translated and edited by Brett Larner
The 41st Sapporo Half Marathon took place October 2nd in Sapporo, Hokkaido. More than 13,000 people took part, running under blue skies of early autumn. Running for the first time in the main event, the men's half marathon, Komazawa University second-year Shogo Ise, 20, won in 1:04:39. His win meant seven-straight Sapporo wins for Komazawa runners. In the women's half marathon, Osaka Gakuin University third-year Wakana Hayashi, 21, led start to finish to win in 1:19:08.
Running solo the whole way, Hayashi was far off her time goal. "Gah, no good...." she frowned after finishing. "It was hotter than I expected," she said later. "It brought out my mental weakness." Hayashi will run next in the Oct. 30 National University Women's Ekiden in Sendai as one of the star runners for top-level Osaka Gakuin. Last year the team finished inside the seeded bracket at 6th, but this year their goal is to win. In preparation for that ultimate goal Hayashi ran Sapporo concentrating on changes she has made to her form to correct her tendency to push her toes into the ground too hard. "If each of us does what we need to do then we can win," she said.
Breaking away in the last part of the race, Ise was smiling as he broke the finish tape. Ise 's senior Komazawa teammate Yoshiki Nakamura and rival Toyo University third-year Kazuki Takeshita led through 20 km and looked set to roll on, but with 1 km to go Ise overtook them before getting away from them on the downhill into Makomanai Park. "I was planning to make my big move at the end," Ise said afterward. "This was a big confidence booster." Finishing 5 seconds back in 2nd, Nakamura conceded his defeat by his younger teammate, saying, "I don't have much speed, so it's hard to fight back in a race like this. I couldn't move my legs at all at the end."
It was a satisfying win for Ise, but it also held deeper significance for him. Ise didn't make Komazawa's starting roster for next week's Izumo Ekiden. "My second year at Komazawa was when I really wanted to break through, so it was really disappointing," he said. "I thought that if I could run big in Sapporo it would me turn things back around." With Komazawa runners having dominated Sapporo every year since 2010 Ise's 1:04:39 was the fastest of the seven winners' times. With the National University Men's Ekiden coming up next month and the Hakone Ekiden capping the season in January it may have been the push he needed. "Up to now I've never gotten injured anywhere," he said. "I want to give everything I have to help the team score the win."