Mulwa Breaks Ageo City Half Marathon Record, Tsubura and Akahoshi NYC-Bound

The world’s deepest half marathon returned after a 3-year absence Sunday in Ageo, Saitama. In its 35th anniversary year Ageo City Half Marathon debuted a tweaked new World Athletics-certified course that moved its starting point onto the road outside the stadium traditionally used for its start and finish.


Boniface Mulwa (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) took off from the massive main pack after a leisurely 14:48 opening 5 km, pursued at first by national record holder Yusuke Ogura and Kensuke Tsubura of this season’s Izumo and National University Ekiden course record breaker Komazawa University. But Mulwa’s sub-14 split from there to 10 km was too much for them, and he ran the rest of the way completely alone out front.

Ageo’s first sub-61 clocking looked to be in the works, but after a short stretch of undulations leading to 15 km Mulwa slowed just enough to miss that and let the chase group start to come back into sight of him. With a kick on the last lap of the track he managed to hang on just enough to clip 2 seconds off Ageo’s old event record, winning in a PB 1:01:17.

Ogura was next in 1:01:48, winning a 3-way sprint finish again Tsubura and former Hakone Ekiden uphill Fifth Stage winner Daniel Muiva Kitonyi (Track Tokyo). Tsubura’s Komazawa teammate Yuto Akahoshi was 4th in 1:02:00, holding off Rei Matsunaga (Hosei Univ.), who had a classic race at May’s Kanto Regionals where he had tried to outrun the 3000 mSC NR holder Ryuji Miura to win the 5000 m final.

As the top two Japanese collegiate finishers Tsubura and Akahoshi earned invitations to next March’s United Airlines NYC Half Marathon, the 7th and 8th Komazawa runners to win invitations since the JRN-mediated program began in 2012 and the third time that Komazawa has filled both slots. New York Road Runners director of professional athletes Sam Grotewold was in Ageo to present Tsubura and Akahoshi their invitations.

Head coach Hiroaki Oyagi was at the entrance to the stadium at the finish shouting encouragement to them, yelling out to Akahoshi, “Two tickets! Two tickets! Watch out for the guy coming up behind you!” Along with their PBs, Komazawa’s Taiyo Yasuhara, Hibiki Aogaki and Yushin Akatsu all ran sub-63 PBs to make the top 25, exactly what Komazawa needed to position himself to score his first-ever triple crown of ekiden season titles.

Matsunaga missed out on an NYC invitation by 3 seconds, 5th in a 1:02:03 debut with teammate Shunta Uchida close behind in a 1:02:12 PB for 6th. 19 of the top 25 ran PBs, an indication of how good the cold and cloudy conditions were. Further down the field, Hong Kong national record holder Wan-Chun Wong took 26 seconds off his own record with a new mark of 1:04:30, adding to Ageo’s history of national records from around the world.

Depth at Ageo was as impressive as always. With only the top 8 results from the non-university men’s division available as of this writing, preliminary counts were:

sub-62: 4

sub-63: 22

sub-64: 72

sub-65: 117

sub-66: 160

In the women’s race, Taiwanese marathon NR holder and 2017 winner Chun-Yu Tsao was back for her fourth Ageo in a tune-up for next month’s Taipei Marathon. Tsao dropped a PB 1:13:31 to win for the 2nd time, 3:40 up on 2nd-placer Natsumi Kuroda (GRlab Kanto). Post-race she told JRN, “Next time, the NR!” That’ll take another 1:13 to better Chien-ho Hsieh‘s 1:12:19 from the 2018 Osaka Half Marathon.

35th Ageo City Half Marathon

Ageo, Saitama, 20 Nov. 2022

complete results coming soon

Women

1. Chun-Yu Tsao (Taiwan) – 1:13:31 – PB

2. Natsumi Kuroda (GRlab Kanto) – 1:17:11 – PB

3. Aoi Makara (unattached) – 1:17:41 – PB

4. Nagisa Goda (Tokyo T&F Assoc.) – 1:18:43

5. Momoka Nishijima (GRlab Kanto) – 1:18:59

Men

1. Boniface Mulwa (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) – 1:01:17 – CR, PB

2. Yusuke Ogura (Yakult) – 1:01:48

3. Kensuke Tsubura (Komazawa Univ.) – 1:01:51 – PB

4. Daniel Muiva Kitonyi (Track Tokyo) – 1:01:56

5. Yuto Akahoshi (Komazawa Univ.) – 1:02:00 – PB

6. Rei Matsunaga (Hosei Univ.) – 1:02:03 – debut

7. Shunta Uchida (Hosei Univ.) – 1:02:12 – PB

8. Ryotaro Tomita (Suzuki) – 1:02:12 – PB

9. Koki Asai (Juntendo Univ.) – 1:02:13 – PB

10. Genta Tsuru (Koku Gakuin Univ.) – 1:02:15 – PB

11. Taiyo Yasuhara (Komazawa Univ.) – 1:02:25 – PB

12. Goki Takayama (Koku Gakuin Univ.) – 1:02:27 – PB

13. Kodai Miyaoka (Hosei Univ.) – 1:02:28 – PB

14. Takumi Sukegawa (Chuo Univ.) – 1:02:36 – PB

15. Kengo Sakamoto (Koku Gakuin Univ.) – 1:02:38 – PB

16. Yusuke Taino (Chuo Univ.) – 1:02:39 – PB

17. Kenshin Ebisawa (Juntendo Univ.) – 1:02:43 – PB

18. Hibiki Aogaki (Komazawa Univ.) – 1:02:44 – PB

19. Ryota Sato (Tokyo Police Dept.) – 1:02:45

20. Yota Ifuku (Waseda Univ.) – 1:02:50 – PB

21. Hirotsugu Yoshikawa (Yakult) – 1:02:50

22. Yushin Akatsu (Komazawa Univ) – 1:02:53 – PB

23. Luka Musembi (Tokyo Kokusai Univ.) – 1:03:02

24. Fumiya Kimura (Koku Gakuin Univ.) – 1:03:04 – PB

25. Shota Nishiwaki (Teikyo Univ.) – 1:03:05

text and photos © 2022 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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