Skip to main content

Ledama Leads Arms Race in Setagaya

by Brett Larner
video by 7716chuo

2016 World U20 Championships men's 5000 m bronze medalist Wesley Ledama of Kenya continued his undefeated streak since arriving in Japan this summer to run for the Subaru corporate team, outrunning 2016 Ichinoseki Half Marathon winner Alexander Mutiso (Team ND Software) to win Saturday's Setagaya Time Trials 5000 m A-heat in 13:27.00, the second-best time of his career.  But with university men's ekiden season about to break at next weekend's Izumo Ekiden, the main story was to be found in the arms race brewing in the rest of the field.



In 2015 Aoyama Gakuin University broke the course records at two of the Big Three University Ekidens, Izumo and the legendary Hakone Ekiden.  This year it graduated four key seniors, all Hakone stage winners, but even so it arrived in Setagaya with eleven men with 5000 m bests under 14 minutes.  In Setagaya three AGU runners ran major PBs, two going under 14 for the first time.  Second-year Yuji Onoda took 10 seconds off his best with a 13:46.93 for 7th.  Third-year Yuta Shimoda returned to form after his 2:11:34 debut at February's Tokyo Marathon, the fastest-ever by a Japanese man under 20, with a 13-second PB of 13:53.96 for 11th.  Second-string second-year Homare Morita moved up AGU's ranks with a 14-second PB of 13:58.18 for 20th, together with Shimoda pumping AGU's roster up to 13 men sub-14.  Five of those have 28-minute bests for 10000 m along with sub-29 14-minute man Kinari Ikeda.  At this point in the season that's putting AGU into a solid position.  But it might not be enough.

Hayashi Morozumi was dominant as a coach at Nagano's Saku Chosei H.S., his innovative-by-Japanese-standards use of cross-country training helping make Saku Chosei into the greatest all-Japanese high school team in history and developing many of today's best Japanese pros including Suguru Osako (Nike Oregon Project), Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) and Yuichiro Ueno (DeNA RC).  In 2011 he left Saku Chosei to take over at Tokai University, one of his first actions as head coach being to build a cross-country training course on campus.  Under his leadership Tokai has been gaining momentum, boosted by a major recruiting coup this year.  Morozumi attracted nine strong first-years to Tokai this spring, several of whom had broken 14 in high school.  In their first season under his guidance six of them achieved that mark, giving Tokai 13 men sub-14 on its roster before Setagaya, like AGU five with 28-minute 10000 m bests and one more low-14 man having broken 29. In Setagaya first-year Hayato Seki ran a 9-second PB of 13:41.28 for 4th, placing him #1 on the team for the distance.  Three other Tokai men ran new PBs, third-year Reo Kuniyuki breaking 14 for the first time to put the team ahead of AGU on depth with 14 men sub-14 a week out from Izumo.  And it doesn't stop there.

Last year Yamanashi Gakuin University was 2nd in Izumo behind AGU, driven by a sensational run from Kenyan first-year Dominic Nyairo.  Like Tokai this year YGU had a recruiting coup a few years back, pulling in a large part of 2013 National High School Ekiden champion Yamanashi Gakuin Prep H.S.' core lineup.  Now third-years, the group has been pushing YGU toward becoming a contender for a Big Three win.  Pre-Setagaya YGU held six men sub-14, five of them sub-29 including Nyairo's 27:56.47 best.  In Setagaya fourth-year Shogo Hata was the star of the show, running a 15-second PB of 13:40.79 for 3rd behind Ledama and Mutiso.  Three other YGU runners also set new PBs including third-year Kenta Ueda, son of head coach Masahito Ueda.  In depth YGU is behind AGU and Tokai, but with Izumo teams made up of only six men averaging 7.5 km apiece it has enough to rival both.  Entry lists have yet to be officially released but based on the most likely lineups the three schools are closely matched and well ahead of the rest of the field.

Tokai University
Six-man 5000 m average:  13:47.55
Six-man 10000 m average:  28:46.44

Yamanashi Gakuin University
Six-man 5000 m average:  13:53.35
Six-man 10000 m average:  28:42.43

Aoyama Gakuin University
Six-man 5000 m average:  13:51.82
Six-man 10000 m average:  28:46.53

A very even match.  If any other school can come close to them, even perennial powerhouses Waseda University, Komazawa University and Toyo University, it'll be a miracle.

Setagaya Time Trials
Kinuta Park Field, Tokyo, 10/1/16
click here for complete results

Men's 5000 m Heat 25
1. Wesley Ledama Githua (Kenya/Subaru) - 13:27.00
2. Alexander Mutiso (Kenya/ND Software) - 13:31.71
3. Shogo Hata (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 13:40.79 - PB
4. Hayato Seki (Tokai Univ.) - 13:41.28 - PB
5. Hiroki Matsueda (Fujitsu) - 13:44.04
6. Shota Onizuka (Tokai Univ.) - 13:45.89
7. Yuji Onoda (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 13:46.93 - PB
8. Taku Fujimoto (Toyota) - 13:47.49
9. Keisuke Tanaka (Fujitsu) - 13:52.86
10. Ryutaro Ichitani (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 13:52.95
-----
11. Yuta Shimoda (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 13:53.96 - PB
12. Kazuki Tamura (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 13:54.17
13. Ryoji Tatezawa (Tokai Univ.) - 13:54.63
15. Shuto Mikami (Tokai Univ.) - 13:55.08 - PB
16. Haruki Minatoya (Tokai Univ.) - 13:55.65
17. Kenta Ueda (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 13:56.04 - PB
18. Kazuto Kawabata (Tokai Univ.) - 13:56.71
20. Homare Morita (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 13:58.18 - PB
21. Ryusei Yoshinaga (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 14:00.53
22. Yuki Hirota (Tokai Univ.) - 14:03.89 - PB
23. Yuki Nakamura (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 14:04.39
24. Yoshiki Ito (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 14:04.78 - PB
25. Sho Nagato (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 14:05.73 - PB
27. Tadashi Isshiki (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 14:07.34
28. Takato Suzuki (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 14:07.60
29. Ryota Motegi (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 14:07.67
30. Yuya Ando (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 14:07.69
31. Yasutaka Ishibashi (Tokai Univ.) - 14:08.82
32. Ryunosuke Hayashi (Tokai Univ.) - 14:10.46
34. Takuya Hanyu (Tokai Univ.) - 14:11.07
36. Yuya Yoshida (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 14:16.81
37. Hiroyuki Tomita (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 14:21.23
38. Takuya Kumashiro (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 14:37.37
39. Kinari Ikeda (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 15:08.45

Men's 5000 m Heat 24
1. Workneh Derese (Takushoku Univ.) - 13:58.51
2. Reo Kuniyuki (Tokai Univ.) - 13:59.14 - PB
3. Yusho Miyazaki (Nittai Univ.) - 13:59.72 - PB
4. Kazuhiro Kuga (Fujitsu) - 14:00.25
5. Kei Fumimoto (Kanebo) - 14:00.75

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kim Sets Korean 5000 m National Record, Tsuetaki Clears Steeple Standard, Osako Comes Up Short - Abashiri Highs and Lows

The final meet in Japan's Hokuren Distance Challenge series, Thursday's Abashiri meet was set up to give people one last chance to clear the qualifying standards for next month's London World Championships ahead of the fast-approaching deadline. Temperatures were far above normal for northern Hokkaido through much of the day, the mid-afternoon peak reported at over 36C at the time of the men's 800 m A-heat and still at 25C at the start of the five standard-chasing races in the evening.

網走女子5000A https://t.co/GquthBd13K — ホクレン・ディスタンスチャレンジ2017 (@hokurendc2017) July 13, 2017
The best race of the day was the women's 5000 m A-heat. With two women already confirmed for London the third spot on the team was up for grabs. First in line under the JAAF's criteria for addition, top three at Nationals and under the 15:22.00 standard, was 16-year-old Shuri Ogasawara (Yamanashi Gakuin H.S.), 3rd at Nationals in an U18 national record of 15:23.56. Next in line would be anyon…

Takamatsu Makes Return to Racing After Nike Oregon Project Disappointment

Running again in her hometown on the second day of the Osaka Track and Field Championships at Yanmar Stadium Nagai, 2014 Youth Olympics girls' 3000 m gold medalist Nozomi Musembi Takamatsu (19, Osaka T&F Assoc.) took the first step toward a comeback. Closing the gap to the runner ahead of her on the second lap, Takamatsu finished with effort to spare in 2:14.51 for 2nd. "I was able to run the way I'd envisioned," she said afterward. "I had some anxiety since it was pretty much my first real race in a year but I was able to give it my best."

After graduating from Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S. in the spring last year Takamatsu moved to Oregon, U.S.A. to take part in the "Nike Oregon Project" elite long distance group created by Nike. With a dream of winning gold in the 5000 m or 10000 m at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and high hopes in her heart, she crossed the ocean.

But in the U.S. she was hit by the cold hand of reality. "I was DFL every ti…

Kawauchi Named Captain of Japanese National Team for London World Championships

At a JAAF event at the British Embassy in Tokyo on July 21, marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (30, Saitama Pref. Gov't) was named men's captain of the Japanese national team for next month's London World Championships. Javelin throw national record holder Yuki Ebihara (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) was chosen as women's captain.

In a wide-ranging and impassioned speech 4 minutes and 20 seconds long, Kawauchi stoked the team's morale as he told attendees, "I think that there are athletes here today who look at London as just a checkpoint along the way to the Tokyo Olympics. But as a representative of Japan it is not enough just to be there competing. I feel it strongly. You must produce results at this event, the London World Championships. This is the task assigned to each and every one of us. It is critical that we work seriously to achieve our goals. The Japanese people want nothing less. What can we as athletes do for them? More than just wearing the uniform, each of us mus…