Sunday, March 31, 2013

Gideon Ngatuny Leaves Nissin Shokuhin Team

http://www.nissinfoods-holdings.co.jp/rikujo/weblog/2013/03/2012-6.html

translated by Brett Larner

The Nissin Shokuhin Group men's distance running team wishes to announce that longtime member Gideon Ngatuny will leave the team Mar. 31.  Thank you all for supporting him and cheering for him over the years.  Ngatuny played an instrumental role in winning Nissin Shokuhin's 2010 and 2012 New Year Ekiden national titles.  "Handing off the tasuki to my teammates in ekidens will be my longest-lasting memory of Japan," says Ngatuny.  "Thank you for the last seven years."

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Steeplechase NR Holder Iwamizu Retires

http://www.jiji.com/jc/zc?k=201303/2013032900798&g=spo

translated by Brett Larner

The Fujitsu track and field team announced on Mar. 29 that men's 3000 m steeplechase national record holder Yoshitaka Iwamizu, 33, will leave the team at the end of March and retire from competition. Beginning April 1 he will take a position as an assistant coach with the Shiseido women's team. Iwamizu ran in both the Athens and Beijing Olympics. Beginning in 2001 he competed in five-straight World Championships, setting the Japanese national record of 8:18.93 at the 2003 Paris World Championships.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Hakone CR Holder Toyo University Celebrates Opening of New Four-Story Ekiden Team Building

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/feature/sports/hakone/news/20130328-OHT1T00091.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner
click here for a photo of the new running-dedicated Toyo University Kawagoe Training Center

Hakone Ekiden course record holder Toyo University is celebrating the opening of its new running program building at the school's Kawagoe campus.  The four-story reinforced concrete building takes up a spacious 2540 square meters and features dorm rooms for 100 team members, a weight room, training facilities and study rooms.  Until now the running team shared quarters with Toyo's rugby team, but with a 400 m track right outside their new building the school's runners are now in a perfect environment. This year rival Nittai University made off with the Hakone title, but from its state-of-the-art new home Toyo is poised to reclaim its position as Japan's #1 running university.

The new building contains 28 dorm rooms for either 2 or 4 students each.  Altogether 100 people can live in the facility.  Having been involved in every step of the design process, head coach Toshiyuki Sakai, 36, explained how the building's windows all face a nearby park, saying, "If you can see the track all day long it keeps you from relaxing properly."  Of the dining room's pink curtains he said, "We wanted an environment with a warm atmosphere for meals."  The weight room is equipped with a specialized flooring material. The bath facility, which can accomodate 30 people at a time, includes an ice bath for effective recovery. Overall, the building is more than capable of hosting visiting groups.

All of this is part of coach Sakai's plan to reform and shape his athletes' awarenesses.  For the lucky few who will spend their university years in this environment, he hopes it will be an opportunity to look beyond themselves to something higher.  "If you want to grow you have to change," he said.  "I hope that here our runners will learn a feeling of gratitude for those who support them, develop strong interpersonal relationships, and cultivate a desire to take on the best in the world."  The building's new walls hold not only the team but the highest of ideals.

Following an official opening ceremony, Toyo's men moved into the new facility after practice on Mar. 21. In a display case directly inside the front entrance where the team's athletes cannot avoid seeing them are Toyo's trophies and memorabilia from its 2009, 2010 and 2012 Hakone Ekiden victories.  The shoes that "God of the Mountain" Ryuji Kashiwabara wore in powering those victories occupy a central place in the display.

The disappointment at having lost to Nittai University by a wide margin this year has not faded, but the team has a cheerful outlook.  First-year Yuma Hattori, who finished 3rd on this year's Ninth Stage, said, "We can approach our training now with feeling fresh."  First Stage winner Masaya Taguchi, second-year, said, "We have the obligation to repay what they've invested in us."  With Mt. Fuji in sight from their new home, Toyo's eyes are looking toward reclaiming the Hakone title and to what lies above and beyond.

Toyo University Kawagoe Training Center
Grounds: 400 m track, warmup area, field area

First Floor: Head Coach's office, reception, weight room, training room, kitchen, dining room, equipment storage room, display area

Second Floor: eight two-person dorm rooms, bath facility, dressing room

Third and Fourth Floors: twenty four-person dorm rooms, study rooms, laundry room, staff meeting room, physiotherapy room, veranda

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Ota Takes Over as Head Coach of Hokuren Women's Team

http://www.hokkaido-np.co.jp/news/sports/453005.html

translated by Brett Larner

At a Mar. 27 press conference in Sapporo the Hokuren women's distance team announced changes to its lineup for the 2013-14 season.  Tsuyoshi Takita, 49, head coach since 2010, will resign from his position to be replaced by current assistant coach Takashi Ota, 36.  Ota spoke to reporters of his ambitions for the team, saying, "I want to cultivate athletes who will make the national team."

Ota is a Hokkaido native from Shiraoi, Iburi.  After graduating from Tomakomai Minami H.S. he attended Sapporo Gakuin University before going on to a pro career with the NEC team.  In 2003 he transferred to the Konica Minolta team where he had great success at the half marathon and on the ekiden circuit.  He became assistant coach at Hokuren in 2011 following his retirement from competition.

Of his immediate goals for the team Ota said, "We will aim to clear the 2:20:10 qualifying standards for the East Japan and National Corporate Women's Ekidens and finish in the top tier."  The team's star Yukiko Akaba is set to run the Apr. 21 London Marathon.  "I am aiming to break my PB and run 2:23 so that I can have a spot on the World Championships team in August," she said.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Odawara City Employee Facing Penalties After Winning Local Road Race as Friend's "Double"

http://www.asahi.com/national/update/0326/TKY201303260439.html

translated by Brett Larner

City officials in Odawara, Kanagawa announced on Mar. 26 that the 22-year-old male winner of a local road race held in Odawara on Mar. 10 has been stripped of his title after it was discovered that his friend, a 23-year-old Odawara city employee and former high school track teammate, had run in his place.  The officials said that the 23-year-old city worker will face penalties for running as a "double."

According to municipal officials, the actions in question took place at the city-organized 2000-runner Sontoku Road Race in the men's under-29 10 km division.  Just before the start of the race the 22-year-old experienced pain in one of his thighs and decided not to run.  His 23-year-old friend said, "I'll run instead," and ran wearing the 22-year-old's bib number.  The 22-year-old, who won the race last year, told him, "OK, but only as long as you don't make the podium."

After the 23-year-old won the race the 22-year-old took part in the award ceremony and received prizes.  The city's athletics bureau discovered the switch after a phone call alerted them that a "double" had actually won.  A city official commented, "The two of them did this on the spur of the moment without really thinking it through.  They have been very apologetic about it."

Route Inn Hotels Scouting for Athletes for New Women's Team

http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/20130326/ath13032620340001-n1.html

translated by Brett Larner

On Mar. 26 the Route Inn Group, operators of a nationwide chain of business hotels, announced the Apr. 1 launch of its new Route Inn Hotels Women's Running Team.  The team is in the process of scouting for athletes, with interviews and entry examinations scheduled for May in Tokyo.  Former Yamada Denki women's team coach Tsutomu Takahashi will serve as head coach.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Atsushi Fujita to Retire Following Nagano Marathon

http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/20130326/ath13032610250000-n1.html

translated by Brett Larner

The management of the Fujitsu corporate team announced Mar. 26 that former marathon national record holder Atsushi Fujita, 36, will retire after running the Apr. 21 Nagano Marathon.  A native of Fukushima prefecture, Fujita was a Hakone Ekiden star while at Komazawa University and broke Toshihiko Seko's national collegiate marathon record in 2:10:07.  In 1999 he finished 6th at the World Championships, and at the following year's Fukuoka International Marathon he ran 2:06:51 to set a new Japanese national record.  He planned to go for the Moscow World Championships team at the Mar. 3 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon but after fracturing a rib just days before the race he was forced to drop out partway through.

Following his retirement Fujita will remain with the Fujitsu team as a coach.

Monday, March 25, 2013

'Oakland Running Festival Attracts About 9,100 Runners'

http://www.insidebayarea.com/breaking-news/ci_22862281/oakland-running-festival-attracts-about-9-100-runners

2010 world 100 km champion Shinji Nakadai (Harriers AC) won Sunday's Oakland Running Festival marathon in 2:37:29.

World XC Championships - Results

Bydgoszcz, Poland, 3/24/13
click here for complete results

Junior Women's 6 km
1. Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon (Kenya) - 17:51
2. Agnes Jebet Tirop (Kenya) - 17:51
3. Alemitu Heroye (Ethiopia) - 17:57
-----
18. Azusa Sumi (Japan) - 19:28
19. Miyuki Uehara (Japan) - 19:32
24. Saki Yoshimizu (Japan) - 19:39
29. Maki Izumida (Japan) - 19:54
43. Nanami Aoki (Japan) - 20:28
53. Yui Fukuda (Japan) - 20:52

Team Results
1. Kenya - 14
2. Ethiopia - 23
3. Great Britain - 81
----
4. Japan - 90

Junior Men's 8 km
1. Hagos Gebrhiwet (Ethiopia) - 21:04
2. Leonard Barsoton (Kenya) - 21:08
3. Muktar Edris (Ethiopia) - 21:13
-----
27. Yuki Hirota (Japan) - 23:13
28. Tatsuya Hayashi (Japan) - 23:14
31. Tadashi Isshiki (Japan) - 23:17
52. Hideto Yamanaka (Japan) - 23:40
59. Yusuke Nishiyama (Japan) - 23:50
81. Kazuki Takahashi (Japan) - 24:28

Team Results
1. Ethiopia - 23
2. Kenya - 26
3. Morocco - 65
-----
5. Japan - 138

Senior Women's 8 km
1. Emily Chebet (Kenya) - 24:24
2. Hiwot Ayalew (Ethiopia) - 24:27
3. Belaynesh Oljira (Ethiopia) - 24:33
-----
62. Ayuko Suzuki (Japan) - 26:41
64. Yukari Abe (Japan) - 26:46
75. Hanae Tanaka (Japan) - 26:56
77. Miho Ihara (Japan) - 27:01
82. Hitomi Niiya (Japan) - 27:20
85. Mai Ishibashi (Japan) - 27:28

Team Results
1. Kenya - 19
2. Ethiopia - 48
3. Bahrain - 73
-----
12. Japan - 278

Senior Men's 12 km
1. Japhet Kipyegon Korir (Kenya) - 32:45
2. Imane Merga (Ethiopia) - 32:51
3. Teklemariam Medhin (Eritrea) - 32:54
-----
70. Takumi Honda (Japan) - 35:22
77. Keigo Yano (Japan) - 36:05
79. Wataru Ueno (Japan) - 36:18
80. Hiroyuki Ono (Japan) - 36:22

Team Results
1. Ethiopia - 38
2. U.S.A. - 52
3. Kenya - 54
-----
14. Japan - 306

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Friday, March 22, 2013

Japanese World Cross-Country Team Rosters

by Brett Larner

With a few exceptions cross-country has never been a major part of Japanese long-distance methodology, but each World Cross-Country Championships sees a roster featuring many of Japan's best.  London Olympian Hitomi Niiya (Team Univ. Ent.) heads the senior women's squad for Sunday's Worlds in Bydgoszcz, Poland, accompanied by the runner-up in last weekend's National Corporate Half Marathon Championships, Hanae Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) and top-ranked collegiate Ayuko Suzuki (Nagoya University).  2013 Hakone Ekiden winner Nittai University fields three members of its champion team, Takumi Honda and Keigo Yano in the senior men's race and 1st-year Hideto Yamanaka leading the junior men's squad.  Alongside Yamanaka is Tadashi Isshiki of 2012 National High School Ekiden champion Toyokawa H.S.  Curiously, the senior men's team includes only four athletes, with top-ranked men Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.), Yuki Matsuoka (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) and Yuya Konishi (Team Toyota Kyushu) having given Worlds a pass after finishing well at the Chiba and Fukuoka selection races.

As usual Japan's best chance of getting into the medals comes in the junior women's 6 km where it has a long streak of team medals.  With a 9:06.91 best for 3000 m Miyuki Uehara (Kagoshima Joshi H.S.) is the top-ranked woman on the list, along with Nanami Aoki of 2012 National High School Ekiden winner Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. and Fukuoka International XC winner Azusa Sumi of runner-up Toyokawa H.S.

Two members of the Kenyan men's team also run for Japanese corporate teams.  On the junior team, Leonard Baroston runs for Tokyo-based Team Nissin Shokuhin, while on the senior team Jonathan Ndiku is a longtime member of Chiba-based Team Hitachi Butsuryu.

Senior Men's 12 km
Takumi Honda (Nittai University) 5000 m: 13:56.47   10000 m: 28:46.38   half: 1:02:37
Hiroyuki Ono (Team Nissin Shokuhin) 5000 m: 13:44.76   10000 m: 28:06.35   half: 1:03:30
Wataru Ueno (Komazawa University) 5000 m: 13:46.79   10000 m: 28:42.89   half: 1:02:50
Keigo Yano (Nittai University) 5000 m: 13:54.54   10000 m: 28:53.25   half: 1:03:16

Senior Women's 8 km
Yukari Abe (Team Shimamura) 5000 m: 15:53.03
Miho Ihara (Team Shikoku Denryoku) 5000 m: 15:48.23   10000 m: 32:18.00
Mai Ishibashi (Team Denso) 5000 m: 15:35.38   10000 m: 32:37.25
Hitomi Niiya (Team Univ. Ent.) 5000 m: 15:10.20   10000 m: 30:59.19   half: 1:11:41
Hanae Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) 5000 m: 15:34.21   10000 m: 32:27.56   half: 1:09:18
Ayuko Suzuki (Nagoya University) 5000 m: 15:34.15

Junior Men's 8 km
Tatsuya Hayashi (Ishin H.S.) 5000 m: 14:05.90 10000 m: 29:20.35
Yuki Hirota (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) 5000 m: 14:07.85
Tadashi Isshiki (Toyokawa H.S.) 5000 m: 14:00.31
Yusuke Nishiyama (Iga Hakuo H.S.) 5000 m: 14:03.12
Kazuki Takahashi (Omagari Kogyo H.S.) 5000 m: 14:16.07
Hideto Yamanaka (Nittai University) 5000 m: 14:10.49   10000 m: 29:26.74

Junior Women's 6 km
Nanami Aoki (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) 3000 m: 9:17.14
Yui Fukuda (Suma Gakuen H.S.) 1500 m: 4:17.15
Maki Izumida (Hakuho Joshi H.S.) 3000 m: 9:13.30
Azusa Sumi (Toyokawa H.S.) 3000 m: 9:11.30
Miyuki Uehara (Kagoshima Joshi H.S.) 3000 m: 9:06.91
Saki Yoshimizu (Chikushi Joshi Gakuen H.S.) 3000 m: 9:19.31

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Taketomi Replaced by Urakawa as Head Coach at '10 National Champion Tenmaya

http://www.chugoku-np.co.jp/sports/Sp201303200094.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

At an Okayama-area press conference on Mar. 19, Team Tenmaya announced that head coach Yutaka Taketomi 59, whose athletes made four-straight women's Olympic marathons, will be replaced as head coach on April 1 by current assistant coach Tetsuya Urakawa, 51.  Taketomi will move to a new capacity as general manager.

Having led the team since its inception in 1992, Taketomi explained his departure, saying, "For reasons including my service as head of the Japanese Federation's women's marathoning program I became slow to respond to minute details.  I want to resolve that situation."  In the shift to his new supporting capacity he hopes to ensure a smooth transition.  Urakawa commented, "I will be facing pressure, but I want to continue to learn from coach Taketomi as I aim to send our athletes to the Olympics and to win the National Corporate Women's Ekiden."

2004 Athens Olympian Naoko Sakamoto, 32, will also retire from competition with Tenmaya, taking on a new role as an advisory coach with the team.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Retiring Sakamoto: "The Marathon Was a Part of Me"

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20130319-OHT1T00065.htm

translated by Brett Larner

Athens Olympics 7th-place finisher Naoko Sakamoto (32, Team Tenmaya) held a retirement press conference Mar. 19 in Okayama. Smiling as she looked back on her career, she told the media, "I'm proud of having run Athens. The marathon was a part of me."

With regard to her reasons for retiring she said, "My heart's not in the training any more, and it's just gotten to the point where little things accumulate and get to me. Beginning in April she will become an advisory member of Tenmaya's coaching staff, supporting the team's younger members.

Sakamoto joined Tenmaya in 1999, winning the 2004 Osaka International Women's Marathon to make the Athens Olympics team. After Athens she suffered an endless series of injuries, and after January's Kita-Kyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden she announced her retirement at the end of the 2012-13 season.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Former Marathoner Ozaki's House Burns to Ground

http://www.asahi.com/national/update/0318/OSK201303180013.html

translated by Brett Larner

At around 5:40 a.m. on Mar. 18, a neighbor spotted flames coming from the Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima home of former Team Chugoku Denryoku marathoner Teruto Ozaki, 34. The two-story, 100 square meter wood-frame home was complete destroyed by the fire. According to prefectural authorities, Teruto resided at the home with his wife and four children.  All six were sleeping at the time of the fire but escaped unharmed.

Ozaki finished 5th at the 2006 Beijing Marathon, where he ran his best of 2:13:28.  He retired from racing in January this year.

Obare Wins Matsue Ladies' Half

by Brett Larner

2010 Matsue Ladies Half Marathon winner Doricah Obare (Kenya/Team Hitachi) returned to the top Mar. 17, winning the 2013 edition of the race in 1:11:11.  Doubling as the National University Women's Half Marathon Championships and the selection race for the Japanese women's half marathon squad for this summer's World University Games, Obare was up against an almost entire collegiate field and saw tough competition from Yasuka Ueno (Tsukuba Univ.), who challenged for the win before falling back and taking 2nd in 1:11:30.  Ayako Mitsui of 2012 national champion Ritsumeikan University and Meijo University ace Aki Odagiri rounded out the collegiate top three to secure themselves places on the World University Games team, while last year's winner Ayame Takaki (Meijo Univ.) was only 26th.  Ayumi Hagiwara (Team Uniqlo) took the 10 km division in 33:19.

2013 Matsue Ladies Half Marathon
National University Women's Half Marathon Championships
Matsue, 3/17/13
click here for complete results

Half Marathon
1. Doricah Obare (Kenya/Team Hitachi) - 1:11:11
2. Yasuka Ueno (Tsukuba Univ.) - 1:11:30
3. Ayako Mitsui (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 1:12:28
4. Aki Odagiri (Meijo Univ.) - 1:12:58
5. Yukiko Okuno (Kyoto Sangyo Univ.) - 1:13:05
6. Hitomi Suzuki (Tamagawa Univ.) - 1:13:16
7. Aiko Sakata (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 1:13:26
8. Maki Ashi (Nittai Univ.) - 1:13:29
9. Kana Orino (Osaka Geidai Univ.) - 1:13:38
10. Hiromi Hikida (Nittai Univ.) - 1:13:40

10 km
1. Ayumi Hagiwara (Team Uniqlo) - 33:19
2. Misato Yamaguchi (Team Hokuren) - 34:56
3. Maria Tanaka (Hirata H.S.) - 35:23

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Murayama and Tanaka Crack Top Ten at New York City Half Marathon



by Brett Larner
photos courtesy Photo Run / NYRR

Invited to race after finishing in the top two spots at last November's Ageo City Half Marathon, Kenta Murayama (Komazawa University) and Kento Otsu (Toyo University) ran the 2013 New York City Half Marathon on Mar. 17.  Up front through the slow 15:04 first 5 km, Otsu dropped back before the lead pack left Central Park while Murayama took the lead near halfway and stayed with the leaders including world-level medalists Wilson Kipsang (Kenya), Bernard Lagat (U.S.A.) and Dathan Ritzenhein (U.S.A.) through 15 km.  "I looked around at 15 km and couldn't believe some of the people I was still there with," Murayama told JRN post-race.

Falling behind with Kipsang's move at 15 km, he still managed to get into the top ten with a time of 1:02:02, exactly one minute off winner Kipsang and beating his hero Lagat by nearly 30 seconds.  Otsu, who suffered injury setbacks following January's Hakone Ekiden, ran 1:04:03 for 19th, slower than his 1:03:14 at last year's New York Half but improving on his 25th-place finish.  "Central Park is hard," he told JRN.  2012 National Corporate Half Marathon winner Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) ran 1:10:31 for 8th in the women's race, almost 45 seconds off her best.

2013 New York City Half Marathon
New York, 3/17/13
click here for complete results

Men
1. Wilson Kipsang (Kenya) - 1:01:02
2. Daniele Meucci (Italy) - 1:01:06 - PB
3. Dathan Ritzenhein (U.S.A.) - 1:01:10
4. Leonard Korir (Kenya) - 1:01:19 - debut
5. Juan Luis Barrios (Mexico) - 1:01:21 - PB
6. Sam Chelanga (Kenya) - 1:01:26
7. Stephen Sambu (Kenya) - 1:01:34 - PB
8. Julius Arile (Kenya) - 1:01:38
9. Jason Hartmann (U.S.A.) - 1:01:51 - PB
10. Kenta Murayama (Japan/Komazawa Univ.) - 1:02:02
-----
12. Bernard Lagat (U.S.A.) - 1:02:33 - debut
19. Kento Otsu (Japan/Toyo Univ.) - 1:04:03

Women
1. Caroline Rotich (Kenya) - 1:09:09
2. Diane Nukuri-Johnson (Burundi) - 1:09:12 - NR
3. Lisa Stublic (Croatia) - 1:09:18 - NR
4. Sabrina Mockenhaupt (Germany) - 1:09:42
5. Lyudmila Kovalenko (Ukraine) - 1:09:43 - NR
6. Madai Perez (Mexico) - 1:10:27
7. Yolanda Caballero (Colombia) - 1:10:30 - NR
8. Tomomi Tanaka (Japan/Team Daiichi Seimei) - 1:10:31
9. Stephanie Rothstein-Bruce (U.S.A.) - 1:10:53 - PB
10. Sara Moreira (Portugal) - 1:11:03
-----
DNF - Kim Smith (New Zealand)

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

photos (c) 2013 Photo Run/NYRR
all rights reserved

Akaba, Maruyama Win Fast National Corporate Half Marathon

by Brett Larner

Course record holder Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) ran 1:08:59 to claim her second National Corporate Half Marathon Championships victory Mar. 17 in Yamaguchi. With the first sub-1:09 by a Japanese woman since her 1:08:11 course record in 2008 Akaba outran ekiden star Hanae Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei), who made a solid debut in 1:09:18. Having faltered in recent seasons and missing the London Olympics, Akaba will run next month's London Marathon, the site of her best marathon to date, in a bid to make the Moscow World Championships team.  Riko Matsuzaki (Team Sekisui Kagaku) won the women's 10 km in 32:48 by a margin of 7 seconds.

In the men's race 22-year-old Fumihiro Maruyama (Team Asahi Kasei), 2nd behind Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) at last month's Kumanichi 30 km, won in a PB 1:01:15, outrunning Kenyans Johana Maina (Team Fujitsu) and, in his last run in Japan, Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin).  Maruyama's time was good enough to tie the all-time Japanese #8 mark, securing his place among the best of Japan's youngest elite set.

2013 National Corporate Half Marathon Championships
Yamaguchi, 3/17/13
click here for complete results

Men
1. Fumihiro Maruyama (Team Asahi Kasei) - 1:01:15
2. Johana Maina (Kenya/Team Fujitsu) - 1:01:28
3. Gideon Ngatuny (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 1:01:43
4. Minato Oishi (Team Toyota) - 1:02:06
5. Alex Mwangi Kenya/Team YKK) - 1:02:09
6. Muryo Takase (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 1:02:12
7. Tomohiro Shiiya (Team Toyota Boshoku) - 1:02:15
8. Tomohiro Tanigawa (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:02:19
9. Kazuki Onishi (Team Kanebo) - 1:02:21
10. Akihiko Tsumurai (Team Mazda) - 1:02:27

Women
1. Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) - 1:08:59
2. Hanae Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 1:09:18
3. Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya) - 1:09:45
4. Grace Kimanzi (Kenya/Team Starts) - 1:10:17
5. Yurie Doi (Team Starts) - 1:10:50
6. Yuka Tokuda (Team Starts) - 1:11:00
7. Aya Nagata (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 1:11:22
8. Keiko Nogami (Team Juhachi Ginko) - 1:11:46
9. Sakiko Matsumi (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 1:11:47
10. Nanami Matsuura (Team Tenmaya) - 1:11:59

Women's 10 km
1. Riko Matsuzaki (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 32:48
2. Miho Ihara (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 32:55
3. Misaki Onishi (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 32:58
4. Yui Okada (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 32:58
5. Yuki Mitsunobu (Team Kyocera) - 33:01

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Kawauchi Runs 2:08:14 PB in Seoul

by Brett Larner

In search of a 2:07 to clear the Federation's World Championships selection standard, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran a PB of 2:08:14 for 4th place at the Mar. 17 Seoul International Marathon, breaking his previous PB set in winning the Feb. 3 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon by 1 second.  In so doing he became only the fifth Japanese man to ever break 2:09 three or more times in his career and also set a new world record for the shortest time ever between sub-2:10 performances, 42 days, breaking the old record by 1 day.  In post-race comments quoted by MSN, Kawauchi said with apparent disappointment, "I was aiming for 2:07 in this race.  It was an incredible waste."


Kawauchi will next run the Apr. 21 Nagano Marathon where he will shoot for the year-old course record of 2:09:05.

2013 Seoul International Marathon
Seoul, Korea, 3/17/13
click here for complete results

Men
1. Franklin Chepkwony (Kenya) - 2:06:59
2. Shumi Dechasa Lecha (Ethiopia) - 2:07:11
3. Seboka Dibaba Tola (Ethiopia) - 2:07:26
4. Yuki Kawauchi (Japan/Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 2:08:14
5. Josphat Kiplimo (Kenya) - 2:09:44

Women
1. Flomena Chepchirchir Chumba (Kenya) - 2:25:43
2. Emebt Etea Bedada (Ethiopia) - 2:25:53
3. Yeshimebet Tadesse Bifa (Ethiopia) - 2:26:17
4. Kim Seung-Eun (Korea) - 2:27:20
5. Lydia Ruto Jerotich (Kenya) - 2:28:22

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Kawauchi Turns Down Federation Support Grant in Unprecedented Move, Saying, "You Don't Need Five Million Yen of Support in Running"

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20130317-OHT1T00002.htm

translated by Brett Larner

Civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi (26, Saitama Pref. Gov't) is in Seoul, South Korea for the Mar. 17 Seoul International Marathon.  If he achieves his goal of improving his PB to 2:07 he is likely to be elevated to the Japanese Federation's "silver" level, receiving up to 5 million yen [~$50,000 USD] in support stipends for the coming year.  However, Kawauchi has indicated that he will turn down the money.  "I don't need it," he said.  He also indicated that he had earlier returned an individual support grant from the Japan Sports Promotion Center (JSC), currently embroiled in a developing financial scandal in judo.

Kawauchi is happy to have whatever money he wins at races based entirely on his results.  Crossing the sea in anticipation of running on one of the fastest courses in the world, at Kimpo Airport Kawauchi said with resolution, "I came here to run 2:07."  But he is indifferent to how much money that will get him.

Under the Federation's updated athlete support program, grants of up to 10 million yen [~$100,000 USD] per year are provided beginning at the start of the fiscal year in April.  Despite running a 2:08:15 course record to win February's Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon Kawauchi has not yet been added to the 2013-14 roster, while at the same time Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko), who ran 2:08:00 for 4th at February's Tokyo Marathon, has been certified as a silver athlete and will receive up to 5 million yen in support.  If he runs 2:07 the chances are very high that Kawauchi will also be certified.  However, Kawauchi indicated that he has unprecedented intentions, saying, "It still depends on how I do tomorrow, but if I am certified I will turn it down.  It's totally unnecessary."

As mentioned, Kawauchi has already returned his support stipend from the JSC.  This grant went into effect in April, 2011, with 300,000 yen [$3,000] paid quarterly.  By February last year 900,000 yen had been paid, but Kawauchi had not used any of it.  "It was useless," he said.  "They said, 'You don't have to show receipts for how you use this money,' but I'm not going to accept money I can't use."  In March last year he submitted an unprecedented 'Grant Refusal Notice,' transferring the unused 900,000 yen back to the JSC's bank account.

For a person of such incorruptible integrity, the financial scandal in the judo world is a source of great dismay.  "It's terrible.  Unbelievable.  Saying the money is for training support and just using it to go out eating and drinking..."  This past year Kawauchi received 1,500,000 yen [~$15,000 USD] in support stipends from the Federation, but of that he used a total of only 500,000 yen [~$5,000 USD], mostly to pay for running shoes and other gear.  Continuing to challenge the common sense of the world he is in and casting a stone at those who run for money, the salaried civil servant runner says, "We don't need money in athletics."

Friday, March 15, 2013

Murayama, Otsu Take Advantage of NYC Half Opportunity

By Chris Lotsbom
(c) 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

NEW YORK (14-Mar) -- Running Sunday's NYC Half feels like the opportunity of a lifetime for Kenta Murayama and Kento Otsu. For the tandem from Japan, the 21.1 kilometer race through Manhattan represents much more than a typical competition; it is a chance for the student-athletes to gain experience against some of the sport's best, including their idol, Bernard Lagat.

Back home in Japan, Murayama and Otsu are rivals on the collegiate circuit, representing Komazawa University and Toyo University, respectively. Having finished first and second at the Ageo City Half-Marathon last November, the pair earned invitations into Sunday's race as part of a program between the New York Road Runners and the Ageo City organizers.

"As a university student, to be invited to run abroad is a very important chance for me," said Otsu, 21, through a translator. "I am very happy about that. In terms of furthering my training, I think it will be a really valuable experience to have the chance to run with top ranked runners from all across the world."

Competing outside of the Japanese domestic circuit is rare for collegiate competitors from the island nation, making their trip to America even more special. The program between the NYRR and Ageo aims to provide athletes the opportunity to learn from the best, hoping they will continue to develop as distance runners through world competition.

"The chance to run together with world class runners has definitely added to my confidence level," said Otsu.

For Murayama and Otsu, Sunday's race provides them the opportunity to rub elbows with their idol, American Bernard Lagat. A four-time Olympian and two-time Olympic medalist, Lagat will be making his half-marathon debut here.

"He is very much famous," said Murayama, 20, who has a personal best of 1:01:19 for the half-marathon distance.

In Japan, Lagat is known for his ferocious finishing speed, something Murayama hopes to learn a thing or two from on Sunday.

"For me to be able to run together with him, this is something I really wanted to do," he said. "I think it is an opportunity to learn a lot from him."

Competing with Lagat and the world's best does come with its challenges, though. Seen as celebrities back home in Japan --where collegiate running is an extremely popular sport-- the pair come into Sunday's race with a bit of pressure, knowing that the nation's attention will be on them.

"It does, it makes me feel like I have to produce good results, so that does add a little bit of pressure," said Murayama. "I don't want to have any regrets. It's OK if I fail, but I want to push ahead as much as possible."

To Brett Larner, publisher of the popular Japan Running News blog, the chance for Japanese collegians to compete in America is key for their development.

"It is really unique," Larner said, talking exclusively to Race Results Weekly. "Overseas experience generally doesn't come easy for Japanese athletes. You don't get many opportunities to race overseas because the domestic circuit is so well developed. It never happens for University guys.

"Getting into a top level world class race like this is very unique and getting a lot of attention in Japan," added Larner.

On Sunday, Murayama could very well challenge for a top-five spot. Coming into the race, he is tied with the seventh fastest personal best among entrants. Otsu, who finished 25th last year, looks to better his 1:02:43 time from Ageo City last year.

PHOTO: Kento Otsu, Bernard Lagat and Kenta Murayama before the 2013 NYC Half (photo by Chris Lotsbom for Race Results Weekly)

Half Marathon Championships and Overseas Action Close Out Japan's Winter Road Season

by Brett Larner

Four major races this weekend mark the end of Japan's winter road season, two domestic and two foreign.  On the home front, the National Corporate Half Marathon Championships lead the way.  2008 Kenyan national XC champion Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin) is the favorite, followed closely by last year's runner-up Jacob Wanjuki (Team Aichi Seiko) and, making a return to the half following a long injury, 2010 World Half Marathon Championships 9th-place Tomoya Onishi (Team Asahi Kasei).  Ten other men have PBs under 62 minutes, making for a thick front pack.  Notable debuts will come from track champions Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B) and Taku Fujimoto (Team Toyota).

Course record holder Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) is the favorite in the women's race as she tunes up for next month's London Marathon.  She faces young competition from Sakiko Matsumi (Team Daiichi Seimei) and Yuka Tokuda (Team Starts), with strong debuts expected from ekiden stars Yurie Doi (Team Starts) and Hanae Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei), Doi's teammate Grace Kimanzi (Team Starts) and independent Yuka Ando (Mizuno).  For the third year there is also a women's 10 km, where former high school star Katsuki Suga (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) will go up against sub-32:30 women Miho Ihara (Team Shikoku Denryoku), Hitomi Nakamura (Team Panasonic) and Tomoka Inadomi (Team Wacoal).

Collegiate women also have their day at the National University Women's Half Marathon Championships, where places are on the line for the Japanese World University Games team.  With Japanese women including both Akaba and last week's Nagoya Women's Marathon winner Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) having medalled in every edition of the Games' half marathon it's a safe bet that many of the country's best will be in the race.  Look in particular for last year's winner Ayame Takaki (Meijo Univ.), whose solo 1:11:10 in cold rain was one of the better performances of the first half of the year.

2012 Corporate women's champion Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) opted not to defend her title, instead going overseas to run the New York City Half Marathon.  Her 1:09:47 best ranks her 6th in the New York field, where her competition includes 2013 Marugame Half Marathon runner-up Kim Smith (New Zealand) and Sendai Ikuei H.S. graduate Caroline Rotich (Kenya).  The top two Japanese university men from November's Ageo City Half Marathon, Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.) and Kento Otsu (Toyo Univ.) are in the men's race.  Murayama's all-time #10 Japanese 1:01:19 ranks him at 7th, and if the weather is favorable he may have a shot at the 1:01:09 Japanese university student national record.  Otsu will be looking to improve on his 25th-place finish in New York last year.

Last and definitely not least, the baffling Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't), already a virtual lock for the Moscow World Championships marathon team, looks to add to his litany of success this year with his third marathon of 2013 at the Seoul International Marathon.  Kawauchi originally said his goal for Seoul was to meet the Japanese Federation's 2:07:59 time standard for the Moscow team, but following a media brouhaha around comments critical of Kawauchi by Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) after his 2:08:00 finish at last month's Tokyo Marathon, Kawauchi reframed his target as "beating Maeda's time."  His competition includes 2:05 and 2:06 Kenyans Eliud KiptanuiFranklin Chepkwony and Benjamin Kiptoo, and Ethiopian Seboka Tola, who beat Kawauchi while setting the 2:08:27 course record at last spring's Dusseldorf Marathon.

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Eri Okubo Leaving Second Wind AC

http://swac.jp/news.shtml
http://sw-ac.jugem.jp/?eid=2656

translated by Brett Larner
photo by Dr. Helmut Winter

Our sincerest thank you to all of Second Wind AC's regular supporters.  Our club athlete Eri Okubo has decided to leave Second Wind AC at the end of March. Following her departure from Second Wind AC she plans to continue to pursue her own personal goals in a new environment.  Okubo has posted a personal statement about her decision to leave on the Second Wind AC blog.  We hope that all of you will continue to support and encourage her as she follows her dream and thank each of you for the encouragement you have given up to now.

Okubo's statement:

Thank you to everyone who has helped me and supported me. Unfortunately, I dropped out of Sunday's Nagoya Women's Marathon.  Thank you to all of my regular fans and to everyone who came out to cheer along the course.  I am truly sorry that I was not able to live up to your expectations and that I ended up with a result like this.

I would also like to tell you all that the Nagoya Women's Marathon was my last race as a Second Wind AC athlete.  I am sorry to deliver this kind of abrupt news on top of a bad race result.  Running as a Second Wind athlete enriched my range of experience as a runner, and I learned that the marathon and running itself can be truly fun.

Looking at the path ahead of me it's still a blank page, but after a night's sleep after the race on Sunday my resolve and motivation to pursue my next goal are back strong as ever. Once I fully recover and am back to a level where I can run hard I want to get back to competing in some form or another.

Three years was a short time, but I sincerely want to thank everybody who offered their encouragement whenever they saw me and who supported me right from when I was starting out and had not yet accomplished anything.

Eri Okubo

photo (c) 2012 Dr. Helmut Winter
all rights reserved

Monday, March 11, 2013

To Tohoku



In memory of the victims of the Mar. 11, 2011 disasters in northeastern Japan and to the many thousands of survivors.

Noguchi: "I'm Back to About 70 or 80%"

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20130310-OHT1T00176.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

At the Mar. 10 Nagoya Women's Marathon, Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) won in 2:23:34, the first male or female athlete to meet the Federation's qualifying times for August's Moscow World Championships.  Athens Olympics gold medalist and national record holder Mizuki Noguchi (34, Team Sysmex) finished 3rd in 2:24:05, putting her into the 'likely' category for the Moscow team.  She now stands a chance of wearing the Rising Sun on her uniform for the first time in nine years.

Assessing her comeback performance, Noguchi said, "My targets today were a 2:23 and the win.  I ran a powerful race like back in the golden days, but after 36 km I had trouble moving my legs so I'd say that I'm only back to about 70 or 80%.  I ran with power, but this was only one step.  You can't suddenly make a complete comeback all at once.  This race was just one step upward.

After running Nagoya last year I had a lot of time when I couldn't run due to problems with internal bruising in my right knee.  I think it was really great that I could come back from that to the point I reached today.

2:21 and 2:22 have become normal at the world-class level.  Japan has fallen behind.  I ran today absolutely determined not to be beaten by the Ethiopians and Kenyans, and I hope that our other women will look at my running and be motivated to do the same.  I want our young athletes to be going after those kinds of times."

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Kizaki Cracks World Champs Standard With 2:23:34 Win in Nagoya

by Brett Larner

With temperatures in the high-mid teens on the first truly warm day of the year Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu), Japan's top woman at the London Olympics, became the first athlete male or female to break the Japanese Federation's tough sub-2:08 and sub-2:24 standards for the Moscow World Championships, blasting a PB of almost exactly 3 minutes to win the Nagoya Women's Marathon in 2:23:34.

After a passable comeback from over 4 years of injury in Nagoya last year, national record holder and Athens Olympics marathon gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex)  brought much of the fury, refusing to settle for less as she ran even with the pacers and pushed them to go ahead of the scheduled 3:24/km target pace after an on-point 33:56 first 10 km.  A 3:17 split between 13 and 14 km took them to 15 km in 50:48 and dropped a handful of competitors from the pack including debuting Ome 30 km winner Asami Kato (Team Panasonic).

At halfway the lead group of Noguchi, Kizaki, Georgina Rono (Kenya), Margaret Agai (Kenya), Genet Getaneh (Ethiopia), Berhane Dibaba (Ethiopia) went through in a fine 1:11:32 with Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) and Eri Hayakawa (Team Toto) a stride or two behind.  Agai and Dibaba went to the front for the first time, taking the leaders through 25 km in 1:24:49 and opening a gap on Getaneh.  Favorite Rono joined them up front briefly but just before 30 km slipped backwards after a move by Dibaba and lost touch with the leaders, followed shortly by Agai.  At 30 km, hit in 1:41:54, it was down to Dibaba, Noguchi and Kizaki running single-file.

At an uphill at 33 km Noguchi made a move to go ahead, but Dibaba and Kizaki were right with her.  35 km came in 1:59:07, well on track for the sub-2:24 Federation standard.  Then a step at a time Noguchi began to lose touch, 2 seconds behind Dibaba and Kizaki at 36 km, 6 seconds at 37 km and on.  With 5 km Dibaba attacked, Kizaki slipping behind but quickly regaining her footing.  At 39 km it was Kizaki's turn for a move, then Dibaba again as they hit 40 km in 2:16:23.  Noguchi was 10 seconds behind.

With 2 km to go Kizaki attacked again, and this time it was for good.  As in her 2011 Yokohama win she showed superlative closing speed, a 3:18 from 40 to 41 km creating a 5 second gap over Dibaba that grew all the way to her 2:23:34 finish a full 17 seconds ahead, splitting 7:11 from 40k to the end.  Dibaba was likewise under 2:24 in a big new PB of 2:23:51.  14 seconds further back, Noguchi just missed the sub-2:24 standard but took 3rd in a solid 2:24:05, the fourth-best time of her career (!) and faster than Osaka runner-up Kyoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal), heretofore the leading candidate for the Moscow team.  She's back.  Prokopcuka improved on her performance in Yokohama with a 2:25:46 for 4th, while Eri Hayakawa (Team Toto) followed up on the promise of her PB at last month's Marugame Half Marathon by smashing her 8 1/2-year-old best by 2 minutes to round out the top five in 2:26:17.

Although Nagoya was the final domestic selection race for Moscow, the London Marathon also factors into the calculations, and with at least three top-flight Japanese women, Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren), Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) and Remi Nakazato (Team Daihatsu) due to run there the team lineup is far from clear.  Kizaki is in, and Noguchi, who pre-race was vocal in her criticism of the current state of Japanese women's marathoning and its typical ignore-the-race-and-go-for-top-Japanese mentality best exemplified by top Yokohama Japanese finisher Mizuho Nasukawa (Team Univ. Ent.), has a good chance after making the race and finishing with a strong time and placing 10 years after her silver at the Paris World Championships.  The top two Japanese women in Osaka, Fukushi and the young Yuko Watanabe (Team Edion) are also in the fold for the team after strong runs.  If one or two of the women in London run 2:25 or faster the Federation will have plenty of choices in putting together a team without having to resort to including Nasukawa.  Presumably the sub-2:24 time standard was an indication that they expect more than just shooting to be the top Japanese.  The exclusion of the Yoshio Koide-coached Nasukawa would send the clear and necessary message that that kind of mindset is not going to be tolerated or rewarded any more.  But regardless of their final decision, it was refreshing to see Japanese women running like their reputation of old, up front, in control and ambitious.

2013 Nagoya Women's Marathon
Nagoya, 3/10/13
click here for complete results

1. Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) - 2:23:34 - PB
2. Berhane Dibaba (Ethiopia) - 2:23:51 - PB
3. Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) - 2:24:05
4. Jelena Prokopcuka (Latvia) - 2:25:46
5. Eri Hayakawa (Team Toto) - 2:26:17 - PB
6. Mestawet Tufa (Ethiopia) - 2:26:20 - debut
7. Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 2:27:17
8. Genet Getaneh (Ethiopia) - 2:28:08
9. Asami Kato (Team Panasonic) - 2:30:26 - debut
10. Misato Horie (Team Noritz) - 2:30:52 - PB
11. Asami Furuse (Team Kyocera) - 2:30:57
12. Nicole Chapple (Australia) - 2:32:31 - debut
13. Hiroko Yoshitomi (First Dream AC) - 2:32:43
14. Chizuru Ideta (Team Daihatsu) - 2:32:50
15. Kumi Ogura (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 2:34:01 - PB
16. Shino Saito (Team Shimamura) - 2:35:47 - debut
17. Akane Mutazaki (Team Edion) - 2:37:14
18. Sumiko Suzuki (Team Hokuren) - 2:38:06
19. Tomomi Higuchi (Team Daihatsu) - 2:39:22
20. Mai Tanabe (Team Aichi Denki) - 2:40:21
21. Megumi Kanetomo (Team Yamada Denki) - 2:41:26
22. Miki Oka (Team Kojima Press) - 2:42:23
23. Mariko Asato (Okinawa T&F Assoc.) - 2:44:11
24. Sayaka Yamaguchi (Team Aichi Denki) - 2:45:54
25. Saori Kawai (Team Nihon ChemiCon) - 2:47:33

DNF - Georgina Rono (Kenya)

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Friday, March 8, 2013

Nagoya Women's Marathon Preview

by Brett Larner

Switching last year to a mass-participation format and billing itself as the world's largest women-only marathon, the Nagoya Women's Marathon returns this year as the final domestic selection race for the Moscow World Championships team.  Relative to its male counterpart, last weekend's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, Nagoya's domestic field is somewhat impoverished, all the more so with the regrettably foreseeable withdrawal of 2012 Osaka International Women's Marathon winner Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) with injury, and with all but one of the Japanese women in the field coming in at the 2:26 level or above it is hard to see there being a serious bid for the Federation's 2:23:59 time requirement for automatic nomination to the Moscow team.

That one person is of course national record holder and Athens Olympics gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex), who for the second year in a row pulled out of Osaka in January and refocused on Nagoya.  At less than full fitness she made a 2:25:33 comeback last year after over years of injury.  This time she is talking big and saying she feels at her best.  A World Championships spot is just waiting there for her as even 2:25:33 would be a PB by over 30 seconds for any of the other Japanese women in the field.  The four most likely candidates are London Olympian Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) and fellow 2:26 athletes Eri Okubo (Second Wind AC), Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) and Kaoru Nagao (Team Univ. Ent.), but also worth keeping an eye on are Eri Hayakawa (Team Toto), who despite having a marathon best almost ten years old set a PB last month at the Marugame Half Marathon, Misato Horie (Team Noritz) who was 13 seconds behind Hayakawa at Marugame with a PB of her own, the debuting Shino Saito (Team Shimamura) and, in the general division and likewise making a debut, two-time Ome 30 km winner Asami Kato (Team Panasonic).

The small foreign field is perfectly positioned.  If Noguchi is really ready to back up her words, Georgina Rono (Kenya), with a 2:21:39 at last fall's Frankfurt Marathon, will serve as an ideal foil.  If not, then like her countrywoman Lydia Cheromei in Yokohama last November Rono has it in the bag.  2:24 woman Margaret Agai (Kenya), 2:25 runner Genet Getaneh (Ethiopia) and, with a 2:26:55 in Yokohama, the great Jelena Prokopcuka (Latvia) are at just the right level to back up the rest of the Japanese women. Yuliya Ruban (Ukraine) may well possess the same mystifying closing speed as other Eastern European women of late and together with Werknesh Kidane (Ethiopia) and bottom-ranked Berhane Dibaba (Ethiopia) could be darkhorse figures in a slower race or with a jump in performance. Wildcards and next to Noguchi potentially the most interesting aspect of this year's race are the marathon debuts of 68-minute half-marathoners Nicole Chapple (Australia) and Mestawet Tufa (Ethiopia).

The Nagoya Women's Marathon will be broadcast live on Fuji TV beginning at 9:00 a.m. Japan time.  Click here for details on watching online with Keyhole TV.  JRN will once again cover the race live via Twitter @JRNLive.

2013 Nagoya Women's Marathon Elite Field
Nagoya, 3/10/13
click here for elite field listing

11. Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) - 2:19:12 (Berlin 2005)
1. Georgina Rono (Kenya) - 2:21:39 (Frankfurt 2012)
2. Jelena Prokopcuka (Latvia) - 2:22:56 (Osaka Women's 2005)
3. Margaret Agai (Kenya) - 2:24:17 (Shanghai 2012)
4. Genet Getaneh (Ethiopia) - 2:25:38 (Amsterdam 2012)
13. Eri Okubo (Second Wind AC) - 2:26:08 (Tokyo 2012)
14. Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 2:26:23 (Nagoya Women's 2012)
15. Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) - 2:26:32 (Yokohama Women's Nov. 2011)
16. Kaoru Nagao (Team Univ. Ent.) - 2:26:58 (Yokohama Women's Feb. 2011)
5. Yuliya Ruban (Ukraine) - 2:27:10 (Torino 2011)
6. Werknesh Kidane (Ethiopia) - 2:27:15 (Dubai 2011)
17. Eri Hayakawa (Team Toto) - 2:28:11 (Honolulu 2004)
7. Berhane Dibaba (Ethiopia) - 2:29:22 (Valencia 2012)
18. Sumiko Suzuki (Team Hokuren) - 2:29:25 (Tokyo 2012)
19. Misato Horie (Team Noritz) - 2:31:39 (Nagoya Women's 2012)
21. Kumi Ogura (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 2:35:02 (Hong Kong 2013)

Debut
8. Nicole Chapple (Australia) - 1:08:37 (Marugame Half 2010)
9. Mestawet Tufa (Ethiopia) - 1:08:48 (New Delhi 2010)
20. Shino Saito (Team Shimamura) - 1:10:51 (National Corporate Half 2010)
Asami Kato (Team Panasonic) - 1:11:21 (Sendai 2012)

Pacers
57. Yuka Hakoyama (Team Wacoal)
58. Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya)
59. Mariya Konovalova (Russia)
60. Alina Prokopeva (Russia)

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Noguchi In Good Shape: "My Goal Is the Win"

http://www.daily.co.jp/general/2013/03/08/0005797088.shtml

translated by Brett Larner

The invited athletes for Sunday's Nagoya Women's Marathon, the final domestic selection race for August's Moscow World Championships marathon team, arrived in Nagoya on Mar. 7.  Athens Olympics gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi (34, Team Sysmex) is loudly proclaiming that she is in it for the win.

Noguchi withdrew from January's Osaka International Women's Marathon due to poor health, shifting her focus to Nagoya where she will run her first marathon since last year's edition.  That time in Nagoya she experienced a sudden loss of strength around her left knee and finished only 6th.  "If you compare now to last year, it's really completely different," she said with a big smile.  "For the first time in a long, long time I feel ready to run an interesting race."

Needless to say, she is going for the win.  Her training went well.  In February she did a 30 km run in 1:43.  "I feel like I'm probably at my best," she said, her preparations and fitness right on track ahead of race day.  She is unconcerned about the Kenyans and Ethiopians in the race.  "My goal is to go for the win," she said.  If she pulls it off, a place at the World Championships will be hers.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Murayama, Otsu and Tanaka to Run New York City Half Marathon

by Brett Larner

The organizers of the Mar. 17 New York City Half Marathon have released the men's and women's elite fields for this year's race.  Alongside world-level medalists including Wilson Kipsang (Kenya), Dathan Ritzenhein (U.S.A.), Deressa Chimsa (Ethiopia), Meb Keflezighi (U.S.A.) and Bernard Lagat (U.S.A.), Japanese collegiates Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.) and Kento Otsu (Toyo Univ.) will be running as part of a relationship organized by JRN between the New York City Half Marathon and the Ageo City Half Marathon.  Murayama, the first man to win the National University Championships 5000 m as a first-year since the great Toshihiko Seko, won Ageo in 1:02:46 last November before going on to run an all-time Japanese #10 1:01:19 at February's Marugame Half Marathon, a time that would have put him 4th in New York in 2012.  Otsu, 2nd at Ageo in 1:02:53, is running New York for the second time after making his international debut there last year.

2013 Marugame women's runner-up Kim Smith (New Zealand) heads the women's field, where her competition includes Sendai Ikuei H.S. graduate Caroline Rotich (Kenya), 2012 National Corporate Half Marathon champion Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei), Olympians Valeria Straneo (Italy), Sabrina Mockenhaupt (Germany) and Madai Perez (Mexico), and a half-dozen or so competitive Americans.  The race is scheduled to be streamed live online on www.7online.com starting at 7:00 a.m. local time, 8:00 p.m. Japan time.

2013 New York City Half Marathon Elite Field
New York, 3/17/13

Men
Wilson Kipsang (Kenya) - 58:59
Dathan Ritzenhein (U.S.A.) - 1:00:00
Abdi Abdirahman (U.S.A.) - 1:00:29
Julius Arile (Kenya) - 1:00:31
Tesfaye Girma (Ethiopia) - 1:00:36
Deressa Chimsa (Ethiopia) - 1:00:51
Meb Keflezighi (U.S.A.) - 1:01:00
Sam Chelanga (Kenya) - 1:01:19
Kenta Murayama (Japan/Komazawa Univ.) - 1:01:19
Kevin Chelimo (Kenya) - 1:01:21
Juan Luis Barrios (Mexico) - 1:01:48
Hafid Chani (Morocco) - 1:02:23
Daniele Meucci (Italy) - 1:02:30
Kento Otsu (Japan/Toyo Univ.) - 1:02:43
Ketema Nigusse (Ethiopia) - 1:02:59
Bado Worku (Ethiopia) - 1:02:59
Stephen Sambu (Kenya) - 1:03:02
Tesfaye Assefa (Ethiopia) - 1:03:13
Rob Watson (Canada) - 1:03:29
Jason Hartmann (U.S.A.) - 1:03:32
Odilon Cuahutle (Mexico) - 1:03:59
Guor Marial (U.S.A.) - 1:04:21
Bouabdellah Tahri (France) - 1:06:12
Leonard Korir (Kenya) - debut
Bernard Lagat (U.S.A.) - debut

Women
Kim Smith (New Zealand) - 1:07:11
Valeria Straneo (Italy) - 1:07:46
Sabrina Mockenhaupt (Germany) - 1:08:45
Caroline Rotich (Kenya) - 1:08:52
Madai Perez (Mexico) - 1:09:45
Tomomi Tanaka (Japan/Team Daiichi Seimei) - 1:09:47
Janet Bawcom (U.S.A.) - 1:09:55
Adriana Nelson (U.S.A.) - 1:09:57
Serena Burla (U.S.A.) - 1:10:08
Sara Moreira (Portugal) - 1:10:08
Lisa Stublic (Croatia) - 1:10:31
Susan Partridge (Great Britain) - 1:10:32
Bekelech Bedada (Ethiopia) - 1:10:54
Diane Nukuri Johnson (Brazil) - 1:10:55
Maegan Krifchin (U.S.A.) - 1:10:56
Aziza Aliyu (Ethiopia) - 1:11:07
Malika Mejdoub (Morocco) - 1:11:33
Lindsey Scherf (U.S.A.) - 1:11:45
Mary Davies (New Zealand) - 1:11:49
Claire Hallissey (Great Britain) - 1:12:02
Stephanie Rothstein (U.S.A.) - 1:12:19
Freya Ross (Great Britain) - 1:12:23
Yolanda Caballero (Colombia) - 1:12:35
Adriana Da Silva (Brazil) - 1:13:16
Lyudmila Kovalenko (Ukraine) - 1:13:35
Hirut Beyene (Ethiopia) - 1:14:39
Adrienne Herzog (Netherlands) - debut

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

National Corporate Half Marathon Championships Entry Lists

by Brett Larner

The organizers of the Mar. 17 National Corporate Half Marathon and 10 km Championships, Japan's last major road race before track season, released its 2013 entry lists on Mar. 5.  With no World Half Marathon Championships this year there are no national team places on the line, but the fields are deep nevertheless.

Having struggled in recent years, 2008 Kenyan national XC champion Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin) heads the men's list along with last year's runner-up Jacob Wanjuki (Team Aichi Seiko), 2010 World Half Marathon 9th-place Tomoya Onishi (Team Asahi Kasei), Micah Njeru (Team Toyota Boshoku) and 2012 Sendai International Half Marathon winner Johana Maina (Team Fujitsu).  Besides Onishi eight other Japanese men with sub-62 bests are close behind, led by Yuta Igarashi (Team JR Higashi Nihon) and Daisuke Matsufuji (Team Kanebo).  2012 national 5000 m champion Kazuya Deguchi (Team Asahi Kasei) will be looking to join the sub-62 ranks along with teammate Fumihiro Maruyama (Team Asahi Kasei), 2nd at last month's Kumanichi 30 km in a solid 1:29:34.  Runners making their half marathon debut include 2009 double 1500 and 5000 m national champion Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B) and 2010-2011 two-time Kanto Region University 5000 m champion Taku Fujimoto (Team Toyota).

Course record holder Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) heads the women's half marathon field in a tuneup for April's London Marathon, and with defending champion Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) heading east for the New York City Half Marathon she is the clear favorite.  Tanaka's teammate Sakiko Matsumi (Team Daiichi Seimei) is a possible rival, coming in off a 1:10:10 best at the Marugame Half last month. Much of the other potential competition comes from first-timers, including ekiden aces Hanae Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) and Yurie Doi (Team Starts), Doi's Kenyan teammate Grace Kimanzi (Team Starts), and teenaged track star Yuka Ando (Team Mizuno). Aging 10000 m national record holder Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) is also scheduled to start.

The introduction of a women's 10 km in 2011 has somewhat diluted the field, but look for a close race there with seven sub-33 women.  Miho Ihara leads them with a 32:18.00 best in her final race in the Team Shikoku Denryoku uniform.  Misaki Onishi (Team Sekisui Kagaku) holds strong 5000 m and half marathon credentials but will be filling in the gaps with her formal 10 km debut.  Former high school star Katsuki Suga (Team Toyota Jidoshokki), 6th in the 3000 m at the 2011 World Junior Championships, will also debut.

TBS will broadcast the Championships on Mar. 17 starting at 2:00 p.m.  Click here for more info on watching online.

National Corporate Half Marathon and 10 km Championships - Entry List Highlights
Yamaguchi, 3/17/13
click division for complete entry lists

Men's Half Marathon
Gideon Ngatuny (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 59:50
Jacob Wanjuki (Kenya/Team Aichi Seiko) - 1:00:32
Tomoya Onishi (Team Asahi Kasei) - 1:01:31
Micah Njeru (Kenya/Team Toyota Boshoku) - 1:01:33
Johana Maina (Kenya/Team Fujitsu) - 1:01:34
Yuta Igarashi (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 1:01:46
Daisuke Matsufuji (Team Kanebo) - 1:01:46
Mamoru Hirano (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 1:01:49
Takanobu Otsubo (Osaka Police Dept.) - 1:01:55
Muryo Takase (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 1:01:57
Masamichi Shinozaki (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) - 1:01:58
Akihiko Tsumurai (Team Mazda) - 1:01:58
Shuji Yoshikawa (Team Kyudenko) - 1:01:58
Kazuya Deguchi (Team Asahi Kasei) - 1:02:46
Fumihiro Maruyama (Team Asahi Kasei) - 1:29:34 (30 km)
Taku Fujimoto (Team Toyota) - debut
Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B) - debut

Women's Half Marathon
Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) - 1:08:11
Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 1:09:31
Sakiko Matsumi (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 1:10:10
Yuka Tokuda (Team Starts) - 1:10:40
Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya) - 1:10:50
Kumi Ogura (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 1:10:51
Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) - 1:10:51
Shino Saito (Team Shimamura) - 1:11:10
Chihiro Takato (Team Wacoal) - 1:11:16
Aya Nagata (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 1:11:28
Yuka Hakoyama (Team Wacoal) - 1:11:29
Keiko Nogami (Team Juhachi Ginko) - 1:11:35
Chieko Kido (Canon AC Kyushu) - 1:11:38
Shoko Mori (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:11:41
Yuka Ando (Mizuno) - debut
Yurie Doi (Team Starts) - debut
Grace Kimanzi (Kenya/Team Starts) - debut
Hanae Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) - debut

Women's 10 km 
Miho Ihara (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 32:18.00
Hitomi Nakamura (Team Panasonic) - 32:23.49
Tomoka Inadomi (Team Wacoal) - 32:26.46
Akiko Matsuyama (Team Panasonic) - 32:27.23
Yuki Mitsunobu (Team Kyocera) - 32:31.33
Korei Omata (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 32:37.89
Akari Ota (Team Tenmaya) - 32:59.00
Misaki Onishi (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 15:32.88 (5000 m)
Katsuki Suga (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 9:05.62 (3000 m)

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Japanese Men On the Offense Means No Sleep Lost Over None Meeting World Championships Qualifying Time

http://sportsnavi.yahoo.co.jp/sports/athletic/all/2013/columndtl/201303040002-spnavi?page=1

by Yoshimichi Nakao
translated and edited by Brett Larner

The finale has come and gone for the series of domestic selection races for the Japanese men's marathon team for August's Moscow World Championships.  At the last of the domestic races, the Mar. 3 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, general division entrant Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda) ran 2:08:51 to finish 4th overall as the top Japanese man, ten years and one day since his last 2:08, the longest any man has ever gone between successive sub-2:10 marathons.  Although he missed hitting the Federation's 2:07:59 standard for automatic Worlds team selection Fujiwara's performance still went a long way toward getting his name on the shortlist. 2012 London Olympian Ryo Yamamoto (Team Sagawa Express) was 5th in 2:09:06, with Fujiwara's teammate Suehiro Ishikawa (Team Honda) achieving his first sub-2:10, 6th in 2:09:10.  2011 Daegu World Championships silver medalist Vincent Kipruto (Kenya) won in 2:08:34, only 17 seconds ahead of Fujiwara.

Struggling with the cold and wind, the pacemakers could not hit the target 5 km splits of 15:00, reaching 20 km in 1:00:39.  At halfway there was still a chance that they might hit 2:07 if they went for it, but from 25 to 30 km the lead pack took 15:45, signalling that they had given up any hope of going for a fast time.  The focus shifted to competition for the win.  At 34 km Fujiwara went to the front of the lead pack of four Japanese runners and three foreigners.  The aggressive, determined move didn't break the pack up, but, said the 31-year-old Fujiwara, "In terms of my age I knew this was my last chance to make a world-level team.  If I blew it this time, that would be the punctuation at the end of my marathon career."  After 37 km he lost strides to Kipruto step by step, but even so he held on to the top Japanese position.

In 2003 as a senior at Chuo University Fujiwara made his marathon debut at Lake Biwa, setting the still-standing collegiate and debut marathon national record of 2:08:12.  He was named to the 2003 Paris World Championships marathon team, but, suffering from injuries, he pulled out of the race after arriving in Paris.  With a long series of injuries following that he spent many years away from the marathon.  He had some success in winning the 2010 Tokyo Marathon, but for almost ten years following his debut he was unable to break 2:12.

The first sign of hope came at last September's Berlin Marathon, where Fujiwara ran 2:11:31 to finish 10th, the first non-Kenyan in the race.  In January he suffered from anemia problems, but, he said, "I was able to recover thanks to my wife's wonderful cooking."  His beloved baby daughter's name was embroidered on his pink racing shoes, his family's love and support inside and underfoot giving him the drive to make it back to the World Championships.  Awakening from what seemed like a ten-year slumber, Fujiwara said, "You can't hope to compete against the rest of the world just by aiming to be the best Japanese man.  I kept trying to pick off the next foreign athlete ahead of me.  2:08 was my minimum goal.  I think I'm at least on the table for the national team."

His chances of being on the Worlds team again after ten years look good.  The results of the harvest from the four domestic selection races, December's Fukuoka International Marathon, February's Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon and Tokyo Marathon, and this month's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, are pretty clear.  With five spots available, five men achieved the 2:08 level.  In Fukuoka, 2011 World Championships 7th-place Hiroyuki Horibata (Team Asahi Kasei) redeemed his unhappy position as the alternate for the London Olympics team by running a personal best 2:08:24 for 2nd after making a move near 30 km that knocked former world record holder Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopia) out of the race.  In Beppu-Oita, the civil servant runner on a mission to overthrow the old-school marathon establishment, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't), ran a course record and PB 2:08:15 to beat London Olympics 6th-place Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki), who himself ran a PB of 2:08:35 for 2nd.  In Tokyo Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) split a superb 14:39 from 30 to 35 km on his way to a 2:08:00 PB for 4th, using his head to beat 2:04-level Africans.  In Lake Biwa where his marathon career began Fujiwara got things back on track with a 2:08:51.  In reaching out for the national team, in saying to each other, "This is for the World Championships," the country's best runners made manifest their burning drive, and the results speak for themselves.

On the other hand, not one of them met the sub-2:08 time goal for team selection, and with all five having been on World Championships teams before the lack of any new blood could be raised as a problem.  For the 2011 World Championships the time standard for the domestic selection races was set at sub-2:09:30, meaning that this time there was an abrupt jump of 1:30 in the Federation's expectations. At last year's Tokyo Marathon Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) ran 2:07:48, but in the history of Japanese men's marathoning only twelve men have ever run 2:07:59 or better.  In that respect "sub-2:08" is not such a simple matter.

At Lake Biwa Masakazu Fujiwara said, "This 2:08:51 came while I was aiming for 2:07:59." There is no doubt that the publishing of the 2:07 time standard, each athlete and each training group's modification of their training and preparations to seriously go after that goal and their aggressive racing in its pursuit form the backdrop to the five men's 2:08 performances. At the 2011 Tokyo Marathon Kawauchi's 2:08:37 made news as Japan's first 2:08 in three years. Think about that, and then look at Maeda missing 2:07 by only one second; Horibata, Kawauchi and Nakamoto all running PBs faster than 2:08:37, and Fujiwara running 2:08 for the first time in ten years.  Compared to the situation two years ago, there is nothing to lose sleep over.  By targeting 2:07, Japanese men's marathoning has moved toward the next level.  But that level is not yet one where they compete at the world standard dictated by the Africans.  If you say, "I want to compete with the best in the world," you have to keep aiming higher and higher.

Still remaining in the selection process are April's London and Boston marathons.  Many eyes are on Arata Fujiwara, who was kept out of Tokyo by an injury to his left thigh, as well as on Nakamoto's teammate Bunta Kuroki (Team Yasukawa Denki), who ran a strong 2:10:08 PB in Fukuoka and is planning to run London.  Will the team be set with the current five 2:08 men or will the plot grow thicker with a contender arising overseas?  With top-eight finishes at both the 2011 World Championships and 2012 Olympics the next task for Japanese men's marathoning will be to again produce athletes who can compete for the medals.  As part of that process, the string of 2:08s this season is a sign that for the first time in years a wave of hope and positive thinking is taking shape.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Lake Biwa 3rd-Place Mwangi Returning to Kenya After 12 Years in Japan

http://mainichi.jp/sports/news/20130302k0000m050067000c.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Following his 3rd-place 2:08:48 finish at the Mar. 3 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, James Mwangi, 28, is moving back to his native Kenya after twelve years in Japan running for Aomori Yamada H.S. and Team NTN.  He has chosen to move to support his wife, who is in poor health, but Mwangi plans to continue to devote himself to marathon training in Kenya.  "To show my gratitude to all those who have supported me I want to ultimately end up a champion."

Lake Biwa was Mwangi's eighth marathon.  He came to Japan in 2001.  While at Aomori Yamada H.S. his achievements included winning the 800 m at the National High School Championships, and following his graduation he joined the corporate league in 2004.  The memory he holds dearest from his 12 years in Japan is of seeing snow for the first time in his life on the very first day he arrived in Aomori.  The next day with snowbanks taller than himself lining the roads he banged out 25 km.  "Coach Nikaido cared about my dreams and life and brought me up strictly," he recalls.  The educational standards expected of him were tough, and he had to adapt to Japanese food whether he liked it or not.

At the 2011 Fukuoka International Marathon Mwangi finished 2nd in a PB of 2:08:38, but with a marathon career that has included four DNFs in eight starts to date he has had his share of particularly serious ups and downs.  Even at this past December's Fukuoka International he dropped out after 30 km.  To prepare for Lake Biwa, Mwangi spent two months back in Kenya training with world record holder Patrick Makau.  His dream is to make the Kenyan Olympic team three years from now.  "My result in Lake Biwa will help carry me on to that dream," he said.  In the same way, his gratitude to the past will help inform his future as a human being.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Former NR Holder Fujita After Lake Biwa DNF: "I'd Like to Settle on a Retirement Race"

http://www.daily.co.jp/general/2013/03/04/0005785032.shtml

translated and edited by Brett Larner

With a best of 2:06:51, former Japanese marathoner national record holder Atsushi Fujita (Team Fujitsu) ran the Mar. 3 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon despite having fractured a rib in training just five days before the race.  Fujita took painkillers before the race and started out in the lead pack but was unable to finish, dropping out at 15 km.  Prior to the race he said, "This will be my last race where I go for national team-class running," but afterward he said, "I can't say anything about what comes next."  Any decision he makes must be made in consultation with his corporate management and coach.  "If I quit after this I'll always have regret hanging over me.  If I could have my choice I'd like to settle on a retirement race," he said, betraying his lingering attachment to the sport at age 36.

Nakamura Takes National University Half, Kato and Deguchi Win Tamana and Sunpu

by Brett Larner

The National University Men's Half Marathon Championships in Tokyo led three competitive Japanese half marathons this weekend.  Shogo Nakamura of 2012 National University Men's Ekiden winner Komazawa University outran defending champion Toshikatsu Ebina (Teikyo Univ.) for the win, 1:02:41 to 1:02:49 with the next three runners all going under 63 minutes for the first time.  All told, 38 collegiate men broke 64 minutes with 175 clearing 67.  The selection race for this summer's World University Games half marathon team, the overall fast day at the Championships ensured that Nakamura will lead a strong team this summer.  In post-race comments he said that his goal is the gold medal.

At the Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon in Kumamoto, 19-year-old Daichi Kato (Team Toyota Kyushu) handed Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) his second loss of the year, keeping an eye on Kawauchi's water station surges and breaking away late in the race with a surge of his own to win in 1:03:01.  Kawauchi held on to 2nd in 1:03:12, with Kato's Toyota Kyushu teammates taking the next two spots.  In the women's 10 km, Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) won for a record-setting 5th time in 33:20, just holding off Kotomi Takayama (Team Sysmex) over the final kilometer.  Shohei Otsuka (Oita Tomei H.S.) was impressive in the high school boys' 10 km, winning by more than 30 seconds in 29:32.

2012 national 5000 m champion Kazuya Deguchi (Team Asahi Kasei) had a relatively easy win at the Sunpu Half Marathon in Shizuoka, running 1:04:01 well ahead of last year's winner Shinichi Yamashita (Takigahara SDF Base).  Local Yuki Sakata (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) had an even bigger margin of victory in the women's half marathon, winning in 1:14:48 by nearly a minute over Kaori Ito (Team Yutaka Giken).

16th National University Men's Half Marathon Championships
Tachikawa, Tokyo, 3/3/13
click here for complete results

1. Shogo Nakamura (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:02:41 - PB
2. Toshikatsu Ebina (Teikyo Univ.) - 1:02:49
3. Hiroki Yamagishi (Jobu Univ.) - 1:02:51 - PB
4. Shinichiro Tai (Hosei Univ.) - 1:02:54 - PB
5. Hiroto Inoue (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:58 - PB
6. Masaya Taguchi (Toyo Univ.) - 1:03:00 - PB
7. Shogo Sekiguchi (Hosei Univ.) - 1:03:01 - PB
8. Junji Katakawa (Daito Bunka Univ) - 1:03:04 - PB
9. Takashi Ichida (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 1:03:04 - PB
10. Shuhei Yamamoto (Waseda Univ.) - 1:03:12
-----
25. Hiroki Sugawa (Chuo Univ.) - 1:03:43
-----
50. Teruaki Yuda (Toyo Univ.) - 1:04:15
-----
100. Masato Terauchi (Toyo Univ.) - 1:05:06
-----
150. Eiichiro Sano (Josai Univ.) - 1:05:47
-----
175. Kodai Gozawa (Soka Univ.) - 1:05:59
-----
200. Akira Iwasaki (Hosei Univ.) - 1:06:17

64th Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon
Tamana, Kumamoto, 3/3/13
click here for complete results

Men's Half Marathon
1. Daichi Kato (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 1:03:01
2. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) - 1:03:12
3. Kaoru Hirosue (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 1:03:24
4. Yukinobu Nakazaki (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 1:03:41
5. Sho Matsueda (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) - 1:03:58

Women's 10 km
1. Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 33:20
2. Kotomi Takayama (Team Sysmex) - 33:24
3. Yoko Aizu (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 33:32
4. Anna Hasuike (Team Higo Ginko) - 33:32
5. Yuki Mitsunobu (Team Kyocera) - 33:34

High School Boys' 10 km
1. Shohei Otsuka (Oita Tomei H.S.) - 29:32
2. Ryoichi Yoshida (Omuta H.S.) - 30:03
3. Tatsuhiko Hori (Omuta H.S.) - 30:10
4. Hirotsugu Nakahara (Oita Tomei H.S.) - 30:12
5. Noriaki Oyama (Omuta H.S) - 30:14

38th Shizuoka Sunpu Half Marathon
Sunpu, Shizuoka, 3/3/13
click here for complete results

Men
1. Kazuya Deguchi (Team Asahi Kasei) - 1:04:01
2. Shinichi Yamashita (Takigahara SDF Base) - 1:04:18
3. Takeshi Tsubouchi (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:04:47

Women
1. Yuki Sakata (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:14:48
2. Kaori Ito (Team Yutaka Giken) - 1:15:42
3. Ruka Nakamura (Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) - 1:15:51

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Kipruto Wins Cold Lake Biwa in 2:08:34, Fujiwara 4th in 2:08:51

by Brett Larner

A cold northern wind kept the 68th running of the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon slower than planned, but Kenyan winner Vincent Kipruto's 2:08:34 meant the race stayed tight and exciting until the last corner of the track, where Kipruto outkicked Ethiopian Tariku Jufar to take it by 3 seconds.  Longtime Japan resident James Mwangi (Team NTN) was 3rd in 2:08:48 in his final race before moving back to Kenya, while 2010 Tokyo Marathon winner Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda) cleared 2:09 for the first time since his 2003 debut and collegiate national record 2:08:12, taking 4th in 2:08:51 and getting on to the short list for the Moscow World Championships team.

Twin pacers Kota and Kenta Otani (Team JFE Steel) tried to get things going over the first 15 km, but accompanied only by the debuting Shinobu Kubota (Komazawa Univ.) they were left looking over their shoulders until they finished their stint up front.  The pace slowed again after their departure, but a 2:52 surge at 22 km by Jufar shook up the lead pack of 49 in a hurry.  Things soon regrouped, but Jufar's move got rid of roughly a third of the competition as the race began to get serious.  #2-ranked Peter Kirui (Kenya) was a surprise casualty, losing touch after 25 km, catching up again, then falling back once more before dropping out at 29 km.

Kipruto took charge when the last of the pacers stopped at 30 km, his sustained surge steadily thinning the numbers.  With 10 km to go it was down to 7, Kipruto and Mwangi up front with Jufar and Fujiwara's teammate Suehiro Ishikawa (Team Honda) in the front row and Fujiwara, London Olympian Ryo Yamamoto (Team Sagawa Express) and relative unknown Kohei Matsumura (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) right behind.  Fujiwara went to the front 2 km later, getting a gap on Matsumura and Mwangi.  Both fought their way back, and at 37 km Mwangi and Kipruto attacked and dropped Matsumura and Yamamoto.

The five men left stuck together a short while, but the sustained pace of the two leaders was too much for 2:11 man Ishikawa, and shortly after he lost touch Fujiwara also began to slip, then Mwangi.  At 40 km Jufar made a move, but Kipruto was ready and answered.  Onto the track together, Jufar moved again with 400 m to go.  Again Kipruto was ready, staying on the Ethiopian's heels and going into the lead for the last time coming off the final corner.  Mwangi and Fujiwara each pushed on alone to clear 2:09.  A short distance back the fast-closing Yamamoto caught Ishikawa, the pair dueling over the final kilometers and Yamamoto coming out ahead despite Ishikawa running a two-minute PB.

Matsumura also held on for a PB in 2:10:12, holding off 2008 Tokyo Marathon winner Viktor Rothlin (Switzerland).  Yamamoto, Ishikawa and Matsumura all ran well a month ago at the Marugame Half, an indicator of its importance to the Japanese marathon season.  2008 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon winner Tomoya Adachi (Team Asahi Kasei) ran a PB 2:10:22 for 9th, with Hideaki Tamura (Team JR Higashi Nihon) rounding out the top ten with a solid 2:10:54 PB just ahead of Fujiwara and Ishikawa's teammate Ryosuke Fukuyama (Team Honda) in a 2:10:59 PB.

Post-race Kipruto was happy with his performance, his first time under 2:10 since 2011, but said he had trouble with the cold wind.  Fujiwara was all smiles, finally getting back to 2:08 after ten years.  How many people have had that kind of career trajectory?  A 2:08:12 debut in college, almost ten years of 2:12 marathons, a 2:11 last fall, then at last at age 31, from the depths of the general division following through on the promise of his debut with a World Championships place on the line.  How good must that have felt?  You could almost see the joy radiating out of him.

Fujiwara's 2:08:51 at 4th place overall means Japan's current probable lineup for the Moscow World Championships is:
  • Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) - 2:08:00 - PB (4th, Beppu-Oita)
  • Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Prefecture Gov't) - 2:08:15 - PB (1st, Beppu-Oita)
  • Hiroyuki Horibata (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:08:24 - PB (2nd, Fukuoka)
  • Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 2:08:35 - PB (2nd Beppu-Oita)
  • Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda) - 2:08:51 (4th, Lake Biwa)
Three of them were on the last World Championships team, Horibata and Nakamoto making the top ten in Daegu and Nakamoto also finishing 6th at the London Olympics.  But it's not over yet.  The London and Boston Marathons remain in the team selection process, and at least one promising man, Nakamoto's teammate Bunta Kuroki (Team Yasukawa Denki), is slated to run London.  Kuroki has been on the same kind of steady improvement curve since his debut as Nakamoto, setting up a situation where he may well run 2:08.  If he is faster than them, who will be cut, Nakamoto or Fujiwara?  Regardless, a team with five 2:08 men, four of them running 2:08 for the second time to get there, would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.  The fact that this scenario is possible says a good deal about the rebound of Japanese men's marathoning.  It's a shame the powers that be have done away with the team medals.

68th Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon
Otsu, Shiga, 3/3/13
click here for complete results

1. Vincent Kipruto (Kenya) - 2:08:34
2. Tariku Jufar (Ethiopia) - 2:08:37
3. James Mwangi (Kenya/Team NTN) - 2:08:48
4. Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda) - 2:08:51
5. Ryo Yamamoto (Team Sagawa Express) - 2:09:06
6. Suehiro Ishikawa (Team Honda) - 2:09:10 - PB
7. Kohei Matsumura (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) - 2:10:12 - PB
8. Viktor Rothlin (Switzerland) - 2:10:18
9. Tomoya Adachi (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:10:22 - PB
10. Hideaki Tamura (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:10:54 - PB
11. Ryosuke Fukuyama (Team Honda) - 2:10:59 - PB
12. Noritaka Fujiyama (Team Sumitomo Denko) - 2:11:34 - PB
13. Aleksey Reunkov (Russia) - 2:11:41
14. Masashi Hayashi (Team Yakult) - 2:12:17
15. Masayuki Obata (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 2:13:17 - PB
16. Yoshihiro Yamamoto (Team Toyota Boshoku) - 2:13:22 - debut
17. Dishon Karukuwa Maina (Kenya/Team Aisan Kogyo) - 2:13:38
18. Kazuki Ikenaga (Team Konica Minolta) - 2:13:52
19. Yoshiaki Shiota (Team Toyota Boshoku) - 2:14:10 - debut
20. Koji Kobyashi (Team Subaru) - 2:14:11
21. Abderrahim Bouramdane (Morocco) - 2:14:14
22. Makoto Fukui (Team Fujitsu) - 2:14:18
23. Tomoyuki Morita (Team Kanebo) - 2:14:23
24. Tomoyuki Kawakami (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) - 2:14:36 - PB
25. Koji Matsuoka (Team Mazda) - 2:14:42
26. Nobuhiro Nakao (Team Honda) - 2:14:57 - debut
27. Yasushi Yamamoto (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:15:15 - PB
28. Shinobu Kubota (Komazawa Univ.) - 2:15:48 - debut
29. Makoto Iwase (SDF Academy) - 2:16:03
30. Takashi Horiguchi (Team Honda) - 2:16:34

DNF - Peter Kirui (Kenya)
DNF - Paulo Roberto Paula (Brazil)
DNF - Atsushi Fujita (Team Fujitsu)

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Saturday, March 2, 2013

London Olympian Shigetomo Out of Nagoya Women's Marathon

http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/20130301/ath13030117480001-n1.html

translated by Brett Larner

Representatives of the Mar. 10 Nagoya Women's Marathon, the final domestic selection race for August's World Championships in Moscow, announced on Mar. 1 that London Olympian Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) has withdrawn due to pain in her left leg and elsewhere.  While training in the United States in February she developed problems with her left leg's plantar fascia and calf.

Shigetomo finished 79th in the London Olympics after winning the 2012 Osaka International Women's Marathon in the fastest Japanese time of the year.  In the statement released by Nagoya organizers she said, "I'm very disappointed not to be able to run.  I want to recover from this as soon as I can and get back on the starting line."

Friday, March 1, 2013

Ceiling Lights Are Strange



Today JRN leaves its home base in Tomigaya for new digs a short walk away.  Yoyogi Highland Mansion has been our home since before JRN began and we've loved being here.  We're not entirely sure it's the right decision to move, but regardless of how it plays out Highland has been the kind of place we've always wanted to be.  Thanks for six mostly good years.