Skip to main content

Karoki, Mwangi, Omwamba and Wairimu top Second Half of Hokuren Distance Challenge

by Brett Larner

Japan’s biggest summer track series, the Hokuren Distance Challenge on the northern island of Hokkaido, wrapped up this week with its final two meets in the towns of Kitami and Abashiri. The Kitami meet was relatively low-key as everyone focused on the series closer in Abashiri. Building toward his marathon debut with two half marathon wins and a sub-27 best for 10000 m to his name this season Bedan Karoki (Kenya/DeNA RC) delivered the biggest result in Kitami, winning the 5000 m A-heat in 13:15.25. Hokkaido-based high schooler Charles Ndungu (Kenya/Sapporo Yamanote H.S.) was 3rd in a quality best of 13:35.55 just ahead of top Japanese man Minato Oishi (Team Toyota), 4th in 13:36.40.

Kenyan Susan Wairimu (Team Denso) won the women’s 3000 m A-heat over two-time 5000 m national champion Misaki Onishi (Team Sekisui Kagaku), 9:01.29 to 9:05.45, while the year’s #1-ranked Japanese woman Ayumi Hagiwara (Team Uniqlo) took the 5000 m A-heat in 15:33.71.

In Abashiri Hagiwara faltered, dropping out of the 5000 m A-heat as Onishi won in 15:28.25. Wairimu’s teammate Yuka Takashima (Team Denso) took the women’s 10000 m heat in 31:55.81, just the third Japanese woman this year to clear 32 minutes. Sairi Maeda (Team Daihatsu), who set the national collegiate marathon record of 2:26:46 in her debut at January’s Osaka International Women’s Marathon just before graduating from Kyoto’s Bukkyo University, was 2nd in a sizeable PB of 32:04.37, with 2014 World Half Marathon Championships team member Risa Takenaka (Team Shiseido) also PBing in 32:07.08 for 3rd. Moscow World Championships women’s marathon bronze medalist Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) made a long-delayed return to competition in the same heat, finishing 14th in 32:48.87.

Along with Takenaka, most of Japan’s men’s World Half Marathon Championships team also ran in Abashiri. Masato Kikuchi (Team Konica Minolta), 18th in Copenhagen in 1:01:23, doubled with a 3:44.21 win in the 1500 m before coming back to run 13:40.40 for 3rd in the 5000 m A-heat just off Copenhagen teammate Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.), 13:39.27 for 2nd behind 2014 Kanto Region University 1500 m and 5000 m champion Enock Omwamba (Kenya/Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) who won again in 13:38.50. A third member of the World Half team, Hiroto Inoue (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.), took 5th in 13:42.74, while its other collegiate runner Shogo Nakamura (Komazawa Univ.) struggled in the 10000 m A-heat as he finished last in 30:18.91. The Copenhagen team’s final member, 2013 national 5000 m champion Sota Hoshi (Team Fujitsu), sat Abashiri out after running a PB 13:38.46 in Kitami.

No Japanese men broke 28 in the Abashiri 10000 m A-heat, where newcomer James Mwangi (Kenya/Team NTN) continued his rapid rise with a 27:23.66 win over the Koichi Morishita-coached Jeremiah Karemi Thuku (Kenya/Team Toyota Kyushu), 2nd in 27:28.27. Muryo Takase (Team Nissin Shokuhin), sub-62 for the half marathon while at Yamanashi Gakuin University, ran a PB 28:03.81 to take top Japanese honors at 6th just ahead of former Komazawa University captain Shinobu Kubota who just nicked his best with a two-second PB of 28:05.08. Tadashi Isshiki (Aoyama Gakuin University) was the top Japanese collegiate, running a nearly 90-second of PB 28:23.40 for 13th to just beat AGU teammate Yusuke Ogura’s B-heat-winning 28:27.73, also a major PB by 42 seconds. AGU’s Yuhi Akiyama likewise cleared 29 minutes for the first time in the B-heat, as did three runners from rival Meiji University led by Hayato Yamada in 28:35.76. With 2014 Hakone Ekiden top two Toyo University and Komazawa University both suffering from significant losses to graduation both Aoyama Gakuin and Meiji look set to be serious factors in this fall’s university ekiden season, the highlight of the Japanese racing year.

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved 

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Saitama International Marathon Elite Field

With just over three weeks to go the Saitama International Marathon has released the elite field for its third running scheduled for Nov. 12, and it's a small one. A problematic event that carries the diminished legacy of the Tokyo International Women's Marathon and Yokohama International Women's Marathon, Saitama occupies a place in the national team selection process that should go to the far superior Tokyo Marathon women's race but remains out in the northwestern suburbs thanks to the sponsor and TV broadcast income it generates for the JAAF. But with a field like this, how much longer will it be able to generate any sponsor interest or income?

The move of the National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships from mid-December to late November, just two weeks after Saitama, means that not a single corporate league woman is entered in Saitama's elite field. Not one. The home crowd is represented by 22-year-old Reia Iwade (Dome), who quit the Noritz corporate t…

Kawabata Over Kawauchi at Takashimadaira 20 km

Like a distant echo of the thunder of yesterday's Yosenkai 20 km reverberating across the city, Tokyo's other major 20 km road race took place this morning in the northwestern suburb of Takashimadaira. Narrowly surviving the loss of its main sponsor last year, the Takashimadaira Road Race offers a unique 5 km loop course that delivers fast times. Now in its 42nd year, Takashimadaira is a favorite for upper-tier universities that don't have to run the Yosenkai to requalify for the Hakone Ekiden, for other schools' second-stringers, and for top-level independents and amateurs.

This year's race was fronted by a group of runners from Izumo Ekiden winner Tokai University who didn't make Tokai's final Izumo roster, by London World Championships marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) and others from yesterday's Yosenkai winner Teikyo University and the Hakone-qualified Juntendo University and Komazawa University. In the same cool and lightly rainy…

Kawauchi and Kanematsu Win Rainy Shimantogawa 100 km

The 23rd edition of the Shimantogawa Ultramarathon took place Oct. 15 in Shimanto, Kochi. 1822 runners started the 100 km division, where Yoshiki Kawauchi (26, Saitama T&F Assoc.) and Aiko Kanematsu (37, Team RxL) took the men's and women's titles for the first time.

The 100 km division started under a heavy downpour at 5:30 a.m. in front of Warabioka J.H.S. The 576 participants in the 60 km division got off 4 1/2 hours later from Koinobori Park, with both races finishing at Nakamura H.S.

Kawauchi, the younger brother of "civil servant runner" Yuki Kawauchi, ran Shimantogawa for the second time, improving dramatically on last year's run to win in 6:42:06. "Last time I was 21st, a total disaster," Kawauchi said afterward. "My brother told me, 'Don't overdo it on the uphills,' and his advie helped me get through it. The scenery around Iwama Chinkabashi was really beautiful."

Kanematsu began running with her husband around age 30…