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Fast Times from Mbuthye and Yego in Saturday Track Action



Saturday was the first full day of the Japanese outdoor track season with two large time trial meets and university intramurals across the country. The top marks of the day came over 3000 m at Tokyo's Setagaya Time Trials meet. In the women's A-heat Japan-based Kenyan Grace Mbuthye (Starts) won in 8:58.55, while another Japan-based Kenyan Evans Yego (Sunbelx) took the men's A-heat in 7:58.50. Both times were the 2nd-fastest outdoor marks in the world so far this season. Other notable marks:

  • Kei Fumimoto (Kanebo) turned in the fastest Japanese time of the day at 8:06.95 for 4th in the A-heat.
  • Junior high school 1500 m, 3000 m and 5000 m national record holder Kosuke Ishida made his high school debut in the C-heat running for Tokyo Nogyo Daini H.S., finishing 3rd in 8:22.85, about 5 seconds off his best.
  • After taking 7th at last month's NYC Half, 2017 World University Games half marathon gold medalist Kei Katanishi (Komazawa Univ.) got back into action, warming up with an 8:29.41 in the D-heat before winning the C-heat in 8:16.77. See the video above for Katanishi and Ishida in action.
  • Hakone Ekiden star turned marathoner Daichi Kamino (Konica Minolta) and 2020 Olympic Trials marathon qualifier Shogo Nakamura (Fujitsu) also got back into action, Kamino winning the D-heat in 8:19.44 and Nakamura running 8:18.67 for 16th in the A-heat.



At Kumamoto's Kanaguri Memorial Meet the main focus was on the 5000 m. Kenyan high schooler Philemon Kiplagat (Kurashiki H.S.) led the way with a 13:37.12 to win the A-heat, just faster than the 13:37.86 run by all-Kenyan B-heat winner Joel Mwaura (Kurosaki Harima). Takanori Ichikawa (Hitachi Butsuryu) ran the fastest Japanese time so far this year, 13:42.70 for 4th in the A-heat. Another 2020 Olympic Trials marathon qualifier, Yuki Sato (Nissin Shokuhin) ran 13:53.54 for 8th.



In the women's 5000 m A-heat, Helen Ekarare (Toyota Jidoshokki) won by 10 seconds in 15:29.67 ahead of Ethiopian newcomer Husan Zeyituna (Denso). 2:21 marathoner Yuka Ando (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), yet another 2020 Olympic Trials marathon qualifier, ran her first race since January's Osaka International Women's Marathon, taking 3rd in 15:45.86.



The women's 1500 m at the Kanaguri Memorial Meet had two interesting races. In Heat 1, sisters Tomomi Musembi Takamatsu (Meijo Univ.) and Nozomi Musembi Takamatsu (Osaka T&F Assoc.) went 1-2, Tomomi taking the top spot at 4:22.10 in her university debut and former Nike Oregon Project runner Nozomi 2nd in 4:22.50. In Heat 2, pro Tomoka Kimura (Universal Entertainment) outkicked last year's #1 ranked high school Nozomi Tanaka (ND28 AC) to win in 4:22.74. Making her debut as a club runner post-graduation, Tanaka rook 2nd in 4:24.02.

Setagaya video by onychop
Kanaguri Memorial videos by tuyoshi55244
text © 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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Kawauchi Wins 7th-Straight Okinoshima 50 km

Running the Okinoshima 50 km Ultramarathon on his late father's home island of Oki for the eighth year in a row, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran 2:52:55 to win it for the seventh straight time. Starting strong on the relatively flat first 10 km where he clocked 33:26, low-2:47 pace, Kawauchi slowed to just over 2:50 pace on the course's toughest hills between 10 and 30 km. A sub-2:50 was still in range at that point, but over the last 20 km he faded further to finish in the second-slowest of his Okinoshima wins.



The day before the race Kawauchi paced children in Okinoshima's kids' run. Following that he greeted participants and local supporters at an expo event where he was hailed onstage as the Boston Marathon winner. As per his usual routine, his next race will be the July 1 Gold Coast Marathon in Australia.

© 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Kipchirchir and Chebii Take on Three Gold Coast Winners

The men's race at Australia's Gold Coast Marathon is usually a Kenya-Japan head-to-head, Kenya taking six wins and Japan three in the last ten years. With not a single Ethiopian in the field for this year's 40th edition it looks set for it to happen yet again.

Sub-2:10 Kenyans Victor Kipchirchir, Douglas Chebii, Philip Sanga and the Japan-based Michael Githae will line up to take on three of the race's last four winners, 2017 champ Takuya Noguchi (Konica Minolta), 2015-16 winner and course record holder Kenneth Mungara (Kenya) and 2013 champ and perpetual top three placer Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't). Give the advantage to team Kenya in this bout, but as Noguchi and Kawauchi have proven Gold Coast is a race where Japanese men are legit contenders.

With the window for getting qualifying times for next year's MGC Race 2020 Olympic trials starting to close, the powers that be in Japan have taken note of the success of Noguchi and Kawauchi on the Gold Coast…

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
           …