm Marathon, Kawauchi set off solo at a steady pace around 3:45/km. Climbing from 1355 m to 1908 m as he approached 20 km he naturally slowed, but with over 1000 m of descent over the next 30 km he was soon back on track. Hitting the marathon split around 2:39, he was so far ahead of the 2nd placer that the announcer initially forget Kawauchi had already gone by and announced the next runner as the leader.

At 58 km Kawauchi was on track to clear 4:30:00, but hitting the uphills in the final 10 km and feeling the effects of the unfamiliar distance he slowed to almost 5:00/km. But with so much leeway to work with there was never any danger of the 4:48:13 course record slipping out of reach. Kawauchi stopped the clock in 4:41:55, please…

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
Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama - 1:04:26 - 1st
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:04:49 - 12th
Mar. 11: Yoshinogawa Riverside Half Marathon, Tokushima - 1:05:50 - 1st - CR
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan - 2:14:12 - 1st
Mar. 24: Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials, Saitama
              5000 m Heat 4: 14:53.95 - 1st
              5000 m Heat 6: 14:36.58 - 2nd
           …

How it Happened

Ancient History I went to Wesleyan University, where the legend of four-time Boston Marathon champ and Wes alum Bill Rodgers hung heavy over the cross-country team. Inspired by Koichi Morishita and Young-Cho Hwang’s duel at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics I ran my first marathon in 1993, qualifying for Boston ’94 where Bill was kind enough to sign a star-struck 20-year-old me’s bib number at the expo.

Three years later I moved to Japan for grad school, and through a long string of coincidences I came across a teenaged kid named Yuki Kawauchi down at my neighborhood track. I never imagined he’d become what he is, but right from the start there was just something different about him. After his 2:08:37 breakthrough at the 2011 Tokyo Marathon he called me up and asked me to help him get into races abroad. He’d finished 3rd on the brutal downhill Sixth Stage at the Hakone Ekiden, and given how he’d run the hills in the last 6 km at Tokyo ’11 I thought he’d do well at Boston or New York. “If M…