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

60-Year-Old Hiromi Nakata Wins Tottori Marathon Overall Women's Race

The Tottori Marathon held its 12th running on March 10. In light rain and 11˚C temperatures 3717 people ran Tottori's one-way course that passes local historic sites such as the Tottori Sand Dunes and the Tottori Castle ruins. Running 3:12:44 for the overall women's win was 60-year-old Hiromi Nakata.
"I was as surprised as anyone that I won," said Tanaka. "I had to stop at the toilets early on and lost some time, but I tried using the double inhale, double exhale breathing method that the actor Kankuro Nakamura uses on the Idaten TV show and got into a good rhythm. Thanks to that I could just keep going and going. I had no idea I was in 1st, and when they put up the finish tape as I was coming in I thought, 'No way!'""
Nakata is a resident of Hamamatsu, Shizuoka. In 2017 she ran the fastest time of the year in Japan by a 58-year-old, 3:05:02. In the mornings she does housework and works in her garden for an hour, fitting in 30 to 60-minute run…

Japan's Oldest-Ever Olympic Marathoner Suehiro Ishikawa Retires at 39

At a press conference in Sayama, Saitama on Mar. 20, 2016 Rio Olympics marathoner Suehiro Ishikawa, 39, announced that he will retire from competition at the end of the month. At the time of the Rio Olympics Ishikawa was 36 years and 11 months old, surpassing 1996 Atlanta Olympics marathoner Hiromi Taniguchi's record of 36 years and 3 months to become Japan's oldest-ever Olympic marathoner. He finished 36th.

"Since I started running high school it's been 24 years," said Ishikawa at the press conference. "I've been with Honda for 17 years, and I made it all the way to the top, the Olympics. I'm glad that I've kept going this long. I thank you all."

Ishikawa ran the Mar. 10 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon but dropped out after only 10 km. It was to be the last race of his career. "It was the first time in my career that I'd ever DNFd, and I thought, 'OK, this is where it ends,'" said Ishikawa. Shortly after the race he made …

Yoshitomi Survives Four Marathons in Four Weeks to Win Saga Sakura Marathon

Arguably the highest-volume elite-level marathoner in the world, Hiroko Yoshitomi (Memolead) survived four straight weekends of marathons to win her hometown Saga Sakura Marathon yesterday.

Starting the month off at the Mar. 3 Tokyo Marathon Yoshitomi ran 2:32:30 for 13th. A week later at the Mar. 10 Nagoya Women's Marathon it was 2:34:49 for 31st. Last weekend she headed overseas in a bid to win the Mar. 17 New Taipei City Wan Jin Shi Marathon in Taiwan, but in a rare off day she finished 6th in only 2:48:45. Heading back home she rallied to win the Mar. 24 Saga Sakura Marathon in 2:42:02.

At an expo talk show appearance the Wan Jin Shi organizers billed Yoshitomi as "the female Kawauchi," but not even he has come close to the kind of volume of racing Yoshitomi has been turning out over the years while working at her parents' botanical farm. Expect to see more, and more, and more from her in the months to come.



photos courtesy of Wan Jin Shi Marathon organizers
text …