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Weekend Track Highlights

by Brett Larner

Although many events in Kyushu were cancelled as a series of major earthquakes and aftershocks hit the Kumamoto and Oita areas, track season went ahead as usual in the rest of Japan despite high winds and rain that kept times relatively slow.  Some highlights at home and abroad:
  • Former Sera H.S. ace Charles Ndirangu (Team JFE Steel) delivered the fastest 5000 m of the weekend, running 13:40.34 to win the Chugoku Corporate Time Trials meet's fastest heat.  High schooler Joel Mwaura (Kurashiki H.S.) was the only other runner under 14 minutes, running 13:48.20 for 2nd.
  • The lone entrant in the women's 5000 m at the Chugoku meet, Sera's Yuka Mukai ran a solo 15:58.62.
  • Suguru Osako (Nike Oregon Project) was the only Japanese man to break 14 over the weekend, winning Friday's Oregon Relays 5000 m in 13:45.39.
  • Masaru Aoki (Team Kanebo) narrowly missed joining him, running 14:00.47 to win the Challenge Meet in Kumagaya 5000 m A-heat.
  • 17-year-old Hyuga Endo (Gakuho Ishikawa H.S.), Japan's top current high schooler, won the 3000 m in Kumagaya in 8:06.29 over Kenyans Stanley Siteki (Tokyo Kokusai Univ.) and Willy Kipselem (Team Hitachi Butsuryu).
  • Yukari Abe (Team Shimamura) delivered Kumagaya's fastest women's 3000 m, running 9:19:12.
  • In nearby Gunma, Wakana Kabasawa (Tokiwa H.S.) ran 9:23.50 to win the Gunma Prefecture Championships Women's 3000 m.
  • Marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) was 6th in Kumagaya's 1500 m A-heat, running 3:59.70 for 6th.
© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

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Kawauchi Wins 7th-Straight Okinoshima 50 km

Running the Okinoshima 50 km Ultramarathon on his late father's home island of Oki for the eighth year in a row, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran 2:52:55 to win it for the seventh straight time. Starting strong on the relatively flat first 10 km where he clocked 33:26, low-2:47 pace, Kawauchi slowed to just over 2:50 pace on the course's toughest hills between 10 and 30 km. A sub-2:50 was still in range at that point, but over the last 20 km he faded further to finish in the second-slowest of his Okinoshima wins.



The day before the race Kawauchi paced children in Okinoshima's kids' run. Following that he greeted participants and local supporters at an expo event where he was hailed onstage as the Boston Marathon winner. As per his usual routine, his next race will be the July 1 Gold Coast Marathon in Australia.

© 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Kipchirchir and Chebii Take on Three Gold Coast Winners

The men's race at Australia's Gold Coast Marathon is usually a Kenya-Japan head-to-head, Kenya taking six wins and Japan three in the last ten years. With not a single Ethiopian in the field for this year's 40th edition it looks set for it to happen yet again.

Sub-2:10 Kenyans Victor Kipchirchir, Douglas Chebii, Philip Sanga and the Japan-based Michael Githae will line up to take on three of the race's last four winners, 2017 champ Takuya Noguchi (Konica Minolta), 2015-16 winner and course record holder Kenneth Mungara (Kenya) and 2013 champ and perpetual top three placer Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't). Give the advantage to team Kenya in this bout, but as Noguchi and Kawauchi have proven Gold Coast is a race where Japanese men are legit contenders.

With the window for getting qualifying times for next year's MGC Race 2020 Olympic trials starting to close, the powers that be in Japan have taken note of the success of Noguchi and Kawauchi on the Gold Coast…

The Kawauchi Counter

Yuki Kawauchi's 2018 race results: Jan. 1: Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, U.S.A.: 2:18:59 - 1st - CR
Jan. 14: Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:03:28 - 7th
Jan. 21: Yashio Isshu Ekiden, Saitama: 1:01:03 - 1st - ran entire 20.0 km ekiden solo and beat all 103 teams of 6 runners each
Jan. 28: Okumusashi Ekiden First Stage (9.9 km), Saitama - 29:41 - 6th
Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
Feb. 11: Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon, Shimane - cancelled due to heavy snow
Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama - 1:04:26 - 1st
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:04:49 - 12th
Mar. 11: Yoshinogawa Riverside Half Marathon, Tokushima - 1:05:50 - 1st - CR
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan - 2:14:12 - 1st
Mar. 24: Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials, Saitama
              5000 m Heat 4: 14:53.95 - 1st
              5000 m Heat 6: 14:36.58 - 2nd
           …