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National Corporate Women's Championships, A Potential National Record and More - Weekend Preview



It's always a busy weekend of racing in Japan, this weekend as much as any. Saturday's main event is the Hachioji Long Distance meet at Tokyo's Hosei University. In the last few years Hachioji has become one of the world's premier track 10,000 m, the site of the current Japanese national record two years ago. The big question mark this year is half marathon national record holder Yuta Shitara (Honda) in the A-heat. After running the 1:00:17 national record and a 2:09:03 PB on back-to-back weekends at the end of September is he ready to tackle the 27:29.69 national record? It'll take a big improvement on his 27:42.71 best, but not as much as what he did in breaking the half marathon record.

Also up Saturday night is the Kanto Region University 10,000 m Time Trials meet at Kanagawa's Keio University. While the very top university men will turn up at Hachioji, most looking to sharpen their times ahead of their coaches' final team selections for the Hakone Ekiden will run at Keio. Defending Hakone champ Aoyama Gakuin University will be a heavy presence in the A-heat which is scheduled to chase the 28:20 qualifying standard for next year's National Championships 10,000 m. Smaller time trial meets will also be going on in Kyoto and Saga.

A few university men will run Sunday's Koedo Kawagoe Half Marathon, the last significant half before Hakone, but for the most part Sunday is all about women's running. First and foremost is the National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships in Sendai. Now in its second year being held in November instead of December, the Queen's Ekiden as it is known will be a race to beat defending  national champions Japan Post, whose top trio of Olympians and World Championships team members Rina Nabeshima, Hanami Sekine and Ayuko Suzuki is without a doubt the best in Japan. Japan Post beat Daiichi Seimei by just 13 seconds over 42.195 km last year, but Daiichi Seimei looks to be down somewhat in strength this year and sets up others to step up. Last year Daihatsu finished only 16th, but with the return of talented young marathoner Sairi Maeda from a long injury cycle they should be in position to challenge for the eight-deep podium. The race will be broadcast live on TBS starting at 11:50 a.m. local time. Follow @JRNLive for more coverage throughout the race.

Further south in Tochigi, top university women's teams will be facing off at the second of the season's big three ekidens, the all-uphill Nikko Irohazaka Women's Ekiden. After just missing the national title at October's Morinomiyako Ekiden, two-time Nikko champ Daito Bunka University will be giving Nikko a miss this year, leaving the door open for last year's 2nd and 3rd-placers Osaka Geidai and Tokyo Nogyo to land 1st. For Osaka it would be its first Nikko win, while for Tokyo it would be a return to the top after winning the inaugural edition three years ago.

Sunday's main marathon action comes at the Osaka Marathon, one of the world's ten biggest marathons with 29,431 finishers last year. As the number of mass participation marathons in Japan continues to grow and races struggle to differentiate themselves from the competition Osaka has become a sort of unofficial amateur women's championship race. Led by mother of three Yoshiko Sakamoto (F.O.R.) who last year became the first-ever Japanese winner in Osaka, all six of Japan's current sub-2:40 amateur women are set to run, with the most interesting duel being between Sakamoto and last year's 3rd-placer Hisae Yoshimatsu (Shunan City Hall), who beat Sakamoto and exactly tied her Osaka winning time of 2:36:02 at September's Volksbank Muenster Marathon in Germany. Newcomer Marie Imada (Iwatani Sangyo) could be their biggest threat.

Also Sunday is the Asian Marathon Championship at China's Dongguan Marathon. 2:28:19 runner Keiko Nogami (Juhachi Ginko) will represent Japan on the women's side after runner-up finishes at the 2015 Gold Coast Airport Marathon and this year's Hokkaido Marathon. Shogo Kanezane (Chugoku Denryoku) will be the men's representative with a 2:14:15 best.

© 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…