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A Double 30 km Day: Shitara and Matsumi Win Kumanichi, Oshikawa and Shimokado Take Ome

by Brett Larner
Former national university record holder Keita Shitara (Team Konica Minolta) returned to Japan's biggest 30 km, the Kumanichi Road Race, for the first time in three years to pick up the win in Kumanichi's 60th edition.  A graduate of 2014 Hakone Ekiden winner Toyo University, Shitara took the race in hand from the start, leading through 5 km in 14:38 just 2 seconds off the pace for the 1:28:52 course record set in 2014 by Toyo's Yuma Hattori.  Early company included Shitara's Konica Minolta teammate Masato Kikuchi, Toyo grad Kento Otsu (Team Toyota Kyushu) and current Toyo students Ryo Kuchimachi and Shun Sakuraoka.  Over the next 10 km the pack whittled down to just Shitara and Sakuraoka, 20 seconds off CR pace at 15 km in 44:15 with Otsu another 20 seconds back.

Around 21 km Shitara got a few strides on Sakuraoka, who began to fade rapidly and was overtaken by Otsu and others.  Otsu initially closed, but even as Shitara slowed dramatically Otsu was unable to keep up the chase.  Shitara took the win in 1:30:45, 50 seconds off his 2013 time but a big improvement over last year's race.  Otsu was 2nd in 1:31:16 to make it a Toyo alum 1-2, Ryo Matsumoto (Team Toyota) moving up to 3rd in 1:31:24.

Coached by 1991 World Championships marathon silver medalist Sachiko Yamashita, Sakiko Matsumi (Team Daiichi Seimei) won the women's division in in 1:45:59 in her first 30 km race.  Matsumi pushed the pace start to finish, getting company from Mami Onuki (Team Sysmex) and Chika Ihara (Team Higo Ginko) through 20 km but covering the last 10 km alone.  Matsumi will run next month's Nagoya Women's Marathon in a shot at the Rio Olympics marathon team.
Further north in Tokyo's western hills Japan's other big 30 km celebrated its 50th running.  The Ome Road Race saw its field chasing a 3 million yen bonus for breaking the antique 1:29:32 course record set back in 1981 by the great Toshihiko Seko.  A lead quintet developed early, with Otsu's teammate Yuki Oshikawa (Team Toyota Kyushu), Kenyan Michael Githae (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC),  marathoners Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) and Yared Asmerom (Eritrea) and university runner Jinnosuke Matsumura (Josai Univ.) breaking away in the first 5 km.  Kawauchi was quick to drop, followed first by Matsumura and then Asmerom.  For nearly 20 hilly km Oshikawa and Githae ran side-by-side, but heading back onto flatter ground with around 2 km to go Oshikawa kicked away for a 9-second win in 1:31:37.  Kawauchi clawed his way back up through the field, advancing to 3rd in 1:32:40.

The women's race played out similarly, with marathoner Kaoru Nagao (Team Univ. Ent.) leading a quartet that included her younger teammate Mirai Waku (Team Unv. Ent.), Miharu Shimokado (Team Shimamura) and Kotomi Takayama (Sysmex) through a quick first 5 km before people began to drop.  By 15 km it was down to Shimokado and Waku, who ran against each other through 20 km before Shimokado worked one of the biggest hills on the course to get a lead of almost 10 seconds.  Waku fought back on the flat and closed to within 2 seconds but couldn't seal the deal as Shimokado took the win in 1:43:55.  Takayama was a distant afterthought in 3rd in 1:46:12.  Rio Olympics marathon team contender Kaori Yoshida (Runners Pulse), the top Japanese woman at the Saitama International Marathon selection race and due to line up again in Nagoya, was an apparent DNF, dropping out somewhere after 10 km.

60th Kumanichi 30 km Road Race
Kumamoto, 2/21/16
click here for complete results

Men
1. Keita Shitara (Konica Minolta) - 1:30:45
2. Kento Otsu (Toyota Kyushu) - 1:31:16
3. Ryo Matsumoto (Toyota) - 1:31:24
4. Masato Kikuchi (Konica Minolta) - 1:32:09
5. Shun Sakuraoka (Toyo Univ.) - 1:32:15

Women
1. Sakiko Matsumi (Daiichi Seimei) - 1:45:59
2. Mami Onuki (Sysmex) - 1:46:37
3. Chika Ihara (Higo Ginko) - 1:47:06
4. Sakie Arai (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) - 1:47:53
5. Yoko Miyauchi (Hokuren) - 1:50:44

50th Ome 30 km Road Race
Ome, Tokyo, 2/21/16
click here for complete results

Men
1. Yuki Oshikawa (Toyota Kyushu) - 1:31:37
2. Michael Githae (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:31:46
3. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 1:32:40
4. Yared Asmerom (Eritrea) - 1:33:24
5. Takaya Hamato (Tokyo Kokusai Univ.) - 1:35:00

Women
1. Miharu Shimokado (Shimamura) - 1:43:55
2. Mirai Waku (Universal Entertainment) - 1:43:57
3. Kotomi Takayama (Sysmex) - 1:46:12
4. Megumi Amako (Canon AC Kyushu) - 1:47:39
5. Ami Utsunomiya (Canon AC Kyushu) - 1:48:10
-----
DNF - Kaori Yoshida (Runners Pulse)

© 2016 Brett Larner
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