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Abinet and Utsunomiya Take National Corporate Half Marathon Titles, 19-Year-Old Onizuka Wins Karatsu 10-Miler

by Brett Larner

Alongside Sunday's record-breaking marathon action, the weekend featured three high-level road races across the country.  In Yamaguchi, Ethiopian Abiyot Abinet (Team Yachiyo Kogyo) made a strong half marathon debut to win the National Corporate Half Marathon Championships men's title. Emerging from a lead pack of seven including Kenyans Macharia Ndirangu (Team Aichi Seiko), Charles Ndirangu (Team JFE Steel) and Daniel Muiva Kitonyi (Team Kanebo) plus Japanese men Taku Fujimoto (Team Toyota), Ken Yokote (Team Fujitsu) and Hiroyuki Ishikawa (Team Aisan Kogyo), Abinet ran the last two-thirds of the race alone to win in 1:01:21.  Fujimoto took 4th overall in 1:01:53 in the top Japanese position.  Kitonyi, Yokote and Ishikawa faded in the second half and were run down by 2014 National University Half Marathon champion Hideto Yamanaka (Team Honda) and Komazawa University graduate Shun Inoura (Team Yachiyo Kogyo) who set new PBs of 1:02:00 and 1:02:01.

The women's race was split between half marathon and 10 km with just 44 women starting the half.  A pack race until 15 km, Ai Utsunomiya (Team Miyazaki Ginko) and Sakiko Tsutsui (Team Yamada Denki) went head-to-head over the last 5 km for the national title.  Running a PB by over 20 seconds, Utsunomiya got the win in 1:10:47, Tsutsui pulling a credible debut in 1:10:55 for 2nd.  Coached by men's half marathon national record holder Atsushi Sato, 19-year-old Ayaka Fujimoto ran a PB of 1:11:00 for 3rd.  Yui Fukuda (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) scored the 10 km national title in style, setting a course record of 32:17 to finish 7 seconds up on Mao Ichiyama (Team Wacoal).  Japanese women regularly run faster in 10.0 km ekiden legs, but Fukuda's time put her just outside the all-time Japanese top ten for regular road 10 km.

At the Karatsu 10-Miler, Tokai University first-year Shota Onizuka unexpectedly outran a field including Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Team Asahi Kasei), all-time Japanese #2 for 5000 m and 10000 m on the track and making his non-ekiden road race debut, for the win in 46:36.  Onizuka's fellow Tokai first-years Junnosuke Matsuo and Ryoji Tatezawa both made the top seven in their 10-mile debuts, further adding to Tokai's credentials as the team with the best chance of taking down three-time Hakone Ekiden champion Aoyama Gakuin University in the 2017-18 ekiden season.  A week after superb pacing through 15 km at the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, Taiki Yoshimura (Team Asahi Kasei) was 9th in 47:24.

Eijia Miyagi (Oita Tomei H.S.) won the women's 10 km in 33:30, with Sae Hanada (Chikushi Joshi Gakuen H.S.) winning the high school girls' 5 km in 16:23.  The high school boys' 10 km saw the top seven break 30 minutes, Takaki Iwamuro (Omuta H.S.) getting the win in a PB 29:44.  But the high school results paled compared to what came a day earlier in Gunma.  At Saturday's Gunma Prefecture Junior Road Race, at least the top eight broke 30 minutes in the high school boys' 10 km.  Winner Keigo Kurihara (Tokyo Nogyo Prep Daini H.S.) ran 29:22 to take more than 30 seconds off the course record of 29:54 set in 1987.  Between them, the two high school boys' 10 km races showed that the bar continues to raise as Tokyo 2020 draws closer.

45th National Corporate Half Marathon and 10 km Championships
Yamaguchi, 2/12/17
click here for complete results

Men's Half Marathon
1. Abiyot Abinet (Yachiyo Kogyo) - 1:01:21 - debut
2. Macharia Ndirangu (Aichi Seiko) - 1:01:46
3. Charles Ndirangu (JFE Steel) - 1:01:52
4. Taku Fujimoto (Toyota) - 1:01:53
5. Hideto Yamanaka (Honda) - 1:02:00 - PB
6. Shun Inoura (Yachiyo Kogyo) - 1:02:01 - PB
7. Daniel Muiva Kitonyi (Kanebo) - 1:02:05
8. Ken Yokote (Fujitsu) - 1:02:15
9. Naoya Takahashi (Yasukawa Denki) - 1:02:31 - PB
10. Keita Baba (Honda) - 1:02:31

Women's Half Marathon
1. Ai Utsunomiya (Miyazaki Ginko) - 1:10:47 - PB
2. Sakiho Tsutsui (Yamada Denki) - 1:10:55 - debut
3. Ayaka Fujimoto (Kyocera) - 1:11:00 - PB
4. Maki Ashi (Kyudenko) - 1:11:12 - PB
5. Yuri Nozoe (Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 1:11:14 - debut

Women's 10 km
1. Yui Fukuda (Toyota Jidoshokki) - 32:17 - CR
2. Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) - 32:24
3. Kaori Morita (Panasonic) - 32:27
4. Ryo Koido (Hitachi) - 32:39
5. Yuka Hori (Panasonic) - 32:40

57th Karatsu 10-Mile Road Race
Karatsu, Saga, 2/12/17
click here for complete results

Men's 10 Miles
1. Shota Onizuka (Tokai Univ.) - 46:36 - debut
2. Yuma Higashi (Kyudenko) - 46:39 - PB
3. Minato Yamashita (NTN) - 46:43 - debut
4. Junnosuke Matsuo (Tokai Univ.) - 46:44 - debut
5. Akinobu Murasawa (Nissin Shokuhin) - 46:46
6. Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Asahi Kasei) - 46:48 - debut
7. Ryoji Tatezawa (Tokai Univ.) - 47:04 - debut
8. Atsuya Imai (Toyota Kyushu) - 47:20
9. Taiki Yoshimura (Asahi Kasei) - 47:24
10. Akihiko Tsumurai (Mazda) - 47:25

Women's 10 km
1. Eijia Miyagi (Oita Tomei H.S.) - 33:30 - PB
2. Yuika Takaki (Fukuoka Univ.) - 33:40
3. Shoko Tsujita (Chikushi Joshi Gakuen H.S.) - 34:36
4. Saya Terao (Nakamura Joshi H.S.) - 34:37
5. Fuka Niina (Oita Tomei H.S.) - 34:38

High School Boys 10 km
1. Takaki Iwamuro (Omuta H.S.) - 29:44 - PB
2. Kaishi Daiho (Tokai Prep Fukuoka H.S.) - 29:50 - PB
3. Hiroyasu Morikawa (Jiyugaoka H.S.) - 29:52 - PB
4. Tatsuya Takahashi (Jiyugaoka H.S.) - 29:53 - PB
5. Masaki Tsuda (Fukuoka Prep Ohori H.S.) - 29:53 - PB

High School Girls 5 km
1. Sae Hanada (Chikushi Joshi Gakuen H.S.) - 16:23
2. Ako Matsumoto (Omuta H.S.) - 16:27
3. Maki Okubo (Saga Seiwa H.S.) - 16:53

26th Gunma Prefecture Junior Road Race
Maebashi, Gunma, 2/11/17

High School Boys 10 km
1. Keigo Kurihara (Tokyo Nogyo Prep Daini H.S.) - 29:22 - CR, PB
2. Hiroki Arai (Maebashi Ikuei H.S.) - 29:23
3. Mitsuaki Takahashi (Fujioka Chuo H.S.) - 29:28
4. Ippei Hoshino (Tokyo Nogyo Prep Daini H.S.) - 29:31
5. Shuto Takeuchi (Isesaki Shogyo H.S.) - 29:35

© 2017 Brett Larner
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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
           …

Guinness Certifies Kawauchi's World Record 78 Career Sub-2:20 Marathons After Half Marathon in Panda Costume

Known as the Civil Servant Runner, Saitama Prefectural Government employee Yuki Kawauchi's career record of 78 sub-2:20 marathons was officially recognized as the Guinness World Record at a ceremony in his hometown of Kuki, Saitama on Mar. 25.  Raised in Kuki, Kawauchi began working for the Saitama Prefectural Government after graduating from university. Running while working full-time as a civil servant, he has qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic trial race.

Earlier this month on the 18th Kawauchi ran Taiwan's Wan Jin Shi Marathon, winning in 2:14:12. His 78th time running faster than 2 hours and 20 minutes, his achievement was certified as the official Guinness World Record. He actually broke the previous record on Jan. 1 at the Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon in the U.S.A. with his 76th sub-2:20 but followed up with two performances, one in February and the other last week, before Guinness could ratify the record.

The official recognition ceremony took place Mar. 2…

“The Miracle in Fukuoka” - Real Talk From Yuki Kawauchi on “Taking on the World” (part 1)

http://sports.yahoo.co.jp/column/detail/201701120002-spnavi

translated by Brett Larner

Ahead of his nomination to the London World Championships Marathon team, Sportsnavi published a three-part series of writings by Yuki Kawauchi on what it took for him to make the team, his hopes for London, and his views on the future of Japanese marathoning.  With his place on the London team announced on Mar. 17, JRN will publish an English translation of the complete series over the next three days. See Sportsnavi's original version linked above for more photos. Click here for part two, "Bringing All My Experience Into Play in London," or here for part three, "The Lessons of the Past Are Not 'Outdated.'"


The Fukuoka International Marathon was held on Dec. 4 last year. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) took part despite nursing injuries he had sustained in training. Falling rain contributed to less than ideal conditions during the race, but from the very early stages…