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16-Year-Old Hyuga Endo's 13:50.51 Leads First Half of Hokuren Distance Challenge

by Brett Larner

Japan's major mid-summer distance series, the Hokuren Distance Challenge kicked off later than usual this week with meets in the towns of Shibetsu and Fukagawa on the northern island of Hokkaido, where distance runners from high school to pro head in the summer to escape the heat and put in mileage for the fall ekiden season.

At the series-opening Shibetsu Meet, the biggest news came in the men's 5000 m A-heat.  Last December Fukushima 10th-grader Hyuga Endo (Gakuho Ishikawa H.S.) exploded into the news with a 13:58.93, the fastest-ever 5000 m by a Japanese 16-year-old.  Now an 11th-grader but still 16 for another month, in Shibetsu Endo smashed his own record with a 13:50.51 PB to finish just behind 2014 Asian Games marathon silver medalist Kohei Matsumura (Team Mitsubishi HPS), the 9th-best time ever by a Japanese high schooler and 2nd-best by an under-18 Japanese runner.  Hilsawat Mamiyo Nuguse (Ethiopia/Team Yasukawa Denki), a newcomer to the Japanese corporate leagues, won in 13:32.41.

Nuguse was back a few days later at the Fukagawa Meet to win a solid men's 10000 m, leading 7 Japan-based Africans under 28 with a 27:40.78 PB.  One of Japan's all-time great track and half marathon runners, Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta) returned from overdosing on the marathon in 2014 to finish as the top Japanese man in both the Shibetsu 5000 m and Fukagawa 10000 m, running 13:39.01 and 28:10.49.

#1 collegiate Enock Omwamba (Kenya/Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) won the men's 5000 m in Fukagawa in 13:34.48, just bettering past 1500 m and 5000 m national champion Yuichiro Ueno (DeNA RC) who ran the second-best time of his season in 13:34.77.  6th-place Hiroki Matsueda (Juntendo Univ.) clocked 13:42.34, the 3rd-best time of 2015 so far by a Japanese collegiate.

The focus for women in the two meets was the Fukagawa 10000 m.  Two weeks ago Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya) ran a 32:08.59 PB for 3rd at the National Championships, giving her a shot at a place on the Beijing World Championships team if she can break the 32:00.00 standard by August 2nd.  In Fukugawa Ohara was one of a small crew that followed Kenyan pacer Grace Kimanzi (Team Starts) just under 32 minute pace, but Ohara soon showed signs of lingering fatigue from her big run at Nationals and dropped off the pace.  In the end only Kimanzi cleared 32, the up-and-coming Yuka Miyazaki (Team Kyudenko) and Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei), snubbed for the marathon team despite winning the Yokohama International Women's Marathon selection race, both clearing the 32:15.00 Rio de Janeiro Olympics qualification standard for the first time, Miyazaki in 32:07.43 and Tanaka in 32:08.74.  Ohara faded to 8th in 32:52.04, a serious blow to her chances of making the Beijing team.

The Hokuren Distance Challenge series continues July 12 in Kitami before wrapping up July 16 in Abashiri.

Hokuren Distance Challenge Shibetsu Meet
Shibetsu, Hokkaido, 7/5/15
click here for complete results

Men's 5000 m A-Heat
1. Hilsawat Mamiyo Nuguse (Ethiopia/Team Yasukawa Denki) - 13:32.41
2. Paul Kuira (Kenya/Team Konica Minolta) - 13:35.44
3. Samuel Mwangi (Kenya/Team Konica Minolta) - 13:36.76
4. Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta) - 13:39.01
5. Kohei Matsumura (Team Mitsubishi HPS) - 13:50.05
6. Hyuga Endo (Gakuho Ishikawa H.S.) - 13:50.51
7. Natsuki Terada (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 13:51.28
8. Ryosuke Maki (Team Subaru) - 13:52.75
9. Hiroya Inoue (Jobu Univ.) - 13:55.47
10. Ayumu Sato (Team Mitsubishi HPS) - 13:55.80

Women's 5000 m
1. Rie Kawauchi (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 15:50.60
2. Kanayo Miyata (Team Yutaka Giken) - 15:50.96
3. Miyuki Oka (Team Denso) - 15:52.14
4. Nami Hashimoto (Team Denso) - 15:52.96
5. Akane Yabushita (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 15:56.64

Women's 3000 m
1. Yukari Abe (Team Shimamura) - 9:19.67
2. Chisaki Takegami (Canon AC Kyushu) - 9:27.31
3. Kanade Furuya (Matsuyama Univ.) - 9:28.58

Hokuren Distance Challenge Fukagawa Meet
Fukagawa, Hokkaido, 7/9/15
click here for complete results

Men's 10000 m A-Heat
1. Hilsawat Mamiyo Nuguse (Ethiopia/Team Yasukawa Denki) - 27:40.78
2. Hiram Ngatia (Kenya/Team Toyota) - 27:41.74
3. Jeremiah Thuku Karemi (Kenya/Team Toyota Kyushu) - 27:43.59
4. Johana Maina (Kenya/Team Fujitsu) - 27:45.69
5. Kassa Mekashaw (Ethiopia/Team Yachiyo Kogyo) - 27:45.92
6. Joseph Kamathi (Kenya/Team Toyota) - 27:49.46
7. Rodgers Shumo Kwemoi (Kenya/Team Aisan Kogyo) - 27:59.52
8. Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta) - 28:10.49
9. Tsubasa Hayakawa (Team Toyota) - 28:18.24
10. Shuhei Yamamoto (Team Toyota) - 28:18.54

Men's 10000 m B-Heat
1. Kento Otsu (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 28:45.09
2. Kodai Gozawa (Soka Univ.) - 28:51.87
3. Ryuji Kashiwabara (Team Fujitsu) - 28:55.92
4. Masatoshi Kikuchi (Team Fujitsu) - 28:58.18
5. Hiroki Kadota (Team Kanebo) - 28:59.44

Men's 5000 m A-Heat
1. Enock Omwamba (Kenya/Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 13:34.48
2. Yuichiro Ueno (DeNA RC) - 13:34.77
3. John Maina (Kenya/Team Fujitsu) - 13:38.67
4. Alexander Mutiso (Kenya/Team ND Soft) - 13:38.99
5. Masahiro Takaya (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 13:41.32
6. Hiroki Matsueda (Juntendo Univ.) - 13:42.34
7. Aritaka Kajiwara (Team Press Kogyo) - 13:43.12
8. Keita Shitara (Team Konica Minolta) - 13:44.00
9. Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Aichi Seiko) - 13:44.78
10. Masaru Aoki (Team Kanebo) - 13:49.42

Women's 10000 m
1. Grace Kimanzi (Kenya/Team Starts) - 31:57.35
2. Yuka Miyazaki (Team Kyudenko) - 32:07.43
3. Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 32:08.74
4. Kaho Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 32:37.68
5. Eri Hayakawa (Team Toto) - 32:47.37
6. Hitomi Nakamura (Team Panasonic) - 32:51.48
7. Reia Iwade (Team Noritz) - 32:51.89
8. Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya) - 32:52.04
9. Nao Isaka (Team Hitachi) - 32:54.46
10. Chiharu Suzuki (Team Hitachi) - 32:59.39

Women's 3000 m
1. Ann Karindi (Kenya/Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 9:00.57
2. Rika Toguchi (Team Route Inn Hotels) - 9:14.62
3. Nao Yamamoto (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 9:16.25
4. Yui Fukuda (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 9:17.33
5. Miyuki Oka (Team Denso) - 9:19.40

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
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