The 281st Nittai University Time Trials in suburban Yokohama were the biggest track action of the weekend. In Saturday's men's 10000 m A-heat, Hitachi Butsuryu teammates Richard Kimunyan Yator and Jonathan Ndiku went head to head in hopes of showing their coach who's in better shape to run the international stage at the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden. With the thousands of dollars in income that can mean to whoever gets picked on the line, Kimunyan, who set a PB and MR of 27:01.42 in winning September's National Corporate Championships, and Ndiku, who ran a PB 27:07.29 to win September's Tokai University Time Trials, went right to the end. Kimunyan got there first in 27:01.74, Ndiku less than a step behind in a PB 27:01.95. Good luck to their coach in picking who to go with for January's main event.
A lap back, 18-year-old Chuo University first-year Yamato Yoshii added to this season's U20 Japanese national record 13:28.31 for 5000 m and Asian U20 half marathon #2 1:01:47 half marathon with a PB 28:08.61, good for all-time Asian U20 #4 and Japanese U20 #3. Pretty good for a frosh season. The next six runners behind Yoshii, all Japanese, and C-heat winner Yuki Suzuki (Kanebo) were under 28:15, pretty stellar considering most of the top tier are saving it for the Dec. 4 National Championships and most of the second tier will be racing at Saturday's Hachioji Long Distance meet.
Suzuki's teammate Samwel Masai took the top spot in Sunday's 5000 m A-heat in 13:28.87, the race video above. The top Japanese spot went to Shoya Kawase (Kogakkan Univ.), one of the highlights of the National University Ekiden earlier this month and dropper of a year-leading collegiate time of 1:01:18 at February's Marugame Half, who ran a PB of 13:32.73 for 4th. Post-race he tweeted, "Hey, a PB somehow! Feels like a 27 is on the way." Kawase will be running the 10000 m A-heat in Hachioji.
But the fun kept coming behind Kawase. Down in 8th, Taishi Ito (Saku Chosei H.S.) ran 13:36.57, the second-best Japanese high school time ever and good for #5 on the Japanese U20 lists. Four other high schoolers were under 14 minutes at Nittai including Ito's teammate Hiroto Yoshioka, 13:50.27 for 3rd in the B-heat. And across the country at the Saga Nighter Time Trials three more did the same, Akimu Nomura (Kagoshima Jitsugyo H.S.) leading the way in 13:55.59. It's a brave new world.
Women's results at Nittai were relatively low-key. National champ Meijo University star Rika Kaseda took the top spot in the 5000 m A-heat in 15:32.77 wearing non-regulation shoes, beating corporate leaguer Yuri Tasaki (Yamada Holdings) who ran an honest 15:34.52. Club runner Shiho Kaneshige (GR Lab) beat top collegiate and corporate league competition including National University Ekiden runner-up Daito Bunka University's top duo Natsuki Sekiya and Reimi Yoshimura to win the B-heat in 15:45.81, her last tune-up before December's Nationals. Yui Yabuta (Otsuka Seiyaku)) took the 3000 m A-heat in 9:13.16.
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