Skip to main content

Golden Games in Nobeoka Preview

by Brett Larner

Held in Athlete Town Nobeoka, Japan's Eugene, Saturday's Golden Games in Nobeoka are one of the highlights of outdoor track season.  Fans line the outer lane of the track, banging on metallic sponsor boards to create a rhythmic roar that follows athletes all the way through the race and the great Soh twins working the field, calling to each athlete by name over loudspeakers to urge them on and welcoming them to the finish.  Every year it produces some of the fastest Japanese times of the year, and in an Olympic year that's going to be more true than ever.

Last year the men's 10000 m was little more than a time trial for Kenta Murayama (Team Asahi Kasei) and Yuta Shitara (Team Honda) with pacing from double World Championships bronze medalist Paul Tanui (Team Kyudenko), both breaking 27:45.  This year it's big, arguably the main race of the day as Olympic team hopefuls look to join the eleven Japanese men already under the 28:00.00 Rio standard in the lead-up to June's National Championships.  60-61 minute half marathoners Keita Shitara (Konica Minolta), Masato Kikuchi (Konica Minolta), Daichi Kamino (Konica Minolta), Keisuke Nakatani (Komazawa Univ.), Naoki Kudo (Komazawa Univ.), Taku Fujimoto (Team Toyota) and Shogo Nakamura (Team Fujitsu) are all entered along with Yuta Shitara, the only man in the field who already holds a Rio standard time apart from pacer Tanui.  One name to watch out for is 2016 national XC champion Takashi Ichida (Team Asahi Kasei), the top Japanese man in the 10000 m at last month's Hyogo Relay Carnival where he scored a potential in for the Rio team if he breaks 28.

The men's 5000 m A-heat's main draw is 17-year-old Gakuho Ishikawa H.S. senior Hyuga Endo, red-hot lately with wins in four of his last five races including a 13:48.13 PB for 5000 m in his first race this outdoor season to move up to all-time #7 among Japanese high schoolers.  13:39.87 is the mark to beat for #1.  As with last year, the C-heat is the real A-heat as a few ambitious Japanese line up among almost all the best Japan-based Africans to try to get pulled to fast times.  It worked for Kota Murayama (Team Asahi Kasei) last year with a rare Japanese sub-13:20, and this year the likes of 2016 year leader to date Takanori Ichikawa (Team Hitachi Butsuryu), 2015 national university 5000 m champion Hazuma Hattori (Toyo Univ.) and 5000 m national collegiate record holder Kensuke Takezawa (Team Sumitomo Denko) hope to follow suit.  13:25.00 is the time to beat for Rio, a time three Japanese men currently hold.

Seven women have cleared the 15:24.00 Rio standard so far.  Three of the five fastest so far this year without Rio marks are entered, Hisami Ishii (Team Yamada Denki), Sakie Arai (Osa Gakuin Univ.) and Risa Kikuchi (Team Hitachi), but the best chance of a Rio-qualifying mark may come from #1-ranked high schooler Yuka Mukai (Sera H.S.), 15:31.92 last fall for all-time H.S. #6.  Look also for U-20 marathon record holder Reia Iwade (Team Noritz) hitting the track after missing Rio in the marathon despite a 2:24:38 PB at March's Nagoya Women's Marathon.

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Norway's Moen Blasts 2:05:48 European Record to Win Fukuoka

More than living up to the promise of his 59:48 Norwegian half marathon record at October's Valencia Half, Sondre Nordtad Moen took down all comers to win the 2017 Fukuoka International Marathon in a European record 2:05:48.

【福岡国際マラソン】

🏆優 勝 モーエン 2:05.48! pic.twitter.com/lpzMUYHfhu — NOBUKI T&F (@nobu_777__tf) December 3, 2017
Superb pacing work took the lead group through 30 km with almost perfect 3:00/km splits along the way, a race of attrition that shaved down the field to a core group of five real contenders. Defending champ Yemane Tsegay (Ethiopia) was the first big name to go, with 2:06 man Lani Rutto (Kenya), the debuting Keita Shitara (Japan/Hitachi Butsuryu) and last year's 3rd-placer Yuki Kawauchi (Japan/Saitama Pref. Gov't) among the other big names to lose touch in the first half, leaving Moen, favorite Bedan Karoki (Kenya/DeNA), London Olympics gold medalist Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda), last year's 5th-placer Amanuel Mesel (Eritrea) and Boston Maratho…

Morita Goes Sub-32 in 10000 m Debut

Running her track 10000 m debut of a 32:27 road 10 km in the spring, Kaori Morita (Panasonic) closed hard off a slow opening pace to win the National Corporate Federation Women's Long Distance Time Trials 10000 m Friday afternoon in Yamaguchi.

A new filler meet to take up space on the calendar following the National Corporate Women's Ekiden's move to November, the Corporate Time Trials meet featured one heat of 3000 m and three 5000 m heats before its main focus, the 10000 m. After a 3:19 first 1000 m Morita's teammate Yuka Hori, winner of the 10.9 km Third Stage at Nationals, took over, leading the field at 3:12 to 3:14 / km pace through 7000 m. Morita, who won the 7.0 km First Stage, went to the front at that point with a 3:14 to 8000 m before taking off.

Clocking her fastest split up to that point with a 3:07 between 8 and 9000 m, Morita closed impressively with a 3:01 final km to dip under 32 minutes as she won in 31:59.94. Steepler Chikako Mori (Sekisui Kagaku) w…

Shitara Wins Kumamoto Kosa 10-Miler

In a year that saw him deliver one of the most memorable debut marathons in history, a half marathon national record, 10000 m and marathon PBs and more, Yuta Shitara (Honda) ended 2017 on a high note, beating three-time defending champion Jeremiah Thuku Karemi (Toyota Kyushu) to win the 42nd Kumamoto Kosa 10-Miler. Shitara, Karemi, London World Championships marathoner Hiroto Inoue (MHPS), Ethiopian Abayneh Degu (Yasukawa Denki) and track ace Shuho Dairokuno (Asahi Kasei) ran together in a lead group through the early going, but Shitara was just too much for the others to handle.

Shitara broke the tape in 45:58, only the fourth Japanese man to ever clear 45 minutes. Karemi was well under last year's winning time but nowhere close to catching Shitara, finishing 2nd in 46:10 and Inoue only 2 seconds behind him. With many corporate and university teams using Kosa to tune up for the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden and Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden, it regularly produces the deepest 10 mile results i…