Kenya’s Charles Ndirangu and Australia’s Zoe Buckman triumphed at the 50th edition of the Chiba Cross Country, an IAAF Cross Country Permit meeting, in Japan on Sunday (8).
Ndirangu, the 2013 edition champion and thus the defending champion because the 2014 edition was cancelled due to snow, returned to win a very muddy senior men’s 12km race after the race was broken open early due to the fast pace set by Paul Kamathi, who studies at the Sera High School in Hiroshima, and Ndirangu, a former pupil at the same school who has stayed in Japan.
In the opening kilometres, Mexico’s Juan Luis Barrios and Eritrea’s Samuel Tsegay were racing together in third and fourth behind the leading pair.
Just before the halfway point, Ndirangu pulled away from Kamathi, who started to struggle.
Approaching the 7km point, Kenya’s Daniel Kitonyi, who studies at Nihon University, and Barrios caught and passed the flagging Kamathi before the Mexican found another gear and clinched second place behind the rampant Ndirungu, who produced an outstanding run in the challenging conditions in Chiba’s Showa Woods, with driving rain having come down throughout the morning.
Ndirungu won in 36:14, coming home 17 seconds clear of Barrios.
Hiroki Matsueda quickly established himself as first Japanese runner in the race, a position he never relinquished.
Buckman won the senior women’s 8km race even more convincingly. She was out on her own from two kilometres into the race and extended her lead all the way to the finish to win by 32 seconds in 28:37.
Maki Izumida, whose mother Yuki Tamura was also an elite runner back in the late 1980s and early 90s, finished second in 29:09.
Both junior races – which, like the senior races, doubled as the Japanese team selection races for the 2015 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China, next month were won by Japanese, although the top Kenyan runners attending Japanese high school did not contest these events.
Ryoji Tatezawa won a very close junior men’s 8km in 24:10 with a furious kick in the finishing straight, with the first three runners given the same time, while Wakana Kabasawa surged away from her competition in the final uphill stretch to win the junior women’s 5km by nine seconds in 16:46.
Ken Nakamura for the IAAF
Leading results (Japanese, unless stated)
Senior men's 12km
1. Charles Ndirangu (KEN) 36:14
2. Juan Luis Barrios (MEX) 36:31
3. Daniel Muiva Kitonyi (KEN) 36:51
4. Paul Kamathi (KEN ) 37:03
5. Samuel Tsegay (ERI) 37:43
6. Hiroki Matsueda 37:56
Senior women’s 8Km
1. Zoe Buckman (AUS) 28:37
2. Maki Izumida 29:09
3. Yui Fukuda 29:27
4. Mai Shoji 29:30
5. Miho Shimizu 29:30
6. Yuka Kimura 29:31
Junior men’s 8km
1. Ryoji Tatezawa 24:10
2. Fuminori Shimo 24:10
3. Haruki Minatoya 24:10
4. Tomoki Ota 24:13
5. Tomoya Morita 24:15
6. Shota Onizuka 24:18
Junior women’s 5km
1. Wakana Kabasawa 16:46
2. Yuri Nozoe 16:55
3. Fumiko Ando 16:59
4. Miho Shimada 17:01
5. Rena Shinozaki 17:03
6.Yuka Sarumida 17:04