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Toyota On Fire - Weekend Road Race Roundup

Everything right now in Japanese distance is about qualifying for September's MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials. On the men's side Toyota currently leads the way, Yuma Hattori running 2:07:27, Taku Fujimoto 2:07:57 and Chihiro Miyawaki 2:08:45 last year to qualify. Five more Toyota runners ran big today to set up some exciting last-shot bids at qualifying in Tokyo and Lake Biwa.

The National Corporate Half Marathon men's race went out relatively conservatively with a pack of 30 rolling through 10 km in 29:28. A series of runners including 35-year-old full-time-working amateur Takahiro Nakamura (Kyocera Kagoshima) took turns trying to get it moving before Amos Kurgat (Chudenko) took off for good to win unchallenged in 1:01:06. Along with Kenyans Paul Kuira (Konica Minolta) and Patrick Muendo Mwaka (Aisan Kogyo) Toyota's trio of Hideyuki Tanaka, Tsubasa Hayakawa and Minato Oishi emerged at the front of a chase group of 14.

As the pace picked up over the last 5 km that shook down to a core group of 11, all on sub-62 pace. In a five-way sprint finish on the track Kuira was 2nd in 1:01:32, with Oishi, Mwaka, Tanaka and Hayakawa all finishing within 2 seconds of him. Nine Japanese men including Nakamura broke 62 minutes, bringing the year's total to a record sixteen to date. As in Beppu-Oita last week and a million other races before that, when the conditions are right and a big group of people decide to really go for it, special things can happen.

A little further back, MGC qualifier Kenji Yamamoto (Mazda), 2:08:48 in Tokyo last year, ran a controlled 1:02:34 after saying pre-race that he planned to run an even 3:00/km in prep for a shot for a 2:06 at Lake Biwa next month. 2:08:09 marathoner Kohei Matsumura, part of the same MHPS group that has produced MGC qualifiers Hiroto Inoue, 2:06:54, Ryo Kiname, 2:08:08, and Yuji Iwata, 2:09:30, returned from a long period of injury with a PB 1:02:37, throwing his hat into contention for the trials. Another qualifier, Kentaro Nakamoto (Yasukawa Denki), likewise returned from injury with a quality 1:02:58. One other MGC qualifier, Yoshiki Takenouchi (NTT Nishi Nihon) also dropped a new PB, finishing 33rd in 1:03:13. One conspicuous absence was national record holder Yuta Shitara (Honda), who had announced the National Corporate Half as his comeback race from post-Fukuoka influenza and appeared in TV commercials for the race in the week leading into it.

The women's field was split between half marathon and 10 km. Sub-70 half marathons by Japanese women have become a rarity, at least outside December's Sanyo Ladies Half, but with fast times by Reia Iwade (Under Armor) and Ayuko Suzuki (Japan Post) at the Osaka Half and Marugame Half the last two weekends it seemed bound to happen today. A lead group of four made up of Kaori Morita (Panasonic), Ayumi Hagiwara (Toyota Jidoshokki), Sayaka Sato (Sekisui Kagaku) and the debuting Shiori Yano (Canon AC Kyushu) went out steadily right on target for sub-70.

Morita faded off in the second half, but the other three stayed together until Sato dropped an amazing surge with 2 km to go. Running under 3:10/km she put nearly 30 seconds on Yano and over 45 on Hagiwara to win in 1:09:27, a PB by almost 4 and 1/2 minutes. Yano also cleared 70 in her first attempt, 2nd in 1:09:53. Hagiwara, another runner making a comeback from injury, just missed at 1:10:16 for 3rd. In the 10 km, Ethiopian Husan Zeyituna (Denso) negative splitted a 32:36 for the win, with Morita's teammate Yuka Hori (Panasonic) dropping Miku Daido (Iwatani Sangyo) for 2nd in 32:54.

At almost the same time as the National Corporate Half, last year's runner-up Yusuke Nishiyama (Toyota) scored the win this time at the Karatsu 10-Miler in 46:27. He had to outsprint relative unknown Takahiko Ito (Tokyo Kokusai Univ.) and Ryota Matono (MHPS) to do it, but Nishiyama walked away with the fifth-fastest winning time in the event's 59-year history. Matono's MHPS teammate Hiroto Inoue, fresh back from a Boston Marathon-oriented training camp in New Zealand where he did one 50 km and two 40 km runs in three weeks, was 6th in 46:42, a time that would have won most years in Karatsu. The top ten all cleared 47 minutes.

Simon Kimunge (Tokai Prep Fukuoka H.S.) won Karatsu's high school boys' 10 km in 29:42, with three Japanese high schoolers clearing 30 minutes led by 17-year-old Go Ennyu (Oita Tomei H.S.) in 29:54. Marathoner Yuka Takashima (Shiseido) had an easy win in the women's 10 km in 32:49, just faster than Hori at Nationals, with Shoko Tsujita (Chikushi Joshi Gakuen H.S.) taking the high school girls' 5 km title in 16:25.

At the Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon a lead men's group of ten went through halfway in 1:04:44, but as soon as the pacers stepped off at 25 km the pace cratered into 2:11 territory. Hiroki Sugawa (Sunbelx) was the only to pull it off, surging with 5 km to go to win in 2:11:46, a PB by almost 13 minutes and the third-fastest winning time in 57 editions. Yuichi Yasui (Toyota) ran a 5 and 1/2 minute PB of 2:12:39 for 2nd to add to Toyota's haul for the day. Takehiro Gunji (Komori Corp.) was 3rd in 2:12:55. Winner Sugawa's younger sister Saori Sugawa, one of three runners on the tiny new Autobank corporate team, won the women's race, just off CR pace at halfway before fading to 2:44:40. The siblings' wins had to have been one of the best brother-sister performances in a single race in history.

The Ehime Marathon was relatively low-key this year, with local bank team Ehime Ginko teammates Yoshiki Nakamura and Yui Oshiro taking the top spots. Nakamura won the men's race in a PB 2:19:44 and Oshiro the women's race in a perfectly-paced 2:49:24.

47th National Corporate Half Marathon and 10 km Championships

Yamaguchi, 2/10/19
complete results

1. Amos Kurgat (Chudenko) - 1:01:06
2. Paul Kuira (Konica Minolta) - 1:01:32
3. Minato Oishi (Toyota) - 1:01:33
4. Patrick Muendo Mwaka (Aisan Kogyo) - 1:01:33
5. Hideyuki Tanaka (Toyota) - 1:01:33
6. Tsubasa Hayaksawa (Toyota) - 1:01:33
7. Shioma Yamamoto (NTT Nishi Nihon) - 1:01:38
8. Kyohei Hosoya (Kurosaki Harima) - 1:01:38
9. Takahiro Nakamura (Kyocera Kagoshima) - 1:01:39
10. Akito Terui (ND Software) - 1:01:45
11. Shuhei Yamaguchi (Asahi Kasei) - 1:01:46
12. Taishi Sakamoto (Toyota Kyushu) - 1:01:54

1. Sayaka Sato (Sekisui Kagaku) - 1:09:27
2. Shiori Yano (Canon AC Kyushu) - 1:09:53
3. Ayumi Hagiwara (Toyota Jidoshokki) - 1:10:16
4. Misaki Hayashida (Toyota Jidoshokki) - 1:11:15
5. Kotomi Tsubokura (Wacoal) - 1:11:16
6. Kaori Morita (Panasonic) - 1:11:18
7. Yukari Wada (Sekisui Kagaku) - 1:11:20
8. Michi Numata (Toyota Jidoshokki) - 1:11:21
9. Wakana Itsuki (Kyudenko) - 1:11:23
10. Mao Uesugi (Starts) - 1:11:27

Women's 10 km
1. Husan Zeyituna (Denso) - 32:36
2. Yuka Hori (Panasonic) - 32:54
3. Miku Daido (Iwatani Sangyo) - 33:01
4. Yuki Udagawa (Sekisui Kagaku) - 33:07
5. Momoka Kawaguchi (Toyota Jidoshokki) - 33:11

59th Karatsu 10 Mile Road Race

Karatsu, Saga, 2/10/19

Men's 10 Miles
1. Yusuke Nishiyama (Toyota) - 46:27
2. Tatsuhiko Ito (Tokyo Kokusai Univ.) - 46:31
3. Ryota Matono (MHPS) - 46:35
4. Yuto Aoki (Koku Gakuin Univ.) - 46:38
5. Ken Yokote (Fujitsu) - 46:39
6. Hiroto Inoue (MHPS) - 46:42
7. Kyosuke Mafune (Tokyo Kokusai Univ.) - 46:43
8. Atsuya Imai (Toyota Kyushu) - 46:45
9. Atsushi Kato (Komazawa Univ.) - 46:46
10. Tessei Yamahata (Sanyo Tokushu Seiko) - 46:51

High School Boys 10 km
1. Simon Kimunge (Tokai Prep Fukuoka H.S.) - 29:42
2. Go Ennyu (Oita Tomei H.S.) - 29:54
3. Ryo Nishikubo (Tosu Kogyo H.S.) - 29:56
4. Yuki Tokunaga (Jiyugaoka H.S.) - 29:57
5. Yusei Kawano (Oita Tomei H.S.) - 30:02

Women's 10 km
1. Yuka Takashima (Shiseido) - 32:49
2. Chikako Mori (Sekisui Kagaku) - 34:10
3. Maki Saito (Higo Ginko) - 34:12
4. Sana Ichihara (Chikushi Joshi Gakuen H.S.) - 34:19
5. Eri Sakamoto (Higo Ginko) - 35:01

Nobeoka Nishi Nihon Marathon

Nobeoka, Miyazaki, 2/10/19
complete results

1. Hiroki Sugawa (Sunbelx) - 2:11:46
2. Yuichi Yasui (Toyota) - 2:12:39
3. Takahiro Gunji (Komori Corp.) - 2:12:55
4. Ryoichi Matsuo (Asahi Kasei) - 2:13:26
5. Kazuki Noda (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:14:31

1. Saori Sugawa (Autobank) - 2:44:40

Ehime Marathon

Ehime, 2/10/19
complete results

1. Yoshiki Nakamura (Ehime Ginko) - 2:19:44

1. Yui Oshiro (Ehime Ginko) - 2:49:24

© 2019 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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