Skip to main content

Osako and Murayama Twins Lead National Record Shot at Marugame Half

by Brett Larner
click here for women's field listing

As strong as its women's field looks, the men's field for the Feb. 5 Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon is something else.  The half marathon is the sweet spot of Japanese training, the distance that the top university men focus on for the Hakone Ekiden and the best corporate men at the New Year Ekiden national championships.  The official half marathon Japanese national record is 1:00:25 by Atsushi Sato at the 2007 World Half Marathon, but it's pretty common to see the top men running that kind of time on the longest half marathonish-length stages at both Hakone and New Year.  If they all got together, focused, and put the same intensity and drive into a serious half marathon the national record would surely fall, and maybe even the hour mark.  This year's Marugame looks like the best chance to date for that to happen.

Up front: 59:01 man Kenneth Kipkemoi and once-upon-a-time sub-59 man Atsedu Tsegay of Ethiopia.  Positioned just ahead of the Japanese NR: Abraham Kipyatich of Kenya and wunderkind Callum Hawkins of Great Britain.  Right at the level of the current generation of Japan's best: Bernard Kimanyi and Dominic Nyairo of Kenya.  And following them, most of the very best Japan has to offer:

  • 5000 m NR holder Suguru Osako, a member of the Nike Oregon Project with a 1:01:47 Asian junior record half marathon debut and a 1:01:10 equivalent at Hakone.
  • 10000 m NR holder Kota Murayama in his serious half marathon debut, with a 58:26 for 20 km to his name giving him mid-1:01 credentials.
  • His twin brother Kenta Murayama with a 1:00:50 best in Marugame in 2014.
  • Keita Shitara, 1:01:12 at the 2015 National Corporate Half.
  • His twin brother Yuta Shitara, 1:01:48 at the New York Half at age 20 and a 1:00:11 equivalent at last year's New Year Ekiden.
  • Daichi Kamino, 1:01:21 in Marugame two years ago following a spectacular uphill run on Hakone's Fifth Stage and just as ascendant as a young corporate runner.
  • Chihiro Miyawaki, 1:00:53 to win the 2012 National Corporate Half.

There are only two or three names missing from an otherwise perfect collection of Japanese runners to collectively go for the national record, sure to get further support from the massive number of 62 minute-range runners just behind them.  Kenta Murayama told JRN that he and Kota will be going for a time under 1:00:30, at worst under 1:00:50, and the presence of Osako, a training partner of Galen Rupp who was scheduled to go for the U.S.A. NR last weekend, suggests big things.  Marugame usually has ideal weather that contributes to world record-setting depth at quality.  The current forecast calls for cloudy skies and race time temperatures between 2 and 5 degrees Celsius, a little on the cold side but still within a range that would allow for something special.

71st Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon
Men’s Elite Field Highlights
Marugame, Kagawa, 2/5/17
click here for complete field listing
times listed are best within last three years except where noted

Kenneth Kipkemoi (Kenya) – 59:01 (Valencia 2014)
Abraham Kipyatich (Kenya) – 1:00:03 (Berlin 2015)
Callum Hawkins (Great Britain) – 1:00:24 (Glasgow 2016)
Bernard Kimanyi (Kenya/Yakult) – 1:00:41 (Den Haag 2015)
Dominic Nyairo (Kenya/Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) – 1:00:50 (Marugame 2016)
Kenta Murayama (Japan/Asahi Kasei) – 1:00:50 (Marugame 2014)
Keita Shitara (Japan/Konica Minolta) – 1:01:12 (Nat’l Corp. Half 2015)
Fabiano Sulle (Tanzania) – 1:01:19 (Marugame 2016)
Daichi Kamino (Japan/Konica Minolta) – 1:01:21 (Marugame 2015)
Suguru Osako (Japan/NOP) – 1:01:47 (Ageo City 2010)
Kenta Ueda (Japan/Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 1 02:01 (Ageo City 2016)
Koki Takada (Japan/Sumitomo Denko) – 1:02:02 (Ageo City 2014)
Takashi Ichida (Japan/Asahi Kasei) – 1:02:03 (Ageo City 2014)
Akira Aizawa (Japan/Toyo Univ.) – 1:02:05 (Ageo City 2016)
Keita Shioya (Japan/Subaru) – 1:02:11 (Marugame 2016)
Chihiro Miyawaki (Japan/Toyota) – 1:02:18 (Nat’l Corp. Half 2015)
Masaya Taguchi (Japan/Honda) – 1:02:19 (Marugame 2016)
Kenya Sonoda (Japan/JR Higashi Nihon) – 1:02:20 (Nat’l Univ. Half 2015)
Kazuki Tamura (Japan/Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) – 1:02:22 (Nat’l Univ. Half 2015)
Shuji Matsuo (Japan/Kyudenko) – 1:02:25 (Nat’l Corp. Half 2015)
Gen Hachisuka (Japan/Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:26 (Marugame 2015)
Shusei Ohashi (Japan/Raffine) – 1:02:27 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2015)
Daiki Taguchi (Japan/Hitachi Butsuryu) - 1:02:30 (Nat'l Univ. Half 2014)
Yuki Oshikawa (Japan/Toyota Kyushu) – 1:02:30 (Marugame 2014)
Atsedu Tsegay (Ethiopia) – 1:02:39 (Rock ‘n’ Roll Lisbon 2015)
Wataru Ueno (Japan/Honda) – 1:02:39 (Marugame 2014)
Yusuke Nishiyama (Japan/Komazawa Univ.) – 1:02:43 (Nat’l Univ. Half 2015)
Natsuki Terada (Japan/JR Higashi Nihon) – 1:02:43 (Marugame 2015)
Masaru Aoki (Japan/Kanebo) – 1:02:45 (Nat’l Corp. Half 2015)
Rei Omori (Japan/Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:47 (Nat'l Univ. Half 2015)
Tomoki Ota (Japan/Waseda Univ.) - 1:02:48 (Ageo City 2016)
Ryuji Okada (Japan/Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:02:48 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2015)
Suehiro Ishikawa (Japan/Honda) – 1:02:49 (Marugame 2016)
Shota Inoue (Japan/Toyota) – 1:02:49 (Marugame 2015)
Takuya Noguchi (Japan/Konica Minolta) – 1:02:50 (Marugame 2014)
Taiga Machizawa (Japan/Chuo Univ.) - 1:02:52 (Nat'l  Univ. Half 2015)
Yuta Shitara (Japan/Honda) – 1:02:52 (Marugame 2015)
Hideaki Sumiyoshi (Japan/Kokushikan Univ.) - 1:02:53 (Marugame 2016)
Chiharu Takada (Japan/JR Higashi Nihon) – 1:02:58 (Marugame 2016)

20 km
Kota Murayama (Japan/Asahi Kasei) – 58:26 (Yosenkai 20km 2014)
Kazuya Shiojiri (Japan/Juntendo Univ.) – 59:36 (Takashimdaira 20km 2016)

Debut
Jonathan Ndiku (Kenya/Hitachi Butsuryu) – 27:11.23 (Nittai Univ. 2016)

© 2017 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kariuki Cracks Course Record at 30th Anniversary Ageo City Half Marathon

2017 Kanto Regionals 10000 m and half marathon D2 champion Simon Kariuki (Nihon Yakka Univ.)  overcame windy conditions at the 30th edition of the Ageo City Half Marathon to shave one second off the course record, winning in a PB 1:01:25.

Kariuki and 2017 Kanto Regionals D1 5000 m and 10000 m champ Patrick Mathenge Wambui (Nihon Univ.) took it out in the first km, setting up a fascinating duel between Kanto's top two collegiate men on the track.


Led by Hayato Seki, star runner of this year's Izumo Ekiden champ Tokai University in his half marathon debut, the main body of the Japanese pack gradually relinquished the lead to the Kenyan pair, down 50 seconds by 10 km and continuing to drift back from then. Ageo has typically seen its lead Japanese collegiate men running between high-61 and mid-62, but nobody in the field seemed willing to go ahead of Seki and the runner on his shoulder, 2017 World University Games half marathon gold medalist Kei Katanishi (Komazawa Univ.).


Near …

Breaking Down the Best-Ever Japanese Marathon Times By Country

Japanese marathoners these days have the reputation of rarely racing abroad, and of rarely racing well when they do. Back in the day that wasn't true; Japanese marathoners have won all the World Marathon Majors-to-be except New York, and two of the three Japanese men to have run 2:06 and all three women to have run 2:19 did it outside Japan. Whatever the extent to which things did turn inward along the way, the last few years have seen an uptick in Japanese runners going farther afield and running better there than any others before them.

The lists above and below show the fastest times run by Japanese athletes in different countries to 2:20:00 for men and 2:45:00 for women. Japanese men have run sub-2:20 marathons in 37 countries around the world including Japan, with Japanese women having cleared 2:45 in 33 countries including at home. Breaking it down by IAAF label times, more Japanese men have run label standard times abroad, but women have typically performed at a higher label…

Kosimbei, Kwemoi and Shitara Lead Hachioji 10000 m Field

Nestled deep in the misty foothills of the western Tokyo mountains, Hosei University's late November Hachioji Long Distance meet has quietly turned into one of the world's premier track 10000 m, its A-heat never quite dipping under 27 minutes yet but still producing record-setting depth and the two fastest Japanese men's 10000 m in history.
This year's entry list is another monster, with 27:02.59 man Nicholas Kosimbei (Toyota) leading 17 men with recent times under 28 minutes, twelve of them Kenyan, three Japanese and two Ethiopian. Fresh off a 27:22.73 win at last weekend's Nittai University Time Trials, two-time steeplechase junior world champion Jonathan Ndiku (Hitachi Butsuryu) is slated to pace what is scheduled to be a sub-28 race, but with Kosimbei, sub-27:30 men John Maina (Fujitsu) and Rodgers Chumo Kwemoi (Aisan Kogyo) and five others under 27:45 including last year's winnerRonald Kwemoi (Komori Corp.) on the list the front end should go faster. 
Rig…