The second meet in the 2021 Hokuren Distance Challenge series happened Wednesday in Fukagawa, Hokkaido. The race of the day was the men's 10000 m A-heat, where 2021 Hakone Ekiden MVP Vincento Yegon (Tokyo Kokusai Univ.) lead a pack of seven through 9000 m just sub-28 pace. Newcomer Samson Ndirangu (Ryutsu Keizai Univ.) threw it down with 1000 m, breaking up the pack as he pulled away for the win in 27:43.58. Yegon faded to 4th in 27:50.66, with Naoki Koyama (Honda) next across the line in 27:55.16, the only Japanese man of the day to break 28 minutes. 2019 Fukuoka International Marathon winner Taku Fujimoto (Toyota) came up just short, 7th in a 6-second PB of 28:02.54.
After barely missing out on a place on the unexpectedly competitive Japanese men's 3000 mSC squad for the Tokyo Olympics, steepler Hironori Tsuetaki (Fujitsu) was quick to turn around the disappointment with a 5-second PB of 28:11.09 to win the 10000 m B-heat. Riki Nakanishi (Toenec) won the C-heat, with Ayari Harada (Daiichi Seimei) winning the low-key women's 10000 m in 32:39.71, one of only two women in the race to break 33 minutes and a PB by over a minute and a half.
Koyama's Honda teammate Jackson Kavesa won the men's 5000 m A-heat in 13:25.17, the only runner under 13:30. Takuro Miura (Chuo Univ.) was top Japanese at 3rd in 13:41.05 very solid for a collegiate runner even these days. Yegon's Hakone rival Philip Mulwa (Soka Univ.) turned in a 7-second PB of 13:30.44 to win the B-heat, a time that would have put him 2nd in the A-heat.
Esther Muthoni (Nitori) had an easy win the women's 3000 m, taking first in 9:07.92. Having transferred from Noritz to the smaller Iwatani Sangyo corporate team about this time last summer, Madoka Nakano had the fastest time in the two women's 5000 m heats, winning the A-heat in 15:52.91.
The Hokuren Distance Challenge continues Saturday in Abashiri, Hokkaido. Live streaming will be available here starting at 13:30 local time.
© 2021 Brett Larner, all rights reserved