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.