Skip to main content

Ueda Over Kamino at Akasaka 5-Chome Mini Marathon

by Brett Larner


Hakone Ekiden Fifth Stage star Daichi Kamino made his pro debut for the Konica Minolta team in surprising style, running Saturday night as part of the 50th edition of the All-Star Kanshasai variety show's twice-annual Akasaka 5-Chome Mini Marathon.  Broadcast live during the show, the race covers four laps of a twisting 900 m course with a steep downhill start, two 180-degree turns, a 200 m-long uphill with a nearly 10% grade, and a section through the TBS studios in front of the hundred or so comedians and TV personalities assembled for the variety show.  Each edition features a well-known pro runner racing several dozen other comedians and celebrities, each carefully handicapped for the staggered start to make the outcome as close as possible.  Past editions have featured Olympic and World Championships medalists including Joan Benoit Samuelson, Masako Chiba, Meseret Defar, Vanderlei de Lima, Bedan Karoki, Frank Shorter, Lidia Simon, Erick Wainaina and Valentina Yegorova.  This year's guest star was Kamino, who graduated last month from Aoyama Gakuin University where he played a key role in AGU's two-straight Hakone wins by dominating the hills of its legendary Fifth Stage.

Before Kamino took to the roads four of his former AGU teammates, Tadashi Isshiki, Yuki Nakamura, Yuta Shimoda and Kazuki Tamura, ran a special Mini Ekiden against eight more comedians and entertainers, the comedians each running one lap of a shortened 350 m version of the course with the AGU runners each handling two laps.  Fans were out along the course in record numbers to cheer on the massively popular Hakone champs.  Accidental interference during the comedians' third exchange forced Nakamura to go wide and lose several seconds that neither Tamura nor anchor Isshiki could make up, and the comedian team held on for the win.  AGU tweeted pics of its "gutted" team post-race.


The Mini Marathon started with non-runner women, then non-runner men, then entertainers with running experience carefully seeded all the way up to Kamino's 5:10 handicap.  The most experienced runner among the entertainers and a regular on the program, Kenji Moriwaki upped the stakes by saying pre-race that if Kamino won he would retire from the show.  Model Nonoka Ono went out to an early lead, just finishing her first lap when Kamino started, but was quickly caught by Tatsuya Ueda, a singer from the boy band KAT-TUN who was doubling from the Mini Ekiden.  From there to the finish it was a race between Ueda and Kamino, Kamino flying through the field in pursuit.

Out among the deafening, screaming fans, the AGU team student managers were on the course holding up signs showing the time difference between Kamino and the leader, just like at Hakone.  With one lap to go Kamino was down to one minute behind, and on the last uphill before the turn into the studio for the finish he came into sight of Ueda for the first time.  It looked like he would do it, but on the highly technical last stretch into the studio Ueda held on to take the win by one second, saving Moriwaki from having to quit the show.  Moriwaki was 3rd just 18 seconds back with 4th-placer Ayumu Mori and last fall's winner Gaku Sano a few steps behind, the close finish showing just how well whoever at TBS was doing the handicapping knew their game. There's no doubt that when it comes to making distance running popular and entertaining for the general population Japan leads the way.


© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

One Month Until the Japanese Olympic Marathon Trials

It's one month to go until what's bound to be the best marathon of 2019, Japan's 2020 Tokyo Olympics marathon trials, the Sept. 15 Marathon Grand Championship Race. Up to now Japan has typically picked its Olympic and World Championships marathon teams based on performances in a series of specific races, primarily the Fukuoka International Marathon, Tokyo Marathon and Lake Biwa Marathon for men, and the Saitama International Marathon, Osaka International Women's Marathon and Nagoya Women's Marathon for women. This time around they're going with a U.S.-style one-shot trials race, the MGC Race.

People had a nearly two-year window from August, 2017 to April this year to hit tough standards to qualify. Only 34 men and 15 women made it, and after withdrawals for the Doha World Championships the MGC Race's final entry list is just 31 men and 12 women. Swedish Athletics Federation official Lorenzo Nesicalled it "the most difficult marathon race ever to quali…

MGC Race Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier - Naoki Okamoto

Naoki Okamotoage: 35
sponsor: Chugoku Denryoku
graduated from: Tottori Chuo Ikuei H.S., Meiji University

best time inside MGC window:
2:11:29, 1st, 2018 Hokkaido Marathon

PB: 2:11:29, 1st, 2018 Hokkaido Marathon

other PBs:
5000 m: 13:37.71 (2009) 10000 m: 28:05.84 (2011) half marathon: 1:02:16 (2009)

marathons inside MGC window (Aug. 1 2017 – April 30 2019)
DNF, 2019 Beppu-Oita Marathon
1st, 2018 Hokkaido Marathon, 2:11:29 – PB
DNF, 2018 Boston Marathon

other major results:
4th, 2019 Shibetsu Half Marathon, 1:03:53
2nd, 2019 New Year Ekiden Fourth Stage (22.4 km), 1:05:13
1st, 2018 Chugoku Corporate Ekiden Sixth Stage (19.0 km), 56:25 – CR
1st, 2018 Ome 30 km Road Race, 1:33:09
21st, 2017 Tokyo Marathon, 2:13:53

We’re picking Okamoto as our official dark horse of the men’s race. The second-oldest man in a field, Okamoto is a journeyman corporate leaguer who never broke 2:12 and whose PBs all came a decade ago. But, nearing the end of his career, over the last two years he has really come on…

Running the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Marathon Course Part Three - Men's Marathon and Overall Summary

Today marks one year until the men's marathon at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. For the third time in the last week, once last Friday with one year to go to the Olympic women's marathon, once on Monday with a likely competitor in the men's marathon, and again today, I ran most of the Olympic marathon course taking temperature and humidity readings every half an hour to get a handle on what kind of conditions athletes in each race can expect to be facing. Between the three runs I covered about 80 km, and including the two times I did it last summer two years out from the women's marathon and men's marathon about 135 km, on the Olympic course. To get it out of the way off the bat, a couple of days ago a few readers told me that the Buy Me A Coffee button wasn't working. I think the problem has been fixed, so if you're so inclined please feel free to use it. Your support for JRN is always really appreciated.

And now on to the run.


This time out I went to the start …