Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from January, 2018

Don't Look Back - Bob Hodge Looks Back on Winning the 1982 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon

Along with Bill Rodgers, Frank Shorter and a small number of others, Bob Hodge is one of the only Americans to ever win a marathon in Japan, earning the lifelong nickname "Hodgie-san." Ahead of this weekend's Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, Hodge wrote about his win at the famous race's 1982 running.

photo: Hodge and 2013 Beppu-Oita winner and course record holder Yuki Kawauchi.



I don’t ever look back.

Japan is a fantastic place for a racer to run a marathon. Most of the top races there invite a smallish contingent of foreign runners, and I considered myself fortunate and very much honored to be competing in Japan for the second time in just a couple of years. Beppu is a beautiful place on the coastline of the southern island of Kyushu. It's known for its thermal hot springs, and bordered by volcanic mountains rising up from the coast it was a dramatic setting for this race.

The race was headed by a couple of busses carrying the media and race officials and we were …

Kato, Herrick and Okamoto Lead Ome 30 km Elite Field

One of the Tokyo area's most popular races, the Ome 30 km and 10 km Road Race has long had a relationship with the U.S.A.'s Boston Marathon with top-placing runners from each event being invited to the other. For the first time in recent memory Ome will bring an American woman instead of a man. Off a 2:34:53 in Boston last year Danna Herrick will face 2015 Rotterdam Marathon winner and two-time Ome champ Asami Kato (Panasonic) and, fresh from a win at Sunday's Osaka Half Marathon, Maki Ashi (Kyudenko) in her 30 km debut.

On the men's side 2:12 marathoner Naoki Okamoto (Chugoku Denryoku) and the Koichi Morishita-coached Kento Otsu (Toyota Kyushu) top the bill. Track specialist Naohiro Domoto (JR Higashi Nihon) and university men Daisuke Horiai (Komazawa University) and Kota Oki (Waseda University) round out the invited athlete list with their 30 km debuts, with deeper competition to be expected at the front end of the general division.

The top Japanese female and male …

Defending Champs Matsuo and Sato Top Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon Entry List

The second of Japan's four big February-March elite men's marathons, the Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon has released its entry list for this year's 56th running on Feb. 11. Traditionally a developmental event for first-timers and early-career marathoners, Nobeoka has been the place where some of Japan's best, most notably Kentaro Nakamoto (Yasukawa Denki) have gotten their start.

This year Ryoichi Matsuo of the locally-based national champion Asahi Kasei team will try to become only the second man in Nobeoka history to win it three years in a row. His main challenge will probably come from Masahiro Kawaguchi (Yakult), at 2:13:27 the only man in the field with a faster recent time than Matsuo's winning time of 2:13:36 from Noboeka last year.

But given Nobeoka's nature any of the relatively inexperienced marathoners in the field, particularly Shota Miyagami (Kyudenko), could get it right this time and break through to Matsuo's level or beyond. Among the debut…

Cambridge University 4th in Ekiden Debut

A team of recent graduates of Cambridge University made the trip to the mountains of southwestern Saitama to race the 64th running of the Okumusashi Ekiden in colder than usual weather on Jan. 28. After hearing about the top-level Izumo Ekiden from Harvard and Yale athletes who had run as part of Izumo's Ivy League Select Team, Cambridge runners Josh Carr, Matt Leach and Alex Short wanted to experience a Japanese ekiden themselves. Pulling together a team of six runners and three alternates, they settled on Okumusashi as the best option in competitive level and timing.


With a 28:45.48 best for 10000 m from Stanford last year Leach led off on the 9.9 km First Stage, facing an unusually deep field including 2018 National Men's Ekiden champion Saitama Prefecture's lead runner Ryu Hashimoto (Tokyo Nogyo Daisan H.S.),  28:17.11 man Yuki Muta and London World Championships marathon 9th placer Yuki Kawauchi. Kenyan Titus Wambua (Musashino Univ.) led in the early going before a p…

Ashi and Ito Win, Hsieh Breaks Taiwanese National Record at Osaka Half

Held alongside the Osaka International Women's Marathon, the Osaka Half Marathon has continued to grow at the elite level into one of the post-ekiden season's top-tier Japanese half marathons. On the women's side, Maki Ashi (Kyudenko) was just off her best as she won in 1:11:26, opening a lead of over 20 seconds in the first 5 km and going the rest of the way alone. Ayaka Yokose (Yamada Denki) was the only other woman to crack 1:12, 2nd in 1:11:58. Taiwanese national record holder Chien-ho Hsieh spent most of the race in 3rd, but despite getting caught by Madoka Nakano (Noritz) with just over 5 km to go Hsieh pushed on to take almost three minutes off her own national record, landing 4th in 1:12:19.

The men's race saw a deep pack go through halfway on sub-1:02 pace, things slowing slightly before 15 km but no real carnage happening until the final stages. With seven still in contention with just over a kilometer to go it came down to a sprint finish on the track, the …

10000 m National Champ Matsuda Drops 2:22:44 Debut to Win in Osaka

To make a long story short, the three questions in JRN's Osaka International Women's Marathon preview and their answers:
Q: Can straight-arm specialist Yuka Ando (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) duplicate her 2:21:36 debut in Nagoya last year after running badly at the London World Championships? A: No. Part of a trio that went through halfway in 1:11:59, Ando dropped off after 25 km and faded to a 2:27:37 for 3rd. Q: Can Honami Maeda (Tenmaya), the only Japanese woman to have qualified for the MGC Race so far, run a fast marathon for real after conquering the heat to win August's Hokkaido Marathon in 2:28:48? A: Yes. Her Hokkaido win was an almost 4-minute PB over her debut in Osaka last year, and with a 10-second negative split this time she chopped another 5 minutes-plus off her best to take 2nd in 2:23:46, replacing now-retired 2017 Osaka winner Risa Shigetomo as the top marathoner in the Tenmaya stable. Q: What can last year's 10000 m national champion Mizuki Matsuda (Daihat…

Osaka Leads Weekend Action

Sunday's Osaka International Women's Marathon leads the way in Japanese road action this weekend. With qualification spots in the MGC Race 2020 Olympic Trials at stake for the home field there are three main questions:

Can straight-arm specialist Yuka Ando (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) duplicate her 2:21:36 debut in Nagoya last year after running badly at the London World Championships?Can Honami Maeda (Tenmaya), the only Japanese woman to have qualified for the MGC Race so far, run a fast marathon for real after conquering the heat to win August's Hokkaido Marathon in 2:28:48?What can last year's 10000 m national champion Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) do in her debut?Eunice Jeptoo (Kenya) tops the international list with a 2:26:13 in Eindhoven last year, with the debuting Gotytom Gebreslase (Ethiopia) the wildcard, her best mark at distance a 49:56 at last year's Utica Boilermaker 15 km. 
Osaka will be broadcast live Sunday by Fuji TV starting at noon local time. A free live …

Heisoko Ekiden Cancelled As Race Organizers Get Too Old

Held every March on a circuit course around Lake Heiso in Kakogawa, Hyogo, on Jan. 24 it was learned that the this year's 39th running of the Heisoko Ekiden has been cancelled because the aging race organizers have found it too difficult to perform tasks suck as traffic control and security. A spokesperson from organizers Hyogo Prefecture Runner Association commented, "It will be difficult to continue to hold this race at Lake Heiso. We apologize to everyone who was looking forward to running it."

The Heisoko Ekiden was first held in 1980. Last year 272 teams totalling around 1600 runners took part. Despite such popularity, most of the members of the organizing committee are in their 70s, and their number has dwindled year by year. The decision to cancel this year's race was made at the end of last year, and officials and teams currently signed up have already been informed.

Organizing committee chairperson Hiroshi Kawasaki, 77, commented, "There has been talk …

JFE Steel Team Announces Kunimitsu Ito as New Head Coach

On Jan. 23 the JFE Steel men's corporate team announced the hiring of former Kanebo head coach Kumimitsu Ito, 63, as its new head coach effective Feb. 1. During his days as an athlete Ito was named to the 1980 Moscow Olympic team prior to Japan's boycott of the Games. At the 1986 Beijing Marathon he ran 2:07:57 for 2nd, breaking the then-national record along with winner Taisuke Kodama. As a coach he led Toshinari Takaoka to set the current Japanese national record of 2:06:16 in the marathon. Takaoka later succeeded him as head coach at Kanebo.

JFE Steel's roster features 12 athletes including Kenyan Charles Ndirangu, a graduate of Sera H.S., and Yudai Okamoto, an Okayama Kogyo H.S. and  Chuo Gakuin University graduate. This season the team failed to qualify for the New Year Ekiden national championships for the first time in 42 years. Hired as head coach in 2014, Takashi Matsuyama, 44, will step down from his position on Jan. 31.

source article:http://www.sanyonews.jp/art…

Tokai University Head Coach Morozumi Calls for Hakone Ekiden Finish Line to Move to Tokyo Dome

In comments on Jan. 22, Tokai University head coach Hayashi Morozumi, 51, revealed that he considering making a proposal for the finish line of the Hakone Ekiden to be moved from its current location in front of the main offices of sponsor Yomiuri Newspaper Group in Otemachi Ward to Tokyo Dome in Bunkyo Ward. "Having the finish at Tokyo Dome would allow more people to watch the race and welcome each school's runner home, increasing the excitement level," explained Morozumi. "With the number of fans packed into the current finish area there are too many issues with traffic and other problems."

Given that it is around 2 km from the Yomiuri Newspaper Group's head offices to Tokyo Dome, under "The Morozumi Proposal" it would be necessary to increase the distance of the anchor stage. Additionally, because the level of Tokyo Dome's fiberglass roof is adjusted in response to changes in air pressure there are times when entrance and exit doors cannot…

Kipsang Returns to 2018 Tokyo Marathon

A year after running the first-ever 2:03 on Japanese soil, Wilson Kipsang (Kenya) returns to lead the men's field for the 2018 edition of the Tokyo Marathon.

Women's champion Sarah Chepchirchir (Kenya), who likewise pulled off the first 2:19 within Japan at last year's race, is nowhere to be found, but in her place are 2017 runner-up Birhane Dibaba (Ethiopia), sub-2:21 women Ruti Aga (Ethiopia) and Purity Cherotich Ronoripo (Kenya), 2016 Tokyo winner Helah Kiprop (Kenya), 2017 World Championships bronze medalist Amy Cragg (U.S.A.) and, in her debut, the great Meseret Defar (Ethiopia).

The restructuring of the Japanese Olympic team selection process opened the door halfway for Japanese women to take part in Tokyo, where they have in the past been barred from national team selection. No top-level women seem to have taken the bait, however, leaving the home crowd, a collection of recently-reitred and developing corporate runners and upper-tier amateurs, one level below the i…

Osaka Kunei H.S. Beats Top Corporate and University Competition at Kitakyushu Women's Ekiden

In the last major women's ekiden of the season, 2016 National High School Ekiden champion Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S. made up for their loss at the 2017 Nationals last month as they outran top corporate and university competition to win the 29th Kitakyushu Invitational Women's Ekiden.

5th on the opening leg, Osaka Kunei moved up to 2nd behind the Toto corporate women's team on the Second Stage thanks to a strong run from third-year Tomomi Musembi Takamatsu. Building on Takamatsu's momentum, third runner Ayaka Murao put Osaka Kunei 7 seconds ahead of Toto, fourth runner Hikari Takeuchi opening up their lead to 34 seconds, and its last two women Ami Taniguchi and Mai Misaki extending that to 48 seconds by race's end.

Scored in separate divisions, Osaka Kunei and Toto were each awarded 1st-place trophies, but as the first across the line Osaka Kunei was only the 2nd high school in Kitakyushu's 29-year history to take the top spot overall. Local power Kitakyushu…

Kawauchi Outruns 103 Teams to Win Yashio Isshu Ekiden

2017 London World Championships marathon 9th-placer Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) gave local club and high school runners something to remember when he ran Sunday's Yashio Shinai Isshu Ekiden solo against 103 six-runner teams. Kawauchi spent most of the 20.0 km race in 2nd, briefly taking the lead at the end of the 3.9 km Second Stage before falling behind after a Third Stage course record run by Kotaro Minowa (Matsudo T&F Assoc.).

Down 13 seconds, Kawauchi came back to split a time 14 seconds faster for the 2.7 km Fifth Stage than its fastest ekiden runner, Yusei Otsuki (Kasukabe H.S. A). Now ahead of Matsudo and out front alone, Kawauchi saved his biggest running for last, dropping a 2:40 final km to split 14 seconds under the 12:34 course record for the 4.0 km anchor stage. Desperate to catch him, Matsudo anchor Shunsuke Matsui went 6 seconds under the old record to become its official new holder but couldn't match Kawauchi's closing speed.

Kawauchi's…

Shitara Runs Down Defending Champ Nagano to Give Saitama 2018 National Men's Ekiden Title

Half marathon national record holder Yuta Shitara lived up to his pre-race words, running down everyone who stood between him and the finish line to bring Saitama Prefecture its second-ever national title at the 2018 National Men's Ekiden.

Defending champ Nagano, whose win last year gave it a record seven wins in the National Men's Ekiden's 21-year history, was the favorite for the win, its roster packed with members of 2017 National High School Ekiden winner Saku Chosei H.S. and 2017 Izumo Ekiden winner Tokai University. Shitara was unfazed, saying pre-race that he'd run down anyone within 50 seconds of him on the 13.0 km anchor stage.

Nagano started strong, taking 2nd on the opening leg behind a nearly record-setting run from Ryuto Igawa (Kumamoto). Hoping for its first-ever top-three finish Ibaraki was unexpectedly strong, 5th on the leadoff leg, overtaking Nagano on the Second Stage and then advancing to 1st on the Third Stage thanks to a strong run from 2018 Hako…

The Alfee to End 31-Year Run of Osaka International Women's Marathon Theme Songs

At a Jan. 19 press conference in Osaka, Kansai Television CEO Sumio Fukui announced that rock band The Alfee, who for over 30 years have written and recorded a theme song for each edition of the Osaka International Women's Marathon, will sing for the final time at this year's 37th running on Jan. 28.



The Alfee began their string of marathon anthems with Osaka's 6th edition in 1987, producing memorable hits like "You Get to Run," "One Step," and the classic "Shining Run." Fukui expressed his gratitude to the band, commenting, "We cannot thank all the members of The Alfee enough for the 31 songs they have written for us."



At the same, Fukui looked to the future, saying, "In the marathon as well, as the Tokyo Olympics approach the selection process has changed and we have entered the days of a new generation. I hope to change our broadcast step by step as well and explore new ways to bring its excitement to the public. This step m…

Cheboitibin, Kiprono and Sonoda Top Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon Elite Entries

With just over two weeks to go the organizers of the Feb. 4 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon have released their elite field for this year's race. With its history as an elite men-only race Beppu-Oita's women's field is still tiny given its status as an IAAF silver label race, but this year promises a good race between two local 2:32 women, 2016 winner Hiroko Yoshitomi (Memolead) and Yuka Takemoto (Canon AC Kyushu), that should see the 2:39:57 course record fall. Defending champ Haruka Yamaguchi (AC Kita) also returns with a 2:38:43 PB from last fall that puts her range of the course record as well.

The men's race is heavier-duty, with a spot in the MGC Race Tokyo Olympic Trials available to the top Japanese man under 2:11:00 and to up to five others if they clear 2:10. Hayato Sonoda (Kurosaki Harima) and Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) are the only Japanese men in the field to have run those kinds of times in the last couple of years, and with support from 2:09~2:10 men

Rio Olympian Ito Heads Elite Field of 21 at Kumanichi 30 km

On Jan. 16 the organizers of the Feb. 18 Kumamoto-jo Marathon announced the elite field of 21 women and men for the 62nd running of the accompanying Kanaguri Kinen Kumanichi 30 km Road Race. Rio de Janeiro Olympics women's marathoner Mai Ito (Otsuka Seiyaku), 2012 Kumanichi men's champion Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Konica Minolta) 2018 Hakone Ekiden MVP Keisuke Hayashi (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) top the entry lists.

Seven corporate league men are on the entry list, which features Ugachi's teammate Gen Hachisuka (Konica Minolta), 28:15 10000 m runner Masato Terauchi (Aichi Seiko) and 2012 runner-up Yuki Oshikawa (Toyota Kyushu). Along with eight university men will also be in the race including two of the runners responsible for Toyo Univesity's 2018 Hakone Ekiden Day One win, Shuji Yamamoto and Akira Aizawa, and local Kyushu Gakuin H.S. graduate Shota Nakagawa (Nittai Univ.).

The women's field consists of six athletes including Ito. 2016 runner-up Mami Onuki (Sysmex), twins Yoko

Kiplagat, Ichiyama, Tadese and Shitara Lead Marugame Half Elite Field

The Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon is always one of Japan's deepest races of the year on the men's side, its 2012 running setting a world record for the most men under 64 minutes in a single half marathon in history. On the women's side the field is always smaller but still home to the 1:07:26 Japanese national record set by Kayoko Fukushi (Wacoal) back in 2006.

Edna Kiplagat (Kenya), Sara Hall (U.S.A.) and Betsy Saina (Kenya) lead the women's international field, two-time defending champ Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) giving Marugame a miss this year. Fresh off a 1:09:14 PB at last month's Sanyo Ladies Half, Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) leads a trio of Japanese women with recent sub-1:10 times, something that has become a puzzling rarity lately. Fukushi is also back, her recent best of 1:12:04 a long way from her best days.

Speaking of which, world record holder Zersenay Tadese (Eritrea) will be looking to break 60 minutes for the first time since 2015. His toughest…

Iwade and Ishii Withdraw From Osaka International Women's Marathon

On Jan. 16 the organizers of the Osaka International Women's Marathon announced that invited elites Reia Iwade (Dome) and Hisami Ishii (Yamada Denki) have withdrawn from the Jan. 28 race with injuries. Iwade has developed discomfort in the rear of her right thigh, while Ishii has sustained a stress fracture in the left side of her pelvis.

source article:https://www.jiji.com/jc/article?k=2018011600538&g=spo
translated by Brett Larner

2018 Japanese Distance Rankings - Updated 4/23/18

JRN's 2018 Japanese track and road distance running rankings. Overall rankings are calculated using runners' times and placings in races over 5000 m, 10000 m, half-marathon and marathon and the strength of these performances relative to others in the top ten in each category. Click any image to enlarge.


Past years:
2017 ・ 2016 ・2015 ・ 2014 ・ 2013 ・ 2012 ・ 2011

© 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Karemi Breaks Okukuma Half Marathon Course Record

As championship ekiden season wraps up Japan’s athletes have started the transition to the winter road season, with four decently competitive half marathons highlighting the first half of January.

At the hilly Okukuma Half Marathon, locally-based Africans Jeremiah Thuku Karemi (Toyota Kyushu) and Melaku Abera (Kurosaki Harima) duked it out one-on-one, Karemi through in a series of surges in the last 5 km before breaking away decisively with 1 km to go. Crossing the finish line in 1:01:48, Karemi took nearly two minutes off the course record with Abera just under 62 for 2nd.

2nd on the Hakone Ekiden’s Seventh Stage less than two weeks ago, Masanori Sumida (Nittai Univ.) outran corporate league competition Taku Fujimoto (Toyota) and Shohei Kurata (GMO) to take the top Japanese spot at 4th in 1:03:11. Spending most of the race behind a pack led by 2015 National Univeristy Half Marathon champion Tadashi Isshiki (GMO) and 2:07:39 marathoner Masato Imai (Toyota Kyushu), Yuki Kawauchi (Sai…

Hyogo Scores First National Women's Ekiden Title in Fourteen Years

HyogoPrefecture dominated the second half of Sunday’s National Women’s Ekiden, moving up through the field with three straight stage wins to take its first national title in 14 years.

In a repeat of her performance at last month’s National High School Ekiden, Hyogo’s Nozomi Tanaka went out front early before getting run down late in the opening stage, leading Hyogo off in 5th. Over the first half of the race the perpetually strong Osaka and Nagano emerged as the frontrunners before a brilliant Fourth Stage course record by Ririka Hironaka brought Nagasaki into the picture.

Nagasaki’s fifth runner Chikako Mori extended the lead Hironaka built to 37 seconds with a stage win, but behind her Hyogo’s Mai Ota brought a big run to pass Osaka and Nagano and move into 2nd. A stage win from sixth runner Yume Goto put Hyogo just 2 seconds behind Nagasaki, and with another pair of stage wins from its next two runners Chinatsu Tarumoto and Asuka Ishimatsu Nagasaki was over a minute up going into t…