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Katanishi Scores Best-Ever Japanese Collegiate Placing at United Airlines NYC Half

Wearing bib #21 on his 21st birthday, 2017 World University Games half marathon gold medalist Kei Katanishi (Komazawa University) turned in the best-ever Japanese collegiate placing at the United Airlines NYC Half, taking 7th in 1:03:05 just 26 seconds off the win.

Katanishi and his Komazawa teammate Shogo Ise earned invites to the NYC Half by taking the top two Japanese collegiate spots at last November's Ageo City Half Marathon. Off the tougher new New York course both Katanishi and Ise ran in the lead group for the first two-thirds of the race, Ise near the front and Katanishi biding his time at the back of the pack. When the first real move came on the uphill approaching Times Square Katanishi was quick to reposition himself into the top three just off the shoulder of leader Dathan Ritzenhein (U.S.A.), staying in the action and looking smooth through the first set of Central Park hills. "I just took the early part easy and watched the others and what was going," Katanishi told JRN post-race. "When the race got going I knew it was time to get into it."

The next move came near 17 km on the flat at the top of the toughest uphill. This time Katanishi couldn't keep up, falling off the leaders along with Scott Fauble (U.S.A.) and Soufiane Bouchikihi (Belgium), but with a characteristically strong finish he cleared his pre-race goal of a top eight finish. Previously the best-ever Japanese collegiate placing in New York was by another Komazawa runner, Ikuto Yufu who took 9th in 1:02:50. Katanishi's time of 1:03:05 was also the 4th-best Japanese collegiate time in New York; considering the far tougher course and headwinds throughout the race his performance likely rivaled the 1:01:48 by future half marathon and marathon national record holder Yuta Shitara back in 2012. "I met my goal of making top eight," Katanishi said, "but I'm disappointed I couldn't stay with the top guys in the last 4 km. I could tell I still have a lot of work to do."

Ise, who took 2nd in the National University Half Marathon two weeks ago, was dropped in Times Square, fading back from the lead group to take 15th in 1:04:56 just ahead of American Noah Droddy. "I had a lot of fun for the first 10 km," Ise said after the race. "It was a really hard course and I was freezing in the wind. Last year I watched the live stream of New York and thought it was awesome. I can't believe I really made it this year, and I'm really happy to have been here."

The pair's coach, former marathon national record holder Atsushi Fujita, road in the lead truck and watched the race play out before his eyes. "That was like watching a dream," he told JRN. "We were only thinking of Katanishi making top eight, but I started thinking, 'He's gonna make top five, maybe top three.' I'd give him about a 75% on this. If he'd made top five, maybe 85%. This was an incredibly valuable experience, though, and they both did a great job of being up in it. After this I'm really excited to see Katanishi's development in the next few years." Given Shitara's rise from a 1:10:48 on a faster version of the course to double national record holder, it's probably worth filing Katanishi's name away for future reference.

United Airlines NYC Half

New York, 3/18/18

Men
1. Ben True (U.S.A.) - 1:02:39 - debut
2. Dathan Ritzenhein (U.S.A.) - 1:02:42
3. Chris Thompson (Great Britain) - 1:02:43
4. Teshome Mekonnen (Ethiopia) - 1:02:44
5. Scott Fauble (U.S.A.) - 1:02:58
6. Soufiane Bouchikhi (Belgium) - 1:03:03
7. Kei Katanishi (Japan/Komazawa Univ.) - 1:03:05
8. Chris Derrick (U.S.A.) - 1:03:25
9. Wilson Chebet (Kenya) - 1:03:37
10. Futsum Zienasellassie (U.S.A.) - 1:03:39
-----
15. Shogo Ise (Japan/Komazawa Univ.) - 1:04:56

Women
1. Buze Diriba (Ethiopia) - 1:12:23
2. Emily Sisson (U.S.A.) - 1:12:24
3. Karoline Grovdal (Norway) - 1:12:43
4. Mamitu Daska (Ethiopia) - 1:12:50
5. Serena Burla (U.S.A.) - 1:13:15
6. Askale Merachi (Ethiopia) - 1:13:29
7. Betsy Saina (Kenya) - 1:13:31
8. Desiree Linden (U.S.A.) - 1:13:33
9. Madai Perez (Mexico) - 1:13:40
10. Caroline Rotich (Kenya) - 1:13:58

© 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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