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Nabeshima and Tamura Win 10000 m National Titles, Ndiku Runs 10000 m World-Leader, Okada Breaks 5000 m RW NR - Weekend Track Review

Four hours after a collective sigh of relief 17,000-strong as Yuki Koike's successful handoff to Yoshihide Kiryu brought the Golden Grand Prix Osaka meet to a close with a world-leading 38.00 win for the Japanese men's 4x100 m relay team, the acton continued at Osaka's Nagai Stadium with the women's and men's 10000 m National Championships.

Held six weeks out from the rest of the National Championships this year to try to maximize performances and world rankings points in both the 5 and 10, the 10000 m Nationals started at 7:30 p.m. with the women's race. Championships record holder Hitomi Niiya (Nike Tokyo TC) started unusually slowly, sitting mid-to-rear pack as 2016 national champion Ayuko Suzuki (Japan Post) and-two defending national champ Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) led the way, but after a 3:15 for the third 1000 m she lost patience and went to the front.

From there it was a familiar race, Niiya holding the pace relentlessly as the competition dwindled to just her, Suzuki, and Suzuki's junior training partner Rina Nabeshima (Japan Post). When her pace from 3:10 to 3:14 over the last two kilometers the inevitable became inevitable, and over the last lap she could only watch as Nabeshima and Suzuki kicked away to go 1-2. Clearing the 31:50 Doha World Championships qualification standard, Nabeshima sealed up a place on the Doha squad with the win in 31:44.02. Suzuki was next in 31:46.25, but as she is expected to run September's Olympic marathon trials it's unlikely she will be named to the team. Niiya was a disappointed 3rd in 31:50.43, the slowest 10000 m time of her career, but as the top Japanese woman in the world rankings and the only to have cleared the 2020 Tokyo Olympics standard it's very likely she will get the Doha gig come September.

Coming up late in the race, the fastest Japanese woman of 2018, Minami Yamanouchi (Kyocera) was 4th in 32:00.76, giving her a chance of being named to the team instead of Suzuki. In the race thanks to a win at February's National XC Championships, 2018 World U20 Championships 3000 m gold medalist Nozomi Tanaka (Toyota Jidoshokki TC) had a good debut with a 32:25.81 for 6th, running down two-time champ Matsuda, three women with the Doha standard, and 2019 national corporate half marathon champ Sayaka Sato (Sekisui Kagaku)  over the last few laps.

With most of Japan's best 10000 m men having transitioned to the marathon ahead of the Olympics there's a bit of gap right now with no one in range of the 27:40 Doha standard. The JAAF enlisted four Japan-based Kenyan corporate leaguers as pacers to try to get someone there, but in the end it was only Kazuki Tamura (Sumitomo Denko) who went after it, staying with eventual top finisher Bernard Koech (Kyudenko) through 7000 m before falling off. Koech was the only runner under 28  minutes at 27:56.54, his and the other two Kenyan finishers' results not counting in the National Championships standings.

Tamura took the national title in 28:13.39, with 2019 National XC champ Yuta Bando (Fujitsu) next in a PB of 28:20.72. Top-ranked university man Akira Aizawa (Toyo Univ.) briefly challenged Bando for 2nd Japanese before falling to 4th in 28:32.42 behind national record holder Kota Murayama (Asahi Kasei).

Turned away from the 10000 m for not having the standard, two-time national champ Suguru Osako (Nike Oregon Project) opted a 3000 m - 5000 m double workout at the Tokai University Time Trials meet alongside Tamura's teammate Koki Takeda (Sumitomo Denko), a former Waseda University teammate of Osako's. Osako ran a solid 7:59.87 to take the top spot in the 3000 m but was pipped at the line by Takada in the 5000 m, 14:00.39 to 14:00.75. Osako's coach while at Saku Chosei H.S., 2019 Hakone Ekiden winner Tokai University's head coach Hayashi Morozumi, was at the Golden Grand Prix Osako meet to see Tokai's Ryohei Sakaguchi in the 3000 mSC before jumping on the shinkansen to catch his star former pupil in action back in Kanagawa.

The weekend's other big result came at the East Japan Corporate Track and Field Championships, where Jonathan Ndiku (Hitachi Butsuryu) and Andrew Lorot (Subaru) both went under the previous world-leading mark in the men's 10000 m, Ndiku getting the win and the world lead in 27:32.68 with Lorot 2nd in 27:33.21. Hiroto Kanamori (Komori Corp.) was the top Japanese man at 7th in 28:41.31. 3rd in the 10000 m Saturday, Dominic Langat (Konica Minolta) was back Sunday to take the 5000 m title in 13:40.35.

The fastest woman in the world over 10000 m last year, Pauline Kamulu (Route Inn Hotels) won the women's 10000 m in a relatively conservative 31:53.68. Rio Olympics 5000 m finalist Miyuki Uehara (Daiichi Seimei) narrowly beat out club runner Haruka Yamaguchi (AC Kita) 33:44.41 to 33:46.23 for top Japanese honors. Rosemary Monica Wanjiru (Starts) set a meet record 15:19.03 to win the 5000 m over 30 seconds ahead of top Japanese woman Rui Aoyama (Univ. Ent.). Kumiko Okada (Bic Camera) also scored a national record of 20:42.25 in the women's 5000 m racewalk.

Things were a little more sedate at the Kyushu Corporate Track and Field Championships, where the winning times in the 5000 m and 10000 m were 13:59.10 by Benuel Mogeni (Asahi Kasei) and 28:18.82 by Daniel Kipkemoi (Nishitetsu) on the men's side, and 15:49.58 by Marta Mokaya (Canon AC Kyushu) and 33:37.78 by Suzuna Seiyama (Kyocera).

Having run its 5000 m last weekend, the Chugoku Corporate Track and Field Championships wrapped with its 10000 m this weekend. Back from a fall that broke his left elbow at February's Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, Naoki Okamoto (Chugoku Denryoku) took the men's race in 28:58.89 over fellow Olympic marathon trials qualifier Kenji Yamamoto (Mazda), with Natsumi Matsushita (Tenmaya) almost exactly tying Kyushu winner Seiyama's time in 33:37.69 for the women's title.

With so many other things going on the season's second Setagaya Time Trials meet in suburban Tokyo was relatively low-key this time out. Top men's 3000 m, 5000 m and 10000 m times were 8:20.27 by Taiki Nakajima (Meiji Univ.), 13:59.69 by Dominic Nyairo (NTT Nishi Nihon), and 29:49.48 by Taisei Kato (Meiji Univ.). Interestingly, Yuki Sato (Nissin Shokuhin), another Olympic marathon trials qualifier that Morozumi coached in high school, did the same workout as Osako, running 8:23.01 and 14:05.20 with support from training partner Muryo Takase just a week after finishing 2nd at the Sendai Half in 1:02:30. The lone women's race, a 3000 m, was won by Yamaguchi's teammate Miho Ebihara (AC Kita) in 10:28.04.

Along with more minor regional collegiate meets over the last two weekends, the next major track action in Japan starts Thursday with the country's most competitive university meet, the Kanto Region University Track and Field Championships in Sagamihara, Kanagawa.

2019 National Championships 10000 m

Nagai Stadium, 5/19/19
complete results

1. Rina Nabeshima (Japan Post) - 31:44.02
2. Ayuko Suzuki (Japan Post) - 31:46.25
3. Hitomi Niiya (Nike Tokyo TC) - 31:50.48
4. Minami Yamanouchi (Kyocera) - 32:00.76
5. Ayumi Hagiwara (Toyota Jidoshokki) - 32:20.11
6. Nozomi Tanaka (Toyota Jidoshokki TC) - 32:25.81 - debut
7. Kaori Morita (Panasonic) - 32:27.04
8. Shiori Yano (Canon AC Kyushu) - 32:28.84
9. Rino Goshima (Chuo Univ.) - 32:33.70
10. Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) - 32:37.13
11. Sayaka Sato (Sekisui Kagaku) - 33:00.83
12. Mai Shoji (Denso) - 33:08.86
13. Nanami Watanabe (Panasonic) - 33:08.90
14. Sakiho Tsutsui (Yamada Denki) - 33:10.53
15. Misaki Hayashida (Toyota Jidoshokki) - 33:24.67

(1.) Bernard Koech (Kyudenko) - 27:56.54
(2.) Rodgers Chumo Kwemoi (Aisan Kogyo) - 28:00.11
(3.) Joel Mwaura (Kurosaki Harima) - 28:11.75
4. Kazuki Tamura (Sumitomo Denko) - 28:13.39
5. Yuta Bando (Fujitsu) - 28:20.72 - PB
6. Kota Murayama (Asahi Kasei) - 28:25.95
7. Akira Aizawa (Toyo Univ.) - 28:32.42
8. Daiji Kawai (Toenec) - 28:43.45
9. Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Asahi Kasei) - 28:44.11
10. Keijri Mogi (Asahi Kasei) - 28:44.22
11. Takashi Ichida (Asahi Kasei) - 28:45.05
12. Yusuke Tamura (Kurosaki Harima) - 28:45.77
13. Kazuma Taira (Kanebo) - 28:49.67
14. Taku Fujimoto (Toyota) - 28:58.68
15. Kenta Murayama (Asahi Kasei) - 29:03.56
DNF - Robert Kipchirchir Mwei (Asahi Kasei)

text and photos © 2019 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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