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Showing posts from December, 2010

New Year Ekiden Coverage Beginning Now

JRN's coverage of the 2011 New Year Ekiden begins at 3:30 p.m. west coast time in North America where we are currently located. For JRN's race preview click here. For course maps click here. For instructions on watching online click here. For English-language commentary via Twitter click here. If that Twitter feed overloads, click here. For complete start lists click here.

2011 Hakone Ekiden - Top University Team Rosters

by Brett Larner

Each of the 20 teams at the 2011 Hakone Ekiden has 16 runners on its entry list, 10 starters and 6 alternates. Below are the top 12 members of 5 of the top teams. Click any image to enlarge.






(c) 2010 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

The 2011 Hakone Ekiden: Waseda vs. Toyo - Watch Live Online

by Brett Larner

If you’re a distance running fan then it is nearly time for the best two days of the year: the 87th annual Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden. A ten-stage, 217.9 km university championship race spread over two days with a live nationwide TV broadcast that attracts domestic viewership ratings of over 30%, Hakone is a cultural institution in Japan and features the most gripping and dramatic racing of the year. There’s good and bad in that, but for now at least we’ll focus on the good.

Overseas viewers have the chance to watch Nihon TV’s Hakone broadcast online via Keyhole TV, available here. It’s not perfect, but in the absence of an overseas broadcast or official webcast it’s the only chance you have to be part of it if you live outside Japan. The broadcast begins at 7:00 a.m. Japan time on both Jan. 2 and 3 with the race starting at 8:00 a.m. and lasting until around 2:00 p.m. For those on the west coast of North America that means the race begins at 3:00 p.m. on Jan. 1 and goes unt…

Watch the New Year Ekiden Live Online - Preview

by Brett Larner

January 1 means it's time for the National Corporate Men's Ekiden Championships, the New Year Ekiden. The New Year Ekiden is the focus of the year for professional runners in Japan, seven stages making up 100 km with the African ringers who prop up many of the best teams shoehorned into 8.3 km and Japanese aces stretching out over 22 km. More than the marathon, this is what Japan's top runners are peaking for, and the result is the highest-level racing of the year. Overseas viewers can watch TBS' 6-hour live broadcast online for free beginning at 8:30 a.m. Japan time on New Year's Day via Keyhole TV, available here. That's 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 31 on the west coast of the U.S., 6:30 p.m. on the east coast, or 11:30 p.m. in London. JRN will be doing live English commentary via Twitter @JRNLive. Should the feed max out we will switch over to @NewYearEkiden. For a course map click here. For complete entry lists click here.

Turning to the action, it promi…

The Top 10 Japanese Men of 2010

by Brett Larner
Arata Fujiwara photo by Brett Larner


This is the second of JRN's four-part year-end review. Click here to read the second part, a ranking of the top 10 Japanese women of 2010. Look for the third and fourth parts, the top 10 Japanese men and women of 2001-2010 and a look at the history and future of Japanese marathoning, early in the new year.

To be honest, the Japanese man of the year should probably be either Shota Iizuka, the Chuo University first-year whose 4x100 m anchor leg at May's Kanto Regionals was heard 'round the world and who went on to win 200 m gold at the World Jr. Track and Field Championships, or Ichiro Suzuki, whose running abilities were critical in him scoring his tenth consecutive year of 200 major league hits, but as a distance running site JRN can only give them their due before turning to the long distance runners.

Contrary to appearances, 2010 was an improvement over 2009. For the second year in a row only one man broke 2:10 in the m…

The Top 10 Japanese Women of 2010

by Brett Larner

This is the first of JRN's four-part year-end review. Look for the second part, the top 10 Japanese men of 2010, tomorrow, and the next two parts, the top 10 Japanese men and women of 2001-2010 and a look at the history and future of Japanese marathoning, early in the new year.

There is no way around it: 2010 was the weakest year in Japanese women's distance running since it reached the world-class level. For the first time Japanese women marathoners finished outside the top three worldwide ranked by average of the ten fastest times of the year (see the forthcoming part four of JRN's review). Only one woman broke 70 minutes in the half-marathon. Overall 5000 m and 10000 m performances were among the weakest of the decade. To be fair, performances in Asian Games years are typically slower, there was no fall domestic elite women's marathon this year, and many of the major spring races suffered bad weather conditions, but the reality of a slump is still ther…

2010 As Seen By JRN Readers

Noguchi Out Indefinitely With Stress Fracture

http://mainichi.jp/select/today/news/20101228k0000m050093000c.html

translated by Brett Larner

On Dec. 27 Team Sysmex announced that 2004 Athens Olympics marathon gold medalist and marathon national record holder Mizuki Noguchi, 32, has sustained a stress fracture to her left ankle. The fracture is expected to take at least 5-6 weeks to heal.

Noguchi withdrew from the 2008 Beijing Olympics marathon shortly before the race with an injury to her left thigh. In October she made a return to competition at the West Japan Corporate Women's Ekiden, her first race in 2 years, 5 months. At the Dec. 19 National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships she ran the ace Third Stage but finished only 20th on the stage. Immediately afterwards she reported not feeling well and was found to have a fever of 39 degrees and to be suffering from intestinal inflammation. A short time later her left ankle began to hurt, and a medical examination discovered the stress fracture.

A person connected with …

Reiko Tosa to Make Comeback at Tokyo Marathon

http://mainichi.jp/enta/sports/news/20101228k0000m050086000c.html

translated by Brett Larner

After retiring following the 2009 Tokyo Marathon to become a mother, two-time World Championships marathon medalist Reiko Tosa, 34, announced on Dec. 27 that she will make a comeback to competitive running. Tosa will spend the new year training with Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo on Miyako island and will run in February's Tokyo Marathon.

Tosa gave birth to her first baby, a daughter, in April and has remained a part of Mitsui Sumitomo in an advisorial role since her retirement. On her blog Tosa had previously written, "I'm planning to run the January 30 Osaka Half Marathon followed by a marathon in late February. I don't know how far I'll be able to go but I'm excited to see what I can do."

Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo head coach Shigeharu Watanabe commented, "She isn't back to full, serious marathon training yet but we're confident that by the time she runs t…

Kagoshima Jitsugyo Takes Surprise National High School Boys Ekiden Title - Video Highlights (updated)

by Brett Larner

Click photo for video highlights.

Kagoshima Jitsugyo H.S. unexpectedly ran down defending champion Sera H.S. on the final two stages to win a dramatic 2010 National High School Boys Ekiden, its first-ever national title in the event's 61-year history.

Kazuto Nishiike (Suma Gakuen H.S.), who finished 0.02 seconds out of the medals in the boys' 3000 m at last summer's Youth Olympics, took the race out hard with a 29:35 for the 10 km First Stage. Kagoshima Jitsugyo's Takashi Ichida was just 3 seconds back, with another 5 seconds separating Ichida from pursuers Sendai Ikuei H.S. and Kyushu Gakuin H.S. Suma Gakuen's Second Stage runner Yudai Yamamoto lengthened the team's lead over Sendai Ikuei and Kyushu Gakuin, while Kagoshima Jitsugyo fell to 7th.

The 8.1075 km Third Stage, a showcase for the top Kenyan high schoolers in Japan, saw a shakeup to the runner as defending champions Sera H.S.' new ace Charles Ndirangu delivered a big performance. With …

Kojokan Wins National High School Girls Ekiden - Video Highlights (updated)

by Brett Larner

Click photo for video highlights.

Thanks in part to outstanding performances from the identical twin Akamatsu sisters on the final two stages, Kojokan H.S. took its second-ever national title at the 2010 National High School Girls Ekiden, holding off two-time defending champion Toyokawa H.S. by 16 seconds after battling the strong Suma Gakuen H.S. throughout the ekiden.

Kojokan's Katsuki Suga got the team off to a good start, winning the 6 km First Stage by a margin of 6 seconds. Suma Gakuen's Risa Yokoe caught up on the Second Stage, running a stage best to finish the leg dead even with Kojokan's Miyuki Oka. Suma Gakuen's Third Stage runner Mika Kobayashi likewise turned in a stage best, giving the school an 8 second lead after Kojokan's Manami Takehisa finished only 9th on the stage.

Everything turned around on the 3.0 km Fourth Stage. Kojokan's Hiroka Akamatsu, the lesser-known of its star Akamatsu twins, seized back the lead, taking the stage be…

Watch the 2010 National High School Ekiden Championships Live Online

The 2010 National High School Ekiden Championships take place this Sunday, Dec. 26. Overseas viewers should be able to watch NHK's live, commercial-free broadcast via Keyhole TV, available by clicking here. If a password is required, enter the letters NHK. The girls' ekiden runs from 10:05 to 11:54 a.m. Japan time, with the boys' ekiden beginning at 12:15 and ending at 2:52 p.m. The National High School Ekiden Championships website is worth a visit, with a wealth of info on competing teams plus complete stage-by-stage results for every year the Championships have been held, 60 for boys and 21 for girls.

Nishihara Sets 10 km National Collegiate Record at Sanyo Women's Road Race

by Brett Larner

As the year draws to a close the last major non-ekiden road race of the Japanese calendar, the Sanyo Women's Road Race 10 km and half marathon, took place Dec. 23 in Okayama. With the cancellation of the National University Women's Invitational Ekiden Bukkyo University put many of its best runners into both races, resulting in one of the most competitive 10 km fields in Sanyo history.

Kenyan ace Sally Chepyego Kaptich (Team Kyudenko) dueled with 2010 National University 5000 m champion Kasumi Nishihara (Bukkyo Univ.) before pulling away to win in 32:13. Nishihara outran teammate and collegiate 10000 m national record holder Hikari Yoshimoto to take 2nd in 32:26, a new collegiate 10 km road national record and the second-fastest time ever by a Japanese woman on the Sanyo course. Yoshimoto in turn held off pros Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) and Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) for 3rd in 32:34. Shigetomo, who had an outstanding race just four days ago to put Tenmaya …

Osaka Announces 2011 Elite Women's Field

by Brett Larner
On Dec. 20 the organizers of the Osaka International Women's Marathon announced the field for the 2011 edition. Celebrating the event's 30th anniversary with a new, faster course eliminating the famous hilly, twisting section through Osaka Castle and with the addition of female pacemakers, the field features a competitive cross-section of current top Japanese women and several aging overseas elites.
Osaka is the first major domestic selection race for the 2011 World Championships team. The top Japanese woman meeting Rikuren's time goals will be automatically named to the team. If the race is slow then the top domestic finisher will have to wait until mid-March for the final selection announcement. It doesn't look likely to be slow, however. Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) is the favorite, coming fresh from a sub-32 road 10k in Sunday's National Jitsugyodan Women's Ekiden in the midst of her marathon training. Akaba says she will be shooting for a fast…

WC Silver Medalist Ozaki to Run Yokohama Int'l Women's Marathon

http://mainichi.jp/enta/sports/news/20101219k0000m050023000c.html
http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/flash/KFullFlash20101219100.html
http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2010/12/19/06.html
http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/101220/spg1012200504000-n1.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Team Daiichi Seimei head coach Sachiko Yamashita has announced that 2009 World Championships marathon silver medalist Yoshimi Ozaki will run February's second edition of the Yokohama International Women's Marathon. Ozaki was absent from Sunday's National Jitsugyodan Women's Ekiden after falling and injuring her right kneecap during a workout in late November, but according to a member of Daiichi Seimei's coaching staff the injury was minor and has not had a lasting effect. Ozaki intends to go for a PB in Yokohama, which has seen a course change since its first edition in 2008 to minimize repetition of the bridges on the previous circuit course.

In related news, Athens Olympics maratho…

Tenmaya Takes First-Ever National Title

by Brett Larner

Thanks in part to outstanding runs from rising stars Risa Shigetomo and Kaori Urata and a return to form by ailing ace Yurika Nakamura, Team Tenmaya took its first-ever win at the National Jitsugyodan Women's Ekiden Championships on Dec. 19. Tenmaya runners cruising mid-pack on the first two stages, Nakamura moved the team into a three-way tie for 3rd on the 10,0 km ace Third Stage. Little changed for the team on the Fourth Stage, but Shigetomo had a superb performance, moving up from 4th to overtake leader Azusa Nojiri (Team Daiichi Seimei) and claim the stage best title by the largest margin of any runner in the entire ekiden. Kicking off with a 2:57 first km, anchor Urata likewise took the stage best title and was never threatened as she brought the team home in 2:14:35 for the 42.195 km course.

Looking at the overall race, it was a relatively even field as many teams came to the championships with at least one key member having had a problem-plagued season. 2009 …

Bat-Ochir, Yoshitomi Win Hofu Yomiuri Marathon

by Brett Larner

The worldwide marathon season came to a close for the year with the Dec. 19 Hofu Yomiuri Marathon. Coming off a top-10 finish at September's Berlin Marathon, Mongolian ace Serod Bat-Ochir took his first win in three straight Hofu appearances. Bat-Ochir sat in a large pack behind pacemaker Dishon Karukwa (Kenya/Team Aisan Kogyo) through the early stages of the race until it whittled down to three by 30 km. Pushing ahead, he dropped Kenyan debutant Samuel Ganga (Team Mazda) and by 35 km had a three-second gap on Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC). From there it was smooth sailing all the way to the finish. Ganga dropped out before 40 km, leaving Ito free in 2nd and challenged only by teammate Hiroyuki Kamiguchi (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), who ran a patient race to close strongly and take 3rd.

Although Hofu has regularly had second-tier women, its official women's division only opened last year. Hiroko Yoshitomi (Saga T&F Assoc.) put pressure on past winners Hisae Yoshi…