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Kota Murayama and Tetsuya Yoroizaka Photo Finish Double 10000 m Japanese National Record (updated)

by Brett Larner
video by Ekiden News



Fourteen and a half years is a long time to wait.

Everything was aligned. The field. The weather.  The loom of impending Olympic glory.  The sheer vibe.  Hachioji.   Thousands of fans packed around a home soil track tucked in the mountainous foothills of suburban western Tokyo knowing they were going to see something special, that, after the 5000 meter-wide leak sprung mid-summer by the Salazar-powered Suguru Osako, the sheer mass of young talent building in Japan was finally going to break through the dam holding them back.

All credit due to Kenyan William Malel (Honda), who went out at 10000 m world record pace and led completely alone start to finish, withering on the vine with 1000 to go but pulling down a PB of 27:22.12 for the win, and to Johana Maina (Fujitsu) who almost ran him down.  But the race was not their story.

From the start Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Asahi Kasei), once the fastest-ever Japanese collegiate over 10000 m and until today the 5th-best Japanese man in history at that distance, ran in the front pack among the best of Japan's resident Africans, relaxed and unafraid, soon joined by this year's second-fastest Japanese man Yuta Shitara (Honda) as the pace held steadily zeroing in on 27:30.  Kota Murayama (Asahi Kasei), this year's 5000 m national champion in a last 100 m duel with Osako, starting slow but catching up to Yoroizaka and Shitara just before halfway.  Shitara fading, teammates Yoroizaka and Murayama together.  A slight drop in pace from 7000 m to 9000 m, Murayama surging ahead to hit 9000 m in 24:50, dead even with the great Toshinari Takaoka's 27:35.09 national record from the spring of 2001, Yoroizaka just behind.

Yoroizaka ahead now, the memory of July's Heusden 5000 m still fresh, the sting of breaking a national record but finishing 2nd behind another Japanese man whose name went into the books.  600 to go.  400 to go and a sub-62 lap to summon up for the record.  Yoroizaka, a long surge.  56 seconds for the last lap.  26 seconds for the last 200 m.  Murayama, a national title his thanks to his last kick, waiting again until 100 m to go to bring it.  JRN's most popular tweet ever.


Nobody knew what happened except that the record was gone.  The crowd erupting.  Old men jumping for joy.  Women of all ages lining the track screaming, "Kota!  He's so cool!"  When the smoke cleared the times came, Murayama with the national record in 27:29.69, Yoroizaka an agonizing 0.05 seconds back in 27:29.74, both more than five seconds under Takaoka's antique record and five seconds closer to bringing Japanese long distance into modernity.  A third Asahi Kasei runner, Shuho Dairokuno, like Murayama just 22, the next Japanese man across the line in 27:46.55.  Three Asahi Kasei runners sub-28, two for the first time and two in NR time.  Not much of a secret what's going to happen at the New Year Ekiden.

Seventeen men sub-28, one shy of tying May's Prefontaine Classic for the title of world's #1 10000 m, and thirty-three sub-29, a new world record.  Three more Japanese men broke 28 minutes to bring the Japanese total for sub-28 men this year to eleven, second only to Kenya and Ethiopia.  Leading the U.S.A. once again, for the first time Japan also surpassed it in the number of men sub-27:30 in one year.  Next up 5000 m?  For everyone who looks at Japanese numbers and asks why the Japanese pros aren't better given the record-breaking quality of their university men, for everyone who brushes it off with a simple-minded "They train too hard," today's results show what JRN has been saying for years: you're looking at where things are, not where they're going.  It's just getting started.  When the levee breaks, brother you got to move.

Update: The IAAF's article on Hachioji.  Although my name is on it I was in no way involved or consulted.

Hachioji Long Distance Meet
Hosei University, Hachioji, Tokyo, 11/28/15
click here for complete results

10000 m A-Heat
1. William Malel (Kenya/Honda) - 27:22.12 - PB
2. Johana Maina (Kenya/Fujitsu) - 27:26.92 - PB
3. Kota Murayama (Asahi Kasei) - 27:29.69 - NR
4. Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Asahi Kasei) - 27:29.74 (NR)
5. John Maina (Kenya/Fujitsu) - 27:35.54 - PB
6. Teressa Nyakora (Ethiopia/Mazda) - 27:38.93 - debut
7. Bernard Kimanyi (Kenya/Yakult) - 27:39.76
8. Agato Yashin Hassan (Ethiopia/Chuo Hatsujo) - 27:46.21 - PB
9. Shuho Dairokuno (Asahi Kasei) - 27:46.55 - PB
10. Rogers Chumo Kemwoi (Kenya/Aisan Kogyo) - 27:49.70
11. Paul Kuira (Kenya/Konica Minolta) - 27:50.81
12. Samuel Mwangi (Kenya/Konica Minolta) - 27:50.92 - debut
13. Joseph Kamathi (Kenya/Toyota) - 27:53.79
14. Yuta Shitara (Honda) - 27:53.84
15. Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Konica Minolta) - 27:55.02
16. Hiroyuki Yamamoto (Konica Minolta) - 27:55.40 - PB
17. Patrick Muendo Mwaka (Kenya/Aisan Kogyo) - 27:58.58
18. Kensuke Takezawa (Sumitomo Denko) - 28:02.70
19. Alexander Mutiso (Kenya/ND Software) - 28:03.07
20. Tsubasa Hayakawa (Toyota) - 28:06.10 - PB
21. Shinobu Kubota (Toyota) - 28:06.44
22. Charles Ndirangu (Kenya/JFE Steel) - 28:10.66
23. Daniel Maemba (Kenya/Toyota Boshoku) - 28:17.48
24. Naohiro Domoto (JR Higashi Nihon) - 28:18.81
25. Chiharu Nakagawa (Toenec) - 28:19.46 - PB
-----
DNF - Minato Oishi (Toyota)

10000 m B-Heat
1. Amos Kirui (Kenya/Toyota Boshoku) - 28:21.84 - PB
2. Keigo Yano (Nissin Shokuhin) - 28:21.89 - PB
3. Yudai Okamoto (JFE Steel) - 28:24.80
4. Kenji Yamamoto (Mazda) - 28:26.35 - PB
5. Mitsunori Asaoka (Hitachi Butsuryu) - 28:26.56 - PB
6. Shota Hattori (Honda) - 28:26.88
7. Naoki Aiba (Chudenko) - 28:26.96 - PB
8. Takuya Fujikawa (Chugoku Denryoku) - 28:27.14
9. Takuya Noguchi (Konica Minolta) - 28:27.89
10. Naohiro Yamada (YKK) - 28:28.22

10000 m C-Heat
1. Hideyuki Tanaka (Toyota) - 28:27.42 - PB
2. Jun Shinoto (Sanyo Tokushu Seiko) - 28:42.93
3. Shun Inoura (Yachiyo Kogyo) - 28:44.06 - PB
4. Kenta Matsubara (Toyota) - 28:45.72 - PB
5. Kosei Yamaguchi (Aisan Kogyo) - 28:46.37

10000 m D-Heat
1. Kazuto Nishiike (Konica Minolta) - 28:37.22 - PB
2. Rikinobu Watanabe (NTT Nishi Nihon) - 28:44.23 - PB
3. Tomoya Shirayanagi (Toyota Boshoku) - 28:46.12
4. Takumi Kiyotani (Chugoku Denryoku) - 28:48.19 - PB
5. Daisuke Matsufuji (Kanebo) - 28:59.30

10000 m E-Heat
1. Joseph Mumo (Kenya/Hitachi Butsuryu) - 28:49.60 - PB
2. Takahiro Nakamura (Kyocera Kagoshima) - 28:52.23 - PB
3. Yuki Munakata (Kanebo) - 28:58.39

10000 m F-Heat
1. Daniel Njenga (Kenya/Yakult) - 29:08.63
2. Masahiro Kawaguchi (Yakult) - 29:08.70
3. Shuhei Shirota (Kanebo) - 29:12.97

10000 m G-Heat
1. Genki Yagisawa (Yakult) - 29:33.63
2. Yutaro Fukushi (Yakult) - 29:39.33
3. Shota Yamazaki (Yakult) - 29:41.85

text (c) 2015 Brett Larner, all rights reserved
photo (c) 2015 Ekiden News, all rights reserved

Comments

Leo jianyong said…
Amazing, smashed the old record by 6 seconds!!
Anonymous said…
Love your site and read it often, but not sure why you have such a chip on your shoulder about Japan vs USA. Thought this comment was gratuitous: "Leading the U.S.A. once again, for the first time Japan also surpassed it in the number of men sub-27:30 in one year. Next up 5000 m?". Why bother? Just let the results stand on their own. And, sorry, not to stoke the flames, but it's a bit silly. I love Japan, lived and ran there, and would be thrilled if the Japanese became world-beaters on the track. But two guys dipping under 27:30 for the first time ever in a perfect-condition time trial doesn't surpass the current USA standard, and one guy getting to 13:08 at 5000m is light years from USA standards. Japan has great depth and emerging high-end talent, and let's just enjoy that for what it's worth.
Brett Larner said…
Being neither Japanese nor American but having lived and run in both countries for a long time I'm very interested in how the world's two great non-African distance running powers are trying to cope, how their numbers compare, and in where things are going. If you interpret that as a chip on my shoulder that's entirely your prerogative. I disagree, however, as I do think we'll next see a lot of progression in the 5000 m. The next 5 years should be pretty interesting.
Anonymous said…
The "chip on your shoulder" comment was based not just on this particular post, but, as I've said, I've read your site for a long time and comparing U.S. vs Japanese college results, pro results, etc etc is a recurring theme. And, frankly, you only ever seem to do it when you perceive a Japanese advantage. That's fine, you're a cheerleader for Japanese running and understandably so given your history in the country. But I doubt that the Japanese on the whole are sitting around thinking about how they compare to the USA. That seems to be your thing. I think the rest of us are dreaming about the Japanese, the Americans, the British, etc making progress against the East African superpowers.

Anyway, I hope I'm not coming off as overly critical or a "troll." As I said, I think your site is great and it's a massive resource for us non-Japanese who like to follow Japanese running but struggle with the language!
Brett Larner said…
No problem, no offense taken. I appreciate the feedback. To be fair, I think I write things critical of the Japanese system more often than I make those sorts of comparisons, but looking at the points you raise I see it like this.

It's safe to say that the results and accomplishments in the U.S., Rupp, the NCAA etc., are well-known and thoroughly reported in the English-speaking athletics world, that most people who read about track and field in English know that the U.S. kicks ass, right? It's equally safe to say that the results and accomplishments in Japan are relatively unknown and heavily underreported in the English-speaking athletics world. I know because I've had to do most of that work myself. Beyond good individual performances, I think it's newsworthy when Japanese runners in some way approach the outstanding level of the U.S., like, from this article for example, the number of Japanese men going sub-28 surpassing the U.S. numbers again this year. It would be easy to do more U.S.-Japan comparisons, like the fact that 22-year-old Murayama ran faster than any American under 23 ever has and that only 4 under-23 Americans have ever run faster than Shuho Dairokuno, also 22, did in this race, but one was enough to get the point across.

In that way, American results provide a familiar contextual framework in which to understand the quality of Japanese results which, again, are for the most part not covered elsewhere. I don't think it is cheerleading to try to provide coverage of something worthwhile and interesting that nobody else is paying attention to, do you? Also, don't overlook the possibility that sometimes I may be joking around.

You're right that in Japan they are largely unaware of how they really stack up against the U.S. and the rest of the world. When I started doing work with the Ageo City Half Marathon they had no idea that they had the deepest half in the world at that time on their hands. Whenever I tweet or talk in Japanese about that sort of thing in people are always surprised, positively. Cf. the speech I gave in Ageo last year. I fully believe that if there were a more positive self-assessment and awareness of their own achievements and strengths here you would not see things like this year's World Championships happening. As Hachioji showed, maybe that is starting to turn around.

Thanks again for your comments.
Sarah said…
Great post! Thanks for the video.
CdaveRun said…
Good reporting and a terrific story, appreciate your knowledge of the situation and enthusiasm. Great race!

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