Skip to main content

Collegiate 5000 m and 10000 m National Champion Omwamba Wins Kumamoto Kosa 10-Miler

by Brett Larner

Alongside the Fukuoka International Marathon, Japan's southernmost main island of Kyushu hosted another major road race on Sunday, the Kumamoto Kosa 10 Mile Road Race.  The world's most competitive 10-miler by a wide margin, Kosa plays an important role for the coaches of Japan's corporate teams in helping them refine their lineups for the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden national corporate men's championships.  Kosa has long been dominated by Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), who has won six times since 2003 and holds the course record of 44:51 but opted for a marathon debut in Fukuoka this year.  Despite the advantages of having Africans in the race to keep things fast among the predominantly Japanese field Kosa employs a strange format with any non-Japanese entrants segregated together in an "International Division" and given a one-minute head start.  The winner of the all-Japanese division is typically reported as the winner by the Japanese media, with only passing mention of any Africans who may have run faster.

This year Yamanashi Gakuin University first-year Enock Omwamba of Kenya, the 2012 national university 5000 and 10000 m champion and unstoppable on the fall ekiden circuit, had the honor.  Continuing his winning ways, Omwamba, along with corporate runner Alex Mwangi (Kenya/Team YKK) one of only two non-Japanese in the race, soloed his way to a 46:25.  A minute later the Japanese field started.  Tomohiro Shiiya (Team Toyota Boshoku), one of the many members of the Tepco corporate team to quit and go elsewhere following last year's Fukushima disasters, was the first Japanese athlete across the line, outrunning freshly-minuted sub-28 man Yusuke Hasegawa (Team S&B) in 46:26 to 46:31.

Shiiya was only 1 second slower than Omwamba, and both Shiiya and Hasegawa were faster than Mwangi's 46:38.  The next three Japanese men were all within 10 seconds of Mwangi, raising the question of whether everyone in the front end of the field might have run faster, or whether it might have at least been a more exciting race, if they had all been running head to head.  Omwamba and Mwangi were clearly in range ability-wise, so it is difficult to see what Shiiya, Hasegawa and the other Japanese athletes gained by not being allowed to race them even if it is not hard to see what race organizers in the conservative area may have gained.

2012 Kumamoto Kosa 10-Mile Road Race
Kosa, Kumamoto, 12/2/12
click here for complete results

1. Enock Omwamba (Kenya/Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 46:25
2. Tomohiro Shiiya (Team Toyota Boshoku) - 46:26
3. Yusuke Hasegawa (Team S&B) - 46:31
4. Alex Mwangi (Kenya/Team YKK) - 46:38
5. Ryo Matsumoto (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 46:40
6. Yuya Konishi (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 46:43
7. Kyohei Nishi (Team Kyudenko) - 46:46
8. Fumihiro Maruyama (Team Asahi Kasei) - 46:53
9. Ryuji Okada (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 46:55
10. Masamichi Yasuda (Team Aichi Seiko) - 47:01

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kawabata Over Kawauchi at Takashimadaira 20 km

Like a distant echo of the thunder of yesterday's Yosenkai 20 km reverberating across the city, Tokyo's other major 20 km road race took place this morning in the northwestern suburb of Takashimadaira. Narrowly surviving the loss of its main sponsor last year, the Takashimadaira Road Race offers a unique 5 km loop course that delivers fast times. Now in its 42nd year, Takashimadaira is a favorite for upper-tier universities that don't have to run the Yosenkai to requalify for the Hakone Ekiden, for other schools' second-stringers, and for top-level independents and amateurs.

This year's race was fronted by a group of runners from Izumo Ekiden winner Tokai University who didn't make Tokai's final Izumo roster, by London World Championships marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) and others from yesterday's Yosenkai winner Teikyo University and the Hakone-qualified Juntendo University and Komazawa University. In the same cool and lightly rainy…

Kawauchi and Kanematsu Win Rainy Shimantogawa 100 km

The 23rd edition of the Shimantogawa Ultramarathon took place Oct. 15 in Shimanto, Kochi. 1822 runners started the 100 km division, where Yoshiki Kawauchi (26, Saitama T&F Assoc.) and Aiko Kanematsu (37, Team RxL) took the men's and women's titles for the first time.

The 100 km division started under a heavy downpour at 5:30 a.m. in front of Warabioka J.H.S. The 576 participants in the 60 km division got off 4 1/2 hours later from Koinobori Park, with both races finishing at Nakamura H.S.

Kawauchi, the younger brother of "civil servant runner" Yuki Kawauchi, ran Shimantogawa for the second time, improving dramatically on last year's run to win in 6:42:06. "Last time I was 21st, a total disaster," Kawauchi said afterward. "My brother told me, 'Don't overdo it on the uphills,' and his advie helped me get through it. The scenery around Iwama Chinkabashi was really beautiful."

Kanematsu began running with her husband around age 30…

Osaka Marathon Elite Field

One of the world's ten biggest marathons, in its six runnings to date the Osaka Marathon has continued to avoid the addition of a world-class elite field of the same caliber as at equivalently-sized races like Tokyo, Berlin and Boston. In place of doling out cash to pros, Osaka's women's field has developed into a sort of national championship race for amateur women.

In the field this year are six, probably all six, of the amateur Japan women to have broken 2:40 in the last three years. Last year's top three, Yoshiko Sakamoto (F.O.R.), Yumiko Kinoshita (SWAC) and Hisae Yoshimatsu (Shunan City Hall) lead the way at the 2:36 +/- level, with a second trio of Marie Imada (Iwatani Sangyo), Mitsuko Ino (R2 Nishin Nihon) and Chika Tawara (RxL) all around the 2:39 level.

Last year's winner Sakamoto and 3rd placer Yoshimatsu squared off in September at Germany's Volksbank Muenster Marathon, Yoshimatsu tying Sakamoto's Osaka winning time of 2:36:02 to take 3rd over …