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Gideon Ngatuny Takes Kumamoto Kosa 10 Miler

by Brett Larner

Two weeks after running a course record 1:00:11 to win the Nagoya Half Marathon in his debut at the distance, Team Nissin Shokuhin's Masai Kenyan ringer Gideon Ngatuny won Kyushu's elite Kumamoto Kosa 10 Mile Road Race, clocking 45:15 and beating runner-up Hailu Mekonnen of Team Honda by 44 seconds. Teammates Samuel Ndungu and Jacob Wajuki of Team Aichi Steel came in together in 46:32 to round out the top positions.

Curiously, Kumamoto Kosa organizers scored the four African runners, all of whom are based in Japan and run professionally for Japanese teams, in a separate 'International Division' with a one-minute head start over the 'General Division,' which was made up exclusively of professional Japanese runners including many of the African runners' nominal teammates. Although the International Division ran first and the 'winner' of the General Division, Ngatuny's fellow Nissin runner Kosaku Hoshina, clocked only 46:40, slower than the last finisher in the International Division, the race's official results listing displays the General Division results first, with the International Division results tucked away following last place General Division finisher Shogo Murakami's lackluster 59:06.

At any rate, one of Team Nissin Shokuhin's star rookies, half-Filipino former Senshu Univ. leader Bene Zama, took '2nd place' in the General Division, just 4 seconds behind Hoshina and beating Team Toyota Kyushu's ace Yu Mitsuya by 5 seconds. Zama was undoubtedly allowed to compete in the General Division rather than the International Division due to the fact that he took Japanese citizenship before graduating from Senshu, legally changing his name from Benedict to the Japanese name Bene. Mitsuya's teammate Masato Imai, the legendary Hakone Ekiden 5th stage 'God of the Mountains,' was '6th' in 46:53.

Team Nissin Shokuhin, with winners in both Kumamoto Kosa divisions and six finishers in the top fifteen of the General Division, looks to have a solid lineup for next month's New Year Ekiden. With the addition of Zama and fellow rookie Satoru Kitamura to its roster the team is all but guaranteed to improve on its 6th place finish at the 2008 New Year Ekiden and may even give defending champion Team Konica Minolta a scare.

2008 Kumamoto Kosa 10 Mile Road Race Top Finishers
International Division
1. Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 45:15
2. Hailu Mekonnen (Team Honda) - 45:59
3. Samuel Ndungu (Team Aichi Steel) - 46:32
4. Jacob Wajuki (Team Aichi Steel) - 46:32

General Division
1. Kosaku Hoshina (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 46:40
2. Bene Zama (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 46:44
3. Yu Mitsuya (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 46:49
4. Tomoaki Bungo (Team Asahi Kasei) - 46:52
5. Yoshihisa Takemura (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 46:52
6. Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 46:53
7. Hiroki Kadota (Team Kanebo) - 46:54
8. Kazuyoshi Tokumoto (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 46:54
9. Terukazu Omori (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 46:55
10. Naoto Morimoto (Team Sanyo Tokushu Seiko) - 46:56

Complete results including the high school boys' 10 km, high school girls' 5 km, and junior high school boys' 5 km races are available here.

(c) 2008 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

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