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No Clemency Granted as Transferring Sendai Ikuei Team Barred for Six Months

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20120228-910220.html
http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/p-sp-tp0-20120222-907198.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On Feb. 28 the Aichi Prefecture High School Athleteics Board announced its decision with regard to the ten first and second-year former members of Miyagi prefecture ekiden powerhouse Sendai Ikuei H.S.who have transferred to Aichi's three-time girls' national champion Toyokawa H.S. due to the effects of last year's disasters and other problems.  The board has ruled that no special consideration will be given to the athletes as victims of the disasters and that in accordance with standard policy they will be barred from competing in high school federation-sponsored events for six months.  The transferring athletes will not be eligible to compete in this summer's National High School Track & Field Championships but will be able to run November's Aichi prefecture qualifier…

Yoshii Out of Lake Biwa With Injury

http://mainichi.jp/enta/sports/general/news/20120228ddm035050076000c.html

translated by Brett Larner

On Feb. 27 the organizers of the 67th Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon announced that domestic invited elite Satoshi Yoshii (28, Team Sumco), with a PB of 2:10:45 from last year's Lake Biwa, has withdrawn from the Mar. 4 race due to injury problems.  Yoshii began experiencing pain in his right knee in mid-January.  He continued to train while trying to recuperate from the problem, but in compensating for the injury his left Achilles tendon also became painful.

Fujiwara's H.S. Coach, Hometown Supporters Delighted With Tokyo Performance

http://mainichi.jp/area/nagasaki/news/20120227ddlk42050279000c.html
http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/osaka/sports/article/news/20120228-OHO1T00105.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner
photo by Dr. Helmut Winter


At the Feb. 26 Tokyo Marathon, Isahaya, Nagasaki native and Isahaya H.S. alum Arata Fujiwara, 30, was the top Japanese finisher at 2nd overall in 2:07:48, immediately elevating him into the top position among the contenders for the London Olympic team.  Voices of support and congratulations have poured in from his hometown friends and colleagues and from his former teachers.  As a student at Isahaya H.S. Fujiwara never made it to the National High School Championships, but according to his coach at Isahaya, Toshihiro Matsumoto, even in those days he never neglected his training and was always focused on improving, traits that remain inside him now.

Two weeks ago, with no doubt in his voice, Fujiwara told his former coach by phone, "I'm going to run 2:07.  I'm going to …

Gebrselassie Gives Words of Support to Kawauchi

http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/120228/spg1202280505000-n1.htm
http://mainichi.jp/enta/sports/general/track/news/20120227spn00m050018000c.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner
photo by Dr. Helmut Winter


Pre-race and pre-haircut.

A day after the Tokyo Marathon Olympic selection race, pre-race favorites Arata Fujiwara (30, Tokyo T&F Assoc.) and Yuki Kawauchi (24, Saitama Pref.) were on opposite sides of the fence after finishing 2nd and 14th.  While Fujiwara celebrated securing his Olympic ticket, Kawauchi appeared at a post-race ceremony at his high school with a "penitent" shaven head, a sign of how seriously he has let go of his hopes of making the London Olympic team.  "I was unable to produce results and I want to apologize to everyone who has supported me," he said.  "My shot at the Olympics is over.  With this result I do not expect to be selected.  I have no regrets about it."

The same day, former world record holder Haile Gebrselassie (Ethi…

10000 m National Champion Sugihara Wins on Roads at Inuyama Half Marathon

by Brett Larner

Alongside the Tokyo Marathon, three important half marathons took place on Feb. 26.

At the oldest of them, the 61st Kashima Yutoku Road Race, talented amateur Hiroko Yoshitomi (First Dream AC) had a breakthrough with a 1:12:35 course record in the women's half marathon.  Daito Bunka University first-year Takashi Ichida had a comfortable 25-second win over Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai runner-up Yusuke Sato (Nihon Univ.), running 1:04:20 to Sato's 1:04:45 in the men's race.  Hakone champ Toyo University's Koshi Watanabe was close behind Sato in 3rd in 1:04:48.

Pro Keita Baba (Team Honda) outkicked Ichida's teammate Junji Katakawa (Daito Bunka Univ.) to win the 6th Fukaya Half Marathon, 1:04:41 to 1:04:46.  Honda runners also took the 3rd and 4th places.  Rina Kurosawa (Tamagawa Univ.) won the women's race in 1:15:30.

The biggest half marathon results of the weekend came at the 34th Yomiuri Inuyama Half Marathon.  Running solo, 10000 m national champion

Fujiwara, 2nd in 2:07:48: "I Went Out for Korean Barbecue"

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20120227-909700.html

translated by Brett Larner

After finishing 2nd overall as the top Japanese man at the 2012 Tokyo Marathon, Arata Fujiwara (30, Tokyo T&F Assoc.) spoke happily the morning after the race.  Last night he broke his week-long ban on drinking alcohol, raising celebratory cups until "an hour when athletes aren't supposed to be up.  I wanted to eat meat, any kind, so I went out for Korean barbecue.  I had a craving for red meat so I had five or six people's worth of harami.  It tasted.....pretty normal," he said with a laugh.

Having set a new PB of 2:07:48 in Tokyo Fujiwara is certain to make the London Olympics team.  "I'm thinking about the blueprint for where to go next," he said.  "For the time being I'm just going to do nothing at all but take it easy for a week," he said as he looks forward to his recovery.  A measure of the sensation his run has caused: &quo…

Kawauchi, 14th in 2:12:51: "I Do Not Think I Will be Picked" for Olympics; Shaves Head

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/sports/news/120226/oth12022616510012-n1.htm
http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20120227-909730.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner
photo by Dr. Helmut Winter


His head lolling, just before 24 km Yuki Kawauchi (24, Saitama Pref.) fell back from the second pack at the Feb. 26 Tokyo Marathon.  At the Fukuoka International Marathon he dynamically closed a gap of 23 seconds at 30 km to finish 3rd, but in Tokyo he didn't have enough energy even to make up the distance once he fell behind.  "I'm disappointed in myself that I let my confidence get shaken by not being able to get my drink bottles at 5 km and 10 km," he said after the race.  "Maybe it was a lack of preparation, or a lack of experience.....It was disgraceful."  Having run well in Fukuoka as a practice run, Kawauchi chose to run a second Olympic selection race expecting to do even better, but his Olympic quest has now ended in a disastrous defeat.

At …

Kipyego, Habtamu Win Tokyo Marathon, Fujiwara Back With 2:07:48

by Brett Larner
photos by Dr. Helmut Winter


In ideal conditions verging on the cold side, the 2012 Tokyo Marathon played out to the patient, with top three women Atsede Habtamu (Ethiopia), Yeshi Esayias (Ethiopia) and Helena Loshanyang Kirop (Kenya) and top three men Michael Kipyego Kipkorir (Kenya), Arata Fujiwara (Tokyo T&F Assoc.) and Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda) all running down the early leaders in the final kilometers to finish on the podium.

Habtamu ran 2:25:28 for the Tokyo women's course record, while 4th-place woman Eri Okubo (Second Wind AC) ran a PB of 2:26:08, faster than the winning time at the Yokohama International Women's Marathon Olympic selection race, after setting off alone at 2:22 pace.  Kipyego, Fujiwara and Kiprotich all ran under 2:08, Kipyego taking the win in 2:07:37 and Fujiwara becoming the all-time 7th-best Japanese man with a 2:07:48 PB, the fastest time by a Japanese man in over four years. Breakaway men's leaders Haile Gebreselassie and H…

Fukuoka XC Results

2012 Fukuoka International Cross-Country Meet Results
Fukuoka, 2/25/12
click here for complete results

Senior Men's 10 km
1. Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.) - 30:27
2. Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 30:27
3. Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.) - 30:32
4. Daichi Motomura (Tokai Univ.) - 30:40
5. Yuya Konishi (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 30:47
6. Yu Mitsuya (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 30:50
7. Hiroyoshi Umegae (Team NTN) - 30:56
8. Shinobu Kubota (Komazawa Univ.) - 30:58
9. Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B) - 31:00
10. Hideyuki Anzai (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 31:02

Note: The top three men, Osako, Sato and Murasawa, are all graduates of Nagano's Saku Chosei H.S., along with 9th-place finisher Ueno.  Saku Chosei is one of the only schools to incorporate XC training as a staple of its methodology.

Senior Women's 6 km
1. Hitomi Niiya (Sakura AC) - 20:18
2. Grace Kimanzi (Kenya/Team Starts) - 20:38
3. Megumi Kinukawa (Mizuno) - 20:49
4. Ayuko Suzuki (Nagoya Univ.) - 20:56
5. Sachi Tanaka (Sports Yamagata 2…

Long day. Feels like time for a musical interlude.

2012 Tokyo Marathon Preview (updated)

by Brett Larner
all photos by Dr. Helmut Winter

Update: Last year's 4th place finisher Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) has withdrawn with lower back pain problems.


The most anticipated Japanese marathon in years is here.  The second of three Japanese men's selection races for the London Olympics, the 2012 Tokyo Marathon looks set to get them back on track with the fast times that have dried up since Beijing.  The women's race is competitive despite an almost total absence of elite Japanese women, and former marathon world record holder Haile Gebrselassie is slated to try for what would undoubtedly be his final Olympic appearance. It's going to be a big day, and the weather looks good at this stage. You can follow along with Nihon TV's broadcast via Keyhole TV or via JRN's live Twitter commentary @JRNLive, both beginning at 9:00 a.m. Japan time on Sunday.

Going for 2:25, Eri Okubo (Second Wind AC).

Looking first at the women's race, it seems somehow self-defeating…

Upcoming Non-Tokyo Marathon Weekend Action

by Brett Larner

With the opening of the Tokyo Marathon expo tomorrow JRN will be focused on coverage of what looks set to be the most exciting edition yet.  Check back starting tomorrow for our race previews and other coverage.

But there is other action lined up across Japan this weekend.  First and foremost is Saturday's Fukuoka International Cross-Country Meet.  Fukuoka usually plays the role of one of the two selection races for the Japanese teams for the World Cross-Country Championships, but with no World XC this year only places on the Japanese team's for next month's Asian Cross-Country Championships and April's World University Cross-Country Championships are there for the taking.  The junior races are as always stacked with the best high school talent and the senior women's 6 km promises a great rematch between defending champ Hitomi Niiya (Sakura AC) and 5000 m national champion Megumi Kinukawa (Mizuno), but the most interesting race looks set to be the s…

Nagoya Women's Marathon Announces Elite Field for Olympic Selection Race

by Brett Larner

Coming in just ahead of the wave of Tokyo Marathon hype, the organizers of the reformatted Nagoya Women's Marathon have announced the elite field for the final Japanese women's Olympic selection race to be held Mar. 11.  Switching gears from a small, elite event to a mass-participation women-only race with an accompanying mixed half-marathon, Nagoya will host a tiny overseas field and the biggest domestic invited field in memory.

The all-but-negligible international field features veteran medalists Catherine Ndereba (Kenya) and Lidia Simon (Romania) returning for their perpetual Japanese invites along with Eastern Europeans Albina Mayorova (Russia), Olena Shurkhno (Ukraine) and Rasa Drazdauskaite (Lithuania).  Of more interest is the domestic field, the closest thing Japan has seen to a straight-up Olympic trials race.

Fifteen Japanese women are on the invited list to contend for the Olympic team spot or spots still available.  General opinion has two places a…

Her Chances for the Olympics Hopeless, Yurika Nakamura Withdraws from Nagoya

http://www.kobe-np.co.jp/news/sports/0004831749.shtml

translated by Brett Larner

On Feb. 21 Beijing Olympic marathoner Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya) announced that she has withdrawn from her planned run at the Mar. 11 Nagoya Women's Marathon because she has not been able to get into good enough shape.  The final selection race for the London Olympics marathon team, her withdrawal means that Nakamura has given up on trying to repeat as an Olympic marathoner.

Nakamura won her debut marathon at the 2008 Nagoya International Women's Marathon and finished 13th at the Beijing Olympics later that year.  However, running for the Okayama Prefecture team at January's National Women's Ekiden she finished only 42nd on the First Stage.  According to Tenmaya head coach Yutaka Taketomi, during her training in late January Nakamura was not getting back into shape.  "Even if she started, she is in no shape to run," he said in explaining the decision to pull her from Nagoya.  …

Tosa to Retire Following Nagoya Women's Marathon

http://www.chunichi.co.jp/s/article/2012022101002045.html

translated by Brett Larner

Two-time World Championships women's marathon medalist and two-time Olympic marathoner Reiko Tosa (35, Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) announced on Feb. 21 that the Mar. 11 Nagoya Women's Marathon Olympic selection race will be her final competition before retirement.  Following her retirement she plans to remain at Mitsui as an advisor, helping guide the team's future progress.  Tosa dropped out of the Beijing Olympic marathon with an injury to her right foot.  Following a comeback at the 2009 Tokyo Marathon she announced her retirement to start a family, but after the birth of her daughter in 2010 she attempted to return to competition.  Her return did not go smoothly as she was unhappily forced to cancel planned runs at the 2011 Tokyo Marathon and 2011 Hokkaido Marathon after injury setbacks.

Ten Members of Sendai Ikuei H.S. Ekiden Team to Transfer to Toyokawa H.S.

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20120221-906707.html
http://mainichi.jp/enta/sports/general/news/20120221ddm035050006000c.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

With nine boys' and girls' National High School Ekiden Championships titles to its name, Sendai Ikuei H.S. (Miyagi Pref.) announced on Feb. 20 that ten members of its ekiden team will be leaving together and transferring to three-time girls' national champion Toyokawa H.S. (Aichi Pref.) for the new school year.  Sendai Ikuei's graduates include Beijing Olympics men's marathon gold medalist Samuel Wanjiru (Kenya) and 5000 m national champion Megumi Kinukawa (Mizuno).  The school's training facilities were seriously damaged in last year's natural disasters, and the announcement of the resignation of head coach Junichi Seino (27) following the boys' team's 12th-place finish at last year's National High School Ekiden Championships spread discontent and agitation …

Oil Found Poured Across Marathon Course

http://news24.jp/nnn/news8681250.html

translated by Brett Larner

Early on the morning of the Feb. 19 Kumamoto-jo Marathon oil was found poured across several locations on the marathon course, with a 20-liter oil can found nearby one of the spots.  Police believe the oil was poured as a prank and are investigating.  Firefighters were called to clean up the oil and the race went off without interruption.

Hakoyama, Ugachi Take Kumanichi as Japan's Two Big 30 km Races Line Up on Same Day

by Brett Larner

Traditionally held one week apart, the world's two top 30 km races, the Kumanichi 30 km in southern Japan and the Ome 30 km in Tokyo's mountainous western suburbs, were both held Feb. 19 this year.

With over 17000 runners in this year's field Ome has long been a popular mass-participation event along with hosting an elite race, but Kumanichi has typically been an elite-only event with only a few dozen men and a handful of women.  Keeping with the explosion of mass-participation events, this year Kumanichi incorporated a new amateur full marathon, the Kumamotojo Marathon with a field of 10000, while keeping the small elite 30 km division on a new course covering most of the marathon course.  The leading candidate for the London Olympics 10000 m squad, Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta) took things in stride in his second Kumanichi appearance, splitting a solo 14:25 for the first 5 km well ahead of world record pace.  Although he slowed progressively for t…

Deki Sets Two Course Records in Three Days Ahead of Lake Biwa Marathon Debut

by Brett Larner

Video highlights of Day One including Terada's missed handoff.

The winner of the highly competitive Second Stage at this year's Hakone Ekiden, Aoyama Gakuin University junior Takehiro Deki had two big runs in his final tune-up for his planned marathon debut at the Mar. 4 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon.  Running for his hometown Nagasaki team at the Feb. 17-19 Nagasaki Prefecture One-Circuit Ekiden, Deki broke the stage record on both of the two legs he ran.  On the first day of competition he took eight seconds off the record for the 14.0 km Fourth Stage, recording a new mark of 42:07.  On the third and final day of the race Deki again ran 14.0 km, this time taking a solid 33 seconds of the Seventeenth Stage record with an impressive time of 40:49, almost two minutes better than the next-fastest man on the stage.  Thanks in part to his efforts the Nagasaki team won the overall title in the event's 61st year, clocking 21:29:09 for the total 407.4 km distance to …

Ugachi, Nitta, Yoshikawa Feeling Great Ahead of Kumanichi 30 km

http://kumanichi.com/fsports/marathon/2011/kiji/20120218002.shtml

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The 56th edition of the Kanaguri Memorial Kumanichi 30 km road race takes place at 9 a.m. on Feb. 19th in Kumamoto, Kyushu.  It's the race where the best future prospects of Japanese long distance running gather to get their first experience battling over the longer distances, one where countless Olympians and World Championships team members have run.  Two world records have been run at Kumanichi, but with a new course this year featuring 20 m hills the race has taken on a tougher, up-and-down character.

Among the eight invited men and two invited women, the favorite is the leading candidate for Japan's 10000 m squad at the London Olympics, Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta).  What kind of race will he deliver before he shifts his focus to track season?  His strong rival Takuya Ishikawa (Team Chugoku Denryoku) has withdrawn with injury to his right knee, but Ugachi's …

Kaori Yoshida Tuning Up for Nagoya Women's Marathon at Ome 30k

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20120214-OHT1T00212.htm

translated by Brett Larner

The 46th Ome Road Race takes place this Sunday, Feb. 19.  This year 20000 runners from across the country are entered, 15000 in the 30 km and 5000 in the 10 km.  This is the first in a five-part series on runners who will help call in spring on the streets of Ome.

At the Feb. 5 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, Kaori Yoshida (30, Amino Vital AC) drew attention for her pacemaking of comedian runner Hiroshi Neko, 34, who was attempting to qualify for Cambodia's London Olympic team after having changed his citizenship.  Running between 17 and 18 minutes per 5 km, Yoshida finished her run at the 30 km point in 1:46:22.  "I kind of wanted to keep going, but I knew I had other races coming up so I stopped there," she says with a wry smile.  Neko went on to smash his PB with a new mark of 2:30:26, opening up the door for his chances for the Olympics.  His result inspired Yoshida.  "In …

Hitachi Cable Transfers Ekiden Team to Hitachi Logistics as Marathon Team

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/sports/news/120215/oth12021519530022-n1.htm

translated by Brett Larner

With twenty-five New Year Ekiden national championship appearances to its ekiden team's name, the Hitachi Cable company announced on Feb. 15 that due to a decline in its business revenues and other reasons, effective April 1 it would transfer the team to its sister company, Chiba-based Hitachi Logistics, where it will become a marathon team.  The coaching staff of three and all fourteen current Team Hitachi Cable members plan to make the move together.  Team Hitachi Cable was founded in 1970.  In its tenth-straight New Year Ekiden appearance this year it finished 27th.

Translator's note: The Hitachi Cable team includes 2010 Hokkaido Marathon winner Cyrus Njui and two-time World Junior 3000 mSC champion Jonathan Ndiku of Kenya among its members.

2012 Japanese Distance Rankings

Updated 12/24/12 - final 2012 rankings

JRN's 2012 Japanese track and road distance running rankings. Overall rankings are calculated using runner's times and placings in races over 5000 m, 10000 m, half-marathon and marathon and the strength of these performances relative to others in the top ten in each category. Click any image to enlarge.

Overall


5000 m

10000 m

Half-Marathon

Marathon

(c) 2012 Brett Larner all rights reserved

Hakone Ekiden Winner Toyo University's Kento Otsu and Yuta Shitara to Run NYC Half Marathon

by Brett Larner

The New York Road Runners announced on Feb. 14 that Kento Otsu and Yuta Shitara of 2012 Hakone Ekiden course record setters Toyo University will run the Mar. 18 NYC Half Marathon as part of this year's elite field.  Sophomores Shitara and Otsu, both of whom turned 20 in December, went 2-3 at last November's Ageo City Half Marathon, Shitara in a PB of 1:02:35 and Otsu in a PB of 1:02:43.  Both excelled at January's Hakone Ekiden, Shitara running 1:02:32 for 21.3 km, equivalent to a 1:01:56 half marathon, to break the Seventh Stage record and Otsu missing the Eighth Stage record, Hakone's oldest, by only 7 seconds as he ran 1:04:12 for a hilly 21.5 km.

Their invitation to New York is a first for Japan's top university men.  NYRR president and CEO Mary Wittenberg said, "All of us at NYRR are excited to see Kento and Yuta come to New York to run against some of the best in the world in this important step ahead in their careers.  We look forward t…

Osako, Sato, Kinukawa, Niiya Headline Fukuoka International XC Meet

http://sportsnavi.yahoo.co.jp/other/athletic/headlines/20120214-00000014-kyodo_sp-spo.html

translated by Brett Larner

On Feb. 14 the Japanese federation released the elite fields for the Feb. 25 Fukuoka International Cross-Country Meet.  At the top of the senior men's 10 km are 10000 m national champion Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) and past 1500 m and 5000 m national champion Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B).  Also in the men's race are top-ranked university men Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.) and Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.).  Topping the senior women's 6 km are last year's winner Hitomi Niiya (Sakura AC) and 5000 m national champion Megumi Kinukawa (Mizuno).  The Fukuoka International Cross-Country Meet is the second selection race for March's Asian Cross-Country Championships in China and April's World University Cross-Country Championshiops in Poland.

Translator's note: Sato, Ueno, Osako and Murasawa all graduated from Nagano's Saku Chosei H.S., one of …

Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon Announces 2012 Field

by Brett Larner

Right on schedule the organizers of the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, the last chance for Japanese men to make the London Olympics marathon team, have announced the complete field for this year's race.  Coming on Mar. 4 just a week after the Tokyo Marathon, Biwako, as the race is known in Japan, has managed to put together a strong international field, both at the front end and further back at the level where people will be trying to meet their countries' Olympic qualification times.  The clear favorites in the first category are 2:06 Kenyan Nicholas Manza and 2:07 Ethiopian Bekana Daba, but with Japan based Kenyans Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin) and Samuel Ndungu (Team Aichi Seiko) on the list to make their debuts the lead pack could be deeper than usual.  Biwako has always been good to Spanish marathoners, and with sub-28 runner Ayad Lamdassem entered for an apparent debut it is possible that this year could see another one factor into the race.

Among t…

McCandless Wins Iwaki Sunshine Marathon

http://news24.jp/nnn/news8653142.html

translated by Brett Larner

Click photo for video highlights via NHK.

The third edition of Fukushima's only certified marathon, the Iwaki Sunshine Marathon, took place on Feb. 12.  This year's race featured a guest appearance by the captain of 2012 Hakone Ekiden winners Toyo University's ekiden team, Iwaki native Ryuji Kashiwabara, who jogged the first part of the course.  3860 runners from across the country braved cold and windy conditions to run the course from the Iwaki Civic Track & Field Grounds to Onohama Port, a route still bearing signs of the ravages of last year's disasters.  American Tyler McCandless won the men's race in 2:27:35.  The top Fukushima resident was the Koriyama SDF Base's Masashi Kato of Sukagawa, 5th in the men's race.

Translator's note: McCandless wrote to say that Iwaki and his hometown are sister cities, hence the invitation to come run.

Sera H.S. Kenyans Ndirangu, Wairimu Dominate Chiba Int'l XC Senior Races

by Brett Larner

Sera High School's Kenyans Charles Ndirangu and Susan Wairimu once again took the top positions, winning the senior men's 12 km and senior women's 8 km races at the 47th Chiba International Cross-Country Meet Feb. 12 in Chiba.  Ndirangu ran head-to-head against 2007 World Championships 10000 m bronze medalist Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), accompanied partway by junior teammate John Gathaiya (Kenya/Sera H.S.).  After Gathaiya faded Ndirangu eventually opened a gap of ten seconds over Mathathi, winning in 34:59.  Gathaiya was nearly run down by 2011 World University Games 10000 m gold medalist and 1500 m national university champion Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.), who broke away from a chase pack of four including track runner Yuta Takahashi (Team S&B), 10000 m national champion Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) and Hakone Ekiden Seventh Stage record holder Yuta Shitara (Toyo Univ.) late in the race.  Gathaiya held on to 3rd in 35:38 with Osako …