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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 rivals behind.

Yamazaki took the win in 2:12:15 with Honda bettering Matsuo by 1 second for 2nd in 2:12:18. Matsuo's 2:12:19 was over a minute faster than his winning last year and just 8 seconds off his best, but outdone by the debuting duo ahead of him he fell short of the three-peat. 2017 women's winner Noriko Sato (First Dream AC) succeeded in becoming the first women's winner to defend in Nobeoka, beating rival Shiho Katayama (Saku AC Hokkaido) by 19 seconds to win in 2:56:40. Complete results available here.



Running in blowing snow at the National Corporate Half Marathon and 10 km Championships, the Kenyan pair of Charles Ndirangu (JFE Steel) and Pauline Kamulu (Route Inn Hotels) took the top spots in the long races. With the pace see-sawing between 2:53 and 2:59/km every 5 km, Ndirangu broke away after 15 km to run alone the rest of the way to his third national title in 1:01:55. In his first serious half marathon, 10000 m national record holder Kota Murayama (Asahi Kasei) nearly ran Ndirangu down in the last kilometer, leading the Japanese chase pack to take 2nd in 1:02:00 less than a second ahead of Hideyuki Tanaka (Toyota), Yuki Oshikawa (Toyota Kyushu) and Naoya Takahashi (Yasukawa Denki). For his breakthrough effort Murayama earned a place on Japan's team for next month's Valencia World Half Marathon Championships.

Kamulu, course record setter at December's Sanyo Ladies Half, soloed the women's race, leading by 19 seconds at 5 km and steadily lengthening her lead to win by almost a minute and a half in 1:09:40. Runner-up Yuka Hori (Panasonic) likewise ran the entire way on her own, a distant 2nd in 1:11:05 in her debut but still over a minute ahead of 3rd-placer Misaki Hayashida (Toyota Jidoshokki). Hori also earned a place on the Valencia team. Hayashida's teammate Yui Fukuda, winner of the accompanying women's 10 km last year in course record time, led rival Tomoka Kimura (Universal Entertainment) by 4 seconds at 5 km before opening up in the second half to win in 32:09, 8 seconds under last year's course record time. Kimura was the only other runner to clear 33 minutes, 2nd in 32:37. Complete results from all three races available here.

Marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) was scheduled to run the Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon Sunday, but after heavy snowfall on the west coast earlier in the week the race was cancelled. Kawauchi will regroup next weekend at the Kitakyushu Marathon, his second marathon of the year.


On an almost flawless roll since breaking the half marathon national record in September, Yuta Shitara (Honda) won his final tuneup for a planned shot at the marathon national record at the Tokyo Marathon, winning the Karatsu 10-Miler in 46:12 by a margin of 46 seconds over runner-up Yusuke Nishiyama (Toyota). Shunsuke Imanishi (Toyo Univ.) was just behind Nishiyama in 47:00 for 3rd. Members of Fukuoka's Chikushi Joshi Gakuen H.S. ekiden team took the top three spots in the women's 10 km, Sana Ichihara winning in 34:05. Complete results available here.

© 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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The Kawauchi Counter

Yuki Kawauchi's 2018 race results: Jan. 1: Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, U.S.A.: 2:18:59 - 1st - CR
Jan. 14: Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:03:28 - 7th
Jan. 21: Yashio Isshu Ekiden, Saitama: 1:01:03 - 1st - ran entire 20.0 km ekiden solo and beat all 103 teams of 6 runners each
Jan. 28: Okumusashi Ekiden First Stage (9.9 km), Saitama - 29:41 - 6th
Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
Feb. 11: Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon, Shimane - cancelled due to heavy snow
Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama - 1:04:26 - 1st
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:04:49 - 12th
Mar. 11: Yoshinogawa Riverside Half Marathon, Tokushima - 1:05:50 - 1st - CR
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan - 2:14:12 - 1st
Mar. 24: Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials, Saitama
              5000 m Heat 4: 14:53.95 - 1st
              5000 m Heat 6: 14:36.58 - 2nd
           …

Guinness Certifies Kawauchi's World Record 78 Career Sub-2:20 Marathons After Half Marathon in Panda Costume

Known as the Civil Servant Runner, Saitama Prefectural Government employee Yuki Kawauchi's career record of 78 sub-2:20 marathons was officially recognized as the Guinness World Record at a ceremony in his hometown of Kuki, Saitama on Mar. 25.  Raised in Kuki, Kawauchi began working for the Saitama Prefectural Government after graduating from university. Running while working full-time as a civil servant, he has qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic trial race.

Earlier this month on the 18th Kawauchi ran Taiwan's Wan Jin Shi Marathon, winning in 2:14:12. His 78th time running faster than 2 hours and 20 minutes, his achievement was certified as the official Guinness World Record. He actually broke the previous record on Jan. 1 at the Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon in the U.S.A. with his 76th sub-2:20 but followed up with two performances, one in February and the other last week, before Guinness could ratify the record.

The official recognition ceremony took place Mar. 2…

“The Miracle in Fukuoka” - Real Talk From Yuki Kawauchi on “Taking on the World” (part 1)

http://sports.yahoo.co.jp/column/detail/201701120002-spnavi

translated by Brett Larner

Ahead of his nomination to the London World Championships Marathon team, Sportsnavi published a three-part series of writings by Yuki Kawauchi on what it took for him to make the team, his hopes for London, and his views on the future of Japanese marathoning.  With his place on the London team announced on Mar. 17, JRN will publish an English translation of the complete series over the next three days. See Sportsnavi's original version linked above for more photos. Click here for part two, "Bringing All My Experience Into Play in London," or here for part three, "The Lessons of the Past Are Not 'Outdated.'"


The Fukuoka International Marathon was held on Dec. 4 last year. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) took part despite nursing injuries he had sustained in training. Falling rain contributed to less than ideal conditions during the race, but from the very early stages…