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Toyota and Tanaka Drop New Course Records - Ekiden Weekend Roundup



Qualifying action for the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden corporate men's national championships continued Sunday with the combined Chubu and Hokuriku regional ekidens. Running both an A and a B team with only the A team having a chance of going on to race on New Year's Day, Toyota destroyed the field as it took 1st and 3rd overall.

After a slow start the A-team's Chihiro Miyawaki broke the course record on the 11.5 km Third Stage, covering it in 32:55 to move into the lead. Toyota A-team runners won the last three of the race's seven stages, winning by more than three minutes over closest competition Aisan Kogyo as they broke the overall course record with a new mark of 4:05:35 for the 83.5 km event. Toyota's B-team finished just 16 seconds behind Aisan Kogyo, showing just how much of a stranglehold Toyota has on the Chubu Region. YKK was the top team from the tiny Hokuriku Region, finishing 9th overall in 4:13:34 but moving on to the New Year Ekiden.

In Kyoto, Kwansei Gakuin University beat regional favorite Ritsumeikan University to win the Tango University Ekiden, the 79th edition of the Osaka-area Kansai Region University Men's Ekiden Championships. Kwansei Gakuin's Naoki Nakamura took the lead on the first of the 84.4 km race's eight stages, and from there to the finish the team was never seriously challenged for the lead despite a Fourth Stage course record by Ritsumeikan's Tsuyoshi Masumoto and wins on the last two stages by Ritsumeikan men. Nearly three minutes down at the start of his run with 11.7 km to make it up, Ritsumeikan anchor Shinji Koiwa got as close as 37 seconds back Kwansei Gakuin's Ikkai Kojima but simply didn't have the ground ahead of him in which to make it all up. Kwansei Gakuin won in 4:18:09, Ritsumeikan next across the line in 4:18:46.

All across the country top high schools continued the buildup to next month's National High School Ekiden Championships with dozens of prefectural and regional championship ekidens. There were simply too many high-level races to cover, but bearing special mention was the 33rd Kinki Region High School Girls Ekiden. On the 6.0 km First Stage Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S. senior Nozomi Tanaka, who ran 8:54.27 to win last month's National Sports Festival Women's 3000 m, blasted a new course record of 18:51 for the opening leg, leaving Chinatsu Tarumoto of Suma Gakuen H.S. and other competition over 40 seconds behind. 

Nishiwaki Kogyo finished only 4th overall in the end over a minute and a half behind 2016 national champions Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S., but her powerful stage win meant Tanaka picked up her sixth-straight win since finishing 2nd in the 3000 m at the summer's National High School Track and Field Championships. Tanaka has at least three more ekiden runs before her graduation in March, and if she can go her last ekiden season undefeated it will be a fitting end before she goes to the non-ekiden-oriented Doshisha University in April.

© 2017 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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Kawauchi Ties Sub-2:20 World Record, Kato Crushes Course Record In Hofu Yomiuri Marathon Wins

Two weeks to the day after running 2:10:53 at the Fukuoka International Marathon, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) wrapped his 2017 with a win, running one of the few negative splits of his career to win the Hofu Yomiuri Marathon for the third time in 2:10:03. Women's winner Misako Kato (Kyudenko), a 1:09:49 half marathon, soloed an almost perfectly paced 2:28:12 to take 3 minutes off her PB and 7 1/2 minutes off the course record. Further back, Rio Paralympics T12 marathon silver medalist Misato Michishita broke the own world record in her category with a time of 2:56:14.

Watch a complete replay of the race here.


Pacers Taiga Ito and Melaku Abera, both of whom ran Fukuoka alongside Kawauchi, were tasked with taking the field out in 3:06/km, 2:10:48 pace. Pre-race Kawauchi told JRN, "If they'd run 3:04 I ccoul definitely, 100%, go faster than I did in Fukuoka. In cold and windy conditions things went in his favor in the early going with 5 and 10 km splits of 15:19 …

The Kawauchi Counter

Yuki Kawauchi's 2017 race results: Jan. 8: Ikinoshima Half Marathon, Nagasaki: 1:06:35 - 1st
Jan. 15: Okukuma Half Marathon, Kumamoto: 1:04:17 - 6th
Jan. 29: Okumusashi Ekiden Third Stage (4.3 km), Saitama: 13:16 - 9th
Feb. 5: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama: 36:59 - 3rd
Feb. 12: Ehime Marathon, Ehime: 2:09:54 - 1st - CR
Feb. 26: Soja Kibiji Half Marathon,  Okayama: 1:04:52 - 2nd
Mar. 5: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto: 1:03:19 - 3rd
Mar. 12: Tanegashima Rocket Half Marathon, Kagoshima: 1:04:43 - 1st - CR
Mar. 19: Kuki Half Marathon, Saitama: 1:05:03 - 1st - CR
Mar. 26: Kamisato Machi Kenmu Half Marathon, Saitama: 1:05:33 - 1st - CR
Apr. 2: Daegu International Marathon, South Korea: 2:13:04 - 6th
Apr. 23: Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon, Gifu: 1:04:06 - 15th
Apr. 30: Kawauchi no Sato Kaeru Half Marathon, Fukushima: 1:05:31 - 1st - CR
May 7: Prague Marathon, Czech Republic: 2:10:13 - 6th
May 14: Sendai International Half Marathon, Miyagi: 1:03:29 - 11th
May 28:…

Tokyo Marathon to Move to March Date Beginning in 2019

At a press conference in Tokyo on Dec. 12, the Tokyo Marathon Foundation announced that beginning in 2019, the Tokyo Marathon will move from its current date on the last Sunday of February to the first Sunday of March. The next Imperial succession is set to take place in 2019, meaning that February 23 will become the Emperor's Birthday national holiday starting in 2020. The race date is being preemptively moved to avoid any potential overlap.

According to the Foundation, setting up and breaking down the facilities necessary to hold the Tokyo Marathon takes several days. With the finish area being positioned in front of the Imperial Palace there were concerns that problems would arise due to the large number of people who would gather in the area to celebrate the Emperor's birthday.

Translator's note: The Tokyo Marathon previously experimented with a March race date in 2009 but abandoned it to return to February the next year. Since 1994 the first Sunday of March has been t…