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Showing posts from February, 2018

Kawauchi Takes Six Minutes Off Kitakyushu Marathon Course Record to Lead Weekend Results

After a seven-week break from the marathon, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) scored his third-straight marathon win, second-straight course record and came just shy of a third-straight negative split as he ran a completely solo 2:11:46 to take almost six minutes off the Kitakyushu Marathon course record. Following up on negative split wins at December's Hofu Yomiuri Marathon and January's Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, the latter a course record by half an hour, Kawauchi was on his own in the first 100 m in Kitakyushu and never looked back.

In the hilly first 10 km his pace fluctuated from high-2:12 to high-2:10, but once Kawauchi got into the flatter section of the course he settled out on track for a high-2:11 to low-2:12 time. After a 1:05:51 split at halfway he slowed slightly on the outbound trip to the turnaround near 31 km, but picking it up again after 35 km he marked a 6:34 from 40 km to the finish to stop the clock at 2:11:46,  a 1:05:55 second half …

Nikko Irohazaka Women's Ekiden Discontinued Due to Falling Participation

Organized by the city of Nikko every November since 2014, the all-uhill Nikko Irohazaka Women's Ekiden has been discontinued. Likewise, the mass-participation Nikko Highway Marathon running up Nikko's famous tree-lined Nikko-Utsunomiya Road has also been discontinued. For both races, participation rates have been lower than expected and on a downward trend.

According to organizers and the city government, the Nikko Irohazaka Women's Ekiden was created with the intention of it becoming a high-profile event for university women like the Hakone Ekiden is for university men, but fewer top-level universities than expected showed interest in running it. The number of teams peaked at 18 in 2015, but last year it fell to record low levels with only 13 teams from 12 schools.

The Nikko Highway Marathon was billed as featuring a course normally accessible only by car. The field size was set at a maximum of 8000, but in its first edition in 2014 it had only 3400 runners. This fell to…

Kobe Marathon Elevated to IAAF Bronze Label Status

The organizers of the Kobe Marathon announced on Feb. 13 that the race has been awarded IAAF Bronze Label status ahead of its 8th edition this November. The distinction is a mark of international recognition of the organizers' efforts to put on a world-class event that at last year's 7th running featured an international-quality elite field and was supported by 7500 volunteers. According to organizers and the JAAF, Kobe is the tenth event in Japan to acquire a label. It is the first mass-participation marathon without strict entry standards in Western Japan to earn the honor.

The IAAF awards three labels, Gold, Silver and Bronze, to marathons, half marathons and other road races. Requirements for label status include a specified number of international athletes in the elite field, strict anti-doping testing, adequate aid stations, and prompt publication of results and other information in English. Organizers cited the Gold Label London Marathon (U.K.), the Silver Label Daegu …

Chebii Returns - Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon Elite Field

Defending champ Ezekiel Chebii (Kenya) returns to lead the field for the Mar. 4 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon. Chebii is one of three men in the field with recent 2:06 times, his 2:06:07 in Amsterdam two years ago leading Tadesse Abraham (Switzerland) and Abera Kuma (Ethiopia) to form a clear trio of favorites.

Making up the second pack are four current sub-2:10 Japanese men, 2017 Gold Coast winner Takuya Noguchi (Konica Minolta), Rio Olympian Satoru Sasaki (Asahi Kasei), and Sasaki's teammates Takuya Fukatsu and Fumihiro Maruyama. The addition of sub-61 half marathoner Kenta Murayama in his second shot at the marathon after a failed debut in Tokyo two years ago makes for a formidable quartet of men from 2017 and 2018 New Year Ekiden national champion Asahi Kasei all aligned in training and talent.

With Japan's depth it's never surprising to see a relatively anonymous runner make a breakthrough and factor into the action. Yoshiki Takenouchi (NTT Nishi Nihon) was one of the …

Yamazaki, Ndirangu, Kamulu and Shitara Top Weekend Road Racing Action

Snow and cold impacted road races across Japan over the weekend, but at the top level almost every event went off as planned. In his marathon debut, Shota Yamazaki (Yakult) downed two-time defending champ Ryoichi Matsuo and debuting training partner Takumi Honda of the locally-based New Year Ekiden national champion Asahi Kasei corporate team to take the top spot at the Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon in a three-way sprint finish.

Shaking off first-timer Keisuke Tanaka (Fujitsu) late in the race, Yamazaki did all the work in the lead trio with the Asahi Kasei duo hanging off both of his shoulders. Hitting a bridge with 750 m to go Honda surged into the lead with Matsuo following. Yamazaki fell back, looking behind him with 500 m to go and seeming to have settled for 3rd. At 400 m to go Matsuo went to the front and looked to be on track to become only the second man to win Nobeoka three times, but as the pair rounded the final corner Yamazaki came back with a kick that left both his riv…

20 km Racewalk World Record Holder Suzuki Suspended 6 Months for False Expense Claims

On Feb. 8 it was announced that men's 20 km racewalk world record holder Yusuke Suzuki (30, Fujitsu), has been suspended for six months beginning in October last year for making fraudulent expense claims to the JAAF in relation to support money he was receiving from the Federation.

In 2016 Suzuki was designated as a high performance athlete with medal potential, a categorization that qualified him for an annual 10 million yen [~$92,000 USD] stipend to support his training. According to an involved person, from October, 2016 to March last year Suzuki had filed travel expenses for 150 trips from the Fujitsu athlete dormitory in Chiba to a treatment clinic in Tokyo when in reality he was staying with relatives in Tokyo nearby the clinic. He also filed expense claims for eight treatment sessions that he did not actually attend.

At the request of the JAAF, Fujitsu team management had reviewed Suzuki's expense claims and uncovered the false expenses, following which Suzuki withdrew…

Shitara Chasing 10 Mile National Record Sunday in Karatsu - Weekend Preview

At least five major races fill the calendar this weekend across Japan. Potentially the biggest is the Karatsu 10-Miler, where half marathon national record holder Yuta Shitara (Honda) is slated to run in what many hope will be a shot at the antique national record. Over 30 seconds faster than the American national record, Hisatoshi Shintaku's 45:40,has stood since 1984 and survived  over three decades of assaults including Shitara's 45:58 at December's Kumamoto Kosa 10-Miler. It translates to 42:34 for 15 km; at last weekend's Marugame Half Shitara went through 15 km in 42:39. Just two weeks out from a shot at the Japanese national record for the marathon will Shitara try to add another national record to his resume en route to Tokyo?

Many of his corporate league brethren and sistren will be lining up at the National Corporate Half Marathon and 10 km Championships. Historically the world's deepest competitive men's half marathon and second-deepest women's …

Nagasaki Announces Plans to Host Marathon Promoting Peace

Nagasaki has announced plans for the city's first full marathon, to be held in 2020 in the 75th anniversary year of the American nuclear bombing. The costs necessary for planning and preparing for the marathon will be included in the next fiscal year's budget.

Nagasaki hopes to use the marathon as an opportunity to promote the message of peace on the milestone 75th anniversary of the United States' use of weapons of mass destruction on the city. As Nagasaki's first full marathon, city government officials have already consulted with the police department and other agencies regarding measures to reduce traffic problems and to maximize runners' safety. Based upon those discussions plans call for the race to go ahead with a course starting and finishing at Nagasaki Peace Park and running around the Nagasaki Port area, offering a representative view of the Nagasaki seaside.

The race is being planned for November, 2020 with a field of 10,000 runners. Along with the 42.1…

In Memory of Ken Young

I'm very saddened to hear of the passing of Ken Young, founder of the Association of Road Racing Statisticians. If you're not familiar with Ken or the ARRS, Amby Burfoot's 2016 piece on him in Runners World, The Endless Toil of the Big Data Guy, says everything you need to know. Back in the early days of JRN, Ken was one of several industry people to contact me after I published JRN's first hit article, 397 Under 70 Minutes: The 20th Ageo City Half Marathon. He wanted verification of the results and, seemingly having missed Ageo before, asked me to research its history and past results.

That soon led to me transliterating results from Japanese road, track and cross-country races for him on a weekly basis, results otherwise unavailable to the outside world except for some already covered by Japanese contributors Ken Nakamura and Shigenobu Ota. For the last 10 years I've spent about 10 hours on average every Sunday night and Monday morning, sometimes Tuesday, someti…

King of Junior High Athletics Ishida Scores XC National Title Ahead of Graduation

At the 3rd National Junior High School Cross-Country Championships Sunday in Chiba, Fukuoka's Kosuke Ishida, a 3rd-year at Asakawa J.H.S., scored the win in the boys' 3 km in an excellent 8:47. With three junior high school national records to his name Ishida is the undisputed king of junior high athletics. Set to graduate next month before going on to Gunma's Tokyo Nogyo Daini H.S., his win in his final national-level competition as a junior high school student crowned what has been a superb season. Osumi J.H.S. 3rd-year Mio Hashimoto from Kyoto won the girls' 3 km in 9:47.

Ishida won the race by 13 seconds over the 2nd-placer. "I've won every national competition up to now," Ishida smiled afterward. "Winning this one too is a big relief." This season he won both the National Junior High School Championships and Junior Olympics and broke the junior high national records for 1500 m, 3000 m and 5000 m, a record of success that marks him as one o…

Kawauchi Passes 44 People at Saitama Ekiden

Civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi (30, Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran the 12.1 km Third Stage at the 6-stage, 42.195 km Saitama Ekiden Sunday in Kumagaya, Saitama. Delivering a fast run, he passed 44 people en route to the handoff. "That was a lot of fun," he said afterward with a sweaty smile.

Starting far back from the lead, Kawauchi mowed down runners all three division as he moved up through the field. HIs time of 36:54 ranked him 4th on his stage, where Ageo City Half Marathon course record setterSimon Kariuki (Nihon Yakka Univ.) took a minute and a half off his own record with a new mark of 34:34. Wearing clear sunglasses to block the headwind, Kawauchi said, "All I was thinking about was moving forward and pulling the team's position up all by myself."

Last weekend Kawauchi was beaten by high schooler Ryu Hashimoto (Tokyo Nogyo Daisan H.S.) in finishing 6th on the opening stage at the Okumusashi Ekiden. He didn't win his stage either then or in Saita…

Saina and Waweru Win Windy Marugame Half

Kenyans Betsy Saina and Edward Waweru (NTN) took the top spots at the Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon's 72nd edition, winning in 1:09:17 and 1:00:31.

Saina was part of a lead group of six led by Japanese national record holder Kayoko Fukushi (Wacoal) that went through the downhill first 5 km in 16:15, a decent 1:08:34 pace aided by a tailwind. Saina accelerated to 16:00 for the next 5 km, and by the halfway turnaround it was down to just her and Ethiopian Ftaw Zeray with the others forming a chase group led by Sara Hall (U.S.A.).

Saina dropped Zeray on the uphill return trip and sailed on alone into the headwind to take the win in 1:09:17. Overcoming a 22-second deficit at halfway, Kaori Morita (Panasonic) blazed the second half to move up to 2nd with just over 1 km to go, holding on to finish in the runner-up position in 1:10:10.  Zeray was 3rd, fading to 1:10:31. Fukushi dropped far off to 7th in 1:13:17, with two-time marathon world champion Edna Kiplagat dropping …

Mokgobu Outkicks Sonoda on Track, Yoshitomi Rewrites Women's Course Record at Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon

It took until the last lap of the track to do it, but Desmond Mokgobu had the kick to overcome the relentless Hayato Sonoda (Kurosaki Harima) and become the first South African winner of the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon since 2006.



Running into a moderate headwind for the part of the race, the pacers took things through 10 km in 30:47, just under 2:10 pace. For the Japanese men in the field that was a critical mark. The first of them across the line would qualify for the MGC Race 2020 Olympic trials, with the next five also up for a spot if they went sub-2:10. Rounding the turnaround the lead pack found itself with a nice tailwind all the way to 35 km, and with the boost the pace quickly shifted to 2:09-flat.

The fastest Japanese man in the field was Sonoda, head tilted and expression dire, his 2:10:40 best one of the highlights of Fukuoka in 2016. With the pace they were going that meant a steady rate of attrition in the lead pack after 20 km, one or two men dropping off every kilom…

High School Teacher Suspended for Sexually Harassing Member of Girls' Track Team

On Feb. 1 St. Catalina Gakuen H.S. in Matsuyama held a press conference to announce that a male member of its faculty has been suspended for 20 days for sexually harassing a girl on the school's track and field team. The girl's guardian filed a complaint with the school.

According to the school, since last November the girl has received massages from the male staff member after practice and began to feel uncomfortable with the way he touched her shoulders and other areas. Additionally, the girl complained that in December after she had sustained an injury, the man had held her hand while giving her words of support and encouragement as he drove her to receive treatment.

In January the same school suspended the 30-year-old male head coach of its girls' softball team for violating the school's sexual harassment and corporal punishment policies. The school's principal's salary was reduced and two other administration executives were officially reprimanded for bei…

Kiplagat and Tadese Lead Busy Weekend of Road Action

It's another busy weekend on the roads across Japan. Two-time marathon world champion Edna Kiplagat (Kenya) and men's half marathon world record holder Zersenay Tadese (Eritrea) top the bill at Sunday's Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon. Kiplagat is the fastest woman in the field, her main competition coming from Sara Hall (U.S.A.) and the Japanese trio of Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal), Michi Numata (Toyota Jidoshokki) and Mai Ito (Otsuka Seiyaku). In something of a slump since the Rio Olympics, Japanese national record holder Kayoko Fukushi (Wacoal) is also on the entry list.

The somewhat grizzled Tadese is the only man in the field with a recent time under 60 minutes, but just back is a thick group of nine sub-61 men led by Japan-based Kenyan Bernard Kimani (Yakult) and Japanese national record holder Yuta Shitara (Honda). Along with Shitara, all five of the other still active Japanese men to have broken 61 are entered, making it the greatest Japanese half marathon fi…

Takushoku University Names Ethiopian Derese Captain of Ekiden Team

It's been a month since the 94th Hakone Ekiden wrapped up. Every university is busy piecing together its new team. After making the seeded top ten for the first time in four years, Takushoku University, alma mater of Olympic marathoners Kentaro Nakamoto (Yasukawa Denki) and Arata Fujiwara (Arata Project) has named third-year Derese Workneh its team captain for the 2018-19 season. Under the leadership of this exceptional foreign student athlete the team aims to beat its best-ever Hakone placing, 7th. The clock is already ticking to the 95th running.

Veteran head coach Masahiro Okada, 72, is confident in his choice of captain. "The only one who can lead the new Takushoku is Derese," said Okada. He informed the team of his decision at its first meeting on Jan. 4, a day after Takushoku returned to the seeded bracket with an 8th place finish at this year's Hakone.

【箱根への道】異例!新主将は留学生 拓大・デレセ、言葉より「ハートで引っ張る」 https://t.co/swq5EpuPID#スポーツ新聞pic.twitter.com/GmCqADGqLX — スポーツ報知 (@…