Sunday, October 16, 2016

Hyuga Endo Breaks 3000 m Japanese High School National Record

by Brett Larner

Ekiden season is underway but there is plenty of track action along the way as teams get ready for the main road races.  A week after his third-straight National Sports Festival track title, 12th-grader Hyuga Endo (Gakuho Ishikawa H.S.) became the first Japanese high schooler to break 8 minutes for 3000 m when he won Hyogo's Sumitomo Denko Cup in 7:59.18 by a margin of more than 20 seconds.  Opening with a 2:36.82 first 1000 m, Endo slowed to 2:42.50 in the middle of the race, still on track to break 8 overall but behind pace over the next 600 m.  One of Endo's main strengths to date has been his kick over the last lap, and here a 59.92 second last lap was just enough to get him under.  Endo's time was a new high school national record and the second-fastest ever by a Japanese junior.  With a steady string of new PBs from 1500 m to 5000 m over the last two years the new record was another step forward for Endo, who plans to join the Sumitomo Denko corporate team after his graduation next spring.

The same day in Fukuoka another high schooler dropped a fast 3000 m. Ririka Hironaka (Nagasaki Shogyo H.S.), already Japan's fastest-ever 10th grader in the women's 3000 m, took 3 seconds off her best as she won the All-Kyushu High School Newcomers' Meet in 9:00.81.  A meet record, Hironaka's time was the 5th-best Japanese girls' high school mark and 7th-best junior mark, and it was enough to beat Kenyan Tabitha Njeri Kamau (Kamimura Gakuen H.S.) by over 5 seconds.

Another fast race came at the Chubu Corporate Track and Field Meet in Gifu, where Kenyans James Rungaru (Team Chuo Hatsujo) and Hiram Ngatia (Team Toyota) pushed each other where at least Ngatia had never gone over 10000 m.  Both clocked 27:30, former Toyota runner Rungaru getting the win in 27:30.17, his best time in over five years, and Ngatia 2nd in a 10-second+ PB of 27:30.75.  Edward Waweru (Team NTN) and Patrick Muendo Mwaka (Team Aisan Kogyo) were both under 27:45, with Ngatia's teammate Yuma Hattori (Team Toyota) running a PB of 28:09.74 for 7th as the top Japanese finisher.

© 2016 Brett Larner
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