Skip to main content

Get Paced By Your 5000 m National Champion, Only At Time Trials for Grown-Ups

by Brett Larner
photos by Ekiden News, Reiko.K and STITCHrunner
click here for more photos by Ekiden News

For the third year in a row, the staff of the Ekiden News website brought the experience of the elite time trial meet to the average runner, putting on the Otona no Time Trial meet, Time Trials for Grown-Ups, at Kinuta Park Field in Tokyo's western-central suburb of Setagaya on July 26.  Despite extreme heat over 500 amateur runners from back-of-the-packers to sub-15 seekers, kids to adults, took part in 1000 m, 1500 m and finely-graded 5000 m races, mirroring the experience of elite time trial meets like the Nittai University Time Trials and Golden Games in Nobeoka. 

London Paralympics 5000 m bronze medalist Shinya Wada

Each heat featured pacing from top-tier Japanese elite athletes, including sub-62 half marathoners Takuya Fukatsu, Tomoya Onishi and Yuki Yagi from the Asahi Kasei corporate team, London Paralympics men's 5000 m bronze medalist Shinya Wada and Yuki Kawauchi's middle brother Yoshiki Kawauchi, giving amateurs not only the experience of running in an elite-style race but the chance to actually run with and talk to some of their favorite athletes, as well giving many of the pros, isolated inside the system since high school, their first real interactions with ordinary runners.

Yuki Yagi and Ekiden News founder Takeshi Nishimoto

After a great popular response to last year's Time Trials where Sydney Olympics women's marathon gold medalist and former world record holder Naoko Takahashi featured on pacing duty, other elites simply turned up to check out the fresh atmosphere at the meet, another step forward in Ekiden News' mission to bridge the gap between elite and amateur and help popularize and share their love of another side of Japan's incredible elite racing world with the booming domestic amateur market, and vice versa.

Prominent among the people to just turn up was this year's 5000 m national champion Kota Murayama, a 13:19 runner and member of the Beijing World Championships team.  Murayama was so into the meet's format that he asked if he could pace a heat, jumping in unplanned to pace the I-Heat to break 20 minutes with one of the OTT's customized bib numbers.  I-Heat runner Yu Mito got the treat of a lifetime as Murayama took him out front alone ahead of the rest of the field, and Murayama got the entire track including Mito laughing with a self-parody of his much-criticized showboating win over then-future 5000 m national record holder Suguru Osako last month at the National Championships, sprinting away from Mito in the last 50 m, pumping his fists and shouting, "Oh yeah!"


Murayama stayed at the finish line to cheer on incoming runners, even helping out one struggling with the effects of the heat the way he would one of his own teammates.  You know Mito, the other runners, and all the fans crowding into lane 5 were loving every minute of it.  Murayama and the other pros were loving it just as much, all of them there without appearance fees and just because they liked the vibe of a group of outsiders doing it themselves, doing what they think needs to be done to both share and benefit what they love and doing it with total professionalism.  You have all the right ideals and an idea about what needs to happen to make things better, you find a way to put it into action, and people respond.  If only there were more grown-ups like that.

text (c) 2015 Brett Larner, all rights reserved
photos (c) 2015 their respective photographers, all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Berlin Marathon - Japanese Results

Fresh off a 1:00:17 half marathon national record last weekend and a 28:55 road 10 km the one before, Yuta Shitara (Honda) lived up to expectations at today's Berlin Marathon, trying to go with the lead group and running the first part of the race alone between the first and second groups.

Whatever his plan, Shitara was swallowed up by the second pack, a good turn of events as it was travelling ahead of Japanese national record pace on track for just sub-2:06. Shitara hung with that group through 25 km before his projected time started to creep away, drifting to high-2:06 pace by 30 km, high-2:07 by 35 km, and high-2:08 by 40 km. In the end he was well short of Toshinari Takaoka's 2:06:16 national record, but with a 2:09:03 for 6th Shitara took 24 seconds off his best with the fastest Japanese men's performance in Berlin since Takayuki Inubushi's then-NR 2:06:57 in 1999. And just 8 days after the greatest half marathon performance in Japanese history.

『ベルリンマラソン動画 設楽悠太…

New Half Marathon NR Holder Yuta Shitara's Twin Brother Keita Joins Hitachi Butsuryu Corporate Team

Having left the Konica Minolta men's corporate team at the end of March this year, Keita Shitara, 25, announced on Sept. 19 that he will join the Hitachi Butsuryu team. The official announcement is scheduled for Sept. 20.

As a member of Toyo University Shitara was part of two Hakone Ekiden-winning teams before joining Konica Minolta following his graduation in 2014. His first year at Konica Minolta Shitara ran New Year Ekiden national championships' toughest stage, but since his second year he has experienced a slump. Saying, "I need to change my environment in order to get my head straight and back on track," Shitara chose to leave the team at the end of March, returning to Toyo as his training base.

The Hitachi Butsuryu team came into being in April, 2012 as the successor to the Hitachi Cable Marathon Team. It is based in Matsudo, Chiba. Under the leadership of head coach Manabu Kitaguchi, 45, it has grown steadily, placing 10th at this year's New Year Ekiden.…

Yuta Shitara Breaks Japanese Men's Half Marathon National Record in Berlin Marathon Tuneup at Usti nad Labem Half

A week after his 28:55 at the Birell Prague Grand Prix 10 km and just eight days out from the Berlin Marathon, Yuta Shitara (Honda) made the great leap forward, taking 8 seconds off Atsushi Sato's 2007 half marathon Japanese national record, finishing 8th at the Czech Republic's Usti nad Labem Half Marathon.

Shitara is probably most well-known outside Japan for going through halfway under 62 minutes during his marathon debut at this year's Tokyo Marathon and still ending up with a 2:09:27, but he's been turning heads in Japan since his second year at Toyo University when he broke a stage record at the 2012 Hakone Ekiden and outkicked the U.S.A.'s Dathan Ritzenhein to finish in 1:01:48 at the NYC Half two months later, until this year the fastest time ever by a Japanese man on U.S soil.

Three weeks before Tokyo this year he ran a 1:01:19 PB at the Marugame Half. Many people would call that a solid tuneup three weeks out from a serious marathon, but eight days? In P…