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A Tale of Two Fujiwaras - Tokyo Marathon 2010

by Brett Larner

What a day. With 6 degree temperatures at the start, strong winds, rain turning to snow as temperatures fell, and a tsunami warning for the waterfront finish area, this year's Tokyo Marathon had the worst conditions in the event's four-year history. That is saying quite a bit after the cold rain in 2007 and the gale-force winds last year. Times were never on the table as runners fought simply to survive.

Injury-plagued debut marathon national record holder Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda) staged a major comeback, gutting it out over a pack of nine with a surge at 2:52/km over the last 2.195 km to win the men's race in 2:12:19, the first Japanese man to win Tokyo. 2008 Tokyo runner-up Arata Fujiwara (Team JR Higashi Nihon), no relation, won out a great sprint finish for 2nd against half marathon national record holder Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) and amateur Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't). Time aside, the day was a big one for Masakazu Fujiwara.…

Fujita Takes Kumanichi 30 km

http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/100228/spg1002281524006-n1.htm
http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/100228/spg1002281522005-n1.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Former marathon national record holder Atsushi Fujita (Team Fujitsu) ran 1:29:46 to win the Kumanichi 30 km Feb. 28 in Kumamoto, Kyushu. 2nd was Hirokatsu Kurosaki (Team Konica Minolta) in 1:30:10, with Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Komazawa Univ.) 3rd. Fujita led from the start, varying his pace to throw his competitors off and putting in a long spurt at 24 km to dispatch Kurosaki and Ugachi. In the women's race Chiharu Matsuo (Team Kyudenko) took her 2nd straight title, running 1:50:18.

Fujita plans to go for a fast time at December's Fukuoka International Marathon with an aim toward making the London Olympics in 2 years. "Today's 30 km was for the marathon," Fujita told reporters, "so I ran it as if I still had to run 12 km more once I finished. Everything checked out well."

2010 Kumanichi 30 km - Top F…

Sugiyama, Saijo Win Inuyama Half Marathon

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/news/20100228-OYT1T00591.htm

translated by Brett Larner

complete results will be added when available

8674 people from 34 prefectures ran the 32nd Inuyama Half Marathon on Feb. 28. In the men's race Yoshinori Sugimoto (26, Team Aichi Seiko) beat out the tough field of university runners to take his first win in 1:04:07. Hiromitsu Kakuage (19, Komazawa Univ.) was the top university runner, 2nd in 1:04:14. In 3rd was two-time defending Hakone Ekiden winner Toyo University member Shogo Otsu (21). Yukina Saijo (Team Sekisui Kagaku) took her first win in the women's half marathon, running 1:13:06.

Watch the Tokyo Marathon Online

Nihon TV's broadcast of this year's Tokyo Marathon begins at 9:00 a.m. today. Overseas viewers should be able to watch live online thanks to Keyhole TV, available here.

This year's weather looks likely to be the worst in Tokyo's short 4-year history. Current conditions indicate 6 degrees, winds from the east, and moderate to heavy rain until 12:00 p.m.


Today's theme:

University Runners Kojima and Yoroizaka Top Fukuoka XC

by Brett Larner

University runners outdid the pros in both senior races at the 2010 Fukuoka International Cross Country Meet on Feb. 27 as Ritsumeikan University fourth-year Kazue Kojima took the women's 6 km and Meiji University second-year Tetsuya Yoroizaka won a great battle against Tokai University first-year Akinobu Murasawa in the men's 10 km. All three athletes sealed their places on the Japanese team for this year's World Cross Country Championships.

Kojima was patient during the early surges of the senior women's 6 km, letting others including Yuko Shimizu (Team Sekisui Kagaku), Megumi Seike (Team Sysmex) and Mika Yoshikawa (Team Panasonic) take turns in the lead. Not until Freya Murray (GBR) opened a considerable gap on the final 2 km lap did Kojima really go into action, dropping Niiya and her own teammate Risa Takenaka as she chased down the British runner. Kojima pulled into the lead on the hills before the final corner, but even though Murray regained some …

Fujita, Iwamizu Headline Kumanichi 30 km

by Brett Larner

The Tokyo Marathon may be the biggest race happening in Japan on Feb. 28, but three other elite races also fall the same day. The most major of these is the Kumanichi 30 km Road Race in Kumamoto, Kyushu. The world's most competitive race at this distance, Kumanichi was until the last fall the site of the men's 30 km world record. In the field for this year's race are former marathon national record holder Atsushi Fujita (Team Fujitsu), steeplechase national record holder Yoshitaka Iwamizu (Team Fujitsu), 2009 Ome 30 km winner Hirokatsu Kurosaki (Team Konica Minolta), Komazawa University ace Tsuyoshi Ugachi and New Year Ekiden winner Team Nissin Shokuhin member Bene Zama. The elite women's field is limited to three and is led by Chiharu Matsuo (Team Kyudenko).

Further north in Aichi, the Inuyama Half Marathon has an interesting matchup between pro and university runners. Three members of 2009 and 2010 Hakone Ekiden winner Toyo University's squad, …

Tokyo Marathon 2010 Preview - Watch Live Online

by Brett Larner

Update: With 2 1/2 hours to go until the start the weather and forecast are terrible. 6 degrees, wind, and moderate to heavy rain.

The 2010 Tokyo Marathon takes place this Sunday, Feb. 28. With a potentially dramatic men's race lined up it's a shame that media coverage of this year's race has to have taken a back seat to the Winter Olympics, but the unfortunate timing does nothing to diminish what could be a course record year if the storm front threatening the Tokyo area passes in time. Both men's and women's defending champions Salim Kipsang (Kenya) and Mizuho Nasukawa (Team Universal Entertainment) return but neither stands an unbreakable chance of repeating.

Kipsang's PB of 2:07:29 puts him towards the top of the field, but he will have plenty of competition at that level. Six other men in the field have run under 2:08 within roughly the last two years. Rachid Kisri (Morocco) will wear bib #1 thanks to his 2:06:48 PB at last year's Paris M…

Watch the Fukuoka International XC Meet Online

by Brett Larner

The 24th Fukuoka International Cross Country Meet takes place Saturday, Feb. 27. The second of Japan's two selection races for its World Cross Country Championships team, this year's entry list promises a great matchup in the senior men's 10 km race. Three of the leaders of Japan's upcoming 18-25 generation, university 10000 m national record holder Kensuke Takezawa (Team S&B), 1500 m and 5000 m double national champion Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B) and all-time Japanese #3 over 10000 m Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin), are scheduled to start. Takezawa and Ueno are current teammates, while Ueno and Sato were teammates at 2008 national champions Saku Chosei high school, the only school in Japan which includes cross country as a core part of its training. Should all three make it to the line it will be a chance to see them race head-to-head. Also in the field is last year's Tokyo Marathon runner-up and Berlin World Championships marathon team member…

Tokyo Marathon Expo Kicks Off

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/region/kanto/tokyo/100225/tky1002251709009-n1.htm

translated by Brett Larner

The leadup to the Feb. 28 Tokyo Marathon kicked off Feb. 25 with the official opening of the Tokyo Marathon Expo 2010 at the Tokyo Big Sight convention center. Along with the bib number pickup center for those running Sunday's race, 96 companies and organization are represented at the expo, which will continue through Feb. 27.

Presiding over the opening ceremonies at 9:45 were Tokyo mayor Shintaro Ishihara and Mexico City Olympics marathon silver medalist Kenji Kimihara. During his opening remarks Ishihara brought up the example of comedian Kunihiro Matsumura, who suffered a heart attack while trying to run last year's Tokyo Marathon, as he urged runners, "Take it easy out there." Going on, Ishihara commented, "Through negotiations with the police we have been able to increase the field size this year from 30000 to 35000, but even so the applications this year were…

Veteran Kobayashi Hopes for First Sub-2:10 at Tokyo Marathon

http://www.nishinippon.co.jp/nsp/item/153712

translated by Brett Larner

Veteran Seiji Kobayashi (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) has set himself an ambitious goal for the Feb. 28 Tokyo Marathon. Last year Kobayashi celebrated his 33rd birthday. His objective now is to join the sub-2:10 club. Accomplishing this after age 30 is an extremely tough task, and only one Japanese runner over age 33 has ever broken 2:10 for the first time, Sydney Olympian Shinji Kawashima (Team Asahi Kasei) at the 2003 Biwako Mainichi Marathon at age 33 and 9 months. In February last year Kobayashi ran a PB of 2:10:38 at the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon. Now this 30-something runner is ready to break the magic barrier in the heart of the big city.

At heart Kobayashi feels free and pure. With 13 marathons to his name he has straightforward feelings about Sunday's race. "I haven't thought about it in terms of my age. I want to run the World Championships next year [in Daegu, Korea]. In order to get ther…

Team JAL Ground Service to Disband at End of March

http://www.jiji.com/jc/c?g=spo_30&k=2010022300974

translated by Brett Larner

On Feb. 23 the management of Team JAL Ground Service announced that due to economic difficulties at parent sponsor Japan Airlines the team will disband at the end of March. The team was founded in 1992. Last fall team member Ryosuke Fukuyama ran on the Japanese national team at the World Half Marathon, finishing 25th. Team JAL Service had always maintained a focus on the ekiden, finishing 11th at this year's New Year Ekiden championships.

Arata Fujiwara Returns - Tokyo Marathon Week Part One

by Brett Larner

It's Tokyo Marathon week on JRN. Our coverage this week will be dedicated to the fourth edition of Japan's largest marathon, to be held this Sunday. Each day we will give you a look at some of the elites in both the men's and women's races, talk to people behind the scenes, and give you a full race preview including instructions on how to watch the race online.

We start the week off with an original JRN interview with Arata Fujiwara (Team JR Higashi Nihon). Fujiwara shot to attention two years ago in Tokyo, running as an unknown but finishing 2nd in an impressive 2:08:40. It was a PB by nearly 30 minutes but 5 seconds short of what he needed to make the Beijing Olympics. Later in the year he had better luck as he qualified for last summer's World Championships marathon in Berlin. The World Championships didn't go as Fujiwara hoped but this Sunday he returns to Tokyo ready to take on the solid overseas field and Japan's top man on the roads, ha…

Mara Yamauchi and Takashi Ota Win Ome 30 km Road Race

by Brett Larner

Mara Yamauchi (GBR) continued her return from the injuries that kept her out of last summer's World Championships and the fall marathon season win a 1:43:24 win at the classic 2010 Ome 30 km Road Race in the mountains west of Tokyo on Feb. 21. Yamauchi pulled away from veteran Hiromi Ominami (Team Toyota Shatai) just before 15 km and steadily lengthened her lead over the hills in the middle section of the course. Up by 48 seconds at 25 km, Yamauchi ran 17:30 for the final 5 km to Ominami's 17:07, finally winning by a margin of just 25 seconds. Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind A.C.) ran most of the race in 4th place behind little-known Saori Makishima (Canon A.C. Kyushu) but had a strong last 5 km to take 3rd. Makishima went on to DNF. Yamauchi's win adds to her three titles in Ome's 10 km over the last four years.

The men's 30 km was a blowout as 2006 Ome winner Takashi Ota (Team Konica Minolta) frontran his way to a repeat victory in 1:31:54. With at le…

Takaoka Talks About Ome, the Marathon and Fate

http://www.ohme-marathon.jp/interview/2009-12-29/
http://www.ohme-marathon.jp/interview/2010-01-05/

translated and edited by Brett Larner

For more interviews like this one, subscribe to JRN's Premium series of original in-depth and one-on-one interviews with the most interesting athletes and coaches in Japan. The first issue, available now, features 2:08 marathoner Arata Fujiwara talking about his training and racing philosophies, the 2008 Tokyo Marathon that made him famous, and his impending return to Tokyo next weekend. Click here for more information.

Feb. 21, 2010 is the date for the 44th Ome 30 km road race. As usual, the day before the race Ome will host a public discussion with some of the country's top runners. This year's guest is marathon national record holder Toshinari Takaoka. Takaoka, who retired in 2009, is now a coach with his former sponsor Team Kanebo and hopes to help lead and develop the abilities of the next generation of Olympic athletes. We talked to hi…

Ndambiri 7th in RAK Half Marathon

by Brett Larner

Japanese 10000 m all-comers record holder Josephat Ndambiri (Kenya/Team Komori Corp.) ran the 4th Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon Feb. 19th in the U.A.E. In his first major half marathon in five years, Ndambiri, who last spring ran 26:57.36 for 10000 m and was 5th in the 2007 World Championships 10000 m, finished 7th overall in the competitive field in a PB of 1:01:08. Ndambiri ran the first half of the race with the leaders, covering 10 km on pace for a 59:30 before slowing to over 3 min/km between 15 and 20 km. Geoffrey Mutai (Kenya) won the race in 59:43, while Ethiopian-born Elvan Abeleygesse (Turkey), a double medalist on the track in the Beijing Olympics, took a no-surprise win in her half marathon debut, clocking 1:07:07.

For complete results click here. Ndambiri's splits are available here.

(c) 2010 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Takaoka Nominated for JOC Overseas Training Study Position

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/flash/KFullFlash20100215134.html

translated by Brett Larner

On Feb. 15 the Japan Olympic Committee announced that Rikuren has nominated men's marathon national record holder Toshinari Takaoka, 39, to a special position researching overseas training methods. Takaoka, who retired last March and is now a coach with Team Kanebo, must undergo a round of interviews with the JOC before being named to the position. According to a person involved in the proceedings, if Takaoka is accepted he will be sent to the United States to study American altitude training and coaching methods.

Kobe Moves Ahead With Plans for Mass-Participation Marathon

http://osaka.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/other-games/20100216-OYO8T00321.htm

translated by Brett Larner

Having put the tragedy of the great Hanshin Earthquake behind it, Hyogo Prefecture announced on Feb. 15 that is going ahead with plans to hold a mass-participation marathon in Kobe. The first running of the new race, expected to have a field of 20,000, will take place sometime between Nov. 2011 and Jan. 2012. The exact course will be decided next year, but a start point at Hanshin Koshien Stadium, home of the Hanshin Tigers baseball team, and a finish line at Port Island in downtown Kobe were mentioned as possibilities.

In conjunction with the Kobe metropolitan government, an initial budget of 20,000,000 yen has been set for the marathon's organizing committee as it begins work. A member of the prefectural education committee commented, "With the legacy of the Hanshin Earthquake and an international flair, we want to make a race that strongly reflects Kobe's unique character.&…

Yumiko Hara to Join Koide Camp

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/flash/KFullFlash20100215133.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Two-time World Championships marathoner Yumiko Hara, 28, announced on Feb. 15 that in April she will be joining Team Universal Entertainment where she will be coached by Yoshio Koide (Sakura AC). Hara won the 2005 Nagoya International Women's Marathon in her debut, going on to finish 6th in the Helsinki World Championships marathon. She also ran in the 2007 Osaka World Championships marathon. She quit Team Kyocera in March last year, and, unsuccesful in securing a place with another team, returned home to her native Tochigi Prefecture. Now looking to revive her career, Hara stakes her future on Koide's guidance and is hopeful that the new training environment will help her to return to peak level.

Ramaala, Tsegay Headline 65th Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon

by Brett Larner

On Feb. 15 the Biwako Mainichi Marathon, also called the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon for the convenience of non-Japanese speakers, announced the complete field for this year's 65th anniversary edition to be held Mar. 7. Biwako, as the race is universally abbreviated within Japan, survived a scare last year with the loss of main sponsor Rohm and comes to this year with a new sponsor, K-Opticom, a new course designed to be faster, and a renewal of its questionable IAAF Gold Label, the first in the country. Three of the top eleven men at the 2009 Berlin World Championships will line up at the start.

The biggest name in the field is 2004 New York City Marathon winner Hendrick Ramaala (South Africa). Still an aggressive racer at age 38, Ramaala faces a tough challenge from the man who will wear the #1 bib, Berlin World Championships 4th place finisher Yemane Tsegay (Ethiopia). Also in contention are 2009 Chicago Marathon 4th place finisher Charles Munyeki (Keyna) and 2009…

Adachi Over Njui for First Karatsu 10-Miler Win in Tokyo Tune-Up

http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/100214/spg1002141840005-n1.htm

translated by Brett Larner

At the 50th anniversary Karatsu 10-Mile Road Race on Feb. 14, 2008 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon winner Tomoya Adachi (Team Asahi Kasei) took 1st in an excellent time of 47:01. Re-entering the track in a tight pack for a final lap at the end of the race, Adachi outkicked last year's runner-up Cyrus Njui (Kenya/Team Hitachi Cable) and Akihiko Tsumurai (Team Mazda) for his first Karatsu win.

First-time winner Adachi commented, "I ran with a margin to spare. 47 minutes was my target time," indicating that the run had gone according to plan. In the early stages Adachi was relaxed, looking around at the others up front. With 3 km to go he took charge, leading the pack all the way back to the track for the finish. Adachi plans to run the Feb. 28 Tokyo Marathon and ran Karatsu as a final tune-up. But even though it was a tune-up, Adachi says, "If I had a chance to win I wanted to go for…

2010 Chiba International Cross-Country - Results

by Brett Larner

Together with the Fukuoka International Cross Country Meet at the end of the month, the Chiba International Cross Country Meet makes up part of the selection process for the Japanese national teams for March's World Cross Country Championships in Poland. Cross country has never been a significant part of Japanese distance running, and this year many of the biggest names on the entry lists gave the meet a miss.

In the senior men's race, high schooler Bitan Karoki (Kenya/Sera H.S.) returned to take the win over a field of university and pro runners. Defending women's champion Yuko Shimizu (Team Sekisui Kagaku) likewise returned but finished only 17th.

Below are the top finishers in each of the meet's main divisions. The top two domestic runners in each category stand a good chance of being selected for the Worlds team, while those in 3rd and below will have to wait to see what happens in Fukuoka.

2010 Chiba International Cross Country Meet - Top Finishers
clic…

Shimoju Wins Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon

by Brett Larner

2008 Kumanichi 30 km winner Masaki Shimoju (Team Konica Minolta) continues to edge upward in distance, taking a win at the 48th Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon on Feb. 14. Traditionally a development race for younger runners, this year Nobeoka stayed in character as first-timers took 7 of the top 10 places with relatively inexperienced men clocking PBs for the top 3 spots.

Shimoju ran the first 30 km tight in the first pack. When pacemaker Tomoyuki Sato (Team Asahi Kasei) dropped out at 30 km after maintaining a steady pace of 3:07/km there were still six men in the lead pack. Shimoju immediately went into the lead, but it wasn't that he picked up the pace so much as that everyone else fell away. First-timer Norihiro Nomiya (Team Toyota) initially went with him but by 40 km was a minute behind. Shimoju finished hard to win easily in a new PB of 2:12:18 with a 1:34 margin of victory. Nomiya fell to 4th, the top debutant in 2:14:36. Nomiya was overtaken by Fumiyuki Watan…

Takezawa Takes 50th Himejijo 10 Miler

by Brett Larner

22 year old Kensuke Takezawa (Team S&B) returned to his home ground of Hyogo Prefecture on Feb. 11 to win the 50th anniversary Himejijo 10 Mile Road Race. As a high school student Takezawa had won the high school division of the 2005 Himejijo 10 Miler, but today's win marks the first victory on the roads of his pro career. As in January's Interprefectural Ekiden duel with half marathon national record holder Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku), Takezawa stalked leader and course record holder Terukazu Omori (Team Shikoku Denryoku) throughout the race and beat him only in the last sprint. Both men clocked 47:33, over a minute off Omori's course record in cold and rainy conditions, with Toyo University grad Yoshihiro Wakamatsu (Team Tokyo Denryoku) just 2 seconds behind. It was Omori's second year in a row to lose at the line in Himejijo after last year's three-way photo finish with Sato and that year's winner Satoru Kitamura (Team Nissin Shok…

"I'm Hoping That I Can Be That Next Chapter in the History Books" - Newmade Marathoner Jeff Hunt in His Own Words

by Brett Larner

Jeff Hunt ran the Australian marathon debut national record last Sunday at the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, finishing 3rd in 2:11:00. With a race both patient and aggressive he won respect across Japan. Yesterday JRN featured Hunt's coach Ken Green talking about Hunt's performance and training from the coach's perspective. Today we bring you Jeff's own views and recollections.

Next week JRN will introduce its new JRNPremium subscription series of interviews with athletes, coaches, agents and others in the Japanese running world. The series begins with 2:08:40 marathoner Arata Fujiwara ahead of his return to the Tokyo Marathon later this month. Part two will be a follow-up interview with Fujiwara the day after Tokyo. For more information, click here.

JRN: How do you feel?

JH: Surprisingly, I’m physically very good. Emotionally, I’m very, very happy and pleased with the result.

What was your impression of the event? Beppu-Oita is notorious for its wind and th…