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Ndirangu and Numata Win National Corporate Half Marathon, Kikuchi Just Misses National Record in 1:00:32

by Brett Larner

A week after winning a muddy Chiba XC, Charles Ndirangu (Kenya/Team JFE Steel) was back for his half marathon debut at the National Corporate Half Marathon Championships.  The successor to 2015 Kenyan national XC champion Bedan Karoki (DeNA RC) at Hiroshima's Sera H.S., Ndirangu sat near the rear of the lead pack through a relatively conservative 14:29 opening split on the 30 m uphill first 5 km.  As the downhill started Masato Kikuchi (Team Konica Minolta), the top non-African at last year's World Half Marathon Championships who ran an all-time Japanese #5 1:00:57 two weeks ago in Marugame, began to push the pace, covering the next 5 km in 14:19.  Ndirangu temporarily lost contact with the lead group in Kikuchi's wake but came back in a hurry, surging at 11 km to go to the front and break up the pack.

Initially only Kikuchi and his teammate Keita Shitara (Team Konica Minolta), who likewise ran a PB 1:01:20 in Marugame two weeks ago, followed, but when they were joined by Macharia Ndirangu (Kenya/Team Aichi Seiko) Shitara lost touch.  Kikuchi went back to the front at 13 km, aggressively pushing toward Atsushi Sato's 1:00:25 national record.  At 18 km Charles Ndirangu attacked again, pulling away from Kikuchi and Macharia and cruising on to a solid 1:00:18 course record win in his debut.  43 seconds behind Sato's NR pace at 10 km, at 20 km Kikuchi exactly tied Sato's 57:24 split, incidentally becoming the co-national record holder at that distance, but almost staggering as he and Macharia hit the track.  He briefly rallied to go into 2nd, but Macharia went by for the runner-up spot in 1:00:30, a PB by nearly 2 1/2 minutes.

Kikuchi was just behind in 1:00:32, breaking the course record along with the two Ndirangu's but 7 seconds short of Sato's national record.  His time put him at all-time Japanese #3 and together with his time from Marugame made him the first Japanese man ever to break 61 minutes twice.  Combined with becoming the co-holder of the 20 km national record it wasn't a bad day, and the aggressive front-running Kikuchi showed marked him as one of the best of the new generation of under-25 Japanese making their way up the ranks.

Shitara held on for 5th in 1:01:12 to become all-time Japanese #10.  Four other Japanese men broke 62 minutes for the first time, Taku Fujimoto (Team Toyota) debuting in 1:01:31.  Previous course record holder Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota), formerly all-time Japanese #4 at 1:00:53, had his first good race since a 2:11:50 debut at last year's Tokyo Marathon at age 22, running 1:02:18 for 11th.  A total of 27 men broke 1:03.

The women's half marathon likewise didn't see things get moving until after 10 km.  Under-20 marathon national record holder Reia Iwade (Team Noritz) did most of the leading up to 10 km, running just under 70 minute pace before former Ritsumeikan University star Michi Numata (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) dropped a 16:16 split through 15 km to open up a solo lead that she held all the way to the win in a PB 1:09:27.  Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) was the only one to go after her, running a 3-second PB of 1:09:57 for 2nd.  Unable to follow the change in pace, Iwade rounded out the podium in 1:10:13.

36 years old next month, 10000 m and former marathon national record holder Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) was a surprise 6th in 1:11:00, her best time since 2008.  Looking relatively lean after altitude training on her old grounds in Kunming, China in preparation for next month's Nagoya Women's Marathon, Shibui hung back after Numata starting pushing, far back from the leaders at the turnaround but picking them off one at a time on the trip back to move up to 6th.

For the fifth year the women's field was divided between the half marathon and 10 km, with many of the younger names that might have taken on longer distances in older times opting for the 10 km.  A lead group of ten went through halfway in a leisurely 16:39, only slightly faster than the half marathoners' opening 5 km split, before things got moving.  Last year's runner-up Yuika Mori (Team Yamada Denki) burned off the competition with a 15:47 second half, crossing the finish line in a course record 32:26 PB.  Yuka Miyazaki (Team Kyudenko) was 3 seconds back in a major PB of 32:29, getting there just ahead of Mori's teammate Sakiho Tsutsui (Team Yamada Denki) who made an excellent road 10 km debut in 32:30.

National Corporate Half Marathon and 10 km Championships
Yamaguchi, 2/15/15
click here for complete results

Men's Half Marathon
1. Charles Ndirangu (Kenya/Team JFE Steel) - 1:00:18 - debut, CR
2. Macharia Ndirangu (Kenya/Team Aichi Seiko) - 1:00:30 - PB (CR)
3. Masato Kikuchi (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:00:32 - PB (CR)
4. Jacob Wanjuki (Kenya/Team Aichi Seiko) - 1:01:05
5. Keita Shitara (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:01:12 - PB
6. Shota Hattori (Team Honda) - 1:01:25 - PB
7. Johana Maina (Kenya/Team Fujitsu) - 1:01:29
8. Taku Fujimoto (Kenya/Team Toyota) - 1:01:31 - debut
9. Yuji Osuda (Team Mazda) - 1:01:40 - PB
10. Kenta Matsumoto (Team Toyota) - 1:01:55 - PB
11. Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota) - 1:02:18
12. Keita Baba (Team Honda) - 1:02:23 - PB
13. Shuji Matsuo (Team Chudenko) - 1:02:25 - PB
14. Shusei Ohashi (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 1:02:27 - PB
15. Kenta Kitazawa (Team Yachiyo Kogyo) - 1:02:32 - PB
16. Takuya Fukatsu (Team Asahi Kasei) - 1:02:36
17. Kazuyoshi Shimozato (Team Komori Corp.) - 1:02:44
18. Tomoya Shirayanagi (Team Toyota Boshoku) - 1:02:45 - PB
19. Masaru Aoki (Team Kanebo) - 1:02:45 - PB
20. Kyohei Nishi (Team Kyudenko) - 1:02:45 - PB
21. Yoshihiro Yamamoto (Team NTN) - 1:02:47
22. Ryotaro Otani (Team Toyota Boshoku) - 1:02:48 - PB
23. Ryuji Okada (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:02:48 - PB
24. Norihiro Komatsu (Team Aisan Kogyo) - 1:02:49 - PB
25. Kenta Matsubara (Team Toyota) - 1:02:50 - PB

Women's Half Marathon
1. Michi Numata (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 1:09:27 - PB
2. Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:09:57 - PB
3. Reia Iwade (Team Noritz) - 1:10:13
4. Misaki Kato (Team Kyudenko) - 1:10:43
5. Rina Yamazaki (Team Panasonic) - 1:10:57
6. Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 1:11:00
7. Yuka Yano (Canon AC Kyushu) - 1:11:11 - PB
8. Yurie Doi (Team Starts) - 1:11:28
9. Kotomi Takayama (Team Sysmex) - 1:11:48
10. Ai Inoue (Team Noritz) - 1:11:53 - PB

Women's 10 km
1. Yuika Mori (Team Yamada Denki) - 32:26 - CR, PB
2. Yuka Miyazaki (Team Kyudenko) - 32:29 - PB
3. Sakiho Tsutsui (Team Yamada Denki) - 32:30 - debut
4. Yuki Mitsunobu (Team Denso) - 32:38 - PB
5. Riko Matsuzaki (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 32:41 - PB
6. Nami Hashimoto (Team Denso) - 32:45 - debut
7. Nao Isaka (Team Hitachi) - 33:05 - PB
8. Ai Utsunomiya (Team Miyazaki Ginko) - 33:11 - PB
9. Mai Ishibashi (Team Denso) - 33:16
10. Eri Hashimoto (Team Shimamura) - 33:20 - PB

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved


TokyoRacer said…
Great to see Yoko Shibui back in the top ten in a big race. The commentator mentioned that her coach said she's in the best shape she's been in for 4 or 5 years. It's also great that she hasn't followed the typical Japanese trend of early retirement.

That Hattori guy from Honda is amazing. His body doesn't look like a runner's, his form is weird, but he runs a 1:01:25. He's just a tough little guy.

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