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17-Year-Old Biyazen Bests Hachioji in 10000 m Debut



Credited as being only 17 years old, Ethiopian Yeneblo Biyazen (Yachiyo Kogyo) made a big splash in his 10000 m debut, running an under-18 world-leading 27:32.51 to lead 12 men under 28 minutes at Hosei University's Hachioji Long Distance Meet. Biyazen and compatriot teammate Abiyot Abinet ran together throughout the race before Biyazen dropped an incredible kick over the last lap. Abinet couldn't match it, running a PB 27:37.62 to outlast Kenyan Muthoni Muiru (Soka Univ.) for 2nd. Muiru's 27:38.05 PB run ranked him at all-time #3 among sutdent athletes at Japanese universities.

With an overall slow opening pace,  half marathon national record holder Yuta Shitara (Honda), decked out in Nike's Vaporfly 4%, did his share of the heavy lifting up front but was never on for a shot at the 27:29.69 national record set in Hachioji two years ago. Riding the ebbs and flows of the race before losing touch with the lead trio over the last lap he snipped one second off his PB to take 5th in 27:41.97, the fastest time this year by a Japanese man. Behind him, 21-year-old Kazuya Shiojiri (Juntendo Univ.), a Rio Olympian in the 3000 m steeplechase, ran a 45 second PB of 27:47.87 for 7th, the 10th-best time ever by a Japanese collegian and 4th-best by a Japanese-born student runner. Minato Oishi (Toyota) returned from a solid 2:10:39 marathon debut in February to run just off his PB at 27:50.72 for 9th.

The Japanese trio's performances gave their country six men under 28 minutes this year, the same number as the world's other leading non-African distance running power, the U.S.A. In contrast, however, while all six Japanese men were born in Japan, none of the Americans were natives of their current home nation, five of them having been born in Africa. Needless to say immigration is more a part of the American identity than of the Japanese, but whether in terms of the difficulty in obtaining citizenship, the desirableness of that citizenship, or the openness to naturalized citizens, the striking difference raises interesting questions about the genuine state of the sport in the two powerhouse nations. Given the large number of Japan-based Africans who came for high school or in their teens to run in the corporate leagues, people like Paul Tanui (Kyudenko), Bedan Karoki (DeNA) and Ronald Kwemoi (Komori Corp.), it's reasonable to think that if Japan had a comparably liberal immigration policy to the U.S the landscape would look very different indeed. With a million dollar bonus on offer to the first Japanese citizen man to break the 2:06:16 marathon national record it says something that people like Tanui and Karoki aren't lining up to apply.



Muiru and Shiojiri weren't the only university men to run big. Six days after running a 1:01:37 debut for 2nd at the Ageo City Half Marathon, Patrick Mathenge Wambui (Nihon Univ.) ran a PB 27:49.96 for 8th just behind Shiojiri. Eleven other collegiate men broke 29 minutes, 2017 Izumo Ekiden winner Tokai University's 2nd-year Shota Onizuka leading the way with a 38-second PB of 28:17.52 for 2nd in the B-Heat. Atsushi Yamato of 2017 National University Men's Ekiden champion Kanagawa University was also under 28:30 in a PB of 28:25.27 in the B-Heat.



Across town it was a tale of two 10000 m time trials as even more university men lined up at Keio University's Kanto Region University Time Trials for final tuneups ahead of their coaches' final selections for their Hakone Ekiden squads. Three-time defending Hakone champ Aoyama Gakuin University has dominated this meet for the last few years, but after losses at the season's first two ekidens it was in rough shape, its top A-heat finisher Homare Morita only 11th in 28:44.62. In 1st was Sho Nagato (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) with a 27-second PB of 28:30.59 for the win over Tokai's Shuto Mikami by less than 2 seconds, virtually the only bright spot on YGU's talented but ailing current squad. Two other Tokai men, Haruki Minatoya and Reo Kuniyuki, were under 28:45 for the first time, increasing Tokai's edge in the buildup to Japan's main event.

Along with the 14 in Hachioji, 17 collegiate men broke 29 minutes at Keio, bringing the total number of men sub-29 to 92 between the two meets including the 12 under 28. But it wasn't just about the men, with the women's 10000 m A-heat at Keio also producing strong times. Giving tomorrow's Nikko Irohazaka Women's Ekiden a miss despite being the two-time defending champ, National University Women's Ekiden runner-up Daito Bunka University put three of its best into action in Keio. 2nd-years Natsuki Sekiya and Ryoko Kitawaki delivered, giving DBU the top two spots in PBs of 32:47.50 and 32:48.59.  Representing a wide range of almost every top university except national champion Meijo University, the top eight women all broke 33 minutes, setting up an exciting race and next month's season-ending Mt. Fuji Women's Ekiden.

2017 Hachioji Long Distance Meet

Hosei University, Hachioji, Tokyo, 11/25/17
click here for complete results

Men's 10000 m A-Heat
1. Yeneblo Biyazen (Yachiyo Kogyo) - 27:32.51 - debut
2. Abiyot Abinet (Yachiyo Kogyo) - 27:37.62 - PB
3. Muthoni Muiru (Soka Univ.) - 27:38.05 - PB
4. John Maina (Fujitsu) - 27:41.77
5. Yuta Shitara (Honda) - 27:41.97 - PB
6. David Njuguna (Yakult) - 27:45.83 - PB
7. Kazuya Shiojiri (Juntendo Univ.) - 27:47.87 - PB
8. Patrick Mathenge Wambui (Nihon Univ.) - 27:49.96 - PB
9. Minato Oishi (Toyota) - 27:50.72
10. James Mwangi (NTN) - 27:51.61
11. Samuel Mwangi (Konica Minolta) - 27:53.85
12. Rodgers Chumo Kwemoi (Aisan Kogyo) - 27:54.23
-----
19. Harry Summers (Australia) - 28:23.97

Men's 10000 m B-Heat
1. Yuki Muta (Hitachi Butsuryu) - 28:17.11
2. Shota Onizuka (Tokai Univ.) - 28:17.52
3. Takuya Fujikawa (Chugoku Denryoku) - 28:24.05
4. Tatsuya Oike (Toyota Boshoku) - 28:24.58
5. Atsushi Yamato (Kanagawa Univ.) - 28:25.27

Men's 10000 m C-Heat
1. Keiji Akutsu (Subaru) - 28:23.14
2. Kenta Murozuka (DeNA) - 28:26.74
3. Kazuki Onishi (Kanebo) - 28:27.53
4. Hiroyuki Ishikawa (Aisan Kogyo) - 28:29.93
5. Yuki Matsumura (Honda) - 28:42.52

Men's 10000 m D-Heat
1. Yuki Hirota (Subaru) - 28:36.03
4. Atsumi Ashiwa (Honda) - 28:36.76
3. Yuta Takahashi (DeNA) - 28:43.34

Men's 10000 m E-Heat
1. Kazuto Nishiike (Konica Minolta) - 29:09.35
2. Shiki Shinsako (Waseda Univ.) - 29:09.89
3. Daisuke Momozawa (Sun Kogyo) - 29:13.92

Men's 10000 m F-Heat
1. Shoya Ozaki (Chudenko) - 29:25.99
2. Akihito Eishin (Osaka Police Dep't) - 29:47.65
3. Ryusei Sakaguchi (Tokyo Police Dep't) - 29:49.21

Kanto Region University Time Trials

Keio University, Hiyoshi, Kanagawa, 11/25/17
click here for complete results

Men's 10000 m A-Heat
1. Sho Nagato (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 28:30.59
2. Shuto Mikami (Tokai Univ.) - 28:32.24
3. Masahiro Kan (Josai Univ.) - 28:35.56
4. Hiroki Abe (Meiji Univ.) - 28:40.51
5. Kazuya Azegami (Teikyo Univ.) - 28:41.68
6. Haruki Minatoya (Tokai Univ.) - 28:41.77
7. Reo Kuniyuki (Tokai Univ.) - 28:43.71
8. Kosuke BAba (Takushoku Univ.) - 28:43.72
9. Keita Sakamoto (Jobu Univ.) - 28:43.91
10. Yushin Nishijima (Josai Univ.) - 28:44.15

Women's 10000 m A-Heat
1. Natsuki Sekiya (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 32:47.50
2. Ryoko Kitawaki (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 32:48.59
3. Misaki Ogata (Matsuyama Univ.) - 32:49.42
4. Sayaka Mori (Kansai Univ.) - 32:50.40
5. Maki Izumida (Rikkyo Univ.) - 32:50.91
6. Yuki Sato (Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) - 32:51.80
7. Hitomi Mizuguchi (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) - 32:52.83
8. Maho Shimizu (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) - 32:56.72
9. Akane Fujiwara (Matsuyama Univ.) - 33:04.79
10. Kako Okada (Matsuyama Univ.) - 33:13.24

© 2017 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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