Skip to main content

Weekend Preview: Five Big Races in 48 Hours

by Brett Larner

A big weekend of racing on the track and roads lies ahead.

Saturday the Tokyo area hosts not one but two massive 10000 m time trial meets.  The Hachioji Long Distance meet at Hosei University has grown to become one of the world's leading races at that distance over the last few years, the site of a 27:29.69 Japanese national record by Kota Murayama (Team Asahi Kasei) last year.  The A-heat at this year's race will be targeting 27:45 ahead of next summer's London World Championships with pacing by Bedan Karoki (DeNA RC) and features the tantalizing debut of Ronald Kwemoi (Team Komori Corp.).

At the same time as Hachioji, many of Japan's best collegiate men who didn't race at last weekend's record-setting Ageo City Half Marathon will be taking on 10000 m at Keio University's Kanto Region University Time Trials. Last year Hakone Ekiden champion Aoyama Gakuin University put eight of its men under 29 minutes in one heat at Keio.  This year seven of its best are entered in the A-heat, so expect more.  Unlike Hachioji, Keio also features women's races, with the A-heat set to go for sub-32:30.  Click here for a more detailed preview of both meets.

The next morning a solid field lines up at the Kumamoto Kosa 10-Mile Road Race.  A tuneup for the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden national corporate men's championships, Kosa is far and away the world's #1 10-miler.  This year's field includes sub-61 half marathoner Keijiro Mogi (Team Asahi Kasei), 2:07:39 marathoner Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu), Rio Olympians Kazuya Shiojiri (Juntendo Univ.), Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei) and Suehiro Ishikawa (Team Honda), former Hakone Fifth Stage star Daichi Kamino (Team Konica Minolta) and many more.

Many university women not racing at Keio will instead be running the second of the season's three big university women's ekidens, the Nikko Irohazaka Ekiden.  All uphill, Irohazaka is an interesting event that puts the women's season on almost an equal footing with the three-race university men's ekiden season.  Course record holder and defending champion Daito Bunka University returns as the favorite after taking 5th at last month's National University Women's Ekiden, the top placer there entered in Irohazaka.

Further to the north, corporate women will run the Queens Ekiden, their national championship race.  Moved up several weeks this year from its traditional mid-December date, the Queens Ekiden is now in direct conflict with the Saitama International Marathon, one of the races the JAAF uses to pick its national team.  22 teams will race the six-stage, 42.195 km ekiden where defending champion Denso set a 2:14:22 course record last year.  Japan Post features Rio Olympians Ayuko Suzuki and Hanami Sekine, but with the fitness of both a question mark its chances look tough.  Yamada Denki may be a more solid pick for a breakthrough this year.  JRN will cover the race live on @JRNLive starting at 11:50 a.m. Japan time on Sunday.

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Toyo University Leads Defending Champ Aoyama Gakuin on Hakone Ekiden Day One

The team that brought Japan's greatest race into the modern era with its historic 2012 sub-3 min/km win, Toyo University came out swinging to win Day One of the 2018 Hakone Ekiden.

Intensely popular with fans, Toyo has struggled this season with its entire senior class out with injury. With its fate in the hands of its younger members Toyo 1st-year Kazuya Nishiyama, freshly 19 in November, stepped up and took control of the race with both hands. Midway through the fast First Stage Nishiyama surged hard to go out front alone, 2017 World University Games half marathon gold medalist Kei Katanishi (Komazawa Univ.) and relative unknown Yuhei Urano (Koku Gakuin Univ.) the only ones to try to go with him. Nishiyama covered the 21.3 km stage in 1:02:16, equivalent to a 1:01:40 half marathon, with Urano and Katanishi around 15 seconds back. 3-time defending champ Aoyama Gakuin University was 25 seconds behind in 5th at the first exchange, 2017 Izumo Ekiden winner Tokai University another …

Kawauchi Breaks Sub-2:20 World Record in Sub-Zero Temperatures

Battling freezing temperatures and wind chill that took things down to -23C, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran a 2018 world-leading 2:18:59 at the Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, taking 30 minutes off the course record and breaking American Doug Kurtis' historic sub-2:20 world record with his 76th career sub-2:20.

Kawauchi spent Dec. 29 to 31 training on the Boston Marathon course ahead of his upcoming appearance as part of the John Hancock Elite Athlete Team and planned to run Marshfield at the tail end of his trip. The Marshfield Road Runners club, organizers of the marathon, had their longstanding race USATF certified ahead of his appearance.


Wearing full-length tights in a marathon for the first time, in Marshfield Kawauchi planned to run the first of the hilly course's two laps in 1:09 flat to give himself room to work with in breaking 2:20. But in the wind and cold he struggled to stay on pace, ice crystals coating his face as he hit halfway in 1:10:29…

Aoyama Gakuin Runs Down Toyo for Fourth-Straight Hakone Ekiden Title

In a rare reversal of Day One standings, Aoyama Gakuin University ran down Toyo University early in on Day Two to win its fourth-straight Hakone Ekiden title. At both the Izumo Ekiden and National University Men's Ekiden this season, Toyo struggled to cope with the absence of its entire senior class due to injury, running up front much of the way but lacking the depth to keep the lead in the final stages. Hakone played out like an opera-scale version of the same familiar story, its brilliant Day One win backlit by the headlights of rapidly approaching fate.

Second on Day Two's opening stage, the 20.8 km Sixth Stage with around 800 m elevation loss, both of the last two years, AGU 3rd-year Yuji Onoda just missed the course record en route as he ran down Toyo's Shunsuke Imanishi and put AGU almost a minute ahead by the time he handed off. AGU's next two runners Keisuke Hayashi and Yuta Shimoda both won their stages, Hayashi, a relative unknown on the roster, running 1:0…