Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Yamagata Looking to Stay Calm Carrying Japan's Sprinting Hopes at Asian Games

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/asia/2014/news/f-sp-tp0-20140923-1371425.html

translated by Brett Larner

The first group of Japanese men's and women's sprinters left from Tokyo's Haneda Airport on Sept. 23 for the Incheon Asian Games in South Korea.  Track and field events begin on the 27th.  Carrying expectations that he will be crowned the fastest man in Asia, sprinter Ryota Yamagata (22, Keio Univ. senior) has built up well toward his season peaking at the Asian Games despite a busy schedule this month that has seen him pick up National University 100 m and 4x400 m titles as well as winning the 100 m at the Sept. 14th Waseda-Keio dual meet.  "This week I haven't been doing much fine-tuning in training, but things have come along," he said confidently.  "I'm going to make the most of the remaining days to finish getting ready."

Favorite Yoshihide Kiryu (1st yr, Toyo Univ.), with a 10.01 best, has withdrawn from the Asian Games due to injury.  There is also hope that Yamagata will clear the 10.0 mark, but, he said of his plans for the Games, "I'm not focused on that.  I just want stay calm and collected all the way to the end.  If I do that then the placing and time will follow."

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

50,000 Sign Petition to Change Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon to Mass-Participation Format

http://www.nishinippon.co.jp/nnp/oita/article/115175

translated by Brett Larner

An organization seeking to change one of Japan's oldest elite marathons, the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon held each February in the cities of Oita and Beppu, delivered a petition with 50,000 signatures to the Oita Prefectural Government on Sept. 19.  After delivering the petition the group held a press conference at the Government headquarters, saying, "We call on race organizers to do their part to promote tourism and increase the number of people coming to the prefecture by making it possible for more amateur runners to participate in the race."

The group submitting the petition was the "Beppu-Oita Mainichi Mass Participation Marathon Citizens' Council" organized by members of the Beppu city tourism board.  Among the requests on the petition they delivered to Governor Katsusada Hirose were calls to relax the current sub-3:30 time requirement for participation and course changes involving a start in front of Beppu Station and a finish on Oita's main Chuo Dori street in front of Oita Station.

At the press conference, Citizens' Council chairman Katsumi Takamiya commented, "If the race opens the door to the average amateur it will have a tremendous impact on local tourism.  Road closures and many other issues remain challenges to be faced, but the benefits of developing Oita Prefecture's image as "Home of the Hot Spring" are tremendous."

Translator's note: The Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon relaxed its long-standing elite and sub-elite-only format in 2011 to allow amateurs up to the sub-3:30 level, including women, to run.  A wave of other historic elite-only races across the country have also moved to mass-participation formats in the last few years, some abandoning their elite components and others finding ways to incorporate them into the mass-participation event.  Oita Prefecture, and in particular the town of Beppu, is one of Japan's biggest hot spring hot spots.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sydney Marathon, Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half and Dam tot Damloop - Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

Races in Australia, the U.S.A. and the Netherlands on Sunday featured Japanese corporate league athletes.  At the Sydney Marathon, both the men's and women's races saw the top two broke the existing records for a challenging course full of hills and turns.  In the men's race, Ethiopia's Gebo Gameda shook free of compatriot Seboka Dibaba Tola to break Yuki Kawauchi's 2:11:52 course record, Gameda getting the new record in 2:11:18 with Tola just squeezing under Kawauchi's time in 2:11:48.  Kenyan Benjamin Koloum Kiptoo likewise shook off track and half marathon star Tsuyoshi Ugachi of two-time New Year Ekiden national champion team Konica Minolta for 3rd in 2:12:08. 

Ugachi ran a PB of around a minute for 4th in 2:12:18, a decent time given the course and one that puts him 22nd among Japanese men for the year.  It is widely thought in Japan that Ugachi's dynamic and aggressive form will make it hard for him to find the marathon success to match his all-time Japanese top five 10000 m and half marathon bests of 27:40.69 and 1:00:58, but his Sydney performance is a step in the right direction and at least moves him up to solidly national class.  Whether he goes further remains to be seen.

In the women's race, course record holder Beruktait Eshetu of Ethiopia soloed a three minute+ improvement on her own mark, winning in 2:29:42 despite stomach trouble that caught up with her immediately after finishing.  Kenyan Jane Jepkogei Kiptoo faded from Eshetu relatively early but held on the clear Eshetu's old record by over 30 seconds for 2nd in 2:32:08.  Yuka Yano (Canon AC Kyushu), winner of February's inaugural Kitakyushu Marathon, was about the same distance off the old record, making the podium in 3rd in 2:33:19.

Hours later at the U.S.A.'s Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon, Tokyo-based DeNA RC ringer Bedan Karoki (Kenya) continued the buildup to his not-too-distant marathon debut with a 59:23 PB for the win, the second-best winning time in event history.  Women's winner Aberu Kebede (Ethiopia) had a relatively easy time of it, taking 1st by nearly a minute over Caroline Rotich (Kenya) in 1:08:39.

Japanese performances in Philly almost perfectly mirrored the results at last weekend's Usti nad Labem Half Marathon and the U.K.'s Great North Run a week earlier.  As in both of those races, the women performed well-to-decently, Miho Ihara (Team Sekisui Kagaku) coming through in 5th just a second off her best in 1:11:03, well ahead of two-time National Corporate Champion Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei), 7th in 1:12:05, and teammate Yuko Shimizu (Team Sekisui Kagaku).

And again, as at GNR and UNL, it was not clear why the men were even there.  The phenomenon was even more extreme in Philadelphia, where Takuya Fukatsu (Team Asahi Kasei), Masato Kihara (Team Kanebo) and Yuki Yagi (Team Asahi Kasei), all with sub-1:02 PBs, ran 1:06:19, 1:06:44 and 1:09:03 respectively.  As at the Great North Run, one of them was beaten by the women's winner.  A bad race happens here or there, but put the results of the eleven athletes at the three races together.  Four had PBs in the 1:01 range, five had 1:02 and two had 1:03.  In these three races one ran 1:03, one ran 1:04, six ran 1:05, two 1:06 and one 1:09.  The lone Japanese athlete at the Netherlands' Dam tot Damloop 10-miler, low-62 half marathoner Yoshihiro Yamamoto (Team NTN) performed on about the same lackluster level, taking 14th in 49:00 in a race won in 45:45 by John Mwangangi (Kenya).  When there is a consistent pattern of over 80% of your athletes performing this badly it's time to raise questions about the professionalism and motivations of the people involved.  And not just the athletes.

Sydney Marathon
Sydney, Australia, 9/21/14
click here for complete results

Men
1. Gebo Gameda (Ethiopia) - 2:11:18 - CR
2. Seboka Dibaba Tola (Ethiopia) - 2:11:48 (CR)
3. Benjamin Koloum Kiptoo (Kenya) - 2:12:08
4. Tsuyoshi Ugachi  (Japan/Team Konica Minolta) - 2:12:18
5. Abdellah Tagharrafet (Morocco) - 2:16:56
-----
6. Atsushi Hasegawa (Japan/Team Subaru) - 2:19:08

Women
1. Beruktait Eshetu (Ethiopia) - 2:29:42 - CR
2. Jane Jepkogei Kiptoo (Kenya) - 2:32:08 (CR)
3. Yuka Yano (Japan/Team Canon AC Kyushu) - 2:33:19
4. Zemzem Ahmed Deko (Ethiopia) - 2:39:46
5. Yumi Sato (Japan/Tsuruoka T&F Assoc.) - 2:55:20

Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon
Philadelphia, U.S.A., 9/21/14
click here for complete results

Women
1. Aberu Kebede (Ethiopia) - 1:08:39
2. Caroline Rotich (Kenya) - 1:09:21
3. Deena Kastor (U.S.A.) - 1:09:36
4. Laura Thweatt (U.S.A.) - 1:11:01
5. Miho Ihara (Japan/Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 1:11:03
6. Kara Goucher (U.S.A.) - 1:11:39
7. Tomomi Tanaka (Japan/Team Daiichi Seimei) - 1:12:05
8. Adriana Nelson (U.S.A.) - 1:12:45
9. Yuko Shimizu (Japan/Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 1:13:20
10. Aliphine Tuliamuk Bolton (Kenya) - 1:13:20

Men
1. Bedan Karoki (Kenya/DeNA RC) - 59:23
2. Cybrian Kotut (Kenya) - 59:58
3. Geoffrey Bundi (Kenya) - 1:01:25
4. Wilfred Kimitei (Kenya) - 1:02:08
5. Dejen Gebremeskel (Ethiopia) - 1:02:34
6. Yonas Mebrahtu (Eritrea) - 1:02:58
7. Sam Chelanga (Kenya) - 1:02:58
8. Teklemariam Medhin (Eritrea) - 1:03:00
9. Gabe Proctor (U.S.A.) - 1:03:03
10. Jeffrey Eggleston (U.S.A.) - 1:03:12
-----
19. Takuya Fukatsu (Japan/Team Asahi Kasei) - 1:06:19
20. Masato Kihara (Japan/Team Kanebo) - 1:06:44
32. Yuki Yagi (Japan/Team Asahi Kasei) - 1:09:03

Dam tot Damloop 10 Miler
Zaandam, Netherlands, 9/21/14
click here for complete results

Men
1. John Mwangangi (Kenya) - 45:45
2. Nguse Amlosom (Eritera) - 45:47
3. Kinde Atelaw (Ethiopia) - 45:52
4. Josphat Bett (Kenya) - 46:22
5. Peter Kirui (Kenya) - 46:33
-----
14. Yoshihiro Yamamoto (Japan/Team NTN) - 49:00

Women
1. Linet Masai (Kenya) - 53:09
2. Tiki Gelana (Ethiopia) - 53:57
3. Hilda Kibet (Netherlands) - 54:25
4. Almensch Belete (Belgium) - 56:14
5. Adero Nyakisi (Uganda) - 56:32

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Thursday, September 18, 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 profiles below, to be updated with start lists featuring Japan's main competition, 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 8:45 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 entry and start lists will be accepted up to the cutoff.  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 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.


Athlete profiles with fastest and slowest times in last two years:



'Kastor, Goucher Want Fast Times in Philly'

http://running.competitor.com/2014/09/news/kastor-goucher-want-fast-times-philly_113966

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Osaka International Women's Marathon Establishes New Development Program

http://daily.co.jp/newsflash/general/2014/09/17/0007338574.shtml

translated by Brett Larner

The Osaka International Women's Marathon organizing committee announced on Sept. 17 that it has established a new "Next Heroine" program for the race's next edition on Jan. 25, 2015.  Targeting high-potential university runners and young corporate league women, the "Next" program will differ from Osaka's conventional elite athlete program in providing a training framework for the race itself.

In the past the Osaka International Women's Marathon served as the site for the marathon debuts of 1992 Barcelona Olympics silver medalist and 1996 Atlanta Olympics bronze medalist Yuko Arimori, 2000 Sydney Olympics gold medalist Naoko Takahashi, and many other top-level athletes who went on to make Olympics and World Championships teams also started their marathon careers in Osaka.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Köln Marathon and Usti nad Labem Half Marathon - Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

Following up on a disappointing showing at last weekend's Great North Run and Prague Grand Prix 10 km, Japan's corporate league runners underwhelmed again at Sunday's Köln Marathon and Usti nad Labem Half Marathon.  In a race won by Kenya's Anthony Maritim in 2:10:26 in Köln, 2:09:18 marathoner Yuko Matsumiya (Team Hitachi Butsuryu), the twin brother of 5000 m and 30 km national record holder Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta), could do no better than 2:18:41 for 3rd.  2:15:05 man Kenta Iinuma (Team Sagawa Group) fell well below the professional level, running only 2:23:12 for 4th.  Formerly Japan-based Kenyan Julia Mumbi took the women's race in 2:28:00.

Further east, Japanese results at the Czech Republic's Usti nad Labem mirrored those at the Great North Run, with 1:02 half marathoners Yuya Ito (Team Toyota) and Masamichi Yasuda (Team Aichi Seiko) and their 1:03 counterpart Atsushi Yamazaki (Team Subaru) all clocked leisurely 1:05 times nearly 5 minutes behind winner Adugna Takele (Ethiopia) a week after running around the 30:00 level at the Prague Grand Prix 10 km.  As at the Great North Run the Japanese women in the race performed slightly more seriously, 1:10:26 woman Misato Horie (Team Noritz) running 1:12:29 for 5th and Ayaka Inoue (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) making her European debut in 1:14:59 for 8th.

But taken altogether the results of the four races over the last two weekends show evidence of a troubling attitude in the corporate leagues, particularly among the men, that it's enough to just show up at an overseas race, that how you run when you race internationally doesn't matter in the slightest and that races outside Japan are simply for getting experience, doing laundry, and sightseeing.  Consistent amateur-quality performances certainly don't do much for your country's reputation.  Times have changed, but some things are slow to adapt. 

Köln Marathon
Köln, Germany, 9/14/14
click here for complete results

Men
1. Anthony Maritim (Kenya) - 2:10:26
2. Marcel Brautigam (Germany) - 2:17:55
3. Yuko Matsumiya (Japan/Team Hitachi Butsuryu) - 2:18:41
4. Kenta Iinuma (Japan/Team Sagawa Group) - 2:23:12
5. David Cherop (Uganda) - 2:24:20

Women
1. Julia Mumbi (Kenya) - 2:28:00
2. Shasho Insermu (Ethiopia) - 2:35:36
3. Simret Restle-Apel (Germany) - 2:50:19

Usti nad Labem Half Marathon
Usti nad Labem, Czech Republic, 9/14/14
click here for complete results

Men
1. Adugna Takele (Ethiopia) - 1:00:45
2. Azmeraw Bekele (Ethiopia) - 1:00:58
3. Gefrey Kusuro (Uganda) - 1:01:04
4. Richard Kiprop Mengich (Kenya) - 1:01:19
5. Festus Talam (Kenya) - 1:01:47
-----
8. Yuya Ito (Japan/Team Toyota) - 1:05:13
9. Masamichi Yasuda (Japan/Team Aichi Seiko) - 1:05:27
11. Atsushi Yamazaki (Japan/Team Subaru) - 1:05:44

Women
1. Correti Jepkoech (Kenya) - 1:09:35
2. Helah Kiprop (Kenya) - 1:10:48
3. Esther Chemtai Ndiema (Kenya) - 1:10:51
4. Flomena Chepchirchir (Kenya) - 1:11:14
5. Misato Horie (Japan/Team Noritz) - 1:12:29
-----
8. Ayaka Inoue (Japan/Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:14:59

Prague Grand Prix 10 km
Prague, Czech Republic, 9/6/14
click here for complete results

Men
1. Geoffrey Ronoh (Kenya) - 27:28
2. Geoffrey Mutai (Kenya) - 27:32
3. Nicholas Kipchirchir Bor (Kenya) - 27:38
4. Simon Cheprot (Kenya) - 27:41
5. Richard Kiprop Mengich (Kenya) - 27:48
-----
14. Masamichi Yasuda (Japan/Team Aichi Seiko) - 29:44
16. Atsushi Yamazaki (Japan/Team Subaru) - 29:58
17. Yuya Ito (Japan/Team Toyota) - 30:04
18. Yuta Shitara (Japan/Team Honda) - 30:09
19. Shota Hattori (Japan/Team Honda) - 30:20

Women
1. Correti Jepkoech (Kenya) - 31:05
2. Esther Chemtai Ndiema (Kenya) - 31:51
3. Flomena Chepchirchir (Kenya) - 32:30
4. Helah Kiprop (Kenya) - 32:33
5. Lucy Liavoga (Kenya) - 33:12

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Forced to Do Federation 40 km Run Nine Days After Perth Marathon, Kawauchi Furious as Half of National Team Skips it

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20140910-OHT1T50076.html
http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20140909-OHT1T50166.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Incheon Asian Games men's marathon team member and civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi (27, Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran in a 40 km time trial and biometric measurement run in Shibetsu, Hokkaido on Sept. 9 as part of the Marathon National Team's official training camp.  The Japanese Federation launched the National Team project in April, naming twelve men to the team.  The 40 km run, designed so that Federation officials could measure each member's biometric data before and after a race and examine the changes, was the climax of the National Team's first group training camp which has gone on since late August in Hokkaido. 

On Aug. 31 Kawauchi ran the Perth Marathon in Australia, winning in a course record 2:12:55 before returning to Japan and joining the National Team training camp on Sept. 6.  "The Federation people told me, 'You're damn well going to run this 40 km, whether you just ran Perth or anywhere else!'" he said.  Despite it being only nine days since he ran a full marathon, Kawauchi finished 2nd in the 40 km run in 2:14:52, running with the others in the lead group through 35 km before dropping his 5 km split 1:40~1:50 for the final 5 km.  His fellow Asian Games marathoner Kohei Matsumura (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) ran 2:15:32, saying, "There's less than a month left, so I'd like to use the momentum from this run to pick up the pace."

However, of the twelve members of the National Team, only seven ran.  Kawauchi expected the elite members of the team to be honored to have been chosen and to work hard while coping with the pressure of selection, but he was shocked and disappointed to see nearly half of them skip the 40 km run because they weren't feeling good or had recently run marathons.  "I want to see the media really hit these shameless people hard.  'Is that really good enough?  Is that all you've got?'  'Next year your neck should be on the chopping block,' that sort of thing." Kawauchi said, calling for directly critical articles unusual in the Japanese media and urging greater overall awareness.  "Please, question this, bring the power of the pen into play to prod our athletes into becoming stronger.  If only half can coordinate their training to be ready for an important measurement race like this then there is a major problem.  People like that will have disappeared by next year."

At the 2011 and 2013 World Championships Kawauchi struggled to deal with the pressure of running under the weight of the Rising Sun.  "There was a lot of attention, and the criticism of me was very direct," he said.  "I had problems with depression, but in the end it toughened me mentally.  The pressure of being on the National Team is just a little bit less than that, but I know it will end up being a positive, stimulating experience."