by Brett Larner
The 15,000 runner-strong Ome 30 km and 10 km Road Race has rolled out the men's and women's elite fields for its 51st running on Feb. 19. Coached by 1992 Barcelona Olympics marathon silver medalist Kochi Morishita, defending men's champion Yuki Oshikawa (Team Toyota Kyushu) returns to try to become the first man since 1986 to win Ome two years in a row. Last year Oshikawa had a narrow 9-second win over Kenyan Michael Githae (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), and this year Githae returns with a good chance of becoming Ome's first-ever Kenyan winner. Both have tough competition in the form of celebrity runner Daichi Kamino (Team Konica Minolta), the former star of the Hakone Ekiden's famed uphill Fifth Stage.
Ome's course is a tough and hilly one that plans to Kamino's strengths, and for both he and Oshikawa there's a nice payday waiting for a solid run: 500,000 yen for the win [~$4400 USD], 2,000,000 yen for breaking Masaki Ito's 2013 winning time of 1:30:21 [~$17,500 USD], and 1,000,000 yen for breaking Toshihiko Seko's 1:29:32 course record from 1981 [~$8,750 USD]. The 500,000 yen 1st-place prize money is available to Githae, but the time bonuses are only payable to Japanese runners, of which make what you will. Others in the men's race include university men Ryo Kuchimachi (Toyo Univ.) and Daisuke Doi (Hosei Univ.), corporate runner Norihide Fujimori (Chugoku Denryoku) and American Zach Hine.
Ome was the site of the fastest-ever 30 km by a Japanese woman, marathon splits aside, thanks to a 1:39:09 by Mizuki Noguchi in 2004 in preparation for her marathon gold medal-winning run at the Athens Olympics. There's a 2,000,000 yen bonus for any woman who breaks that time, but considering that Noguchi's record is midway in quality between a 1:09:44 half marathon and 2:19:27 marathon on an extremely hilly course it'll be a major surprise if that ever happens.
Not quite as big a surprise but still a large one, track specialist Azusa Sumi (Team Universal Entertainment) is scheduled to make her 30 km debut in Ome. 6 km cross-country races aside, the 20-year-old Sumi has only raced longer than 5 km four times in her career, two of them this month. At the Jan. 15 National Women's Ekiden she ran 32:38 for 7th on the 10.0 km anchor stage. A week later she won the 11.7 km Kita-Kyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden anchor stage in 36:36. Sumi seems to be doing better as the distance increases, but it's a big jump from where she is to 30 km. Her competition for the win comes from last year's 5th-placer Ami Utsunomiya (Canon AC Kyushu) and 1:15:40 half marathoner Yumi Kozasa (Team Wacoal).
51st Ome 30 km and 10 km Road Race
30 km Elite Field Highlights
Ome, Tokyo, 2/19/17
click here for complete field listing
times listed are best in last three years except where noted
Yuki Oshikawa (Toyota Kyushu) - 1:31:37 (Ome 30 km 2016)
Michael Githae (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:31:46 (Ome 30 km 2016)
Ryo Kuchimachi (Toyo Univ.) - 1:33:40 (Kumanichi 30 km 2016)
Daichi Kamino (Konica Minolta) - 1:01:21 (Marugame Half 2015)
Norihide Fujimori (Chugoku Denryoku) - 1:04:45 (Hakodate Half 2016)
Zach Hine (U.S.A.) - 1:04:48 (Omaha Half 2014)
Daisuke Doi (Hosei Univ.) - 1:00:43 (Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai 20 km 2016)
Ami Utsunomiya (Canon AC Kyushu) - 1:48:10 (Ome 30 km 2016)
Yumi Kozasa (Wacoal) - 1:15:40 (Sanyo Ladies Half 2016)
Azusa Sumi (Univ. Ent.) - 15:17.62 (Hokuren Distance Challenge Kitami Meet 5000 m, 2015)
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