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Funatsu 3:38.65 at Bryan Clay - Weekend Track Roundup

Weekend Japanese track action kicked off at the Bryan Clay Invitational at California's Azusa Pacific University. Passing on a spring marathon in favor of a shot at the 10000 m national record this season, 5000 m national record holder Suguru Osako (Nike Oregon Project) ran 13:29.11 for 3rd in the 5000 m, the best time so far this year by a Japanese man.

Bigger news came in the men's 1500 m, where Shoma Funatsu (Chuo Univ.) capped a residency in Oregon with a 3:38.65 to move up to all-time Japanese #5 and collegiate #2. Hiroki Matsueda (Fujitsu) also ran 3:41.51, with U.S.-based Yusuke Uchikoshi (Boise State Univ.) going 3:44.50, Funatsu's Chuo teammate Kazuyoshi Tamogami 3:45.84, another U.S. transplant Yasunari Kusu (AMAC) 3:46.98 and Hirotaka Nakatani (Uchida Chiryoin AC) 3:49.28.

At the nearby Mt. SAC Relays Yui Fukuda (Toyota Jidoshokki) won the women's 1500 m in 4:16.64. Mai Shoji (Denso) was slightly off her season best in the 5000 m in 15:56.99, while her teammate Nana Kuraoka went under 16 minutes for the first time this year in 15:58.24. Akane Yabushita (Toyota Jidoshokki) ran only 16:12.89 for 17th.



Back home the biggest action came at Kobe's Hyogo Relay Carnival. Fukuda's Toyota Jidoshokki teammate Helen Ekarare outran 1500 m meet record holder Ann Karindi to set a new record of 4:09.02 for the win, with newly-graduated indy club runner Nozomi Tanaka (ND28 AC) running 4:18.05 for 3rd. Ayano Ikemitsu (Kagoshima Ginko) topped the 5000 m in 15:54.88. Yukari Abe (Shimamura) had a good start to her outdoor season in the 10000 m, leading the top 7 under 32:30 in 32:13.79.

In the men's Grand Prix 10000 m, Rodgers Chumo Kwemoi (Aisan Kogyo) ran 27:32.45 to lead four men under 28 minutes. Shuho Dairokuno (Asahi Kasei) ran 28:21.75 to take the top Japanese spot at 5th. 2017 Ageo City Half Marathon winner Simon Kariuki (Nihon Yakka Univ.) won the Asics Challenge 10000 m in 27:56.04 by 6 seconds over perpetual rival Patrick Wambui (Nihon Univ.). Akira Aizawa (Toyo Univ.) and Daiji Kawai (Toenec) bettered Dairokuno's time from the Grand Prix race, running 28:17.81 and 28:19.35 for 5th and 6th in the Asics Challenge race.

At the Nittai University Time Trials meet in suburban Yokohama, Takushoku University captain Workneh Derese won the 10000 m A-heat in 28:14.49. Ken Nakayama (Chuo Univ.) ran a quality 28:22.59 for 3rd. Evans Yego (Sunbelx) won the 5000 m A-heat in 13:26.24, Rio Olympian Kazuya Shiojiri (Juntendo Univ.) taking the top Japanese spot at 7th in a decent 13:39.72 season opener. In the women's races, Esther Muthoni (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) won the 3000 m A-heat by 15 seconds in 9:09.67, while Mary Shipuko (Hitachi) took the 5000 m in 15:51.76.

© 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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Kawauchi Breaks Nobeyama Ultra Course Record

2018 Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) won the longest race of his career to date Sunday in Nagano, taking over six minutes off the Yatsugatake Nobeyama Kogen 71 km Ultramarathon in 4:41:55.

A training run for next month’s Stockholm Marathon, Kawauchi set off solo at a steady pace around 3:45/km. Climbing from 1355 m to 1908 m as he approached 20 km he naturally slowed, but with over 1000 m of descent over the next 30 km he was soon back on track. Hitting the marathon split around 2:39, he was so far ahead of the 2nd placer that the announcer initially forget Kawauchi had already gone by and announced the next runner as the leader.

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Ancient History I went to Wesleyan University, where the legend of four-time Boston Marathon champ and Wes alum Bill Rodgers hung heavy over the cross-country team. Inspired by Koichi Morishita and Young-Cho Hwang’s duel at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics I ran my first marathon in 1993, qualifying for Boston ’94 where Bill was kind enough to sign a star-struck 20-year-old me’s bib number at the expo.

Three years later I moved to Japan for grad school, and through a long string of coincidences I came across a teenaged kid named Yuki Kawauchi down at my neighborhood track. I never imagined he’d become what he is, but right from the start there was just something different about him. After his 2:08:37 breakthrough at the 2011 Tokyo Marathon he called me up and asked me to help him get into races abroad. He’d finished 3rd on the brutal downhill Sixth Stage at the Hakone Ekiden, and given how he’d run the hills in the last 6 km at Tokyo ’11 I thought he’d do well at Boston or New York. “If M…

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Yuki Kawauchi's 2018 race results: Jan. 1: Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, U.S.A.: 2:18:59 - 1st - CR
Jan. 14: Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:03:28 - 7th
Jan. 21: Yashio Isshu Ekiden, Saitama: 1:01:03 - 1st - ran entire 20.0 km ekiden solo and beat all 103 teams of 6 runners each
Jan. 28: Okumusashi Ekiden First Stage (9.9 km), Saitama - 29:41 - 6th
Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
Feb. 11: Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon, Shimane - cancelled due to heavy snow
Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama - 1:04:26 - 1st
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:04:49 - 12th
Mar. 11: Yoshinogawa Riverside Half Marathon, Tokushima - 1:05:50 - 1st - CR
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan - 2:14:12 - 1st
Mar. 24: Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials, Saitama
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              5000 m Heat 6: 14:36.58 - 2nd
           …