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Hakone Champion AGU's Isshiki Leads 27 Under 1:03 and 265 Sub-1:06 at National University Half Marathon Championships

by Brett Larner
videos by Ekiden News

Two months after his 3rd-place finish on the Hakone Ekiden's most competitive stage helped put Aoyama Gakuin University in position for the overall win and a month after running a 1:02:09 PB at the Marugame Half, 20-year-old AGU second-year Tadashi Isshiki scored his first national title with a 1:02:11 win at the 18th National University Men's Half Marathon Championships in Tokyo's Showa Kinen Park.  After record-setting depth last year when a world record 207 men broke 1:06:00 the National University Half blew minds again this year, the top 12 all breaking 1:02:30 and 27 collegiate men going under 1:03:00.  With perfect conditions today the field excelled, completely rewriting the record books as 265 men went under 1:06:00.

With places on the Japanese team for this summer's World University Games half marathon for the top three finishers and a bigger dream hovering in the distance 5 1/2 years away the massive pack went out fast and steadily, hitting 5 km in 14:45, 1:02:14 pace, and 10 km in 29:33, 1:02:20 pace, before getting onto the undulating inner loop of the park.

2014 National University Men's Ekiden champion Komazawa University first-year Naoki Kudo, on a rapid ascent since his out-of-nowhere 1:02:18 debut at November's Ageo City Half Marathon, went to the front on the hills, pushing the pace but not able to get a clear lead over the last 5 km.  Side-by-side with Isshiki at 19 km with debuting Teikyo University third-year Yuta Takahashi close behind, Kudo fell victim to Isshiki's better closing speed over the last km, taking 2nd in a PB 1:02:12.  Takahashi was another second back in 3rd in 1:02:13, Tokai University third-year Ryo Shirayoshi sealing up the World University Games team lineup as alternate in 4th in a PB 1:02:16.

The next 8 finishers all broke 1:02:30 for the first time, including Isshiki's first-year teammates Kazuki Tamura and Yuta Shimoda, whose 1:02:22 was the fastest-ever by a Japanese 18-year-old, and Daito Bunka University senior Hiroshi Ichida whose twin brother Takashi will run the Mar. 15 NYC Half.  In 13th, the academically-oriented Kyoto University's self-coached Kentaro Hirai set a new Kansai Region collegiate record of 1:02:30, a truly sensational time for a university athlete from outside the Hakone Ekiden-centric Kanto Region.

14 more runners followed Hirai under 1:03:00, and they continued to come in by the dozen after that even with most of the best Hakone collegiates not running -- out of the top 3 men on each of the 2015 Hakone Ekiden's 10 stages only 7 ran, and likewise only a dozen or so of the roughly 50 current Japanese collegiates to have already broken 1:03:00 before this race were in the field without any of the 4 who have sub-61 or sub-62 PBs.  Top general division finisher Shinichi Yamashita of the Takigahara SDF Base ran 1:04:06 and barely made the top 70.  The depth was in a different league from anything ever seen before, even at last year's Nationals or November's Ageo City Half Marathon. 

1st: 1:02:11
10th: 1:02:23
25th: 1:02:55
50th: 1:03:50
100th: 1:04:28
200th: 1:05:21
300th: 1:06:17
400th: 1:07:14
500th: 1:08:16
600th: 1:09:24

Japanese university men's running is going through an unprecedented surge in quality right now.  There's no telling where it's going to end or what the long-term outcome is going to be, especially as they hit the stolid corporate league, but there's never been a more exciting time to be here to see it happening.  Look for an in-depth article on the rise of Japanese university men's distance running over the last 20 years later this year on JRN.

18th National University Men's Half Marathon Championships
Tachikawa City Half Marathon
Tachikawa, Tokyo, 3/1/15
click here for complete university division results
general division results here

1. Tadashi Isshiki (2nd yr, Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:11
2. Naoki Kudo (1st yr, Komazawa Univ.) - 1:02:12 - PB
3. Yuta Takahashi (3rd yr, Teikyo Univ.) - 1:02:13 - debut
4. Ryo Shirayoshi (3rd yr, Tokai Univ.) - 1:02:16 - PB
5. Naoto Uchida (2nd yr, Teikyo Univ.) - 1:02:20 - PB
6. Kenya Sonota (3rd yr, Komazawa Univ.) - 1:02:20 - PB
7. Shota Baba (3rd yr, Komazawa Univ.) - 1:02:21 - PB
8. Kazuki Tamura (1st yr, Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:22 - PB
9. Yuta Shimoda (1st yr, Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:22 - PB
10. Satoshi Kikuchi (2nd yr, Josai Univ.) - 1:02:23 - PB
11. Hiroshi Ichida (4th yr, Daito Bunka Univ.) - 1:02:25 - PB
12. Shoya Okuno (3rd yr, Nittai Univ.) - 1:02:26 - PB
13. Kentaro Hirai (3rd yr, Kyoto Univ.) - 1:02:30 - PB
14. Naoya Takahashi (3rd yr, Toyo Univ.) - 1:02:31 - PB
15. Yusei Tsutsumi (3rd yr, Teikyo Univ.) - 1:02:38 - PB
16. Ryohei Nishiyama (3rd yr, Kanagawa Univ.) - 1:02:38 - PB
17. Yuki Muta (3rd yr, Meiji Univ.) - 1:02:40 - PB
18. Yusuke Nishiyama (2nd yr, Komazawa Univ.) - 1:02:43 - PB
19. Masahiro Miura (3rd yr, Waseda Univ.) - 1:02:45 - PB
20. Jinnosuke Matsumura (2nd yr, Josai Univ.) - 1:02:46 - PB
21. Rei Omori (1st yr, Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:47 - PB
22. Toshio Takaki (3rd yr, Tokai Univ.) - 1:02:51 - PB
23. Sho Tokunaga (3rd yr, Chuo Univ.) - 1:02:52 - PB
24. Taiga Machizawa (2nd yr, Chuo Univ.) - 1:02:52 - PB
25. Yuichi Yasui (1st yr, Waseda Univ.) - 1:02:55 - PB
26. Shinichiro Nakamura (3rd, Waseda Univ.) - 1:02:57
27. Kazuki Uemura (3rd yr, Toyo Univ.) - 1:02:58 - PB
50. Takaya Sato (2nd yr, Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 1:03:50 - PB
57. Ryusei Yoshinaga (1st yr, Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:03:59 - debut 
100. Junya Matsuzaki (2nd yr, Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:04:28 - PB
159. Kohei Mukai (1st yr, Koku Gakuin Univ.) - 1:04:59 - PB
200. Takumi Hanazawa (1st yr, Koku Gakuin Univ.) - 1:05:21 - PB
265. Taiga Hosobuchi (2nd yr, Teikyo Univ.) - 1:05:59
300. Ryohei Sakamoto (3rd yr, Senshu Univ.) - 1:06:17
380. Chikato Shimoguchi (3rd yr, Koku Gakuin Univ.) - 1:06:59 - PB
400. Shizuya Uchimoto (2nd yr, Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 1:07:14
407. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 1:07:19
476. Masaki Kimura (3rd yr, Takushoku Univ.) - 1:07:59 - PB
500. Makoto Iwasaki (1st yr, Surugadai Univ.) - 1:08:16
568. Yuki Kujirai (4th yr, Kokushikan Univ.) - 1:08:58
600. Daichi Ohara (1st yr, Heisei Kokusai Univ.) - 1:09:24
643. Hikaru Takano (2nd yr, Tokyo Kokusai Univ.) - 1:09:59

1. Kyoko Koyama (Juntendo Univ.) - 1:17:21
2. Miki Kobayashi (Juntendo Univ.) - 1:18:26
3. Riho Nishino (Juntendo Univ.) - 1:19:36

text and photos (c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved


Steve G said…
Just curious as a course measurer in the UK if Japanese courses are measured the same ie with a calibrated Jones Counter.
Not saying courses are short over there just curiosity
Brett Larner said…
Yes, Tachikawa is certified by the JAAF (cert.# 8423). For more information please contact the JAAF.
Steve G said…
Thanks for info Brett. I hope it eventually transfers to top marathon times. Big follower on marathon talk.
Brett Larner said…
At your service. I don't know about the exact means used in measurement but if the JAAF signed off on it then presumably it's up to international standard. I'm sure that info is available from the JAAF.
Brett Larner said…
Using the ARRS' database, here are how the results from this race compare against the total numbers of athletes to ever break 66 minutes from a variety of countries:

2015 National University Half: 265

Algeria: 42
Australia: 78
Brazil: 142
Canada: 53
China: 23
England: 317
Eritrea: 57
Ethiopia: 455
France: 206
Germany: 103
Italy: 274
Japan: 3674
Kenya: 1957
Mexico: 137
Morocco: 301
New Zealand: 38
Poland: 96
Portugal: 130
Russia: 135
South Africa: 399
South Korea: 72
Spain: 132
Tanzania: 154
Uganda: 46
U.S.A.: 674

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