Skip to main content

University Runners Feature in Rest of March's Races

by Brett Larner

With Japan's fiscal and academic year wrapping up at the end of March the majority of the country's corporate runners are in a holding pattern until track season gets underway in April.  Collegiate runners dominate what's left of the season, with Sunday's National University Women's Half Marathon Championships, held in conjunction with the Matsue Ladies' Half Marathon and 10 km, marking the last major domestic race of the season. Winning times at the National Championships have been in the 71-minute range the last few years.  The lack of a World University Games this year could bring down that leading edge, but if the record-setting depth at last week's National University Men's Half Marathon Championships was any indication the women's race should still be deeply competitive.

2013 Ageo City Half Marathon winner Takashi Ichida (Daito Bunka University) and 2013 National University Track and Field Championships 1500 m winner Ikuto Yufu (Komazawa University) represent Japan's university men this weekend at the NYC Half Marathon, the third time top-level Japanese collegiates have run NYC through a relationship set up by JRN between NYC and Ageo.  Ichida hopes to run sub-62 for the first time, with Yufu targeting a time better than his younger Komazawa teammate Kenta Murayama's 1:02:02 at last year's NYC Half.  Look for more on Ichida and Yufu in New York on JRN over the next few days.

Further ahead, Ichida's twin brother Hiroshi Ichida (Daito Bunka University) and Yufu's teammate Shota Baba (Komazawa University) lead the four-man Japanese team for next weekend's World University Cross Country Championships in Entebbe, Uganda, with Daito Bunka's Fuyuka Kimura also featuring prominently on the women's team.

A week later, Murayama, now all-time Japanese #3 over the half marathon with a best of 1:00:50 at age 20, his Komazawa teammate and 2013 World University Games half marathon bronze medalist Shogo Nakamura, and Hiroto Inoue (Yamanashi Gakuin University), with a 1:01:39 best making him the fastest-ever Japanese 21-year-old, make up the lion's share of the Japanese men's team for the Copenhagen World Half Marathon Championships.  Another Komazawa grad, last year's 5000 m national champion Sota Hoshi (Team Fujitsu), and Masato Kikuchi (Team Konica Minolta), both sub-1:01:30 men, round out the team, but hopes are high throughout Japan that Murayama, freshly 21, will lead the way with a mark well under the current Japanese national record of 1:00:25. The all-corporate women's team is relatively weaker, with only Reia Iwade (Team Noritz) having cleared the 70-minute mark in her career to date, running a best of 1:09:45 at December's Sanyo Women's Half Marathon to make the Copenhagen team.

For those craving their Yuki Kawauchi fix, Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) is lining up in half marathons both this weekend and next, running his home ground Saitama City Half Marathon this weekend and the Ogori Half Marathon a week later.  Kawauchi's rival independent Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) will also line up in Saitama's 3 km race.

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved


Most-Read This Week

Kawauchi and Kiyara Live Up to Expectations With Wan Jin Shi Wins

Returning to Taiwan's Wan Jin Shi Marathon after having first run it in 2016, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran 2:14:12 to score his fourth-straight marathon win in a third-straight wire-to-wire solo performance. Choosing the hilly Wan Jin Shi Marathon as his final main tuneup for next month's Boston Marathon, Kawauchi came out swinging, leading an all-African pack of seven by almost 10 seconds after the tough uphill opening 5 km and stretching that out to over two minutes by the turnaround point at halfway.

On track to break the 2:13:05 course record by more than two minutes. under sunny skies with temperatures climbing to 22C and nearly 80% humidity Kawauchi began to slow incrementally. Behind him, Johnstone Kibet Maiyo (Kenya) and Aredome Tiuyay Degefa (Ethiopia) separated from the chase pack and began to push each other in pursuit of the top spot. With every 5 km split the gap to Kawauchi narrowed. At 40 km Maiyo threw down to get rid of Degefa, blasting the dow…

Kawauchi and Kiyara Headline Wan Jin Shi Marathon

Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) returns to Taiwan's Wan Jin Shi Marathon this Sunday for his marathon of the post-Yuta Shitara era. The runner-up in Wan Jin Shi in 2016, Kawauchi is ranked #1 in the field and comes to Wan Jin Shi with wins in his last three marathons but faces a solid field including fellow sub-2:10 man Peter Kiplagat Sitenei, last year's runner-up Tsegaye Debele (Ethiopia), and the only man to beat him last time around, 2016 winner and course record holder William Chebon Chebor (Kenya). Kawauchi plans to use the hilly race as a tune-up for his main marathon of the spring season, April's Boston Marathon.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Rael Kiyara Nguriatukei (Kenya), winner of the 2012 Hamburg Marathon before being stripped of her title and suspended for a positive post-race test for norandrosterone, has the fastest recent time in the women's field with a 2:26:22 winning time at last year's Chongqing Marathon. Close behind is Chemtai …

1500 m Olympian Assefa Wins Nagoya, 22-Year-Old Sekine 2:23:07 Debut

Two-time 1500 m Olympian Meskerem Assefa (Ethiopia) ran down favorite Valary Jemeli (Kenya) with 4 km to go to win the 2018 Nagoya Women's Marathon, with the home town crowd wowed by the debut of the latest next big thing, 22-year-old Hanami Sekine (Japan Post).

Supported by three pacers, a lead pack of seven including Assefa, Jemeli, Sekine, Ethiopian Bahraini Merima Mohamed, Saitama International Marathon winner Flomena Cheyech Daniel (Kenya) and top-ranked Japanese women Reia Iwade (Dome) and Rei Ohara (Tenmaya) went through halfway in a decent 1:11:32. This proved too hot for a few of the past next big things to have run well in Nagoya the last few years, as Sairi Maeda (Daihatsu), 2:22:48 in Nagoya three years ago, and Mao Kiyota (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), 2:23:47 last year, were off the back of the pack in the first 10 km.

By 25 km Cheyech, Ohara and Iwade joined them off the back, leaving only Sekine in contention with the African trio of Jemeli, Assefa and Mohammed. Sekine, a…