Saturday was the first full day of the Japanese outdoor track season with two large time trial meets and university intramurals across the country. The top marks of the day came over 3000 m at Tokyo's Setagaya Time Trials meet. In the women's A-heat Japan-based Kenyan Grace Mbuthye (Starts) won in 8:58.55, while another Japan-based Kenyan Evans Yego (Sunbelx) took the men's A-heat in 7:58.50. Both times were the 2nd-fastest outdoor marks in the world so far this season. Other notable marks:
- Kei Fumimoto (Kanebo) turned in the fastest Japanese time of the day at 8:06.95 for 4th in the A-heat.
- Junior high school 1500 m, 3000 m and 5000 m national record holder Kosuke Ishida made his high school debut in the C-heat running for Tokyo Nogyo Daini H.S., finishing 3rd in 8:22.85, about 5 seconds off his best.
- After taking 7th at last month's NYC Half, 2017 World University Games half marathon gold medalist Kei Katanishi (Komazawa Univ.) got back into action, warming up with an 8:29.41 in the D-heat before winning the C-heat in 8:16.77. See the video above for Katanishi and Ishida in action.
- Hakone Ekiden star turned marathoner Daichi Kamino (Konica Minolta) and 2020 Olympic Trials marathon qualifier Shogo Nakamura (Fujitsu) also got back into action, Kamino winning the D-heat in 8:19.44 and Nakamura running 8:18.67 for 16th in the A-heat.
At Kumamoto's Kanaguri Memorial Meet the main focus was on the 5000 m. Kenyan high schooler Philemon Kiplagat (Kurashiki H.S.) led the way with a 13:37.12 to win the A-heat, just faster than the 13:37.86 run by all-Kenyan B-heat winner Joel Mwaura (Kurosaki Harima). Takanori Ichikawa (Hitachi Butsuryu) ran the fastest Japanese time so far this year, 13:42.70 for 4th in the A-heat. Another 2020 Olympic Trials marathon qualifier, Yuki Sato (Nissin Shokuhin) ran 13:53.54 for 8th.
In the women's 5000 m A-heat, Helen Ekarare (Toyota Jidoshokki) won by 10 seconds in 15:29.67 ahead of Ethiopian newcomer Husan Zeyituna (Denso). 2:21 marathoner Yuka Ando (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), yet another 2020 Olympic Trials marathon qualifier, ran her first race since January's Osaka International Women's Marathon, taking 3rd in 15:45.86.
The women's 1500 m at the Kanaguri Memorial Meet had two interesting races. In Heat 1, sisters Tomomi Musembi Takamatsu (Meijo Univ.) and Nozomi Musembi Takamatsu (Osaka T&F Assoc.) went 1-2, Tomomi taking the top spot at 4:22.10 in her university debut and former Nike Oregon Project runner Nozomi 2nd in 4:22.50. In Heat 2, pro Tomoka Kimura (Universal Entertainment) outkicked last year's #1 ranked high school Nozomi Tanaka (ND28 AC) to win in 4:22.74. Making her debut as a club runner post-graduation, Tanaka rook 2nd in 4:24.02.
text © 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved