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Kirwa and Mwaka Win Gifu Seiryu Half

by Brett Larner

Bahraini national record holder Eunice Kirwa did it again, easily breaking the Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon women's course record in 1:08:55 to win by over two minutes.  Kenyan Rebecca Kangogo Chesir was the only one to put up some competition, running with Kirwa through 5 km in 15:49 before dropping back to take 2nd in 1:11:09.  Formerly Japan-based Ethiopian Betelhem Moges started much more conservatively, over 30 seconds behind the lead pair at 5 km but closing to take 3rd close enough to record the same 1:11:09 finish time as Chesir.  Japan's Rio Olympics marathon medal hopeful Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) started in the 2nd pack with Moges but fell far off pace in the second half, taking 6th overall in 1:12:04 and just holding off Yuka Ando (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) for top Japanese honors.

In the men's race Kenyan Kenneth Keter pushed a lead group of nine, eight Africans plus Mongolian national record holder Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Team NTN) through a fast first 5 km before the competition faded, but in the second half Keter paid for his early work as he fell to 4th overall.  Running him down were Japan-based Kenyans Patrick Muendo Mwaka (Team Aisan Kogyo) and Paul Kuira (Team Konica Minolta), with 2007 Osaka World Championships 10000 m bronze medalist Martin Mathathi of Kenya coming on strong in the last 5 km to take 3rd.  Mwaka and Kuira were side-by-side through 20 km, but in a reverse of Kuira's win at last year's Marugame Half Mwaka had the stronger kick to score the win by 3 seconds in 1:01:51.

Mathathi was 18 seconds behind Kuira in 1:02:12.  His former Suzuki Hamamatsu AC teammate Yusei Nakao (Smiley Angel AC) ran in a Japanese chase pack with Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) and Genta Yodogawa (Team Aisan Kogyo), all three working together to try to reel in Bat-Ochir.  It came down to a track sprint finish, Bat-Ochir hanging on to 9th in 1:03:37 with Nakao taking the top Japanese spot for the third year in a row at 10th in 1:03:38.  Kawauchi marked a season best 1:03:39 but missing his goal of a top ten finish at 11th, knocked out of the top ten in the last kick by Nakao for the second time in three years, with Yodogawa right behind at 12th in 1:03:40.  Nakao is scheduled to run next month's Grandma's Marathon in the U.S.A. with support from JRN.

Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon
Gifu, 5/15/16

Women
1. Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) - 1:08:55 - CR
2. Rebecca Kangogo Chesir (Kenya) - 1:11:09
3. Betelhem Moges (Ethiopia) - 1:11:09
4. Visiline Jepkesho (Kenya) - 1:11:33
5. Veronicah Wanjiru (Kenya) - 1:11:59
6. Kayoko Fukushi (Japan/Wacoal) - 1:12:04
7. Yuka Ando (Japan/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:12:07
8. Mao Kiyota (Japan/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:12:20
9. Bornes Jepkirui (Kenya) - 1:12:40
10. Sayo Nomura (Japan/Daiichi Seimei) - 1:13:10

Men
1. Patrick Muendo Mwaka (Kenya/Aisan Kogyo) - 1:01:51
2. Paul Kuira (Kenya/Konica Minolta) - 1:01:54
3. Martin Mathathi (Kenya) - 1:02:12
4. Kenneth Keter (Kenya) - 1:02:26
5. Michael Githae (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:02:52
6. James Rungaru Kenya/Chuo Hatsujo) - 1:03:04
7. Fabiano Sulle (Tanzania) - 1:03:29
8. Dishon Karukuwa Maina (Kenya/Omokawa Zaimokuten) - 1:03:35
9. Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Mongolia/NTN) - 1:03:37
10. Yusei Nakao (Japan/Smiley Angel AC) - 1:03:38
11. Yuki Kawauchi (Japan/Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 1:03:39
12. Genta Yodogawa (Japan/Aisan Kogyo) - 1:03:40
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25. Cuthbert Nyasango (Zimbabwe) - 1:05:07

© 2016 Brett Larner
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