Fukuoka, JapanSamuel Wanjiru of Kenya and Emilie Mondor of Canada won the Fukuoka Cross Country race on Sunday 2 March, which was the second and the final qualifying races for the Japanese World Cross Country Championships team.
The race took place on the "Umi no Nakamichi" seaside park the suburbs of Fukuoka, a venue which wishes to attract the 2006 World Cross Country Championships.
The course has changed this year and is basically a multiple 3Km loop. The men's 10Km course consists of a 1km lead in part plus three laps of the 3Km loop. Because of the rain the day before (Saturday), the course was soaked, but fortunately there were no major mishaps during the race.
The race started with a huge pack passing 1Km in 2:48 and 2Km in 5:48, and during the last half one runner after another attempted to make a break-away. Firstly, after passing 5Km in 14:45, Ken-ichiro Setoguchi made a surge which strung out the field.
Then a kilometre later (6Km in 17:30) it was Tomoo Tsubota who attempted a breakaway without success, soon being caught by Shin-ichiro Okuda, Tomohiro Seto and Samuel Wanjiru, a Kenyan high school student who lives in Japan. Another kilometre later it was Okuda's turn to attempt a break-away but Wanjiru and Seto were able to cover his move.
Finally, with about 700m to go Wanjiru picked up the pace to open a slight gap on Okuda and Seto. Although Okuda made a valiant attempt to bridge the gap, at the end Wanjiru held him off.
"My legs hurts, but I am happy to win," said Wanjiru who ran the fastest 10Km stage (28:55) in the Japanese high school ekiden championships last December.
In the junior men’s race yesterday, Keita Tsuchihashi, who holds Japanese high school record at 5000m (13:44.91), won the 8000m race. He also won the junior race in Chiba cross country on 16 February.
The women's 6Km course consisted of two 3Km loops. The favourite in the race was Miwako Yamanaka, who was fourth at the World Cross Country Championships in Dublin last year.
Yamanaka had injured her ankle during January's Osaka Ladies Marathon and missed the Chiba cross country race, the first qualifying race for the World Cross Country team. However, recently in the Yokohama Women's Ekiden, Yamanaka recorded the second fastest 5Km first stage, confirming she was back to fitness.
The 6Km race started with Yamanaka and Yoshiko Ichikawa, who had finished second in Chiba, jointly in the lead. The leaders including Emi Ikeda, Tomoko Hatori and Emilie Mondor of Canada passed 1Km in 3:12 and 2Km in 6:08.
Of the five runners, Ikeda was the first to lose contact with the leaders at 3Km, followed by Ichikawa 500m later. At 5Km when Hatori, (31:48.12 10,000m PB), surged, Yamanaka immediately covered her move but Mondor was slower, not catching up with the leaders until 300m later.
A further 400m, and it was Yamanaka who went for the win but Mondor stayed with her and in turn began her sprint with 100m to go, and won by one second over Yamanaka.
"I am happy to run a good race thanks to Yamanaka. I know she is a good runner. I could not believe I actually beat her," confirmed the winner.
Yamanaka in second commented: "I knew Mondor had better speed than Hatori. I should have increased the pace even more at the end, but the ground conditions was not very good (from the rain on the previous day), and it was not possible to do so."
Ken Nakamura for the IAAF
additional credit - Akihiro Onishi.
Men's Senior 10Km
1) Samuel Wanjiru (KEN) 29:13
2) Shin-ichiro Okuda 29:14
3) Tomohiro Seto 29:16
4) Kenta Oshima 29:18
5) Tomoo Tsubota 29:20
6) Makoto Otsu 29:22
7) Kazuyoshi Tokumoto 29:23
8) Ken-ichiro Setoguchi 29:23
Junior Men's 8000m
1) Keita Tsuchihashi 23:45
Women's Senior 6Km
1) Emilie Mondor (CAN) 18:51
2) Miwako Yamanaka 18:53
3) Tomoko Hatori 18:54
4) Yoshiko Ichikawa 19:11
5) Emi Ikeda 19:22
6) Kazue Ogoshi 19:32
7) Akiko Kawashima 19:36
8) Hiromi Koga 19:46