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Weekend Corporate Track Review

by Brett Larner

Hot and windy across the country, it was a busy weekend on the corporate circuit with four regions holding their spring track championships, a high-level time trial meet and one decent result overseas.

Felista Wanjugu (Kenya/Team Universal Entertainment) turned in the fastest women’s 10000 m of the weekend, running 32:04.11 to win the East Japan corporate region. Hisami Ishii (Team Yamada Denki) was next across the line, just missing the Rio standard in 32:16.60 but scoring the fastest Japanese time in the four corporate meets. Already on the Rio team in the marathon, Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) won the Kansai region women’s 10000 m in 33:02.94.

The fastest women’s 5000 m also came in East Japan as Rosemary Wanjiru (Kenya/Team Starts) took the A-heat in 15:23.10. 4th-placer Sayaka Kuwahara (Team Sekisui Kagaku), returning from a solid 2:25:09 marathon debut in Nagoya in March, ran 15:44.99, topping the 15:46.40 time of Kansai region winner Mizuki Matsuda (Team Daihatsu). Several regions also featured a women’s 3000 m. East Japan again topped the list, Riko Matsuzaki (Team Sekisui Kagaku) taking the win in 9:07.27. Kyushu region winner Hana Omori (Team Toto) set a meet record 9:15.75, just a fraction of a second slower than East Japan runner-up Risa Kikuchi (Team Hitachi).

Two-time World Championships 10000 m bronze medalist Paul Tanui (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) dropped the weekend’s fastest men’s 10000 m, winning the Kyushu region in 27:30.59. For the second time this month the year’s #1-ranked Japanese man Takashi Ichida (Team Asahi Kasei) tried to run with Tanui in hopes of clearing the sub-28 Rio standard but dropped off over the second half of the race, eventually finishing 3rd in 28:22.67 as the top Japanese man. Ichida’s time was also the best Japanese mark of the weekend both he and teammate Keijiro Mogi (Team Asahi Kasei) outclassing top East Japan man Masato Kikuchi (Team Konica Minolta) who ran only 28:38.94.

John Maina (Kenya/Team Fujitsu) dueled with William Malel (Kenya/Team Honda) and Alexander Mutiso (Kenya/Team ND Software) in East Japan to produce the three fastest men’s 5000 m times of the weekend, 13:31.26, 13:32.97 and 13:34.11. The Chukyo University Saturday Time Trials meet 5000 m was expected to go out on pace to hit the 13:25.00 Rio standard for the benefit of 2015 national university champion Hazuma Hattori (Toyo Univ.) who skipped the Kanto Regionals meet to be there, but the group of five Kenyans up front weren’t up to the task, Rogers Shumo Kemoi (Team Aisan Kogyo) winning in just 13:36.91. Neither was Hattori, for that matter, who faded to 9th in 14:01.11.

Only one Japanese man cleared 13:40 over the weekend, and that came overseas at California’s Hoka One One Middle Distance Classic. Running in the B-heat Hiroki Matsueda (Team Fujitsu) clocked a PB 13:37.84 for 3rd, putting him 7th among Japanese men so far this year. At the top of that list for the year at 13:28.91, Takanori Ichikawa (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) was off his game in East Japan as he ran 14:31.37 for 21st.

© 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
           …