by Brett Larner
Alongside Bedan Karoki's Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon course record, Murayama twins Kenta and Kota's Kanto Regional University Championships 10000 m double victory and Yoshihide Kiryu's 10.05 national university record, four of the six regional corporate leagues held their track and field championships over the weekend. Moscow World Championships 10000 m bronze medalist Paul Tanui (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) fronted the corporate regionals' best race with a world-leading 27:16.75 to win the Kyushu region men's 10000 m over the Koichi Morishita-coached Kenyan Jeremiah Karemi (Team Toyota Kyushu), 2nd in 27:41.81, and Ethiopian Melaku Abera (Team Kurosaki Harima), 3rd in 27:42.35.
Four of the eight Japanese men to have run sub-2:10 marathons so far this year were also in the race, Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu), 2nd in 2:09:30 at February's Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, topping the group 5th overall in 28:34.75. Kohei Matsumura (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki), the fastest Japanese marathoner this year with a 2:08:09 in Tokyo, took 7th in 28:38.80, with Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei), 2:09:47 at Lake Biwa, 15th in 29:06.73 and Masanori Sakai (Team Kyudenko), 2:09:10 in Tokyo behind Matsumura, 21st in 29:30.41.
Tanui's teammate, 2014 World Half Marathon bronze medalist Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko), had an easy win in the Kyushu women's 5000 m, running 15:37.92 to beat rival Pauline Kamulu (Kenya/Team Toto) by 3 1/2 seconds.
Higher-level women's action came at the East Japan region meet, with Doricah Obare (Kenya/Team Hitachi) defending her 10000 m title in 31:58.71 and newcomer Rosemary Monica (Kenya/Team Starts) winning the 3000 m in 9:02.30 after also taking the 1500 m. 2011 National Corporate 10000 m champion Kasumi Nishihara (Team Yamada Denki) was the only one to stop a Kenyan sweep, outkicking 2013 National Corporate 5000 m winner Grace Kimanzi (Team Starts) and Felista Wanjugu (Team Univ. Ent.) to win the 5000 m by less than a second in 15:32.55.
While Nishihara got in the way of the women, the Kenyan men did manage to pull off an East Japan sweep. In his first season in Japan Ronald Kwemoi (Team Komori Corp.) took the 1500 m in 3:42.50, nearly five seconds ahead of runner-up Yasunori Murakami (Team Fujitsu). Bernard Kimani (Team Honda) outran 2013 World XC junior silver medalist Leonard Barsoton (Team Nissin Shokuhin), last weekend's Sendai International Half Marathon winner Johana Maina (Team Fujitsu) and others to win the 5000 m in 13:24.30. The ascendant William Malel (Team Honda) rounded out the sweep with a 28:00.12 win in the 10000 m, which saw a moderately successful comeback run from almost two years of Achilles trouble by former Tokai University star Akinobu Murasawa (Team Nissin Shokuhin), 6th in 28:35.09. Another Japanese man with a sub-2:10 to his name this season, 2:09:07 marathoner Hirokatsu Kurosaki (Team Konica Minolta), made an appearance in the 10000 m B-heat, 11th in 29:56.16, but the East Japan region's other two 2014 sub-2:10 men Suehiro Ishikawa (Team Honda) and Koji Kobayashi (Team Subaru) were nowhere to be seen.
The Chugoku region split its track championships into two, the 5000 m held last week and only the 10000 m on the menu this weekend. Things were relatively low-key, with former Sera H.S. standout Charles Ndirangu (Kenya/Team JFE Steel) jogging the 10000 m in 28:30.82 for the win by more than 20 seconds over Yuji Osuda (Team Mazda). The Kansai region, the only with a complete ban on foreign athletes, saw a meet record 3:44.67 win from Daiki Hirose (Team Osaka Gas) in the 1500 m but winning times of only 14:14.73 and 29:33.03 in the men's 5000 m and 10000 m. Women's times in Kansai were a little more advanced thanks to the Otsuka Seiyaku team, with its marathoner Mai Ito winning the 5000 m in 15:46.00 and teammate Ayaka Inoue the 10000 in 32:54.78.
A few corporate league runners even managed to sneak overseas over the weekend. Quasi-NOP member Suguru Osako (Team Nissin Shokuhin) continued his USA-based post-graduation season with a 13:39.10 for 7th at the USATF High Performance Distance Classic, while former Toyo University member Yu Chiba (Team Honda) ran 2:13:44 at the Riga Marathon in Latvia for a rare Japanese win in Europe.
(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved