Meet 3 of 5 in this year's Hokuren Distance Challenge series happened Saturday in Abashiri, Hokkaido. The biggest news came in the women's 10000 m, where 2021 National University Half Marathon champion Narumi Kobayashi (Meijo Univ.) broke the 11-year-old collegiate women's national record and cleared the qualifying time for next year's World Championships. Running with excellent pacing by Pauline Kamulu (Route Inn Hotels), Kobayashi split 15:44 at 5000 m before picking it up in the second half to win in 31:22.34. Ai Hosoda (Edion) hung with Kobayashi as long as she could but ended up 2nd in 31:39.32, with amateur club runner Haruka Yamaguchi (AC Kita) taking 15 seconds off her two month-old PB for 3rd in 32:09.44.© 2021 Brett Larner, all rights reserved
James Muoki (Konica Minolta) won the men's 10000 m A-heat in 27:35.59. Muiru Muthoni (JR Higashi Nihon) was the only other man under 28 minutes at 27:52.93, Kazuya Nishiyama (Toyota) fading to 28:08.36 after Yuki Sato (SGH Group) abruptly dropped out at 8000 m, leaving Nishiyama on his own at the toughest point in the race. Ken Tansho (Tokyo Kokusai Univ.) won the B-heat in 28:19.17. Haruki Mori (Hokkaido Sakae H.S.) was 8th in the B-heat in 28:44.97, the fastest-ever by a Hokkaido high schooler.
Like the men's 10000 m, Kenyans went 1-2 in the women's 5000 m A-heat, Tabitha Njeri Kamau (Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) winning in 15:16.09 and Dolphine Nyaboka Omare (U.S.E. RC) 2nd in 15:21.07. Naruha Sato (Shiseido) took the top Japanese spot at 3rd in 15:41.28. Visually-impaired marathon world record holder Misato Michishita (Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) had a solid tuneup for the Tokyo Paralympics, winning the T11-13 women's 5000 m in 18:54.09.
Muoki's teammate Dominic Langat (Konica Minolta) won the men's 5000 m A-heat in 13:27.10, just outlasting 2021 Hakone Ekiden winner Komazawa Universtiy 2nd-year Mebuki Suzuki, who dropped a 13:27.83 for 2nd, making him all-time #8 on the Japanese collegiate charts. Emmanuel Kipchirchir (Kurashiki H.S.) was 3rd in 13:28.11, with Kenyans also the next two places. Olympic 10000 m team members Katsuhiko Ito (Honda) was 14th in 13:42.50, proclaiming it on-target post-race and saying his goal in the Olympic 10000 m is to make top 8.
The T11-13 men's 5000 m was also a good preview of where Japan's Paralympians are at, with Shinya Wada (Nagase Sangyo) taking the top spot in 15:28.32 over Tadashi Horikoshi (NTT Nishi Nihon), 2nd in 15:32.66, and Kenya Karasawa (GSWC), 3rd, in 15:34.92.
Taisei Ogino (Asahi Kasei) took the top spot in the men's 3000 mSC in 8:43.95, Yuzu Nishide (Kansai Gaikokugo Univ.) winning the women's 3000 m SC in 10:26.97. Tuning up for a planned 1500 m and 5000 m double in Tokyo, Nozomi Tanaka (Toyota Jidoshokki) shaved a little off her record with a win in 8:40.84 in the women's 3000 m. The top 6 al broke nine minutes, making it an usually fast race by Japanese standards.
Hidenori Sakuma (Meiji Univ.) turned in the fastest time in the two men's 15000 m heats, winning the A-heat in 3:41.62. Mizuki Michishita (Rikkyo Univ.) won the women's 800 m in 2:06.63.
The Hokuren Distance Challenge series continues Wednesday in Kitami.