Friday, February 24, 2017

Kipsang Predicts 2:02:50 - Tokyo Marathon Preview

by Brett Larner

2017 Tokyo Marathon top elites Wilson Kipsang, Dickson Chumba, Tsegaye Kebede, Amane Bersio, Amane Gobena, Birhane Dibaba, Masato Imai, Kazuhiro Maeda and Yuma Hattori.

The Tokyo Marathon celebrates its eleventh edition as a mass-participation race this year on a new course with relocated hills to make it faster for the front end and a scenic finish for the masses.  To try to bring its event records more into line with the rest of the Abbott World Marathon Majors Tokyo has brought in some big guns, none bigger than former world record holder Wilson Kipsang (Kenya).  Fresh from a 2:03:13 PB at September's Berlin Marathon, Kipsang brought Friday's press conference to a boil when he predicted in writing a 2:02:50 world record on the new Tokyo course.

Kipsang predicting a 2:02:50 world record.

That may be a stretch, but looking at the depth and quality of the competition the 2:05:42 Tokyo record held by Dickson Chumba (Kenya) looks vulnerable, with the 2:05:18 Japanese all-comers record set by Tsegaye Kebede (Ethiopia) in range if all goes well and the weather cooperates.  It was a rare and mostly unrecognized moment in Japanese marathoning history at the press conference when Kipsang, the course record holder at the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, shared the stage with Tokyo course record holder Chumba and Fukuoka course record holder Kebede, the three kings of Japan's three greatest men's marathons all united.  Kebede boldly predicted a 2:03:50 PB, with Chumba more circumspect in estimating a 2:05:20 to better his own record.  The front group, which includes seven other men with recent sub-2:07 times, is scheduled to go out at 2:55/km, 2:03:04 pace.  If Kipsang is serious he may not have much company for long.  If it turns into a 2:05 race, look for Evans Chebet (Kenya) to surprise off his 2:05:33 and 2:05:31 pair of 2016 marathons.

When we were kings - Kipsang, Chumba and Kebede, CR holders of Japan's three major men's marathons.

For the Japanese men Tokyo is mostly about qualifying for the London World Championships team, a murky selection process of four races to chose three places made more complicated by Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) running 2:09:32 to win the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon earlier this month, slower than the 2:09:11 by Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) in Fukuoka in December but bettering his placing by two.  The JAAF will auto-select one Japanese man in Tokyo if he breaks 2:07:00, a time only three have ever cleared.  Next week the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon will bring qualifying to a close, the men there having the luxury of keying off Kawauchi, Nakamoto and whoever runs fastest in Tokyo.

Yuma Hattori all business with a 2:08:00 prediction for his second marathon.

1:28:52 collegiate 30 km national record holder Yuma Hattori (Team Toyota) was the most outwardly ambitious of the Japanese men at the press conference, estimating a 2:08:00, but he has competition from Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu), Arata Fujiwara (Miki House), the debuting pair Takashi Ichida (Team Asahi Kasei) and Yuta Shitara (Team Honda), and many more.  When it comes to the 2:09~2:11 range there are always surprises in Japanese men's marathoning with relatively unknown athletes dropping breakthroughs.  Yuki Takamiya (Team Yakult), then an unknown 2:15-level runner, did it last year with a 2:10:57 for top Japanese honors and will be back again to try to follow up.  Along with Ichida and Shitara, American Andrew Bumbalough will be debuting after a decent run at November's Hachioji Long Distance meet.

Ethiopian power trio Beriso, Gobena and Dibaba.

The women's field took a hit with the withdrawal of #1-ranked Lucy Kabuu (Kenya) and another with a flight delay that had the debuting Betsy Saina (Kenya) arriving in Japan less than 48 hours before the start, leaving a likely three-way Ethiopian race up front.  Amane Beriso has the fastest women's time in the field with a 2:20:48 Dubai debut last year, but with only a 2:39:38 follow-up in Boston there's a large question mark hanging over her.  Amane Gobena was 2nd last year in a PB 2:21:51 and has a truckload of experience racing in Japan including a win in Osaka and a runner-up placing in Saitama. Birhane Dibaba set her 2:22:30 PB in Tokyo in 2014, won it in 2015 and was 5th last year.  Barring a spectacular debut from Saina it's hard to see anyone else challenging them, especially with the Amanes both predicting 2:20:00 finish times at the press conference.  If they come even close to that they will take down both the 2:21:27 Tokyo record set last year by Helah Kiprop (Kenya) and the 2:21:18 Japanese all-comers record held by Athens Olympics gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi (Japan).

American Sara Hall will also be running, hoping to break 2:30 for the first time.  Because Tokyo doesn't factor into national team selection for women there are essentially no top-level Japanese women in the field, the fastest being Kaori Yoshida (Team RxL) with a 2:28:43 best.  Along with Kaoru Nagao (Urayasu T&F Assoc.), Hiroko Yoshitomi (Team Memolead) and the debuting Kotomi Takayama (Team Sysmex) Yoshida may give Hall some company, but if any Japanese woman succeeds in breaking 2:30 on the course it will be a big day.

Nippon TV's live broadcast of the Tokyo Marathon will be shown worldwide, with JRN's Brett Larner hosting for the second year in a row.  Check your local listing for availability.  The Japanese-language broadcast is also viewable in many locations via mov3.co.  Athlete tracking options are listed here, with the lead men's live leaderboard here.  Check JRN post-race for complete results and more exclusive coverage.

Tokyo Marathon Elite Field Highlights
Tokyo, 2/26/17
click here for complete field listing
times listed are athletes' best within last three years except where noted

Men
Wilson Kipsang (Kenya) - 2:03:13 (Berlin 2016)
Dickson Chumba (Kenya) - 204:32 (Chicago 2014)
Evans Chebet (Kenya) - 2:05:31 (Berlin 2016)
Tadese Tola (Ethiopia) - 2:05:57 (Tokyo 2014)
Bernard Koech (Kenya) - 2:06:08 (Rotterdam 2014)
Marius Kipserem (Kenya) - 2:06:11 (Rotterdam 2016)
Bernard Kipyego (Kenya) - 2:06:19 (Amsterdam 2015)
Solomon Deksisa (Ethiopia) - 2:06:22 (Rotterdam 2016)
Tsegaye Kebede (Ethiopia) - 2:06:30 (London 2014)
Alfers Lagat (Kenya) - 2:06:48 (Frankfurt 2015)
Masato Imai (Japan/Toyota Kyushu) - 2:07:39 (Tokyo 2015)
Stephen Mokoka (South Africa) - 2:07:40 (Shanghai 2015)
Gideon Kipketer (Kenya) - 2:08:35 (Mumbai 2016)
Hiroaki Sano (Japan/Honda) - 2:09:12 (Tokyo 2015)
Benjamin Ngandu (Kenya/Monteroza) - 2:09:18 (Tokyo 2015)
Koji Gokaya (Japan/JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:09:21 (Tokyo 2015)
Geoffrey Ronoh (Kenya) - 2:09:29 (Berlin 2016)
Takuya Fukatsu (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 2:09:31 (Lake Biwa 2016)
Yohanes Ghebregergish (Eritrea) - 2:09:48 (Berlin 2016)
Yuki Takamiya (Japan/Yakult) - 2:10:57 (Tokyo 2016)
Ryo Hashimoto (Japan/GMO) - 2:11:20 (Hofu 2016)
Kazuhiro Maeda (Japan/Kyudenko) - 2:11:46 (Lake Biwa 2015)
Yuma Hattori (Japan/Toyota) - 2:11:46 (Tokyo 2016)
Hiroyuki Yamamoto (Japan/Konica Minolta) - 2:11:48 (Beppu-Oita 2015)
Arata Fujiwara (Japan/Miki House) - 2:11:50 (Hofu 2015)
Tatsunori Hamasaki (Japan/Komori Corp.) - 2:12:12 (Tokyo 2015)
Akiyuki Iwanaga (Japan/Kyudenko) - 2:12:24 (Tokyo 2016)
Takuya Noguchi (Japan/Konica Minolta) - 2:12:29 (Lake Biwa 2015)
Naoki Okamoto (Japan/Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:12:55 (Beppu-Oita 2015)
Hiroto Inoue (Japan/MHPS) - 2:12:56 (Lake Biwa 2016)
Keiji Akutsu (Japan/Subaru) - 2:13:26 (Tokyo 2015)
Soji Ikeda (Japan/Yakult) - 2:13:27 (Lake Biwa 2016)
Yasuyuki Nakamura (Japan/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:13:46 (Tokyo 2016)
Tomonori Sakamoto (Japan/Press Kogyo) - 2:13:49 (Nagano 2015)
Yuki Munakata (Japan/Kanebo) - 2:13:53 (Beppu-Oita 2016)
Kazuaki Shimizu (Japan/Yakult) - 2:14:16 (Tokyo 2016)
Naoki Inoue (Japan/Tokyo T&F Assoc.) - 2:15:05 (Katsuta 2016)
Saeki Makino (Japan/DNPL) - 2:15:22 (Seoul 2015)
Kenichi Jiromaru (Japan/Obirin Univ. AC) - 2:15:24 (Lake Biwa 2014)
Sho Matsumoto (Japan/Nikkei Business) - 2:15:50 (Osaka 2016)

Debut
Masato Kikuchi (Japan/Konica Minolta) - 1:00:32 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2015)
Yuta Shitara (Japan/Honda) - 1:01:19 (Marugame Half 2017)
Takashi Ichida (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 1:02:03 (Ageo City Half 2014)
Andrew Bumbalough (U.S.A.) - 1:02:04 (New York Half 2015)
Yuki Nakamura (Japan/Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:35 (Marugame Half 2016)
Yuji Serunarudo (Japan/Soka Univ.) - 1:02:48 (Marugame Half 2016)
Akihiko Tsumurai (Japan/Mazda) - 1:03:39 (Boston Half 2016)

Women
Amane Beriso (Ethiopia) - 2:20:48 (Dubai 2016)
Amane Gobena (Ethiopia) - 2:21:51 (Tokyo 2016)
Birhane Dibaba (Ethiopia) - 2:22:30 (Tokyo 2014)
Sarah Chepchirchir (Kenya) - 2:24:13 (Lisbon 2016)
Marta Lema (Ethiopia) - 2:24:32 (Xiamen 2016)
Kaori Yoshida (Japan/Team RxL) - 2:28:43 (Saitama 2015)
Sara Hall (U.S.A.) - 2:30:06 (London 2016)
Kaoru Nagao (Japan/Urayasu T&F Assoc.) - 2:30:54 (Nagoya Women's 2016)
Hiroko Yoshitomi (Japan/Memolead) - 2:33:04 (Nagoya Women's 2016)
Hitomi Nakamura (Japan/Panasonic) - 2:33:23 (Osaka Int'l 2016)
Madoka Nakano (Japan/Noritz) - 2:33:39 (Tokyo 2016)
Miya Nishio (Japan/Sapporo T&F Assoc.) - 2:34:18 (Tokyo 2016)
Saki Tabita (Japan/Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:34:20 (Nagoya Women's 2016)
Yumiko Kinoshita (Japan/SWAC) - 2:35:49 (Tokyo 2015)

Debut
Betsy Saina (Kenya) - 1:07:22 (Glasgow Half 2016)
Kotomi Takayama (Japan/Sysmex) - 1:10:47 (Matsue Ladies' Half 2015)

text and photos © 2017 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Rio Silver Medalist Kirwa Returns to Nagoya Women's Marathon

by Brett Larner

The Nagoya Women's Marathon is the largest women-only marathon in the world, with 19,112 finishers last year.  It was also the deepest elite women's marathon in the world next to the Rio Olympics, with more women sub-2:27 than in Rio and only three fewer under 2:30.  Many of the main people who made it what it was last year are set to return, led by course record holder and two-time defending champion Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) who comes back to Nagoya as an Olympic silver medalist.  Japan's Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya), Mao Kiyota (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), Reia Iwade (Team Noritz), Sayaka Kuwahara (Team Sekisui Kagaku) and Shiho Takechi (Team Yamada Denki) all ran sub-2:26 PBs in Nagoya last year, Ohara's 2:23:30 just missing her a place on the Rio Olympic team.  Ohara is Kirwa's closest competition, but with a nearly two-minute difference in their recent half marathon wins Ohara will have a very tough battle facing her to stay in contact.  At stake for her and for the other top Japanese woman is a place at the London World Championships, Nagoya serving as the last selection race for the Japanese women's team.

Fatuma Sado (Ethiopia), 2nd in Toronto in 2015, is the other main front-end contender.  Mid-pack, interesting names include 2015 Rotterdam Marathon winner Asami Kato (Team Panasonic), Janet Cherobon-Bawcom (U.S.A.) and 2016 Osaka Marathon winner Yoshiko Sakamoto (Y.W.C.).  Kaori Yoshida (Team RxL), Cassie Fien (Australia) and Sakie Arai (Osaka Gakuin Univ.)  are all set to double after having run January's Osaka International Women's Marathon, Arai off a win at last weekend's Kumanichi 30 km and Yoshida also entered in this weekend's Tokyo Marathon.  2016 and 2017 National Corporate Half Marathon champions Miho Shimizu (Team Hokuren) and Ai Utsunomiya (Miyazaki Ginko) are down to make their marathon debuts, as are equally talented half marathoners Yuka Ando (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and Hisami Ishii (Team Yamada Denki).

The Nagoya Women's Marathon will be broadcast live on March 12.  JRN will cover the race live on @JRNLive.  Check back closer to race date for livestreaming details and other info.

Nagoya Women's Marathon Elite Field Highlights
Nagoya, 3/12/17
click here for detailed field listing
times listed are best within last three years except where noted

Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) - 2:22:08 (Nagoya 2015)
Rei Ohara (Japan/Tenmaya) - 2:23:20 (Nagoya 2016)
Fatuma Sado (Ethiopia) - 2:24:16 (Toronto Waterfront 2015)
Mao Kiyota (Japan/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:24:32 (Nagoya Women's 2016)
Reia Iwade (Japan/Noritz) - 2:24:38 (Nagoya Women's 2016)
Sayaka Kuwahara (Japan/Sekisui Kagaku) - 2:25:09 (Nagoya Women's 2016)
Valeria Straneo (Italy) - 2:25:27 (Zurich European Championships 2014)
Shiho Takechi (Japan/Yamada Denki) - 2:25:29 (Nagoya Women's 2016)
Eri Hayakawa (Japan/Toto) - 2:25:31 (Nagoya Women's 2014)
Asami Kato (Japan/Panasonic) - 2:26:30 (Japan/Rotterdam 2015)
Monica Jepkoech (Kenya) - 2:27:26 (Toronto Waterfront 2015)
Keiko Nogami (Japan/Juhachi Ginko) - 2:28:19 (Nagoya Women's 2015)
Yuko Watanabe (Japan/Edion) - 2:28:36 (Osaka Int'l 2015)
Kaori Yoshida (Japan/Team RxL) - 2:28:43 (Saitama Int'l 2015)
Alessandra Aguilar (Spain) - 2:29:45 (London 2015)
Aki Otagiri (Japan/Tenmaya) - 2:30:24 (Nagoya Women's 2015)
Janet Cherobon-Bawcom (U.S.A.) - 2:31:14 (L.A. Olympic Trials 2016)
Haruna Takada (Japan/Yamada Denki) - 2:31:17 (Nagoya Women's 2016)
Yukiko Okuno (Japan/Shiseido) - 2:31:17 (Tokyo 2016)
Winfridah Kebaso (Kenya/Nitori) - 2:32:08 (Saitama Int'l 2015)
Yui Okada (Japan/Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:32:10 (Hokkaido 2015)
Kikuyo Tsuzaki (Japan/Noritz) - 2:32:23 (Nagoya Women's 2016)
Cassie Fien (Australia) - 2:33:01 (Osaka Int'l 2017)
Hiroko Yoshitomi (Japan/Memolead) - 2:33:04 (Nagoya Women's 2016)
Kana Orino (Japan/Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 2:33:51 (Nagoya Women's 2014)
Mayumi Fujita (Japan/Nagasaki T&F Assoc.) - 2:34:13 (Yokohama Int'l 2014)
Sinead Diver (Australia) - 2:34:15 (Melbourne 2014)
Mei Matsuyama (Japan/Noritz) - 2:34:35 (Nagoya Women's 2016)
Sakie Arai (Japan/Osaka Gakuin Univ.) - 2:34:40 (Osaka Int'l 2017)
Anna Nosenko (Ukraine) - 2:34:57 (Krakow 2016)
Yoko Miyauchi (Japan/Hokuren) - 2:35:09 (Nagoya Women's 2016)
Yoshiko Sakamoto (Japan/Y.W.C.) - 2:36:02 (Osaka 2016)
Ai Inoue (Japan/Noritz) - 2:36:35 (Nagoya Women's 2016)

Debut
Miho Shimizu (Japan/Hokuren) - 1:09:41 (Nat'l Corporate Half 2016)
Yuka Ando (Japan/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:09:51 (Sanyo Women's Half 2015)
Hisami Ishii (Japan/Yamada Denki) - 1:10:09 (Nat'l Corporate Half 2016)
Ai Utsunomiya (Japan/Miyazaki Ginko) - 1:10:47

© 2017 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

"Where Runners With the Highest Ambitions Come Together" - Fujiwara in Iten Ahead of Tokyo Marathon

text and photos by Tsukasa Kawarai
translated and edited by Brett Larner

2012 London Olympian Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) has had some of his greatest races at the Tokyo Marathon, finishing 2nd three times: an explosive 2:08:40 breakthrough there in 2008, 2:12:34 in sleet and strong wind in 2010, and his 2:07:48 PB in 2012 to make the London team. He has also done some of his worst marathons there, running 2:29:21 in 2011, dropping out in 2013, 2:30:58 in 2014, 2:19:40 in 2015 and 2:20:23 last year. The blindfolded-shot-in-the-dark quality of Fujiwara’s history in Tokyo has always made him unpredictable but entertaining. In preparation for this year’s Tokyo Marathon Fujiwara trained in Kenya for nearly two months. Tsukasa Kawarai spent time at Fujiwara’s training camp in January, and ahead of Sunday’s race he wrote a report for JRN on what he saw of Fujiwara’s preparations.


Starting in mid-December last year Arata Fujiwara trained in Iten, Kenya for about two months. It was his second time to train in Iten, his goal this time to build up a solid base in preparation for the Tokyo Marathon. Fujiwara injured his knee in June last year while training for the Gold Coast Airport Marathon. The injury that kept him from doing the kind of running he wanted for several months, but he came to Iten to make a full recovery from that setback.

It takes several weeks to adapt to high altitude training at 2400 m. Being the dry season it hardly ever rained in Iten, meaning very dry conditions. In the rough terrain around Iten, a passing car leaves you completely covered with dust. Amid this kind of tough environment, Fujiwara worked hard alongside the Kenyans.


In Iten Fujiwara chose locals Edwin Kiprop and Benerd Koech, a different athlete from Tokyo Marathon invited elite Bernard Koech, as his training partners. He ran together with them and in a larger training group during interval workouts at Kamariny Stadium and for long runs.


I accompanied Fujiwara to Kamariny Stadium for a high-quality interval session of 600 m x 15 led by Kenyan runners. With weeks of that kind of training behind him in Iten he looked to me like the Fujiwara of old, when he was in his best shape.


Fujiwara wasn’t the only one training at Kamariny Stadium. Many Olympians regularly do tough workouts there, a daily fact of life that makes Iten “The Home of Champions.” At the same time that Fujiwara was doing his interval workout, Wilson Kipsang was also training with a group in prep for Tokyo. Paul Chelimo was there from the U.S.A. too with a group of his own. “This is where runners with the highest ambitions from here and abroad come together,” Fujiwara said.

After the workout Fujiwara chatted with Kipsang. They both ran the London Olympics marathon. Both of them will run the Tokyo Marathon deadly focused on making this year’s London World Championships. To run again in the city of London.

The Tokyo Marathon has changed its course this year to what is being called a “high-speed course.” The late-stage hills of the old course are gone, and the expectation is that people will be slowing down less in the second half. With highly-developed racing intuition born from long experience I expect to see Fujiwara run an aggressive race and a long-overdue sub-2:10.


text and photos © 2017 Tsukasa Kawarai
all rights reserved

'Andrew Bumbalough Goes to Tokyo For Good Vibes...and His Marathon Debut'

http://www.bowermantc.com/btc-news/2017/2/19/andrew-bumbalough-goes-to-tokyo-for-good-vibesand-his-marathon-debut

Monday, February 20, 2017

3000 m JHS National Record Holder Hayashida Runs 7:51 Road 3 km Course Record

http://www.ktn.co.jp/news/20170219116552/

translated and edited by Brett Larner


On the final day of the three-day Nagasaki Intraprefecture Ekiden on Feb. 19, the Seihi-Saikai municipal team scored its first overall win in three years. Seihi-Saikai led both of the first two days of the race before leading the way to the finish line on day three.  The city of Nagasaki team was 2nd,  with the Omura-Higashi Sonogi municipal team 3rd.

3000 m junior high school national record holder Hiroto Hayashida, a third-year at Sakuragahara J.H.S., ran the 3.0 km Seventh Stage for Omura-Higashi Sonogi.  Having set a new 3.0 km course record at last month's National Men's Ekiden, Hayashida did it again as he passed three people en route to a new course record of 7:51, an amazing 31 seconds off the old record.

"This was the last ekiden I'll run as a junior high school student," Hayashida commented post-race. "I wanted to maintain the flow that our team had going and do everything I could to keep us within range of the podium."  The runner-up on the same stage, the Shimabara Hanto team's Kaito Takeshita, was also under the old record by 7 seconds in 8:15.

Weekend Marathon Breakdown

By Brett Larner

Sunday was a break in the elite Japanese marathon calendar, but there were at least seven quality amateur marathons across the country, two with over 10,000 finishers ranking them among the world’s largest full marathons. Winning times were as fast as 2:20:32 for men and 2:38:51 for women, with one race featuring a rare European winner. A nationwide breakdown of the Feb. 19 marathons:

Kyoto Marathon, Kyoto
Total finishers: 15,714
Men: 1. Kosuke Murasashi 2:20:32
Women: 1.Yuria Ikuno 2:45:15

Kumamoto Castle Marathon, Kumamoto
Total finishers: 10,944
Men: 1. Haruki Okayama 2:22:45
Women: Chigusa Yoshimatsu 2:56:20

Kochi Ryoma MarathonKochi
Total finishers: 9,589
Men: 1. Daisuke Ikemoto 2:28:06
Women: 1. Chiho Matoba 2:58:51

Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka
Total finishers: 9,434
Men: 1. Shuji Tsukamoto 2:22:31
Women: 1. Marie Imada 2:38:51

Okinawa MarathonOkinawa
Total finishers: 8,303
Men: 1. Thomas Frazer (Ireland) 2:27:09
Women: 1. Eri Suzuki 2:47:40

Senshu International Marathon, Osaka
Total finishers: 4,505
Men: 1. Mitsutaka Imura 2:22:53
Women: 1. Mitsuko Ino 2:44:21

Kaifugawa Furu Marathon, Tokushima
Total finishers: 1,584
Men: 1. Takumi Matsumoto 2:26:10
Women: 1. Chika Niki 2:48:25

© 2017 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Ueno, Arai Win in Kumamoto, Cheboitibin and Utsunomiya Take Ome

by Brett Larner


Both of the world's two main 30 km races took place in Japan today.  In the morning, to the south in Kumamoto the Kumanichi Road Race held its 61st edition, the first since last year's powerful earthquakes caused heavy damage in the area.  2009 double 1500 m and 5000 m champion Yuichiro Ueno (DeNA RC) went out fast, close to 30 km national record pace at 10 km in 29:27 and still on track for a 1:28 time at 20 km in 59:11.  Over the last 10 km Ueno slowed dramatically, taking 31:06 to reach the finish line in 1:30:17, but even so his margin of victory over runner-up Ryu Takaku (Team Yakult) was more than a minute.

The women's race was closer, with last year's 4th-placer Sakie Arai (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) outrunning corporate leaguers Rie Uchida (Otsuka Seiyaku) and Yoko Miyauchi (Team Hokuren) by just 8 seconds to win in a PB of 1:46:29 just three weeks after running a PB of 2:34:40 at the Osaka International Women's Marathon.  In the associated mass-participation marathon division another collegiate runner, Tokyo Nogyo University fourth-year Haruki Okayama won the men's race in 2:22:45 with local Chigusa Yoshimatsu taking the women's title in 2:56:20.


Just after Kumanichi finished, the 51st edition of the Ome Road Race began in Tokyo's western hills. Almost all of the fan attention was on the debuting Daichi Kamino (Team Konica Minolta), a major star of the Hakone Ekiden thanks to his hill running prowess before his graduation last year.  Sparring mostly with last year's top two Yuki Oshikawa (Team Toyota Kyushu) and Michael Githae (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and with Githae's fellow Kenyan Ezekiel Cheboitibin (Team Toho Refining), Kamino was patient on the uphill first half before springing into action after rounding the turnaround point and starting the trip back down.  Oshikawa quickly lost touch, but after 20 km Kamino had trouble sustaining his attack and began to drop back from Cheboitibin and Githae.  It was soon clear that he wasn't coming back, and in the final kilometers Cheboitibin pulled away to become the first Kenyan winner in Ome history as he crossed the finish line in 1:30:49.

5th last year in the women's race, Ami Utsunomiya (Canon AC Kyushu) led the entire race to win in a PB of 1:46:24.  Track star Azusa Sumi (Team Universal Entertainment) was a non-factor in her debut, 43 seconds behind Utsunomiya at 5 km and dropping out soon afterward.  Sumi's teammate Mai Shinozuka had better luck in the women's 10 km, winning in 33:53, with Yutaro Takeda (Tokyo Jitsugyo H.S.) joining her on the podium as he won the high school boys' 10 km in 30:57.

61st Kumanichi Road Race
Kumamoto, 2/19/17

Men's 30 km
1. Yuichiro Ueno (DeNA) - 1:30:17
2. Ryu Takaku (Yakult) - 1:31:18
3. Keisuke Sago (Yasukawa Denki) - 1:31:39
4. Shoya Okuno (Toyota Kyushu) - 1:31:49
5. Shota Yamaguchi (Fujitsu) - 1:31:59

Women's 30 km
1. Sakie Arai (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) - 1:46:29
2. Rie Uchida (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:46:37
3. Yoko Miyauchi (Hokuren) - 1:46:41
4. Erika Ikeda (Higo Ginko) - 1:46:53
5. Mami Onuki (Sysmex) - 1:47:05

Men's Marathon
1. Haruki Okayama (Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) - 2:22:45

Women's Marathon
1. Chigusa Yoshimatsu (Kumamoto T&F Assoc.) - 2:56:20


51st Ome Road Race
Ome, Tokyo, 2/19/17
click here for complete results

Men's 30 km 
1. Ezekiel Cheboitibin (Kenya/Toho Refining) - 1:30:49
2. Michael Gitahe (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:30:55
3. Daichi Kamino (Konica Minolta) - 1:31:33
4. Yuki Oshikawa (Toyota Kyushu) - 1:31:38
5. Hiroki Sugawa (DeNA RC) - 1:33:50
-----
12. Zach Hine (U.S.A.) - 1:37:20

Women's 30 km
1. Ami Utsunomiya (Canon AC Kyushu) - 1:46:24
-----
DNF - Azusa Sumi (Univ. Ent.)

High School Boys' 10 km
1. Yutaro Takeda (Tokyo Jitsugyo H.S.) - 30:57

Women's 10 km
1. Mai Shinozuka (Univ. Ent.) - 33:53
2. Mao Komoto (Hachioji H.S.) - 34:43
3. Saki Yoshimizu (Univ. Ent.) - 34:56

© 2017 Brett Larner
all rights reserved