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

Laimoi and Yoshida Break CR, Nilsson Breaks Swedish NR, Shitara, Kamino and Kawauchi Set Up for Fukuoka at Ageo City Half Marathon

Every year it seems like the question is how much further can Ageo go? The answer still seems to be more. More further.

The Ageo City Half Marathon is the world's greatest half marathon, the place where Hakone Ekiden-bound universities line up most of their rosters to help coaches whittle down the contenders for the final sixteen-man Hakone lineup. Perfect conditions at this year's race meant something special.

Four runners from Chuo Gakuin University led by Takumi Yokokawa took it out hard, splitting 5:47 at 2 km, 1:01:00 pace, well ahead of last year's CR with the entire field in tow. A field that included national record holder Yuta Shitara (Honda), Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't), Hakone uphill hero Daichi Kamino (New Balance), 2017 London World Championships marathoner David Nilsson (Sweden), Kenyans Michael Githae (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), Vincent Laimoi (Kokushikan Univ.) and Paul Gitonga (Kokushikan Univ.) and Ethiopian Workneh Derese (…

18-Year-Old Waithaka Runs 10000 m World Leading Time at Nittai - Weekend Roundup

photo by @tsutsugo55225

For the second time in the last three weeks, a Japan-based Kenyan ran the fastest time in the world this year for 10000 m at Yokohama's Nittai University Time Trials series. On October 20th it was 2015 World U18 Championships 3000 m gold medalist Richard Kimunyan (Hitachi Butsuryu), 20, with a 27:14.70  that surpassed Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei's world-leading mark by almost five seconds. This time it was 2018 World U20 Championships 5000 m silver medalist Stanley Waithaka (Yakult), 18, taking almost two minutes off his PB to break Kimunyan's mark with a 27:13.01 win.

Both winners received support from 2014 Commonwealth Games steeplechase gold medalist Jonathan Ndiku (Hitachi Butsuryu), who ran season bests for 2nd place each time, 27:50.38 three weeks ago and 27:28.27 on Saturday. 2013 World U18 Championships 3000 m bronze medalist Alexander Mutiso (ND Software) was also under 28 minutes, running just off his PB at 27:42.16 for 3rd. Kazuma Taira (Kan…

Yoshitomi Breaks Fukuoka Marathon Course Record by Over 7 Minutes

The 2018 Fukuoka Marathon took place Nov. 11 on a course from downtown Fukuoka to Itoshima. In the women's race winner Hiroko Yoshitomi (Memolead) ran 2:30:09, taking 7:01 off the course record and 7 seconds off her PB. Surprised and elated, she told reporters, "I never thought I'd run this kind of time here!"
Coming in the early part of the marathon season, Yoshitomi said, "This race was mostly about confirming my condition. I wasn't thinking about running a PB." Until 5 km she was running slower than the kind of pace that would make her tired in training. Mid-race she came across one of her regular training partners, Hiroaki Iwanaga (GGRC Kumamoto) and thought to herself, "If you run with him you might be able to just break 2:30." Never slowing down all the way until the end, Yoshitomi's run turned out what she called "unexpectedly" well.
Yoshitomi will run the 4th Saitama International Marathon on Dec. 9 as part of its invite…