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Showing posts from January, 2011

Satoshi Osaki Makes Strong Beijing Comeback at End of Ekiden Season

by Brett Larner

Japan's 2010-2011 ekiden season wrapped Jan. 30 with two high-level men's races, the 65th Meigi Ekiden and the 74th Chugoku Yamaguchi Ekiden. At the Meigi Ekiden in Nagoya and Gifu, Team Aichi Seiko staged a thrilling come-from-behind victory over Team Aisan Kogyo, spending the first five stages in 5th place before winning by one second thanks to a sensational run from rookie anchor Mahoro Ikeda. 2011 New Year Ekiden national champion Team Toyota, running a mostly JV squad, was only 6th despite a 20:56 stage record run by Chihiro Miyawaki on the 7.3 km Second Stage and a stage best by Fifth Stage man Takamasa Uchida. 2007 World Championships 10000 m bronze medalist Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), who had previously announced plans for a marathon debut this winter, won the 9.8 km Fourth Stage by 37 seconds, running a solid 26:31 but short of his own record from last year's race.

Further south at the Chugoku Yamaguchi Ekiden, Team Chugoku Denryoku

Yukiko Akaba Wins Cold and Windy Osaka International Women's Marathon

by Brett Larner
photo by Mika Tokairin


2011 Osaka top six, L-R Akaba, Ito, Horie, Incerti, Kizaki and Okunaga.

On a near-freezing, windy day the top Japanese marathoner of 2010, Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren), took her first marathon victory with a 2:26:29 win at the 2011 Osaka International Women's Marathon. Second-time marathoner Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) ran a bold race, repeatedly surging to the lead in an unsuccessful effort to break Akaba and was rewarded with an over two-minute PB of 2:26:55. Both women fell short of the 2:25:59 requirement for an automatic spot on the 2011 World Championships team and thus must wait until March to hear the official team announcement, but each earned praise from notoriously critical Rikuren director Keisuke Sawaki for their strong performances in difficult conditions. Regardless of the outcome, Akaba indicated that she plans to run April's London Marathon to go for a fast time prior to the World Championships.

Along with Akaba and Ito, vet…

Injured Hara, Morimoto Out of Osaka International Women's Marathon

http://www.kahoku.co.jp/news/2011/01/2011012801000700.htm
http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/110129/spg1101290502002-n1.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The elite athletes at this year's World Championships selection edition and 30th anniversary Osaka International Women's Marathon were presented at a press conference Jan. 28 in Osaka. Going for her first marathon win and second-straight World Championships team, Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) said, "I'm in the best shape I've ever been up until now." Of the new course, the first change in 20 years, last year's 6th-place finisher Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) predicted, "They've cut down on the hills, but I think the race is going to be decided on what up-down there is."

Race organizers also announced that four invited elites have withdrawn. Yumiko Hara (Team Univ. Ent.) has pulled a muscle in her right thigh, while Tomo Morimoto (Team Tenmaya) has a stress fracture in her left foot. Oversea…

Akaba Wants the Win and the Time - Osaka International Women's Marathon Preview (updated)

by Brett Larner

Update: Yumiko Hara (Team Univ. Ent.), Tomo Morimoto (Team Tenmaya), Adriana Fernandez (Mexico) and Tetyana Holovchenko have withdrawn with injuries.

The 30th anniversary Osaka International Women's Marathon takes place this Sunday, Jan. 30. With a new course which aims to be flatter and faster by eliminating the old course's most famous feature, the twisting and hilly turn through the ground of Osaka Castle, organizers are hopeful of seeing outstanding times in the first of the major domestic selection races for this summer's World Championships. 2009 World Championships marathoner Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) says she is going to deliver.

Akaba, one of Japan's top track and half marathon runners in the last few years, came to last year's Osaka with a knee injury, but despite being less than 100% she led the race through a 1:10:45 in cold rain. Akaba ultimately DNF'd but said afterwards that she had just wanted to see what she could do in the shape…

Haile Leads 2011 Tokyo Marathon - Complete Elite Field Listing

by Brett Larner

The Tokyo Marathon has announced the elite field for this year's fifth running, to be held Feb. 27. Following through on his pre-retirement crisis promise, world record holder Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopia) will return to the marathon distance after his DNF at November's New York City Marathon.

Gebrselassie faces what is without a doubt the strongest field in Tokyo's short history, including 2010 and 2009 winners Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda) and Salim Kipsang (Kenya), 2010 Biwako Mainichi Marathon winner Yemane Tsegaye (Ethiopia), 2010 Hokkaido Marathon winner Cyrus Njui (Kenya/Team Hitachi Cable), 2008 Kenyan XC champion Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin) in his marathon debut, recent 2:07 man Paul Biwott (Kenya), 2:07 runner and former teammate of Fujiwara's Hailu Mekonnen (Ethiopia), veteran great Felix Limo (Kenya), top-ranked Japanese debutant Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota), and, thus far unsuccessful at the marathon in his first two attempts, sub-h…

Seven Straight Weeks of Elite Marathon Action

by Brett Larner

This weekend kicks off the busiest period of the year for Japanese distance running, with Sunday's Osaka International Women's Marathon leading seven straight weekends of elite marathons in this World Championships qualifying season. It's busier than ever thanks to last fall's APEC conference in Yokohama, which forced the second running of the Yokohama International Women's Marathon to shift from November to February. A quick guide to the upcoming marathons, all of which except Nobeoka will be broadcast live nationwide and viewable overseas.

Jan. 30: Osaka International Women's Marathon
Feb. 6: Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon
Feb. 13: Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon
Feb. 20: Yokohama International Women's Marathon
Feb. 27: Tokyo Marathon
Mar. 6: Biwako Mainichi Marathon
Mar. 13: Nagoya International Women's Marathon

It's not just marathons, either, as the world's two most competitive 30 km races, four of its most competitive half marathons, se…

Ominami, Kurosaki Return to Ome 30 km

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20110126-OHT1T00300.htm
http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/event/sports/news/20110126-OHT1T00302.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

2009 Ome 30 km winner Hirokatsu Kurosaki (Team Konica Minolta) and 2007 Rotterdam Marathon winner Hiromi Ominami (Utic AC) will return to this year's 45th anniversary Ome 30 km, with a field of 15000 the world's largest 30 km race, scheduled for Feb. 20 in Tokyo's mountainous western suburbs.

Kurosaki seeks to become the fourth man in Ome history to win twice. He will face the top Japanese man from last year's Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, Atsushi Ikawa (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) and the 2000 winner of Ome's H.S. 10 km division, Daisuke Shimizu (Team Kanebo). With such strong competition his win is anything but assured.

Ominami will run Ome for the second straight year, having finished as runner-up last year. She will run Ome as a tune-up for March's Nagoya International Women's Marathon where sh…

2011 Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon Elite Field

by Brett Larner

Organizers of the 49th Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon have announced the elite field for the Feb. 13 race. A developmental race for up-and-coming marathoners and first-timers, Nobeoka serves the role of a step up to the next tier of the Japanese marathoning circuit.

Last year's 3rd-placer Takanori Ide (Team Kyudenko) heads the field, and with training partner Kazuhiro Maeda going for a World Championships spot a week before at the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon Ide has been doing the workouts necessary to win. His competition will include last year's 5th-place man Kenji Higashino (Team Asahi Kasei), Takayuki Ota (Team Fujitsu), and, looking to improve on his rare overseas debut at last fall's Toronto Waterfront Marathon, Minoru Okuda (Team Honda). Among the debutants Okuda's teammate Seigo Ikegami (Team Honda) is the most likely to have a strong showing, but 1:02 half marathoners Yusuke Ichinoi (Team Nishitetsu) and Takaharu Miyazaki (Team Sumco) should also…

WC Silver Medalist Ozaki, '09 NYC Champ Tulu Lead Yokohama Int'l Women's Marathon Elites

http://www.asahi.com/sports/spo/TKY201101250131.htmlhttp://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/110124/spg1101241747004-n1.htm
http://www.jiji.com/jc/c?g=spo_30&k=2011012400672

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On Jan. 24 Rikuren announced the domestic and overseas elite fields for the second running of the Yokohama International Women's Marathon, scheduled for Feb. 20. The domestic field of six includes 2009 World Championships marathon silver medalist Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei) and 2010 Nagoya International Women's Marathon 5th place finisher Mayumi Fujita (Team Juhachi Ginko. The foreign field of five is led by 2009 New York City Marathon winner Derartu Tulu (Ethiopia), who holds a marathon best of 2:23:30. 2004 Athens Olympics marathoner Naoko Sakamoto (Team Tenmaya) is entered in the general division.

As a selection race for August's World Championships in Daegu, Korea, the top Japanese woman in Yokohama will earn a place on the team provided she runs under 2:26 on…

Yoko Shibui to Run Tokyo Marathon

http://www.nikkei.com/sports/news/article/g=96958A9C81818A9993E2E0E0EB8DE0E1E2E3E0E2E3E3E2E2E2E2E2E2;da=96958A88889DE2E0E3EAEAE5E6E2E0E3E3E0E0E2E2EBE2E2E2E2E2E2http://mainichi.jp/enta/sports/news/20110124k0000m050083000c.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Following her stage win at the Jan. 23 Kita-Kyushu Invitational Women's Ekiden, 10000 m national record holder and former marathon national record holder Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) announced that she will run the Feb. 27 Tokyo Marathon. It will be Shibui's first full marathon since pulling out of the 2009 World Championships marathon team with a stress fracture. "My teammate Reiko Tosa is running, so I thought it would be fun to enter too," Shibui said. "I'm just going to run comfortably without setting any target time."

Shibui's coach Shigeharu Watanabe said that the decision to run Tokyo came shortly after Shibui's successful return to competition at December's Nationa…

Ugachi Anchors Tochigi's First National Men's Ekiden Win - Video Highlights

by Brett Larner

Click photo for video highlights courtesy of NHK.

First-year pro Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta), 12th at last fall's World Half Marathon in a sub-62 minute PB, brought his native Tochigi Prefecture home for its first-ever win Jan. 23 at the National Interprefectural Men's Ekiden Championships in Hiroshima. Buoyed by strong performances from high schooler teammates Genki Yagisawa (Nasu Takuyo H.S.) and Keita Shioya (Nasu Takuyo H.S.) Tochigi took an early lead and, even when passed, was never out of the top three. Ugachi started the 13.0 km anchor stage just 2 seconds behind leader Kosaku Hoshina (Miyagi/Team Nissin Shokuhin) and swiftly took the lead, ultimately opening a gap of 31 seconds to take the win.

Defending champion Hyogo Prefecture struggled, dropping from among the leaders to the 20's in the middle stages, returning to the forefront, then dropping again to 10th after a weak anchor leg by Hoshina's teammate Satoru Kitamura (Team Nissin Sho…

Shibui Slays Tenmaya for Kita-Kyushu Invitational Win

by Brett Larner

You can't keep a great champion down. Mostly absent from competition with injuries and motivation issues for the two years since winning the 2009 Osaka International Women's Marathon, 10000 m national record holder Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) looked well on her way to staging the nth comeback of a career full of ups and downs Jan. 23 at the Kita-Kyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden, the last major women's ekiden of the season. Starting the 11.7 km anchor leg 47 seconds back from leader Yurika Nakamura of 2010 National Jitsugyodan Women's Ekiden winners Team Tenmaya, Shibui virtually singlehandedly won the race as she finished the stage 48 seconds ahead in 1st. Although she was far from the stage record, Shibui also took the best time on the stage by 15 seconds over 2010 Nagoya International Women's Marathon winner Yuri Kano (Second Wind AC), clocking 37:12.

Before Shibui's outstanding performance Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo was runni…

Toyo's Kashiwabara Out of National Men's Ekiden

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20110123-OHT1T00010.htm

translated by Brett Larner

Three-time Hakone Ekiden Fifth Stage winner Ryuji Kashiwabara (3rd yr., Toyo Univ.) has withdrawn from his planned run for the Fukushima Prefecture team at today's National Interprefectural Men's Ekiden in Hiroshima due to pain in his right knee. If he recovers in time, his next target race will be the 10 km race at the Feb. 26 Fukuoka International XC Meet.

Kashiwabara was scheduled to run the 8.5 km Third Stage, but after discussion between the Toyo and Fukushima Prefecture teams it was decided that he would be withdrawn. "If he ran in his current condition it would be a lot of unnecessary pressure, so for his own sake we pulled him," explained Toyo head coach Toshiyuki Sakai, 34. He went on to say that while Kashiwabara is currently experiencing pain in his right knee and left heel, the ailments are not serious and they have focused on him being ready for the Fukuoka Interna…

Watch the National Men's Ekiden Championships Online (updated)

by Brett Larner

The 2011 National Interprefectural Men's Ekiden Championships take place Jan. 23 in Hiroshima. The race, which features teams made up of the best pro, university, high school and junior high school runners from each of Japan's 47 prefectures, will be broadcast live and commerical-free on NHK beginning at 12:15 p.m. Overseas viewers should be able to watch live online for free using Keyhole TV, available here, with password NHK. JRN will be doing live English-language commentary via Twitter @JRNLive. Live splits and race highlight videos will be available on NHK's race website.

Looking at the overall team competition, despite the absence of last year's anchor Kensuke Takezawa (Team S&B), defending champion Hyogo is in an excellent position to defend its title with five of the team's seven runners ranked among the best on their respective stages. Look for First Stage runner Kazuto Nishiike, winner of last year's National High School Ekiden First…

Comedian Hazama Completes Round-the-World Run

http://www.sanspo.com/geino/news/110122/gnj1101220508017-n1.htm

translated by Brett Larner



On Jan. 21 comedian Kanpei Hazama, 61, completed his round-the-world solo running and sailing "Earth Marathon," crossing the finish line onstage at Osaka's Nanba Grand Kagetsu auditorium. Greeted by his wife Mitsuyo, 53, and a large crowd of his fellow celebrities, Hazama, who was diagnosed with cancer partway through his run, wept openly before leading a group cheer of "Thank you!" The 41,000 km journey around the world took 766 days and passed through 18 countries including Japan.

Translator's note: Hazama's Youtube channel includes hundreds of videos documenting his trip.

Fujita, Guta, Hunt, Njenga, Ramadhani Headline 60th Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon (updated)

by Brett Larner

Updated Jan. 19 with complete elite field.

In a special advance release, organizers of the 60th anniversary Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon scheduled for Feb. 6 briefly made the names of some of this year's elite field publicly available on Jan. 14. At the top of the foreign elite field are 2003 Beppu-Oita winner Samson Ramadhani (Tanzania) and the man who made last year's Beppu-Oita of international note with an exciting come-from-behind 3rd-place finish and Australian debut record of 2:11:00, Jeff Hunt. Ramadhani, the 2006 Commonwealth Games and 2007 Biwako Mainichi Marathon champion, returns to Beppu-Oita after defeating Hunt in hot and humid conditions at October's Commonwealth Games where he was 5th in 2:19:31 to Hunt's 2:25:03 13th place finish. The rematch should be one of the highlights of this year's race.

Also in the international field are last year's runner-up Daniel Njenga (Kenya/Team Yakult), Ethiopian Abiyote Guta, last year's Marra…

Kenyan XC Champ Gideon Ngatuny to Debut at Tokyo Marathon

by Brett Larner

2010 national champions Team Nissin Shokuhin have announced that the team's star, 2008 Kenyan XC national champion Gideon Ngatuny, will run his marathon debut at the Feb. 27 Tokyo Marathon. Ngatuny, who holds a half marathon best of 59:50 and a 10000 m best of 27:01.83, has in the last two years progressively moved up in distance, with wins at the 2008 and 2009 Nagoya Half Marathon and the 2009 Sapporo International Half Marathon and a turn as a pacemaker at the 2010 London Marathon.

Ngatuny joins world record holder Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopia), 2010 double Sapporo International Half Marathon and Hokkaido Marathon winner Cyrus Njui (Kenya/Team Hitachi Cable) and New Year Ekiden Fifth Stage winner Keita Akiba (Team Komori Corp.) among the athletes to have already publicly declared their participation in what looks to be the highest-level Tokyo Marathon field to date.

Gideon Ngatuny - Kenya
born 10/10/86
half marathon: 59:50 (Nagoya, 2009)
10000 m: 27:01.83 (Tendo, 2009)

Saku Chosei H.S. Head Coach Morozumi to Take Over at Tokai University

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/nagano/news/20110117-OYT8T01097.htm
http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2011/01/17/kiji/K20110117000067200.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Saku Chosei H.S. head coach Hayashi Morozumi, 44,announced Jan. 17 that in April he will take over as head coach of his alma mater, 2011 Hakone Ekiden 4th-place Tokai University. Morozumi will replace current Tokai coach Toshihiro Arai, 58, who coached Morozumi during Morozumi's student days and asked him to be his replacement. Morozumi told reporters, "My goal is not just to do well at the Hakone Ekiden but to produce Olympians." Morozumi graduated from Tokai Dai-San Prep H.S. before running for Tokai University where he competed in the Hakone Ekiden all four years. He later ran professionally for the Nissan and Daiei teams.

Morozumi has been head coach at Saku Chosei since 1995 and brought the school its first National High School Ekiden Championships title in 2008 along with twelve top-eigh…

Abeylegesse vs. Fukushi vs. Chapple, Yuki Sato to Debut at Marugame Half

by Brett Larner

Today the 2011 Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon announced the elite field for this year's 65th running on Feb. 6. Organizers have set up an excellent women's race, with defending champion Nikki Chapple (Australia) facing the top half marathoner of 2010, Olympic track medalist Elvan Abeylegesse (Turkey) and national half marathon record holder Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal). Abeylegesse is the obvious favorite, but it will be very interesting to see what Fukushi, who set the national record of 1:07:26 in her half marathon debut at Marugame in 2005 and made a quiet return to the distance after over three years with a win at July's Shibetsu Half Marathon, has planned. Chapple's winning time of 1:08:37 from last year puts her in reach of either woman.

The men's race is headed by course record holder Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya/Team Aidem) and features the likes of 2:06 marathoner Rachid Kisri (Morocco) and 2010 Asian Games marathon gold medalist Youngju…

Fukuoka Upgraded to IAAF Gold Label Status

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/sports/news/110117/oth11011717030054-n1.htm
http://www.jiji.com/jc/c?g=spo_30&k=2011011700699

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Rikuren announced on Jan. 17 that the IAAF has granted the Fukuoka International Marathon its highest ranking, a gold label. Having been upgraded from silver label status, along with March's Biwako Mainichi Marathon and February's Tokyo Marathon, Fukuoka, scheduled for Dec. 4, is now the third race within Japan to receive the gold label distinction. Among the factors considered in the rankings were the number and quality of elite athletes, the prize purse, the scale of television broadcast including an international broadcast, the presence of anti-doping measures, and the organizational strength of the event. Fukuoka cleared all criteria, joining the ranks of other major races in important cities around the world including the London and New York City marathons.

Translator's note: One of the two major criteria cited in…

Kyoto Takes Back National Women's Ekiden Championship Title - Video Highlights

by Brett Larner

Click photo for video highlights.

Despite a slow start which saw it fall as low as 16th by the end of Third Stage, host Kyoto Prefecture did the expected, dismantling defending champion Okayama Prefecture to return to the top of the 2011 National Women's Interprefectural Ekiden Championships on Jan. 16. 2010's #2-ranked Japanese woman Ryoko Kizaki got Kyoto back in the game on the Fourth Stage, bringing Kyoto up to 6th. With strong runs on the next three stages including a new stage record of 12:39 by Nanako Kanno on the 4.0875 km Sixth Stage Kyoto advanced to 1st, leaving the door open for anchor and stage record holder Kayoko Fukushi to sail on unchallenged to the win. Despite being the only woman on the 10 km Ninth Stage to break 32 minutes Fukushi was so relaxed that she repeatedly laughed and waved to spectators on the course throughout the second half. Fukushi crossed the line in 2:17:06 to give Kyoto its 14th win in 29 editions of the National Women's …

Watch the National Women's Ekiden Championships Live Online - Preview

by Brett Larner

The 2011 National Women's Interprefectural Ekiden Championships take place this Sunday, Jan. 16, in Kyoto. With each of Japan's 47 prefectures fielding a team made up of runners from the top pro, university, high school and junior high school teams the Interprefectural Ekiden is the de facto national distance running championship and offers an interesting cross-section of who is who at all domestic levels of the sport. The race is broadcast live nationwide and commercial-free on NHK beginning at 12:15 p.m. Japan time. Overseas viewers should be able to watch via Keyhole TV using the password NHK.

Host Kyoto has long been the dominant force at the Interprefectural Ekiden, winning every year from 2005-2009 and taking a total of 13 wins in the ekiden's 28-year history, more than any other prefecture. Last year Okayama dethroned Kyoto, taking its first-ever win. This year Kyoto and Okayama are again the clear-cut favorites. Okayama returns with a team made up o…