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Fast Times from Mbuthye and Yego in Saturday Track Action



Saturday was the first full day of the Japanese outdoor track season with two large time trial meets and university intramurals across the country. The top marks of the day came over 3000 m at Tokyo's Setagaya Time Trials meet. In the women's A-heat Japan-based Kenyan Grace Mbuthye (Starts) won in 8:58.55, while another Japan-based Kenyan Evans Yego (Sunbelx) took the men's A-heat in 7:58.50. Both times were the 2nd-fastest outdoor marks in the world so far this season. Other notable marks:

  • Kei Fumimoto (Kanebo) turned in the fastest Japanese time of the day at 8:06.95 for 4th in the A-heat.
  • Junior high school 1500 m, 3000 m and 5000 m national record holder Kosuke Ishida made his high school debut in the C-heat running for Tokyo Nogyo Daini H.S., finishing 3rd in 8:22.85, about 5 seconds off his best.
  • After taking 7th at last month's NYC Half, 2017 World University Games half marathon gold medalist Kei Katanishi (Komazawa Univ.) got back into action, warming up with an 8:29.41 in the D-heat before winning the C-heat in 8:16.77. See the video above for Katanishi and Ishida in action.
  • Hakone Ekiden star turned marathoner Daichi Kamino (Konica Minolta) and 2020 Olympic Trials marathon qualifier Shogo Nakamura (Fujitsu) also got back into action, Kamino winning the D-heat in 8:19.44 and Nakamura running 8:18.67 for 16th in the A-heat.



At Kumamoto's Kanaguri Memorial Meet the main focus was on the 5000 m. Kenyan high schooler Philemon Kiplagat (Kurashiki H.S.) led the way with a 13:37.12 to win the A-heat, just faster than the 13:37.86 run by all-Kenyan B-heat winner Joel Mwaura (Kurosaki Harima). Takanori Ichikawa (Hitachi Butsuryu) ran the fastest Japanese time so far this year, 13:42.70 for 4th in the A-heat. Another 2020 Olympic Trials marathon qualifier, Yuki Sato (Nissin Shokuhin) ran 13:53.54 for 8th.



In the women's 5000 m A-heat, Helen Ekarare (Toyota Jidoshokki) won by 10 seconds in 15:29.67 ahead of Ethiopian newcomer Husan Zeyituna (Denso). 2:21 marathoner Yuka Ando (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), yet another 2020 Olympic Trials marathon qualifier, ran her first race since January's Osaka International Women's Marathon, taking 3rd in 15:45.86.



The women's 1500 m at the Kanaguri Memorial Meet had two interesting races. In Heat 1, sisters Tomomi Musembi Takamatsu (Meijo Univ.) and Nozomi Musembi Takamatsu (Osaka T&F Assoc.) went 1-2, Tomomi taking the top spot at 4:22.10 in her university debut and former Nike Oregon Project runner Nozomi 2nd in 4:22.50. In Heat 2, pro Tomoka Kimura (Universal Entertainment) outkicked last year's #1 ranked high school Nozomi Tanaka (ND28 AC) to win in 4:22.74. Making her debut as a club runner post-graduation, Tanaka rook 2nd in 4:24.02.

Setagaya video by onychop
Kanaguri Memorial videos by tuyoshi55244
text © 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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Kawauchi Breaks Nobeyama Ultra Course Record

2018 Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) won the longest race of his career to date Sunday in Nagano, taking over six minutes off the Yatsugatake Nobeyama Kogen 71 km Ultramarathon in 4:41:55.

A training run for next month’s Stockholm Marathon, Kawauchi set off solo at a steady pace around 3:45/km. Climbing from 1355 m to 1908 m as he approached 20 km he naturally slowed, but with over 1000 m of descent over the next 30 km he was soon back on track. Hitting the marathon split around 2:39, he was so far ahead of the 2nd placer that the announcer initially forget Kawauchi had already gone by and announced the next runner as the leader.

At 58 km Kawauchi was on track to clear 4:30:00, but hitting the uphills in the final 10 km and feeling the effects of the unfamiliar distance he slowed to almost 5:00/km. But with so much leeway to work with there was never any danger of the 4:48:13 course record slipping out of reach. Kawauchi stopped the clock in 4:41:55, please…

The Kawauchi Counter

Yuki Kawauchi's 2018 race results: Jan. 1: Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, U.S.A.: 2:18:59 - 1st - CR
Jan. 14: Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:03:28 - 7th
Jan. 21: Yashio Isshu Ekiden, Saitama: 1:01:03 - 1st - ran entire 20.0 km ekiden solo and beat all 103 teams of 6 runners each
Jan. 28: Okumusashi Ekiden First Stage (9.9 km), Saitama - 29:41 - 6th
Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
Feb. 11: Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon, Shimane - cancelled due to heavy snow
Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama - 1:04:26 - 1st
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:04:49 - 12th
Mar. 11: Yoshinogawa Riverside Half Marathon, Tokushima - 1:05:50 - 1st - CR
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan - 2:14:12 - 1st
Mar. 24: Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials, Saitama
              5000 m Heat 4: 14:53.95 - 1st
              5000 m Heat 6: 14:36.58 - 2nd
           …

How it Happened

Ancient History I went to Wesleyan University, where the legend of four-time Boston Marathon champ and Wes alum Bill Rodgers hung heavy over the cross-country team. Inspired by Koichi Morishita and Young-Cho Hwang’s duel at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics I ran my first marathon in 1993, qualifying for Boston ’94 where Bill was kind enough to sign a star-struck 20-year-old me’s bib number at the expo.

Three years later I moved to Japan for grad school, and through a long string of coincidences I came across a teenaged kid named Yuki Kawauchi down at my neighborhood track. I never imagined he’d become what he is, but right from the start there was just something different about him. After his 2:08:37 breakthrough at the 2011 Tokyo Marathon he called me up and asked me to help him get into races abroad. He’d finished 3rd on the brutal downhill Sixth Stage at the Hakone Ekiden, and given how he’d run the hills in the last 6 km at Tokyo ’11 I thought he’d do well at Boston or New York. “If M…