Big win for high schooler Bedan Karoki in 2010 Chiba cross senior race (Yohei Kamiyama (Agence Shot)) © Copyright
General News

Karoki wins again - Kenyans and hosts dominate at Fukuoka Cross Country

The 25th annual Fukuoka International Cross Country, Fukuoka, Japan, which doubled as one of two Japanese qualifying races for the upcoming IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Punta Umbria, Spain (30 March), took place today (26) and was dominated by the Japanese women (both junior and senior) and the Kenyan men. Most notably, Kenyan Bidan Karoki who won the IAAF Permit race in Chiba on 13 February was triumphant again in the senior men's race.

The Fukuoka International Cross Country is an IAAF XC Permit meeting.

Japanese team selection

For the Japanese the Fukuoka Cross Country, along with the Chiba Cross Country, were the selection races for the upcoming World Cross Country Championships.  Two Japanese runners stood-out and thus are expected to be selected for the World Cross team.  First, Hitomi Niiya, who won Chiba Cross Country 8Km race by 40 seconds, won the Fukuoka Cross Country 6Km race by 19 seconds. Second, Katsuki Suga, who won the Chiba Cross Country 5Km by 15 seconds, won the Fukuoka Cross Country 6Km race with 11 seconds. Akinobu Murasawa did not win the men’s 10Km, but he challenged the Kenyan head on and finished very respectable 4th only eight seconds behind the second place.

Race Summaries

Women’s 6km
Hitomi Niiya took the lead immediately and covered 1Km in 3:07 and 2Km in 6:12 and 4Km in 12:37. By 2Km, Hiromi Koga was in 2nd but 2Km later Koga dropped behind while Yuko Shimizu moved into second. Niiya, who won comfortably with 19:09, said “The race was harder than that of Chiba. I was told to attack the course from the start by my coach (Yoshio Koide).” She indeed did attack the course from the start.   

Men’s 10Km
Bidan Karoki, who dominated the Chiba Cross Country on 13 February, did the same in today's Fukuoka race. He took the lead immediately and was followed by two fellow Kenyans (Jacob Wanjuki and Nicholas Makau) and two Japanese, Akinobu Murasawa and Yusuke Takabaysshi.

The first kilometre was covered in 2:46, slower than the junior race. However, nearing 3km, Karoki took a commanding lead and with each stride he kept on increasing a gap to his pursuers, who remained in the following order, Wanjuki, Makau, Takabayashi and Murasawa. During the fourth of the five laps Makau tried to break away from his follow chasers to secure second place but Murasawa and Wanjuki covered the move right away.  However, in the final lap Takabayashi was the first to be dropped followed by Murasawa, and in the end Makau finally took the battle of second place from Wanjuki. Almost an entire minute ahead of this battle Karoki was the emphatic race winner.

“I tried to stay with Kenyans and I was able to do so in the beginning, but when I was a bit hesitant in the closing part of the race, they opened the gap on me,” said Murasawa, who is considered to be a bright hope in Japan.

Junior Women’s 6km
Two Kenyans (Susan Wairimu & Wainaina Murigi) broke away by the top of the first big hill, but by two minutes into the race Tomoka Kimura (her mother was an elite runner back in 1980’s), and Katsuki Suga joined the leaders. The first kilometre was covered in 3:08. At the start of the final lap, Suga made her move and left Kimura and Wairimu in her wake, winning very comfortably. “I wasn’t worried about the time, but running with Kenyan in the beginning of the race must have contributed to the fast time,” said Suga.

Junior Men 8Km
The first kilometre was coveted in a quick 2:41. Benard Waweru, a Kenyan attending Sendai Ikue High School (Alma Mater of Samuel Wanjiru) passed 3km checkpoint in 8:25, five seconds ahead of Genki Yagisawa. However, Yagisawa may have been too ambitious and he paid for his mistake in the final lap. Not only was he caught by the chasing pack, but he was left behind by all of them.  At the end Waweru won very comfortably by 20 seconds, followed by fellow Kenyan Jeremiah Zaku.  

Ken Nakamura for the IAAF

Weather at Noon: Sunny; temperature: 12.8C, humidity 26%


Junior Men's 8Km
1) Bernard Waweru  (KEN) 23:11
2) Jeremiah Zuku (KEN)  23:31
3) Yuki Arimura    23:33

Junior Women's  6Km
1) Katsuki Suga   19:10
2) Tomoka Kimura  19:21
3) Yuriko Kosaki   19:38
Men's 10Km
1) Bidan Karoki (KEN)    27:52
2) Nicholas Makau  (KEN)   28:50
3) Jacob Wanjuki (KEN)   28:53
4) Akinobu Murasawa     28:58
5) Yusuke Takabayashi   29:00

Women’s 6K
1) Hitomi Niiya  19:09
2) Yuko Shimizu  19:28
3) Ai Igarashi   19:36
4) Yuka Kakimi  19:40
5) Hiromi Koga  19:42
6) Machi Tanaka 19:45