12 FEB 2012 General News

Kenyan high schoolers dominate at Chiba Cross Country

Kenya's Charles Ndirangu wins the senior men's race (Kyoko Matsuda/Agence SHOT)Kenya's Charles Ndirangu wins the senior men's race (Kyoko Matsuda/Agence SHOT) © Copyright

Kenyan high school student Charles Ndirangu  won the men’s 12Km at the Chiba Cross Country on Sunday (12), while his teammate Susan Wairimu won the women’s 8Km race at this IAAF Cross Country Permit event.  


But the pair’s feat wasn't all for Hiroshima’s Sera High School. Freshman John Gasaya was third in men’s 12Km adding to the school’s dominance at the event.


Kenyans swept the men’s 12Km race as Martin Mathathi of Suzuki Motors and Kenya was second.  In the women’s 8Km Grace Kimanzi of Starts and Kenya finished second, giving Kenya five of the six medals in the senior races. Only Megumi Kinukawa, who finished third in the women’s 8Km, prevented a Kenyan sweep of both races.


Ndirangu, who just turned 19 on 8 February, is a senior (last year) student at the school and is the Japanese high school champion at 5000m with an incredible 13:15.44 personal best. Although Ndirangu just missed Sam Wanjiru’s stage record at the Japanese national high school Ekiden championships, he was instrumental in his team winning the championship. Ndirangu hopes to represent Kenya at this summer’s World Junior Championships.  


Mathathi, of course, is a world class runner with sub-27 10,000m and sub-60 minutes Half Marathon bests.  He was third at the 2006 World Cross Country Championships as well as 10,000m at the 2007 World Championships. Since Ndirangu is so much faster than Mathathi, who was fifth at 10,000m in the 2011 World Championships with 27:23, Ndirangu’s future is extremely bright. Will he be next Sam Wanjiru?    


In the men’s 12Km, Ndirangu and Gasaya led from the start, but soon Ndirangu broke away and was never threatened. In the middle part of the race Ndirangu lead from Mathathi followed by Gasaya and then the pack of Japanese.  Soon Suguru Osako broke away from the pack of Japanese and actually came close to catching Gasaya. At the end Osako, the World University Games champion, was fourth, and the first Japanese, followed by Yuta Takahashi and Yuki Sato. Osako’s next goal is to win a national title on the track.


In the women’s 8Km, the pack stayed together through two kilometres, but soon Kenyans Wairimu and Kimanzi broke away leaving two runners from college Ekiden powerhouse Ritsumeikan University fighting for the top Japanese spot. However, soon Megumi Kinukawa and Ayuko Suzuki came from behind to join the race for the first Japanese.  At the end Kinukawa, who ran in the 2007 and 2011 World Championships, was first Japanese and third overall. She was followed by Suzuki and then Mutsumi Ikeda. Like Ndirangu, Wairimu, the winner at women’s 8Km, is the Japanese high school champion at 3000m.


The men’s junior race was won by Kazuma Kubota, who recorded the fastest stage one (where the team’s big gun competes) in the December’s Japanese high school Ekiden championships, while the junior women’s race was won by Yuka Ando of Toyokawa high school, the Japanese high school Ekiden champion.  Ando was only one second off the fastest stage in the championships Ekiden.  


Ken Nakamura for the IAAF


Leading Results:

Men 12Km -

1. Charles Ndirangu (KEN)  34:59  Sera High school senior

2. Martin Mathathi (KEN)   35:09

3. John Gasaya (KEN)       35:38  Sera High school freshman

4. Suguru Osako             35:44

5. Yuta Takahashi           36:03

6. Yuki Sato               36:06

7. Yuta Shitara             36:15


Men’s 4Km

1. Yasunori Murakami  11:54

2. Hiroaki Koike       11:58

3. Koji Imaeda         12:03


Junior Men 8Km

1. Kazuma Kubota     24:33

2. Ken Yokote         24:41

3. Kazuo Uemura       24:44

4. Taiga Machizawa   24:45

5. Keisuke Nakatani  24:47

6. Koki Takada       24:50

7. Yuta Koyama       24:50


Women 8Km

1. Susan Wairimu (KEN)           26:41  Sera High school senior

2. Grace Kimanzi (KEN)           26:46

3. Megumi Kinukawa               27:17

4. Ayuko Suzuki                 27:25

5. Mutsumi Ikeda                 27:30

6. Ai Igarashi                   27:31

7. Toshika Tamura               27:35

8. Tetyana Hamera-Shmyrko (UKR) 27:40


Junior 5Km

1. Yuka Ando       16:45

2. Mai Shoji       16:49

3. Miyuki Uehara   16:49

4. Nanami Aoki     16:50

5. Katsuki Suga     16:51

6. Chiharu Suzuki  16:55

7. Tomoka Kimura   16:56

8. Mika Kobayashi  16:57