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Njuguna Takes National University Half Marathon Title As 361 Break 70 Minutes

by Brett Larner with athlete quotes from Komazawa Univ. website


Click picture for more race photos by Narachan. Additional photos are available here.

The 12th National University Half Marathon took place on Mar. 8 in western Tokyo's Showa Kinen Park in conjunction with the 28th Tachikawa Akishima Half Marathon. The race served as both the first qualifier for the men's half marathon team for July's World Student Games in Serbia and the final race for graduating seniors.

Daiichi Kogyo University's Kiragu Njuguna led a large pack of top university runners and a few professionals, gradually edging away to take the win in 1:02:24 with a slim 17 second lead over runner-up Soji Ikeda of Komazawa University. Ikeda, who was captain of this year's ekiden team, commented, "I'm really happy that I ran a good race today. Looking back on the last four years, as captain I didn't want to end with something as bad as this year's Hakone Ekiden. I'm glad it could end this way and I hope it contributes some momentum to next year's team." Ikeda will join Team Yakult following graduation.

Ikeda's teammate Sota Hoshi finished 3rd in 1:02:47, barely escaping being clipped by fast-closing Yoshihiro Wakamatsu of Toyo University, who in turn outkicked his team's star senior Tomoya Onishi. After the race Hoshi said, "I wasn't really worried about anything today because my training has been good lately. Compared to Marugame this felt way better. Still, though, on the hills in the second half my legs got pretty tired."

Onishi, who joins Team Asahi Kasei next month, won a four-way sprint finish for 5th. Losing out in the sprint, 8th place finisher Masaki Ito of Kokushikan University was nevertheless perhaps the biggest story of the day. The 19 year old 1st year took nearly two minutes off his PB to break 1:03 for the first time, clocking 1:02:53.

The first women's selection race for the World Student Games takes place on Mar. 15 at the Matsue Ladies Half Marathon.

Complete results for the 2009 National University Half Marathon are available here. Select the first option from the drop-down menu in the middle of the page and then click the grey button to the right.

2009 National University Half Marathon - Top Finishers
Click each runner's name for a photo of his finish.

1. Kiragu Njuguna (Daiichi Kogyo Univ.) - 1:02:24
2. Soji Ikeda (4th yr., Komazawa Univ.) - 1:02:41
3. Sota Hoshi (3rd yr., Komazawa Univ.) - 1:02:47
4. Yoshihiro Wakamatsu (4th yr., Toyo Univ.) - 1:02:47 - debut
5. Tomoya Onishi (4th yr., Toyo Univ.) - 1:02:51 - debut
6. Koji Gokaya (3rd yr., Senshu Univ.) - 1:02:52 - debut
7. Yuta Igarashi (2nd yr., Senshu Univ.) - 1:02:52 - debut
8. Masaki Ito (1st yr., Kokushikan Univ.) - 1:02:53 - PB
9. Tomohiro Shiiya (4th yr., Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) - 1:02:59 - debut
10. Koji Kobayashi (2nd yr., Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 1:03:04 - debut
---
25. Kohei Fujiwara - 1:03:31
50. Naoki Akamine - 1:04:24
100. Shintaro Kawashima - 1:05:25
200. Tsubasa Sotomura - 1:06:51
300. Norihiro Oyamada - 1:08:45
361. Aoi Miyazawa - 1:09:55

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

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