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Golden Games in Nobeoka Preview and Streaming

Eugene, Oregon is the United States' Nobeoka, a small, isolated city with a local powerhouse of running, but in the case of Athlete Town Nobeoka it's not a university but old school corporate team Asahi Kasei that makes the town's name. Thursday's Golden Games in Nobeoka is its big home meet, and it always produces some of the fastest domestic times of the year. The atmosphere at the GGN is like nothing else, with local fans lining the track pounding on metal sponsor boards with batons and local marathon legend Shigeru Soh on the infield calling out support to each athlete by name over a mic like an MC.

Streaming starts at 14:15 local time Thursday, with the main event races starting at 19:05. Meet schedule, start lists and live results are here. JRN will be on-site in Nobeoka. The program is pretty simple: kids' 800 m, 1000 m and 3000 m races in the afternoon, then 10 heats of men's 5000 m, 3 heats of women's 5000 m, and one heat each of 10000 m for women and men.

The men's 5000 m C-heat at 19:05 is the first big race, all Japan-based Kenyan including Emmanuel Kipchirchir (SGH), Benard Langat (Komori Corp.), Dan Kiplangat (JFE Steel) and Cleophas Kandie (Mitsubishi Juko).

The B-heat at 19:25 is more of the same, but along with people like 10000 m all-comers record holder Richard Kimunyan (Logisteed), collegiate 10000 m record holder Richard Etir (Tokyo Kokusai Univ.) and Hakone Ekiden 2nd through 4th leg record holder Vincent Yegon (Honda) are a handful of the most ambitious Japanese runners, including Komazawa University's Mebuki Suzuki and Kotaro Shinohara, indoor 5000 m NR holder Hyuga Endo (Sumitomo Denko), Olympian Tatsuhiko Ito (Honda) and Hakone Ekiden 1st leg record holder Yamato Yoshii (Chuo Univ.).

The women's 5000 m A-heat is at 19:45, led by Kenyans Dolphine Omare (U.S.E.), Judy Jepngetich (Shiseido) and Agnes Mwikali (Kyudenko) and featuring Japanese athletes like Meijo University's Nanaka Yonezawa and Nanase Tanimoto, Sairi Maeda (Daihatsu),Misaki Hayashida (Kyudenko) and Minami Yamanouchi (Shimamura).

The level drops down a bit for the men's 5000 m A-heat at 20:10, with Gideon Ronoh (Logisteed) pacing the top tier of Japanese men who weren't up for something really ambitious in the B-heat. Sonata Nagashima (Asahi Kasei), Hazuma Hattori (NTT Nishi Nihon), Shunsuke Yoshii (Chuo Univ.) Hiroki Matsueda (Fujitsu), Shoya Kawase (Honda), Hiroto Inoue (Mitsubishi Juko) and Taishi Ito (Waseda Univ.) are some of the most notable names here.

The women's 10000 m at 20:35 is small, with only 9 athletes entered. But a lot of Japan's current best on the track are in it, including 5000 m NR holder Ririka Hironaka (Japan Post), women-only half marathon NR holder Rino Goshima (Shiseido) and teammates Yuka Takashima and Tomoka Kimura, and Rika Kaseda (Daihatsu).

Starting at 21:15, the men's 10000 m is the last event of the night. Sub-27 man Rodgers Kwemoi (Aisan Kogyo) is set to pace a field full of Olympic marathon trials-qualified athletes like Tetsuya Yoroizuka (Asahi Kasei), Yohei Ikeda (Kao), Kyohei Hosoya (Kurosaki Harima), Daiji Kawai (Toenec) and Tatsuya Maruyama (Toyota), sub-61 half marathoners Kenta Murayama (Asahi Kasei) and Keijiro Mogi (Asahi Kasei), track specialists Tomoki Ota (Toyota) and Kazuya Shiojiri (Fujitsu) and many more. But the one most people will be watching is 2023 Komazawa grad Ren Tazawa, the fastest-ever Japanese-born collegian over 10000 m, in his debut with the Toyota corporate team.

© 2023 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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