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Miura Runs Steeplechase World Lead, Ishida Breaks 5000 m High School NR to Wrap 2020 Hokuren Distance Challenge

With world-leading marks at all three meets in the series so far, the 2020 Hokuren Distance Challenge wrapped Saturday in Chitose with an unexpected bang as 18-year-old Juntendo University first-year Ryuji Miura delivered a world-leading 8:19.37 to win the men's 3000 m steeplechase. Showing zero fear over the last lap, in a sprint finish Miura overtook Kenyan Philemon Kiplagat Ruto (Aisan Kogyo) in the last 50 m for the win, taking down the collegiate and U20 national records in the process and just missing the straight up national record, set when Miura was a one-year-old, by 0.44, ranking him all-time #2. 3rd-placer Kosei Yamaguchi (Aisan Kogyo) and 4th-placer Ryoma Aoki (Honda) also broke into the all-time Japanese top ten, Yamaguchi coming in at #5 in 8:25.04 and Aoki #6 in 8:25.85.

And there were other records and all-time marks. On the women's side the best came in the 5000 m A-heat, where a lead group of eight went out even with NR pace with a 2:59 opening 1000 m. 23-year-old Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal), winner of March's Nagoya Women's Marathon in 2:20:29, returned from a 31:23.30 PB three days ago in Abashiri, taking the lead after hitting 3000 min 9:06, hanging on when Ethiopian Zeyituna Husan (Denso) went to the front at 4000 m, dropping Husan 500 m later, and finishing hard to overtake Kenyan Cynthia Mbaire (Kamimura Gakuen H.S.) in the last 100 m. Ichiyama won in 15:06.66, another PB that put her at all-time Japanese #8. Right behind her, 17-year-old Mbaire took 7 seconds off her two-week-old best to break her own U20 world-leading time with a 15:07.13 for 2nd. Ichiyama's fellow Tokyo Olympic marathon team member Honami Maeda (Tenmaya) also ran a PB, her third at this year's HDC series, with a 15:31.51 for 10th.

In the men's 5000 m A-heat, Titus Wambua (SMU Group) held off a fast-kicking Hyuga Endo (Sumitomo Denko) for the wi in 13:17.40, but Endo's 13:18.99 was enough to move him up to all-time Japanese #7. Behind him, 18-year-old Chuo University first-year Yamato Yoshii continued a stellar debut season with an U20 national record 13:28.31, the first Japanese junior ever to break 13:30 and putting him at all-time #7 for Japanese-born collegians. Over the last lap Yoshii kicked from 9th to 5th after running the first two-thirds of the race in the front group, another strong closer. More on Yoshii from a JRN profile last month.

And in the B-heat, 17-year-old Kosuke Ishida (Tokyo Nogyo Daini H.S.), the junior high school national record holder for 1500 m, 3000 m and 5000 m, dropped a 13:36.89 high school national record for 3rd behind pros Tatsuhiko Ito (Honda) and Koki Takada (Sumitomo Denko). Running under control mid-pack for the first half of the race, after 3000 m Ishida confidently went to the front to push Kenyan pacer Joel Mwaura (Kurosaki Harima) to go faster, losing out to Ito and Takada in the last 200 m but breaking the record with ease. For comparison of how good Ishida's mark was, the American high school national record held by Olympic medalist Galen Rupp is 13:37.91. Ishida's mark also put him at all-time #4 on the Japanese U20 list. Left behind in the last 200 m, the super talented Kazuya Shiojiri (Fujitsu) made a quality comeback from a serious fall and injury in Ostrava last September, running 13:39.79 for 7th.

At the other end of the spectrum, 40-year-old former men's 5000 m national record holder Takayuki Matsumiya (Aichi Seiko), still in the game, took 10 seconds off the 40+ NR with a 14:05.34 for 14th in the C-heat, taking down 2:08:45 marathoner Takuya Fujikawa (Chugoku Denryoku) en route

No one knows what the next few years will bring, but if this year's Hokuren Distance Challenge series and in particular the Chitose meet were anything to go by, the 17-23 generation right now has a great future ahead in Paris and Los Angeles, if those days ever actually come.

© 2020 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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Stefan said…
What a meet! For me, Mao Ichiyama's performance in the 5K was breathtaking. I couldn't believe what I was watching. She is a marathoner not a 5K specialist? Maybe she can do both? When I saw the 1st km was under 3 minutes I thought what is she doing? That's ridiculously fast for her. But wow, she just stuck with it and even at the end when she got overtaken, I thought she might just accept 2nd place but she kicked and won it. I've re-watched the race a few times now. Honami Maeda is my favourite Japanese women's athlete but I think Mao Ichiyama is winning my attention race after race. I am even beginning to dare to dream that she might find herself with a truly legitimate Olympic medal prospect in the Women's marathon if she can translate some of that 5K pace into the event. Being able to watch both Maeda and Ichiyama live on YouTube I feel spoilt and lucky. They inspire me to want to go out and run which I did. Haa! But much much slower. The question I have is, can Ichiyama beat Nozomi Tanaka's 5K PB which I believe is around 15min. She was only a mere 6 seconds off and did this after backing up from a 10K PB 3 days ago!!! I hope both Maeda and Ichiyama remain injury free and healthy.

By the way, where is Ayuko Suzuki? She didn't compete. Is she still injured?
Brett Larner said…
Ichiyama is pretty amazing, and yes, you have to give Maeda credit for going 3/3 on the PBs this time around. Suzuki is still working her way back from injuries but seems positive. If there's an Olympics next year they should be a very solid squad.
Stefan said…
Thank you Brett. I appreciate the update on Suzuki.
juddy said…
A big shame that Wanjiru and Tanaka never got in the same race, both women were in shape to go much faster than what they did if they had someone else willing to lead

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