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Cheboitibin Breaks Seko's Course Record at Ome 30 km

One of Japan's longest-standing course records at its elite races fell Sunday as Kenyan Ezekiel Cheboitibin (Sunbelx) beat the great Toshihiko Seko's 38-year-old Ome 30 km Road Race record by almost 30 seconds.

Tough and hilly with a net climb in the first half and descent on the return trip, Ome is a standard spring marathon prep run and a natural partner for April's Boston Marathon, with which it has a longstanding athlete exchange program. The 2017 Ome winner, this time out Cheboitibin was gunning for Seko's record from the start, hitting the mostly uphill 10 km completely solo in 29:47, 20 km midway through the return trip in 59:30, and saving his fastest 10 km split for the end as he crossed the finish line in 1:29:06. Seko's 1:29:32 just two months before his first Boston win had made him the only man in Ome history to break 90 minutes. With the best performance of his career Cheboitibin turned the page on that history.

With the withdrawal of Fukuoka winner Yuma Hattori (Toyota) the remaining Japanese men didn't even try to go with Cheboitibin, the top group going through 10 km in 31:00 and 20 km in 1:02:30 before splitting up. Masao Kizu (Kanebo) dueled the final kilometers with Hakone Ekiden runner Kei Tsuboi (Hosei Univ.), outkicking him by 4 seconds to take 2nd in 1:33:30 with less than 30 seconds separated 2nd through 6th place.

Women's winner Kaori Yoshida (Team RxL) had a solo run of her own, skimming just under 3:30/km pace the entire way to take the win in 1:44:28, over three and a half minutes faster than her 3rd-place finish last year. Nami Hashimoto (Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) ran much of the way with Reno Okura (Hokuren) behind Yoshida, pulling away in the final third of the race to take 2nd in 1:46:30. As part of Ome's exchange program with the Boston Marathon, last year's Boston 4th-placer Rachel Hyland (B.A.A.) also ran, taking 7th in 1:52:20. As the top Japanese finishers both Kizu and Yoshida earned invitations to this year's Boston.

30 km may be an uncommon distance, but Ome wasn't the only race that length in Japan today. While Ome may be the bigger and more popular, the Kumanichi 30 km Road Race has a decade-longer history and usually pulls in more competitive elite fields. This year 2017 World University Games half marathon gold medalist Kei Katanishi (Komazawa Univ.) was the star of the show in his debut at the distance, outrunning 2018 National University Ekiden champion Aoyama Gakuin University's top 2nd-year Keita Yoshida and 2019 Hakone Ekiden champion Tokai University's captain Haruki Minatoya to win in 1:29:34.

A university athlete also took the Kumanichi women's race, with Nanayo Okamoto (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) outrunning corporate league favorite Anna Matsuda (Kyocera) for the win in 1:45:48. Osaka Gakuin also put two other women in the top seven, with the total quality of the results making it the deepest women's 30 km in history according to the ARRS database. With a faster course at Kumanichi it's a mark of how good Cheboitibin and Yoshida's winning times in Ome were that they beat the winning times run by Katanishi and Okamoto.

53rd Ome 30 km and 10 km Road Race

Ome, Tokyo, 2/17/19
complete results

Men's 30 km
1. Ezekiel Cheboitibin (Sunbelx) - 1:29:06 - CR
2. Masao Kizu (Kanebo) - 1:33:30
3. Kei Tsuboi (Hosei Univ.) - 1:33:34
4. Ryo Kuchimachi (Subaru) - 1:33:47
5. Takumi Iwata (JFE Steel) - 1:33:53
6. Kenta Uchida (Saitama Iryo Univ.) - 1:33:56
7. Masaki Sawada (Soka Univ.) - 1:34:13
8. Futoshi Ebisawa (Raffine) - 1:34:58

Women's 30 km
1. Kaori Yoshida (Team RxL) - 1:44:28
2. Nami Hashimoto (Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 1:46:30
3. Reno Okura (Hokuren) - 1:47:16
4. Kaoru Nagao (Sunfield) - 1:47:49
5. Shiori Morita (Panasonic) - 1:48:17
6. Hiroko Yoshitomi (Memolead) - 1:50:50
7. Rachel Hyland (B.A.A.) - 1:52:20
8. Io Akashi (Raffine) - 1:55:19

Women's 10 km
1. Kaori Morita (Panasonic) - 33:01
2. Miku Daido (Iwatani Sangyo) - 33:37
3. Sakiko Naito (Panasonic) - 34:21

High School Boys' 10 km
1. Daisuke Shimojo (Tokyo Jitsugyo H.S.) - 30:23
2. Kazuki Ino (Takushoku Prep Daiichi H.S.) - 30:52
3. Hiroto Ito (Koku Gakuin Prep Kugayama H.S.) - 30:55

63rd Kumanichi 30 km Road Race

Kumamoto, 2/17/19
complete results

Men's 30 km
1. Kei Katanishi (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:29:34
2. Keita Yoshida (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:29:47
3. Haruki Minatoya (Tokai Univ.) - 1:30:00
4. Kento Kikutani (Toyota Jidoshokki) - 1:30:04
5. Ryoichi Yoshida (Kyudenko) - 1:30:04
6. Kiyohito Akiyama (Aichi Seiko) - 1:30:24
7. Shun Yuzawa (Tokai Univ.) - 1:30:37
8. Takuya Nishizawa (Toenec) - 1:31:37

Women's 30 km
1. Nanayo Okamoto (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) - 1:45:48
2. Anna Matsuda (Kyocera) - 1:46:27
3. Chika Ihara (Higo Ginko) - 1:46:42
4. Aina Takaya (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) - 1:49:27
5. Hiroko Miyauchi (Hokuren) - 1:49:35
6. Minori Goto (Canon AC Kyushu) - 1:50:17
7. Aimi Tanigawa (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) - 1:50:19
8. Megumi Hirai (Canon AC Kyushu) - 1:50:41

text and photos © 2019 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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Naoki Okamotoage: 35
sponsor: Chugoku Denryoku
graduated from: Tottori Chuo Ikuei H.S., Meiji University

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2:11:29, 1st, 2018 Hokkaido Marathon

PB: 2:11:29, 1st, 2018 Hokkaido Marathon

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