Skip to main content

Suzuki 1:01:36 CR to Win National University Half Marathon Title

by Brett Larner
video by Ekiden News


Quickly rising to the top of university men's distance running this season with a 58:43 3rd-place finish at October's Hakone Ekiden qualifier 20 km and a 1:07:17 win on the 23.2 km Hakone Ekiden Second Stage, Kengo Suzuki (Kanagawa Univ.) ran the biggest race of his career to date with a course record-breaking 1:01:36 win at the 2017 National University Men's Half Marathon Championships in western Tokyo's Showa Kinen Park.

1:01:25 man Naoki Kudo (Komazawa Univ.) took the race out at sub-61 pace, but after a 29:08 split at 10 km Suzuki got down to work.  Pushing the second half and pulling away alone, he became the first man to break 62 minutes at the National University Half, the deepest half marathon in the world with 265 finishers sub-66 in 2015.  Suzuki's finishing time of 1:01:36 made him the 7th-fastest Japanese-born university man ever over the half marathon distance.



Kudo held on to 2nd in 1:02:15, leading teammates Kei Katanishi and Fuminori Shimo to take 2nd through 4th.  Taisei Hashizume of 2017 Hakone Ekiden champ Aoyama Gakuin University took 5th in a PB of 1:02:46.  Being the primary selection race for Japan's 2017 World University Games half marathon team, National University Half top three Suzuki, Kudo and Katanishi were named team members, with Shimo named alternate. Having swept the medals at the 2015 Games, expectations are high for this year's team.  In the more immediate future, Suzuki will be part of a JAAF marathon development camp later this month in New Zealand.


Further south in Kumamoto, London World Championships marathon team hopeful Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) celebrated his 30th birthday at the Kanaguri Half Tamana Half Marathon.  A large lead pack running right on 3:00 / km stayed together almost the entire race, six or seven men still in contention with 1 km to go.  In the final sprint the Koichi Morishita-coached Yuki Oshikawa (Team Toyota Kyushu) got the win in 1:03:18 a step ahead of Komazawa graduate Kohei Futaoka (Team Chudenko).  Kawauchi was 3rd in 1:03:19, his best time since the November, 2015 Ageo City Half Marathon. Coming as the first race of his 30s and just hours before the near-confirmation of his place on the London World Championships marathon team, it was the best birthday present he could have asked for.


The 10 km races in Tamana saw stellar high school performances on both sides.  In the women's race two high schoolers broke 33 minutes, with Miku Moribayashi (Isahaya H.S.) getting the win in her debut over the 10 km distance in 32:54 over pros Yuka Miyazaki (Team Kyudenko) and Yuma Adachi (Team Kyocera) and fellow high schooler Yuko Matsumoto (Omuta H.S.).  Kosei Tanaka (Kobayashi H.S.) won the high school boys' race in 29:50, runner-up Takaki Iwamuro (Omuta H.S.) also going sub-30 in 29:52.

20th National University Men's Half Marathon Championships
Showa Kinen Park, Tachikawa, Tokyo, 3/5/17

1. Kengo Suzuki (Kanagawa Univ.) - 1:01:36 - CR, PB
2. Naoki Kudo (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:02:15
3. Kei Katanishi (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:02:34
4. Fuminori Shimo (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:02:36 - PB
5. Taisei Hashizume (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:46 - PB
6. Kazuto Kawabata (Tokai Univ.) - 1:02:47
7. Sho Nagato (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:52
8. Shuji Yamamoto (Toyo Univ.) - 1:02:56 - PB
9. Homare Morita (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:03:02
10. Ryoji Tatezawa (Tokai Univ.) - 1:03:14 - debut
11. Riki Nakanishi (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:03:17 - PB
12. Issei Iwasa (Teikyo Univ.) - 1:03:19 - PB
13. Fuuma Kato (Asia Univ.) - 1:03:22 - PB
14. Akira Aizawa (Toyo Univ.) - 1:03:33
15. Kazuya Azegami (Teikyo Univ.) - 1:03:34 - PB
16. Junnosuke Matsuo (Tokai Univ.) - 1:03:36
17. Shun Yuzawa (Tokai Univ.) - 1:03:40
18. Akira Akasaki (Takushoku Univ.) - 1:03:41 - PB
19. Chihaya Kasuga (Tokai Univ.) - 1:03:42
20. Yuji Onoda (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:03:42 - PB
21. Noriki Kumagai (Koku Gakuin Univ.) - 1:03:46 - PB
22. Ryuya Kajitani (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:03:48 - PB
23. Kazuma Kubo (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 1:03:48 - PB
24. Noritoshi Hara (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 1:03:49
25. Shoma Yamamoto (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 1:03:50 - PB


68th Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon
Tamana, Kumamoto, 3/5/17

Men's Half Marathon
1. Yuki Oshikawa (Toyota Kyushu) - 1:03:18
2. Kohei Futaoka (Chudenko) - 1:03:18 - PB
3. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 1:03:19
4. Naoya Takahashi (Yasukawa Denki) - 1:03:22
5. Hiroki Horiai (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:03:32 - PB

Women's 10 km
1. Miku Moribayashi (Isahaya H.S.) - 32:54 - debut
2. Yuka Miyazaki (Kyudenko) - 32:56
3. Yuma Adachi (Kyocera) - 32:58 - PB
4. Yuko Matsumoto (Omuta H.S.) - 32:58 - debut
5. Eijia Miyagi (Oita Tomei H.S.) - 33:05 - PB

High School Boys' 10 km
1. Kosei Tanaka (Kobayashi H.S.) - 29:50 - PB
2. Takaki Iwamuro (Omuta H.S.) - 29:52
3. Taiju Ando (Kagoshima Jitsugyo H.S.) - 30:00 - PB

© 2017 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

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.

At 58 km Kawauchi was on track to clear 4:30:00, but hitting the uphills in the final 10 km and feeling the effects of the unfamiliar distance he slowed to almost 5:00/km. But with so much leeway to work with there was never any danger of the 4:48:13 course record slipping out of reach. Kawauchi stopped the clock in 4:41:55, please…

How it Happened

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…

The Kawauchi Counter

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
              5000 m Heat 4: 14:53.95 - 1st
              5000 m Heat 6: 14:36.58 - 2nd
           …