Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Marathoner Shigetomo Arrives in London


translated by Brett Larner

London Olympics women's marathon team member Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) arrived at London's Heathrow Airport on July 30th full of enthusiasm ahead of her race on Aug. 5, telling reporters, "I feel ready to go.  I'm really inspired by the other Japanese athletes who have already won medals."

In her final training at altitude in Albuquerque, New Mexico Shigetomo felt less than 100% and came up short of the goals in her training menu, but she did not have any major injury problems. "I think I'll be feeling good on the starting line," she said with a smile.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Japanese Runners Sweep New Caledonia Half Marathon

30th New Caledonia International Half Marathon
New Caledonia, 7/29/12
click here for complete results

1. Yudai Yamakawa - 1:07:17
2. Toshikatsu Ebina - 1:08:02
3. Jun Aoki - 1:14:44

1. Ayako Mitsui - 1:16:03
2. Maki Saito - 1:16:06
3. Kanade Iida - 1:17:18

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Kawauchi Defends Title at Kushiro Shitsugen 30 km

by Brett Larner

As part of his tuneup for next month's Hokkaido Marathon, 2011 World Championships marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) returned to Hokkaido's Kushiro Shitsugen 30 km road race for its 40th anniversary edition to defend his course record win last year.  Running unchallenged in 27-degree temperatures, he succeeded in adding a second win to his list of accomplishments as he crossed the line in 1:35:02 despite being a self-professed weak hot weather runner.  The little-known race is sure to become a staple of Kawauchi's summer training.

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Kiwi Wyatt Wins Fuji Mountain Race


translated and edited by Brett Larner

3676 runners took part in the two divisions of the 65th Fuji Mountain Race on July 27.  Making his Mt. Fuji debut, Jonathan Wyatt (39, New Zealand) won the summit course in a strong 2:33:59, with Mina Ogawa (37, Amino Vital AC) taking the women's race in 3:07:51 for her second-straight summit win.  Toru Koide (30, Salomon) and Maki Hagiwara (37) won the men's and women's Fifth Stage course wins in 1:25:42 and 1:45:17.

With a margin of 17 minutes over the runner-up, Wyatt's win was definitive.  A two-time Olympian for his native New Zealand with appearances in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic 5000 m and 2004 Athens Olympics marathon, Wyatt pulled clear into the lead after crossing into the purest mountain running section of the course after the Sixth Stage.  "My win today is one of the biggest honors in my long career," said a happy Wyatt.  "In New Zealand we are lucky to have a lot of good places to train."

Women's summit winner Ogawa was equally delighted with her title defense.  "I wanted to run under 3:10 no matter what," she said of her assertive performance in which she pushed the pace from the start and succeeded in meeting her sub-3:10 goal.  She was also well under her winning time from last year, 3:10:45.  A former corporate runner for the Hitachi team until 2000, Ogawa had plenty of credentials to make her the favorite.  "The Fuji Mountain Race is totally different from other races," she said with deep emotion.  "It just keeps going up and you can feel it getting harder and harder to advance to the next stage.  It has helped me to grow emotionally."

65th Fuji Mountain Race
Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, 7/27/12
click here for complete results

Summit Course - Men
1. Jonathan Wyatt (New Zealand) - 2:33:59
2. Sota Ogawa - 2:50:58
3. Satoshi Kato - 2:52:36
4. Turati Silvano (Italy) - 2:55:05
5. Takahito Kondo - 2:55:14

Summit Course - Women
1. Mina Ogawa - 3:07:51
2. Yoshimi Hoshino - 3:25:14
3. Keiko Nagasaka - 3:30:42
4. Kayo Shibuya - 3:40:33
5. Tomoko Oba - 3:46:26

Fifth Stage Course - Men
1. Toru Koide - 1:25:42
2. Jun Kaise - 1:26:20
3. Yasutomo Takenaka - 1:27:45

Fifth Stage Course - Women
1. Maki Hagiwara - 1:45:17
2. Mitsuko Hirose - 1:46:23
3. Satoko Uehara - 1:53:24

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Marathoner Kizaki Arrives in London


translated by Brett Larner

27-year-old Olympic marathoner Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) arrived at London's Heathrow Airport on July 25 from her high-altitude training camp in the United States.  "I'm really excited to get here.  If I can finish the race with a smile I'll be happy," she laughed.  Kizaki has been training at 2100 m in Flagstaff, Arizona with the other two members of the women's Olympic marathon team for more than a month.  "The training camp ran a little long, but I'm ready.  The solid base I built up gives me a lot of confidence," she said, her tanned face giving evidence of her preparedness.

Kizaki will skip the opening ceremony, focusing on her final sharpening for the race on Aug. 5.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

From the Hakone Ekiden to the Olympic Marathon - A Manifesto


translated and edited by Brett Larner

An editorial by Yasuhiro Kato

All three of this year's London Olympics men's marathoners, Arata Fujiwara (2:07:48, Miki House, Takushoku Univ.), Kentaro Nakamoto (2:08:53, Team Yasukawa Denki, Takushoku Univ.) and Ryo Yamamoto (2:08:44, Team Sagawa Express, Chuo Univ.) are graduates of Kanto Region universities.  All ran the Hakone Ekiden [see below] as collegiates, but not a single one of them ever won a stage.  No matter which of them you look at, they were all nondescript student athletes with few achievements.  Fujiwara was frequently injured, and with the Takushoku University of that era not strong enough to maintain a stable position in the seeded bracket he only ran Hakone twice.  His Takushoku teammate Nakamoto only made it once.  In high school Yamamoto was a regular in the finals at the National High School Championships, running Hakone three times at Chuo University.  As a senior he was Chuo's captain and ran Hakone's famous uphill Fifth Stage, but as a whole his results were not really enough to catch the eye of the average fan across the country and like his Olympic teammates he can safely be described as an athlete who needed time to mature.

How did three guys who were far from being Hakone Ekiden stars come to land their places in the Olympics?  According to Chuo University grad and Hakone Ekiden TV commentator Tetsuo Usui, "The Hakone Ekiden has gotten to the point where it's to a given that the university guys who make it are running 20 to 30 km in training.  In doing this kind of training they're picking up the ability to run while sustaining a demanding pace and it's reasonable to say to that they're effectively covering the basics of marathon training.  Yamamoto in particular has focused on building his mental stamina as part of his training ever since his days at Chuo., and that has translated into success as a corporate runner and carried him all the way to the Olympic team.  Looking at it another way, if the guys who have run the Hakone Ekiden are able to sustain and build on their training afterward then to whatever degree they'll be able to run a marathon.  Our three Olympians this year have built on their past work in this way, and that is why the Olympics have come to them."

A recent example came in March at the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon Olympic selection race.  2012 Hakone Ekiden Second Stage winner Takehiro Deki, at the time a third-year at Aoyama Gakuin University, was one of the last two Japanese athletes left in the lead pack after 30 km, even briefly leading before finishing in a solid time of 2:10:02, the all-time 3rd-best collegiate mark and cracking the all-time top-ten Japanese debuts.  "The university guys who can win Hakone Ekiden stages are probably good enough to hang onto the lead pack in any competitive marathon until at least 30 km," says Fujiwara, suggesting that among our current collegiate runners there are a large number with latent potential for marathon success.  Those athletes who have experienced Hakone have already laid down the fundamentals they need to run the marathon.

This doesn't mean, however, that all of them should try.  Serious marathon training is severe and demanding and does not bear a linear relationship to ekiden training, and they say that can lead to the risk of injury, to fear of the outcome of a race, to wearing down the two legs that should carry you on to face the challenge of the marathon.  Another factor in the marathon is age.  To ensure a long career more and more Japanese athletes in recent years have spent the younger years of their careers focusing of improving track speed in the belief that this will help them later on the road, leading to fewer and fewer young marathoners.

"My dream is to see our best taking on the marathon when they are young," says Olympic marathon great Toshihiko Seko.  "People now think that you have to run at least 2:10 right from the first time out of the gate, so the marathon is turning into something they're afraid of.  I ran 2:26 in my first marathon.  There are lots of university guys these days who could do way better than that.  You hear a lot of people nowadays saying, 'I want to do the marathon some day,' then dropping out once it gets hard and it's clear that they're not going to run what they wanted instead of finishing the thing.  I think that's probably because they're trying to work on their speed and take on the marathon at the same time.  It's natural that your first time is going to be a failure.  I think the right way to go is to just get the experience and try to squeeze the best time out of it that you can without worrying too much, and I'd like to see a lot of our athletes taking that approach at a young age."

Of course this doesn't mean that all of our runners absolutely have to become marathoners, but it's a waste to see people who should understand what Seko is saying taking off their shoes without trying a marathon even once.  The common characteristic among our three Olympic marathon men this year is that they all gravitated toward the marathon at a young age.  Even for those whose university achievements bore no lasting mention, what experience they gained in racing gave them the tools they needed to achieve their Olympic berths.

According to IAAF race results chief Yoshimasa Noguchi, in 2010 the total number of men worldwide breaking 14 minutes for 5000 m included 136 Kenyans, 28 Ethiopians, and 153 Japanese.  77 Kenyans and just 5 Ethiopians broke 29 minutes for 10000 m, but 174 Japanese did it.  There is no doubt whatsoever that Japan has the greatest depth in distance running in the world.  There is equally little doubt that these numbers have their origin in Japan's ekiden culture, and that the knowledge base produced under this system is sound.

But at the same time it is undeniable that there is a profound problem in the growing chasm between the world standard for the marathon and Japanese marathoning.  Our most urgent need for the future is to get our track runners down to the 12-minute level for 5000 m and 26 minutes for 10000 m, and to establish a framework to help them then transition to the marathon.    At the time of its founding the principle behind the Hakone Ekiden was, "To rear marathoners who will take on the world."  A demonstration of this principle would be for even one of the three  London Olympians who targeted the marathon from a young age to finish among the upper placings, giving credence to the belief that, "If we train right we Japanese can still compete against the best in the world."

The final event in the London Olympics, the starting gun of the men's marathon will go off at 7:00 p.m. Japan time on August 12.

Translator's note: The Hakone Ekiden is the biggest event in Japanese sport and one of the world's greatest races, with over 30% TV viewership ratings for the two-day, roughly fifteen-hour broadcast of the Kanto Region university men's road relay championship.  Star Hakone runners such as 2012 Hakone winner Toyo University's Ryuji Kashiwabara are national celebrities.

Monday, July 23, 2012

'Karoki Vows to Bring Home 10000 m Gold'


Japan-trained Bitan Karoki (Team S&B) attended Hiroshima's Sera H.S. before joining the S&B corporate team.  He is based in Saitama near 2011 10000 m world champion Ibrahim Jeilan's training base at Honda.

World Half Team Members Ito and Kawauchi Win Shibetsu Half Marathon Titles

by Brett Larner

Just three weeks after winning the Sapporo International Half Marathon, 2012 World Half Marathon Championships team member Mai Ito (Team Otsuka) returned to add another half marathon title to her collection, winning the 26th running of Hokkaido's Shibetsu Half Marathon in 1:11:20 over the Miyauchi twins Yoko and Hiroko of Team Kyocera.  Although her time was 28 seconds slower than her Sapporo time it was still the third-best in Shibetsu history.  Independent men's World Half Marathon team member Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) likewise took the win, prevailing over a tight pack of corporate and collegiate runners in 1:05:00 in another of the fourteen half marathons he plans to race this year.

In the women's 10 km, Ai Igarashi (Team Sysmex), one of the year's leading Japanese women, had an an easy win in 33:38.  Click here for a collection of photos of the race via the Shibetsu city government site.

26th Shibetsu Half Marathon
Shibetsu, Hokkaido, 7/22/12
complete results coming soon

1. Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:11:20
2. Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 1:11:43
3. Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 1:12:00
4. Yuki Mitsunobu (Team Kyocera) - 1:13:18
5. Chihiro Takato (Team Wacoal) - 1:13:19

1. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) - 1:05:00
2. Tomonori Ikebuchi (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 1:05:04
3. Kohei Ogino (Team Fujitsu) - 1:05:06
4. Kenta Chiba (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:05:11
5. Yasunori Onuma (Asia Univ.) - 1:05:14

Women's 10 km
1. Ai Igarashi (Team Sysmex) - 33:38
2. Ayumi Sakaida (Team Daihatsu) - 33:44
3. Yui Okada (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 34:00

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fujiwara, Matsuyama Runners-Up on European Roads

by Brett Larner

Fujiwara and Rothlin after their mutual DNF at the 2010 New York City Marathon.

London Olympics marathoner Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) went head-to-head against longtime rival and friend Viktor Rothlin (Switzerland) on Rothlin's home ground at the Swiss Ageriseelauf 14.138 km on July 21.  Rothlin, who set the still-standing Tokyo Marathon course record of 2:07:23 to win the 2008 Tokyo Marathon ahead of Fujiwara's breakthrough 2:08:40 2nd-place, came out ahead again after losing to Fujiwara at this year's Tokyo Marathon.  Rothlin clocked 41:41 to Fujiwara's 41:42, suggesting the pair may be close again in the main event just three weeks away.  Eritrean Abraham Tadesse was well back in 3rd in 42:42.

A day later and a lifetime further north, 2011 National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships runner-up Team Panasonic members Akiko Matsuyama and Yukari Abe made their European debuts at the Great North 10k in Gateshead, U.K.  Running on course-record pace, Matsuyama was unable to match strides with G.B.'s Gemma Steel, who became the first woman to run sub-33 in Gateshead as she set a new course record of 32:56.  Matsuyama held on for 2nd in 33:07 just ahead of Lauren Howarth who was good for 3rd in 33:09.  All three women broke the existing Great North 10k record of 33:22.  Abe was a distant 6th in 35:51.  Both Matsuyama and Abe appeared in the Great North 10k with assistance from JRN.

2012 Aegeriseelauf (14.138 km)
Switzerland, 7/21/12
click here for complete results

1. Viktor Rothlin (Switzerland) - 41:41
2. Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) - 41:42
3. Abraham Tadesse (Eritrea) - 42:42

2012 Great North 10 km
Gateshead, U.K., 7/22/12
click here for complete results

1. Gemma Steel (GBR) - 32:56 - CR
2. Akiko Matsuyama (Team Panasonic) - 33:07 (CR)
3. Lauren Howarth (GBR) - 33:09 (CR)
6. Yukari Abe (Team Panasonic) - 35:51

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

photo (c) 2010 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ichikawa Over Shitara Twins at Isesaki Nighter

by Brett Larner

2012 Hakone Ekiden course record-setter Toyo University dominated rival and previous Hakone course record holder Waseda University in the men's 3000 m at the 2012 Trial in Isesaki night meet organized by Jobu University.  Toyo's downhill specialist Takanori Ichikawa ran up front with twin teammates Yuta Shitara and Keita Shitara, emerging a step ahead of Yuta for the win as both broke eight minutes.  Keita, until recently the stronger of the twins, fell behind late in the race but held on for third in 8:07.12.  Waseda's top finisher Fuminori Shikata could do no better than 5th a second back from Keita.

All told Toyo athletes took eight of the top ten spots, boding well for their chances in the upcoming fall ekiden season and their Hakone title defense on Jan. 2-3.  Look for Toyo to line up in next month's Hood to Coast Relay in Oregon.

2012 Trial in Isesaki
Jobu University, Isesaki, Gunma, 7/21/12
click here for complete results

Men's 3000 m
1. Takanori Ichikawa (Toyo Univ.) - 7:59.16
2. Yuta Shitara (Toyo Univ.) - 7:59.97
3. Keita Shitara (Toyo Univ.) - 8:07.12
4. Hiroaki Koike (Toyo Univ.) - 8:07.28
5. Fuminori Shikata (Waseda Univ.) - 8:08.35
6. Masaya Taguchi (Toyo Univ.) - 8:10.51
7. Kento Otsu (Toyo Univ.) - 8:10.96
8. Norihisa Imai (Toyo Univ.) - 8:12.33
9. Jun Nobuto (Toyo Univ.) - 8:17.74
10. Shun Sato (Jobu Univ.) - 8:19.76

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sera H.S. Unveils Monument Commemorating Seventh National Title


translated by Brett Larner

At a ceremony at Sera H.S.' campus in Seramachi Hongo, Hiroshima on July 14, a monument was unveiled commemorating the Sera boys' seventh national title at last December's National High School Ekiden Championships.  Made of solid granite, the monument is 90 cm tall, 120 cm long and 30 cm deep, the latest addition to the six monuments already standing in the campus' front gardens.  Under the title "Victory Memorial" the front of the monument records the winning time, date of the race and other information, while the names of the coach and all ten team members are inscribed on the back.

Organized by ekiden team and school administration officials, the ceremony hosted around 100 alumni.  Six of the winning team members including captain Naruhei Daikuya (17) were present to represent the team, posing for commemorative pictures lined up on either side of the monument, a donation from the school's alumni association.  Association director Toshifumi Kojima (61) commented, "We hope that this reminder of the school's glorious history will excite future students and motivate them to actively take part in adding to that history."

Translator's note: Sera H.S. is the alma mater of future Kenyan greats Bitan Karoki and Charles Ndirangu among others.  Ndirangu ran on last year's winning team, just missing Samuel Wanjiru's stage record.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Haruka Kyuma Wins 5000 m at Kyoto Championships


translated and edited by Brett Larner

Seven events saw finals on the first day of the Kyoto Track and Field Championships at Nishi Kyogoku Sports Park Field.  Among them, Kyoto native and Ayabe H.S. graduate Haruka Kyuma (1st yr., Tsukuba Univ.) ran 15:54.33 to win the women's 5000 m for the first time. Kazuki Noda (Kyoto Sangyo Univ.) won the men's 5000 m in 14:23.60, while 38-year-old Yoshihisa Fukumoto (Kyoto T&F Assoc.) took his eleventh high jump title, five years since his last win.

Translator's note: Kyuma's identical twin sister Moe Kyuma ran for the Japanese team at this year's World Junior Championships.

Kyoto Track & Field Championships Women's 5000 m
Nishi Kyogoku Sports Park Field, Kyoto, 7/13/12

1. Haruka Kyuma (Tsukuba Univ.) - 15:54.33
2. Chika Ogawa (Bukkyo Univ.) - 16:12.69
3. Nanami Aoki (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 16:14.08
4. Chinami Mori (Bukkyo Univ.) - 16:22.03
5. Ai Furukubo (Kyoto Sangyo Univ.) - 16:24.19
6. Chisaki Takegami (Bukkyo Univ.) - 16:26.94
7. Shiho Takechi (Bukkyo Univ.) - 16:28.74
8. Asami Furuse (Team Kyocera) - 16:29.98

World Junior Championships - Day Six Japanese Results

Barcelona, 7/15/12
click here for complete results

Women's 1500 m Final
1. Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon (Kenya) - 4:04.96 - MR
2. Amela Terzic (Serbia) - 4:07.59 - NJR
3. Senbere Teferi (Ethiopia) - 4:08.28 - PB
4. Nancy Chepkwemoi (Kenya) - 4:09.72
5. Jessica Judd (Great Britain) - 4:09.93 - PB
11. Saki Yoshimizu (Japan) - 4:16.84 - PB

Men's 4x400 m Relay Final
1. U.S.A. - 3:03.99 - WJL
2. Poland - 3:05.05 - NJR
3. Trinidad & Tobago - 3:06.32
4. Australia - 3:06.58
5. Jamaica - 3:07.31
6. Saudia Arabia - 3:09.26
7. Japan - 3:09.67
DQ - Italy

Sunday, July 15, 2012

World Junior Championships - Day Five Japanese Results

Barcelona, Spain, 7/14/12
click here for complete results

Men's 5000 m Final
1. Muktar Edris (Ethiopia) - 13:38.95
2. Abrar Osman Adem (Eritrea) - 13:40.52
3. William Malel Sitonik (Kenya) - 13:40.52
4. Younes Essalhi (Morocco) - 13:41.69 - PB
5. Tsegaye Mekonnen (Ethiopia) - 13:44.43 - PB
11. Kota Murayama (Japan) - 14:18.24
14. Kazuma Taira (Japan) - 14:22.95

Men's 4x100 m Relay Final
1. U.S.A. - 38.67 - WJL
2. Jamaica - 38.97 - NJR
3. Japan - 39.02
4. Poland - 39.47
5. Australia - 39.59
6. Bahamas - 39.74
7. Brazil - 39.75
DQ - Great Britain

Men's 800 m Semifinal Two
1. Timothy Kitum (Kenya) - 1:49.09 - Q
2. Mohammed Belbachir (Algeria) - 1.49.46 - Q
3. Jena Umar (Ethiopia) - 1:49.68
5. Sho Kawamoto (Japan) - 1:50.17

Men's 4x400 m Relay Heat Three
1. Japan - 3:08.16 - Q
2. Trinidad and Tobago 3:08.16 - Q
3. Russia - 3:08.58

Women's 100 mH Heat Two
1. Dou Wang (China) - 13:40 - Q - PB
2. Michelle Jenneke (Australia) - 13:41 - Q
3. Franziska Hofmann (Germany) - 13:53 - q
7. Mizuki Kugai (Japan) - 13.99

Women's 100 mH Heat Three
1. Noemi Zbaren (Switzerland) - 13:46 - Q
2. Dior Hall (U.S.A.) - 13.78 - Q
3. Samantha Scarlett (Jamaica) - 13.88
4. Mako Fukube (Japan) - 13.92

Saturday, July 14, 2012

World Junior Championships - Day Four Japanese Results

Barcelona, Spain, 7/13/12
click here for complete results

Men's 400 mH Final
1. Eric Futch (U.S.A.) - 50.24 - PB / WJL
2. Takahiro Matsumoto (Japan) - 50.41 - PB
3. Ibrahim Mohammed Saleh (Saudi Arabia) - 50.47 - PB
4. Javarn Gallimore (Jamaica) - 50.49
5. Felix Franz (Germany) - 50.80
6. Oskari Moro (Finland) - 50.80 - PB
7. Timofey Chalyy (Russia) - 51.17
8. Mitja Lindic (Slovenia) - 51.26

Men's 10000 m Race Walk Final
1. Eider Arevalo (Colombia) - 40:09.74 - WJL
2. Aleksandr Ivanov (Russia) - 40:12.90 - PB
3. Guanyu Su (China) - 40:16.87 - PB
4. Takumi Saito (Japan) - 40:19.10 - NJR
9. Yosuke Kimura (Japan) - 41:41.52 - PB

Men's 4x100 m Relay Heat One
1. Japan - 39.01 - QWJL
2. Brazil - 39.39 - Q - AJR
3. Poland - 39.31 - q - NJR
4. Australia - 39.34 - q - AJR

Women's 1500 m Heat Three
1. Nancy Chepkwemoi (Kenya) - 4:13.43 - Q
2. Alem Embaye (Ethiopia) - 4:14.03 - Q
3. Jennifer Walsh (Great Britain) - 4:16.08 - Q
4. Saki Yoshimizu (Japan) - 4:18.30 - q - PB

Men's 800 m Heat One
1. Edwin Kiplagat Melly (Kenya) - 1:48.27 - Q - PB
2. Wesley Vazquez (Puerto Rico) - 1:48.78 - Q
3. Ben Waterman (Great Britain) - 1:49.48 - Q
7. Shota Kozuma (Japan) - 1:53.40

Men's 800 m Heat Seven
1. Brandon McBride (Canada) - 1:49.77 - Q
2. Sho Kawamoto (Japan) - 1:50.12 - Q
3. Kevin Stadler (Germany) - 1:50.39 - Q

Women's 110 mH Heat Four
1. Noemi Zbaren (Switzerland) - 13.34 - Q
2. Alexandra Burghardt (Germany) - 13.49 - Q - PB
3. Mako Fukube (Japan) - 13.96 - Q
4. Manca Sepetavc (Slovenia) - 13.97 - q

Men's Triple Jump Qualification Round Group A
1. Pedro Pichardo (Cuba) - 16.64 m -  Q
2. Latario Collie-Minns (Bahamas) - 16.51 m - Q
3. Georgi Tsonov (Bulgaria) - 15.97 m - Q
4. Henrique da Silva (Brazil) - 15.81 m - q - PB
5. Lasha Gulelauri (Georgia) - 15.75  m - q
11. Hiroaki Yonezawa (Japan) - 15.23

Women's High Jump Qualification Round Group B
1. Alessia Trost (Italy) - 1.84 m - Q
2. Melina Brenner (Germany) - 1.84 m - Q
3. Iryna Gerashchenko (Ukraine) - 1.84 m - Q
4. Dior Delophont (France) - 1.84 m - Q
15. Midori Kamijima (Japan) - 1.70 m

Friday, July 13, 2012

World Junior Championships - Day Three Japanese Results

Barcelona, Spain, 7/12/12
click here for complete results

Men's 110 mH Final
1. Yordan O'Farrill (Cuba) - 13.18 - MR
2. Nicholas Hough (Australia) - 13.27 - AJR
3. Wilhem Belocian (France) - 13.29 - NJR
4. James Gladman (Great Britain) - 13.37
5. Jussi Kanervo (Finland) - 13.62
6. Dondre Echols (U.S.A.) - 13.71
7. Shinya Tanaka (Japan) - 13.72
8. Pengfei Chu (China) - 13.77

Men's 400 mH Semifinal One
1. Felix Franz (Germany) - 50.66 - Q
2. Takahiro Matsumoto (Japan) - 50.76 - Q - PB
3. Oskari Moro (Finland) - 50.89 - q
4. Ibrahim Mohammed Saleh (Saudi Arabia) - 51.11 - q

Men's 400 mH Semifinal Three
1. Eric Futch (U.S.A.) - 50.77 - Q
2. Mitja Lindic (Slovenia) - 50.81 - Q - PB
3. Shota Madokoro (Japan) - 51.15

Men's 200 m Semifinal Two
1. Karol Zalewski (Poland) - 20.93 - Q - PB
2. Delano Williams (Tajikistan) - 20.94 - Q
3. Aska Cambridge (Japan) - 21.24

Men's 200 m Semifinal Three
1. David Bolarinwa (Great Britain) - 20.85 - Q
2. Tyreek Hill (U.S.A.) - 21.00 - Q
3. Zhenye Xie (China) - 21.06 - q
4. Akiyuki Hashimoto (Japan) - 21.20

Men's Javelin Throw Qualification Round Group B
1. Luke Cann (Australia) - 74.54 m - Q
2. Morne Moolman (South Africa) - 72.64 m - Q
3. Braian Toledo (Argentina) - 72.48 m - Q
13. Sho Tanaka (Japan) - 66.04 m

Women's Long Jump Qualification Round Group A
1. Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Great Britain) - 6.51 m - Q - PB
2. Lena Malkus (Germany) - 6.45 m - Q
3. Paula Beatriz Alvarez (Cuba) - 6.44 m - Q
12. Narumi Suenaga (Japan) - 5.98 m

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Kawauchi to Run Hokkaido Marathon


translated by Brett Larner

In an interview with the Hokkaido Newspaper, civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi (25, Saitama Pref.) announced that he will make his Hokkaido Marathon debut at this year's race on August 26.  With 11000 entrants the Hokkaido Marathon is setting a new record for participation, but with top athletes like Kawauchi in the field the elite end of the race will also be high-level.

Kawauchi graduated from Gakushuin University in 2009, taking a job with the Saitama Prefectural Government.  Eschewing the corporate running system and training on his own while working full-time, he finished 3rd overall as the top Japanese finisher at last December's Fukuoka International Marathon.  At February's Tokyo Marathon Olympic selection race he finished 14th, missing a place on the London team.

World Junior Championships Day Two Japanese Results

Barcelona, Spain, 7/11/12
click here for complete results

Women's 5000 m
1. Buze Diriba (Ethiopia) - 15:32.94
2. Ruit Aga (Ethiopia) - 15:32.95 - PB
3. Agnes Jebet Tirop (Kenya) - 15:36.74 - PB
4. Cayla Hatton (U.S.A.) - 15:50.32 - PB
5. Caroline Chepkoech Kipkirui (Kenya) - 15:58.10
11. Shiori Yano (Japan) - 16:21.29
12. Moe Kyuma (Japan) - 16:21.36

Women's 10000 m Walk
1. Ekaterina Medvedeva (Russia) - 45:41.74
2. Nadezhda Leontyeva (Russia) - 45:43.64 - PB
3. Sandra Arenas (Colombia) - 45:44.46
4. Liudmyla Olianovska (Ukraine) - 45:53.50 - PB
5. Yanxue Mao (China) - 46:10.60 - PB
8. Nozomi Yagi (Japan) - 47:04.92 - PB
23. Sae Matsumoto (Japan) - 49:56.66

Men's 400 mH Heat Four
1. Takahiro Matsumoto (Japan) - 51.26 - Q
2. Javarn Gallimore (Jamaica) - 51.40 - Q
3. William Mbevi Mutunga (Kenya) - 52.44 - Q

Men's 400 mH Heat Six
1. Shota Madokoro (Japan) - 51.67 - Q
2. Gamal Abdelnasir Abubaker (Qatar) - 51.93 - Q
3. Jose Fernando Martinez (Mexico) - 52.21 - Q
4. Marius Bakken Stole (Norway) - 52.37 - q

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Olympic Marathoner Nakamoto Honored by Hometown Yamaguchi, Vows to Give it His Best


translated by Brett Larner

London Olympics men's marathon team member Kentaro Nakamoto (29, Team Yasukawa Denki) has been awarded his native Yamaguchi prefecture's Medal of Glory, a distinction reserved for the prefecture's highest-achieving athletes.  "I'm privileged to receive an award which carries such honor," he said.  "I want to go into the big day in the best condition possible."

Nakamoto was born in Kikugawacho, Yamaguchi.  He received the medal at Yasukawa Denki corporate headquarters in Yahatanishi, Kita-Kyushu from Prefectural Sports and Culture Director Masafumi Nomura along with support money from the Yamaguchi Prefecture Track and Field Association.  Director Nomura told him, "We expect you to go to the limit of your ability without holding anything back."

Nakamoto will continue training in Kokonoemachi, Oita through July 15 and plans to fly to London on the 28th.  Following the award ceremony he told reporters, "My basic goal is to make top eight, but I want to try to make it at least one place higher than I expect.  It's a tough course so I think it's going to come down to what people have left beyond 30 km."

World Junior Championships - Day One Japanese Results

Barcelona, 7/10/12
click here for complete results

Men's 10000 m
1. Yigrem Demelash (Ethiopia) - 28:16.07 - PB
2. Philemon Kipchilis Cheboi (Kenya) - 28:23.98 - PB
3. Geoffrey Kipkorir Kirui (Kenya) - 28:30.47
4. Kinde Atanaw (Ethiopia) - 28:53.02
5. Moses Martin Kurong (Uganda) - 29:06.87
6. Kenta Murayama (Japan) - 29:40.56
7. Ken Yokote (Japan) - 29:41.81

Women's 3000 m
1. Mercy Chebwogen (Kenya) - 9:08.88 - PB
2. Hiwot Gebrekidan (Ethiopia) - 9:09.27 - PB
3. Emelia Gorecka (Great Britain) - 9:09.43 - PB
4. Haftamnesh Tesfay (Ethiopia) - 9:10.02 - PB
5. Brillian Jepkorir Kipkoech (Kenya) - 9:14.32 - PB
8. Miyuki Uehara (Japan) - 9:21.81
17. Misuzu Nakahara (Japan) - 9:49.84

Men's 1500 m Heat Three
1. Teklit Teweldebrhan (Eritrea) - 3:46.46 - Q
2. Hillary Cheruiyot Ngetich (Kenya) - 3:46.54 - Q
3. Abdelhadi Labali (Morocco) - 3:46.75 - Q
4. Charlie Grice (Great Britain) - 3:47.05
5. Yusuke Uchikoshi (Japan) - 3:49.06

Women's 800 m Heat Two
1. Halimah Nakaayi (Uganda) - 2:06.38 - Q
2. Julia Zrinyi (Canada) - 2:06.64 - Q
3. Monique Stander (South Africa) - 2:07.08 Q
4. Syntia Ellward (Poland) - 2:07.32
5. Mizuki Yamamoto (Japan) - 2:07.59

Women's 800 m Heat Four
1. Devan Wiebe (Canada) - 2:07.04 - Q
2. Ajee Wilson (U.S.A.) - 2:07.07 - Q
3. Christine Gess (Germany) - 2:07.11 - Q
4. Akiho Fukuzato (Japan) - 2:07.25

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

World Junior Championships Middle and Long Distance Entry List Highlights

by Brett Larner

The 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships kick off today in Barcelona, Spain.  Ethiopia and Kenya look set to dominate most of the middle and long distance events with competition from Morocco and Eritrea and athletes from a scattering of other countries including Japan.

Japan's best distance medal chance looks to be in the women's 3000 m, where Miyuki Uehara comes in as the #1 seed with a PB over three seconds better than her nearest competitor, Emelia Gorecka of Great Britain.  After Great Britain's Laura Muir Uehara's teammate Misuzu Nakahara is the #4 seed with a best of 9:15.04, giving Japan a decent chance of picking up at least one medal in the event.  But with the next four athletes holding bests within less than two seconds of Nakahara and all hailing from Ethiopia and Kenya it won't be easy.  #3 and #5-ranked Shiori Yano and Moe Kyuma likewise stand a chance of hardware in the women's 5000 m, with Ethiopia's Buze Diriba looking like a lock for gold over the doubling Gorecka.

Komazawa University ace Kenta Murayama, the first Japanese collegiate first-year since Toshihiko Seko to win the National University Track & Field Championships 5000 m, is the #2 seed in the men's 10000 m behind Kenyan Geoffrey Kirui, but with weak recent results it would take a major return to form for Murayama to find his way to the podium.  His identical twin brother Kota Murayama is the top-ranked man in the 5000 m, coming in at #10 in the field.  If Kenta Murayama is not 100% then the Japanese men's best medal chance may be 800 m runner Sho Kawamoto, ranked 5th in the field but only a second-plus off third-ranked Wesley Vazquez of Puerto Rico.

Check back over the week for updated results throughout the 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships.

IAAF World Junior Championships - Middle and Long Distance Top Ten Entrants
Barcelona, Spain, 7/10-15/12
click here for complete entry lists


Women's 5000 m
Buze Diriba (Ethiopia) - 15:11.53
Emelia Gorecka (Great Britain) - 15:34.21
Shiori Yano (Japan) - 15:44.68
Alena Kudashkina (Russia) - 15:45.80
Moe Kyuma (Japan) - 15:48.73
Caroline Chepkoech (Kenya) - 15:49.1
Agnes Chebet (Kenya) - 15:49.6
Aminata Olowoora (Nigeria) - 15:57.28
Fikadu Tsegay (Eritrea) - 15:59.96
Xufeng Wu (China) - 16:03.00

Women's 3000 m
Miyuki Uehara (Japan) - 9:06.91
Emelia Gorecka (Great Britain) - 9:10.31
Laura Muir (Great Britain) - 9:12.80
Misuzu Nakahara (Japan) - 9:15.04
Habtamnesh Tesfaye (Ethiopia) - 9:15.22
Mercy Chepwogen (Kenya) - 9:16.76
Hiwot Mesfin (Ethiopia) - 9:16.86
Brillian Jepkorir Kipkoech (Kenya) - 9:16.76
Mariia Khodakivska (Ukraine) - 9:17.64
Jip Vastenburg (Netherlands) - 9:21.34

Women's 1500 m
Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon (Kenya) - 4:03.82
Nancy Chepkwemoi (Kenya) - 4:09.41
Senbere Teferi (Ethiopia) - 4:10.49
Alem Ambaye (Ethiopia) - 4:13.7
Luula Berhane Kebedom (Eritrea)- 4:14.11
Sofia Ennaoui (Poland) - 4:14.73
Mary Cain (U.S.A.) - 4:14.74
Jessica Judd (Great Britain) - 4:15.12
Jennifer Walsh (Great Britain) - 4:15.53
Amela Terzic (Serbia) - 4:15.90
Saki Yoshimizu (Japan) - 4:19.89

Women's 800 m
Anastasiya Tkachuk (Ukraine) - 2:00.78
Jessica Judd (Great Britain) - 2:01.09
Monique Stander (South Africa) - 2:02.57
Ajee Wilson (U.S.A.) - 2:02.61
Manal el Bahraoui (Morocco) - 2:03.03
Simonya Cambell (Jamaica) - 2:03.07
Desreen Montague (Jamaica) - 2:03.18
Emily Dudgeon (Great Britain) - 2:03.28
Olena Sidorska (Ukraine) - 2:03.69
Julia Zrinyi (Canada) - 2:04.38
Akiho Fukuzato (Japan) - 2:05.51
Mizuki Yamamoto (Japan) - 2:05.78

Women's 3000 mSC
Evdokiya Bukina (Russia) - 10:05.73
Daisy Chepkemei (Kenya) - 10:06.6
Stella Ruto (Kenya) - 10:07.4
Maya Rehberg (Germany) - 10:09.23
Pippa Woolven (Great Britain) - 10:11.86
Yabsera Betaw (Ethiopia) - 10:14.75
Tejinesh Gebisa (Ethiopia) - 10:16.93
Oona Kettunen (Finland) - 10:17.15
Brianna Nerud (U.S.A.) - 10:19.91
Belene Casetta (Argentina) - 10:21.17


Men's 10000 m
Geoffrey Kirui (Kenya) - 27:08.44
Kenta Murayama (Japan) - 28:17.57
Ghirmay Ghebreslassie (Eritrea) - 28:33.37
Philemon Kipchilis Cheboi (Kenya) - 28:36.8
Yigream Demelash (Ethiopia) - 28:39.97
Moses Martin Kurong (Uganda) - 28:46.91
Kende Atenaw (Ethiopia) - 28:48.53
Ken Yokote (Japan) - 28:57.31
Rahul Kumar Pal (India) - 29:29.80
Zakaria Boudad (Morocco) - 29:44.01

Men's 5000 m
Muktar Edris (Ethiopia) - 13:06.92
Abrar Osman Adem (Eritrea) - 13:17.32
Soufiyan Bouqantar (Morocco) - 13:19.59
Goitom Kifle (Eritrea) - 13:22.92
William Malel Sitonik (Kenya) - 13:25.82
Tsegay Tuemay (Eritrea) - 13:29.36
Moses Mukono (Kenya) - 13:42.75
Kirubel Erassa (U.S.A.) - 13:47.26
Younes Essalhi (Morocco) - 13:49.21
Kota Murayama (Japan) - 13:51.61
Kazuma Taira (Japan) - 13:57.65

Men's 1500 m
Hamza Driouch (Qatar) - 3:33.69
Teshome Dirirsa (Ethiopia) - 3:34.55
Teklit Teweldebrhan (Eritrea) - 3:36.50
Abdelhadi Labali (Morocco) - 3:37.59
Mohammed Abid (Morocco) - 3:38.39
Federico Brune (Argentina) - 3:40.86
Austin Mudd (U.S.A.) - 3:40.87
Dominic Mutuku (Kenya) - 3:40.94
Hillary Cheruiyot Ngetich (Kenya) - 3:40.96
Charlie Grice (Great Britain) - 3:41.16
Yusuke Uchikoshi (Japan) - 3:46.74

Men's 800 m
Nijel Amos (Botswana) - 1:43.11
Timoty Kitum (Kenya) - 1:43.94
Wesley Vazquez (Puerto Rico) - 1:45.63
Mark English (Ireland) - 1:45.77
Sho Kawamoto (Japan) - 1:46.89
Thapelo Madiba (South Africa) - 1:46.92
Zan Rudolf (Slovenia) - 1:46.98
Jena Omer (Ethiopia) - 1:47.03
Radouane Baaziri (Morocco) - 1:47.11
Brandon McBride (Canada) - 1:47.14
Shota Kozuma (Japan) - 1:49.37

Men's 3000 mSC
Conseslus Kipruto (Kenya) - 8:08.92
Gilbert Kiplangat Kirui (Kenya) - 8:11.27
Jaouad Chemlal (Morocco) - 8:25.98
Weynay Ghebresilasie (Eritrea) - 8:28.97
Hicham Sigueni (Morocco) - 8:30.03
Ahmed Mohammed Burhan (Saudi Arabia) - 8:35.28
Zak Seddon (Great Britain) - 8:38.07
Djilali Bedrani (France) - 8:42.67
Animut Minalu (Ethiopia) - 8:44.68
Meresa Kahsay (Ethiopia) - 8:45.01

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Monday, July 9, 2012

'The Myth of "The Japanese Who Disappeared"'

Former Berlin Marathon race director Horst Milde of German Road Races sent this link to a story about the great Shizo Kanaguri's fabled Stockholm Olympics run.


Kanaguri's great-grandson Yoshiaki Kurado will run this weekend's Stockholm Marathon on the 100th anniversary of the Stockholm Olympics marathon.  Click below for the German-language version of the story.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hokuren Distance Challenge Wraps Up In Abashiri

by Brett Larner

click here for complete results

The 2012 edition of the early-summer staple of the Japanese track circuit, the Hokuren Distance Challenge, wrapped up July 7 with a big night in Abashiri, Hokkaido.  Having missed out on the London Olympics team, women's 1500 m national record holder Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) made her formal 10000 m debut in 32:21.03, finishing 2nd in the A-heat behind one of the year's leading Japanese women, Ai Igarashi (Team Sysmex), who took the win in 32:17.58.  Eight women altogether broke 32:30, most for the first time.  6th place finisher Akiko Matsuyama (Team Panasonic) recorded an enormous PB of 32:27.23 ahead of her international road debut at the Great North 10 km.  Marathoners Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) and Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) were far down the field, 20th and 24th in 33:08.59 and 33:27.03 respectively.

The men's 10000 m A-heat was a showdown between newly Japan-based African talent, with first-year corporate and university ringers taking four of the top five spots.  Spectacularly-named Ethiopian Miliyon Zewdie (Team Yachiyo Kogyo) was the fastest of them, landing the top spot in 27:54.52.  A healthy distance back, 2010's top Japanese 10000 m and half-marathon man Tomoya Onishi (Team Asahi Kasei) taking the coveted top Japanese position for 6th in 28:10.81 just ahead of past 1500 m and 5000 m national champion Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B), continuing his comeback from a year and a half of injury troubles.

Ueno's fellow Saku Chosei H.S. graduate Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.), like Kobayashi having missed out on making the London team after a paper-thin 10000 m loss to another Saku Chosei grad, Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin), took the men's 5000 m A-heat in a solid 13:33.84, leading a collegiate charge that saw no less than eight university men break 14 in the heat, most in PB marks.  Komazawa University led the way with three A-heat finishers under 14.  Waseda's Yuki Maeda went sub-14 in the B-heat, giving it a total of three between the two heats.

The other fast race of the evening came in the women's 3000 m A-heat, where former high school Kenyan standout Beatrice Wainaina Murgi (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) continued a solid debut pro season with a win in 9:03.76, more than four seconds clear of top Japanese woman Risa Kikuchi (Team Hitachi) and Kenyan rival Rose Maranga (Team Toto).

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Friday, July 6, 2012

Sollentuna GP Results

Sollentuna, Sweden, 7/5/12
click here for complete results

Men's 5000 m
1. Josephat Menjo (Kenya) - 13:16.87
2. Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 13:28.79
3. Monder Rizki (Belgium) - 13:41.62
4. Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.) - 13:47.98
5. Mumin Gala (Somalia) - 13:51.01
6. Yoshihiro Wakamatsu (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 13:52.27
7. Olle Wallerang (Sweden) - 13:56.09
8. Abdi Hakin Ulad (Denmark) - 14:07.43 - PB
9. Scott Fraser (GBR) - 14:09.75 - PB
10. Tuomas Jokinen (Finland) - 14:11.15 - PB

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Olympic Marathoner Fujiwara Leaves for Altitude Training In Switzerland


translated by Brett Larner

London Olympics marathoner Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) left Tokyo's Narita Airport on July 5 for altitude training in St. Moritz, Switzerland, confidently telling reporters, "I'm not worried about anything.    All I can say is I'll give it my best."

Since mid-June Fujiwara has been based in Hokkaido, where he ran a large number of races in quick succession.  Taking the bull by the horns, the rapid-fire series of competitions has put him in position "to be a realistic challenger for a medal."

The aim of the Swiss training camp will be to recover from the fatigue of four races in a week while running cross-country and doing hill sprints to load as much final strengthening work into his body as he can.  Fujiwara will not return to Japan before the Olympics, currently planning to travel to London on August 4.  Looking toward the final day of the Olympics on August 12, he said, "I'm not going to overdo anything," bottling up his concentration for the big race.

Tomoya Onishi Makes Surprise Comeback With Kitami 5000 m Win

by Brett Larner

click here for complete results

In his first serious race since winning the 2011 New Year Ekiden national championships First Stage, 2010's top Japanese 10000 m and half-marathon man Tomoya Onishi (Team Asahi Kasei) made a successful and surprising comeback after a year and a half of injury troubles as he won the July 4 Hokuren Distance Challenge Kitami Meet men's 5000 m in 13:46.06, just six seconds off his best.  Onishi ran up front much of the way with Korea ace Seungho Park and equally injury-hampered former Komazawa University standout Sota Hoshi (Team Fujitsu), taking the lead for good after Park dropped out.  Onishi's performance signaled hope for improvement on the promising 27:50.72 and 1:01:31 marks he recorded in 2010 and a not-too-distant marathon debut.  His twin brother, former Hakone Ekiden champion Toyo University captain Kazuki Onishi (Team Kanebo), ran the same heat but was far off form as he finished 19th of 20 in 14:28.13.

The Onishi twins' former Toyo teammate, Hakone star Ryuji Kashiwabara, now a teammate of Hoshi's at Fujitsu, was 3rd behind Team S&B's Yuichiro Ueno and Yuta Takahashi, Ueno taking the win in 8:05.63.  Showing the degree to which all things are interconnected, in the men's 1500 m Hoshi's former Komazawa teammate Yusuke Takabayashi (Team Toyota), ran a PB of 3:42.53 for 2nd behind Korean Sang Min Sin who clocked 3:42.41.

In the women's races 2011 national champion Team Daiichi Seimei's Eina Yokosawa continued her recent progression as she outran Kenyans Felista Wanjugu (Team Univ. Ent.) and Doricah Obare (Team Hitachi) for the 5000 m win in a PB 15:37.27, making the Japanese women's top ten so far this year.  Team Sysmex's Ai Igarashi likewise continued a strong year as she won the 3000 m in a PB of 9:07.21, her teammate Seika Nishikawa taking 2nd in 9:19.33.

The 2012 Hokuren Distance Challenge series wraps up Saturday in Abashiri.  The men's 5000 m looks like the hottest race of the day, with a field including Takabayashi, 2011 World University Games 10000 m gold medalist Suguru Osako, Kenyan high school sensation Charles Ndungu (Sapporo Yamanote H.S.) and many more.  Tomoya Onishi is set to run the 10000 m A-heat in a tough field including one of Japan's top young prospects, Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota).

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Moving in 'Mysterious Ways,' 5000 m National Champion Hitomi Niiya to Double in London


translated by Brett Larner

Click photo to visit Niiya's profile on the Universal Entertainment team site.

At a Tokyo-area press conference late last week, Olympian Hitomi Niiya (24, Team Universal Entertainment) announced that she plans to double in the 5000 m and 10000 m.  Niiya had initially considered running only the 5000 m, but wanting to get the greatest mileage out of her Olympic debut she has chosen to run both events.  He coach Yoshio Koide (73), who has developed many top athletes including Sydney Olympic women's marathon gold medalist Naoko Takahashi (40), believes that the one-of-a-kind athlete he is sending to London is capable of overtaking the Africans and advancing into the upper end of the field.

Well-known for a career which has moved in 'mysterious ways,' Niiya will make a two-pronged attack in London.  "I'm going to run to 10000 m too," she said.  "London isn't somewhere that just anybody can run, and there's no reason not to double," confirming that in addition to the 5000 m she will enter the 10000 m.

At last month's Olympic Trials Niiya won the 5000 m to pick up her ticket to London.  But she also has the credentials for the 10000 m.  At April's Hyogo Relay Carnival she won the 10000 m in a PB of 31:28.26, clearing the Olympic A-standard of 31:45.00 to make herself eligible to be one of the three A-standard athletes permitted per country.  The Japanese federation Rikuren asked Niiya to join the top two finishers in the Olympic Trials 10000 m, Mika Yoshikawa (27, Team Panasonic) and Kayoko Fukushi (30, Team Wacoal) to complete the 10000 m team [Translator's note: Niiya was named to the 10000 m over Trials 3rd-place finisher Megumi Kinukawa (Mizuno) despite Kinukawa holding the 10000 m A-standard and Niiya not running the 10000 m.]

In February, 2007, Niiya won the first edition of the Tokyo Marathon while only 18, running 2:31:01.  Her win seemed to signal her talent for the longer distances, but right now she is not interested in the marathon and has even generally avoided the 10000 m.  Her intention was to compete against the world's best in just the 5000 m, but after pressure from Rikuren she signed her name on the line for the 10000 m as well.  "If some really cute guy ever says, 'I'll go out with you if you run the 10000 m,' I'll do it," she laughed, showing the relaxed approach with which she is handling her success.

Niiya trains independently, separate from the rest of the Koide-led team.  To prepare herself to compete in a fast race against the Africans her training plan has her running with male pacers to force her to increase her speed.  Of her Olympic goals Niiya said, "I'm targeting a PB, which should get me at least into the top eight.  With a long push even Japanese athletes can be competitive."

Coach Koide has witnessed Niiya's growth firsthand.  Having trained two-time Olympic marathon medalist Yuko Arimori (45) and Sydney gold medalist Takahashi, this connoisseur gave the highest estimate of her competitive abilities, saying, "Niiya's ability to concentrate and focus is different from regular girls.  She always brings her best to her target races without fail.  Among all the athletes I've worked with until now I've never seen her kind before."

Two years ago Niiya abruptly quit to return home to Okayama and escape the stress of her career, but after deep reflection she overcame the typical "Running is my job" line of thinking and was able to resume her training with all her heart.  "I came to understand that running is what helps me understand whatever it is that this self of mine is," she said.  "Now I want to write the highlight of the story."  In London she will brave the stormy seas of competition in search of the glory that awaits those who cross the celebrated finish line.

Hitomi Niiya - Born Feb. 26, 1988 in Soja, Okayama.  24 years old.  164 cm, 45 kg.  Runs for Team Universal Entertainment.  Began running at Soja Higashi J.H.S. and won the National High School Ekiden Championships First Stage all three years while at Kojokan H.S.  Won her marathon debut at age 18 at the 2007 Tokyo Marathon.  Finished 13th in the 5000 m final at last summer's Daegu World Championships.  PBs: 5000 m: 31:28.26   10000 m: 31:28.26   half-marathon: 1:11:41   marathon: 2:30:58

Monday, July 2, 2012

Rikuren Announces World Half Marathon Team


translated by Brett Larner

On July 2nd the Japanese federation Rikuren announced the men's and women's teams for this year's World Half Marathon Championships, scheduled for October 6 in Bulgaria.  2011 World Championships marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) leads the five men and five women on the teams.

Team members:

Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota) - 1:00:53 (Corporate Championships, 2012)
Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:00:58 (Marugame, 2011)
Masato Kihara (Team Kanebo) - 1:01:15 (Corporate Championships, 2012)
Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 1:02:16 (Corporate Championships, 2009)
Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) - 1:02:18 (Marugame, 2012)

Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera - 1:09:23 (Sanyo, 2011)
Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 1:09:47 (Corporate Championships, 2012)
Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:10:03 (Sanyo, 2011)
Asami Kato (Team Panasonic) - 1:11:21 (Sendai, 2012)
Kayo Sugihara (Team Denso) - 1:11:35 (Miyazaki, 2007)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Ito and Mathathi Win Windy Sapporo International Half Marathon

by Brett Larner

Mid-afternoon heat and a strong headwind in the first half of the race kept times relatively slowly at the 55th running of the Sapporo International Half Marathon July 1, but both the women's and men's divisions featured good races.  2011 World Championships marathon team member Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) took the women's race in 1:10:52, with 2007 World Championships 10000 m bronze medalist Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) holding off a late charge from course record holder Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) for the win in 1:01:35.

An early pack of ten in the women's race saw a steady rotation of the lead between twin sisters Hiroko Miyauchi and Yoko Miyauchi (both Team Kyocera), 2012 Sendai International Half Marathon winner Asami Kato (Team Panasonic) and little-known Sachi Tanaka (Sports Yamagata 21).  Favorite Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) was an unexpected early casualty given the moderate mid-70 pace, falling off the pack after 5 km and spending the rest of the race gutting her way back into the top five.

Rounding the turnaround at halfway Ito made a push into the lead, with only the Miyauchi twins able to follow.  Hiroko fell away followed by Yoko, and from there to the finish it was a steady widening of the gaps between the top three.  Ito was strong through the top of the uphill at 20 km but then abruptly faltered, staggering on the short downhill onto the track for the finish but managing to hold off the faster-closing Yoko Miyauchi.  For her effort Ito was rewarded with a likely spot on the Japanese team for October's World Half Marathon Championships.

The front end of the men's race was more of a blowout, with Mathathi leading solo almost wire-to-wire.  Settling into cruising mode, he seemed unaware that course record holder Mogusu, who reportedly returned to Japan from Kenya the day before the race, was closing after running conservatively through 15 km.  Mathathi was nonchalant coming down the home straight for the win, but Mogusu, with the fastest split in the field after 15 km, was elated with his best performance in years and raised his arms as he crossed the finish line sixteen seconds back from Mathathi.

Further back, Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) ran a characteristically brave race, going out fast far ahead of the main Japanese chase pack and occupying the top Japanese spot until he was joined by London Olympics marathoner Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) at 16 km.  Fujiwara, in his fourth race of the week, also ran characteristically, telegraphing his London intentions as he sat in the pack throughout the first half before bolting away in pursuit of the leaders.

Okamoto, to his credit, gave Fujiwara a go of it, surging back away into the top Japanese spot and 6th place overall past 2009 Sapporo winner Gideon Ngatuny (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) at 17 km.  Fujiwara managed to reclose the gap and sat on Okamoto until 20 km, when Okamoto again surged and opened a significant gap.  Fujiwara appeared broken, but on the last lap of the track he summoned up the closing speed that brought him his 2010 Ottawa Marathon win and 2010 and 2012 Tokyo Marathon second-place finishes, passing Okamoto on the final curve and opening a two-second gap for 6th in 1:02:48.  Fujiwara was already eligible for the World Half team following his top Japanese finish in Sendai, but Okamoto may also be tapped on the strength of an outstanding run here.

Fujiwara's London teammate Ryo Yamamoto (Team Sagawa Express) had a run in keeping with the fitness level he showed in last month's Olympic Trials 10000 m, finishing 18th in 1:03:48.  Fujiwara was confident in his post-race on-air interview, but Yamamoto was visibly uncomfortable and unhappy despite dishing up the usual platitudes.  To the disgrace of race broadcaster Nihon TV, winner Mathathi was not shown even once after crossing the finish line, must less given an on-air victor's interview.  Even Japanese fans raised an eyebrow on Twitter and elsewhere at NTV's blowing off of the World Championships medalist.

2012 Sapporo International Half Marathon
Sapporo, Hokkaido, 7/1/12
click here for complete results

1. Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:10:52
2. Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 1:11:04
3. Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 1:11:26
4. Asami Kato (Team Panasonic) - 1:11:39
5. Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) - 1:12:07
6. Sachi Tanaka (Sports Yamagata 21) - 1:12:42
7. Rui Aoyama (Team Univ. Ent.) - 1:13:04
8. Aki Odagiri (Meijo Univ.) - 1:13:27
9. Ayame Takagi (Meijo Univ.) - 1:13:33
10. Sakiko Matsumi (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 1:13:51

1. Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:01:35
2. Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 1:01:51
3. Joseph Gitau (Kenya/Team JFE Steel) - 1:02:00
4. James Mwangi (Kenya/Team NTN) - 1:02:09
5. Alex Mwangi (Kenya/Team YKK) - 1:02:18
6. Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) - 1:02:48
7. Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 1:02:50
8. Gideon Ngatuny (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 1:03:16
9. Yoshihiro Yamamoto (Team Toyota Boshoku) - 1:03:22
10. Dishon Karukuwa Maina (Kenya/Team Aisan Kogyo) - 1:03:24

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Yoshida and Ogi 1-2 in Gold Coast Marathon, Kawauchi 4th


translated and edited by Brett Larner

Click photo for complete race video.

At the July 1 Gold Coast Marathon in Australia, Kaori Yoshida (Amino Vital AC) won the women's race in 2:30:36.  Madoka Ogi (Team Juhachi Ginko) ran 2:33:48 for 2nd.  In the men's race Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) was 4th overall in 2:13:26.

2012 Gold Coast Airport Marathon
Queensland, Australia, 7/1/12
click here for complete results
Note: There are wide disparities between the net and gross times listed in the official results.  The times listed below are based on the apparent gross times and will be adjusted pending further information.

1. Kaori Yoshida (Amino Vital AC) - 2:30:36
2. Madoka Ogi (Team Juhachi Ginko) - 2:33:48
3. Hellen Kimutai (Kenya) - 2:36:45
4. Filomena Costa (Portugal) - 2:40:57
5. Chihiro Tanaka (AthleC AC) - 2:40:58

1. Alemayehu Shumye (Ethiopia) - 2:10:35
2. Robert Mwangi (Kenya) - 2:12:19
3. Ernest Kebenei (Kenya) - 2:12:49
4. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) - 2:13:26
5. Jonathan Peters (Australia) - 2:20:05