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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 12 km Kariuki began to pull away from Wambui, a replay of their battle at last month's world record-setting Yosenkai 20 km. There was no clean break, just a gradual edging away that went all the way to the finish.

Kariuki kicked in to crack the course record, beating Ethiopian Bekele Gebretsadik's 2006 mark of 1:01:26 with a new PB by over a  minute and becoming the first Kenyan to win Ageo in six years. Wambui was next in 1:01:37, the third-fastest time in event history in his half marathon debut.

Behind them, little happened in the chase pack of over 20, the pace slowing beyond 3:00/km as the tension built. Running after 2:15 marathons the two previous weekends, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't), a regular every year at Ageo, struggled to hang on to the rear of the pack, and when Katanishi threw down his move on the corner into the long last 3 km straight Kawauchi was gone.

Katanishi dropped the competition to take 3rd in 1:03:00, the first time in eight years a Japanese collegiate hasn't gone under 63 in Ageo. His teammate Shogo Ise stayed with Haruki Ono of 2017 National University Ekiden champion Kanagawa University and the Tokai trio of Seki, Shun Yuzawa and Yuichiro Nishikawa until the track, getting away from them on the last corner to take 4th in 1:03:10, a PB by over 30 seconds.

For their efforts Katanishi and Ise scored the New York Road Runners' pair of invitations for the top two Japanese collegiate runners at Ageo to race next March's United Airlines NYC Half. Seki was 5th in 1:03:12, the third year in a row a Tokai runner has just missed out on the NYC invite.

Kawauchi took 17th in 1:03:35, an impressive performance given his last two weeks but one that left him disappointed ahead of next month's Fukuoka International Marathon. "I wasn't feeling good at all," he told JRN post-race. "I have to get things together in time for Fukuoka."

Ageo's women's race doesn't feature the same depth as its men's race, but in the last few years it has become something of a magnet for top runners from elsewhere in Asia. Chun Yu Tsao narrowly outran Japanese amateur Yuna Terashima to become the first Taiwanese winner in Ageo history, finishing just off the Taiwanese national record in 1:15:51.

It's been ten years since I first ran Ageo, a mind-blowing race I wrote about in JRN's first hit article. Since then word has spread about the magic that the organizers of what would otherwise be an ordinary local race are working, with Singapore and Hong Kong national records set on its course and the NYC invite that JRN initiated having produced runners who went on to make Japanese World Championships and Olympic teams and, in Yuta Shitara, the first university man to make the trip from Ageo to New York, a Japanese national record-setter. I'm honored to have gone from being just another amateur participant to a part of one of the world's great road races. Congratulations to the organizing committee on its first 30 years, and on to the next 30.

30th Ageo City Half Marathon

Ageo, Saitama, 11/19/17
click here for complete results

1. Simon Kariuki (Nihon Yakka Univ.) - 1:01:25 - CR, PB
2. Patrick Mathenge Wambui (Nihon Univ.) - 1:01:37 - debut
3. Kei Katanishi (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:03:00
4. Shogo Ise (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:03:10 - PB
5. Hayato Seki (Tokai Univ.) - 1:03:12 - debut
6. Shun Yuzawa (Tokai Univ.) - 1:03:12
7. Haruki Ono (Kanagawa Univ.) - 1:03:15 - PB
8. Yuichiro Nishikawa (Tokai Univ.) - 1:03:16 - PB
9. Fuminori Shimo (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:03:19
10. Shigeki Fujiwara (Waseda Univ.) - 1:03:22 - PB
11. Akihiro Gunji (Tokai Univ.) - 1:03:23 - PB
12. Yasuyuki Ishida (Waseda Univ.) - 1:03:28 - PB
13. Hideaki Sumiyoshi (Kokushikan Univ.) - 1:03:31
14. Yasuyuki Nakamura (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:03:32 - PB
15. Rintaro Takata (Tokai Univ.) - 1:03:32
16. Reiri Nakashima (Tokai Univ.) 1:03:34
17. Hironao Akizawa (Kanagawa Univ.) - 1:03:35 - PB
18. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 1:03:35
19. Ryoga Asai (Toyo Univ.) - 1:03:37 - debut
20. Shuhei Moriya (Yamagata City Hall) - 1:03:42 - PB
21. Shunsuke Imanishi (Toyo Univ.) - 1:03:42 - PB
22. Kenta Uchida (Koku Gakuin Univ.) - 1:03:42
23. Kengo Nakamura (Toyo Univ.) - 1:03:43 - PB
24. Masaki Takamoto (Komazawa Univ) - 1:03:44
25. Daisuke Horiai (Komazawa Univ) - 1:03:53
50. Shota Tanaka (Kanagawa Univ.) - 1:04:39 - PB
75. Kenta Usui (Koku Gakuin Univ.) - 1:05:08 - debut
100. Yasuto Naka (Jobu Univ.) - 1:05:32 - PB
125. Shohei Narita (Saitama Namekawa RC) - 1:05:54
150. Terumichi Yoshimi (Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 1:06:26

1. Chun Yu Tsao (Taiwan) - 1:15:51 - PB
2. Yuna Terashima (unattached) - 1:16:16 - debut
3. Yukie Nagata (Raffine) - 1:20:20

text and photos © 2017 Brett Larner, all rights reserved


Matt said…
Great writeup and great event. As always impeccably organized. Shame it was too windy for really fast times across the board. The local university showing was strong though. Left me (first half in Japan) speechless.
Paco said…
Thanks for the info! It's amazing how hard is for not japanese speakers to find information about such an amazing race. By the way, is there a way to see the full results? Thanks!
Brett Larner said…
Yes, there is a link to the full results in the article. All in Japanese, though.

Glad you enjoyed it, Matt.

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