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Khishigsaikhan and Kuira Break Ageo City Half Marathon CRs (updated)

Stellar conditions and a solid fields meant times were going to be fast at the Ageo City Half Marathon, and in both the women's and men's races the front end took full advantage of the day. In the midst of the super-deep men's field Khishigsaikhan Galbadrakh, the top Mongolian in this summer's Budapest World Championships marathon and in last month's Hangzhou Asian Games marathon, ran steady and strong, splitting 33:29 at 10 km, 1:10:38 pace, before pushing the 2nd half. Khishigsaikhan crossed the finish line 1:10:32, 1:22 under the old course record, 3:35 ahead of 2nd-place Kana Kobayashi, and a massive 4:16 off the Mongolian women's national record. Khishigsaikhan is currently training in Japan and ran Ageo in prep for next month's Taipei City Marathon, where she was 3rd last year.

The men's race went out hard, with Kenyan Brian Kipyegon (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.), NR holder Yusuke Ogura (Yakult) and the ambitious Rei Matsunaga (Hosei) leading the main pack out just over 60-minute pace. Sub-60 Marugame Half winner Paul Kuira (JR Higashi Nihon) pulled up next to Kipyego and together they started to edge away from the pack, which boiled down to around 15 behind them. Kuira and Kipyegon stayed side-by-side on track for around 1:00:50 until around 19 km when Kuira surged to drop the younger Kipyegon and sustained the attack all the way to the end.

Kuira broke the tape in 1:00:47, 30 seconds under last year's 1:01:17 CR. Kipyegon was next in 1:01:07, also under the CR. Behind him, Waseda University 2nd-year Tomonori Yamaguchi closed hard over the last 5 km to come rapidly back into range of the fading Kipyego. He came up 9 seconds short, but his 1:01:16 was also under last year's CR and took 31 seconds off 5000 m NR holder Suguru Osako's Waseda school record from the 2010 Ageo. Matsunaga held on for 3rd in a PB of 1:01:56, joining Yamaguchi in scoring invitations to next March's United Airline NYC Half in an ongoing program curated by JRN. The New York Road Runners' Sam Grotewold was on-hand to present the duo with their invitations at the post-race award ceremony.

Not far behind, Mongolian men's NR holder Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Shin Nihon Jusetsu), now 42, improbably ran the 2nd-fastest time of his career, 1:02:37, to finish 14th overall in a tuneup for the Hofu Yomiuri Marathon in 2 weeks. En route he broke his own Mongolian road 5 km NR, splitting 14:23. "I loved the course," he told JRN post-race. "It had the perfect mix of flat and undulations. And so many fast guys! It was like getting on a shinkansen." After serial setbacks since a good run at last year's Oregon World Championships Ser-Od's hopes of becoming the first person to ever run 6 Olympic marathons look to still be alive.

And like always, the numbers just kept coming in. Ageo is ideally timed for the coaches of Hakone Ekiden-bound universities to run most of their rosters and thin down the numbers of contenders for their final Hakone lineups. Depth was incredible as always, even with direct conflict with the simultaneous 10-heat Kanto Region University 10000 m Time Trials meet going on at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo:

sub-61: 1
sub-62: 4
sub-63: 26
sub-64: 66
sub-65: 119
sub-66: 179
sub-67: 215
sub-68: 276
sub-69: 321
sub-70: 362

Ageo's claim to the title of the world's deepest half marathon is still as strong as ever, even in the face of challenges from other Japanese races like the National University Half Marathon and Hakone Ekiden Qualifier Half Marathon.

Update: Australian Matthew Fox (Sweat Elite) was disqualified and given a lifetime ban from the Ageo City Half Marathon after running 1:06:54 with another runner's bib in the JAAF-registered men's division. The finisher totals above have been adjusted to reflect his DQ.

36th Ageo City Half Marathon

Ageo, Saitama, 19 Nov. 2023

1. Khishigsaikhan Galbadrakh (Mongolia) - 1:10:32 - NR, CR
2. Kana Kobayashi (unattached) - 1:14:07
3. Aoi Makara (unattached) - 1:17:14
4. Kyoko Matsumoto (Chiba T&F Assoc.) - 1:18:58
5. Chisa Endo (PTC) - 1:19:33
6. Ruriko Ozawa (PTC) - 1:20:00
7. Seika Iwamura (Y&I) - 1:20:00
8. Makie Nakajima (Kanagawa T&F Assoc.) - 1:20:27
9. Chiaki Morikawa (ED Trucks) - 1:21:39
10. Chang Chih Hsuan (Taiwan) - 1:21:47

1. Paul Kuira (Kenya/JR Higashi Nihon) - 1:00:47 - CR
2. Brian Kipyegon (Kenya/Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 1:01:07 (CR)
3. Tomonori Yamaguchi (Waseda Univ.) - 1:01:16 (CR)
4. Rei Matsunaga (Hosei Univ.) - 1:01:56
5. Peter Wanjiru (Kenya/Daito Bunka Univ.) - 1:02:00
6. Goki Takayama (Koku Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:05
7. Kodai Miyaoka (Hosei Univ.) - 1:02:07
8. Tetta Shiratori (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:02:14
9. Shunki Niwase (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:02:15
10. Kenta Uchida (S.I.D. Group) - 1:02:23
11. Kuranosuke Yoshida (Koku Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:29
12. Hibiki Kikkawa (Meiji Univ.) - 1:02:31
13. Taiyo Yasuhara (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:02:34
14. Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Mongolia/Shin Nihon Jusetsu) - 1:02:37
15. Hikaru Tsujihara (Koku Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:38
16. Kyosuke Hanao (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:02:39
17. Shumon Rohoman (Tokai Univ.) - 1:02:40
18. Yudai Katakawa (Asia Univ.) - 1:02:40
19. Masaki Kodama (Meiji Univ.) - 1:02:42 
20. Shun Inami (Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:46
21. Kazuma Takeda (Hosei Univ.) - 1:02:48
22. Shoma Kamada (Koku Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:49
23. Shuto Ominato (Meiji Univ.) - 1:02:54
24. Ko Yamada (Tokyo Police Dept.) - 1:02:56
25. Shusuke Seo (Koku Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:57
26. Shoya Koyama (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:02:59
50. Ryotaro Tomita (Suzuki AC) - 1:03:35
66. Ryota Fujiwara (Takushoku Univ.) - 1:03:59
100. Ryo Tsujikawa (RFA) - 1:04:45
119. Kakeru Yoshida (Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 1:04:57
150. Yuta Kamikariya (Hosei Univ.) - 1:05:38
179. Soma Sugitani (Asia Univ.) - 1:05:57
200. Takeshi Yoshida (Tokyo Kokusai Univ.) - 1:06:40
216. Ryuki Nii (Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 1:06:59
250. Yuichiro Kozai (Nihon Yakka Univ.) - 1:07:31
277. Kyota Kikuchi (Takushoku Univ.) - 1:07:59
300. Yuki Ishiguro (Nihon Yakka Univ.) - 1:08:27
320. Daichi Hirayama (Ushiku R.C.) - 1:08:57
350. Kohei Oshima (Saitama Univ. Grad School) - 1:09:36
363. Toshiki Koga (unattached) - 1:09:58
DQ - Matthew Fox (Australia) - running with another athlete's bib

text and photos © 2023 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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