Tuesday, March 31, 2015

More Details Released on Marathon National Record Bonus Plan as Project Sponsors Sought

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2015/03/30/kiji/K20150330010082020.html

translated by Brett Larner

The Japan Industrial Track and Field Association (JITA) national corporate federation held a press conference on Mar. 30 in Tokyo to announce the establishment of its "Project Exceed" marathon development project.  Targeting the ultimate goal of marathon medals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, new Japanese marathon national record bonus and corporate league Japanese marathon national record attempt incentive policies were revealed at the press conference.  With the Japan Business Federation coming on board in a sponsorship capacity, the JITA is looking widely to recruit a broad spectrum of sponsors.  Project Exceed is expected to get off the ground with as much of the necessary funding as possible in place following the JITA's general assembly in July and to run until the end of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

A 100 million yen bonus [~$1 million USD at normal exchange rates] will be paid to any Japanese citizen athlete whose marathon time is certified as a new Japanese national record regardless of whether or not the athlete is registered as a corporate league runner, with the athlete's coach and team being awarded a 50 million yen [$500,000] bonus if the athlete is a registered corporate league runner.  If another Japanese citizen athlete also breaks the national record in the same race, the lower-placing athlete will also receive 10 million yen [$100,000] and their coach and team 5 million yen [$50,000].

The corporate league Japanese marathon national record attempt incentive will only be paid to registered corporate league runners.  In any of a tentative seven designated domestic Japanese marathons, any corporate league Japanese citizens who run 2:06:59 or better for men or 2:21:59 or better for women will receive a 10 million yen bonus [$100,000], with their coach and team receiving 5 million yen [$50,000].  Men who run 2:07 and women who run 2:22 will also be paid 5 million yen [$50,000], their coaches and teams getting 2.5 million yen [$25,000].  The time standards for these bonuses will be reviewed every two years.

In addition to the marathon, an accompanying "Project Proceed" will offer bonuses to athletes who set records in other disciplines.  Bonus levels and other details are scheduled to be fixed later this year.

"Mr. 9.87" Kiryu Returns to Japan Saying "Next Time I'll Do It For Real"

http://www.sankei.com/sports/news/150330/spo1503300043-n1.html

translated by Brett Larner

Having run a wind-assisted 9.87 in the men's 100 m at the Texas Relays track meet in the United States, Yoshihide Kiryu (1st yr, Toyo Univ.) arrived back in Japan at Narita International Airport on Mar. 30, saying, "Next time I'll do it officially."  At the airport Kiryu was surrounded by throngs of reporters and other people on the scene, laughing as he said, "Things were pretty normal in the States, so I'm surprised to see so much buzz now that I'm back in Japan."

This season Kiryu has moved the position of his left and right feet in the starting blocks 10 cm further apart, leading to a smoother first step or two.  Of the race where he beat London Olympics 5th placer Ryan Bailey (U.S.A.) Kiryu said, "I'm feeling more familiar with what it's like overseas and picked up a little confidence that I'm not going to lose to foreign athletes."

Kiryu's coach Hiroyasu Tsuchie commented, "Running leaves an intense sensation.  Up to now he has only seen 9-second running on TV, so now that he has experienced it for himself the question is how much it is going to affect his consciousness.  This was a major step."  Thanks to a solid base of running over the winter, Kiryu said, "After the race I haven't had any pain anywhere at all."  His next race will be at the April 18 Oda Memorial Meet where he is entered in the 100 m and 200 m.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Kawauchi Wins First Running of Nerima Kobushi Half Marathon

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20150329-00000002-minkei-l13
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20150329-00000091-spnannex-spo
http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20150329-OHT1T50062.html
http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2015/03/30/kiji/K20150330010080090.html



translated and edited by Brett Larner

The first half marathon to be held in Tokyo's Nerima ward, the Nerima Kobushi Half Marathon went off at 8:00 a.m. on Mar. 29.  Starting at Hikarigaoka Municipal Park, the course offered a tour of the area's major roads before returning to finish at the park.  With more than 90% of the course run on public roads including a section of highway passing through Nerima, the route gave runners the chance to run on roads normally closed to them.

At the opening ceremony Nerima mayor Akio Maekawa gave his support to participants, telling them, "I want to see the results of all the work you put into your running every day and hope that you have fun running this course."  Around 5000 people were entered in the race, with special guests including #1 amateur runner Yuki Kawauchi, former marathon great Mari Tanigawa and comedians Tetsu and Tomo.  Turning in a masterful solo performance, Kawauchi was first across the finish line in 1:05:39.  Still recovering fitness after a long-lasting sprain to his left ankle, Kawauchi said, "Compared to a month ago I'm able to run more now.  I'm back to about 75% of normal."  Even at that level he dropped his nearest competition in Nerima by the 2 km point.  "My result today wasn't bad," he smiled.  "One day at a time."  Kaori Yoshida, 33, won the women's race in 1:16:12.

Earlier in the morning at the U.S.A. at the Texas Relays track meet in Austin, Texas, Kawauchi's fellow Saitama prefecture resident Yoshihide Kiryu (19, Toyo University) ran a wind-assisted time of 9.87 in the men's 100 m.  Kawauchi didn't hear about Kiryu's run until after his own race but was very excited when he heard the time, saying, "He finally did it!  I had no idea."  When told that the wind reading was 3.3 m/s Kawauchi sighed, "Gah!" but sent Kiryu his encouragement, saying, "This will serve as a major stimulus for him.  Even if his time wasn't legal because of the wind, it's really important that he got the experience of running that kind of speed once.  The Asian Games [where Kiryu was a DNS due to injury] are probably an unhappy memory, but I hope that he shines at the Beijing World Championships."

Sunday, March 29, 2015

'Kiryu Clocks Wind-Assisted 9.87 in 100 m at Texas Relays'

http://www.iaaf.org/news/report/texas-relays-2015-kiryu-bromell-barber

After the race Kiryu posted the following Tweet:


This was my first 100 m race in 8 months.  The wind was a 3.3 m/s tailwind so the time wasn't legal, but I still ran 9.87, my first time achieving a 9-second time.  The time was good, but what was even better was that running against 9-second athletes I was competitive and beat them for the win.  This was just the first race of the season and I want to keep going this year without injury.  This was a great meet.  :-)
-- Yoshihide Kiryu, March 29, 2015

Saturday, March 28, 2015

World XC Championships - Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

Japan came up empty-handed at the 2015 World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China as its perennial best hope for a medal, its junior women's squad, could do no better than 5th.  Junior women's team leader Azusa Sumi took 16th overall, 1:07 behind winner Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia but still the top-placing non-African born athlete in any of the day's races along with China's Changqin Ding in the senior women's race.  Although shy of a medal the junior women still topped the Japanese team results, the junior men and senior women finishing 9th.  With only three runners in the senior men's race Japan did not field a complete team of four scorers in that event.

World Cross Country Championships
Guiyang, China, 3/28/15
click here for complete results

Junior Women's 6 km
1. Letesenbet Gidey (Ethiopia) - 19:48
2. Dera Dida (Ethiopia) - 19:49
3. Etagegn Woldu (Ethiopia) - 19:53
4. Daisy Jepkemei (Kenya) - 19:59
5. Mihret Tefera (Ethiopia) - 20:02
-----
16. Azusa Sumi (Japan) - 20:55
21. Nana Kuraoka (Japan) - 21:25
29. Wakana Kabasawa (Japan) - 21:48
32. Yuri Nozoe (Japan) - 21:55
38. Miho Shimada (Japan) - 22:12
61. Yuka Sarumida (Japan) - 22:57

Team Results
1. Ethiopia - 11
2. Kenya - 33
3. Bahrain - 52
4. Uganda - 65
5. Japan - 98

Junior Men's 8 km
1. Yasin Haji (Ethiopia) - 23:42
2. Geoffrey Kipkirui Korir (Kenya) - 23:47
3. Alfred Ngeno (Kenya) - 23:54
4. Dominic Kiptarus (Kenya) - 24:00
5. Evans Rutto Chematot (Bahrain) - 24:03
-----
35. Hiroyuki Sakaguchi (Japan) - 25:46
49. Shota Onizuka (Japan) - 26:16
55. Junnosuke Matsuo (Japan) - 26:27
61. Haruki Minatokya (Japan) - 26:34
81. Ryota Tatezawa (Japan) - 27:14
87. Fuminori Shimo (Japan) - 27:18

Team Results
1. Kenya - 19
2. Ethiopia - 33
3. Eritrea - 52
4. Bahrain - 70
5. Uganda - 76
-----
9. Japan - 200

Senior Women's 8 km
1. Agnes Jebet Tirop (Kenya) - 26:01
2. Senbere Teferi (Ethiopia) - 26:06
3. Netsanet Gudeta (Ethiopia) - 26:11
4. Alemitu Heroye (Ethiopia) - 26:14
5. Stacy Chepkemboi Ndiwa (Kenya) - 26:16
-----
23. Miho Shimizu (Japan) - 28:26
39. Mai Shoji (Japan) - 29:09
43. Erika Ikeda (Japan) - 29:17
54. Yui Fukuda (Japan) - 29:45
56. Maki Izumida (Japan) - 29:50
63. Tomoka Kimura (Japan) - 30:01

Team Results
1. Ethiopia - 17
2. Kenya - 19
3. Uganda - 101
4. China - 122
5. U.S.A. - 128
-----
9. Japan

Senior Men's 12 km
1. Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor (Kenya) - 34:52
2. Bedan Karoki Muchiri (Kenya) - 35:00
3. Muktar Edris (Ethiopia) - 35:06
4. Hagos Gebrhiwet (Ethiopia) - 35:15
5. Leonard Barsoton (Kenya) - 35:24
-----
52. Hiroki Matsueda (Japan) - 38:24
85. Kazuma Kubota (Japan) - 40:08
88. Kento Hanazawa (Japan) - 40:19

Team Results
1. Ethiopia - 20
2. Kenya - 20
3. Bahrain - 54
4. Eritrea - 91
5. Uganda - 92

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Friday, March 27, 2015

World Cross Country Championshps - Japanese Team Roster

by Brett Larner

Japan's team for this weekend's World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China features 21 athletes.  As always, its strongest contingent is its junior women, in this case led by 9:00.89 high schooler Azusa Sumi, undefeated since 2013, and teammate Yuka Sarumida of Toyokawa H.S.  The junior men's team features three athletes with 5000 m bests under 14 minutes including 2014 World Junior Championships team member Shota Onizuka (Omuta H.S.).

2015 Fukuoka International Cross Country Meet winner Mai Shoji (Chukyo Univ.) leads the senior women's squad which also includes her collegiate rival Maki Izumida (Ritsumeikan Univ.).  Once again this year, Japan's senior men are largely giving World Cross a miss, with only three entered versus six on the each of the other three squads.  Corporate runners are completely absent, with 2015 Hakone Ekiden winner Aoyama Gakuin University's Kazuma Kubota the biggest name of the three and Juntendo University teammates Hiroki Matsueda and Kento Hanazawa rounding out the roster.

Senior Women
Miho Shimizu (Team Hokuren) - 15:34.22 / 32:14.44
Mai Shoji (Chukyo Univ.) - 15:34.73 / 32:27.36
Maki Izumida (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 15:38.22 / 33:15.18
Tomoka Kimura (Team Univ. Ent.) - 15:44.02
Yui Fukuda (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 15:50.07
Erika Ikeda (Team Higo Ginko) - 15:54.01 / 34:06.75

Senior Men
Hiroki Matsueda (Juntendo Univ.) - 13:49.18 / 29:13.81
Kazuma Kubota (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 13:56.69 / 28:30.78
Kento Hanazawa (Juntendo Univ.) - 13:59.09 / 29:25.76

Junior Women
Azusa Sumi (Toyokawa H.S.) - 9:00.89
Yuka Sarumida (Toyokawa H.S.) - 9:08.72
Yuri Nozoe (Kamimura Gakuen H.S.) - 9:14.72
Miho Shimada (Yamanashi Gakuin Prep H.S.) - 9:15.18
Wakana Kabasawa (Tokiwa H.S.) - 9:19.84
Nana Kuraoka (Kagoshima Joshi H.S.) - 9:23.58

Junior Men
Haruki Minatoya (Akita Kogyo H.S.) - 13:57.29
Hiroyuki Sakaguchi (Isahaya H.S.) - 13:57.41 / 29:12.75
Shota Onizuka (Omuta H.S.) - 13:58.43
Fuminori Shimo (Iga Hakuho H.S.) - 14:01.59
Ryoji Tatezawa (Saitama Sakae H.S.) - 14:07.32
Junnosuke Matsuo (Akita Kogyo H.S.) - 14:11.24

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Monday, March 23, 2015

Lisbon Half Marathon Japanese Results - Noguchi and Fujiwara Fade

by Brett Larner

Marathon national record holder Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) and newly-anointed Beijing World Championships team member Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda) put in an appearance at Sunday's 25th anniversary Lisbon Half Marathon.  Noguchi, who in recent years has had more DNS that starts in her scheduled races, made a rare start but proved ineffectual, opening at a conservative pace well outside the lead pack but fading badly later in the race to finish 16th in just 1:19:07.  Fujiwara, making the Beijing team off a 2:09:06 at December's Fukuoka International Marathon, started more aggressively, on track for a low 1:02 time through 10 km but struggling over the second half before finishing just outside the top 10, 11th in 1:04:10.

25th Lisbon Half Marathon
Lisbon, Portugal, 3/22/15
click here for complete results

Women
1. Rose Chelimo (Kenya) - 1:08:22
2. Sara Moreira (Portugal) - 1:09:18
3. Priscah Jeptoo (Kenya) - 1:09:21
4. Purity Cherotich Rionoripo (Kenya) - 1:10:24
5. Ana Dulce Felix (Portugal) - 1:10:27
-----
16. Mizuki Noguchi (Japan/Team Sysmex) - 1:19:07

Men
1. Mo Farah (Great Britain) - 59:32
2. Micah Kogo (Kenya) - 59:33
3. Stephen Kibet (Kenya) - 59:58
4. Idemo Guya Dola (Ethiopia) - 1:00:45
5. Edwin Kipyego (Kenya) - 1:01:48
-----
11. Masakazu Fujiwara (Japan/Team Honda) - 1:04:10

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Kawauchi on the Road to Recovery With Runaway Victory in Kumagaya, Speaks Out on National Team Selection Controversy and Million Dollar Bonus Announcement

http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/20150322/ath15032218030002-n1.html
http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2015/03/23/kiji/K20150323010033420.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

2014 Asian Games men's marathon bronze medalist and civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi, 28, ran the Mar. 22 Kumagaya Sakura Half Marathon in Kumagaya, Saitama as a special guest.  Running away from the field he scored the win in 1:04:41, his fastest time so far this year and showing that he is making progress in his recovery from the injury that has troubled him since late December.  "For the shape I'm in now, that was a good race," he said afterward.

Speaking honestly about the progression of the race, Kawauchi said, "Early on a pack came together with student runners from Daito Bunka University and some familiar faces from the general division.  I wasn't particularly planning on trying to run away from them, but....."  Mid-race he picked up the pace slightly, and one by one the others in the lead group fell off until he was left all by himself around 9 km.

Kawauchi sprained his left ankle while running in late December.  He continued running on it before it had healed, and possibly due to the strain on his ankle he developed pain in his left calf while running the Feb. 22 Fukaya City Half Marathon where he slowed to a personal worst 1:13:36.  His ankle and calf have now healed, but in Kumagaya, Kawauchi said, "I had a little pain on the outside of my foot, some lingering effects from these three months."  Given that situation, he looked happy with his winning time.

As the original ankle sprain refused to completely heal over those months, Kawauchi bought a large number of products off the Internet that looked useful for helping with recovery from overuse.  "I bought a bunch of things like different kinds of compression socks and electrical stimulation therapy machines that looked like they'd be effective," he said.  "I'm sure some of the stuff I bought was probably useless, but I'm not really in a situation where I can complain about that...."  With a laugh he added, "I spent thousands of dollars on all of it, so now I have to go win some prize money in an overseas race."

But even though he is out of the woods with his injury and the road ahead is looking bright, Kawauchi has become increasingly concerned about the selection process for next year's Rio de Janeiro Olympics team.  His plan was to sit out the selection races for this year's World Championships, working on his training himself and scoring his place on the Olympic team at December's Fukuoka International Marathon selection race.  "I consider being competitive more important than time, so I thought that winning Fukuoka would be the best way to go," he said of his plan.  "2:02 is impossible for today's Japanese athletes, but in a race where competition is the emphasis you have a shot even with a 2:06."  As a result, the development plan he put together for 2015 involved him competing overseas against a wide variety of athletes as much as possible.

However, earlier this month in the selection for the Beijing World Championships women's marathon team, Tomomi Tanaka (27, Team Daiichi Seimei), the only Japanese athlete male or female to win one of the major selection races, was left off the team in favor of Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) who ran 18 seconds faster for 3rd in another selection race.  "Looking at the women's selection process it's clear that they are prioritizing time," Kawauchi said.  "If that's the case then it is a disadvantage to run Fukuoka."

At the other two men's Olympic selection races, Tokyo and Lake Biwa, pacemakers run until 30 km, but in Fukuoka pacers only go until 20 km [purportedly at the insistence of sponsors who want less airtime showing African pacers running in front of the Japanese pack].  Naturally, that difference of 10 km without pacers affects the runners' times as they back off the pace and focus on racing each other.  "If Fukuoka were kind enough to extend their pacers' duties to 30 km it would be great, but if not I will probably have to look at shifting plans [to make the Olympic team] to the Tokyo Marathon or Lake Biwa," he said.  After his injury forced him to back off plans to run a fast time at the Seoul International Marathon this month Kawauchi's plan was to make the Olympics in Fukuoka and then to return to Seoul next year to go for time.  He doesn't want to be forced to change those plans again, but Kawauchi is giving himself until the summer to make a final decision about which race to run.

With regard to the National Corporate Federation's recent announcement of a 100 million yen bonus [~$1 million USD at normal exchange rates] for a new Japanese national record in the marathon Kawauchi said, "In the marathon they should go earn that racing in prize money races overseas.  That bonus money should be going into race walking and other minor sports where they have a chance of winning a gold medal."