Friday, April 18, 2014

World-Class 19-Year-Old Reia Iwade Features at Hyogo Relay Carnival

http://www.kobe-np.co.jp/news/sports/201404/0006869505.shtml

translated by Brett Larner

19-Year-Old Big Hope Reia Iwade (Team Noritz) Riding the Wave to Hyogo Relay Carnival Grand Prix Women's 10000 m

Just 19, Iwade will be showing off her best stuff on home ground in Hyogo prefecture this weekend.  In her first year in the corporate leagues she went through tremendous growth that took her all the way to March's World Half Marathon Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark.  Ahead of her first serious 10000 m, Iwade is strongly motivated as she says, "I want to earn the right to wear the Rising Sun again as soon as possible."

Iwade was born in Mie prefecture.  She was the star runner at Aichi prefecture's Toyokawa H.S., and after graduating she joined Hyogo's Noritz corporate team where she began to make an impact on the ekiden circuit.  A few days after her 19th birthday, at December's Sanyo Women's Road Race half marathon she ran a Japanese junior national record 1:09:45.  Coming just eight days after she finished only 12th on the National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships first stage, she says, "I was still tired but at the same time having had that result made me raise my game in Sanyo."  She ran with the lead pack until 10 km, and, giving herself passing marks for the second half, she says, "I was able to push myself."

Over the winter Iwade trained with Mari Ozaki and other teammates preparing for marathons, building up a mileage base of over a thousand kilometers a month.  In her international debut at the World Half she lost touch with the lead pack in the first half, finishing 19th as the third Japanese woman but still helping win the team bronze medal.  "I could tell how inexperienced and underdeveloped I still am," she says in a strict self-evaluation.  "I have to build up the mental toughness you need to run a PB overseas."

Depending on how her summer training goes, Iwade is eyeing November's Yokohama International Women's Marathon.  "This is the time when she's growing most rapidly," says her coach Yoshihiko Morioka.  "I want her to become one of the best."  As a measure of her development their target for the Hyogo Relay Carnival is the National Championships A-standard of 32:30.00.  "I want to run an aggressive race, get the time, and leave people saying, 'Wow!'" Iwade says with enthusiasm.

The Japanese national record of 30:48.89 was set in 2002 by Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo).  Of the all-time ten fastest 10000 m times run by Japanese women, places 2-10 are all occupied by Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) and Hitomi Niiya (Team Universal Entertainment).  These three are the only Japanese women to have ever broken 31 minutes.  At last year's Hyogo Relay Carnival Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya) was 2nd overall in 32:32.15, the first time in 18 years that the top Japanese woman in that race did not break 32:30.  With Fukushi having shifted focus to the marathon and Niiya, 5th in the 10000 m at last summer's Moscow World Championships, having retired this year,  the pedestal is empty and waiting for the next big star.

Top Ten Japanese Women's 10000 m Performances of 2013

1. Hitomi Niiya (Team Univ. Ent.) - 30:56.70
2. Ayumi Hagiwara (Team Uniqlo) - 31:45.29
3. Kasumi Nishihara (Team Yamada Denki) - 32:05.88
4. Yuka Takashima (Team Denso) - 32:06.70
5. Sayuri Oka (Team Daihatsu) - 32:06.79
6. Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 32:07.41
7. Yuko Shimizu (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 32:07.70
8. Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya) - 32:08.73
9. Yuko Mizuguchi (Team Denso) - 32:10.15
10. Risa Takenaka (Team Shiseido) - 32:10.66

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Kawauchi Headlines May 11 Sendai Half Marathon

http://www.kahoku.co.jp/tohokunews/201404/20140415_14014.html

translated by Brett Larner

On Apr. 14 the Sendai International Half Marathon released the names of the invited athletes for the event's 24th running on May 11.  Civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi (27, Saitama Pref. Gov't) leads the field, with former Hakone Ekiden uphill star Ryuji Kashiwabara (24, Team Fujitsu), a native of Iwaki, Fukushima and graduate of Toyo University, representing the corporate leagues in his Sendai debut. Kawauchi is targeting a medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and at the start of this month was selected as an inaugural member of the National Marathon Team.  In March, 2013 he ran his PB of 2:08:14 for 4th at the Seoul International Marathon. His achievements this year include a 2:10:14 course record win at the Kumamoto-jo Marathon in February.

Other invited athletes include London Olympian Arata Fujiwara (32, Miki House) and mama runner Mari Ozaki (38, Team Noritz).  Corporate league standouts include 2010 Nagoya International Women's Marathon winner Yuri Kano (35, Team Shiseido) and Miyagi prefecture-born runners Kosaku Hoshina (29, Team Nissin Shokuhin), the last Japanese man to win Sendai back in 2004, and Sumiko Suzuki (28, Team Hokuren).

The wheelchair field includes four athletes led by 2013 Boston Marathon men's winner Hiroyuki Yamamoto (47).  Former women's marathon world record holder and Sydney Olympics gold medalist Naoko Takahashi (41) will make a special appearance as guest of honor.  A record 15,108 people are entered for this year's Sendai International Half Marathon.  Last year 12,733 people ran.

24th Sendai International Half Marathon Elite Field Highlights
Sendai, Miyagi, 5/11/14
click here for complete entry list

Men
Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 59:48 (Marugame 2007)
Joseph Gitau (Kenya/Team JFE Steel) - 1:01:19 (Sapporo Int'l 2008)
Johana Maina (Kenya/Team Fujitsu) - 1:01:28 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2013)
Arata Fujiwara (Miki House AC) - 1:01:34 (Marugame 2012)
Ryotaro Nitta (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:01:45 (Marugame 2012)
Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) - 1:02:08 (Udine World Half 2007)
Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 1:02:18 (Marugame 2012)
Chiharu Takada (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 1:02:22 (Marugame 2013)
Kiyokatsu Hasegawa (Team JR Higshi Nihon) - 1:02:26 (Sendai 2008)
Keita Akiba (Team Komori Corp.) - 1:02:35 (Kyoto 2005)
Yudai Yamakawa (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:02:36 (Nat'l Univ. Half 2012)
Kenta Chiba (Team Fujitsu) - 1:02:41 (Nat'l Univ. Half 2012)
Ryosuke Fukuyama (Team Honda) - 1:02:49 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2008)
Takuya Noguchi (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:02:50 (Marugame 2014)
Shota Inoue (Team Toyota) - 1:02:51 (Marugame 2014)
Makoto Harada (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 1:02:57 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2008)
Kosaku Hoshina (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 1:03:09 (Sendai 2004)
Ryuji Kashiwabara (Team Fujitsu) - 1:03:18 (Kyoto 2009)
Takehiro Deki (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 1:04:16 (Kanagawa 2011)
Serod Batochir (Mongolia/Team NTN) - 1:06:36 (Redcar 2009)

Women
Yuri Kano (Team Shiseido) - 1:08:57 (Sapporo Int'l 2008)
Mari Ozaki (Team Noritz) - 1:09:33 (Marugame 2002)
Yukari Sahaku (Team Univ. Ent.) - 1:09:36 (Sapporo Int'l 2009)
Misato Horie (Team Noritz) - 1:10:33 (Marugame 2013)
Saki Tabata (Team Hokuren) - 1:13:01 (Osaka 2013)
Ayaka Hitomi (Team Shimamura) - 1:13:03 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2014)
Aiko Sakata (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 1:13:26 (Nat'l Univ. Half 2013)
Narumi Shirataki (Team Shiseido) - 1:13:31 (Shizuoka 2012)
Sumiko Suzuki (Team Hokuren) - 1:14:09 (Sendai Int'l 2009)
Kana Unno (Team Noritz) - 1:14:31 (Marugame 2014)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Weekend Track Update - Kiryu Makes University Debut, A Meet Record in Kyoto and More

by Brett Larner
videos by toyosina2008komazawaOB and Ekiden News

Track season continued to build up momentum with the first Nittai University Time Trials meet in Yokohama and a handful of other meets around the country.



The biggest news of the weekend was the debut of teen sprint star Yoshihide Kiryu in the Toyo University uniform. Kiryu ran third for Toyo's 4x100 m relay team at the Iwakabe Cup Eight University meet in Tokyo.  Starting his leg mid-pack Kiryu easily blew past the competition to put Toyo out front, but on the anchor leg national university record holder Chuo University retook the lead and pulled away for the win. Nevertheless, in his first race Kiryu helped the Toyo team take the school record from 39.99 to 39.69, a sure sign of what's to come. Post-race the entire Chuo team gave him a round of applause.



Kiryu's long distance teammates stayed at home in Saitama for the Five University Meet hosted by Daito Bunka University.  Strong winds prevented fast times, but in his first race since setting the 30 km national university record of 1:28:52 at February's Kumanichi Road Race Toyo's #1 man Yuma Hattori got his junior year off to a good start with a comfortable 5000 m A-heat win in 14:05.21 by a margin of more than five seconds.



His younger brother Hazuma Hattori nearly got the win in the 3000 m A-heat, coming up just short of running down Kota Murayama (Josai Univ.), the identical twin of World Half Marathon Championships team leader Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.). Kota Murayama started the race very slow with a considerable gap between him and the pack before gradually building up the pace and making a break for the win with more than two laps to go, obviously a reaction to his performance at last weekend's Kanaguri Memorial Meet where he went out at national record pace in the 5000 m A-heat and finished last.  Murayama took the win in 8:15.33 with Hattori just a couple of strides behind.

Bad weather also impacted the West Japan Time Trials in Fukuoka, where 2014 Toyo grad Kento Otsu made his debut with the Koichi Morishita-coached Toyota Kyushu team.  Ethiopian Melaku Abera (Team Kurosaki Harima) had no trouble leading the race to the win despite conditions of extreme rain, finishing in 14:20.03 almost eight seconds ahead.  Otsu was 5th in 14:31.64, the third Toyota Kyushu man across the line.

Better weather earlier in the weekend meant decent times in Kyoto, where Bukkyo University senior Sayaka Kuwahara raced Kyoto Sangyo University's Yukiko Okuno to the 10000 m meet record, both breaking the old record with Kuwahara getting the win in 33:31.32.  2013 national champion Ritsumeikan University's top placer in the 10000 m was only 4th, but in the 5000 m its second years swept the podium in a near-photo finish, Natsuki Omori taking 1st in 15:53.20.  The men's 10000 m also saw a meet record as the elite Kyoto University's Kentaro Hirai won in 29:42.66.



For contrast and insight into the impact of January's Hakone Ekiden, exclusively for Tokyo-area Kanto Region schools, the first Nittai University Time Trials meet of the season saw eight university men break 29 minutes for 10000 m, almost all in PB times.  Meiji University's Ken Yokote started his junior year with a 20-second PB of 28:38.73, his teammate Kei Fumimoto just behind in 28:39.40, his best by eight seconds.



Times were also decent in the 5000 m A-heat, where another Ethiopian, Miliyon Zewdie (Team Yachiyo Kogyo) led the way in 13:28.81, the second-fastest outdoor time in the world so far this year.  2012-2013 10000 m national champion Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) was the top Japanese man in the 5000 m, 5th overall in 13:43.61 in his first real race since an injury at the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden scuttled his plans to run February's Tokyo Marathon.



The women's races at Nittai were very thin, the top result going to Kenyan Doricah Obare (Team Hitachi), 1st in the 3000 m A-heat in 9:12.23.

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

videos (c) 2014 their respective owners
all rights reserved


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Weekend Japanese Road Results

by Brett Larner

The biggest domestic road action of the weekend took place in Shizuoka at the Yaizu Minato Half Marathon where Yoshiki Koizumi of 2013 Hakone Ekiden winner Nittai University battled last year's winner Tomoyasu Matsui (Meiji Univ.) from start to finish, both breaking the course record as Koizumi claimed the win in 1:03:26. 2013 National University Men's Ekiden champion Komazawa University had the next two men across the line, both Kohei Futaoka and Shoya Kurokawa timed at 1:03:48.  Komazawa took the win in Yaizu's University Pair Marathon team scoring based on the combined times of its top two finishers, setting a new record of 2:07:36. Nittai was just a second behind, likewise clearing the old record in 2:07:37.  The top non-collegiate runner was Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't), 9th overall in 1:04:19 a week after his latest marathon course record win in Saga.  Almost simultaneously, his youngest brother Koki Kawauchi (Takasaki Keizai Univ.) won the Guam Marathon in 2:38:09.

Elsewhere internationally, London Olympics marathoner Ryo Yamamoto (Team SGH Group Sagawa) had a decent run in the Vienna City Marathon, 6th in 2:10:59 for the fastest time overseas so far this year by a Japanese man.  Ethiopian Getu Feleke set a quality course record of 2:05:41, bound to be the weekend's most overlooked performance.  World Championships marathoner Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku), who ran 2:28:36 at February's Tokyo Marathon, ran a disappointing 2:35:15 for 7th in a race won in 2:28:59 by Germany's Anna Hahner.  Bunta Kuroki (Team Yasukawa Denki), a training partner of Yamamoto's Olympic teammate Kentaro Nakamoto, was 11th in the Warsawa Marathon in 2:14:27.  Across the channel at the London Marathon, track and ekiden star Yuko Shimizu (Team Sekisui Kagaku) made her marathon debut, outrunning Ito's Vienna time in 2:32:00 but finishing 11th.

Vienna City Marathon
Vienna, Austria, 4/13/14
click here for complete results

Men
1. Getu Feleke (Ethiopia) - 2:05:41 - CR
2. Alfred Kering (Kenya) - 2:08:28
3. Philip Sanga (Kenya) - 2:08:58
4. Duncan Koech (Kenya) - 2:09:17
5. Oleksadr Sitkovskyy (Ukraine) - 2:10:44
-----
6. Ryo Yamamoto (Japan/Team SGH Group Sagawa) - 2:10:59

Women
1. Anna Hahner (Germany) - 2:28:59
2. Caroline Chepkwony (Kenya) - 2:29:18
3. Marta Lema (Ethiopia) - 2:31:10
4. Alice Chelangat (Kenya) - 2:32:46
5. Olga Glok (Russia) - 2:33:23
-----
7. Mai Ito (Japan/Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:35:15

London Marathon
London, U.K., 4/13/14
click here for complete results

Women
1. Edna Kiplagat (Kenya) - 2:20:21
2. Florence Kiplagat (Kenya) - 2:20:24
3. Tirunesh Dibaba (Ethiopia) - 2:20:35 - debut
4. Feyse Tadese (Ethiopia) - 2:21:42
5. Aberu Kebede (Ethiopia) - 2:23:21
-----
11. Yuko Shimizu (Japan/Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 2:32:00 - debut

Yaizu Minato Half Marathon
Yaizu, Shizuoka, 4/13/14
complete results coming shortly

Men
1. Yoshiki Koizumi (Nittai Univ.) - 1:03:26 - CR, PB
2. Tomoyasu Matsui (Meiji Univ.) - 1:03:34 - PB
3. Kohei Futaoka (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:03:48 - PB
4. Shoya Kurokawa (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:03:48 - PB
5. Hajime Sakamoto (Nittai Univ.) - 1:04:01
-----
9. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 1:04:19

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Friday, April 11, 2014

Shimizu Hoping to Have Fun in Debut at Sunday's London Marathon

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20140411-1283502.html

translated by Brett Larner

In an April 10 interview ahead of her marathon debut at Sunday's London Marathon as an invited elite, Yuko Shimizu (Team Sekisui Kagaku) was cautiously ambitious as she said, "However it turns out, I want to have fun running it.  I want to race at a good pace I can sustain."  Last year's East Asian Games 10000 m gold medalist, Shimizu will be up against the likes of giants like 2012 London Olympics marathon gold medalist Tiki Gelana (Ethiopia) and two-time World Championships gold medalist Edna Kiplagat (Kenya).  "How often do you get the chance to be on the starting line with the best in the world?" Shimizu said with enthusiasm.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. Head Coach Masaaki Watanabe and Eight Students Transfer to Nittai Ebara H.S.

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20140401-00000062-mai-spo

translated by Brett Larner

Having led Aichi prefecture's Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. boys to the National High School Ekiden Championships for fourteen straight years through 2011, former head coach Masaaki Watanabe, 51, became the new head coach and a health and physical education teacher at Tokyo's Nittai Ebara H.S. as of the start of the academic year on April 1.  Along with Watanabe, eight students including five members of Toyokawa Kogyo's team at last December's National High School Ekiden transferred to Nittai Ebara.  Past instances of large numbers of top-class athletes transferring en masse include the 2012 transfer of ten students from Sendai Ikuei H.S. to Toyokawa H.S., but it is safe to say it is unusual.

Watanabe became head coach at Toyokawa Kogyo in 1993 and developed it into one of the country's most powerful high school ekiden teams.  In January last year his use of corporal punishment against students came to light, resulting in a disciplinary four-month suspension.  He left the school last spring after transferring to another high school, but, still maintaining his strong reputation for leadership, Watanabe continued to privately coach part of the Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. team including the eight athletes who went on to be part of the transfer to Nittai Ebara H.S.

The eight transferring students include seven boys, six third-years and two second-years [sic], and one girl.  The National High School Championships rules specify that "students are prohibited from competing within six months after transferring to another school," meaning that the likelihood that members of the group will be barred from competing in this summer's National High School Track and Field Championships is high.  Nittai Ebara H.S. officials commented, "[Hiring Watanabe] was an overall comprehensive decision.  The athletes who transferred wanted to remain with him."

Translator's note: This is the first article on the Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. corporal punishment scandal I've seen that specifically names Watanabe.  In 2009 he was reprimanded for beating team members with the handle of a deck brush to the point that they needed stitches.  In 2012 he hit another student in the head and damaged the student's eardrum, an injury that required weeks of medical treatment.  In last year's investigation twelve Toyokawa Kogyo students confirmed having been beaten by Watanabe, two quitting the school as a result.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Measuring The Economic Effects of the Kobe Marathon and Mt. Fuji Women's Ekiden

http://www.kobe-np.co.jp/news/keizai/201404/0006845617.shtml
http://www.fuji-news.net/data/report/economy/201404/0000003189.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The Kobe Marathon organizing committee has release figures on the total economic benefits of the event's third running last November, calculating that the race generated 11.6 billion yen [~$113 million USD] nationwide.  The Hyogo Institute of Economic Research think tank calculated the estimate, which includes runners and spectator's expenditures on meals and accommodations.  The figures represent an increase of 600 million yen [~$6 million USD] over those from the Kobe Marathon's second running.  Of the 11.6 billion yen, 6.6 billion [~$66 million USD] was spent within the host Hyogo prefecture.

A survey of 1500 runners in the Kobe Marathon revealed an average expenditure of 30,564 yen [~$300 USD] on travel, accommodations and souvenirs related to their participation in the event.  20,411 people ran the third edition of the Kobe Marathon. An estimated 585,500 spectators lined the course and 72,000 people participated in related events, both increases over last time.  "The improved economic numbers were the result of more people cheering along the course and more people coming from outside the prefecture," explained a race office official.  With regard to the fourth running of the Kobe Marathon on Nov. 23 this year, race organizers commented, "We want to welcome as many people to our city to run and enliven the atmosphere as we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake."

The Fuji city government, co-organizers of December's first edition of the Mt. Fuji Women's Ekiden national university women's ekiden championships along with the neighboring city of Fujinomiya, also released figures on the event's economic impact on the area.  Officials estimate the race brought in 642 million yen  [~$6.25 million USD], with television broadcast rights and advertising bringing in another 273 million yen [~$2.5 million USD].

The Shizuoka Institute of Economic Research was commissioned to study the event's economic benefits.  The estimate included organizing committee expenditures and participants' accommodation costs and analysis of a survey of 135 visitors to the race.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Kawauchi Leads Weekend Road Results With Solo Saga Sakura Marathon Course Record

by Brett Larner

As is his tendency, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) led the way on a busy weekend that saw Japanese athletes in at least four competitive overseas races. Running the second edition of the Saga Sakura Marathon in scenic southwesternmost Kyushu despite having changed his workplace this week, Kawauchi took almost nine minutes off the course record and beat last year's winner Tomonori Onitsuka (Team Kyudenko) by more than ten minutes in 2:13:02 CR, his third marathon of the year and second soloing a massive CR in an amateur-level race.  "I haven't been feeling well since the Incheon Half last week and have just been jogging 60 minutes a day, so I'm glad I could at least run passably," he told JRN post-race. "If there hadn't been a strong headwind between 25 and 35 km I would have been a minute faster." Like Onitsuka, women's course record holder Hiroko Yoshitomi (First Dream AC) was knocked back to 2nd as 20-year-old Hua Yang (China) took the win in 2:38:23.

While Kawauchi raced in a far corner of home, three other elite Japanese men ran overseas marathons.  2013 Ohtawara Marathon winner Tadashi Suzuki (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and runner-up Yasuaki Kojima (Team Subaru) ran the Paris Marathon as part of a relationship between the two races, Kojima three minutes off his best in 2:18:46 for 12th and getting screen time as the subject of some racial commentary by Britsh Eurosport announcers Martin Gillingham and Geoff Wightman, and 2:16 man Suzuki sightseeing his way to a 26th-place finish in 2:28:26. Ohtawara's 2nd and 3rd-place women Yumi Sato (Tokyo T&F Assoc.) and Ayano Kondo (Team Noritz) also lined up in Paris, Kondo running a five-minute PB of 2:43:54 and Sato jogging a 2:55:42.  Directly across the channel, Tomoyuki Morita (Team Kanebo), all-time #4 on the Japanese debut lists with a 2:09:12 best at Lake Biwa in 2012, failed to make any impression at the Brighton Marathon, the first elite to fall out of the lead pack and shuffling home in 2:22:03 for 7th.

Aspiring indy Azusa Nojiri (Hiratsuka Lease) was not much better at the Prague Half Marathon, almost seven minutes off her best as she ran 1:17:19 for 13th place. On the other side of the Atlantic, 2011 Tokyo Marathon winner Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) had what might have been the best Japanese women's run of the weekend on the roads, making her ten mile debut at Washington D.C.'s Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run in 55:21 as a tuneup for the Boston Marathon two weeks from now.

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved