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Oga Ekiden, Hakodate Half and Lake Saroma 100 km - Weekend Road Race Roundup

The National Track and Field Championships in Niigata were the main event this weekend, but up north where it's cooler there were three important road races.


Chuo University won the 7-stage, 66.2 km university men's race at Saturday's 71st Oga Ekiden in Akita. Hakone Ekiden winner Aoyama Gakuin University led on the first two stages, but on the 7.5 km Third Stage Chuo's Rei Yamahira took over the top spot and never let go. Chuo won in 3:22:42, with Aoyama Gakuin ultimately a minute and a half back in 3:24:12. Tokyo Kokusai University was a close 3rd in 3:24:53.

Running the same distance, the Shingenden corporate team was the top placer in the open division in 3:31:06, well back from 4th-place university team Toyo University. Omuta H.S. won the 7-stage, 49.5 km high school boys' division in 2:30:10, with Sendai Ikuei H.S. taking the top 2 spots in the 5-stage, 21.3 km high school girls' race, its A-team winning in 1:08:56. Complete results here.

At the Hakodate Half Marathon and Marathon Sunday in Hokkaido, Hibiki Yoshida of Soka University set a course record 1:01:45 to win the men's half marathon, the only person to go under 63 minutes. 2:06 marathoner Hiroto Inoue was next in 1:03:00 just one second ahead of 2017 World University Games half marathon gold medalist Kei Katanishi, and in 4th came 2:05 marathoner Ichitaka Yamashita. Olympic team alternate Ai Hosoda won the women's race in 1:09:31, 2:23 marathoner Mao Kiyota was 2nd in 1:12:50 and, Shiori Yoshizono and Reia Iwade were 3-4 in 1:13:04 and 1:13:15, both finishing just ahead of Yuki Kawauchi who was 84th among men in 1:13:37.

Japan-resident Kenyan Benjamin Ngandu won the marathon division in Hakodate in 2:17:36, the only runner to clear 2:20. The women's race went to high-volume amateur Tomomi Sawahata, 1st by almost 15 minutes in 2:42:27. Complete results for both races here.

Also in Hokkaido Sunday, after setting a national record of 6:06:08 at the Lake Saroma 100 km Ultramarathon, Jumpei Yamaguchi was back to win again win 6:10:04. Last year Yamaguchi went through the marathon in 2:31:39 and slipped off sub-6 hour pace just before 60 km, which he hit in 3:37:09. This time he was even more aggressive, going through the marathon in 2:26:21, 50 km in 2:54:46 and 60 km in 3:32:15, well on track for sub-6. At 70 km he was on pace for 6:00:17, still over 5 minutes under world record pace, but a 41:55 split from 70 to 80 km cost him the record. Always strong in the final stages, Yamaguchi rallied with a 38:34 from 80 to 90 km and a 37:23 from there to the finish, but the record was out of reach for another year.

Tomoya Watanabe was with Yamaguchi through halfway before backing off to hold steady at around 4:00/km the rest of the way, taking 2nd in 6:14:57. World champion Haruki Okayama started slower, 2:27:54 at the marathon and 2:56:41 at 50 km, less steady than Watanabe over the second half but taking 3rd in 6:16:32.

In the women's race, last year's runner-up Mai Fujisawa took it out hard, 3:11 ahead of last year's winner Mikiko Ota at halfway in 3:41:20 and over 6 minutes up just 10 km later. But from there Ota started to close, and right before 80 km she passed Fujisawa for the lead, going on to win in 7:45:12. 24-hour world record breaker Miho Nakata, 4th at Lake Saroma last year, started a lot more conservatively, 4:11:45 at halfway, but held her pace better than either Ota or Fujisawa, clocking the fastest splits at every 10 km checkpoint from 60 km to the end. 8 minutes back from Fujisawa with 10 km to go, Nakata ran her down for 2nd in 7:54:39, Fujisawa staggering in 4 minutes later in 7:58:48 for 3rd.

Ryu Arai took the men's 50 km in 3:20:58 and Hina Shiozaki the women's 50 km in 4:09:59, but it was a sign of the difference in the level of the two distances at Lake Saroma that both were far behind the 50 km splits of the top people in the 100 km. Complete results here.

photo © 2024 Tarzan Aqzawa, all rights reserved
text © 2024 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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