Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from October, 2014

Komazawa Shooting for Fourth-Straight Title at National University Ekiden - Preview (updated)

by Brett Larner

update: Alternates have been confirmed for the final start list.  As expected, Komazawa's Kenta Murayama will be on First Stage and Toyo's Yuma Hattori on Second (see below).

The weekend's biggest race next to the TCS New York City Marathon is Sunday's National University Men's Ekiden, an 8-stage, 106.8 race from Nagoya to Ise pitting the 14 best universities in the Kanto Region against the 12 best from the rest of the country in the second stop on the Big Three University Ekiden tour that leads to Japan's biggest sporting event, the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden.  With the first of the Big Three, October's Izumo Ekiden, having been cancelled this season thanks to a major typhoon and big performances at the Yosenkai 20 km Hakone qualifier, where the field set new world records for depth and Josai University senior Kota Murayama ran the fastest-ever time there by a Japanese athlete, 58:26, it's safe to say that the millions of college distance r…

Twelve Universities Confirmed for Mount Fuji Women's Ekiden

http://www.fuji-news.net/data/report/sports/201410/0000003415.html

translated by Brett Larner

On Oct. 27 twelve of the twenty university teams to compete in the Dec. 23 Mount Fuji Women's Ekiden national invitational were announced.  The top twelve placing teams at last weekend's National University Women's Ekiden in Sendai received invitations to race the Mount Fuji Women's Ekiden:
Ritsumeikan UniversityDaito Bunka UniversityOsaka Gakuin UniversityMatsuyama UniversityKanoya Taiiku UniversityKyoto Sangyo UniversityMeijo UniversityFukuoka UniversityTokyo Nogyo UniversitySaitama UniversityHakuoh UniversityBukkyo University Six of the remaining spots will go to other schools with the fastest average official 5000 m times and will be determined by Dec. 1.  On Dec. 5 two select teams will also be announced, one from East Japan featuring members of other universities from the Hokkaido, Tohoku, Kanto and Hoku-Shinetsu regions and one from West Japan featuring members of schools…

Makau, Mathathi, Gitau and Nakamoto Headline Fukuoka International Marathon

by Brett Larner

For its first running following the launch of the new mass-participation Fukuoka Marathon on Nov. 9, the hallowed Fukuoka International Marathon has pulled in former world record holder Patrick Makau (Kenya) to make a go at a comeback against 2013 winner Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and surprise 2012 winner Joseph Gitau (Kenya/Team JFE Steel) in its 68th edition on Dec. 7.  Until this summer Makau hadn't run at quality over any distance since 2012, but a sub-28 road 10k in the U.S.A. in August suggests he has been getting back toward full fitness, something he'll need to bring to compete against Mathathi and Gitau.  2:06:24 Ethiopian Raji Assefa is a potential darkhorse, #2 on paper but without a good marathon to his name since running his PB in 2012.

Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki), 6th in the London Olympics and 5th in the Moscow World Championships, leads the domestic hopes alongside 2:08 Moscow teammate Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda), t…

Unstoppable Ritsumeikan University Wins Fourth-Straight National University Women's Ekiden Title - Weekend Road Review

by Brett Larner

With ekiden season in full swing it was the busiest weekend so far this fall as high schools across Japan competed in regional qualifiers for December's National High School Ekiden.  At the university level, the dynastic Ritsumeikan University women led start to finish to win their fourth-straight National University Women's Ekiden, bringing the school's total record to nine national titles.  With the last team to have beaten them, crosstown Kyoto rival Bukkyo University, having faded away following the departure of head coach Kenichi Morikawa for the Yamada Denki corporate women's team and Kanto Region rivals Tsukuba University likewise a ghost of their former selves with the decline of twin stars Haruka and Moe Kyuma, it fell to last year's runner-up Daito Bunka University to give Ritsumeikan a go for the title.

DBU's leading runner Rina Koeda was only a second behind Ritsumeikan's Natsuki Omori to get things off to a promising start, but …

Plans Announced to Move Yokohama International Women's Marathon to Saitama With Mass-Participation Race

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20141024-OHT1T50300.html

translated by Brett Larner

On Oct. 24 it was announced that plans are in their final stages for a successor event to the Yokohama International Women's Marathon, facing its final running on Nov. 16, to be held in Saitama beginning next year.  The new event is planned as a joint operation between the Saitama metropolitan and Saitama prefectural governments with a course beginning and ending at Saitama Super Arena.  With a cherished history as a selection race for Olympic and World Championships teams, the women's marathon will be born again in Saitama.

According to a Saitama metropolitan government official, the new event's first running is planned for mid-November, 2015.  The proposal for the race to begin and end at Saitama Super Arena is the current favorite, with the course passing Saitama Stadium, the Saitama Prefectural Government offices and Saitama City Hall.  The JAAF has also weighed in, saying, "We wo…

Yokohama International Women's Marathon to be Discontinued After November's Sixth Running

http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/20141022/ath14102221220003-n1.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On Oct. 22 the organizers of the Nov. 16 Yokohama International Women's Marathon revealed that the event, jointly operated by the JAAF and the Asahi Newspaper group, will be discontinued after this year's sixth running due to ongoing financial difficulties with the race.  As a continuation of the former Tokyo International Women's Marathon it played an important role in establishing the prosperity of Japanese women's distance running over its 36-year history, a history on which the curtain is now set to fall after this year's race.

Established in 1979 to encourage the participation and development of female athletes, the Tokyo International Women's Marathon was the first women-only marathon in the world to be officially certified by the IAAF and led directly to the introduction of a women's marathon to the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.  It laid the foundat…

Comparing the Incomparable: The Wisconsin adidas Invitational Cross-Country Meet and the Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai 20 km Road Race

by Brett Larner
videos by sk002000 and naoki620



The world's two leading university men's distance running systems each held some of their fall seasons' major events this weekend.  In the U.S.A.'s NCAA, 36 university teams lined up at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational 8 km cross-country meet, with other top teams competing at the Pre-Nats meet later in the weekend.  In Japan's KGRR, the 11th through 58th ranked university teams in the Kanto Region were at the Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai 20 km road race, with the top 10 teams in the region scattered elsewhere on the track and road.



It's not really fair to compare cross-country to road racing and even less so to compare 8 km to 20 km, but how do the results from Wisconsin and the Yosenkai look in relation to each other despite the inequalities?  Click to enlarge the tables below to find out.


In NCAA cross-country, teams run 7 men with the top 5 placers scoring. Team scores are based on placing instead of time, creating…

Ngandu Repeats at Takashimadaira 20 km

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20141019-1384249.html

translated by Brett Larner

1229 people ran in the 39th edition of the Takashimadaira Nikkan Sports Road Race Oct. 19 on a 5 km loop course in Takashimadaira, Tokyo.  In the men's open division, last year's winner Benjamin Ngandu (23, Team Monteroza) ran solo from the first lap to defend his title in 1:00:01.  His next race is the Dec. 7 Fukuoka Marathon, where he made an unsuccessful debut last year.  "This year I want to break 2:10," he said with conviction.

39th Takashimadaira Nikkan Sports Road Race
Takashimadaira, Tokyo, 10/19/14

Men's 20 km
1. Benjamin Ngandu (Kenya/Team Monteroza) - 1:00:01
2. Shohei Hayakawa (Teikyo Univ.) - 1:00:14
3. Yuta Takahashi (Teikyo Univ.) - 1:00:21
4. Yusei Tsutsumi (Teikyo Univ.) - 1:00:22
5. Takayuki Tsuchiya (Tokai Univ.) - 1:00:29
6. Hiroki Takemoto (Teikyo Univ.) - 1:00:30
7. Kenta Ando (Tokai Univ.) - 1:00:38
8. Kodai Matsushita (Chuo Gakuin Univ.)…

Feeling Free Despite Hate Mail Burying Him at Work, Kawauchi Wins Chiba Aqualine Half

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20141019-00000091-spnannex-spo

translated by Brett Larner

Enough with the hate mail.  Marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (27, Saitama Pref. Gov't) returned to the Chiba Aqualine Marathon, where he is the course record holder, to run its half marathon on Oct. 19, winning in 1:04:22 and beating 2nd place by more than 5 minutes.  "I had fun today!  I was grinning the whole time I was running," he said with a smile.  "I held my pace steadily and even picked it up at the end."

His shot for a gold medal in the Asian Games marathon ending in bronze, Kawauchi has excused himself from running any of the domestic selection races for the Japanese team for next summer's World Championships marathon in Beijing, China.  Taking himself out of contention for the national team for the time being has lightened Kawauchi's load and left him feeling free.  "Up to now I've always had to worry about my time and place when I ran," he said w…

Fearless Murayama Front-Runs to Fastest-Ever Japanese Win at Yosenkai 20 km (updated)

by Brett Larner
videos by naoki620

After hammering each other to rare Japanese collegiate sub-3:40 PBs to go 1-2 in last month's National University Track & Field Championships 1500 m, defending Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai 20 km winner Enock Omwamba (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) and last year's top Japanese finisher Kota Murayama (Josai University) were back at it to turn this year's race into a two-man show.



The qualifying race for the second tier of schools trying to make it into the Hakone Ekiden, Japan's most prestigious race, the Yosenkai is the world's biggest and most competitive 20 km.  Kenyan Omwamba won last year in 57:57, with Murayama 4th overall in 59:17.  This time Omwamba took things out fast enough, leading a front group including Hironori Tsuetaki (Chuo Gakuin Univ.) and first-year Kenyans Stanley Siteki (Tokyo Kokusai Univ.) and Lazarus Motanya (Obirin Univ.) through a 2:50 km as Murayama sat a stride or two back at the front of the 2nd pack.

Just befor…

University Ekiden Season Round Two At the World's #1 20 km - Yosenkai Preview

by Brett Larner



The Japanese university ekiden season, the highlight of the year for distance fans, peaks with the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden, Japan's biggest and best race.  Hakone determines everything for the following year, with the top 10 of its 20 teams guaranteed a place on the starting lines of both the next Hakone and the season-starting Izumo Ekiden.  For the bottom 10 it means their season gets going a week at the Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai, a 20 km qualifying road race in and around Tokyo's Showa Kinen Park where they must face off against 40 to 50 other university teams joining the ranks of the Hakone-bound and where school cheerleaders and marching bands and tens of thousands of fans bearing school color flags assemble before a live TV broadcast to create one of the greatest race atmospheres in the sport.

With the first-ever cancellation of the Izumo Ekiden last weekend after a typhoon swept through race day, the millions of ekiden fans across the country are eager fo…

London Olympic Gold Medalist Tiki Gelana Leads Yokohama International Women's Marathon Elite Field

by Brett Larner

The 6th running of the Yokohama International Women's Marathon brings in a good field headed by formerly Japan-based London Olympic marathon gold medalist Tiki Gelana (Ethiopia), lending credibility to its struggle to remain relevant.  The equally formerly Japan-based Philes Ongori (Kenya) tops a trio of 2:23 women including Caroline Rotich (Kenya) and Olena Shurkhno (Ukraine) who should give Gelana a swing of it, with Marisa Barros (Portugal), 2014 Nagano Marathon winner Alina Prokopeva (Russia), Irvette Van Zyl (South Africa) and, welcomed back to Yokohama again after her drug suspension, Zivile Balciunaite (Lithuania), rounding out the international field in Yokohama's usual boutique style.

The Japanese field is thin, with only three or four contenders for the top ten.  Independent 2014 Hokkaido Marathon winner Azusa Nojiri (Hiratsuka Lease) is the top Japanese woman on paper, but the better bet to factor into the race is her former teammate Tomomi Tanaka (T…

Izumo Ekiden Organizers Lose $1,000,000 in Typhoon Cancellation

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/society/news/2014/10/14/kiji/K20141014009096510.html
http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2014/10/13/kiji/K20141013009095960.html
http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20141013-OHT1T50215.html?from

translated and edited by Brett Larner

After making landfall Oct. 13 in Makurazaki, Kagoshima and travelling across Kyushu, the massive Typhoon #19 again struck land in Sukumo, Kochi.  On the morning of the 14th its status was downgraded as it headed back out to sea in the northeast.  JR Nishi Nihon cancelled all trains in the Kinki region the afternoon of the 13th, and other events including a concert by Namie Amuro were also cancelled one after another.  At the time of writing 82 people had been injured in the typhoon, with one person missing.

Shimane prefecture, the birthplace of tennis star Kei Nishikori and having just celebrated the royal wedding of the Izumo Oyashiro shrine's Kunimaro Senge and Princess Noriko, was hit by unexpected flooding.  One of the conse…

Izumo Ekiden Cancelled Due to Typhoon #19

by Brett Larner

After an initial announcement at 8:00 a.m. that the 26th running of the Izumo Ekiden, the first major race of the university men's ekiden season, would go ahead as scheduled in the face of the approaching Typhoon #19 with the possibility of later cancellation in the event of worsening conditions, the IUAU issued a statement at 10:15 a.m. that the race had been cancelled.
Because rapidly changing weather conditions mean that we cannot guarantee the safety of athletes and volunteers, we hereby cancel the 26th running of the Izumo National University Invitational Ekiden. The cancellation was the first in Izumo's history and the first time that one of the Big Three University Ekidens, Izumo, the National University Men's Ekiden and the Hakone Ekiden, have been cancelled since Hakone was suspended during World War II.  Last year Izumo narrowly escaped the same fate when a large typhoon hit Japan the day after the race.

Weekend Track Roundup - A National Record for Suzuki, Fast Veterans and Faster High Schoolers

by Brett Larner

Japan's track circuit was busier than usual this weekend with the move of the National Corporate Track and Field Championships from mid-September this year along with time trial meets nationwide as teams prepare for ekiden season.  At the Corporate Championships, Team Kyudenko's Kenyan ringers Selly Chepyego Kaptich and Paul Tanui were the stars of the show, doubling with wins in the fastest heats of the 5000 m and 10000 m.  Chepyego, the Copenhagen World Half Marathon bronze medalist started things off on Friday night with a 31:38.54 win over Asian Games 10000 m bronze medalist Ayumi Hagiwara (Team Uniqlo), who ran a PB 31:41.80, the best time this year by a Japanese woman, to lead three Japanese women under the Beijing World Championships standard of 32:00.00.  Chepyego returned Sunday to win the 5000 m in 15:14.45 just ahead of ascendant first-year pro Ayuko Suzuki (Team JP Post) whose 15:14.96 was also the best this year by a Japanese woman.  Hagiwara took …

Following His Own Road, Kawauchi Starts Next Phase With Win in Kitami

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2014/10/13/kiji/K20141013009092370.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The civil servant runner has pushed the reset button.  In his first race since his Asian Games men's marathon bid ended in a bronze medal nine days ago, Yuki Kawauchi (27, Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran the Kitami Half Marathon in Kitami, Hokkaido on Sunday, crossing the line first in 1:04:33.  Because he missed winning the gold medal at the Asian Games and its accompanying place on the Japanese team for next summer's World Championships in Beijing, China, Kawauchi will sit out the rest of the domestic selection races for the Beijing team.  Instead he will next race November's New York City Marathon, following his own route to becoming a better athlete.

Chicago Marathon - Japanese Results

photo c/o Dr. Helmut Winter

Japanese results in this year's Chicago Marathon were pretty consistent with those seen at the Berlin Marathon and at major international half marathons elsewhere this fall.  On average, the five Japanese men in the race ran 4:18 slower than their PBs, with Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) the closest at 2:48 off his best.  National Team members Koji Kobayashi (Team Subaru) and Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei) ran 2:11:43 and 2:15:25.

2014 Chicago Marathon
Chicago, U.S.A., 10/12/14
click here for complete results

Men
1. Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya) - 2:04:11
2. Sammy Kitwara (Kenya) - 2:04:28
3. Dickson Chumba (Kenya) - 2:04:32
4. Kenenisa Bekele (Ethiopia) - 2:05:51
5. Bernard Koech (Kenya) - 2:08:30
6. Ghirmay Ghebreslassie (Eritrea) - 2:09:08
7. Lani Rutto (Kenya) - 2:10:42
8. Wesley Korir (Kenya) - 2:11:09
9. Bobby Curtis (U.S.A.) - 2:11:20
10. Koji Kobayashi (Japan/Team Subaru) - 2:11:43
-----
16. Naoki Okamoto (Japan/Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:15:19
17…

Chicago Marathon - Japanese Elites

by Brett Larner
photo by Dr. Helmut Winter

Five Japanese men and one woman are scheduled to run Sunday's Chicago Marathon led by two members of the Japanese Federation's new National Team project, Koji Kobayashi (Team Subaru) and Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei).  Coached by 2:08:49 marathoner Wataru Okutani, Kobayashi has been improving gradually since his 2:12:52 debut at the 2012 Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon, running 2:10:40 in Chicago later that year and 2:11:31 the next in Berlin before taking it down to 2:08:51 in Tokyo this spring.  Sasaki, a graduate of Daito Bunka University and guided by the legendary Takeshi Soh, has progressed even more steadily since his 2:14:00 debut in 2009, outrunning Daegu World Championships silver medalist Vincent Kipruto (Kenya) for 2nd in 2:09:47 at March's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon.  Of the 146 sub-2:10 marathons run so far by Japanese men only 22 have ever been done outside Japan, but although they will likely end up running most o…

Komazawa Ready to Repeat as Ivies Set for Izumo Ekiden Top Eight - Preview

by Brett Larner



As XC season rolls on for their NCAA counterparts, Japan's collegiate men get moving Monday with the first of the Big Three University Ekidens, the Izumo Ekiden. A six-leg road relay with an average length of 7.52 km, Izumo features the top ten teams from Japan's biggest race, the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden, all based in the Tokyo-area Kanto Region, six schools from western Japan, four select teams from other parts of the country, and one select team of Ivy League graduates from the U.S.

The weekend after Izumo, Kanto Region universities that didn't make Hakone's top ten race in Tokyo's Showa Kinen Park at the Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai 20 km qualifier, where another ten will go on to Hakone glory.  The first weekend in November the best of Kanto and the rest of the country race from Nagoya to Ise at the eight-leg, 106.8 km National University Men's Ekiden Championships, the second of the Big Three.  Two weeks later most of the twenty schools running H…

Hakone Ekiden Course Shortened 800 m After Changes and Remeasurement

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/ekiden/2015/news/20141008-OYT1T50130.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On Oct. 8 the Inter-University Athletic Union of Kanto(KGRR) announced that a remeasurement of the complete Hakone Ekiden course undertaken following changes to its Fifth and Sixth Stages due to new road construction revealed a discrepancy between the Seventh Stage's listed distance and actual distance, and that with the changes the distance actually run would be a total of nearly 800 m shorter than in past years.  The official new distance of the Hakone Ekiden will thus change from 217.9 km to 217.1 km.

The KGRR had previously announced that due to the changes on the Fifth and Sixth Stages, their stage records along with the Day One record, Day Two record and Overall record would all be considered historical marks with the official records to be rewritten at the 2015 race.  The KGRR clarified that the records of other stages that had not undergone course changes would be …

Asian Games Silver Medalist Matsumura Appears at Press Conference Following Return to Japan

http://www.ktn.co.jp/news/2014/10/%E3%82%A2%E3%82%B8%E3%82%A2%E5%A4%A7%E4%BC%9A%E9%99%B8%E4%B8%8A%E3%81%A7%E9%8A%80%E3%81%AE%E6%9D%BE%E6%9D%91%E9%81%B8%E6%89%8B%E3%81%8C%E4%BC%9A%E8%A6%8B.php

translated by Brett Larner

The silver medal winner in the Asian Games men's marathon that took place Oct. 3 in Incheon, South Korea, Kohei Matsumura (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) took part in a press conference Oct.6 at Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki Shipyard and Machinery Works following his return to Japan.

Speaking three days after the Asian Games race where he was the top Japanese finisher and won the silver medal, Matsumura said, "More than happiness the main thing I feel is disappointment," the 1-second margin between him and gold at the forefront of his mind.  "I was targeting the win, so even when I actually received the medal at the ceremony I only felt disappointment.  As time goes by that feeling is only getting stronger, to my disappointment."

The Asian Games were M…

Asian Games Medalists Matsumura and Kawauchi Return to Japan

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2014/10/04/kiji/K20141004009042500.html
http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/asia/2014/news/p-sp-tp0-20141004-1377183.html
http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2014/10/04/kiji/K20141004009044120.html
http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/asia/2014/news/f-sp-tp0-20141005-1377940.html
http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2014/10/04/kiji/K20141004009042480.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner



Following the closing ceremonies of the Incheon Asian Games on Oct. 4, marathoners Kohei Matsumura (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) and Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) returned to Japan the afternoon of Oct. 5 with the main group of the Japanese delegation.  JAAF Director of Men's Marathoning Takeshi Soh commented, "Neither of them ran spectacularly.  They didn't seem to have much confidence."

In his international debut Matsumura won the silver medal in just his fourth marathon.  "I was going for gold, so I'm completely disappo…