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Nakamura and Imura Break Hida Takayama 100 km Course Records

by Brett Larner

Gifu's Hida Takayama Ultramarathon celebrated its fifth running with new records in both its men's and women's 100 km despite higher than predicted heat.  The Takayama area is the kind of environment you probably imagine when you think of old Japan: World Heritage Site villages along narrow, winding roads between steep-sided green mountains, a stellar location for a race without too much focus on time.  The 100 km and 71 km divisions both include their fair share of mountains, the largest an 800 m-high climb that peaks between 35 and 40 km before dropping back down.

Last year saw course records in all four divisions. Temperatures at the pre-dawn start this year were cool but predicted to hit 29 degrees mid-afternoon.  Despite cloud cover that rolled in early in the morning they actually reached 32 degrees, combining with the hills to produce very challenging conditions mid-morning.  This was clear in the 71 km where defending women's winner Yuko Kanemoto ran 12 minutes slower than the record she set year, taking her second-straight title in 6:24:35.  Last year's runner-up Naoko Matsushita was 2nd again but even further off, 21 minutes slower than last year in 6:38:27. 3rd-placer Mayuka Haruta ran well, only one minute slower and improving three places from last year's 6th-place finish.

Men's 71 km winner Yoshitaka Taniguchi, 4th last year in 5:07:35, was 11 minutes slower this year, picking up the win in 5:18:18.  Toyoaki Okamura and Taiki Kajita rounded out the top three in 5:35:49 and 5:39:05.  Yuji Oshima, the only other runner from last year's podium to make the top six again, improved from 6th to 5th but was 21 minutes slower at 5:54:44.

Late in the morning a steady breeze ahead of an oncoming rain front brought some relief to the 100 km division runners, producing comparatively faster times.  Women's course record holder Makiko Nakamura dominated for the third year in a row, wearing heart-shaped sunglasses as she took two minutes off last year's time with a new course record of 8:48:07 an hour ahead of her nearest competition.  Last year's 6th-placer Ayumi Sano improved by more than 45 minutes to take 2nd in 9:47:49, beating last year's 2nd-placer Yumiko Sakagami who landed 3rd in 9:57:01.

The 7:41:25 men's 100 km course record set last year by 20-year-old Hiroumi Kamada seemed like it was a mark that would last, but this year's winner Mitsutaka Imura had other ideas.  Imura overcame the heat and hills to better Kamada's time by more than eight minutes, winning in a new record of 7:33:20.  Runner-up Hideyuki Mamiya almost joined him under Kamada's mark, taking 2nd in 7:44:35.  3rd-placer Wataru Iino, 2nd last year in 7:55:49, was almost dead even this year, improving by 24 seconds to 7:55:25.

5th Hida Takayama Ultramarathon
Takayama, Gifu, 6/12/16
click here for complete results

Women's 100 km
1. Makiko Nakamura - 8:48:07 - CR
2. Ayumi Sano - 9:47:49
3. Yumiko Sakagami - 9:57:01
4. Masako Ogata - 10:05:40
5. Satomi Goto - 10:19:32
6. Mieko Sugiura - 10:31:12

Men's 100 km
1. Mitsutaka Imura - 7:33:20 - CR
2. Hideyuki Mamiya - 7:44:35
3. Wataru Iino - 7:55:25
4. Kuniharu Hiyama - 8:11:36
5. Toshihiko Akagi - 8:13:49
6. Kaname Miyagi - 8:29:17

Women's 71 km
1. Yuko Kanemoto - 6:24:35
2. Naoko Matsushita - 6:38:27
3. Mayuka Haruta - 6:51:12
4. Yuri Matsumoto - 6:55:39
5. Eimi Yamamoto - 7:04:08
6. Kiyoko Kozawa - 7:08:11

Men's 71 km
1. Yoshitaka Taniguchi - 5:18:18
2. Toyoaki Okamura - 5:35:49
3. Taiki Kajita - 5:39:05
4. Yohei Kurokawa - 5:50:57
5. Yuji Oshima - 5:54:44
6. Masahiro Hirose - 5:55:15

text and photos © 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved


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