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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
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