Along with the weekend's road action there were high-level track meets and time trials all across the country. The biggest was the two-day Hyogo Relay Carnival in Kobe. Highlights from Hyogo:
- In Saturday's Asics Challenge men's 10000 m, Simon Kariuki (Nihon Yakka Univ.) ran 27:55.10 to outrun Hakone Ekiden star Dominic Nyairo (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) for the win. Ken Yokote (Team Fujitsu) delivered the fastest Japanese time so far in 2017, running 28:04.51 for 3rd. In his first race since running 1:00:57 at last month's United Airlines NYC Half, Kenta Murayama (Team Asahi Kasei) was 6th in 28:24.13. Samuel Mwangi (Team Konica Minolta) stopped mid-race and was carried off the track on a stretcher.
- Two-time World Junior Championships gold medalist Jonathan Ndiku (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) outkicked Rio Olympic silver medalist Paul Tanui (Team Kyudenko) to win Sunday's Grand Prix men's 10000 m in 27:39.40. Tanui was 2nd in 27:45.85, holding off 2014 World Junior Championships bronze medalist Nicholas Kosimbei (Team Toyota) who took 3rd in 27:48.51. Yuichiro Ueno (DeNA RC) was the top Japanese man at 4th in 28:07.23, with Tokyo Marathon debutants Takashi Ichida (Team Asahi Kasei) and Yuta Shitara (Team Honda) next in 28:14.14 and 28:15.40. National record holder Kota Murayama (Team Asahi Kasei) was a DNS.
- Yuka Hori (Team Panasonic) led the entire way in the Grand Prix women's 10000 m only to get outkicked over the last lap by Mizuki Matsuda (Team Daihatsu) and Sakiho Tsutsui (Team Yamada Denki). Matsuda took the win in 32:15.85 with Tsutsui 2nd in 32:16.44 and Hori 3rd in 32:22.18. Running in the same pack with the top three throughout the race, Felista Wanjugu (Team Univ. Ent.) was tripped from behind by Doricah Obare (Team Hitachi) at 8800 m and fell hard, ultimately finishing 15th in 33:11.56.
- After running the fastest-ever marathon by an under-20 Japanese woman earlier this year, 2:27:08 for 4th in Tokyo, 19-year-old Ayaka Fujimoto (Team Kyocera) returned to racing with a 16:14.24 for 8th in the Asics Challenge women's 5000 m.
- Already all-time Japanese #4 in the women's 3000 m steeplechase, Misaki Sango (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) came 0.87 seconds short of her PB but took more than 4 seconds off her own meet record as she won in 9:50.72. The meet record also fell in the under-18 girls' 2000 m steeplechase, with Yuka Nosue (Kitakyushu Municipal H.S.) setting a new mark of 6:40.69.
- The top seven all broke the meet record the under-18 boys' 3000 m. With a powerful kick over the last lap Ren Tazawa (Aomori Yamada H.S.) took the win in 8:18.05. 7th-placer Reo Sato (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) was more than a second under the old MR in 8:25.37.
At this year's first edition of the Nittai University Time Trials series in Kanagawa:
- Helen Ekarare (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) ran a PB 8:53.70, the fastest under-20 time in the world so far this year, to win the women's 3000 m A-heat. Shuri Ogasawara (Yamanashi Gakuin Prep H.S.) was the top Japanese woman, 2nd in 9:07.85.
- Nyairo's rival for the top Kenyan on the Hakone Ekiden circuit, Patrick Wambui (Nihon Univ.) won the 10000 m A-heat in 28:04.85 in a near photo-finish with pro Bernard Kimanyi (Team Yakult).
- Newcomer Evans Keitany (Team Toyota Boshoku) won a four-way Kenyan sprint finish to top the men's 5000 m A-heat in 13:43.21. Just off the leaders, Yuta Bando (Hosei Univ.) had a major breakthrough as he broke 14 minutes for the first time to take 6th in 13:49.78. After going sub-2:10 in his second marathon at February's Tokyo Marathon, Yuma Hattori (Team Toyota) returned to the track with a 14:04.64 for 15th.
- Kazuya Nishiyama (Toyo Univ.) won the men's 5000 m B-heat in 13:51.58. Fresh from quitting the Konica Minolta corporate team and running as an independent, Keita Shitara, twin brother of Yuta, had his best race since last April's Nittai Time Trials, running 13:59.07 for 8th. Post-race Shitara said that he hopes to have a new corporate team lined up by June and plans to run his marathon debut in Fukuoka this December.
At Saitama's Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials:
- All-time Asian junior #3 in the half marathon after running 1:02:05 at last November's Ageo City Half Marathon, Akira Aizawa (Toyo Univ.) edged Ethiopian pro Kassa Mekashaw (Team Yachiyo Kogyo) by less than a second for the win in the 10000 m in a PB 28:44.19.
- Mekashaw's teammate Abiyot Abinet (Team Yachiyo Kogyo) had an easy win in the 5000 m A-heat in 13:51.24, the only runner to go under 14 minutes.
At the Cardinal Classic meet in the U.S.:
- Takeshi Okada (Univ. of California Berkeley) won the 3000 m steeplechase in a PB of 8:53.35.
© 2017 Brett Larner
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