Chiba Cross Country, by K. Ken Nakamura

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K. Ken Nakamura sent us this update on the Chiba Cross Country, one of the qualifying race for the World Cross Country Championships...

Chiba Cross Country

Chiba Cross Country, one of the qualifying races for the upcoming World Cross Country Championships, was held in Showa Woods in Chiba. Invited runners did not fare well, however, those who ran well last year did so again this year. In the men's 12Km, the first invited runner, Hiroyoshi Umegae, was sixth, while in the women's 6Km the first invited runner, Aya Isomine, was only eighth. The trend was similar in the junior races. In the junior women's 5Km, Erika Ikeda in sixth place was the first invited runner in the race, while in the junior men's race, the first invited runner was Yutaro Fukushi who finished eighth. On the other hand, the defending champion Akinobu Murasawa won the men's junior race again this year, while Risa Takenaka, who was second in junior race last year, was second in senior race this year. Furthermore, Kazuka Wakatsuki, who was third last year in the women's 6Km moved up a notch to finish second this year.

Men's 12Km

Bitan Muchiri Karoki, Kenyan who is attending Sera high school in Hiroshima, won the men's 12Km race by more than 30 seconds from Julius Gitahi, 2:08 marathon runner, who was 9th at 5000m in the 2000 Olympic Games. Karoki is a superb ekiden runner also, for at the 2008 national high school ekiden championships Karoki recorded the stage record in the 8Km stage four. Makoto Fukui, who was second fastest in the 13.7Km third stage at the New Year Ekiden, was third; he was the first Japanese in the race. Fukui was followed by Yuta Takahashi, who won the junior 8Km race in 2006 Chiba Cross Country and then finished 30th in the junior race at the 2006 World Cross Country Championships. Takahashi is also a good track runner, having finished 9th at 10000m in the 2006 World Junior Championships. He was followed by Suehiro Ishikawa and then Hiroyoshi Umegae, who was first among the invited runners.

Women's 6Km

Yuko Shimizu, who was fifth fastest in the stage 4 of Chiba Ekiden and fourth fastest in the 10Km ninth stage of the 2009 Inter-Prefectural Ekiden, won the women's 6Km. She out sprinted Risa Takenaka, who was second in the junior race last year and then finished 26th in the junior division of the 2008 World Cross Country Championships in Edinburgh. "I am very happy because I did not think I could win the race. I was thinking of unleashing my sprint after the downhill leading to the finish," said Shimizu. Finishing third in the race was Kazuka Wakatsuki, who was third in Chiba Cross Country last year and then finished 71st in Edinburgh.

Junior Men's 8Km:

Akinobu Murasawa, who won both the Chiba Cross Country and Fukuoka Cross Country race last year, won the junior men's 8Km race in 23:15, over a minute faster than the last year's winning time. Murasawa and Tetsuya Yoroizaka took turn leading after 2Km into the race and after 3Km Murasawa also left Yoroizaka behind. Murasawa ran the rest of the race alone and won by 18 seconds from Yoroizaka, a 28:49 10000m runner. "I was hoping to run in the front of the pack, but because I am not a good sprinter, I was left behind at the start. It took me till about 2Km to catch the leaders. After that, I ran my own race. I think time was faster this year because the condition was better this year. It was warmer than last year," said Murasawa after the race. Murasawa is a premier high school distance runner in Japan. Not only he recorded the second fastest time in the stage 3 of national high school ekiden, but he also represented Japan in several international championships. Murasawa was 13th at 3000m in the 2007 World Youth Championships and 12th at 5000m in the 2008 World Junior Championships. However, he was only 37th in the 2008 World Cross Country Championships, a non-scoring position.

Junior Women's 5Km:

Chitose Shibata, who was second at 1500m in the 2006 national junior high school championships, won the junior women's 5Km race in 16:15, one second ahead of Nanaka Izawa, who recorded the fastest second stage in the last year's national high school ekiden championships. From the pack of four, Shibata and Izawa broke away, but at the end Shibata was able to out sprint Izawa. "I thought the start was a key. I was planning to run hard for the first 300m to take a good position in the pack," said Shibata after the race.

Results:

Men's 12Km

1) Muchiri Karoki (KEN) 34:40

2) Julius Gitahi (KEN) 35:16

3) Makoto Fukui 35:19

4) Yuta Takahashi 35:19

5) Suehiro Ishikawa 35:20

6) Hiroyoshi Umegae 35:22

7) Naoki Okamoto 35:25

8) Hideaki Date 35:29

9) Hidekazu Sato 35:42

13) Jon Brown (CAN) 35:55

29) Masakazu Fujiwara 36:35

41) Yoshikazu Iwamizu 37:00

92) Gregory Graves (AUS) 39:59

Men's 4Km

1) Kenta Sato 11:14

2) Yasuhiro Tago 11:15

3) Toru Miyahara 11:17

Women's 6Km

1) Yuko Shimizu 19:38

2) Risa Takenaka 19:39

3) Kazuka Wakatsuki 19:43

4) Aki Otagiri 19:48

5) Machiko Iwakawa 19;48

6) Fumiko Hashimoto 19:49

7) Rie Matsumoto 19:50

8) Aya Isomine 19:51

9) Seika Nishikawa 19:59

10) Yoshika Tatsumi 20:04

11) Yumi Sato 20:06

17) Kiyoko Shimamura 20:15

19) Harumi HIroyama 20:19

25) Yoshiko Ichikawa 20:39

36) Irina Sergeyeva (RUS) 21:05

Junior Men's 8Km

1) Akinobu Murasawa 23:15

2) Tetsuya Yoroizaka 23:33

3) Kazuto Nishiike 23:33

4) Kazuhiro Kuga 23:36

5) Keita Shitara 23:38

6) Kenta Chiba 23:41

Junior Men's 4Km

1) Tatsuya Goto 11:43

2) Yuhei Ushiyama 11:46

3) Kotaro Minowa 11:49

Junior Women's 5Km

1) Chitose Shibata 16:15

2) Nanaka Izawa 16:16

3) Emi Kameyama 16:20

4) Akane Yabushita 16:21

5) Asami Kato 16:21

6) Erika Ikeda 16:22

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