Skip to main content

Yamanashi Gakuin's Omwamba After 1500 m Collegiate National Record - "I Want to Win at All Three University Ekidens"

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20150523-OHT1T50192.html

translated by Brett Larner
video by naoki620



With Yamanashi Gakuin University having scored a place in the Hakone Ekiden's seeded bracket for the first time in 3 years, on May 15 its star senior Enock Omwamba broke the 1500 m national collegiate record in winning the Kanto Region University Track and Field Championships in 3:35.69, at the time the fastest mark in the world this year.  He became the first man in 78 years to win four-straight Kanto 1500 m titles, and returning to win the 5000 m two days later he scored his third-straight Kanto double.  Heading into his last year of university in good form, we sat down to talk to the enthusiastic Kenyan star.

At Kanto Regionals you won your fourth-straight 1500 m title, and your time of 3:35.69 was the fastest in the world this year as well as big improvement on your 3:38.78 PB.  Tell us about your race.

Omwamba: When I started warming up I could tell I was feeling good.  The last 200 m were really tough, but the training I had done to get there was tougher [laughs].  I ran at 100% all the way to the finish.

You also broke both the 3:37.96 national collegiate record set by Daniel Gitau (Nihon Univ.) and the 3:37.42 Japanese national record.

Omwamba: My target this time was 3:35.  Hitting it was the result of four years of hard work.

This was your third-straight 1500 m - 5000 m double at Kanto Regionals.  Are you going to go for the 10000 m title at the National University Track and Field Championships too?

Omwamba: I'd like to give it a try.  I think I can break my predecessor Mekubo Mogusu's 27:27.64 national collegiate record.

On the first day of Kanto Regionals YGU's new first-year Dominic Nyairo won the 10000 m but was disqualified for coming in from the outer lanes too soon at the start.

Omwamba: Nyairo was really depressed after that, so I gave him a lot of advice.  He just got to Japan.  I don't think he's going to blow it next time.

You usually practice together as well.  What advice have you given him?

Omwamba: I told him that the first year here is a nightmare, but that you have to give everything you have to both your training and your studies.  It's better to decide the pace in workouts together and run together than it is to do it by yourself, and more fun that way too.

The YGU team's motto this year is "Break your own shell."  What kind of shell do you have to break?

Omwamba: Up to now this season things have been good over the middle distances on the track, so in summer I want to build up a solid mileage base and really do it this ekiden season.  This will be the first time in three years that we are running all three of the Big Three University Ekidens.  I want to make everyone happy by winning my stages at the Izumo Ekiden, the National University Ekiden and the Hakone Ekiden.

Enock Omwamba: Senior, Yamanashi Gakuin University.  Born April 4, 1993 in Nairobi, Kenya.  22 years old.  Began running at age 12, first focusing on middle distance and then moving to long distance at Nakuru High School.  PBs this season include 3:35.69 for 1500 m and 13:28.41 for 5000 m.  Has also run 28:00.33 for 10000 m and 1:01:15 for the half marathon.  170 cm, 54 kg.  Family includes his parents and eight siblings, of which he is sixth-born.

Comments

Most-Read This Week

How it Happened

Ancient History I went to Wesleyan University, where the legend of four-time Boston Marathon champ and Wes alum Bill Rodgers hung heavy over the cross-country team. Inspired by Koichi Morishita and Young-Cho Hwang’s duel at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics I ran my first marathon in 1993, qualifying for Boston ’94 where Bill was kind enough to sign a star-struck 20-year-old me’s bib number at the expo.

Three years later I moved to Japan for grad school, and through a long string of coincidences I came across a teenaged kid named Yuki Kawauchi down at my neighborhood track. I never imagined he’d become what he is, but right from the start there was just something different about him. After his 2:08:37 breakthrough at the 2011 Tokyo Marathon he called me up and asked me to help him get into races abroad. He’d finished 3rd on the brutal downhill Sixth Stage at the Hakone Ekiden, and given how he’d run the hills in the last 6 km at Tokyo ’11 I thought he’d do well at Boston or New York. “If M…

Kawauchi Breaks Nobeyama Ultra Course Record

2018 Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) won the longest race of his career to date Sunday in Nagano, taking over six minutes off the Yatsugatake Nobeyama Kogen 71 km Ultramarathon in 4:41:55.

A training run for next month’s Stockholm Marathon, Kawauchi set off solo at a steady pace around 3:45/km. Climbing from 1355 m to 1908 m as he approached 20 km he naturally slowed, but with over 1000 m of descent over the next 30 km he was soon back on track. Hitting the marathon split around 2:39, he was so far ahead of the 2nd placer that the announcer initially forget Kawauchi had already gone by and announced the next runner as the leader.

At 58 km Kawauchi was on track to clear 4:30:00, but hitting the uphills in the final 10 km and feeling the effects of the unfamiliar distance he slowed to almost 5:00/km. But with so much leeway to work with there was never any danger of the 4:48:13 course record slipping out of reach. Kawauchi stopped the clock in 4:41:55, please…

The Kawauchi Counter

Yuki Kawauchi's 2018 race results: Jan. 1: Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, U.S.A.: 2:18:59 - 1st - CR
Jan. 14: Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:03:28 - 7th
Jan. 21: Yashio Isshu Ekiden, Saitama: 1:01:03 - 1st - ran entire 20.0 km ekiden solo and beat all 103 teams of 6 runners each
Jan. 28: Okumusashi Ekiden First Stage (9.9 km), Saitama - 29:41 - 6th
Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
Feb. 11: Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon, Shimane - cancelled due to heavy snow
Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama - 1:04:26 - 1st
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:04:49 - 12th
Mar. 11: Yoshinogawa Riverside Half Marathon, Tokushima - 1:05:50 - 1st - CR
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan - 2:14:12 - 1st
Mar. 24: Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials, Saitama
              5000 m Heat 4: 14:53.95 - 1st
              5000 m Heat 6: 14:36.58 - 2nd
           …