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Kamata and Kobayashi Win National University Half Marathon Titles

Even windier and warmer than in Nagoya, the airfield runway in Tokyo's western suburbs offered no shade or shelter to the men and women competing in the National University Half Marathon Championships Sunday in Tachikawa, keeping times slower than usual and more people in the race late.

In the men's race, Koki Kamata (Hosei Univ.) repeated his run on the Hakone Ekiden's First Stage back in January, kicking hard to drop a pack in the final straight for the win in 1:03:00. Hakone champ Komazawa University's star first-year Mebuki Suzuki was 2nd in 1:03:07 with Yoshinori Shimazaki (Koku Gakuin Univ.) 3rd in 1:03:08 a step ahead of teammate Kota Fujiki and Komazawa 4th-year Ayumu Kobayashi, 4th and 5th in 1:03:09. Kamata, Suzuki and Shimazaki all scored places on the Japanese team for this summer's Chengdu World University Games.

The women's race was even closer up front. 2020 National University Women's Ekiden champion Meijo University teammates Narumi Kobayashi and Yuna Arai worked together to put pressure on 2019 World University Games half marathon gold medalist Yuka Suzuki (Daito Bunka University). In the final kilometers Arai dropped off, but it came down to a photo finish between Kobayashi and Suzuki. Both clocked 1:14:36, with Kobayashi given the title and Suzuki 2nd. Arai was 9 seconds back in 3rd in 1:14:45 to join Kobayashi and Suzuki on the Chengdu team. Suzuki will have a rare opportunity to defend as gold medalist in Chengdu, assuming the Games happen.

24th National University Half Marathon Championships

Tachikawa, Tokyo, 14 Mar. 2021

1 Koki Kamata (Hosei Univ.) - 1:03:00
2. Mebuki Suzuki (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:03:07
3. Yoshinori Shimazaki (Koku Gakuin Univ.) - 1:03:08
4. Kota Fujiki (Koku Gakuin Univ.) - 1:03:09
5. Ayumu Kobayashi (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:03:09
6. Tatsuya Iyoda (Juntendo Univ) - 1:03:12
7. Keigo Kurihara (Chuo Gakuin  Univ.) - 1:03:24
8. Yuhi Nakaya (Waseda Univ.) - 1:03:31
9. Ryunosuke Chigira (Waseda Univ.) - 1:03:32
10. James Bunuka (Surugadai Univ.) - 1:03:38

1. Narumi Kobayashi (Meijo Univ.) - 1:14:36
2. Yuka Suzuki (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 1:14:36
3. Yuna Arai (Meijo Univ.) - 1:14:45
4. Momoko Yao (Kansai Gaikokugo Univ.) - 1:15:14
5. Mio Kuroda (Nittai Univ.) - 1:15:22
6. Yui Komatsu (Matsuyama Univ.) - 1:15:24
7. Hiyori Takahashi (Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) - 1:15:52
8. Hikaru Kitagawa (Osaka Geijutsu Univ.) - 1:16:00
9. Yuka Masubuchi (Meijo Univ.) - 1:16:03
10. Shihoka Kato (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) - 1:16:04

© 2021 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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