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Wanjiru 30:38.18 World Lead at Hokuren Distance Challenge Abashiri Meet

Longtime Japan resident Rosemary Monica Wanjiru (Starts) turned in the run of the day at Wednesday's Hokuren Distance Challenge Abashiri meet in Hokkaido, soloing a world-leading 30:38.18 to win the women's 10000 m. In the very early going Wanjiru had company from Tokyo Olympic marathon team member Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal), but for most of the race she was completely on her own at a steady 3:03 to 3:04/1000 m. Wanjiru ended up just short of the 30:35.75 she ran for 4th at last fall's Doha World Championships, but her time bettered the world-leading time by almost a minute and took over 3 seconds off the Japanese all-comers' record of 30:41.85 set two years ago by Pauline Kamulu at the Hokuren Distance Challenge Fukagawa meet.

Ichiyama, who ran 32:03.95 for 2nd in this year's Fukagawa meet six days ago, was 2nd again in a PB of 31:23.30 that also bettered the previous world-leading mark of 31:34.94 set by Fukagawa winner Honami Maeda (Tenmaya). Sayaka Sato (Sekisui Kagaku), who shares the 25 km national record with Ichiyama, was 3rd in 32:05.31, with 20-year-old Narumi Kobayashi (Meijo Univ.) running the 6th-fastest collegiate time ever, 32:08.67, for 4th.

Jonathan Ndiku (Hitachi Butsuryu) tried to replicate Wanjiru's feat in the men's 10000 m A-heat, breaking away early and going it alone on 27:10 pace in a shot at both his 27:11.23 PB and the world-leading 27:14.84 run by Benard Kibet Koech (Kyudenko) in Fukagawa. But those bars were a little too high, as Ndiku faded late to take the win in 27:23.47 with a comfortable lead of more than 20 seconds over runner-up Alexander Mutiso (ND Software). The top four all broke 28 minutes, including Olympic marathon team member Yuma Hattori (Toyota), who did it for the first time with a PB of 27:56.32, the best Japanese time so far in 2020.

In the women's 5000 m A-heat, Nozomi Tanaka (Toyota Jidoshokki) fell about 10 seconds short of her publicized goal of a national record, narrowly holding off her usual Kenyan competition Hellen Ekarare (Toyota Jidoshokki) and Joan Kipkemoi (Kyudenko) in the home straight for the win in 15:02.62. Bigger news was the breakthrough run by 19-year-old Kaede Hagitani (Edion), who cut 23 seconds off her best for 4th in 15:05.78, making her the 6th-fastest Japanese woman ever. Amateur Haruka Yamaguchi (AC Kita) also took 8 seconds off her best to qualify for December's National Championships with a 15:34.02 for 9th.

With U20 world-leading marks for 1500 m and 5000 m already to her name this month, 17-year-old Cynthia Njeri Mbaire (Kamimura Gakuen H.S.) added the 3000 m to her collection with a win in 8:56.05. Last year's 800 m and 1500 m national champ Ran Urabe (Sekisui Kagaku) was a fraction of a second off her best, winning in 4:14.94 over Tomomi Musembi Takamatsu (Meijo Univ.) and Ayako Jinnouchi (Kyudenko). Half marathon NR holder Hitomi Niiya (Sekisui Kagaku) was 4th in 4:20.14 in her first-ever official track 1500 m.

In the men's 5000 m, 10000 m world leader Koech returned to win the A-heat in 13:11.77, the only one to go under 13:20. Hakone Ekiden Third Stage CR holder Vincent Yegon (Tokyo Kokusai Univ.) was 2nd in 13:20.39, with Shu Hasegawa (Kanebo) 3rd in a surprising 13:28.30. The top 11 all cleared 13:40, with Keita Yoshida (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) the fastest Japanese collegiate man of the day in 13:37.96 for 9th.

With world-leading marks in all three meets so far, the 2020 Hokuren Distance Challenge wraps up Saturday in Chitose. Check back closer to race day for live streaming info.

© 2020 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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