Thursday, February 27, 2014

National University Half Marathon Championships Entry List

by Brett Larner

The Inter-University Athletic Union of Japan has released the entry lists for Sunday's National University Half Marathon Championships in western Tokyo's Showa Kinen Park. With the rapidly increasing level of Japanese university men's distance running the once-minor half marathon championships have taken on increasing importance, three of the last four years seeing winning times under 63 minutes and 2012's race setting world records for depth with 193 men under 66 minutes.  1389 men are entered for this year's race, and with a consistent pattern of large numbers running aggressive paces throughout the season since Tokyo secured the 2020 Olympics this year's race could be the fastest and deepest yet.

On Feb. 2 Hiroto Inoue (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) ran the fastest half marathon ever by a Japanese 21-year-old, 1:01:39, and with that time he heads the entry list.  Inoue is on the Japanese national team for the Mar. 29 World Half Marathon Championships, so while it is possible he may double the chances of him starting are probably less than even.  2012 national champion and last year's runner up Toshikatsu Ebina (Teikyo Univ.) returns for the last race of his university career, one of the few top-level seniors in the field.  2014 Hakone Ekiden stage winners Koki Takada (Waseda Univ.) and Hideto Yamanaka (Nittai Univ.) are also top contenders, Yamanaka in particular as he won Hakone's 21.4 km First Stage in 1:01:25, equivalent to a 1:00:33 half marathon.  Whether he can follow up on a performance like that will be one of this year's main draws.

Other contenders include sub-1:02:30 men Shuhei Yamamoto (Waseda Univ.) and Shuho Dairokuno (Meiji Univ.).  Of special note is Kota Murayama (Josai Univ.), the top Japanese man at October's Yosenkai 20 km in 59:17 and the identical twin brother of World Half team leader Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.).  Kenta ran the all-time third-fastest Japanese mark and best-ever by a Japanese 20-year-old, 1:00:50, in Marugame last month. Kota's coach at Josai, Seiji Kushibe, the one-hour run national record holder, puts a heavier emphasis on speed work than Komazawa head coach Hiroaki Oyagi whose training focuses more on stamina, and it shows.  Kota's 5000 m best of 13:41.60 is over five seconds faster than Kenta's, but in his one half marathon to date Kota has only run 1:07:51. His Yosenkai performance showed potential for him to go comfortably sub-63, but whether he can approach his brother's level is another question.

17th National University Half Marathon Championships 
Entry List Highlights
Tachikawa, Tokyo, 3/2/14
click here for complete entry list

Hiroto Inoue (3rd yr., Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 1:01:39
Shuhei Yamamoto (3rd yr., Waseda Univ.) - 1:02:14
Shuho Dairokuno (3rd yr., Meiji Univ.) - 1:02:19
Toshikatsu Ebina (4th yr., Teikyo Univ.) - 1:02:23
Koki Takada (2nd yr., Waseda Univ.) - 1:02:38
Yuta Katsumata (2nd yr., Nittai Univ.) - 1:02:39
Yusuke Nishiyama (1st yr., Komazawa Univ.) - 1:02:43
Yuki Matsumura (3rd yr., Juntendo Univ.) - 1:02:44
Takayuki Maeno (3rd yr., Meiji Univ.) - 1:02:45
Daiki Taguchi (3rd yr., Waseda Univ.) - 1:02:53
Shinichiro Tai (4th yr., Hosei Univ.) - 1:02:54
Shogo Sekiguchi (3rd yr., Hosei Univ.) - 1:02:57
Shota Miyagami (2nd yr., Tokai Univ.) - 1:02:58
Takuma Sano (3rd yr., Hosei Univ.) - 1:02:58
Koki Ido (1st yr., Waseda Univ.) - 1:02:59
Kota Murayama (3rd yr., Josai Univ.) - 59:17 (20 km)
Shuhei Yamaguchi (2nd yr., Soka Univ.) - 59:54 (20 km)
Hideto Yamanaka (2nd yr., Nittai Univ.) - 1:00:37 (20 km)

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved


Metts said...

The Japanese running scene seems like a breath of fresh air and or pure running compared to what happened last weekend in the US. Except for the occasional coaching mishaps in Japan, running at its purest in Japan. Most of the time.

Brett Larner said...

Nobody's perfect, but no argument here.