Even as several big races and meets canceled amid new states of emergency being declared across the country, two big two-day meets went off as planned this weekend.
At Kobe's Hyogo Relay Carnival, Yuno Yamanaka (Ehime Ginko) ran a world-leading 6:19.55 to win the women's 2000 m steeplechase. Both Yamanaka and runner-up Yui Yabuta (Otsuka Seiyaku) bettered Yabuta's old national best in the little-raced distance, Yabuta more than 7 seconds under her old mark in 6:20.37. The national best mark also fell in the men's 2000 m steeplechase, with 2019's 3000 mSC national champion Ryohei Sakaguchi (SGH Group) clipping almost 2 seconds off the old mark in 5:29.89.
In the women's 5000 m, 2021 national university half marathon champion Narumi Kobayashi (Meijo Univ.) the only woman to break 16 minutes at 15:57.87. Aoyama Gakuin University runners took the top three spots in the men's 5000 m, new recruits Masaya Tsurekawa and Aoi Ota going 1-2 in 13:55.77 and 13:59.71.
In a windy women's 10000 m with only 8 people on the starting line, Kenyan Joan Kipkemoi (Kyudenko) paced teammate Wakana Itsuki through 8000 m before pulling away to take the top spot in 32:31.19, her debut over the distance. Itsuki was next in 32:48.43, with club runner Shiho Kaneshige (GRlab Kanto) just missing out on a sub-33 mark but still managing a PB of 33:02.64 for 3rd. Olympic marathon trials winner Honami Maeda (Tenmaya) was 4th in 33:25.85, far off her pre-race target.
All three men's 10000 m heats saw winning times under 28 minutes. Kiprono Sitonik (Komori Corp.) was the fastest, taking Saturday's B-heat in 27:42.74. Sunday's A-heat winner Richard Kimunyan (Hitachi Butsuryu) was next in 27:52.92. A-heat runner-up Tomoki Ota (Toyota) broke 28 for the first time in 27:56.49, just 0.90 off what his younger brother Naoki Ota (Waseda Univ.) ran at last December's National Championships. C-heat winner Rodgers Kwemoi (Aisan Kogyo) rounded out the count with a 27:54.03 for the win.
But the fastest men's 10000 m time of the weekend came at Kanagawa's Nittai University Time Trials meet. There Stanley Waithaka (Yakult) soloed a 27:19.16 to take the top spot in Saturday's A-heat. Ryota Natori (Konica Minolta) had the fastest 5000 m mark, winning the A-heat in 13:44.39. In the B-heat three members of Hakone Ekiden champ Komazawa University's new lineup broke 14 minutes, bringing the total number of Komazawa runners this year with sub-14 bests up to 16. Shunsuke Yoshii (Sendai Ikuei H.S.), younger brother of 5000 m U20 NR holder Yamato Yoshii (Chuo Univ.), won the 1500 m A-heat in 3:47.35.
Newcomer Judy Jepngetich (Shiseido) made a splash with an 8:59.58 win in the women's 3000 m A-heat, almost 9 seconds up on runner-up Ai Hosoda (Edion). Another Japan-based Kenyan, Dorphine Nyaboke Omare (U.S.E.), won the 5000 m A-heat in 15:54.05, with club runner Haruka Yamaguchi (AC Kita) 2nd in a season best 16:07.16.
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