Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Win Big in Japan Running News' Asian Games Marathon Prediction Contest

Representing four billion people, more than half the world's population, the 2014 Asian Games get underway Sept. 19 in Incheon, South Korea, athletics competition running from Sept. 27 to Oct. 3.  With 2013 Moscow World Championships marathon 4th-placer Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu), veteran Eri Hayakawa (Team Toto) and 2:08 men Kohei Matsumura (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) and Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) Japan has serious medal prospects in both the Oct. 2 women's marathon and Oct. 3 men's marathon, and you have the chance to show your support and win some quality schwag by predicting how they do in JRN's Asian Games Marathon prediction contest.

To enter, click here to send JRN an email with the subject line 'Asian Games prediction contest.'  Look at the unofficial start lists below featuring Japan's main competition, to be updated with official start lists when available, and email your prediction for each Japanese runner's overall finishing place and time including seconds. List 'DNS' for any runner you think will not start. List 'DNF' for any athlete you think will start but not finish. You must fill out both the men's and women's listings to be eligible for the grand prize. Entries must be received by 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 2 Japan time to be considered. Late, incomplete or multiple entries will not be accepted, but updated entries to reflect men's start list changes will be accepted up to the start of the men's race at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 3 Japan time.  Winners of all prizes will be notified by email.



The contest entry with the most accurate combined predictions for both the men's and women's marathons will win the grand prize, a beautiful custom-made 32 cm x 8 cm stainless steel finisher's medal hanging wall display by the U.K.'s The Runner's Wall bearing Yuki Kawauchi's motto "Genjo Daha," "Make a Breakthrough."  See the video above for the back story on Kawauchi's motivational phrase.

The closest predictions in the men's and women's races will receive copies of the second issue of Like the Wind, a new magazine featuring writing, photography and art by runners for runners.  Issue three, including a story on Kawauchi by JRN's Brett Larner, is due out any day.

The 2nd and 3rd-most accurate combined predictions win limited edition Yuki Kawauchi uchiwa hand fans produced by broadcaster TBS, which will offer 80 hours of prime time Asian Games coverage.


The official women's start list and unofficial men's entry list with fastest and slowest times in last two years. On the men's list Bahrain and Japan entries are confirmed, while others are the two fastest athletes from each country under 2:20:00 within the last two years:


Monday, September 29, 2014

Kawauchi Arrives in South Korea for Friday's Asian Games Marathon (updated)

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2014/09/29/kiji/K20140929009015030.html
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20140929-00000559-san-spo

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Incheon Asian Games marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (27, Saitama Pref. Gov't) arrived by plane at Seoul International Airport on Sept. 27.  The gold medal-aspiring civil servant runner had a stony expression as he showed confidence in his condition, saying, "I've built up for this."  On his arrival it was raining lightly with cool temperatures around 20 degrees.  Averse to the heat of summer races, Kawauchi said, "These conditions are great.  I hope it's like this on the big day."

Regularly incorporating trail and mountain running into his training, Kawauchi was shocked and dismayed by the serious damage caused by the eruption of Mt. Ontake a few days ago.  "I've never been there, but Ontake is a well-established center for distance running [training].  I can't believe something like that happened."

If Kawauchi wins the gold medal, he will earn a guaranteed spot on the team for next year's Beijing World Championships.  Finishing in the top eight there as the top Japanese would earn him a guaranteed spot on the Rio De Janeiro Olympics.  In that respect, the Asian Games Marathon are a major step toward realizing his Olympic dreams.  With 2:06 Ethiopian Shumi Dechasa having recently acquired Bahrain citizenship, Kawauchi said warily, "There has probably never been [an Asian Games marathon] this high-level."

The men's marathon takes place the morning of Friday, Oct. 3.  Having made the last two World Championships teams Kawauchi has experience wearing the Rising Sun, but both races ended in defeat.  At the Asian Games, Kawauchi said, "Third time's a charm."

Enter JRN's Asian Games marathon prediction contest for a chance to win a custom-made stainless steel finisher's medal wall display with Kawauchi's motto "Genjou Daha" ["Make a Breakthrough"], an issue of Like the Wind magazine, or a limited edition Kawauchi uchiwa fan produced for the Asian Games by broadcaster TBS.  Entries must be received before the start of the women's marathon on Oct. 2.

Weekend Racing Roundup - University Ekiden Season Gets Going

by Brett Larner

Along with the Berlin Marathon, where Moscow World Championships bronze medalist Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) turned in the fastest Japanese women's performance overseas so far this year at 2:26:25 for 6th and 2014 Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon winner Kazuki Tomaru (Team Toyota) cracked the top ten with a 2:11:25 PB, the fall season got underway for real all across Japan.

The university ekiden circuit kicked off with the Kansai Region University Women's Ekiden on Saturday, where for the second year in a row Osaka Gakuin University beat national champion Ritsumeikan University.  The two schools traded the lead for the first four of the race's six stages before Osaka Gakuin got free on the Fifth Stage, ultimately winning by 7 seconds in 1:38:53.  The Kanto Region University Women's Ekiden followed on Sunday, with Daito Bunka University taking the lead on the Second Stage to run unchallenged all the way to the finish in a course record 1:38:22.  Early leader Tokyo Nogyo University and Nittai University ran the entire way within 7 seconds of each other before Nittai anchor Hiromi Hikida outkicked Tokyo Nogyo's Natsuno Furuya by 2 seconds for 2nd place in 1:41:46.

In preparation for next month's Izumo Ekiden the Daito Bunka University men were in action on the track, hosting the Saitama Jitsugyodan Long Distance Time Trials meet.  DBU's star twins Takashi Ichida and Hiroshi Ichida took the top two spots in the 10000 m, Takashi running 28:57.69 and Hiroshi 2nd in 29:14.99.  Hakone Ekiden champion Toyo University had its Izumo lineup focus on 5000 m, where junior Kazuma Watanabe led in 14:01.81.

A half dozen other areas had minor meets at about the same level as Saitama's but the biggest track results of the weekend came at the season's first edition of the Nittai University Time Trials meet.  In her first pro season, Ayuko Suzuki (Team Japan Post) got things started in a big way with the first Japanese women's sub-9 minute 3000 m in over six years as she soloed an 8:58.08 PB to win the A-heat.  Ritsumeikan grad Michi Numata turned in a good 15:32.41 to top the 5000 m A-heat, while in the men's races Kenyans Leonard Barsoton (Team Nissin Shokuhin) and Bernard Kimanyi (Team Yakult) won the 5000 m and 10000 m in 13:25.39 and 27:50.66.

Back on the roads, another Japan-based Kenyan, John Maina (Team Toho Refine) won the Ichinoseki International Half Marathon in 1:03:29, with Hawaiian resident Polina Carlson (Russia) winning the women's race in 1:16:48.  Maina told reporters, "I'm very happy to win a race here in my hometown."  A little further north, Tomohiro Tanigawa of 2014 New Year Ekiden winner Team Konica Minolta won the Hakodate Half Marathon in 1:03:20.  Much further south, Toyo grad Hisanori Kitajima (Team Yasukawa Denki) was a surprise winner in the Fukuoka Prefecture 10-Mile Championships, outrunning defending champion Ryuji Watanabe and marathoner Masato Imai (both Team Team Toyota Kyushu) by over a minute for the win in 48:24.

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Berlin Marathon - Japanese Results

by Brett Larner
top Fukushi photo by Victah Sailer, c/o Horst Milde
other photos by Werner Philipp and Hannes Uhtoffs, c/o Dr. Helmut Winter

2013 Tokyo Marathon winner Dennis Kimetto (Kenya) shook the world with his incredible 2:02:57 world record at today's Berlin Marathon, running a 1:01:12 second half that brought the concept of a low-2:02 marathon into the realm of possibility.  2014 Tokyo Marathon women's winner Tirfi Tsegaye (Ethiopia) added another World Marathon Majors title to her resume, outrunning three compatriots, the U.S.A.'s Shalane Flanagan and Moscow World Championships bronze medalist Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) for the win in 2:20:18.  Less well-noticed was Fukuoka Marathon course record holder Tsegaye Kebede's 2:10:27 for 9th, his 18th career sub-2:11 and tying Korean great Lee Bong Ju's world record for most times sub-2:11.

Fukushi, quietly coming to Berlin in search of a time closer to the three Japanese women who have run 2:19 there than her current 2:24:21 PB, ran craftily behind Flanagan for the first half looking solid, but right at halfway she locked up and began to move backward through the field.  Just holding off German favorite Anna Hahner, Fukushi ended up 6th in 2:26:25.  It's a sign of the current state of Japanese women's marathoning that this was still the 5th-fastest marathon of the year by a Japanese woman, and with only Thursday's Asian Games and November's Yokohama International Women's Marathon really left on the calendar for the top Japanese there is a possibility that there may not even be ten women sub-2:30 by year's end.

On the men's side, 2013's top Japanese man Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko), 2:08:00 at last year's Tokyo Marathon, went out with the second group on low-2:08 pace, while London Olympian Ryo Yamamoto (Team SGH Group Sagawa), 2014 Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon winner Kazuki Tomaru (Team Toyota) and semi-retired former 5000 m national champion Kazuyoshi Tokumoto (Team Monteroza) went out on low-2:11 pace in group three.

Maeda's group steadily slowed while the group behind them steadily accelerated, and by halfway it was clear that the vectors were going to cross.  Running with American Fernando Cabada, Tomaru was the first Japanese man across the line, 10th in a PB 2:11:25.  Yamamoto, sub-2:11 in Vienna in the spring, was 13th in 2:12:49, while the 35-year-old Tokumoto ran down National Marathon Team member Maeda for 15th in 2:14:35.  About which Yuki Kawauchi will no doubt have something to say.

Tomaru's PB run was solid, but you can't help but feel that Berlin wasn't the right race for it, that he and the other Japanese runners would have been better served going to races where they could be competing for the win, not for top ten.  Winning a second-tier domestic race in 2:11:43 in your debut is great, but it doesn't mean you should jump straight to the big leagues.  No matter what your pride says.  It's clear why Japan sends its 2:08-2:12 men to Berlin and Chicago, because those were the races where Takayuki Inubushi and Toshinari Takaoka ran 2:06 Japanese national records.  But the way of thinking of those making that decision is out of date.  When Inubushi and Takaoka ran those times in Berlin and Chicago they were challenging for the win at or near world record pace.  That hasn't been a possibility at those speeds at those races for years, but in the meantime countless other good races have come up to and beyond the level of Berlin and Chicago in Inubushi and Takaoka's era.  Wouldn't it be better to run one of those instead?  To go for the time while racing to win and come out thinking, "I can beat them!" instead of running alone a kilometer (or two, these days) behind the leaders and having the message, "The rest of the world is a thousand times better than we are" drilled into you?  That was what Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) did in Ottawa in 2010 and it led him to run 2:07 two years later.  The rest of Japan's men and the powers that be could stand to learn from that example if they are really serious about becoming the best they can be for Tokyo 2020.

Berlin Marathon
Berlin, Germany, 9/28/14
click here for complete results

Men
1. Dennis Kimetto (Kenya) - 2:02:57 - WR
2. Emmanuel Mutai (Kenya) - 2:03:13 (WR)
3. Abera Kuma (Ethiopia) - 2:05:56
4. Geoffrey Kamworor (Kenya) - 2:06:39
5. Eliud Kiptanui (Kenya) - 2:07:28
6. Frankline Chepkwony (Kenya) - 2:07:35
7. Levy Matebo (Kenya) - 2:08:33
8. Maswai Kiptanui (Kenya) - 2:10:18
9. Tsegaye Kebede (Ethipia) - 2:10:27
10. Kazuki Tomaru (Japan/Team Toyota) - 2:11:25 - PB
-----
13. Ryo Yamamoto (Japan/Team SGH Group Sagawa) - 2:12:49
15. Kazuyoshi Tokumoto (Japan/Team Monteroza) - 2:14:35 - PB
16. Kazuhiro Maeda (Japan/Team Kyudenko) - 2:15:18

Women
1. Tirfi Tsegaye (Ethiopia) - 2:20:18
2. Feyse Tadese (Ethiopia) - 2:20:27
3. Shalane Flanagan (U.S.A.) - 2:21:14
4. Tadelech Bekele (Ethiopia) - 2:23:02
5. Abedech Afework (Ethiopia) - 2:25:02
6. Kayoko Fukushi (Japan/Team Wacoal) - 2:26:25
7. Anna Hahner (Germany) - 2:26:44
8. Ines Melchor (Peru) - 2:26:48
9. Rene Kalmer (South Africa) - 2:29:27
10. Adriana Da Silva (Brazil) - 2:38:05
-----
15. Toshiko Yoshikawa (Japan/NRF) - 2:49:46

(c) text 2014 Brett Larner, all rights reserved 
top Fukushi photo (c) 2014 Photo Run, Inc., all rights reserved
other photos (c) 2014 Werner Philipp/Hannes Uhtoffs, all rights reserved

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Asian Games Athletics Day One - Japanese Results (updated)

by Brett Larner

Athletics competition at the 2014 Asian Games got rolling today with medals handed out in three distance events.  The women's 10000 m started conservatively but ground steadily down to a pack of three, Alia Mohammed Saeed Mohammed (U.A.E.), Changqin Ding (China) and this year's #1-ranked Japanese woman, Ayumi Hagiwara.  Mohammed led much of the way except for a brief challenge from Ding late in the race, Hagiwara staying right behind them until Mohammed's bell lap kick got away from her.  All three broke 32 minutes, Mohammed winning in a PB 31:51.86.  2014 national champion Kasumi Nishihara never looked comfortable, struggling to keep herself at the rear of the lead pack before sinking to 8th in 32:41.49.

The men's 5000 m likewise started slow until India's Suresh Kumar got impatient and took off at 800 m.  Leading on PB pace for the next 3000 m, Kumar took things from 2:49 to 2:42/km before the two pairs of Qatari and Bahraini men got to work.  All the while, Japan's Kota Murayama and Yuki Sato stayed in contact, university 10000 m champion Murayama making a few sorties toward the front.  At the bell Murayama lost touch while Sato, the 10000 m national champion, tried to go with them.  Qatar's Mohamad Al Garni had another gear in store, dropping a kick with 200 m to go that gave him enough of a margin over the three African-born rivals left up front to ease up and jump over the finish line in celebration of the win and a new 13:26.13 meet record.  Bahrain's Alemu Bekele Gebre and Albert Kibichii Rop took 2nd and 3rd, they and everyone through 7th place breaking the great Toshinari Takaoka's 13:38.37 Asian Games meet record.  Murayama also had a gear in store, running down Sato to take 5th in a PB 13:34.57, Sato just behind in 6th in 13:34.97.  Kumar paid for the pace he laid down most of the way but was rewarded with a new PB of 13:42.28 in 9th.

The women's 3000 mSC also saw a mass improvement on the meet record, with the top six clearing the old mark of 9:55.67 set four years ago in Guangzhou by India's Sudha Singh.  Singh was back and cleared that time by over 20 seconds in a PB 9:35.64 but finished out of the medals as favorite Ruth Jebet (Bahrain) told first in a new record of 9:31.36.  Li Zhenzhu (China) and Lalita Shivaji Babar (India) were right there with Singh in a three-way battle for the remaining two medals, but it was Zhenzhu who took 2nd in 9:35.23 with Babar shutting Singh out in a PB 9:35.37 for 3rd.  Japan's Misaki Sango and Mayuko Nakamura took 6th and 7th, Sango the last athlete to break Singh's old record as she finished in 9:52.26. 

In post-race interviews Jebet was clear about her goals for next year.  "I am very happy to win gold here," she said, "and I promise the people of Bahrain that I will win the World Championships next year."  However, just before the start of the medal ceremony it was announced that she had been disqualified for stepping inside the track after losing her balance.  The step had no impact on her win, but rules being rules she was stricken from the results and the gold and meet record went to Li, the Indian pair taking home silver and bronze.

2014 Asian Games - Athletics Day One
Incheon, South Korea, 9/27/14
click here for complete results

Women's 10000 m
1. Alia Mohammed Saeed Mohammed (U.A.E.) - 31:51.86 - PB
2. Changqin Ding (China) - 31:53.09 - PB
3. Ayumi Hagiwara (Japan) - 31:55.67
4. Sitora Khamidova (Uzbekistan) - 32:12.54 - PB
5. Chaofeng Jia (China) - 32:21.74
6. Eunice Chumba (Bahrain) - 32:27.69 - PB
7. Preeja Sreedharan (India) - 32:29.17
8. Kasumi Nishihara (Japan) - 32:41.49
9. Munkhzaya Bayartsogt (Mongolia) - 33:31.11 - PB
10. Doyeon Kim (South Korea) - 34:47.31
11. Seoyong Hyun (South Korea) - 35:06.35
DNF - Tejitu Daba Chalchissa (Bahrain)

Men's 5000 m
1. Mohamad Al Garni (Qatar) - 13:26.13 - MR
2. Alemu Bekele Gebre (Bahrain) - 13:27.98 (MR)
3. Albert Kibichii Rop (Bahrain) - 13:28.08 (MR)
4. Abubaker Ali Kamal (Qatar) - 13:28.59 (MR)
5. Kota Murayama (Japan) - 13:34.57 - PB (MR)
6. Yuki Sato (Japan) - 13:34.97 (MR)
7. Kheta Ram (India) - 13:37.40 - PB (MR)
8. Tariq Ahmed Alamri (Saudi Arabia) - 13:38.40
9. Suresh Kumar (India) - 13:42.28 - PB
10. Suengho Baek (South Korea) - 14:06.76

Women's 3000 mSC
1. Zhenzhu Li (China) - 9:35.23 MR
2. Lalita Shivaji Babar (India) - 9:35.37 - PB (MR)
3. Sudha Singh (India) - 9:35.64 - PB (MR)
4. Rini Budiarti (Indonesia) - 9:49.46 - PB (MR)
5. Misaki Sango (Japan) - 9:52.26 (MR)
6. Mayuko Nakamura (Japan) - 10:08.67
7. Irina Moroz (Uzbekistan) - 10:32.89
8. Sejung Lee (South Korea) - 10:35.78
9. Rosemary Mumo Katua (Bahrain) - 10:45.69
DQ - Ruth Jebet (Bahrain) - 9:31.36 - (MR)

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Friday, September 26, 2014

Weekend Preview: Asian Games, Berlin Marathon, Nittaidai and the Start of Ekiden Season

by Brett Larner

There is a truckload of action just waiting to dump on fans of Japanese distance around the world this weekend.  Along with the Incheon Asian Games, where athletics kick off Saturday with the women's 10000 m and 3000 mSC and the men's 5000 m, Sunday's Berlin Marathon offers more international exposure to the stealthy Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) in the women's race and the solid trio of 2:08 men Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) and Ryo Yamamoto (Team SGH Group Sagawa) and 2014 Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon winner Kazuki Tomaru (Team Toyota).

Back home of familiar shores where laundry facilities are guaranteed to be close at hand, fall gets into full swing with the first two significant ekidens of the season, Saturday's Kansai Region University Women's Ekiden and Sunday's Kanto Region University Women's Ekiden.  Both qualify top-placing teams in the two highly competitive regions for October's National University Women's Ekiden Championships, one of two peak races of the season for collegiate women.

Non-ekiden road action is capped by the Fukuoka Prefecture 10-Mile Championships which this year feature the last four winners, all from the Barcelona Olympics marathon silver medalist Koichi Morishita-coached Toyota Kyushu team.  Most noteworthy among them is Masato Imai, using the race as a final tuneup for his return to the TCS New York City Marathon in November.  The Hakodate Half Marathon also features a healthy number of corporate league runners and collegiates, along with Iwate's Ichinoseki International Half Marathon the same day.

Down the road from Fukuoka, the Nagasaki Nighter Time Trials track meet will host many of the corporate runners based in other parts of Kyushu while northwest of Tokyo Saitama has the East Japan Corporate Long Distance Time Trials , but the main domestic track meet of the weekend is the fall's first edition of the Nittai University Time Trials series in Yokohama.  The two-day meet with everyone from amateurs to Olympians features a grab-bag of distances from 800 m to 10000 m on Saturday before focusing exclusively on 5000 m on Sunday, with 40 heats of around 30 athletes each scheduled to start at 8:00 a.m. sharp and wrap up by 8:35 p.m. at the latest.

Look for as much coverage of each of these races as is humanly possible throughout the weekend right here on JRN.  And don't forget to enter JRN's Asian Games marathon prediction contest for a chance to win great limited-edition prizes.

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Moscow Bronze Medalist Fukushi "Going for the Time and the Win" at Berlin Marathon (updated)

http://www.47news.jp/CN/201409/CN2014092501001746.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

At the Sept. 25 press conference ahead of the Sept. 28 Berlin Marathon, 2013 Moscow World Championships women's marathon bronze medalist and half marathon national record holder Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) was confident as she said, "I got all my training in and I'm feeling good.  I'm going for the time and the win."

Berlin will be Fukushi's first marathon in over a year, her last being her medal-winning run in Moscow.  The site of a new men's world record last year and all three sub-2:20 Japanese women's marks to date including Mizuki Noguchi's national and course record 2:19:12, Fukushi's absolute minimum goal on Berlin's speed course is to significantly better her 2:24:21 PB.  "The other athletes here say they're going to try to break 2:20.  If I go out with them I think the time I'm looking for will be in the cards."  Berlin represents the first step toward Rio two years down the line, but Fukushi looked relaxed as she said, "If I run the time then everything else will follow.  I want to have some fun."

Translator's note: The official press release on the women's race describes it as a "trio" looking to run sub-2:20, a trio made up of Ethiopians Tirfi Tsegaye and Feyse Tadese and American Shalane Flanagan.  Fukushi receives passing mention at the end.  Flanagan's IAAF-recognized PB is 2:25:38 rather than the aided mark given in the press release.

Update: Fukushi's agent Brendan Reilly tweeted the following re:Fukushi in Berlin: