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

Kim Sets Korean 5000 m National Record, Tsuetaki Clears Steeple Standard, Osako Comes Up Short - Abashiri Highs and Lows

The final meet in Japan's Hokuren Distance Challenge series, Thursday's Abashiri meet was set up to give people one last chance to clear the qualifying standards for next month's London World Championships ahead of the fast-approaching deadline. Temperatures were far above normal for northern Hokkaido through much of the day, the mid-afternoon peak reported at over 36C at the time of the men's 800 m A-heat and still at 25C at the start of the five standard-chasing races in the evening.

網走女子5000A https://t.co/GquthBd13K — ホクレン・ディスタンスチャレンジ2017 (@hokurendc2017) July 13, 2017
The best race of the day was the women's 5000 m A-heat. With two women already confirmed for London the third spot on the team was up for grabs. First in line under the JAAF's criteria for addition, top three at Nationals and under the 15:22.00 standard, was 16-year-old Shuri Ogasawara (Yamanashi Gakuin H.S.), 3rd at Nationals in an U18 national record of 15:23.56. Next in line would be anyon…

Takamatsu Makes Return to Racing After Nike Oregon Project Disappointment

Running again in her hometown on the second day of the Osaka Track and Field Championships at Yanmar Stadium Nagai, 2014 Youth Olympics girls' 3000 m gold medalist Nozomi Musembi Takamatsu (19, Osaka T&F Assoc.) took the first step toward a comeback. Closing the gap to the runner ahead of her on the second lap, Takamatsu finished with effort to spare in 2:14.51 for 2nd. "I was able to run the way I'd envisioned," she said afterward. "I had some anxiety since it was pretty much my first real race in a year but I was able to give it my best."

After graduating from Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S. in the spring last year Takamatsu moved to Oregon, U.S.A. to take part in the "Nike Oregon Project" elite long distance group created by Nike. With a dream of winning gold in the 5000 m or 10000 m at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and high hopes in her heart, she crossed the ocean.

But in the U.S. she was hit by the cold hand of reality. "I was DFL every ti…

Additions to Japanese National Team for London World Championships

The JAAF has made a series of announcements over the last week confirming additions to its small team for next month's London World Championships. Along with previously announced rosters for track and field events, combined events and road events, the following athletes have been added to the Japanese team. Relay members are pending IAAF confirmation. The final complete team roster is expected next week.

Men's 400 m Hurdles
Ryo Kajiki (Josai Univ.) - 49.33
Yusuke Ishida (Waseda Univ.) - 49.35

Men's 3000 m Steeplechase
Hironori Tsuetaki (Fujitsu) - 8:29.05

Men's 4 x 400 m Relay
Yuzo Kanemaru (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 45.76
Kosuke Horii (Sumitomo Denko) - 45.88

Women's Javelin Throw
Yuki Ebihara (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 61.95 m

© 2017 Brett Larner, all rights reserved