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Oshikawa Over Kawauchi for Okukuma Half Course Record

by Brett Larner



In just its second running the Okukuma Road Race continued to develop into Japan's leading January half marathon, with the Koichi Morishita-coached Yuki Oshikawa (Team Toyota Kyushu) taking nearly a minute off teammate Hayato Ideue's course record to win a tight pack race in 1:03:36.  In a lead group of nine including Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't), 2013 NYC Marathon 6th-place Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu), Hakone Ekiden runners Takahiro Gunji (Komazawa Univ.) and Shota Kai (Nittai Univ.), 2013 Tamana Half Marathon winner Daichi Kato (Team Toyota Kyushu) and more, Oshikawa pushed hard near the race's end to get away from Kawauchi and Gunji, opening a lead of 4 seconds over Kawauchi for the win.

Kawauchi, 2nd at last weekend's Tanigawa Mari Half Marathon, was runner-up again in 1:03:40, taking some consolation from bettering Imai, Kato and 2014 New Year Ekiden anchor stage winner Ryuji Watanabe (Team Toyota Kyushu), all of whom had beaten him over the half marathon distance in the last year.  Gunji held off Kai for 3rd in 1:03:44 to take top university honors just off his PB.  The top 11 all beat Ideue's course record of 1:04:31, Ideue himself taking 12th in 1:04:47.

The high school boys' 10 km division was deeply competitive, the top 20 all breaking 31 minutes.  Hiroki Koga (Omuta H.S.) was the fastest of the day, winning in a sizeable course record of 30:09.

Results at the 38th running of the Tokyo-area Chiba Marine Half Marathon were considerably more understated.  Kenyan Felista Wanjugu (Team Univ. Ent.) turned in a quality 33:12 to win the women's 10 km by exactly 4 minutes, but half marathon times were relatively slow.  Shinichi Taniguchi (Chuo Gakuin Univ.) took the men's race in 1:06:12, Akiko Sugo winning the women's race in 1:17:55 over former Yamada Denki corporate team member Maiko Murayama.

2nd Okukuma Road Race
Kumagun, Kumamoto, 1/19/14
click here for complete results

Men's Half Marathon
1. Yuki Oshikawa (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 1:03:36 - CR
2. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 1:03:40
3. Takahiro Gunji (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:03:44
4. Shota Kai (Nittai Univ.) - 1:03:48
5. Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 1:03:55
6. Hiroto Kanamori (Takushoku Univ.) - 1:03:56
7. Kentaro Inoue (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:04:04 - PB
8. Shota Miyagami (Tokai Univ.) - 1:04:05
9. Daichi Kato (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 1:04:07
10. Shun Yamamura (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:04:20

High School Boys' 10 km
1. Hiroki Koga (Omuta H.S.) - 30:09 - CR
2. Keisuke Arima (Omuta H.S.) - 30:23
3. Hiroki Fukushima (Chinzei H.S.) - 30:25
4. Ryo Sakamoto (Chinzei H.S.) - 30:29
5. Kohei Kawaguchi (Chinzei H.S.) - 30:30

Women's 5 km
1. Junko Katsuki (Kumamoto Shinai Joshi H.S.) - 16:27
2. Sayaka Onitsuka (Miyazaki Nichidai Prep H.S.) - 16:34
3. Kyoka Nakagawa (Kumamoto Shinai Joshi H.S.) - 16:39
4. Nana Muramoto (Yamaga J.H.S.) - 16:46
5. Natsumi Furukawa (Ariake H.S.) - 16:53

38th Chiba Marine Half Marathon
Chiba, 1/19/14
complete results coming shortly

Women's Half Marathon
1. Akiko Sugo - 1:17:55
2. Maiko Murayama (Niigata T&F Assoc.) - 1:19:00
3. Moe Hashimoto (Koku Gakuin Univ.) - 1:19:53

Men's Half Marathon
1. Shinichi Taniguchi (Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 1:06:12
2. Masahiro Uchida (Niigata T&F Assoc.) - 1:06:19
3. Yuki Tagomori (Kanto Gakuin Univ.) - 1:06:19

Women's 10 km
1. Felista Wanjugu (Kenya/Team Univ. Ent.) - 33:12
2. Misaki Yokouma - 37:12
3. Kanako Fujiishi - 37:21

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

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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…