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Kamulu, Kimani and Murayama Win Big in Nobeoka

by Brett Larner
photo by a_yamako
videos by Ekiden News

Perfect conditions brought fast times at one of the best distance meets on the Japanese spring calendar, Saturday's Golden Games in Nobeoka.  With a focus on 5000 m, almost every heat saw four out of the top five run PBs.  Kenya Pauline Kamulu (Team Toto) soloed her way to a one-second best of 15:29.55 in the women's 5000 m A-heat, with runner-up Miho Shimizu (Team Hokuren) in 15:36.03 leading three Japanese women to PBs under 15:40.

Newcomers Bernard Kimani (Team Yakult) and James Mwangi (Team NTN) continued their climb up the ranks of the Japan-based Africans, beating World XC junior silver medalist Leonard Barsoton (Team Nissin Shokuhin) in PBs of 13:14.64 and 13:16.06 with Barsoton 3rd in 13:21.44 in the men's 5000 m C-heat.  The lone Japanese man in the heat, 2014 World Half Marathon team member Masato Kikuchi (Team Konica Minolta), ran 13:35.18 for 6th, yet another PB in what's turning out to be a fantastic season for him.



The only Japanese man having a better season than Kikuchi is Komazawa University senior Kenta Murayama.  After PBs of 1:00:50 at February's Marugame Half Marathon and 27:49.94 last month at the Hyogo Relay Carnival 10000 m, Murayama turned in the fastest 5000 m by a Japanese so far this year to win the A-heat in a PB of 13:34.53.  Murayama's identical twin brother Kota Murayama (Josai Univ.) and second-year teammate Keisuke Nakatani (Komazawa Univ.) ran close behind throughout the race but in the last stretch were run down by former Waseda University star Yuki Yagi (Team Asahi Kasei), who took 2nd in a PB of 13:37.25. Nakatani beat Kota to round out the podium in 13:38.08 to 13:38.87, PBs for both of the university men.

Little-known Daiki Hirose (Team Osaka Gas) ran a PB 13:43.65 to win the B-heat, but more noteworthy were the PB runs just behind him from marathoners Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) and Kohei Matsumura (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki).  Imai, who ran a PB 2:09:30 for 2nd at February's Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, cleared 13:50 for the first time in his career, 2nd again 13:47.15. Matsumura, superb at this year's Tokyo Marathon with the fastest time so far this year by a Japanese man, 2:08:09, likewise went under 13:50 for the first time, running 13:48.14 for 3rd.  Both men's results point to an exciting fall marathon season, when Matsumura will represent Japan at the Asian Games alongside Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't).

Korean Seung Ho Baek was the lone winner of one of the major 5000 m heats not to PB, running 13:52.79 to win the D-heat.  Behind him, rookie pros Takumi Honda (Team Asahi Kasei) and Kento Otsu (Team Toyota Kyushu) both ran PBs, Honda 2nd in 13:54.60 and Otsu, a graduate this year of 2014 Hakone Ekiden champion Toyo University, going sub-14 for the first time in 13:57.32.

The lone men's 10000 m heat was the evening's only disappointment.  Just seven runners started behind star Kenyan pacer Bedan Karoki (DeNA RC), who tried to run exactly 28:00 pace but gradually slipped off-target, the fractions of a second adding up until the possibility of 27-minute times was out of range.  Following his departure Yuta Shitara (Team Honda), who broke 28 along with his identical twin brother Keita Shitara (Team Konica Minolta) in Nobeoka last year as seniors at Toyo, cruised in to a 28:15.73 win.  Meiji University graduate Takuya Ishikawa (Team Chugoku Denryoku) gave him a scare in the last km, closing rapidly but unable to make up the gap as he took 2nd in 28:17.74.  Last year's 5000 m national champion Sota Hoshi (Team Fujitsu) fell off the pace early but ground out a 28:50.53 for 3rd.  Komazawa co-star Shogo Nakamura had a rare off day, finishing last in 29:34.99, while 2008 World Half Marathon 5th-placer Yusei Nakao (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) dropping out early in the race.

Most of the athletes running in Nobeoka will line up again next weekend, one of the busiest of the year, as the corporate leagues hold their regional track and field championships throughout the country.  Tokyo-area university runners will run the best track meet in Japan, the Kanto Region University Track and Field Championships, moving this year from its traditional home at Tokyo's soon-to-be-rebuilt National Stadium to Kumagaya in the wilds of Saitama.  Look for coverage of Kanto and the corporate league meets only on JRN.

Golden Games in Nobeoka
Nobeoka, Miyazaki, 5/10/14
click here for complete results

Women's 5000 m Heat A
1. Pauline Kamulu (Kenya/Team Toto) - 15:29.55 - PB
2. Miho Shimizu (Team Hokuren) - 15:36.03 - PB
3. Michi Numata (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 15:36.38 - PB
4. Yuka Miyazaki (Team Kyudenko) - 15:39.30 - PB
5. Yukari Abe (Team Shimamura) - 15:43.60
6. Sakiho Tsutsui (Team Yamada Denki) - 15:46.44 - PB
7. Kanako Shimada (Team Wacoal) - 15:48.05
8. Ai Migita (Team Wacoal) - 15:49.34 - PB
9. Chieko Kido (Canon AC Kyushu) - 15:50.22
10. Mao Kuroda (Team Wacoal) - 15:52.82

Men's 5000 m Heat C
1. Bernard Kimani (Kenya/Team Yakult) - 13:14.64 - PB
2. James Mwangi (Kenya/Team NTN) - 13:16.06 - PB
3. Leonard Barsoton (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 13:21.44
4. Ronald Kwemoi (Kenya/Team Komori Corp.) - 13:21.53 - PB
5. Kassa Mekashaw (Ethiopia/Team Yachiyo Kogyo) - 13:33.64 - PB
6. Masato Kikuchi (Team Konica Minolta) - 13:35.18 - PB
7. David Njuguna (Kenya/Team Yakult) - 13:35.50
8. Melaku Abera (Ethiopia/Team Kurosaki Harima) - 13:35.72
9. Michael Githae (Kenya/Fukuoka Daichi H.S.) - 13:43.38 - PB
10. Daniel Gitau (Kenya/Team Fujitsu) - 13:54.11

Men's 5000 m Heat A
1. Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.) - 13:34.53 - PB
2. Yuki Yagi (Team Asahi Kasei) - 13:37.25 - PB
3. Keisuke Nakatani (Komazawa Univ.) - 13:38.08 - PB
4. Kota Murayama (Josai Univ.) - 13:38.87 - PB
5. Aritaka Kajiwara (Team Press Kogyo) - 13:39.47
6. Kensuke Takezawa (Team Sumitomo Denko) - 13:40.11
7. Keita Baba (Team Honda) - 13:40.13 - PB
8. Ryo Kiname (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) - 13:42.24
9. Kazuya Deguchi (Team Asahi Kasei) - 13:43.08
10. Kazuya Namera (Team Subaru) - 13:45.31 - PB

Men's 5000 m Heat B
1. Daiki Hirose (Team Osaka Gas) - 13:43.65 - PB
2. Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 13:47.15 - PB
3. Kohei Matsumura (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) - 13:48.14 - PB
4. Akihiko Tsumurai (Team Mazda) - 13:52.06
5. Keisuke Tanaka (Team Fujitsu) - 13:55.54

Men's 5000 m Heat D
1. Seung Ho Baek (South Korea) - 13:52.79
2. Takumi Honda (Team Asahi Kasei) - 13:54.60 - PB
3. Kento Otsu (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 13:57.32 - PB
4. Masaki Ito (Team Konica Minolta) - 13:57.93
5. Kazuto Kawabata (Tokai Univ.) - 13:58.68

Men's 10000 m
1. Yuta Shitara (Team Honda) - 28:15.73
2. Takuya Ishikawa (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 28:17.74
3. Sota Hoshi (Team Fujitsu) - 28:50.53
4. Tomoya Onishi (Team Asahi Kasei) - 29:07.43
5. Hiromitsu Kakuage (Team Konica Minolta) - 29:08.08
6. Shogo Nakamura (Komazawa Univ.) - 29:34.99
DNF - Yusei Nakao (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC)

(c) 2014 Brett Larner, all rights reserved
Murayama twins photo (c) 2014 A.Yamako, all rights reserved

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