Tuesday, April 29, 2014

World Leads and a Strong Run from Kiryu at Oda Memorial, Plus a National Record

by Brett Larner
videos by okukon

With the Tuesday national holiday making it something of a perforated long weekend it was a busy one on the Japanese track circuit with a national record and a handful of world-leading performances.

Decathlon national record holder Keisuke Ushiro (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) topped the list with a new national record at the decathlon National Championships on the 26th and 27th in Wakayama.  On track to break his old record by more than 100 points at the end of the first day, Ushiro continued strong the second day.  With a solid 1500 m announcers predicted 8300 could be in range, but with just a 4:45:53 Ushiro came in with a breakable new record of 8143 that put him 4th in the world so far this season and left him the potential for more.



Shortly after Ushiro's record, relative unknown Bernard Kimani (Kenya/Team Yakult) brought the first world-leading mark of the weekend with a 13:18.92 to win the Nittai University Time Trials 5000 m A-heat, a quick heat that saw three Japanese collegiates, Ken Yokote and Shuho Dairokuno of Meiji University and Hikaru Kato of hosts Nittai go under 13:50 for the first time.

Kimani's world lead lasted only 48 hours before it went down at the Tuesday holiday's biggest event, the 48th Oda Memorial Meet.  James Mwangi (Kenya/Team NTN) raced Berlin World Championships 10000 m bronze medalist Paul Tanui (Kenya/ Team Kyudenko) throughout the Grand Prix 5000 m, pulling away at the end to clear Kimani's time and get the win in a new world-leader of 13:18.35 to Tanui's 13:19.88.  Tanui's teammate, 2014 World Half Marathon Championships bronze medalist Sally Chepyego Kaptich (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) had an easy win in the women's 5000 m in 15:15.80, top-ranked Japanese Kasumi Nishihara (Team Yamada Denki) running down Kenyans Felista Wanjugu (Team Univ. Ent.) and Pauline Kamulu (Team Toto) for 2nd in 15:31.28.



Returning to the meet where he last year ran the 10.01 that made him famous, teen sprinter Yoshihide Kiryu (Toyo Univ.) generated a large amount of buzz early on at the Oda Memorial Meet when he ran 10.10 (+2.0) to win his heat.  With Kiryu looking under control and his London Olympics teammates Kei Takase (Team Fujitsu), 10.14 (+2.6), and Ryota Yamagata (Keio Univ.), 10.19 (+2.4), also qualifying there was great excitement about what Kiryu might do in the final, but with ten minutes to go it was announced that he had scratched with no immediate word on his situation.  Takase stepped up with a 10.13 (+0.7) PB for the win, earning himself a place in the all-time Japanese top ten.



The biggest surprise of the meet came in the men's javelin, where 22-year-old Ryohei Arai (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), a junior training partner of Berlin World Championships bronze medalist Yukifumi Murakami (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), threw a series of massive PBs to take the win and the top position in the world. Coming in to the meet with a best of 78.21 from when he was 19, Arai threw a world-leading PB of 84.06 on his second throw.  His third throw was even better, a massive 85.48 that put him well ahead of the rest of the competition at the meet, well clear into the #1 position in the world so far this year, and within sight of the national record.  He cleared 82 on his next throw but the 85.48 was enough to secure him the win and establish him as another potential new star in the thriving Japanese athletics world.



(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Monday, April 28, 2014

World Championships Marathon Team Sizes Reduced By Two Athletes Per Country

http://runnet.jp/mrnews/detail/1989671_1786.html

translated by Brett Larner

Until now marathon teams at the World Championships have consisted of a maximum of five athletes per country, but on Apr. 27 it was announced that this will be reduced to three per country beginning with the August, 2015 Beijing World Championships.  The decision came at a mid-April meeting of the IAAF executive committee in Dakar, Senegal.

Other events in the World Championships already have a limit of three three athletes per country.  Through the 2011 Daegu World Championships the World Championships marathon also served as the Marathon World Cup team competition, requiring five athletes.  Following the World Cup's discontinuation, countries were still able to enter five athletes for last year's Moscow World Championships marathon.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Kawauchi Lays Out Two Big Goals for Hamburg

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/p-sp-tp0-20140427-1291697.html
http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20140426-1291316.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

2014 Asian Games marathon national team member Yuki Kawauchi (27, Saitama Pref. Gov't) laid out a new goal on Apr. 26: the sub-20 marathon.  To date Kawauchi has run 34 marathons, going sub-20, 2:19:59 or better, in 33 of them and sub-10 in 6. If he runs sub-10 in his next marathon, the May 4 Hamburg Marathon, he will surpass national record holder Toshinari Takaoka to become the Japanese man with the most career sub-10s.  The new goal Kawauchi is adding to Hamburg is something he saw on a website: the Japanese record for most sub-20 marathons. "Apparently Takeshi Soh has the sub-20 record at 34 times," he said.  "Including two races on uncertified courses, I'm going to tie that number in Hamburg."

Just before the interview Kawauchi ran the 1500 m at the Nittai University Time Trials meet.  Running it for some final sharpening of his speed, Kawauchi led most of the way before getting dropped on the last lap and finishing 12th in 3:54.87.  "This was supposed to be practice for the last kick in my marathon.  I wanted them to pull me along so I could see how well I could hang on, but yeah, those college kids used a marathoner like me as a pacer and then threw me away like a piece of trash," he sighed. But despite it not being the outcome he hoped for, he was cheerful and joking around after the race. "Hey," he said, "that was still the second-fastest I've ever run."

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tadese, Mathathi and Karoki to Line Up in Gifu

by Brett Larner

The organizers of the Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon have put together one of the best men's fields in a Japanese half in recent memory for the race's fourth running on May 18.  World record holder Zersenay Tadese (Eritrea) returns after running a course record 1:00:31 last year to beat 2011-2012 winner Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC).  Mathathi is also back to go for a third title after sitting out the London Marathon with a minor injury.  The big addition to the mix is Bedan Karoki (Kenya/DeNA RC), who made a successful transition to longer distances with a 59:58 debut to win the 2014 Lisbon Half despite problems in the early going. Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) joins them under the hour mark as a top contender on paper, but with a recent best of only 1:01:54 it would take a pretty major return to form for him to compete with the three big names.

Also notable is the debut of 27:13 man Edward Waweru (Kenya/Team NTN).  Top Japanese men include Masato Kihara (Team Kanebo), Arata Fujiwara (Miki House), Yusei Nakao (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't).

The women's race looks like an easy win for two-time marathon world champion Edna Kiplagat (Kenya), whose best of 1:08:48 puts her about a kilometer ahead of most of the rest of the competition. Hiroko Shoi (Team Denso) and Eri Okubo (Miki House) look like the only Japanese women capable of competing with the foreign chase pack, which includes Katie McGregor (U.S.A.), Visiline Jepkesho (Kenya) and Miranda Boonstra (Netherlands).

4th Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon Elite Field Highlights
Gifu, 5/18/14
click here for complete elite field

Men
Zersenay Tadese (Eritrea) - 58:23 (Lisbon 2010)
Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 58:56a (Great North Run 2011)
Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) -59:48 (Marugame 2007)
Bedan Karoki (Kenya/DeNA RC) - 59:58 (Lisbon 2014)
Jacob Wanjuki (Kenya/Team Aichi Seiko) - 1:00:32 (Nagoya 2010)
Abayneh Ayele (Ethiopia/Team Mazda) - 1:00:51 (Delhi Half 2010)
Masato Kihara (Team Kanebo) - 1:01:15 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2012)
Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) - 1:01:34 (Marugame 2012)
Patrick Muendo Muwaka (Kenya/Team Aisan Kogyo) - 1:01:57 (Gifu Seiryu 2013)
Takahiro Yamanaka (Team Honda) - 1:01:57 (Marugame 2012)
Masamichi Shinozaki (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) - 1:01:58 (Marugame 2012)
Yusei Nakao (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:02:00 (Sendai 2008)
Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 1:02:18 (Marugame 2012)
Edward Waweru (Kenya/Team NTN) - debut - 27:13.94 (Fukuroi 2010)
Macharia Ndirangu (Kenya/Team Aichi Seiko) - debut - 27:59.11 (Fukagawa 2013)

Women
Edna Kiplagat (Kenya) - 1:08:48 (Lisbon 2013)
Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC) - 1:10:16 (Miyazaki Women's 2006)
Hiroko Shoi (Team Denso) - 1:10:48 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2010)
Eri Okubo (Miki House) - 1:11:22 (Ichinoseki 2011)
Katie McGregor (U.S.A.) - 1:11:45 (Las Vegas 2011)
Visiline Jepkesho (Kenya) - 1:11:50 (Darica 2013)
Miranda Boonstra (Netherlands) - 1:13:04 (Venlo 2010)
Yuki Sakata (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:13:14 (Marugame 2013)
Yuko Mizuguchi (Team Denso) - 1:13:27 (Nat'l Univ. Women's Half 2008)
Shoko Shimizu (Team Aichi Denki) - 1:13:43 (Marugame 2013)

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Monday, April 21, 2014

Course Records at Kasumigaura and Tokushima Marathons (updated)

by Brett Larner

Two of the three quality Japanese marathons this weekend saw their course records fall, with the third featuring an Eastern European sweep.  At the Nagano Marathon, cross-country great Serhiy Lebid (Ukraine) staged a head-to-head battle with Japan-based Mongolian national record holder Ser-od Bat-Ochir (Team NTN), only pulling away in the final two km to get the win in 2:13:56 to Bat-Ochir's 2:14:04. 2:11 man Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) was 3rd in 2:15:20.  In the women's race Japanese hopeful Rika Shintaku (Team Shimamura) tried to match Russian Alina Prokopeva but fell short.  Prokopeva pushed on steadily at 2:30 pace with only Shintaku for company before pulling away early in the second half for the win in 2:30:56.  Shintaku faded badly to 2:36:02, nearly run down by Shoko Shimizu (Team Aichi Denki) who took 3rd in 2:37:21 off a far more conservative first half.

Kawauchi's silent one-man show at the Tokushima Marathon.  Race starts around 35 minutes.  Watch with music.

At the Tokushima Marathon the iconoclastic Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) came up just shy of Ito's time but still took nearly 7 minutes off the course record to win in 2:15:25.  Running completely solo he set off at a planned 2:12 pace but was forced to take a 3-minute toilet break near 27 km.  Frustrated at the lost time, he recorded one of the fastest closing splits of his career, 6:39 from 40 km to the finish, to win by 8 minutes.  Of his four marathons so far this year this was his third course record, a final tuneup for the May 4 Hamburg Marathon where he hopes to get his fastest time of the season, one well below the 2:10:14 course record he set at February's Kumamoto-jo Marathon.  Tokushima women's winner Chika Tawara (Fukuoka T&F Assoc.) also improved the course record by a wide margin, taking nearly 8 minutes off the old record with a new mark of 2:45:50.


The rest of the show post-pit stop.

At the Boston Marathon, Koichi Sakai (Team Fujitsu) was just seconds off his PB, finishing 14th in 2:14:56.  Hopeful of a solid performance, 2011 Tokyo Marathon women's winner Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal), a teammate of Moscow World Championships marathon bronze medalist Kayoko Fukushi, struggled on the tough Boston course and finished 21st in 2:33:39.

The fastest time of the weekend by a Japanese man came unexpectedly at the Kasumigaura Marathon in Ibaraki prefecture northeast of Tokyo, where Atsushi Hasegawa (Team Subaru) ran a PB 2:14:20 to take over 3 minutes off the race's 12-year-old record, front-running the race from the start to get there.  Women's winner Yumi Sato (Tsuruoka T&F Assoc.) ran a more conservative 2:53:29 for the win, well off Kasumigaura's 2:42:17 women's course record.  In the accompanying ten-miler, sub-2:10 marathoner Masashi Hayashi (Team Yakult) had a narrow win over Hakone Ekiden runner Toshinori Watanabe (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) 48:47 to 48:52, in one of the deepest editions in the race's history.  Ruka Nakamura (Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) took the women's division in 56:53.

16th Nagano Marathon
Nagano, 4/20/14
click here for complete results

Men
1. Serhiy Lebid (Ukraine) - 2:13:56
2. Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Mongolia/Team NTN) - 2:14:04
3. Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:15:20
4. Ryoichi Matsuo (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:15:50
5. Sho Matsumoto (Nikkei Business) - 2:16:36

Women
1. Alina Prokopeva (Russia) - 2:30:56
2. Rika Shintaku (Team Shimamura) - 2:36:02
3. Shoko Shimizu (Team Aichi Denki) - 2:37:21
4. Risa Takemura (Team Kyudenko) - 2:37:43
5. Yumiko Kinoshita (Second Wind AC) - 2:39:38 - PB

24th Kasumigaura Marathon
Tsuchiura, Ibaraki, 4/20/14
complete results coming shortly

Men's Marathon
1. Atsushi Hasegawa (Team Subaru) - 2:14:20 - CR, PB

Women's Marathon
1. Yumi Sato (Tsuruoka T&F Assoc.) - 2:53:29

Men's 10 Miles
1. Masashi Hayashi (Team Yakult) - 48:47
2. Toshinori Watanabe (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 48:52
3. Yuji Serunarudo (Soka Univ.) - 49:04
4. Takuya Nishizawa (Juntendo Univ.) - 49:12
5. Harutomo Kawano (Tokyo Police Dep't) - 49:15

Women's 10 Miles
1. Ruka Nakamura (Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) - 56:53

118th Boston Marathon
Boston, MA, 4/21/14
click here for complete results

Men
1. Meb Keflezighi (U.S.A.) - 2:08:37 - PB
2. Wilson Chebet (Kenya) - 2:08:48
3. Franklin Chepkwony (Kenya) - 2:08:50
4. Vitaliy Shafar (Ukraine) - 2:09:37 - PB
5. Markos Geneti (Ethiopia) - 2:09:50
-----
14. Koichi Sakai (Team Fujitsu) - 2:14:56

Women
1. Rita Jeptoo (Kenya) - 2:18:57 - CR, PB
2. Buzunesh Deba (Ethiopia) - 2:19:59 - (CR) - PB
3. Mare Dibaba (Ethiopia) - 2:20:35 (CR)
4. Jemima Jelagat Sumgong (Kenya) - 2:20:41 (CR) - PB
5. Meselech Melkamu (Ethiopia) - 2:21:28
-----
21. Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) - 2:33:39

6th Tokushima Marathon 
Tokushima, 4/20/14
complete results coming shortly

Men
1. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 2:15:25 - CR

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Chepyego and Malel Set 10000 m World Leads at Hyogo Relay Carnival

by Brett Larner
videoes by Ekiden News



2014 World Half Marathon Championships bronze medalist Sally Chepyego Kaptich (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) returned to competition this weekend, dominating the women's Grand Prix 10000 m with a world-leading 31:28.07 just a few seconds off her best at the 62nd edition of the Hyogo Relay Carnival in Kobe. Ayumi Hagiwara (Team Uniqlo), one of the big hopes for the next generation of Japanese women, was next across the line in 31:50.85 just ahead of collegiate road 10 km national record holder Kasumi Nishihara (Team Yamada Denki) who cleared 32 for the first time in 31:53.69.  2014 Marugame Half Marathon winner Eri Makikawa (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) just missed making it four under the 32 minute mark, running a sizable PB of 32:00.25 for 4th.  19-year-old half marathon junior national record holder Reia Iwade (Team Noritz) cleared her goal of a sub-32:30 debut, running 32:24.38 for 8th.



Newcomer William Malel Sitonek (Kenya/Team Honda) continued to blossom under Japanese coaching in the men's Grand Prix 10000 m, running a world-leading PB of 27:25.56 to outrun top Japan-based Kenyans Edward Waweru (Team NTN) and Bedan Karoki (DeNA RC).  2013 National University Ekiden champion Komazawa University star Kenta Murayama, who ran an all-time Japanese #3 1:00:50 in Marugame in February at age 20, became the first Komazawa runner to break 28 minutes as he took 4th in 27:49.94, the best time ever by a Japanese university runner on Japanese soil.  His Copenhagen World Half Marathon Championships teammates Hiroto Inoue (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) and Masato Kikuchi likewise set PBs, Inoue 8th in a school record 28:25.07 and Kikuchi running 28:32.05 for 6th in the Asics Challenge 10000 m heat.



62nd Hyogo Relay Carnival
Kobe, Hyogo, 4/19-20/14
click here for complete results

Men's Grand Prix 10000 m
1. William Malel (Kenya/Team Honda) - 27:25.56 - PB
2. Edward Waweru (Kenya/Team NTN) - 27:26.92
3. Bedan Karoki (Kenya/DeNA RC) - 27:32.83
4. Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.) - 27:49.94 - PB
5. Yuichiro Ueno (DeNA RC) - 28:01.71 - PB
6. Patrick Muendo Mwaka (Kenya/Team Aisan Kogyo) - 28:15.61
7. Minato Oishi (Team Toyota) - 28:22.74
8. Hiroto Inoue (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 28:23.34 - PB
9. Atsushi Yamazaki (Team Subaru) - 28:25.07 - PB
10. Tsubasa Hayakawa (Team Toyota) - 28:27.45

Women's Grand Prix 10000 m
1. Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) - 31:28.07
2. Ayumi Hagiwara (Team Uniqlo) - 31:50.85
3. Kasumi Nishihara (Team Yamada Denki) - 31:53.69 - PB
4. Eri Makikawa (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 32:00.25 - PB
5. Chieko Kido (Canon AC Kyushu) - 32:11.21 - PB
6. Mao Kiyota (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 32:12.27 - PB
7. Kaoru Nagao (Team Univ. Ent.) - 32:22.06
8. Reia Iwade (Team Noritz) - 32:24.38 - debut
9. Yuka Takashima (Team Denso) - 32:26.50
10. Shiho Takechi (Team Yamada Denki) - 32:26.53 - PB

Men's Asics Challenge 10000 m Heat 2
1. Charles Ndirangu (Kenya/Team JFE Steel) - 28:18.54
2. Kassa Mekashaw (Ethiopia/Team Yachiyo Kogyo) - 28:21.61
3. Macharia Ndirangu (Kenya/Team Aichi Seiko) - 28:26.20
4. Johana Maina (Kenya/Team Fujitsu) - 28:27.13
5. Daniel Gitau (Kenya/Team Fujitsu) - 28:28.54
6. Masato Kikuchi (Team Konica Minolta) - 28:32.05 - PB
7. Keigo Yano (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 28:32.80 - PB
8. Yuki Yagi (Team Asahi Kasei) - 28:42.36 - PB
9. Shuho Dairokuno (Meiji Univ.) - 28:50.98
10. Daichi Kamino (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 28:51.98

Women's Asics Challenge 5000 m
1. Yuika Mori (Team Yamada Denki) - 15:51.29
2. Minori Goto (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) - 15:59.94 - PB
3. Sakiho Tsutsui (Team Yamada Denki) - 16:05.27 - PB
4. Saori Noda (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) - 16:10.30
5. Ai Migita (Team Wacoal) - 16:10.61

Men's Asics Challenge 10000 m Heat 1
1. Keisuke Nakatani (Komazawa Univ.) - 28:51.10 - PB
2. Ryota Matoba (Team Komori Corp.) - 28:58.39
3. Masaru Aoki (Team Kanebo) - 29:05.71
4. Yuki Oshikawa (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 29:06.40
5. Genta Yodokawa (Toyo Univ.) - 29:06.67

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Friday, April 18, 2014

World-Class 19-Year-Old Reia Iwade Features at Hyogo Relay Carnival

http://www.kobe-np.co.jp/news/sports/201404/0006869505.shtml

translated by Brett Larner

19-Year-Old Big Hope Reia Iwade (Team Noritz) Riding the Wave to Hyogo Relay Carnival Grand Prix Women's 10000 m

Just 19, Iwade will be showing off her best stuff on home ground in Hyogo prefecture this weekend.  In her first year in the corporate leagues she went through tremendous growth that took her all the way to March's World Half Marathon Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark.  Ahead of her first serious 10000 m, Iwade is strongly motivated as she says, "I want to earn the right to wear the Rising Sun again as soon as possible."

Iwade was born in Mie prefecture.  She was the star runner at Aichi prefecture's Toyokawa H.S., and after graduating she joined Hyogo's Noritz corporate team where she began to make an impact on the ekiden circuit.  A few days after her 19th birthday, at December's Sanyo Women's Road Race half marathon she ran a Japanese junior national record 1:09:45.  Coming just eight days after she finished only 12th on the National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships first stage, she says, "I was still tired but at the same time having had that result made me raise my game in Sanyo."  She ran with the lead pack until 10 km, and, giving herself passing marks for the second half, she says, "I was able to push myself."

Over the winter Iwade trained with Mari Ozaki and other teammates preparing for marathons, building up a mileage base of over a thousand kilometers a month.  In her international debut at the World Half she lost touch with the lead pack in the first half, finishing 19th as the third Japanese woman but still helping win the team bronze medal.  "I could tell how inexperienced and underdeveloped I still am," she says in a strict self-evaluation.  "I have to build up the mental toughness you need to run a PB overseas."

Depending on how her summer training goes, Iwade is eyeing November's Yokohama International Women's Marathon.  "This is the time when she's growing most rapidly," says her coach Yoshihiko Morioka.  "I want her to become one of the best."  As a measure of her development their target for the Hyogo Relay Carnival is the National Championships A-standard of 32:30.00.  "I want to run an aggressive race, get the time, and leave people saying, 'Wow!'" Iwade says with enthusiasm.

The Japanese national record of 30:48.89 was set in 2002 by Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo).  Of the all-time ten fastest 10000 m times run by Japanese women, places 2-10 are all occupied by Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) and Hitomi Niiya (Team Universal Entertainment).  These three are the only Japanese women to have ever broken 31 minutes.  At last year's Hyogo Relay Carnival Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya) was 2nd overall in 32:32.15, the first time in 18 years that the top Japanese woman in that race did not break 32:30.  With Fukushi having shifted focus to the marathon and Niiya, 5th in the 10000 m at last summer's Moscow World Championships, having retired this year,  the pedestal is empty and waiting for the next big star.

Top Ten Japanese Women's 10000 m Performances of 2013

1. Hitomi Niiya (Team Univ. Ent.) - 30:56.70
2. Ayumi Hagiwara (Team Uniqlo) - 31:45.29
3. Kasumi Nishihara (Team Yamada Denki) - 32:05.88
4. Yuka Takashima (Team Denso) - 32:06.70
5. Sayuri Oka (Team Daihatsu) - 32:06.79
6. Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 32:07.41
7. Yuko Shimizu (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 32:07.70
8. Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya) - 32:08.73
9. Yuko Mizuguchi (Team Denso) - 32:10.15
10. Risa Takenaka (Team Shiseido) - 32:10.66

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Kawauchi Headlines May 11 Sendai Half Marathon

http://www.kahoku.co.jp/tohokunews/201404/20140415_14014.html

translated by Brett Larner

On Apr. 14 the Sendai International Half Marathon released the names of the invited athletes for the event's 24th running on May 11.  Civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi (27, Saitama Pref. Gov't) leads the field, with former Hakone Ekiden uphill star Ryuji Kashiwabara (24, Team Fujitsu), a native of Iwaki, Fukushima and graduate of Toyo University, representing the corporate leagues in his Sendai debut. Kawauchi is targeting a medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and at the start of this month was selected as an inaugural member of the National Marathon Team.  In March, 2013 he ran his PB of 2:08:14 for 4th at the Seoul International Marathon. His achievements this year include a 2:10:14 course record win at the Kumamoto-jo Marathon in February.

Other invited athletes include London Olympian Arata Fujiwara (32, Miki House) and mama runner Mari Ozaki (38, Team Noritz).  Corporate league standouts include 2010 Nagoya International Women's Marathon winner Yuri Kano (35, Team Shiseido) and Miyagi prefecture-born runners Kosaku Hoshina (29, Team Nissin Shokuhin), the last Japanese man to win Sendai back in 2004, and Sumiko Suzuki (28, Team Hokuren).

The wheelchair field includes four athletes led by 2013 Boston Marathon men's winner Hiroyuki Yamamoto (47).  Former women's marathon world record holder and Sydney Olympics gold medalist Naoko Takahashi (41) will make a special appearance as guest of honor.  A record 15,108 people are entered for this year's Sendai International Half Marathon.  Last year 12,733 people ran.

24th Sendai International Half Marathon Elite Field Highlights
Sendai, Miyagi, 5/11/14
click here for complete entry list

Men
Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 59:48 (Marugame 2007)
Joseph Gitau (Kenya/Team JFE Steel) - 1:01:19 (Sapporo Int'l 2008)
Johana Maina (Kenya/Team Fujitsu) - 1:01:28 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2013)
Arata Fujiwara (Miki House AC) - 1:01:34 (Marugame 2012)
Ryotaro Nitta (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:01:45 (Marugame 2012)
Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) - 1:02:08 (Udine World Half 2007)
Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 1:02:18 (Marugame 2012)
Chiharu Takada (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 1:02:22 (Marugame 2013)
Kiyokatsu Hasegawa (Team JR Higshi Nihon) - 1:02:26 (Sendai 2008)
Keita Akiba (Team Komori Corp.) - 1:02:35 (Kyoto 2005)
Yudai Yamakawa (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:02:36 (Nat'l Univ. Half 2012)
Kenta Chiba (Team Fujitsu) - 1:02:41 (Nat'l Univ. Half 2012)
Ryosuke Fukuyama (Team Honda) - 1:02:49 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2008)
Takuya Noguchi (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:02:50 (Marugame 2014)
Shota Inoue (Team Toyota) - 1:02:51 (Marugame 2014)
Makoto Harada (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 1:02:57 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2008)
Kosaku Hoshina (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 1:03:09 (Sendai 2004)
Ryuji Kashiwabara (Team Fujitsu) - 1:03:18 (Kyoto 2009)
Takehiro Deki (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 1:04:16 (Kanagawa 2011)
Serod Batochir (Mongolia/Team NTN) - 1:06:36 (Redcar 2009)

Women
Yuri Kano (Team Shiseido) - 1:08:57 (Sapporo Int'l 2008)
Mari Ozaki (Team Noritz) - 1:09:33 (Marugame 2002)
Yukari Sahaku (Team Univ. Ent.) - 1:09:36 (Sapporo Int'l 2009)
Misato Horie (Team Noritz) - 1:10:33 (Marugame 2013)
Saki Tabata (Team Hokuren) - 1:13:01 (Osaka 2013)
Ayaka Hitomi (Team Shimamura) - 1:13:03 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2014)
Aiko Sakata (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 1:13:26 (Nat'l Univ. Half 2013)
Narumi Shirataki (Team Shiseido) - 1:13:31 (Shizuoka 2012)
Sumiko Suzuki (Team Hokuren) - 1:14:09 (Sendai Int'l 2009)
Kana Unno (Team Noritz) - 1:14:31 (Marugame 2014)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Weekend Track Update - Kiryu Makes University Debut, A Meet Record in Kyoto and More

by Brett Larner
videos by toyosina2008komazawaOB and Ekiden News

Track season continued to build up momentum with the first Nittai University Time Trials meet in Yokohama and a handful of other meets around the country.



The biggest news of the weekend was the debut of teen sprint star Yoshihide Kiryu in the Toyo University uniform. Kiryu ran third for Toyo's 4x100 m relay team at the Iwakabe Cup Eight University meet in Tokyo.  Starting his leg mid-pack Kiryu easily blew past the competition to put Toyo out front, but on the anchor leg national university record holder Chuo University retook the lead and pulled away for the win. Nevertheless, in his first race Kiryu helped the Toyo team take the school record from 39.99 to 39.69, a sure sign of what's to come. Post-race the entire Chuo team gave him a round of applause.



Kiryu's long distance teammates stayed at home in Saitama for the Five University Meet hosted by Daito Bunka University.  Strong winds prevented fast times, but in his first race since setting the 30 km national university record of 1:28:52 at February's Kumanichi Road Race Toyo's #1 man Yuma Hattori got his junior year off to a good start with a comfortable 5000 m A-heat win in 14:05.21 by a margin of more than five seconds.



His younger brother Hazuma Hattori nearly got the win in the 3000 m A-heat, coming up just short of running down Kota Murayama (Josai Univ.), the identical twin of World Half Marathon Championships team leader Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.). Kota Murayama started the race very slow with a considerable gap between him and the pack before gradually building up the pace and making a break for the win with more than two laps to go, obviously a reaction to his performance at last weekend's Kanaguri Memorial Meet where he went out at national record pace in the 5000 m A-heat and finished last.  Murayama took the win in 8:15.33 with Hattori just a couple of strides behind.

Bad weather also impacted the West Japan Time Trials in Fukuoka, where 2014 Toyo grad Kento Otsu made his debut with the Koichi Morishita-coached Toyota Kyushu team.  Ethiopian Melaku Abera (Team Kurosaki Harima) had no trouble leading the race to the win despite conditions of extreme rain, finishing in 14:20.03 almost eight seconds ahead.  Otsu was 5th in 14:31.64, the third Toyota Kyushu man across the line.

Better weather earlier in the weekend meant decent times in Kyoto, where Bukkyo University senior Sayaka Kuwahara raced Kyoto Sangyo University's Yukiko Okuno to the 10000 m meet record, both breaking the old record with Kuwahara getting the win in 33:31.32.  2013 national champion Ritsumeikan University's top placer in the 10000 m was only 4th, but in the 5000 m its second years swept the podium in a near-photo finish, Natsuki Omori taking 1st in 15:53.20.  The men's 10000 m also saw a meet record as the elite Kyoto University's Kentaro Hirai won in 29:42.66.



For contrast and insight into the impact of January's Hakone Ekiden, exclusively for Tokyo-area Kanto Region schools, the first Nittai University Time Trials meet of the season saw eight university men break 29 minutes for 10000 m, almost all in PB times.  Meiji University's Ken Yokote started his junior year with a 20-second PB of 28:38.73, his teammate Kei Fumimoto just behind in 28:39.40, his best by eight seconds.



Times were also decent in the 5000 m A-heat, where another Ethiopian, Miliyon Zewdie (Team Yachiyo Kogyo) led the way in 13:28.81, the second-fastest outdoor time in the world so far this year.  2012-2013 10000 m national champion Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) was the top Japanese man in the 5000 m, 5th overall in 13:43.61 in his first real race since an injury at the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden scuttled his plans to run February's Tokyo Marathon.



The women's races at Nittai were very thin, the top result going to Kenyan Doricah Obare (Team Hitachi), 1st in the 3000 m A-heat in 9:12.23.

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

videos (c) 2014 their respective owners
all rights reserved


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Weekend Japanese Road Results

by Brett Larner

The biggest domestic road action of the weekend took place in Shizuoka at the Yaizu Minato Half Marathon where Yoshiki Koizumi of 2013 Hakone Ekiden winner Nittai University battled last year's winner Tomoyasu Matsui (Meiji Univ.) from start to finish, both breaking the course record as Koizumi claimed the win in 1:03:26. 2013 National University Men's Ekiden champion Komazawa University had the next two men across the line, both Kohei Futaoka and Shoya Kurokawa timed at 1:03:48.  Komazawa took the win in Yaizu's University Pair Marathon team scoring based on the combined times of its top two finishers, setting a new record of 2:07:36. Nittai was just a second behind, likewise clearing the old record in 2:07:37.  The top non-collegiate runner was Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't), 9th overall in 1:04:19 a week after his latest marathon course record win in Saga.  Almost simultaneously, his youngest brother Koki Kawauchi (Takasaki Keizai Univ.) won the Guam Marathon in 2:38:09.

Elsewhere internationally, London Olympics marathoner Ryo Yamamoto (Team SGH Group Sagawa) had a decent run in the Vienna City Marathon, 6th in 2:10:59 for the fastest time overseas so far this year by a Japanese man.  Ethiopian Getu Feleke set a quality course record of 2:05:41, bound to be the weekend's most overlooked performance.  World Championships marathoner Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku), who ran 2:28:36 at February's Tokyo Marathon, ran a disappointing 2:35:15 for 7th in a race won in 2:28:59 by Germany's Anna Hahner.  Bunta Kuroki (Team Yasukawa Denki), a training partner of Yamamoto's Olympic teammate Kentaro Nakamoto, was 11th in the Warsawa Marathon in 2:14:27.  Across the channel at the London Marathon, track and ekiden star Yuko Shimizu (Team Sekisui Kagaku) made her marathon debut, outrunning Ito's Vienna time in 2:32:00 but finishing 11th.

Vienna City Marathon
Vienna, Austria, 4/13/14
click here for complete results

Men
1. Getu Feleke (Ethiopia) - 2:05:41 - CR
2. Alfred Kering (Kenya) - 2:08:28
3. Philip Sanga (Kenya) - 2:08:58
4. Duncan Koech (Kenya) - 2:09:17
5. Oleksadr Sitkovskyy (Ukraine) - 2:10:44
-----
6. Ryo Yamamoto (Japan/Team SGH Group Sagawa) - 2:10:59

Women
1. Anna Hahner (Germany) - 2:28:59
2. Caroline Chepkwony (Kenya) - 2:29:18
3. Marta Lema (Ethiopia) - 2:31:10
4. Alice Chelangat (Kenya) - 2:32:46
5. Olga Glok (Russia) - 2:33:23
-----
7. Mai Ito (Japan/Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:35:15

London Marathon
London, U.K., 4/13/14
click here for complete results

Women
1. Edna Kiplagat (Kenya) - 2:20:21
2. Florence Kiplagat (Kenya) - 2:20:24
3. Tirunesh Dibaba (Ethiopia) - 2:20:35 - debut
4. Feyse Tadese (Ethiopia) - 2:21:42
5. Aberu Kebede (Ethiopia) - 2:23:21
-----
11. Yuko Shimizu (Japan/Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 2:32:00 - debut

Yaizu Minato Half Marathon
Yaizu, Shizuoka, 4/13/14
complete results coming shortly

Men
1. Yoshiki Koizumi (Nittai Univ.) - 1:03:26 - CR, PB
2. Tomoyasu Matsui (Meiji Univ.) - 1:03:34 - PB
3. Kohei Futaoka (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:03:48 - PB
4. Shoya Kurokawa (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:03:48 - PB
5. Hajime Sakamoto (Nittai Univ.) - 1:04:01
-----
9. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 1:04:19

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Friday, April 11, 2014

Shimizu Hoping to Have Fun in Debut at Sunday's London Marathon

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20140411-1283502.html

translated by Brett Larner

In an April 10 interview ahead of her marathon debut at Sunday's London Marathon as an invited elite, Yuko Shimizu (Team Sekisui Kagaku) was cautiously ambitious as she said, "However it turns out, I want to have fun running it.  I want to race at a good pace I can sustain."  Last year's East Asian Games 10000 m gold medalist, Shimizu will be up against the likes of giants like 2012 London Olympics marathon gold medalist Tiki Gelana (Ethiopia) and two-time World Championships gold medalist Edna Kiplagat (Kenya).  "How often do you get the chance to be on the starting line with the best in the world?" Shimizu said with enthusiasm.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. Head Coach Masaaki Watanabe and Eight Students Transfer to Nittai Ebara H.S.

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20140401-00000062-mai-spo

translated by Brett Larner

Having led Aichi prefecture's Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. boys to the National High School Ekiden Championships for fourteen straight years through 2011, former head coach Masaaki Watanabe, 51, became the new head coach and a health and physical education teacher at Tokyo's Nittai Ebara H.S. as of the start of the academic year on April 1.  Along with Watanabe, eight students including five members of Toyokawa Kogyo's team at last December's National High School Ekiden transferred to Nittai Ebara.  Past instances of large numbers of top-class athletes transferring en masse include the 2012 transfer of ten students from Sendai Ikuei H.S. to Toyokawa H.S., but it is safe to say it is unusual.

Watanabe became head coach at Toyokawa Kogyo in 1993 and developed it into one of the country's most powerful high school ekiden teams.  In January last year his use of corporal punishment against students came to light, resulting in a disciplinary four-month suspension.  He left the school last spring after transferring to another high school, but, still maintaining his strong reputation for leadership, Watanabe continued to privately coach part of the Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. team including the eight athletes who went on to be part of the transfer to Nittai Ebara H.S.

The eight transferring students include seven boys, six third-years and two second-years [sic], and one girl.  The National High School Championships rules specify that "students are prohibited from competing within six months after transferring to another school," meaning that the likelihood that members of the group will be barred from competing in this summer's National High School Track and Field Championships is high.  Nittai Ebara H.S. officials commented, "[Hiring Watanabe] was an overall comprehensive decision.  The athletes who transferred wanted to remain with him."

Translator's note: This is the first article on the Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. corporal punishment scandal I've seen that specifically names Watanabe.  In 2009 he was reprimanded for beating team members with the handle of a deck brush to the point that they needed stitches.  In 2012 he hit another student in the head and damaged the student's eardrum, an injury that required weeks of medical treatment.  In last year's investigation twelve Toyokawa Kogyo students confirmed having been beaten by Watanabe, two quitting the school as a result.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Measuring The Economic Effects of the Kobe Marathon and Mt. Fuji Women's Ekiden

http://www.kobe-np.co.jp/news/keizai/201404/0006845617.shtml
http://www.fuji-news.net/data/report/economy/201404/0000003189.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The Kobe Marathon organizing committee has release figures on the total economic benefits of the event's third running last November, calculating that the race generated 11.6 billion yen [~$113 million USD] nationwide.  The Hyogo Institute of Economic Research think tank calculated the estimate, which includes runners and spectator's expenditures on meals and accommodations.  The figures represent an increase of 600 million yen [~$6 million USD] over those from the Kobe Marathon's second running.  Of the 11.6 billion yen, 6.6 billion [~$66 million USD] was spent within the host Hyogo prefecture.

A survey of 1500 runners in the Kobe Marathon revealed an average expenditure of 30,564 yen [~$300 USD] on travel, accommodations and souvenirs related to their participation in the event.  20,411 people ran the third edition of the Kobe Marathon. An estimated 585,500 spectators lined the course and 72,000 people participated in related events, both increases over last time.  "The improved economic numbers were the result of more people cheering along the course and more people coming from outside the prefecture," explained a race office official.  With regard to the fourth running of the Kobe Marathon on Nov. 23 this year, race organizers commented, "We want to welcome as many people to our city to run and enliven the atmosphere as we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake."

The Fuji city government, co-organizers of December's first edition of the Mt. Fuji Women's Ekiden national university women's ekiden championships along with the neighboring city of Fujinomiya, also released figures on the event's economic impact on the area.  Officials estimate the race brought in 642 million yen  [~$6.25 million USD], with television broadcast rights and advertising bringing in another 273 million yen [~$2.5 million USD].

The Shizuoka Institute of Economic Research was commissioned to study the event's economic benefits.  The estimate included organizing committee expenditures and participants' accommodation costs and analysis of a survey of 135 visitors to the race.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Kawauchi Leads Weekend Road Results With Solo Saga Sakura Marathon Course Record

by Brett Larner

As is his tendency, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) led the way on a busy weekend that saw Japanese athletes in at least four competitive overseas races. Running the second edition of the Saga Sakura Marathon in scenic southwesternmost Kyushu despite having changed his workplace this week, Kawauchi took almost nine minutes off the course record and beat last year's winner Tomonori Onitsuka (Team Kyudenko) by more than ten minutes in 2:13:02 CR, his third marathon of the year and second soloing a massive CR in an amateur-level race.  "I haven't been feeling well since the Incheon Half last week and have just been jogging 60 minutes a day, so I'm glad I could at least run passably," he told JRN post-race. "If there hadn't been a strong headwind between 25 and 35 km I would have been a minute faster." Like Onitsuka, women's course record holder Hiroko Yoshitomi (First Dream AC) was knocked back to 2nd as 20-year-old Hua Yang (China) took the win in 2:38:23.

While Kawauchi raced in a far corner of home, three other elite Japanese men ran overseas marathons.  2013 Ohtawara Marathon winner Tadashi Suzuki (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and runner-up Yasuaki Kojima (Team Subaru) ran the Paris Marathon as part of a relationship between the two races, Kojima three minutes off his best in 2:18:46 for 12th and getting screen time as the subject of some racial commentary by Britsh Eurosport announcers Martin Gillingham and Geoff Wightman, and 2:16 man Suzuki sightseeing his way to a 26th-place finish in 2:28:26. Ohtawara's 2nd and 3rd-place women Yumi Sato (Tokyo T&F Assoc.) and Ayano Kondo (Team Noritz) also lined up in Paris, Kondo running a five-minute PB of 2:43:54 and Sato jogging a 2:55:42.  Directly across the channel, Tomoyuki Morita (Team Kanebo), all-time #4 on the Japanese debut lists with a 2:09:12 best at Lake Biwa in 2012, failed to make any impression at the Brighton Marathon, the first elite to fall out of the lead pack and shuffling home in 2:22:03 for 7th.

Aspiring indy Azusa Nojiri (Hiratsuka Lease) was not much better at the Prague Half Marathon, almost seven minutes off her best as she ran 1:17:19 for 13th place. On the other side of the Atlantic, 2011 Tokyo Marathon winner Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) had what might have been the best Japanese women's run of the weekend on the roads, making her ten mile debut at Washington D.C.'s Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run in 55:21 as a tuneup for the Boston Marathon two weeks from now.

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mwangi Leads Season-Opening Kanaguri Memorial Meet

by Brett Larner
videos by Ekiden News and tuyoshi55244




Japan's outdoor track season got underway on Saturday with the rainy 23rd edition of Kumamoto's Kanaguri Memorial Meet.  Teammates James Mwangi and Edward Waweru of the NTN corporate team got the season off to a good start with a 1-2 finish in Heat 4 of the men's 5000 m, Mwangi leading the way with a 13:25.56 a full ten seconds ahead of Waweru.  Japan-based Kenyans and Ethiopians took 11 of the top 13 places, with the only Japanese runners to get into the middle of things both running PBs to get there.  Second-year Keisuke Nakatani of three-time defending National University Ekiden champion Komazawa University ran a sizable best of 13:48.99 for 8th, a time that ranks him 2nd on the Komazawa squad behind only World Half Marathon Championships team member Kenta Murayama.  Sub-28 and sub-1:02 as a collegiate, Yuta Shitara made a good debut in the Honda uniform by knocking 2 seconds off his best for 9th in 13:49.98.



Two-time world junior 3000 mSC champion Jonathan Ndiku (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) led the otherwise all-Japanese Heat 5 in 13:47.55, with Yuki Yagi (Team Asahi Kasei) alternating the lead with him and get just under Nakatani's time for 2nd in 13:48.12.  Past national champions Kensuke Takezawa (Team Sumitomo Denko) and Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) were close behind.



Yagi's teammate Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Team Asahi Kasei) was 5th in 13:54.71 two hours after running a 3:46.84 PB for 2nd in the men's 1500 m.

Heat 2 of the men's 5000 m saw a rare happening as Josai University second-year Kazuki Takahashi was disqualified after false starting twice.  Why or how remains a mystery.



Susan Wairimu (Team Denso) and Pauline Kamulu (Team Toto) completed a Kenyan sweep of the main distance events in Heat 2 of the women's 5000 m, Wairimu winning in 15:50.72 by a comfortable margin.  Miho Shimizu (Team Hokuren) raced Kamulu to the line but lost out by a lean, 3rd in 15:54.47.



Nana Kuraoka (Kagoshima Joshi H.S.) took the all-high school women's 3000 m in 9:23.58.



2012 and 2013 national 1500 m champion Ayako Jinnouchi (Team Kyudenko) opened her season with a 4:20.30 win in Heat 2 of the women's 1500 m.

23rd Kanaguri Memorial Meet
Kumamoto, 4/5/14
click here for complete results

Men's 5000 m Heat 4
1. James Mwangi (Kenya/Team NTN) - 13:25.56
2. Edward Waweru (Kenya/Team NTN) - 13:35.63
3. Macharia Ndirangu (Kenya/Team Aichi Seiko) - 13:36.79
4. Daniel Gitau (Kenya/Team Fujitsu) - 13:40.81
5. Ayele Abayneh (Ethiopia/Team Mazda) - 13:40.93
6. Charles Ndirangu (Kenya/Team JFE Steel) - 13:44.52
7. Patrick Mwaka (Kenya/Team Aisan Kogyo) - 13:48.92
8. Keisuke Nakatani (Komazawa Univ.) - 13:48.99 - PB
9. Yuta Shitara (Team Honda) - 13:49.98 - PB
10. Abera Melaku (Ethiopia/Team Kurosak Harima) - 13:52.90

Men's 5000 m Heat 5
1. Jonathan Ndiku (Kenya/Team Hitachi Butsuryu) - 13:47.55
2. Yuki Yagi (Team Asahi Kasei) - 13:48.12
3. Kensuke Takezawa (Team Sumitomo Denko) - 13:51.03
4. Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 13:53.63
5. Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Team Asahi Kasei) - 13:54.71

Women's 5000 m Heat 2
1. Susan Wairimu (Kenya/Team Denso) - 15:50.72
2. Pauline Kamulu (Kenay/Team Toto) - 15:54.28
3. Miho Shimizu (Team Hokuren) - 15:54.47
4. Yuka Miyazaki (Team Kyudenko) - 16:03.66
5. Saori Noda (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) - 16:05.71

Women's 3000 m Heat 3
1. Nana Kuraoka (Kagoshima Joshi H.S.) - 9:23.58
2. Maako Konishi (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 9:25.02
3. Haruka Tobimatsu (Kamimura Gakuen H.S.) - 9:25.88
4. Rui Maenohara (Kamimura Gakuen H.S.) - 9:26.51
5. Yuri Nozoe (Kamimura Gakuen H.S.) - 9:26.85

Men's 1500 m Heat 2
1. Ronald Kwemoi (Kenya/Team Komori Corp.) - 3:42.45 - PB
2. Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Team Asahi Kasei) - 3:46.84 - PB
3. Yasunari Kusu (Team Komori Corp.) - 3:49.13
4. Yusuke Hiratsuka (Josai Univ.) - 3:50.43
5. Shogo Hata (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 3:51.20

Women's 1500 m Heat 2
1. Ayako Jinnouchi (Team Kyudenko) - 4:20.30
2. Mika Nakagawa (Team Hokuren) - 4:22.86
3. Ayano Ikemitsu (Team Kagoshima Ginko) - 4:24.56
4. Misaki Hayashida (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 4:26.42
5. Haruka Mochizuki (Team Yutaka Giken) - 4:26.79

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Friday, April 4, 2014

Kanaguri Memorial Meet Kicks Off Japanese Track Season

by Brett Larner

With the start of the Japanese fiscal and academic year this week, outdoor track season gets rolling this Saturday at the Kanaguri Memorial Meet in Kumamoto.  A distance-oriented meet with a focus on 5000 m, Kanaguri is the place where many of the top young talents make their debuts wearing new high school, university and corporate team colors.

Competition in the women's races is thin, with Kenyans Pauline Kamulu (Team Toto) and Susan Wairimu (Team Denso) leading 2014 Marugame Half Marathon winner Eri Makikawa (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and the talented Yukari Abe (Team Shimamura) as the top contenders in Heat 2 of the 5000 m.  The high school girls' 3000 m, featuring a long list of top juniors, may supply the more interesting races.

The big races on the men's side are heats 4 and 5 of the 5000 m.  Heat 5 features three of the very best Japan-based Kenyans, Moscow World Championships 10000 m bronze medalist Paul Tanui (Team Kyudenko), two-time 3000 mSC junior world champion Jonathan Ndiku (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) and 2011 World Youth 3000 m gold medalist William Malel (Team Honda).  Many of the best Japanese men are on the starting list, including past distance event national champions Yuki Matsuoka (Team Otsuka Seiyaku), Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota), Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin), Kensuke Takezawa (Team Sumitomo Denko) and Yuichiro Ueno (DeNA RC), Hakone aces Tadashi Isshiki (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.), Genki Yagisawa (Meiji Univ.) and Hideto Yamanaka (Nittai Univ.), and other big names including Takuya Fukatsu (Team Asahi Kasei), Shota Hattori (Team Honda), Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu), Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta) and Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Team Asahi Kasei).

Heat 4 features a mostly-African field including many of the top Japan-based Kenyans and Ethiopians including Clement Langat (Team Subaru), Edward Waweru (Team NTN), Jacob Wanjuki (Team Aichi Seiko) and Patrick Muwaka (Team Aisan Kogyo).  Hakone Ekiden stars Shuho Dairokuno (Meiji Univ.), Kota Murayama (Josai Univ.), Keisuke Nakatani (Komazawa Univ.), Yusuke Nishiyama (Komazawa Univ.) and Daichi Kamino (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) are also in Heat 4 looking for early-season PBs, with 2014 Hakone champion Toyo University ace Yuta Shitara making his pro debut with the Honda corporate team.

Shitara's identical twin brother Keita Shitara will likewise make his debut for 2014 New Year Ekiden national corporate champion Konica Minolta on Saturday at the Tokyo-area Setagaya Time Trials meet, where he will run as a pacer for a university 5000 m heat.  Big-name pacers in other heats include talented half marathoners Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) and Masato Kihara (Team Kanebo).

The weekend's action is not limited to the track, though.  Kihara's teammate Tomoyuki Morita (Team Kanebo), all-time #4 on the Japanese marathon debut list with a 2:09:12 in heavy rain at the 2012 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, will run Sunday's Brighton Marathon, where he is the #2 seed.  Coached by Toshinari Takaoka, who debuted in 2:09:41 before running the still-standing Japanese national record of 2:06:16 a year later in Chicago, there is plenty of reason to hope that Morita will take another step forward in the Japanese ranks in Brighton.

Back on the home front, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) will run his third marathon of the year at Sunday's amateur-level Saga Sakura Marathon.  Saga is the first of two marathons Kawauchi plans to run in April in preparation for next month's Hamburg Marathon, where he will face greats Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopia) and Martin Lel (Kenya).  Retired Berlin World Championships women's marathon silver medalist Yoshimi Ozaki will also appear at Saga as a special guest runner.

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Hakone Ekiden to Introduce "Kanto Regionals Performance Slot"

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20140402-00000016-sph-spo
http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2014/04/01/kiji/K20140401007892070.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On April 1 the Inter-University Athletic Union of Kanto [KGRR] announced the formation of a new "Kanto Regional University Track and Field Championships performance slot" for one team at the Hakone Ekiden.  Over a five-year period of time from this year through 2018, the Division I university that scores the largest number of points at May's Kanto Regionals meet will be guaranteed a place at the 95th Hakone Ekiden in 2019.  Universities earn points based on members of their men's track and field teams in all events placing in the top eight in their individual events at the Kanto Regionals meet.  If the same school finishes in the seeded bracket at the 2018 Hakone Ekiden, the Kanto Regionals performance slot will be discarded and will not pass to the team with the second-highest five-year point score.

At the KGRR-organized Hakone Ekiden, from 2003 through 2013, the lowest three qualifying spots at October's Yosenkai qualifying race were determined by combining universities' times with points earned by their complete track and field teams' performances at the Kanto Regionals meet.  For the 2014 Hakone Ekiden the Kanto Regionals point system was discontinued, with the decision made to use it only in Hakone's five-year anniversary editions.

Translator's note: The Hakone Ekiden, the Kanto region university men's road relay championships every Jan. 2-3, is Japan's single largest and most prestigious sporting event, with nationwide TV audiences on the scale of 30% viewership for the two-day, fourteen-hour-plus broadcast.  

Because of the pull of Hakone, Kanto is by far the most competitive region in Japanese university men's distance running, and as a consequence of this May's Kanto Regional University Track and Field Championships, where all Hakone-bound schools compete, is far more competitive than September's National University Men's Track and Field Championships, where a smaller number of Kanto-based athletes compete against runners from schools in other, weaker regions.

The Kanto Regionals point system discontinued for the 2014 Hakone Ekiden was intended to encourage universities to develop all track and field disciplines rather than focus exclusively on Hakone at the expense of sprints, middle distances, jumps and throws.  In effect, however, it served mainly as a prop for large, wealthy, old-boy schools with the resources to develop an overall track and field team rather than concentrating on producing a quality distance squad capable of making the Hakone Ekiden like many smaller, lesser-known schools without the same resources. Virtually every year from 2003 to 2013 a smaller, newer school that made the qualifying bracket at October's Yosenkai qualifier on time was shut out of Hakone in favor of a larger, older school whose distance squad ran slower but got a boost on points thanks to its sprinters and field athletes' performances five months earlier.  

The effects of qualifying for the Hakone Ekiden on the name value of a small university cannot be overstated.  Many of the schools that run Hakone are known nationally only because their distance teams made Hakone, and this has a tremendous impact on their enrollment and alumni relations.  In this respect, the Kanto Regionals point system was a manifestation of the protection of the establishment and discouragement of newcomers representative of Japanese business and politics.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

'Morita Signs Up for Brighton'

A Brighton Marathon press release

The Brighton Marathon will be breaking new ground when Japan’s Tomoyuki Morita lines up on April 6. Morita is the first Japanese athlete to compete in the race which celebrates its fifth edition this year. He joins a quality line-up as the Brighton Marathon, an IAAF Bronze Label event, welcomes its most outstanding men’s elite field to date.

With a personal best of 2:09:12, Morita is the second fastest in a race that features four men who have run faster than the course record of 2:10:46. Kenya’s William Chebor, 31, heads the line-up. He clocked 2:08:21 in Turin three years ago and comes to Brighton off the back of his most recent win in Jakarta last October.

Morita, 29, who set his lifetime best at Lake Biwa in 2012, will also clash with course record holder, Dominic Kangor of Kenya. Morita’s half marathon best of 61:55 stems from Marugame 2012.
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For more information contact: Press Officer Michael Butcher michael.butcher@groundedevents.co.uk (Mobile 07801 826 593)

Additional information: Morita is coached by national record holder Toshinari Takaoka at the Kanebo corporate team.  His PB of 2:09:12 was the fourth-fastest debut marathon by a Japanese man.    The Kanebo corporation, a cosmetics manufacturer, was involved in a scandal last summer involving one of its products causing skin rashes.  As a sign of atonement to the public, Kanebo corporate management barred all of its sponsored athletes from competing until the end of the fiscal year on Mar. 31, 2014.  Morita will waste no time in getting back to racing just six days after the end of the team suspension.

MEN’S ELITE FIELD
William Chebor KEN 2:08:21
Tomoyuki Morita JPN 2:09:12
Raymond Kandie KEN 2:09:23
Belete Mekonen ETH 2:10:34
Dominic Kangor KEN 2:10:46
Wilfred Murgor KEN 2:11:41
Kidane Abdi ETH 2:12:57
Giovanni Ruggiero ITA 2:13:23
Pat Rizzo USA 2:13:42
Robert Langat KEN debut
Andrew Lesuuda KEN debut
Ian Kimpton GBR debut

WOMEN’S ELITE FIELD
Hellen Mugo KEN 2:27:16
Tanith Maxwell RSA 2:32:33
Alice Milgo KEN 2:37:06
Purity Kimetto KEN 2:37:20
Selam Abere ETH 2:36:08
Rebecca Robinson GBR 2:37:14

Federation Announces Creation of National Marathon Team to Transform Athletes' Thinking and Deal With Heat of Summer Championship Races

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/sports/news/140331/oth14033120080011-n1.htm
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/sports/news/140331/oth14033120100012-n1.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The Japanese Federation has announced the creation of a National Marathon Team geared toward preparing for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.  The team is made up of twelve men and nine women including Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't), Moscow World Championships women's marathon 4th-place Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) and the other two members of this fall's Asian Games marathon team, Moscow women's marathon bronze medalist Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal), men's marathon 5th-placer Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki), 2004 Athens Olympics women's marathon gold medalist and national record holder Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex).

The goal of the team is to win medals and land other athletes near the podium at the Rio Olympics.  Athletes' membership will be reviewed on an annual basis, and preference will be given to team members in Olympic selection races if they run similar times to non-members.  Federation development committee vice-chariman Katsumi Sakai discussed the Federation's goals in creating a National Team for the marathon, an individual sport.  "We would like to change the way of thinking of our athletes and their coaches," he said.  The Federation hopes to transform athlete's focus away from domestic ekidens and just making Olympics and World Championships teams to actually targeting medals at the world level, sharing information and raising athlete awareness at regularly-held team training camps.

Another focus will be on measures to deal with the hot conditions at the Olympics and other summer races.  This year the men on the team will train for ten days in August in Kushiro, Hokkaido, and again in Shibetsu, Hokkaido for ten days in September, with women scheduled to train in the United States during the month of June. Athlete participation in the training camps is obligatory.  The camps will include at least two 40 km runs, with athletes' blood and urine profiles taken and changes in their body temperature and weight recorded pre- and post-run.  Analysis of the data on how the athletes adapt to heat will factor into future world-level team selection.  In the event that two athletes run similar times in a selection race, the Federation's new policy will be to give preference to National Team members who the Federation has determined to have shown reliability and stability.  The data will also be shared with athletes to help them increase their competitive potential, available in an ongoing database.  Not just for the Rio Olympics but for the Tokyo Olympics and beyond, the Federation hopes the program will help maximize potential gains in athlete development and selection.

Japanese National Marathon Team

Men
Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) - 2:08:00 (Tokyo 2013)
Kohei Matsumura (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) - 2:08:09 (Tokyo 2014)
Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 2:08:14 (Seoul Int'l 2013)
Hiroyuki Horibata (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:08:24 (Fukuoka Int'l 2012)
Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 2:08:35 (Beppu-Oita 2013)
Koji Kobayashi (Team Subaru) - 2:08:51 (Tokyo 2014)
Hirokatsu Kurosaki (Team Konica Minolta) - 2:09:07 (Tokyo 2014)
Suehiro Ishikawa (Team Honda) - 2:09:10 (Lake Biwa 2013)
Masanori Sakai (Team Kyudenko) - 2:09:10 (Tokyo 2014)
Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 2:09:30 (Beppu-Oita 2014)
Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:09:47 (Lake Biwa 2014)
Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota) - 2:11:50 (Tokyo 2014)

Women
Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) - 2:19:12 (Berlin 2005)
Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) - 2:23:23 (Osaka Women's 2012)
Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) - 2:23:34 (Nagoya Women's 2013)
Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) - 2:24:38 (Chicago 2011)
Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:25:26 (Nagoya Women's 2012)
Eri Hayakawa (Team Toto) - 2:25:31 (Nagoya Women's 2014)
Yuko Watanabe (Team Edion) - 2:25:56 (Osaka Women's 2013)
Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 2:26:05 (Nagoya Women's 2014)
Sairi Maeda (Team Daihatsu) - 2:26:46 (Osaka Women's 2014)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Chelimo, Batochir, Adachi, Koskei and Shintaku Headline Apr. 20 Nagano Marathon

by Brett Larner

The organizers of the Apr. 20 Nagano Marathon released the names of this year's elite field on Apr. 1.  2010 Nagano winner Nicholas Chelimo (Kenya), 2013 Hofu Yomiuri Marathon champion Serod Batochir (Mongolia/Team NTN) and 2012 Nagano runner-up Silas Sang (Kenya) lead the international field, while 2008 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon winner Tomoya Adachi (Team Asahi Kasei) headlines the Japanese men's field with a best of 2:10:22.

The semi-retired Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC) and Mika Okunaga (Yufuin Hammock AC) have the fastest bests in the women's field followed by 2:29 Kenyan Hellen Koskei, but with a 2:31:15 best for 8th at this year's Tokyo Marathon Rika Shintaku (Team Shimamura) may be the favorite for the win.  Look also for a challenge from Shoko Shimizu (Team Aichi Denki), 4th at last month's Wanjinshi New Taipei City Marathon.

16th Nagano Marathon Elite Field
Nagano, 4/20/14
click here for complete elite field listing

Men
Nicholas Chelimo (Kenya) - 2:07:38 (Eindhoven 2010)
Serod Batochir (Mongolia/Team NTN) - 2:09:00 (Hofu 2013)
Silas Sang (Kenya) - 2:09:10 (Nagano 2012)
Tomoya Adachi (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:10:22 (Lake Biwa 2013)
Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:11:15 (Tokyo 2013)
Sergey Lebid (Ukraine) - 2:11:24 (Lisbon 2013)
Ryoichi Matsuo (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:12:11 (Nobeoka 2014)
Hiroki Kadota (Team Kanebo) - 2:12:25 (Beppu-Oita 2012)
Martin Waweru (Kenya) - debut - 1:02:02 (Marugame Half 2008)

Women
Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC) - 2:25:10 (Hokkaido 2009)
Mika Okunaga (Yufuin Hammock AC) - 2:27:16 (Osaka International Women's 2009)
Hellen Koskei (Kenya) - 2:29:33 (Seoul 2007)
Rika Shintaku (Team Shimamura) - 2:31:15 (Tokyo 2014)
Nebiat Habtemariam (Eritrea) - 2:32:04 (Hamburg 2008)
Shoko Shimizu (Team Aichi Denki) - 2:32:43 (Tokyo 2013)
Seika Iwamura (Team Higo Ginko) - 2:33:15 (Osaka International Women's 2010)
Lauren Shelley (Australia) - 2:33:42 (Tokyo International Women's 2005)
Alina Prokopeva (Russia) - 2:38:34 (Singapore 2012)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

DeNA Team Holds Press Conference Announcing Seko's Comeback and Plans to Make 2020 Olympic Marathon



On March 30, the Tokyo-based DeNA corporate team held a press conference to announce new members Kenta Murozuka and Hiroki Sugawa.  Team management also announced that legend Toshihiko Seko will make a comeback to competitive marathoning after a 26-year absence in hopes of making the 2020 Tokyo Olympics marathon team, switching roles from his current position as the team's head coach to becoming one of its twelve athletes.



With the start of the new fiscal year today the team's roster page was updated to include the new team members and reflected Seko's new position on the team.



Seko's athlete profile includes the following:



Profile
Born July 15, 1956 in Kuwana, Mie.  During his career he won ten out of his fifteen domestic and international marathons.  On the track he was also dominant, giving the Japanese national records a beating over an impressive range from 5000 m to the marathon and setting then-world records over 25,000 m and 30,000 m.

In April, 2013 he became head coach of the DeNA Running Club corporate team, but, resolving to "make Japanese marathoning #1 in the world again," he has chosen to return to competitive running.  His goal is to make the 2020 Tokyo Olympics team.

Height, weight: 170.6 cm, 73.5 kg
Blood type: O
Favorite word: passion
Hobby: golf
Most redeeming characteristic: I'll be friends with anybody.
Message to fans: It's going to take a while, but please cheer me on over the long haul.  I will definitely be ready in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

PBs
5000 m: 13:24.29
10000 m: 27:42.17
30 km: 1:28:52
marathon: 2:08:27

Achievements
Ten wins in fifteen marathon starts
Four-time Fukuoka International Marathon winner, 1978-1980, 1983
Two-time Boston Marathon winner, 1981, 1987
Tokyo International Marathon winner, 1983
London Marathon winner, 1986
Chicago Marathon winner, 1986
Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon winner, 1988
Two-time Olympic marathoner, Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988

Federation's Goal for Asian Games is Ten Gold Medals

http://www.jiji.com/jc/zc?k=201403/2014033100891&g=spo

translated by Brett Larner

At a Tokyo-area press conference on Mar. 31, JAAF Development Committee chairman Yasuhiro Harada said that the Federation's target for this fall's Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea is ten gold medals.  At the last Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, Japan won four golds.

According to Chairman Harada, last season Japan had Asia-leading marks in fourteen events including the men's and women's marathon and the men's javelin.  "Looking at our athletes' current situation ten golds is undoubtably attainable," he commented.  "The level of the Asian Games has been high recently.  Solid wins there will carry over to next year's World Championships and to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics."