Monday, February 15, 2016

Chiba, Karatsu, Corporate Championships and Nobeoka - Weekend Race Roundup

by Brett Larner

Strong winds made for tough conditions and slow times at most of the weekend's main races.  The newly-formatted X-Run Chiba, a retooling of the longstanding Chiba International Cross-Country Meet, saw Yusuke Nishiyama (Komazawa Univ.) emerge on top of the day's longest race, the university men's 12 km.  Nishiyama outkicked Kenta Ueda, son of Yamanashi Gakuin University head coach Masahito Ueda, by 5 seconds to take the win in 37:48.  Maki Izumida (Rikkyo Univ.) had an even closer win in the university women's 6 km, running 20:54 to beat Ai Hosoda (Nittai Univ.) by just 3 seconds.  Rodgers Chumo Kwemoi (Kenya/Team Aisan Kogyo) won the men's 8 km by nearly a minute in 25:05, Yuki Kanehira (Team Sysmex) joining him at the top of the women's 8 km podium in 29:04.  With the junior high school races now serving as the National Junior High School Cross-Country Championships Maebashi Fujimi J.H.S. easily dominated, taking both the boys' and girls' titles.

At the Karatsu 10-Mile Road Race, Japan's main spring 10-miler following the conversion of the Himejijo 10-Miler to a mass-participation marathon, Komazawa University graduate Ikuto Yufu (Team Fujitsu) got away from a large lead pack to take the win in 47:47, the top ten all finishing within 11 seconds of him.  Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) was 13th in 48:09, just over 30 seconds off his 10 mile best.  Rina Yamashita (Oita Tomei H.S.) won the women's 10 km division in 33:52, Sae Hanada (Chikushi Joshi Gakuen H.S.) setting a course record of 16:05 to win the high school girls' 5 km.  In the event's biggest race, Kazuki Noda (Saikyo H.S.) won the high school boys' 10 km in 29:56 by a second over Oita Tomei's Sota Ito.

At the National Corporate Half Marathon Championships, defending men's champion Charles Ndirangu (Kenya/JFE Steel) made it two in a row, winning in 1:01:00.  Japan-based Kenyans swept the top five, with another Komazawa University graduate, Shogo Nakamura (Team Fujitsu) landing 6th in a PB 1:01:53 to take the top Japanese spot.  Arguably Japan's best contemporary marathoner, Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) landed just 6 seconds off his half marathon best in 1:02:35 despite the conditions.  Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei), the current frontrunner for the Rio men's marathon team, was likewise only 4 seconds off his best in 1:02:59.

Continuing a solid streak of recent improvement, Miho Shimizu (Team Hokuren) won the women's race in 1:09:41 to join Nakamura as a probable addition to this year's Japanese World Half Marathon Championships team.  Rio Olympics marathoner Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) was 10th in 1:12:02.  Naoko Koizumi (Team Denso) won the women's 10 m in 33:04.

The day's wind showed its impact most strongly at the Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon.  With the lead pack going through halfway in 1:05:35, local Ryoichi Matsuo (Team Asahi Kasei) outlasted all to take the win in 2:15:09.  Teammate Taiki Yoshimura (Team Asahi Kasei) faded more than a minute to take 2nd in 2:16:15 by two seconds over Ayumu Sato (Mitsubishi HPS Nagasaki).  Misato Hokama (Team Starts) won the tiny women's race in 2:54:57.

© 2016 Brett Larner
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