Skip to main content

Hironaka, Ndiku and Aoyama Gakuin Lead Weekend Track Highlights

by Brett Larner

A week after running 9:00.81 to become the fastest-ever Japanese 10th grade girl over 3000 m, Ririka Hironaka (Nagasaki Shogyo H.S.) was back to break another record.  At Saturday's Challenge Games in Oita Ginko Dome Hironaka ran 15:42.23 to win the women's 5000 m, again the fastest mark ever by a Japanese 10th grader.  10th graders also brought good times in the women's 3000 m and men's 5000 m, where Oita Tomei H.S. resident Kenyans Marta Mokaya and Benuel Mogeni won in 9:06.29 and 13:43.37.  Japanese high schoolers Keita Yoshida (Sera H.S.) and Yuta Kanbayashi (Kyushu Gakuin H.S.) both broke 14 minutes, Yoshida running 13:53.53 for 3rd and Kanbayashi next across the line in 13:59.14.

Faster 5000 m times came Sunday at Yokohama's Nittai University Time Trials, where Jonathan Ndiku (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) came up just short of the fastest 5000 m on Japanese soil so far this year as he won in 13:15.32.  John Maina (Team Fujitsu) and Alfred Ngeno (Team Nissin Shokuhin) also broke 13:20, but reigning university ekiden power Aoyama Gakuin University delivered bigger news across the pack behind the top three.  Already holding thirteen men with sub-14 bests for 5000 m, in the same heat as Ndiku nine Aoyama Gakuin men broke 14, the four fastest of them setting new PBs and one doing it for the first time.  Aoyama Gakuin's roster now includes fourteen men sub-14, five of whom have also run sub-29 for 10000 m and sub-63 for the half marathon, plus one more runner, fourth-year Kinari Ikeda, who has run 28 and 62 with a 5000 m best of only 14:08.27.  This gives Aoyama Gakuin a fifteen-deep roster of A-listers, more than enough to tackle next week's National University Ekiden with eight stages averaging 13.4 km.  But they have company.

Before this weekend Tokai University already matched Aoyama Gakuin at runners fourteen sub-14 and six sub-29.  At Nittai two more of its team broke 29, giving it a seventeen-deep A-list roster, fourteen of them sub-14 including five sub-29, plus three more sub-29 with 5000 m bests between 14:03.82 and 14:11.25.  Only second-year Haruki Minatoya has broken 63 for the half marathon at this point, a shortcoming that will hurt their chances against Aoyama Gakuin at Nationals and especially at January's Hakone Ekiden where the ten stages average roughly a half marathon in distance.  But take a look at Tokai's first-years:

  • Hayato Seki: 5000 m: 13:41.28     10000 m: 28:48.63
  • Shota Onizuka: 5000 m: 13:43.61     10000 m: 28:55.26
  • Rintaro Takata: 10000 m: 28:57.91
  • Junnosuke Matsuo: 10000 m: 28:59.65
  • Ryoji Tatezawa: 5000 m: 13:48.89
  • Ryohei Sakaguchi; 5000 m; 13:51.69
  • Takuya Hanyu: 5000 m: 13:52.98
  • Yuichiro Nishikawa: 5000 m: 13:58.54

Just these eight first-years alone would be a better team than most other schools will field at Nationals, and none of them has run a half marathon yet.  Tokai could even field two teams and both would do better than most of the competition.  Give them another year and you'll be looking at the team that will take away Aoyama Gakuin's spot on top of the university ekiden world.

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Tokyo Experiments With Spraying Water Along 2020 Marathon Course to Combat Heat

As part of its measures to deal with the hot conditions expected at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, on Aug. 13 the Tokyo Metropolitan Government conducted an experiment to measure the effects on pavement surface temperature of spraying the road surface with water. Data from the experiments were released to the media.

The experiment was conducted from 4:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. along a 120 m section of sidewalk along Uchibori Street in the Imperial Palace's outer gardens in Chiyoda Ward.  In the experiment, open-ended tubes used in agricultural work eres placed at the edge of the sidewalk  to supply water. Surface temperature readings were taken every 30 minutes for three different experimental scenarios:
spraying water beginning at 4:00 a.m.spraying water beginning at 7:00 a.m.not spraying any water The experiment found that where water had been sprayed, the road surface temperature remained in the 27 to 29˚C range even when the air temperature exceeded 30˚C. Where no wa…

On Broadcast Commentary

It's been 122 days since the 122nd Boston Marathon. Of what the two exceptional people who won that day accomplished, WilliamShakespeare summed it up better than any other commentator in his Sonnet 122:

Beyond all date, even to eternity;
     Or at the least, so long as brain and heart
     Have faculty by nature to subsist;
     Till each to razed oblivion yield his part
     Of thee, thy record never can be miss'd.

What else needs to be said? But the other thing that remains from that day is, of course, this:

Worst punditry ever? #Yukipic.twitter.com/AwjeuZDtOt — Xempo Running (@xempouk) April 16, 2018
In the 122 days since Boston this clip has been on my mind a lot. The commentary here by Larry Rawson and Al Trautwig was exceptionally bad, but it wasn't unique to them and highlighted many of the problems with marathon TV broadcasts and especially their hosts and commentators. I'm fortunate to live in Japan where the announcers for the countless marathon live TV broadcas…

Kazami Breaks 100 km World Record at Lake Saroma

Running on the same course where Japan's Takahiro Sunada set the road 100 km world record of 6:13:33 twenty years ago, 2:17:23 marathoner Nao Kazamibested a deep and competitive field to win the Lake Saroma 100 km Ultramarathon in a world record 6:09:14.

Part of a front group of at least five that went through the marathon split in 2:33:36, on pace for 6:04:01, Kazami lost touch with the lead as rivals Koji Hayasaka and Takehiko Gyoba surged just before halfway to open a roughly 30 second lead that lasted until nearly 75 km. But in the last quarter of the race Kazami, a graduate of Hakone Ekiden powerhouse Komazawa University, was the only one who could sustain anything close to the early pace, overtaking Hayasaka and Gyoba before pulling away to open a lead of over 11 minutes. Kazami's mark took more than 4 minutes off the world record, and he also bettered the 100 km track world record of 6:10:20 set in 1978 well before he was born by the late Don Ritchie.
Trying to stay wi…