Skip to main content

Matsueda, Tanaka and Yoshimatsu Lead Weekend European Japanese Results


Japanese runners were busy overseas this weekend with top-level athletes racing in at least four countries. Four Japanese athletes ran in Saturday’s Birell Prague Grand Prix 10 km. In a race that saw the women’s road 5 and 10 km world records fall to half marathon world record holder Joyciline Jepkosgei (Kenya), Asian area record holder Kayoko Fukushi (Wacoal) was almost five minutes out of the action, finishing 10th in 34:43. Fukushi told JRN post-race that she had stomach problems midway, but with a halfway split just under 17 minutes she was never really in the action. Four women cleared 31 minutes, the most in history.


Benard Kimeli (Kenya) took the men’s course record down to 27:10 in a three-win sprint finish that led eight men under 28 minutes, another history-making mark. Missing out on making it nine, 10000 m U18 national record holder Kenta Murayama (Asahi Kasei) came up well short of his goal of bettering the 28:05 road 10 km national record, finishing just 19th 29:09 and losing a familiar-looking sprint finish against teammate Tetsuya Yoroizaka who clocked the same time for 18th. Taking the top Japanese spot in a tuneup for the Berlin Marathon later this month, Yuta Shitara (Honda) executed a gradual buildup to negative split his was to a 28:55 for 16th. Shitara will stay in the Czech Republic until Berlin, running next weekend’s Usti nad Labem half marathon as his final shakeout before going for a 2:07.


Having spent the last couple of weeks in Europe with Yoroizaka, Hiroki Matsueda (Fujitsu) helped lead the Japanese team at France’s Decanation to a 4th-place overall finish, taking 2nd in the men’s 2000 m in 5:23.15. Having cracked 9 minutes for 3000 m at this summer’s National High School Championships, Nozomi Tanaka (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.), daughter of sub-2:30 amateur marathoner Chihiro Tanaka, took 3rd in the women’s 2000 m in an U20 national record 5:53.47.

Equalling Tanaka’s position to mark the top Japanese placing in an international road race this weekend, Hofu Yomiuri Marathon course record holder Hisae Yoshimatsu (Shunan City Hall) paced her European debut perfectly, moving up from 8th place at 10 km to finish 3rd in 2:36:02 at the Volksbank Muenster Marathon. In a race that saw the lead quartet of Africans go through halfway on course record pace in 1:14:00 and last year’s runner-up Yoshiko Sakamoto (Y.W.C.) in 1:17:08, Yoshimatsu’s first and second halves were almost dead even, 1:17:58 for the first half and 1:18:04 for the second.

With the fastest second half in the field Yoshimatsu overtook her competition, including Sakamoto, one by one the finish less than 3 minutes off Kenyan winner Rose Jepchogei’s 2:33:05. At 2:38:29 Sakamoto was 16 seconds faster than last year but took only 4th. Last fall Sakamoto became the first Japanese runner to win the Osaka Marathon, Yoshimatsu taking 3rd in that race. In Muenster Yoshimatsu exactly tied Sakamoto’s Osaka time. The pair will line up again in Osaka this year, promising a great duel.

At the U.K.’s Great North Run half marathon, Hiroyuki Yamamoto (Konica Minolta) had the best Japanese men’s placing since Arata Fujiwara took 4th in 2013, finishing 5th in 1:02:03. Despite having run 1:01:04 in Marugame earlier this year, Yamamoto’s teammate and former Hakone Ekiden star Daichi Kamino was a non-factor, finishing 12th in only 1:04:47. Yamamoto will return to the New York City Marathon in November after finishing 4th there last year, New York’s best-ever Japanese men’s placing.

Yoshimatsu photo © 2017 Dr. Helmut Winter, all rights reserved
text, other photos and video © 2017 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kawauchi Breaks Nobeyama Ultra Course Record

2018 Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) won the longest race of his career to date Sunday in Nagano, taking over six minutes off the Yatsugatake Nobeyama Kogen 71 km Ultramarathon in 4:41:55.

A training run for next month’s Stockholm Marathon, Kawauchi set off solo at a steady pace around 3:45/km. Climbing from 1355 m to 1908 m as he approached 20 km he naturally slowed, but with over 1000 m of descent over the next 30 km he was soon back on track. Hitting the marathon split around 2:39, he was so far ahead of the 2nd placer that the announcer initially forget Kawauchi had already gone by and announced the next runner as the leader.

At 58 km Kawauchi was on track to clear 4:30:00, but hitting the uphills in the final 10 km and feeling the effects of the unfamiliar distance he slowed to almost 5:00/km. But with so much leeway to work with there was never any danger of the 4:48:13 course record slipping out of reach. Kawauchi stopped the clock in 4:41:55, please…

What Value Does Four-Straight Hakone Ekiden Titles Have for Aoyama Gakuin's Athletes and Staff?

An editorial by Nikkan Gendai.

Nothing rings in the New Year like the Hakone Ekiden. With TV viewership ratings around 30% it's one of the most popular sports programs in Japan. The king of that cash cow is Aoyama Gakuin University, winning four-straight Hakone titles since its first victory in 2015. But no matter how well its students perform, every school in Hakone gets the same share of the proceeds, a uniform 2,000,000 yen [~$18,000 USD at current exchange rates].

The AGU team currently includes 44 athletes on its roster. Although athletes can get preferential admission, their tuition is the same as for other students and there are no exemptions or reductions. First year tuition in the Department of Social and Information Studies is around 1,520,000 yen [~$14,000 USD], and with additional fees including dormitory and training camp expenses the burden upon students' parents is considerable.

By comparison, in the United States the NCAA has made its collegiate sports a succes…

How it Happened

Ancient History I went to Wesleyan University, where the legend of four-time Boston Marathon champ and Wes alum Bill Rodgers hung heavy over the cross-country team. Inspired by Koichi Morishita and Young-Cho Hwang’s duel at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics I ran my first marathon in 1993, qualifying for Boston ’94 where Bill was kind enough to sign a star-struck 20-year-old me’s bib number at the expo.

Three years later I moved to Japan for grad school, and through a long string of coincidences I came across a teenaged kid named Yuki Kawauchi down at my neighborhood track. I never imagined he’d become what he is, but right from the start there was just something different about him. After his 2:08:37 breakthrough at the 2011 Tokyo Marathon he called me up and asked me to help him get into races abroad. He’d finished 3rd on the brutal downhill Sixth Stage at the Hakone Ekiden, and given how he’d run the hills in the last 6 km at Tokyo ’11 I thought he’d do well at Boston or New York. “If M…