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Katanishi and Ise Follow Shitara's Footsteps to United Airlines NYC Half

For the last seven years the New York Road Runners have invited a pair of Japan's best collegiate runners from November's Ageo City Half Marathon to run against world-class competition at the United Airlines NYC Half. The very first year of the program in 2012, one of the two sophomores from Toyo University to earn the invitation was future half marathon and marathon Japanese national record holder Yuta Shitara.

Since Shitara's trailblazing 1:01:48 in that race, others have gone to New York and come back to rise to the top of Japan's distance running world. Following in their footsteps are Komazawa University teammates Kei Katanishi and Shogo Ise. Katanishi, the gold medalist in the half marathon at the 2017 World University Games, was the top Japanese university man in Ageo last November and went on to break 62 minutes for the first time with a 1:01:58 at the Marugame Half in February. Ise, a second-stringer at Komazawa with two wins at second-tier Japanese half marathons to his name, pulled off a crafty race in Ageo to outrun some of the top Hakone Ekiden stars for the second Japanese spot and join Katanishi in New York.

A top-level star and an ambitious underdog. Accompanied by their coach Atsushi Fujita, the former Japanese national record holder in the marathon with a best of 2:06:51, the pair ride a wave of excitement and self-confidence across Japan driven by Shitara's 2:06:11 record in Tokyo earlier this week. JRN will be on-site with Katanishi, Ise and Fujita to provide on-the-ground support and to cover their race from the inside.

2018 United Airlines NYC Half Elite Athlete Field Highlights

New York, 3/18/18
times listed are best in last three years except where noted

Men
Dathan Ritzenhein (U.S.A.) - 1:00:12a (Great North Run 2016)
Teshome Mekonen (Ethiopia) - 1:00:27 (Prague 2015)
Stephen Sambu (Kenya) - 1:00:41 (Houston 2018)
Haron Lagat (U.S.A.) - 1:01:01 (Houston 2018)
Chris Derrick (U.S.A.) - 1:01:12 (NYC 2017)
Tim Ritchie (U.S.A.) - 1:01:23 (Philadelphia 2015)
Wilson Chebet (Kenya) - 1:01:35 (NYC 2016)
Noah Droddy (U.S.A.) - 1:01:48 (NYC 2017)
Shadrack Biwott (U.S.A.) - 1:01:55 (San Jose 2016)
Kei Katanishi (Japan/Komazawa Univ.) - 1:01:58 (Marugame 2018)
Andrew Bumbalough (U.S.A.) - 1:02:04 (NYC 2015)
Chris Thompson (Great Britain) - 1:02:44 (Glasgow 2016)
Abdi Abdirahman (U.S.A.) - 1:02:46a (Great North Run 2016)
Scott Fauble (U.S.A.) - 1:03:06 (Columbus 2016)
Shogo Ise (Japan/Komazawa Univ.) - 1:03:10 (Ageo City 2017)
Parker Stinson (U.S.A.) - 1:03:17 (Houston 2017)
Eric Gillis (Canada) - 1:03:41 (Berlin 2016)
Tim Young (U.S.A.) - 1:03:44 (Columbus 2016)
Soufiane Bouchikhi (Belgium) - 1:03:45 (Den Haag 2015)
Matt Llano (U.S.A.) - 1:03:52 (San Diego 2015)
Futsum Zeinasellassie (U.S.A.) - 1:04:02 (Monterey 2017)
Matt Leach (Great Britain) - 1:04:22 (San Jose 2017)
John Raneri (U.S.A.) - 1:04:29 (Philadelphia 2015)
Trevor Hofbauer (Canada) - 1:04:30 (Philadelphia 2015)
Harbert Okuti (Uganda) - 1:04:42 (Brooklyn 2016)
Jonas Hampton (U.S.A.) - 1:04:46 (Jacksonville 2016)
Tim Chichester (U.S.A.) - 1:04:56 (Jacksonville 2016)
Ben True (U.S.A.) - debut - 27:41.17 10000m (Stanford 2012)

text and photo © 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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