Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Chepyego, Wellings and Ohara Lead Sanyo Women's Road Race Elite Field


translated and edited by Brett Larner

The elite field for the 34th Sanyo Women's Road Race on Dec. 23 was announced on Nov. 30.  The first selection race for next March's Cardiff World Half Marathon Championships in the U.K., Sanyo features world-class talent like 2014 Copenhagen World Half Marathon bronze medalist and Sanyo course record holder Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko), 2015 Marugame Half Marathon winner Eloise Wellings (Australia), 2015 Beijing World Championships 10000 m runner Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya) and more. 

A large number of women aiming to make next year's Rio Olympic team will be lining up in the half marathon.  Alongside Ohara are 2014 Asian Games marathon 4th-placer Eri Hayakawa (Team Toto), 2014 World Half Marathon Championships team members Sayo Nomura (Team Daiichi Seimei) and Chieko Kido (Team Canon AC Kyushu), and rising young talent like 2015 Hokkaido Marathon winner Yui Okada (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) and 20-year-old Reia Iwade (Team Noritz) who two years ago set the junior national record of 1:09:45 in Sanyo.  Charlotte Purdue (U.K.) joins Chepyego and Wellings in the overseas contingent.

In the 10 km Grace Kimanzi (Kenya/Team Starts) will be going for the first three-peat in Sanyo history.  Speed runner Kumi Ogura (Team Toenec), 2013's 5th-placer Kanayo Miyata (Team Yutaka Giken) and rookie Honami Maeda (Team Tenmaya) highlight the domestic field.

The Sanyo Women's Road Race will take place on the streets of Okayama.  Due to construction at its traditional start and finish site at City Light Stadium, this time the start and finish will be outside the stadium.  The half marathon begins at 10:00 a.m. on Dec. 23 with the 10 km beginning at 10:15 a.m.

Hakone Ekiden Considering Plans to Shorten Fifth Stage After 2016 Race


translated and edited by Brett Larner

Hakone Ekiden organizers KGRR announced on Nov. 30 that they are examining changing the lengths of the 18.5 km Fourth Stage and 23.2 km uphill Fifth Stage.  The race's 92nd edition on Jan. 2 and 3, 2016 will go ahead with the existing stage lengths, with the possibility of changes as early as the 93rd running in 2017.  Changes under discussion would likely involve lengthening the Fourth stage, Hakone's shortest, and reducing the Fifth Stage.

Beginning with the 2006 race the Odawara exchange point between the Fourth and Fifth Stages was moved 2.5 km toward Tokyo due to construction at its former location at Suzuhiro.  As a result the Fourth Stage became shorter and the Fifth Stage longer.  With the challenging uphill Fifth Stage now the longest, the success of its star runners Masato Imai (Juntendo Univ., now Toyota Kyushu), Ryuji Kashiwabara (Toyo Univ., now Fujitsu) and Daichi Kamino (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) earned them the title "God of the Mountain" and widely expanded Hakone's popularity.

At the same time, since the Fifth Stage was lengthened every team that won it has gone on to take the overall title, leading to claims that the Fifth Stage has too large an impact on the overall team results.  The KGRR will discuss the issue at upcoming coaches' council meetings.

Translator's note: The 2006 change made the iconic Fifth Stage 23.4 km in length.  Subsequent road construction resulted in its length being cut to 23.2 km in 2015 without its start or finish points being moved.  At the time of the 2006 lengthening organizers cited the hope that the longer stage would become a proving ground for Japan's future top marathoners.  At the 2015 Tokyo Marathon Imai ran 2:07:39 to become Japan's 6th-fastest marathoner ever.  Click here for the KGRR's official press release on the possibility of shortening the Fifth Stage.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Daito Bunka University Women Break Nikko Irohazaka Ekiden Course Record

by Brett Larner

Last year's runner up Daito Bunka University came back strong to take down defending champion Tokyo Nogyo University in course record time at Sunday's Nikko Irohazaka Women's Ekiden in Nikko, Tochigi.  The most famous ekiden stage in Japan is the Fifth Stage at the university men's Hakone Ekiden, a 23.2 km run up a mountain with roughly 875 km of climb followed by descent and flat in the last few km.  Nikko Irohazaka, the newest addition to the university women's calendar, takes almost identical dimensions and divides it into six stages, the toughest with 400 m of climb in 3.5 km.

Making its Nikko Irohazaka debut, Nittai University took an early lead with a First Stage win by Nanako Yasaku, who put Nittai 8 seconds ahead of Daito Bunka.  Tokyo Nogyo took over on the Second Stage with a new course record run by Moeno Shimizu, Daito Bunka 13 seconds back on total time at the start of the Third Stage.  DBU's Soyoka Segawa broke the course record on the Third Stage, but Tokyo Nogyo's Monaka Kobori was only 1 second slower and the lead remained almost unchanged.

The big change came on the Fourth Stage, where Daito Bunka's Shiho Yahagi was almost two minutes faster than Tokyo Nogyo's Miya Yokoyama, a permanent goodbye as DBU's lead only grew the rest of the way to its 1:29:49 course record win.  Tokyo Nogyo fell almost four minutes behind total for 4th, overtaken by last year's 4th-placer Kansai Gaikokugo University and first-timer Nittai.

Nikko Irohazaka was the second stop on the season's tour for top university women's ekiden teams.  Next up is the season-ending Mount Fuji University Women's Ekiden, now moved to an exciting new date on Dec. 30 that puts it into a block with the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden corporate men's national championships and the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden season-ender for university men.  Four days of live TV ekiden broadcasts in the course of five.  You couldn't ask for a better way to spend New Year's.

2nd Nikko Irohazaka Women's Ekiden
Niiko, Tochigi, 11/29/15
18 teams, 6 stages, 23.4 km, 875 m climb
click here for complete results

Top Team Results
1. Daito Bunka University - 1:29:49 - CR
2. Kansai Gaikokugo University - 1:32:20
3. Nittai University - 1:33:16
4. Tokyo Nogyo University A - 1:33:27
5. Chuo University - 1:35:15
6. Osaka Geidai University - 1:35:21
7. Tokyo Nogyo University B - 1:35:25
8. Hakuoh University - 1:36:05
9. Nihon Joshi Taiiku University - 1:38:23
10. Shoin University - 1:38:46

Stage Best Performances
1st Stage (4.7 km, ~100 m ascent): Nanako Yasaku (Nittai Univ.) - 16:57
2nd Stage (5.2 km, ~200 m ascent): Moeno Shimizu (Tokyo Nogyo Univ. A) - 18:12 - CR
3rd Stage (3.5 km, ~100 m ascent): Soyoka Segawa (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 14:51 - CR
4th Stage (3.0 km, ~100 m ascent): Shiho Yahagi (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 13:07
5th Stage (3.5 km, ~400 m ascent): Yukine Oguchi (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 14:17
6th Stage (3.5 km, ~25 m descent): Yumi Motohiro (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 11:56

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Karemi Repeats at Record-Setting Kumamoto Kosa 10-Miler

by Brett Larner
photos by @t_tsuki

Less than 24 hours after world record-setting 10000 m depth in Hachioji, another record fell at the 40th anniversary Kumamoto Kosa 10-Miler.  Expectations were high that the talented Kenta Murayama (Team Asahi Kasei) would follow up on his twin brother Kota's 10000 m national record in Hachioji by breaking the 45:40 Japanese 10 mile national record set back in 1984, almost a decade before the Murayamas were born.

Murayama came out swinging, running side-by-side with defending champion Jeremiah Thuku Karemi (Team Toyota Kyushu) through a 2:47 opening km, 44:47 pace.  Karemi pushed on but Murayama soon let go and dropped back behind another Kenyan, Charles Ndungu (Team Komori Corp.), picking up company from teammate Kenjiro Mogi.

Running alone Karemi couldn't sustain his course record pace but had no trouble taking a second-straight win.  His time of 45:19 was 32 seconds better than last year and the seventh-best winning time in Kosa history behind only Martin Mathathi (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), Samuel Wanjiru (Team Toyota Kyushu) and Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin).  Not bad company to be in.

Pursuing Ndungu, Murayama and Mogi fell off Japanese NR pace, and with 1 km to go they found themselves mirroring yesterday's 10000 m, where Kota Murayama and his Asahi Kasei teammate Tetsuya Yoroizaka were side-by-side all the way to a photo finish separated by only 0.05 seconds.  This time it was Mogi's turn, though, as he got Kenta Murayama on the line for 3rd, both men clocking 46:08 to come in at #9 on the all-time Japanese list.

Next across the line was this year's top Japanese marathoner Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) in 46:36, just 1 second off his PB in his first race back since meningitis knocked him out of the summer's Beijing World Championships marathon where he had been a solid medal contender.  Toyota Kyushu runners took the next three places behind Imai, putting the Koichi Morishita-coached team into good position for the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden corporate men's national championships.  Although not quite as good as Asahi Kasei's position with three men sub-28 yesterday and the top two Japanese men today.

The fast times continued far down the field, with a total of 107 men breaking the 50 minute mark to eclipse the previous record set in Kosa in 1998.  Like at yesterday's historic Hachioji Long Distance meet, the majority of them were using Kosa as a tuneup for the New Year Ekiden, which will be celebrating its 60th anniversary running.  With stellar quality and depth at both races look for something special indeed to happen come January 1.

40th Kumamoto Kosa Road Race
Kosa, Kumamoto, 11/29/15
click here for complete results

Men's 10 Miles
1. Jeremiah Thuku Karemi (Kenya/Toyota Kyushu) - 45:19
2. Charles Ndungu (Kenya/Komori Corp.) - 46:07
3. Kenjiro Mogi (Asahi Kasei) - 46:08
4. Kenta Murayama (Asahi Kasei) - 46:08
5. Masato Imai (Toyota Kyushu) - 46:36
6. Yuki Oshikawa (Toyota Kyushu) - 46:37
7. Ryuji Watanabe (Toyota Kyushu) - 46:38
8. Kaoru Hirosue (Toyota Kyushu) - 46:39
9. Kohei Matsumura (Mitsubishi HPS Nagasaki) - 46:41
10. Daiki Kubota (Yasukawa Denki) - 46:46
25. Ryoya Nishikawa (Toenec) - 47:13
50. Tsukasa Koyama (Subaru) - 47:53
75. Tatsunari Hirayama (Yasukawa Denki) - 48:19
100. Fumito Imazaki (Osaka Police Dep't) - 49:29
107. Masaki Hori (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 49:52

High School Boys' 10 km
1. Naoki Soh (Tosu Kogyo H.S.) - 30:15
2. Yuma Yoshitake (Tosu Kogyo H.S.) - 30:20
3. Koichi Ide (Tosu Kogyo H.S.) - 30:23

Junior High School Boys' 5 km
1. Tatsunori Okumura (Shiranui J.H.S.) - 15:42
2. Ryuta Ikawa (Sashiki J.H.S.) - 16:01
3. Eito Sato (Minami Oguni J.H.S.) - 16:02

Women's 5 km
1. Miyu Otani (Wacoal) - 16:15
2. Yuka Hakoyama (Wacoal) - 16:16
3. Kumi Ogura (Toenec) - 16:17
4. Mao Ichiyama (Izumi Chuo H.S.) - 16:18
5. Erika Ikeda (Higo Ginko) - 16:20

text (c) 2015 Brett Larner, all rights reserved
photos (c) 2015 t_tsuki, all rights reserved

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Kota Murayama and Tetsuya Yoroizaka Photo Finish Double 10000 m Japanese National Record (updated)

by Brett Larner
video by Ekiden News

Fourteen and a half years is a long time to wait.

Everything was aligned. The field. The weather.  The loom of impending Olympic glory.  The sheer vibe.  Hachioji.   Thousands of fans packed around a home soil track tucked in the mountainous foothills of suburban western Tokyo knowing they were going to see something special, that, after the 5000 meter-wide leak sprung mid-summer by the Salazar-powered Suguru Osako, the sheer mass of young talent building in Japan was finally going to break through the dam holding them back.

All credit due to Kenyan William Malel (Honda), who went out at 10000 m world record pace and led completely alone start to finish, withering on the vine with 1000 to go but pulling down a PB of 27:22.12 for the win, and to Johana Maina (Fujitsu) who almost ran him down.  But the race was not their story.

From the start Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Asahi Kasei), once the fastest-ever Japanese collegiate over 10000 m and until today the 5th-best Japanese man in history at that distance, ran in the front pack among the best of Japan's resident Africans, relaxed and unafraid, soon joined by this year's second-fastest Japanese man Yuta Shitara (Honda) as the pace held steadily zeroing in on 27:30.  Kota Murayama (Asahi Kasei), this year's 5000 m national champion in a last 100 m duel with Osako, starting slow but catching up to Yoroizaka and Shitara just before halfway.  Shitara fading, teammates Yoroizaka and Murayama together.  A slight drop in pace from 7000 m to 9000 m, Murayama surging ahead to hit 9000 m in 24:50, dead even with the great Toshinari Takaoka's 27:35.09 national record from the spring of 2001, Yoroizaka just behind.

Yoroizaka ahead now, the memory of July's Heusden 5000 m still fresh, the sting of breaking a national record but finishing 2nd behind another Japanese man whose name went into the books.  600 to go.  400 to go and a sub-62 lap to summon up for the record.  Yoroizaka, a long surge.  56 seconds for the last lap.  26 seconds for the last 200 m.  Murayama, a national title his thanks to his last kick, waiting again until 100 m to go to bring it.  JRN's most popular tweet ever.

Nobody knew what happened except that the record was gone.  The crowd erupting.  Old men jumping for joy.  Women of all ages lining the track screaming, "Kota!  He's so cool!"  When the smoke cleared the times came, Murayama with the national record in 27:29.69, Yoroizaka an agonizing 0.05 seconds back in 27:29.74, both more than five seconds under Takaoka's antique record and five seconds closer to bringing Japanese long distance into modernity.  A third Asahi Kasei runner, Shuho Dairokuno, like Murayama just 22, the next Japanese man across the line in 27:46.55.  Three Asahi Kasei runners sub-28, two for the first time and two in NR time.  Not much of a secret what's going to happen at the New Year Ekiden.

Seventeen men sub-28, one shy of tying May's Prefontaine Classic for the title of world's #1 10000 m, and thirty-three sub-29, a new world record.  Three more Japanese men broke 28 minutes to bring the Japanese total for sub-28 men this year to eleven, second only to Kenya and Ethiopia.  Leading the U.S.A. once again, for the first time Japan also surpassed it in the number of men sub-27:30 in one year.  Next up 5000 m?  For everyone who looks at Japanese numbers and asks why the Japanese pros aren't better given the record-breaking quality of their university men, for everyone who brushes it off with a simple-minded "They train too hard," today's results show what JRN has been saying for years: you're looking at where things are, not where they're going.  It's just getting started.  When the levee breaks, brother you got to move.

Hachioji Long Distance Meet
Hosei University, Hachioji, Tokyo, 11/28/15
click here for complete results

10000 m A-Heat
1. William Malel (Kenya/Honda) - 27:22.12 - PB
2. Johana Maina (Kenya/Fujitsu) - 27:26.92 - PB
3. Kota Murayama (Asahi Kasei) - 27:29.69 - NR
4. Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Asahi Kasei) - 27:29.74 (NR)
5. John Maina (Kenya/Fujitsu) - 27:35.54 - PB
6. Teressa Nyakora (Ethiopia/Mazda) - 27:38.93 - debut
7. Bernard Kimanyi (Kenya/Yakult) - 27:39.76
8. Agato Yashin Hassan (Ethiopia/Chuo Hatsujo) - 27:46.21 - PB
9. Shuho Dairokuno (Asahi Kasei) - 27:46.55 - PB
10. Rogers Chumo Kemwoi (Kenya/Aisan Kogyo) - 27:49.70
11. Paul Kuira (Kenya/Konica Minolta) - 27:50.81
12. Samuel Mwangi (Kenya/Konica Minolta) - 27:50.92 - debut
13. Joseph Kamathi (Kenya/Toyota) - 27:53.79
14. Yuta Shitara (Honda) - 27:53.84
15. Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Konica Minolta) - 27:55.02
16. Hiroyuki Yamamoto (Konica Minolta) - 27:55.40 - PB
17. Patrick Muendo Mwaka (Kenya/Aisan Kogyo) - 27:58.58
18. Kensuke Takezawa (Sumitomo Denko) - 28:02.70
19. Alexander Mutiso (Kenya/ND Software) - 28:03.07
20. Tsubasa Hayakawa (Toyota) - 28:06.10 - PB
21. Shinobu Kubota (Toyota) - 28:06.44
22. Charles Ndirangu (Kenya/JFE Steel) - 28:10.66
23. Daniel Maemba (Kenya/Toyota Boshoku) - 28:17.48
24. Naohiro Domoto (JR Higashi Nihon) - 28:18.81
25. Chiharu Nakagawa (Toenec) - 28:19.46 - PB
DNF - Minato Oishi (Toyota)

10000 m B-Heat
1. Amos Kirui (Kenya/Toyota Boshoku) - 28:21.84 - PB
2. Keigo Yano (Nissin Shokuhin) - 28:21.89 - PB
3. Yudai Okamoto (JFE Steel) - 28:24.80
4. Kenji Yamamoto (Mazda) - 28:26.35 - PB
5. Mitsunori Asaoka (Hitachi Butsuryu) - 28:26.56 - PB
6. Shota Hattori (Honda) - 28:26.88
7. Naoki Aiba (Chudenko) - 28:26.96 - PB
8. Takuya Fujikawa (Chugoku Denryoku) - 28:27.14
9. Takuya Noguchi (Konica Minolta) - 28:27.89
10. Naohiro Yamada (YKK) - 28:28.22

10000 m C-Heat
1. Hideyuki Tanaka (Toyota) - 28:27.42 - PB
2. Jun Shinoto (Sanyo Tokushu Seiko) - 28:42.93
3. Shun Inoura (Yachiyo Kogyo) - 28:44.06 - PB
4. Kenta Matsubara (Toyota) - 28:45.72 - PB
5. Kosei Yamaguchi (Aisan Kogyo) - 28:46.37

10000 m D-Heat
1. Kazuto Nishiike (Konica Minolta) - 28:37.22 - PB
2. Rikinobu Watanabe (NTT Nishi Nihon) - 28:44.23 - PB
3. Tomoya Shirayanagi (Toyota Boshoku) - 28:46.12
4. Takumi Kiyotani (Chugoku Denryoku) - 28:48.19 - PB
5. Daisuke Matsufuji (Kanebo) - 28:59.30

10000 m E-Heat
1. Joseph Mumo (Kenya/Hitachi Butsuryu) - 28:49.60 - PB
2. Takahiro Nakamura (Kyocera Kagoshima) - 28:52.23 - PB
3. Yuki Munakata (Kanebo) - 28:58.39

10000 m F-Heat
1. Daniel Njenga (Kenya/Yakult) - 29:08.63
2. Masahiro Kawaguchi (Yakult) - 29:08.70
3. Shuhei Shirota (Kanebo) - 29:12.97

10000 m G-Heat
1. Genki Yagisawa (Yakult) - 29:33.63
2. Yutaro Fukushi (Yakult) - 29:39.33
3. Shota Yamazaki (Yakult) - 29:41.85

text (c) 2015 Brett Larner, all rights reserved
photo (c) 2015 Ekiden News, all rights reserved

Thursday, November 26, 2015

10000 m, 10 Miles and a Run Up the Mountain - Weekend Preview

by Brett Larner

It’s another big weekend of racing in Japan with the main action split evenly between track, road racing and ekiden. Saturday’s Hachioji Long Distance meet in western Tokyo is the pick of the weekend, with 22 men with sub-28 minute bests and another half dozen a few seconds off or debuting in the 10000 m A-heat, the Africans in prep for the New Year Ekiden and the Japanese runners taking a shot at Rio Olympic marks and the Japanese national record. 2013 World XC Jr. silver medalist Leonard Barsoton (Team Nissin Shokuhin) leads the way with a 27:20.74 best with Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Team Asahi Kasei), all-time Japanese #5 over 10000 m at 27:38.99, heading the Japanese contingent off a 5000 m national record-breaking 13:12.63 this summer. Ekiden fans will be most closely watching 5000 m national university champion Hazuma Hattori who is targeting sub-28 in hopes of making next year’s Olympic team during his senior year at 2015 National University Ekiden champion Toyo University. The A-heat entry list:

Leonard Barsoton (Kenya/Nissin Shokuhin) – 27:20.74
James Mwangi (Kenya/NTN) – 27:23.66
William Malel (Kenya/Honda) – 27:25.56
Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya/Sunbel’x) – 27:26.56
Patrick Muendo Mwaka (Kenya/Aisan Kogyo) – 27:33.14
Bernard Kimani (Kenya/Yakult) – 27:36.60
Jonathan Ndiku (Kenya/Hitachi Butsuryu) – 27:37.72
Joseph Kamathi (Kenya/Toyota) – 27:38.18
Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Asahi Kasei) – 27:38.99
Paul Kuira (Kenya/Konica Minolta) – 27:40.43
Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Konica Minolta) – 27:40.69
Rodgers Chumo Kwemoi (Kenya/Aisan Kogyo) – 27:42.09
Alex Mwangi (Kenya/YKK) – 27:42.20
Yuta Shitara (Honda) – 27:42.71
Johana Maina (Kenya/Fujitsu) – 27:45.69
Agato Yashin Hassan (Ethiopia/Chuo Hatsujo) – 27:46.35
Akinobu Murasawa (Nissin Shokuhin) – 27:50.59
Keita Shitara (Konica Minolta) – 27:51.54
Duncan Muthee (Kenya/Sunbel’x) – 27:53.00
Daniel Maemba (Kenya/Toyota Boshoku) – 27:53.19
Shinobu Kubota (Toyota) – 27:54.25
Alexander Mutiso (Kenya/ND Software) – 27:56.87
Masato Kikuchi (Konica Minolta) – 28:04.25
Kenta Murozuka (DeNA) – 28:04.40
Minato Oishi (Toyota) – 28:04.65
Shogo Nakamura (Fujitsu) – 28:05.79
Kota Murayama (Asahi Kasei) – 28:12.31
Shuho Dairokuno (Asahi Kasei) – 28:13.17
Tsubasa Hayakawa (Toyota) – 28:15.36
Naohiro Domoto (JR Higashi Nihon) – 28:16.92
Keita Baba (Honda) – 28:23.93
Yuta Takahashi (DeNA) – 28:30.51
Hazuma Hattori (Toyo Univ.) – 28:55.31
John Maina (Kenya/Fujitsu) – 29:23.44
David Njuguna (Kenya/Yakult) – 29:37.91
Abiyot Abinet (Ethiopia/Yachiyo Kogyo) – debut
Samuel Mwangi (Kenya/Konica Minolta) - debut
Teressa Nyakora (Ethiopia/Mazda) – debut

Traditionally held the same day as the Fukuoka International Marathon, this year the Kumamoto Kosa 10 Mile Road Race, the world’s #1 10 miler, has been scheduled a week earlier. Most of Japan’s top pros who are not in Hachioji will be running it in a tune-up for the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden. With the likes of Kenta Murayama (Team Asahi Kasei), all-time #4 Japanese for the half marathon at 1:00:50 and Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin), all-time #3 Japanese for 10000 m at 27:38.25, in the field it could be a fast day even if the 45:40 national record would be a stretch. 2:07:39 marathoner Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) is also on the entry list for what would be his first race since pulling out of August’s World Championships marathon due to meningitis.

The accompanying women’s 5 km is topped by national record holder Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal), fresh from her elevation to winner status at the 2013 Osaka International Women’s Marathon following yesterday’s suspension of Ukrainian Tetiana Shmyrko for biological passport violations. With any luck Fukushi will celebrate by knocking a few seconds off her relatively weak 15:32 record. 10 mile entry list highlights:

Jeremiah Thuku Karemi (Kenya/Toyota Kyushu) - 27:28.27 10000 m
Edwin Mokua (Kenya/Nissin Shokuhin) – 27:38 road 10 km
Yuki Sato (Nissin Shokuhin) – 27:38.25 10000 m
Kenta Murayama (Asahi Kasei) – 1:00:50 half marathon
Fumihiro Maruyama (Asahi Kasei) – 1:01:15 half marathon
Fikadu Haftu (Ethiopia/Yasukawa Denki) – 1:01:50 half marathon
Masato Imai (Toyota Kyushu) – 2:07:39 marathon
Kazuhiro Maeda (Kyudenko) – 2:08:00 marathon
Kohei Matsumura (Mitsubishi HPS Nagasaki) – 2:08:09 marathon
Kentaro Nakamoto (Yasukawa Denki) – 2:08:35 marathon
Suehiro Ishikawa (Honda) – 2:09:10 marathon
Masanori Sakai (Kyudenko) – 2:09:10 marathon
Tomoya Adachi (Kyudenko) – 2:09:59 marathon
Ryuji Kashiwabara (Fujitsu) – Hakone Ekiden Fifth Stage legend

Sunday also sees the newest addition to the university women’s ekiden calendar, the Nikko Irohazaka University Women’s Ekiden in Nikko, Tochigi. Almost perfectly matching the Hakone Ekiden’s uphill Fifth Stage in length and elevation profile, the all-uphill Irohazaka splits the 23.4 km distance into six stages with a net climb of 875 m. After its first running last year proved popular it is back with a larger field of university and alumni teams drawing heavily from the Kanto Region but including Kansai’s Osaka Geidai University and Kansai Gaikokugo University. Last year Tokyo Nogyo University had a surprise win over favorites Daito Bunka University, 1:30:21 to 1:32:43, with Osaka Geidai a close 3rd in 1:32:53. With all three teams back, Daito Bunka off a 2nd-place finish at last month’s Morinomiyako Ekiden, it should be another good race made unpredictable by the effects of the climb. If its popularity continues to grow Irohazaka will ideally increase its national scale with more teams from Kansai and western Japan to become an equal partner with Morinomiyako and December’s Mt. Fuji University Women’s Ekiden in giving Japan’s university women a Big Three ekiden season in parity with the university men’s massively popular Big Three.

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

'Ukraine Bans Three-Time Osaka International Ladies Marathon Champion for Four Years'


Tetiana (Gamera) Shmyrko was yet another athlete managed by Andrey Baranov to have received a doping ban following a win at a Japanese marathon, joining last year's Nagoya Women's Marathon winner Mariya Konovalova and 2011 Tokyo Marathon winner Tatyana Aryasova among others.  Shmyrko's Osaka wins cost Japan's Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) and Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) home-soil wins, in Akaba's case in her final race before retiring, as well as taking victory from Jelena Prokopcuka (Latvia) this year.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Kyushu Corporate Ekiden Rounds Out Qualification for 60th Anniversary New Year Ekiden

by Brett Larner

Following other regional corporate league ekiden winners Honda (East Japan), Toyota (Chubu), YKK (Hokuriku), Otsuka Seiyaku (Kansai) and Mazda (Chubu), the Asahi Kasei team brought the qualification round for the 60th anniversary New Year Ekiden national corporate men's championships to a close with a win by more than a kilometer at Monday's Kyushu Corporate Ekiden.

The Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden is the primary reason for the existence of Japan's men's corporate team leagues and a nationally-televised event.  It is also one of the few championship ekidens without a seeded bracket, meaning that every team, even the winner, must run one of the November regional qualifying ekidens to re-qualify the next year.  This has a direct impact on Japanese men's ability to run fall marathons outside Japan.

With a huge group of new team members this year Asahi Kasei did what every team should, using its regional qualifier as a way to get its rookies used to corporate racing instead of running its older marathoners and marathon hopefuls.  Six of its seven runners were under 23, five of them in their first pro season.  If this became standard practice Japan's position as a marathon power could only improve.

With the New Year Ekiden turning 60 a total of 6 extra team places were available across the country, giving the chance for many smaller teams to make their New Year Ekiden debuts.  A total of 15 teams, more than 1/3 of the New Year Ekiden field, comes from the Tokyo-centric East Japan region.  Although each of the six regions ran on different courses with the exception of Chubu and Hokuriku, which held their regional qualifiers together, each race had a similar breakdown of stages and distances:

East Japan Region (Nov. 3) - 7 stages, 77.5 km
Chubu / Hokuriku Regions (Nov. 15) - 7 stages, 83.5 km
Kansai Region (Nov. 15) - 7 stages, 80.45 km
Chugoku Region (Nov. 15) - 7 stages, 80.8 km
Kyushu Region (Nov. 23) - 7 stages, 78.8 km

Below is a complete listing of the 43 teams to qualify for the 2016 New Year Ekiden with their average pace per km in their regional qualifiers.  JRN will publish a full preview closer to race date, but at this stage it looks like a four-way race between Honda and perpetual East Japan rival Nissin Shokuhin Group, Asahi Kasei and defending national champion Toyota, with outside challenges from East Japan's DeNA and Konica Minolta.  Stay tuned for more.

60th Anniversary New Year Ekiden Field
Maebashi, Gunma, 1/1/16
7 stages, 100.0 km, 43 teams

Honda (East Japan) - 2:55.9 / km
Nissin Shokuhin Group (East Japan) - 2:56.1 / km
Asahi Kasei (Kyushu) - 2:56.6 / km
Toyota (Chubu) - 2:56.9 / km
DeNA (East Japan) - 2:57.6 / km
Konica Minolta (East Japan) - 2:57.7 / km
Hitachi Butsuryu (East Japan) - 2:58.8 / km
Toyota Kyushu (Kyushu) - 2:58.9 / km
Yakult (East Japan) - 2:59.0 / km
JR Higashi Nihon (East Japan) - 2:59.5 / km
Fujitsu (East Japan) - 2:59.8 / km
Kyudenko (Kyushu) - 3:00.0 / km
Mitsubishi HPS Nagasaki (Kyushu) - 3:00.3 / km
Yasukawa Denki (Kyushu) - 3:00.4 / km
Aichi Seiko (Chubu) - 3:00.5 / km
Press Kogyo (East Japan) - 3:00.8 / km
Yachiyo Kogyo (East Japan) - 3:01.2 / km
Kurosaki Harima (Kyushu) - 3:01.3 / km
Komori Corp. (East Japan) - 3:01.3 / km
Subaru (East Japan) - 3:01.4 / km
NTN (Chubu) - 3:01.5 / km
Toyota Boshoku (Chubu) - 3:01.6 / km
YKK (Hokuriku) - 3:02.4 / km
Mazda (Chugoku) - 3:02.5 / km
Otsuka Seiyaku (Kansai) - 3:02.8 / km
Aisan Kogyo (Chubu) - 3:02.8 / km
SGH Group (Kansai) - 3:02.9 / km
Kanebo (East Japan) - 3:02.9 / km
Chuo Hatsujo (Chubu) - 3:03.0 / km
Toenec (Chubu) - 3:03.4 / km
Sunbel'x (East Japan) - 3:03.7 / km
Tokyo Police Department (East Japan) - 3:03.8 / km
Chugoku Denryoku (Chugoku) - 3:04.0 / km
NTT Nishi Nihon (Kansai) - 3:04.0 / km
Sumitomo Denko (Kansai) - 3:04.4 / km
Nishitetsu (Kyushu) - 3:04.7 / km
JFE Steel (Chugoku) - 3:05.3 / km
Osaka Gas (Kansai) - 3:06.2 / km
Omokawa Zaimokuten (Hokuriku) - 3:07.0 / km
Chudenko (Chugoku) - 3:07.3 / km
Osaka Police Department (Kansai) - 3:08.9 / km
Ryugataki SDF Base (Chubu) - 3:13.5 / km
Takeda Yakuhin (Chugoku) - 3:16.8 / km

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved