Friday, January 31, 2014

Hitomi Niiya at Retirement Press Conference: "Nothing But Good Memories"



http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20140131-00000030-nksports-spo
http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2014/01/31/kiji/K20140131007493260.html
http://mainichi.jp/sports/news/20140201k0000m050027000c.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner



A 2012 London Olympian and 5th in last year's Moscow World Championships 10000 m, Hitomi Niiya (25), announced her retirement Jan. 31 at a press conference at her sponsor Universal Entertainment's head office in Ariake, Tokyo.  With regard to her early retirement at just age 25, Niiya gave the diagnosis of plantar fasciitis in her right foot in November, 2012 as her main reason.  "When I found out the situation with my foot I was so relieved," she said.  "At that moment I thought, 'Now I can get down off this stage and finally quit this sport.'  When they asked if I wanted to keep running to the point of needing surgery my answer came out immediately."  At that point she made the decision that the following year's World Championships would be her final world-level competition.

At those World Championships Niiya led the Africans to the very end and ran her PB of 30:56.70, but, she said, "I took them all on and gave it all at the World Championships and didn't medal.  If you can't medal it disqualifies you as a professional.  I thought there was no choice but to put a period at the end of that sentence."  She also revealed that at the World Championships, "After I finished running the pain was like nothing I'd gone through up until then, really beyond the threshold." Combined with her injury that race seemed to be what pulled the trigger on her career.

Looking at her life as an athlete until now Niiya said, "Once I'm a granny I might think, 'Man that was hard,' but right now I have nothing but good memories."  Her favorite race memory was of winning the National High School Ekiden Championships while at Kojokan H.S.  Asked about her future plans she said, "It's a complete blank.  I can't imagine what I'll be doing.  I can't do anything useful for society, but I will completely cut off connection with the world of athletics." At one point she cried with her mother, but until the end of the press conference she remained true to the Niiya style as the curtain came down.  To young athletes who dream of taking on the world she said, "Always do what you think is the right thing no matter what anybody tells you."



Translator's note: Niiya never raced again after Moscow.

Kamimura Gakuen H.S. Girls' Head Coach Suspended for Corporal Punishment Against Team Members

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/affairs/news/140131/crm14013100280001-n1.htm

translated by Brett Larner

In response to questioning on Jan. 30, administration officials from National High School Girls Ekiden Championships regular Kamimura Gakuen H.S. of Ichikikushikino, Kagoshima, admitted that the male head coach of its girls' ekiden team had performed corporal punishment against first-year team members.  Confirming the factual basis of the situation, the school administration apologized to parents and placed the head coach under indefinite suspension.

According to the administration, during a team training camp last August the head coach told a female student, "You need stronger abs," before punching her in the stomach hard twice with his fist.  Earlier this month he told a girl on the team, "Try harder," as he pinched her cheeks.  Administration officials also said that another girl stopped coming to the school this month after the coach told her, "If you keep up like this you might lose your scholarship."

Principal Ryo Ozono commented, "I don't think he was aware that what he was doing constituted corporal punishment, but nevertheless what took place should not have happened."  Kamimura Gakuen H.S. represented Kagoshima prefecture at December's National High School Girls Ekiden Championships.

Translator's note: The Kamimura Gakuen H.S. girls' ekiden team is coached by Tetsuzo Arikawa.  As with last year's corporal punishment scandal at Toyokawa Kogyo H.S., the Japanese media do not name the head coach despite that information being publicly and readily available on the school's own website and elsewhere.

Beppu-Oita and Marugame Lead Weekend Action

by Brett Larner

Another busy weekend is on the way, with the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon and Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon leading at least five elite road races nationwide. Despite a padding of aging veterans and the withdrawal yesterday of two A-list athletes, Beppu-Oita still sports what may be the best field in its 63-year history, from a domestic standpoint at least as good as what Tokyo has put together this year.  The fastest Japanese marathoner of 2013 with a 2:08:00 in Tokyo and a vocal critic of Beppu-Oita course record holder Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't), Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) is back in Beppu for the first time since 2011 looking to eclipse the 2:08:15 record Kawauchi set last year.  His best competition comes form Mongolian national record holder Ser-Od Bat-Ochir, a high-volume marathoner who beat Kawauchi to win the Hofu Yomiuri Marathon in 2:09:00 seven weeks ago.  If things go well and Bat-Ochir is fully recovered from Hofu the race should shake down to a head-to-head between these two.

Kenyan Jason Mbote has run 2:07:37 but has been closer to the just-sub-2:10 level for the last two years, positioning him perfectly for the other two top Japanese contenders, 2:09:55 man Masashi Hayashi (Team Yakult) and former Hakone Ekiden star Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu).  More than a half-dozen others with times under 2:12 are also in the field with another half-dozen making their debuts, so there will be plenty of company in the second group and potential for someone to step up and challenge Maeda and Bat-Ochir in the front.  Worth keeping an eye on among the first-timers are Ryuji Watanabe (Team Toyota Kyushu), winner of this year's New Year Ekiden anchor stage, and 2004 World Junior Championships 10000 m bronze medalist and Athens Olympian Ryuji Ono (Team Asahi Kasei).  Click here for a more detailed field listing.

The Marugame Half has seen explosive growth the last few years, including 24 men sub-1:02 in its 2012 running, as it has grown into the tune-up race of choice for people running the Tokyo Marathon three weeks later.  2013 Fukuoka International Marathon winner Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) is the favorite for Marugame's 68th running, with competition from Amanuel Mesel (Eritrea), Jacob Wanjuki (Kenya/Team Aichi Seiko), defending men's champion Collis Birmingham (Australia) and 2:04:48 marathoner Yemane Tsegaye (Ethiopia).

This year Marugame counts toward selection of the Japanese men's team for March's World Half Marathon championships, so there is no shortage of top-level Japanese men either.  All-time Japanese #3 Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota) leads the domestic contingent with a best of 1:00:53 as he prepares for a marathon debut in Tokyo at age 22, followed closely by #1 collegiate Kenta Murayama (Komazawa University), who cracked the all-time Japanese top ten last year in Marugame when he ran 1:01:19 at age 19.  Nine other Japanese men with bests under 1:02 are also in the field, including London Olympian Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) who is also preparing for Tokyo.  Most notable among the first-timers is Kenyan Daniel Muiva Kitonyi (Nihon Univ.), 2nd at October's Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai 20 km in 58:00, while Murayama's identical twin brother Kota Murayama (Josai Univ.) will be running his first serious half marathon off a 59:17 for 4th behind Kitonyi at the Yosenkai.

With Marugame not counting toward women's World Half selection and the National Corporate Half Marathon Championships, which does, just two weeks later, the women's race is very thin this year. London Olympics marathon 7th-placer Jessica Augusto (Portugal) looks virtually certain to be set for the win, her best of 1:09:10 far ahead of anyone else in the race.  Of the others, only Berlin World Championships track runner Yukari Sahaku (Team Univ. Ent.) has broken 1:10, but with no quality performances on her record since Berlin Sahaku doesn't seem likely to be a factor.  Four other women have bests under 1:11, Eri Hayakawa (Team Toto) and Misato Horie (Team Noritz) having gotten there last year in Marugame and Yolanda Caballero (Colombia) a month later with a national record 1:10:30 in New York.  Worth a mention is 2012 National University Half Marathon champion Ayame Takaki (Meijo Univ.), whose solo 1:11:10 win to take the 2012 national title suggested she could step up to bigger things if she can find the same magic.  Click here for a deeper listing of the Marugame field.

Two other half marathons on Sunday feature decent numbers of collegiate athletes.  The 36th Kanagawa Half Marathon is the bigger of the two, with top-level Hakone Ekiden schools including Komazawa University, Waseda University and Aoyama Gakuin University typically fielding men each year.  Northeast of Tokyo, the Moriya Half Marathon, a frequent post-ekiden sortie for 2013 Hakone champion Nittai University, celebrates its 30th running.  To the northwest, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) is back in action at the 81st running of the local Saitama Ekiden.  Check back throughout the weekend for coverage of all five races.

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon Elite Field

by Brett Larner

With just over a week to go the organizers of the Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon have seen fit to release the elite field for the 52nd edition of their event on Feb. 9.  A developmental race with a focus on first-timers and men at the 2:12 to 2:16 level, Nobeoka has seen the debuts of the likes of Moscow World Championships marathon 5th-placer Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) and serves as a selection race for the annual corporate league junket to the Chicago Marathon.  Last year's winner Hiroaki Sano (Team Honda) debuted in Nobeoka in 2:12:14 before going on to dip under gold label status with a 2:10:29 in Chicago, showing that Nobeoka success can lead to bigger things.

Kohei Ogino (Team Fujitsu) is the fastest man in the field with a 2:13:12 best seven weeks ago at the Hofu Yomiuri Marathon.  If his recovery has gone smoothly he is the favorite, but look for possible challenges from Tadashi Suzuki (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and Yasuaki Kojima (Team Subaru), whose 2:16-level PBs came on the rolling course of November's amateur-level Ohtawara Marathon, and Yoshikazu Kawazoe, a top member of the Asahi Kasei corporate team still looking to find his feet in the marathon.

Top-seeded among those shooting for a first marathon finish are Taiki Yoshimura (Ryutsu Keizai Univ.), who turned in a solid run at October's Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai 20 km before breaking 29 minutes for 10000 m for the first time, and Yudai Yamakawa (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) and Kenta Chiba (Team Fujitsu), former rivals at Teikyo University and Komazawa University who both broke 1:03 at the 2012 National University Half Marathon Championships.  The course record holder on the Hakone Ekiden's brutal downhill Sixth Stage, Chiba looks like the best bet to follow past Sixth Stage stars Hiromi Taniguchi and Yuki Kawauchi with a successful move to the marathon.

52nd Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon
Nobeoka, 2/9/14
click here for complete field listing

Kohei Ogino (Team Fujitsu) - 2:13:12 (Hofu 2013)
Etsu Miyata (Saitama T&F Assoc.) - 2:13:19 (Nagano 2010)
Sho Matsumoto (Nikkai Business) - 2:13:38 (Nobeoka 2013)
Koji Matsuoka (Team Mazda) - 2:14:42 (Lake Biwa 2013)
Naoki Yamashita (Team NTN) - 2:16:11 (Lake Biwa 2012)
Tadashi Suzuki (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:16:15 (Ohtawara 2013)
Tatsunori Sento (Team SGH Group Sagawa) - 2:16:18 (Nobeoka 2009)
Ryoichi Matsuo (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:16:28 (Paris 2013)
Yasuaki Kojima (Team Subaru) - 2:16:47 (Ohtwara 2013)
Akiyuki Iwanaga (Team Kyudenko) - 2:17:13 (Lake Biwa 2012)
Shoji Takada (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:17:15 (Kobe 2013)
Yoshikazu Kawazoe (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:18:47 (Beppu-Oita 2013)
Yuji Iwata (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) - 2:19:58 (Nobeoka 2012)
Junichi Tsubouchi (Team Kurosaki Harima) - 2:20:13 (Nobeoka 2013)
Yuki Marubayashi (Team Toenec) - 2:20:18 (Senshu 2012)
Ryo Ishita (SDF Academy) - 2:22:34 (Sapporo 2013)
Keita Kurihara (Team Chudenko) - 2:23:01 (Beppu-Oita 2013)
Shingo Mishima (Team Toyota) - 2:25:09 (Hofu 2013)
Takaaki Tanaka (Team NTN) - 2:26:29 (Beppu-Oita 2012)

Debut
Taiki Yoshimura (Ryutsu Keizai Univ.) - 1:00:24 (Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai 20 km 2013)
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)
Hisanori Kitajima (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 1:02:50 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2010)
Kyohei Nishi (Team Kyudenko) - 1:02:59 (Marugame 2012)
Kazuki Tomaru (Team Toyota) - 1:03:04 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2012)
Ryota Matoba (Team Komori Corp.) - 1:03:15 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2013)
Atsushi Yamazaki (Team Subaru) - 1:03:34 (Kyoto 2009)
Masahiro Kawaguchi (Team Yakult) - 1:03:40 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2013)
Hajime Koizumi (Iwaki T&F Assoc.) - 1:04:01 (Ageo 2007)

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

'The Unknown Runner'

American Catlow Shipek beat Japan's Tsutomu Nagata to win last weekend's Coldwater Rumble 100 Mile trail race.  Earlier this week JRN featured a translation of Nagata's account of the race.  Shipek has posted a companion piece telling his side of the story.  Read it here.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hosaka Running Beppu-Oita This Weekend

59+ marathon world record holder Yoshihisa Hosaka (Natural Foods AC) is running Sunday's Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon in his first marathon at age 65.  In October he ran the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in an attempt on the age 64 world record. The video below includes a few shots of both Hosaka and fellow senior world record holder Ed Whitlock (Canada).

Monday, January 27, 2014

'There's an Incredibly Exciting World Waiting Just a Step Outside Japan'

http://ameblo.jp/1984-0220/entry-11758652352.html

translated by Mika Tokairin and Brett Larner
photo courtesy of race organizers Aravaipa Running

14:16 / 29:44 track runner Tsutomu Nagata, 29, took up ultramarathons after an accident in 2010 left his right arm permanently handicapped.  In 2013 he finished 3rd at the Lake Saroma 100 km in 6:44:33, a time that ranked him 6th in the world for the year.  

Nagata made his 100 mile and international debut Jan. 25 at the Coldwater Rumble 100 Mile Trail Run in the U.S., leading for the first two 20-mile laps before being overtaken by eventual winner Catlow Shipek (U.S.A.). Post-race he wrote about his experience.

Japanese emoticons:

(^-^)/ = happy/waving
(T-T) = crying (embarrassment)
(-_-;) = worried/stress

To begin with I'd like to thank Iwamoto-san and Rina-san from Club My Star for first suggesting this opportunity. Also to everyone in Tokirun, Igarashi-sensei, Seki-sensei, Ota-san and others who supported me, I don't know how to thank you enough.

The race started at 7:00 a.m. on the 25th.  At first there was a pack of four, but it quickly became just two of us.

Him: (^-^)/ "Hi! Blah blah blah blah."
Me: (T-T) "I don't speak English.  Sorry!  Sorry!  Sorry!"
Him: (^-^)/ "What's your name?"
Me: (T-T) "NAGATA!"
Him: (^-^)/ "Oh, NAGATA!"

We talked to each other like that but I couldn't understand his name. (-_-;)  Cat!?  He tried to imitate a cat going meow meow but...

He went to the toilet at the end of the first loop and I took the lead.  On the second lap the sun started to shine and it got so hot that I couldn't believe it was really winter.  There were three aid stations per lap with great cheering and support, and I really appreciated the staff's efforts to understand my poor English.  In the second half of the third lap I started slowing down and the guy caught back up to me (although I think I was the only one thinking of it as being caught).  When he caught up to me he asked, "Nagata!  You doing OK?"  I could tell from the difference between his positive way of thinking and mine that he was very strong, but I couldn't give up then so I chased after him.

On the fourth lap I was going as hard as I could trying to close the gap since there were people who were looking forward to seeing how I did. I was feeling like, "Hey, jackass! Wait up!" I wonder what the gap between us was at the end of the fourth lap? I was going through pain and agony I'd never tasted before while I was chasing him.

The fifth lap took an hour longer.  On the fifth lap I used a headlamp for the first time and ran through the darkness.  I crashed into cactuses, fell lots of times, took wrong turns, and the headlamp died.  I encountered a million problems, but somehow I got to the finish.

100 miles is a very long way.  If I was told to run it all by myself it'd be impossible.  Every person I lapped, saying "Good job!" to each other gave me strength.  I felt a new world in this race and became a new person again.  I find enjoyment in this through seeing my own growth and change.  That's my style.

Thanks to Rina-san's translation, after the race I was able to talk a lot to that guy I met there in the States.  I think there are great races and great race staff in Japan too, but my words are insufficient to express how much I felt that there was an incredibly exciting world waiting just a step outside Japan.

When I get back I want to talk about all this over some drinks.  I'd like to talk more to other people who are interested in ultramarathons.

Over and out.

Update: Read Catlow Shipek's account of the race here.

Coldwater Rumble 100 Mile Trail Run
Goodyear, AZ, U.S.A., 1/25/14
click here for complete results

Men
1. Catlow Shipek (U.S.A.) - 15:09:52
2. Tsutomu Nagata (Japan) - 16:14:21
3. Jeremy Bradford (U.S.A.) - 18:29:30

Women
1. Gina Dhaliwal (Canada) - 20:05:43
2. Katelyne Fischbeck (U.S.A.) - 21:00:52
3. Ema Eliason (U.S.A.) - 23:26:14

photo (c) 2014 Aravaipa Running
all rights reserved

Ekiden Weekend Roundup

by Brett Larner

National championship ekiden season may be through, but across the country smaller regional and local ekidens continue.  Biggest among the dozen or so noteworthy ekidens this weekend was the 77th running of the Chugoku Yamaguchi Ekiden.  A moderate-length event at 7 stages and 84.4 km, Chugoku Yamaguchi featured six top corporate league teams from the central Japan region along with local universities and clubs.  Despite a one-two punch of 2012 Fukuoka International Marathon winner Joseph Gitau (Kenya) and former Sera H.S. star Charles Ndirangu (Kenya) the JFE Steel team could not hold off rivals Mazda, the lead turning over twice during the course of the race before Mazda anchor Kenji Yamamoto, a member of Toyo University's 2012 Hakone Ekiden course record-setting team, ran down JFE Steel's Yuki Moriwaki to give Mazda the win by 20 seconds in 4:08:54.  Chugoku Denryoku, the top-ranked team in the region after finishing 5th at the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden, was only 3rd.  Despite a strong run on the 11.3 km Second Stage by London Olympics marathoner Ryo Yamamoto, the SGH Group Sagawa team struggled and finished 6th among the six major corporate teams.

Southwest of Tokyo, six Hakone Ekiden universities and several smaller schools raced their JV teams at the 60th Atsugi Ekiden.  The relatively minor Koku Gakuin University had an upset win over Hakone runner-up Komazawa University, taking two seconds off Komazawa's two-year-old record of 2:05:13 for the six-stage, 42.195 km course.  One second behind Kanagawa University at the end of the 10.3 km First Stage, Koku Gakuin's Masanori Ikeda took the lead on 3.6 km Second Stage and from there the team never looked back, its lead over Komazawa and Kanagawa growing on each stage.   Despite breaking the overall course record no individual stage records were broken, showing the quality of Koku Gakuin's team performance.

To the northwest of Tokyo, the Okumusashi Ekiden's news value took a hit when the Hakone all-star Morinokuma-san (A bear in the woods) fun run team featuring twins Keita and Yuta Shitara of Toyo and 2013 Hakone winner Nittai University's captain Shota Hattori was a last-minute cancellation.  Tokai University bounced back from a disappointing 13th-place finish at Hakone to win, covering the six-stage, 38.792 km course in 1:56:33.  Despite a 14:42 win on the 5.294 km Fifth Stage by ace Yuki Kawauchi, equivalent to 13:53 for 5 km, the Saitama Prefectural Government team was only 73rd.

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

'Yuki Kawauchi Interview'

http://athleticsillustrated.com/interviews/yuki-kawauchi-interview/

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Maeda Sets Collegiate National Record in Debut at Osaka International Women's Marathon

by Brett Larner

Marathons are often surprisingly unpredictable, but while there were a couple of big surprises at the 33rd edition of the Osaka International Women's Marathon, what was most surprising was how predictable three of the big results were.

One surprise was how aggressively Poland's Karolina Jarzynska took the race out.  With a best of just 2:26:45, Jarzynska pushed the first half through in 1:11:30 and by 30 km had a lead of 12 seconds as she clocked a 1:42:22 split.  Not too surprisingly, she tied up in the final 12 km and dropped to 3rd but was rewarded for taking her shot with a new PB of 2:26:31, just short of a new national record.

Two of the predictable elements came from the two women who ran her down.  For the third time, Ukrainian national record holder and defending champion Tetiana Gamera-Shmyrko rocked the Osaka course with the fastest second half and final 2.195 km in the field to take her second Osaka win, coming from 42 seconds behind at halfway to win by 1:23 in 2:24:37, exactly as predicted.  It's amazing that she and virtually every other Eastern European woman to win in Japan over the last five years has been able to execute the identical strategy virtually every time.  Chalk it up to superior planning.

Almost equally predictable, in her final marathon, talk of a return to the Gold Coast Marathon notwithstanding, 2011 Osaka Women's winner Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) ran up front through the first half of the race, faded after halfway, turned it on to overtake the lead, then came up short of closing for the win as she landed in 2nd in 2:26:00.  It was a familiar pattern seen throughout her marathon career, one which more often than not landed her on the podium but even more often than not left her outside the winner's circle.  Akaba was largely responsible for making it an interesting race, relentlessly sparring with Jarzynska and Gamera-Shmyrko when their orbits coincided and was all smiles through most of the race, showing that although she couldn't quite grab hold of the gold, she was leaving with no bad feelings about what she has accomplished.

Most predictably, and most sadly, 2012 Osaka winner Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya), who made the all-time Japanese top ten with her 2:23:23 win to make the London Olympics and was in great shape through this ekiden season, ran up front against Jarzynska and Akaba through 15 km before plummeting to a 64th-place finish in 2:58:45, her second time in her last three marathons to finish slower than 2:50.  What makes it predictable and sad is that it is the identical pattern so many other Tenmaya athletes have gone through before.  Head coach Yutaka Taketomi, who has enjoyed a tenure as director of Japanese women's marathoning post-Beijing, has an undisputed record as Japan's best coach at getting women to 2:21~2:23 in their first two marathons and on to Olympic teams and is equally and unequivocally Japan's worst coach when it comes to what to do next.  When one or two athletes never live up to their potential it might be bad luck, but when it happens predictably every time it's something else.  Some day a talented young woman may step up and break the curse of Tenmaya, but that day was not today.

Coming right after the news of the brilliant Hitomi Niiya's premature retirement it could have been a day dark as the clouds that blew through Osaka, but there was one unexpected ray of luminescence to give a little hope to Japanese women's marathoning. Bukkyo University ace Sairi Maeda, 22, quietly coming in to Osaka for her pre-graduation debut off a 30 km win in Osaka late last year, sat far back in the field through the first half. Two and a half minutes behind at halfway, she began to turn it on after 25 km and rolled all the way up to 4th, negative splitting to finish in 2:26:46 just shy of the fading Jarzynska. Maeda's time was a new national university record, a full five minutes faster than the old record of 2:31:46 set 18 years ago by Kozue Matsumoto (Chuo Univ.) and, with Akaba set to retire leaves her with a good chance of being named to the Japanese team for this year's Asian Games marathon.  Maeda  is set to join the Daihatsu corporate team post-graduation where her training partners will include Moscow World Championships marathon 4th-placer Ryoko Kizaki, as good a place as any for Maeda to develop into a future hope.

In Osaka's accompanying half marathon, Osaka policeman Noriyuki Nabetani was the surprise victor over corporate runners Yudai Yamakawa (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) and Satoru Kitamura (Team Nissin Shokuhin), winning in 1:03:55 to mark one of the fastest times in the last ten years of the event's history.  2011 Tokyo Marathon winner Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) won the women's race in 1:12:44 as she works toward April's Boston Marathon.  2010 winner Yuri Kano (Team Shiseido) was 4th in 1:16:12.

33rd Osaka International Women's Marathon
Osaka, 1/26/14

1. Tetiana Gamera-Shmyrko (Ukraine) - 2:24:37
2. Yukiko Akaba (Japan/Team Hokuren) - 2:26:00
3. Karolina Jarzynska (Poland) - 2:26:31 - PB
4. Sairi Maeda (Japan/Bukkyo Univ.) - 2:26:46 - debut, NUR
5. Marta Lema (Ethiopia) - 2:28:06
6. Natalia Puchkova (Russia) - 2:28:44 - PB
7. Mari Ozaki (Japan/Team Noritz) - 2:31:17
8. Deborah Toniolo (Italy) - 2:31:42
9. Louise Damen (Great Britain) - 2:32:21
10. Sayo Nomura (Japan/Team Daichi Seimei) - 2:32:29 - debut
11. Nanami Matsuura (Japan/Team Tenmaya) - 2:33:24 - debut
12. Yuko Watanabe (Japan/Team Edion) - 2:34:01
13. Hiroko Miyauchi (Japan/Team Kyocera) - 2:35:03
14. Shizuka Kudo (Japan/Team Higo Ginko) - 2:37:52 - PB
15. Kaori Oyama (Japan/Team Noritz) - 2:39:47
-----
22. Yumiko Hara (AASP RC) - 2:49:29
64. Risa Shigetomo (Japan/Team Tenmaya) - 2:58:45

Osaka Half Marathon
Osaka, 1/26/14
click here for complete results

Men
1. Noriyuki Nabetani (Osaka Police Dept.) - 1:03:55
2. Yudai Yamakawa (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:03:58
3. Satoru Kitamura (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 1:04:15
4. Tadashi Suzuki (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:04:20
5. Tsukasa Morita (Team Sanyo Tokushu Seiko) - 1:04:52

Women
1. Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) - 1:12:44
2. Yuka Hakoyama (Team Wacoal) - 1:13:35
3. Saori Noda (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) - 1:15:15
4. Yuri Kano (Team Shiseido) - 1:16:12
5. Mina Unno (Bukkyo Univ.) - 1:16:19

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Olympian Hitomi Niiya Announces Retirement

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2014/01/25/kiji/K20140125007456230.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner
photo by Mika Tokairin

On Jan. 25 a representative of Moscow World Championships women's 10000 m 5th-placer Hitomi Niiya (25, Team Universal Entertainment) announced Niiya's retirement.  A press conference to explain the decision is scheduled for Jan. 31.

Born in Okayama, as a student at Kojokan H.S. she won her stage at the National High School Ekiden Championships three years in a row.  In 2006 she joined the Toyota Jidoshoki corporate team, and the following year at age 18 won the first Tokyo Marathon.  In 2011 she left Toyota Jidoshokki to remain with coach Yoshio Koide when the team moved from Chiba to Aichi, qualifying as an independent for the Daegu World Championships where she made the final in the 5000 m.  After joining the Universal Entertainment team she won the 2012 National Championships 5000 m, and at the London Olympics she was 9th in the 10000 m after leading much of the race.  She lapped the entire field to set a meet record in the 10000 m at the 2013 National Championships before leading almost all the way in Moscow and taking 5th in a PB 30:56.70.  After Moscow she injured the sole of her right foot and has not raced again.

Translator's note: In a tearful interview immediately after her race in Moscow Niiya said, "I feel like there's no reason for me to be here.  There's no reason to be at Worlds if you can't medal."  Not long afterwards on her now-deleted Twitter account she said, "I think this race might have killed my career."

photo (c) 2013 Mika Tokairin
all rights reserved

Friday, January 24, 2014

Osaka International Women's Marathon and Osaka Half Marathon Preview

by Brett Larner

Sunday's Osaka International Women's Marathon features an interesting showdown between the race's last three winners, defending champion Tetiana Gamera-Shmyrko (Ukraine), all-time Japanese #9 Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya), and, in her final race before retiring from the jitsugyodan corporate system, Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren). Gamera-Shmyrko won last year's Osaka over future World Championships bronze medalist Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) in a PB 2:23:58 with the kind of miraculously fast second half she and other Eastern European women have produced in recent years, especially at Japanese marathons.  Since then she was a DNF at November's New York City Marathon, where Shigetomo was 11th in 2:31:54.  Shigetomo has never run well in a marathon since her 2:23:23 win at Osaka in 2012, but she has been on top of her game this ekiden season most recently with a 31:50 win on the Jan. 12 National Women's Ekiden's 10 km anchor stage.  Akaba, whose four marathons last year included a 3rd-place finish in London and a course record win at the Gold Coast Marathon, ran well at last month's Sanyo Women's Half Marathon with a 1:09:24 for 2nd, but on the same National Women's Ekiden stage Shigetomo won two weeks ago Akaba placed only 24th in 33:25. Given the trio's past tendencies Shigetomo seems most likely to be the one pushing early on with Akaba and Gamera-Shmyrko going to work later in the race, but either way it could be a fast day if the predicted unseasonally high temperatures hold off.

Other potential company includes last year's 3rd and 4th placers Yuko Watanabe (Team Edion) and Mari Ozaki (Team Noritz) and the debuting Sayo Nomura (Team Daiichi Seimei), all in the race for potential selection for the Japanese team for this year's Asian Games in South Korea.  Watanabe showed a lot of promise last year in Osaka, and having beaten Akaba to win August's Hokkaido Marathon she looks like the best bet to join the list of contenders for the win.  The veteran Ozaki was unexpectedly strong last year and should be up front at least through the first half of the race if she is in similar shape.  2011 World University Games half marathon bronze medalist Nomura is coached by 1991 World Championships marathon silver medalist Sachiko Yamashita.  She ran well through most of 2013 in preparation to make her marathon debut in Osaka and could be a factor. One outside possibility if the race plays out at the 2:25 level is Karolina Jarzynska (Poland), who ran a 2:26:45 PB at the Lodz Marathon after finishing 6th in Osaka last year.

Simultaneous with the elite marathon is the mass-participation Osaka Half Marathon, which is gradually growing into a decently competitive event with 38 elite men and 12 elite women.  Along with a number of good corporate men, Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudeno), who ran a course record 1:08:24 to beat Akaba at last month's Sanyo Women's Half Marathon, is scheduled to run versus 2010 winner Yuri Kano (Team Shiseido) and 2011 Tokyo Marathon winner Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal).  It will be a surprise if Chepyego doesn't better Osaka's 1:09:55 course record.

The Osaka International Women's Marathon will be broadcast live nationwide on Fuji TV starting at 12:10 p.m. on Sunday.  Overseas fans' best bet to watch online is likely the premium key version of Keyhole TV, seemingly reliable at $5.00 USD for 30 days of access.

33rd Osaka International Women's Marathon Elite Field
Osaka, 1/26/14

32. Risa Shigetomo (Japan/Team Tenmaya) - 2:23:23 (Osaka Int'l 2012)
33. Mari Ozaki (Japan/Team Noritz) - 2:23:30 (Osaka Int'l 2003)
1. Tetiana Gamera-Shmyrko (Ukraine) - 2:23:58 (Osaka Int'l 2013)
34. Yukiko Akaba (Japan/Team Hokuren) - 2:24:09 (London 2011)
35. Yuko Watanabe (Japan/Team Edion) - 2:25:56 (Osaka Int'l 2013)
2. Karolina Jarzynska (Poland) - 2:26:45 (Lodz 2013)
3. Marta Lema (Ethiopia) - 2:28:02 (Kosice 2013)
4. Hellen Mugo (Kenya) - 2:29:59 (Kosice 2012)
5. Louise Damen (Great Britain) - 2:30:00 (London 2011)
6. Natalya Puchkova (Russia) - 2:30:17 (Hannover 2012)
7. Deborah Toniolo (Italy) - 2:31:20 (Padova 2009)
36. Hiroko Miyauchi (Japan/Team Kyocera) - 2:32:20 (Yokohama Int'l 2009)
37. Sayo Nomura (Team Daiichi Seimei) - debut - 1:10:27 (Sapporo Half 2013)
Yumiko Hara - 2:23:48 (Osaka Int'l 2007)
Sairi Maeda (Bukkyo Univ.) - debut - 32:51.53 (Fukagawa 2013)

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Dubai Marathon - Japanese Results

2014 Dubai Marathon
Dubai, 1/24/14
click here for complete results

Men
1. Tsegaye Mekonnen Asefa (Ethiopia) - 2:04:32 - debut
2. Markos Geneti Guteta (Ethiopia) - 2:05:13
3. Girmay Birhanu Gebru (Ethiopia) - 2:05:49 - PB
4. Tamirat Tola Adera (Ethiopia) - 2:06:17 - debut
5. Azmeraw Bekele Molaign (Ethiopia) - 2:07:12 - PB
6. Shumi Dechase Leche (Bahrain) - 2:07:13
7. Abrha Milaw Asefa (Ethiopia) - 2:07:46 - PB
8. Abera Kassw Belay (Ethiopia) - 2:08:18 - debut
9. Abdeimounaim Harroufi (Morocco) - 2:09:11 - debut
10. Belachew Alemayehu Ameta (Ethiopia) - 2:09:50 - PB
-----
17. Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Japan/Team Konica Minolta) - 2:13:41 - debut

Women
1. Mulu Seboka Seyfu (Ethiopia) - 2:25:01
2. Meselech Melkamu Haileyesus (Ethiopia) - 2:25:23
3. Firehiwot Dado Tufy (Ethiopia) - 2:25:53
4. Meseret Hailu Debele (Ethiopia) - 2:26:20
5. Betelhem Moges Cherenet (Ethiopia) - 2:26:42 - debut
6. Amane Gobena Gemeda (Ethiopia) - 2:27:05
7. Fantu Eticha Jimma (Ethiopia) - 2:27:36 - PB
8. Goitetom Haft Tessema (Ethiopia) - 2:27:44
9. Sechale Dalasa Adugna (Ethiopia) - 2:27:47
10. Sultan Haydar (Turkey) - 2:27:54

photo (c) 2014 Dr. Helmut Winter
all rights reserved

Thursday, January 23, 2014

'Paul Tanui Will Run Cinque Mulini XC'

http://www.albertostretti.org/2014/01/paul-tanui-will-run-cinquemulini-xca.html

Moscow World Championships men's 10000 m bronze medalist Paul Tanui runs for the Kyudenko corporate team in Kyushu.

Ikegami Makes Waves at Half Marathon in Tokyo

http://www.kyoto-np.co.jp/top/article/20140121000033

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Kameoka native and long distance runner Hideyuki Ikegami (20, Kyoto T&F Assoc.), won a half marathon in Tokyo on Jan. 12.  In scoring the win he took down famed "civil servant runner" Yuki Kawauchi (26, Saitama Pref. Gov't).  Ikegami is only a second-year at Kyoto Kyoiku University but is already forging his own way of doing things outside the school's track and field team in pursuit of his dream: "I want to take on the world in the marathon."

At the Jan. 12 Tanigawa Mari Half Marathon, Ikegami took more than two minutes off his PB to run his 1:03:09 winning time.  In the middle part of the race he threw in a long surge to break Kawauchi, opening a convincing 1:08 lead over him.  It was only Ikegami's third half marathon but a major upset, and post-race he was surrounded by reporters. "Kawauchi always looks like he's in pain when he runs," Ikegami told them while reviewing the race, "but this time his face looked really exhausted so I think I only really won by making a sneaky move."

At Rakunan H.S. Ikegami ran in the National High School Ekiden Championships three years in a row, and at Kyoto Kyoiku University his achievements have included winning the Kansai Region University Track and Field Championships 10000 m and half marathon.  But in October he quit the school's team.  With academics as his highest priority, he gets up at 5:20 a.m. every day to follow a self-imposed regimen of two hours of training every morning and evening.  "I wanted to make the mistakes that would help me grow without having to worrying about the restrictions of being on a team, so I chose to be independent," he said.

At the end of last year he passed the test to join Team Arata, the athlete development project established by London Olympics marathoner Arata Fujiwara (32, Miki House). The project pays members a training stipend based on their results at amateur races and other events.  Project member Hiroaki Onishi (30), a Kyoto Sangyo University graduate living in Kyoto, gave a positive evaluation of Ikegami's performance, saying, "He has been training and developing by himself, and that is exactly why he was able to beat Kawauchi that way."

"Like Kawauchi, whose running is an extension of a hobby and something that he does because he loves it from the heart, and Fujiwara, who has put his life and livelihood on the line to risk a career as in independent pro, my goal is success as a runner who doesn't believe in the established system," Ikegami said.  He plans to run his marathon debut this winter.

2014 Tokyo Marathon Elite Field

by Brett Larner

With just a month until the race date, the Tokyo Marathon organizers have released the men's and women's entry lists for Tokyo's second edition since working its way into the World Marathon Majors. Compared to the London and Boston fields it is the very model of a minor Major marathon with Kenyans, Ethiopians and even an Eritrean, but though the best have gone elsewhere the depth and quality are there to bring some overseas interest and make this field one of the best Japan has ever seen.

Tadesse Tola (Ethiopia) leads the way among the men with a sub-2:05 best from Dubai last year, tailed closely by two-time world champion Abel Kirui (Kenya) who returns to Tokyo after a DNF in 2008, Sammy Kitwara (Kenya) and three other men who have broken 2:06 in the last two years.  2011 World Jr. XC champion Geoffrey Kipsang (Kenya), past Tokyo winners Michael Kipyego (Kenya) and Viktor Rothlin (Switzerland) and five other internationals make up the next pack where the top Japanese are likely to be found.

London Olympians and former Takushoku University roommates Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) and Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) are the best domestic men, with the promising Takehiro Deki (Team Chugoku Denryoku) making his pro debut follow-up to his 2:10:02 while a junior at Aoyama Gakuin University in 2012, and the even more promising 22-year-old Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota) making his marathon debut off an all-time #3 Japanese 1:00:53 half marathon best.  10000 m national champion Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) is also on the list, having run a lukewarm 2:16:31 debut at last year's Tokyo, but with injury issues hitting him at this year's New Year Ekiden it's a question mark whether he will actually start let alone approach fully operational status.  It's worth noting that despite nominally being an IAAF gold label World Marathon Major, Tokyo's domestic field is roughly the same quality as that at next weekend's silver label Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, a curious state of affairs.

Aomori Yamada H.S. graduate and former Suzuki corporate team member Lucy Kabuu Wangui (Kenya) is the clear favorite in the women's race, her 2:19:34 best from Dubai almost two minutes better than her nearest competition.  Tirfi Tsegaye (Ethiopia) leads the next group of seven sub-2:24 women, four of them Ethiopian, with a best of 2:21:19. 35-year-old Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) tops the Japanese women's list with a best of 2:19:41, but given its distance in the past and the point in her career at which Shibui stands, the more likely homeground favorites are probably 2:24:57 independent Azusa Nojiri (Hiratsuka Lease) and corporate league runner Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) with a 2:25:26 from 2012.  The exclusion of Tokyo from women's national team selection consideration has in the past meant that the best Japanese women only run there when they are about to retire, so hopefully the listing of Ito, who turns 30 this year, is not an indication that she is about to follow that trend.

2014 Tokyo Marathon Elite Field
Tokyo, 2/23/14
click here for detailed field listing

Men
Tadesse Tola (Ethiopia) - 2:04:49 (Dubai 2013)
Abel Kirui (Kenya) - 2:05:04 (Rotterdam 2009)
Sammy Kitwara (Kenya) - 2:05:16 (Chicago 2013)
Peter Some (Kenya) - 2:05:38 (Paris 2013)
Deressa Chimsa (Ethiopia) - 2:05:42 (Dubai 2012)
Dickson Chumba (Kenya) - 2:05:46 (Eindhoven 2012)
Geoffrey Kipsang (Kenya) - 2:06:12 (Berlin 2012)
Michael Kipkorir Kipyego (Kenya) - 2:06:48 (Eindhoven 2011)
Viktor Rothlin (Switzerland) - 2:07:23 (Tokyo 2008) - withdrawn
Yared Asmerom (Eritrea) - 2:07:27 (Chuncheon Int'l 2011)
Abderrahime Bouramdane (Morocco) - 2:07:33 (London 2010)
Arata Fujiwara (Japan/Miki House) - 2:07:48 (Tokyo 2012)
Kentaro Nakamoto (Japan/Team Yasukawa Denki) - 2:08:35 (Beppu-Oita 2013) - withdrawn
Suehiro Ishikawa (Japan/Team Honda) - 2:09:10 (Lake Biwa 2013)
Cyrus Njui (Kenya/Team Hitachi Butsuryu) - 2:09:10 (Tokyo 2011)
Takashi Horiguchi (Japan/Team Honda) - 2:09:16 (Lake Biwa 2012)
Takehiro Deki (Japan/Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:10:02 (Lake Biwa 2012) - withdrawn
Kohei Matsumura (Japan/Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) - 2:10:12 (Lake Biwa 2013)
Tomoya Adachi (Japan/Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:10:22 (Lake Biwa 2013)
Chiharu Takada (Japan/Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:10:39 (Fukuoka 2013)
Koji Kobayashi (Japan/Team Subaru) - 2:10:40 (Chicago 2012)
Hideaki Tamura (Japan/Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:10:54 (Lake Biwa 2013)
Mekubo Mogusu (Japan/Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 2:11:02 (Tokyo 2013)
Hirokatsu Kurosaki (Japan/Team Konica Minolta) - 2:12:22 (Nobeoka 2013)
Kota Noguchi (Japan/Team Toyota) - 2:12:24 (Fukuoka 2012)
Keisuke Wakui (Japan/Team Yakult) - 2:12:55 (Beppu-Oita 2012)
Yuki Sato (Japan/Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 2:16:31 (Tokyo 2013) - withdrawn
Benjamin Ngandu (Kenya/Team Monteroza) - 1:01:06 (Marugame 2012) (Ngandu DNF'd in his debut at Fukuoka 2013)

Debut
Chihiro Miyawaki (Japan/Team Toyota) - 1:00:53 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2012)
Hiroki Yamagishi (Jobu University) - 1:02:51 (Nat'l Univ. Half 2013)

Women
Lucy Kabuu Wangui (Kenya) - 2:19:34 (Dubai 2012)
Yoko Shibui (Japan/Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 2:19:41 (Berlin 2004)
Tirfi Tsegaye (Ethiopia) - 2:21:19 (Berlin 2012)
Atsede Baysa (Ethiopia) - 2:22:03 (Chicago 2012)
Birhane Dibaba (Ethiopia) - 2:23:01 (Frankfurt 2013)
Merima Mohammed (Ethiopia) - 2:23:06 (Toronto Waterfront 2010)
Caroline Rotich (Kenya) - 2:23:22 (Chicago 2012)
Olena Shurkhno (Ukraine) - 2:23:32 (Berlin 2012)
Albina Mayorova (Russia) - 2:23:52 (Nagoya Women's 2012)
Azusa Nojiri (Japan/Hiratsuka Lease) - 2:24:57 (Osaka Women's 2012)
Mai Ito (Japan/Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:25:26 (Nagoya Women's 2012)
Yoshiko Fujinaga (Japan/Isahaya T&F Assoc.) - 2:25:40 (London 2011)
Mika Okunaga (Japan/Hammock AC) - 2:27:16 (Osaka Women's 2009)
Janet Rono (Kenya) - 2:28:36 (Koln 2013)
Sumiko Suzuki (Japan/Team Hokuren) - 2:29:26 (Tokyo 2012)
Chihiro Tanaka (Japan/Athlec AC) - 2:29:30 (Nagoya Women's 2002)
Hiroko Yoshitomi (Japan/First Dream AC) - 2:31:28 (Tokyo 2013)

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Emergency Medical Services Conduct Terrorism Contingency Drills Ahead of February's Tokyo Marathon

http://www.fnn-news.com/news/headlines/articles/CONN00261555.html

translated by Brett Larner
click above link for video of the workshop

Emergency medical services conducted a workshop in preparation for the Feb. 23 Tokyo Marathon.  In light of the terrorist bombing carried out at the 2013 Boston Marathon, the workshop was aimed at preparing doctors and other medical personnel to perform first aid in the event of a similar attack at the Tokyo Marathon.  Using the scenario of an explosion near the finish line, medical staff received triage protocol training for determining the priority of treatment based on the degree of the victim's injuries.

Monday, January 20, 2014

World Championships 5000 m Runner Ueno Plans for Marathon Debut

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20140119-1246211.html

translated by Brett Larner

After his stage-winning run at the Jan. 19 National Men's Ekiden, 2009 World Championships 5000 m runner Yuichiro Ueno (DeNA RC) announced plans for his marathon debut.  "I'm not ready to do it right away, but I plan on doing Tokyo or Lake Biwa next year," he said.  Already beginning his transition to the marathon, Ueno will serve as a pacer at the Feb. 2 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Nagano Becomes First Team to Win Sixth National Men's Ekiden Championship Title

by Brett Larner
click photo for video highlights courtesy of NHK

Five-time national champion Nagano made history at the 19th edition of the National Men's Ekiden Jan. 19 in Hiroshima, anchor Keigo Yano (Nittai Univ.) breaking away to make his team the first in event history to win a sixth national title as he broke the tape in 2:19:20, the third-fastest ever in National Championships history.

Never a clear leader in a pack race throughout the day, Nagano made its first move to the front on the 8.5 km Third Stage when past 1500 m and 5000 m national champion Yuichiro Ueno (DeNA RC) dropped a pack of Hakone Ekiden stars to take the lead.  With the mixed team of junior high, high school, university and pro athletes that makes the National Ekiden format one of the most interesting in national championship ekiden season, Nagano lost ground after Ueno and remained roughly even with a pack of four rivals. Not until halfway through the 13.0 km anchor stage did it gain a clear lead when last year 's stage winner Keigo Yano of Hakone Ekiden 3rd-placer Nittai University, winner of the Hakone Ekiden Ninth Stage just over two weeks ago, dropped pro rivals Ryo Kiname (Nagasaki) and Keiji Akutsu (Team Gunma) to win in 37:28, a full 26 seconds faster than his 2013 winning time.

Yano's Nittai teammate Shota Hattori (Saitama) ran big to advance through the field to 2nd, like Yano overtaking and dropping Kiname and Akutsu to make it a Nittai 1-2 in Saitama's best-ever placing of 2nd.  Akutsu outkicked Kiname for 3rd, both breaking the 2:20 barrier for the 48.0 km course with Akutsu crossing the line in 2:19:56.

19th National Men's Ekiden
Hiroshima, 1/19/14
47 teams, 7 stages, 48.0 km
click here for complete results

Top Team Results
1. Nagano - 2:19:20 - all-time #3
2. Saitama - 2:19:55
3. Gunma - 2:19:56
4. Nagasaki - 2:19:58
5. Miyazaki - 2:20:05
6. Fukushima - 2:20:16
7. Mie - 2:20:17
8. Fukuoka - 2:20:19
9. Kanagawa - 2:20:36
10. Hyogo - 2:20:41

Top Stage Performances
First Stage (7.0 km)
1. Tatsuhiko Hori (Fukuoka) - 20:11
2. Suguru Hirosue (Miyazaki) - 20:13
3. Kazuto Kawabata (Kyoto) - 20:14

Second Stage (3.0 km)
1. Kazuya Nishiyama (Gunma) - 8:30
2. Hyuga Endo (Fukushima) - 8:38
2. Munehiro Harada (Nagasaki) - 8:38
2. Yuta Kamibayashi (Kanagawa) - 8:38
2. Kiseki Shiozawa (Mie) - 8:38

Third Stage (8.5 km)
1. Yuichiro Ueno (Nagano) - 23:49
2. Yuma Hattori (Niigata) - 23:54
3. Masaya Taguchi (Miyazaki) - 23:56
4. Aritaka Kajiwara (Kanagawa) - 23:57
5. Keita Shitara (Saitama) - 23:59
6. Hideto Yamanaka (Osaka) - 24:00
6. Masato Kikuchi (Hokkaido) - 24:00
8. Naoko Okamoto (Hiroshima) - 24:07
8. Takumi Honda (Kumamoto) - 24:07
10. Genki Yagisawa (Tochigi) - 24:08

Fourth Stage (5.0 km)
1. Taishi Sakamoto (Kagoshima) - 14:32
2. Shuichiro Kondo (Kumamoto) - 14:34
3. Shota Onizuka (Fukuoka) - 14:36
3. Tomohiro Watanabe (Gifu) - 14:36

Fifth Stage (8.5 km)
1. Kohei Mukai (Nagasaki) - 24:43
2. Masaki Takamoto (Fukushima) - 24:44
3. Kenta Shimizu (Gunma) - 24:45
3. Hiroya Inoue (Hyogo) - 24:45

Sixth Stage (3.0 km)
1. Haruka Onodera (Shizuoka) - 8:38
2. Ryo Kayama (Fukuoka) - 8:43
3. Yuki Torikai (Chiba) - 8:44

Seventh Stage (13.0 km)
1. Keigo Yano (Nagano) - 37:28
2. Kaoru Hirosue (Miyazaki) - 37:40
3. Shota Hattori (Saitama) - 37:41
4. Shogo Nakamura (Mie) - 37:43
5. Taichi Takase (Okayama) - 37:57
6. Sota Hoshi (Fukushima) - 38:03
7. Yusei Nakao (Shizuoka) - 38:04
8. Akihiko Tsumurai (Hiroshima) - 38:05
8. Daiki Kubota (Kumamoto) - 38:05
10. Keiji Akutsu (Gunma) - 38:06

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Oshikawa Over Kawauchi for Okukuma Half Course Record

by Brett Larner



In just its second running the Okukuma Road Race continued to develop into Japan's leading January half marathon, with the Koichi Morishita-coached Yuki Oshikawa (Team Toyota Kyushu) taking nearly a minute off teammate Hayato Ideue's course record to win a tight pack race in 1:03:36.  In a lead group of nine including Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't), 2013 NYC Marathon 6th-place Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu), Hakone Ekiden runners Takahiro Gunji (Komazawa Univ.) and Shota Kai (Nittai Univ.), 2013 Tamana Half Marathon winner Daichi Kato (Team Toyota Kyushu) and more, Oshikawa pushed hard near the race's end to get away from Kawauchi and Gunji, opening a lead of 4 seconds over Kawauchi for the win.

Kawauchi, 2nd at last weekend's Tanigawa Mari Half Marathon, was runner-up again in 1:03:40, taking some consolation from bettering Imai, Kato and 2014 New Year Ekiden anchor stage winner Ryuji Watanabe (Team Toyota Kyushu), all of whom had beaten him over the half marathon distance in the last year.  Gunji held off Kai for 3rd in 1:03:44 to take top university honors just off his PB.  The top 11 all beat Ideue's course record of 1:04:31, Ideue himself taking 12th in 1:04:47.

The high school boys' 10 km division was deeply competitive, the top 20 all breaking 31 minutes.  Hiroki Koga (Omuta H.S.) was the fastest of the day, winning in a sizeable course record of 30:09.

Results at the 38th running of the Tokyo-area Chiba Marine Half Marathon were considerably more understated.  Kenyan Felista Wanjugu (Team Univ. Ent.) turned in a quality 33:12 to win the women's 10 km by exactly 4 minutes, but half marathon times were relatively slow.  Shinichi Taniguchi (Chuo Gakuin Univ.) took the men's race in 1:06:12, Akiko Sugo winning the women's race in 1:17:55 over former Yamada Denki corporate team member Maiko Murayama.

2nd Okukuma Road Race
Kumagun, Kumamoto, 1/19/14
click here for complete results

Men's Half Marathon
1. Yuki Oshikawa (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 1:03:36 - CR
2. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 1:03:40
3. Takahiro Gunji (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:03:44
4. Shota Kai (Nittai Univ.) - 1:03:48
5. Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 1:03:55
6. Hiroto Kanamori (Takushoku Univ.) - 1:03:56
7. Kentaro Inoue (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:04:04 - PB
8. Shota Miyagami (Tokai Univ.) - 1:04:05
9. Daichi Kato (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 1:04:07
10. Shun Yamamura (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:04:20

High School Boys' 10 km
1. Hiroki Koga (Omuta H.S.) - 30:09 - CR
2. Keisuke Arima (Omuta H.S.) - 30:23
3. Hiroki Fukushima (Chinzei H.S.) - 30:25
4. Ryo Sakamoto (Chinzei H.S.) - 30:29
5. Kohei Kawaguchi (Chinzei H.S.) - 30:30

Women's 5 km
1. Junko Katsuki (Kumamoto Shinai Joshi H.S.) - 16:27
2. Sayaka Onitsuka (Miyazaki Nichidai Prep H.S.) - 16:34
3. Kyoka Nakagawa (Kumamoto Shinai Joshi H.S.) - 16:39
4. Nana Muramoto (Yamaga J.H.S.) - 16:46
5. Natsumi Furukawa (Ariake H.S.) - 16:53

38th Chiba Marine Half Marathon
Chiba, 1/19/14
complete results coming shortly

Women's Half Marathon
1. Akiko Sugo - 1:17:55
2. Maiko Murayama (Niigata T&F Assoc.) - 1:19:00
3. Moe Hashimoto (Koku Gakuin Univ.) - 1:19:53

Men's Half Marathon
1. Shinichi Taniguchi (Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 1:06:12
2. Masahiro Uchida (Niigata T&F Assoc.) - 1:06:19
3. Yuki Tagomori (Kanto Gakuin Univ.) - 1:06:19

Women's 10 km
1. Felista Wanjugu (Kenya/Team Univ. Ent.) - 33:12
2. Misaki Yokouma - 37:12
3. Kanako Fujiishi - 37:21

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Kyudenko Runs Down Ritsumeikan Uji for Win at 25th Kita-Kyushu Women's Ekiden

by Brett Larner

The Kyudenko corporate women's team ran down defending champion Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. thanks to a stage-winning run from anchor Misaki Kato, coming back from a 31-second deficit to win the 25th Kita-Kyushu Invitational Women's Ekiden by 10 seconds. Despite a 18:11 course record run on the 5.9 km Second Stage by Kenyan Sally Chepyego, Kyudenko fell steadily behind Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. over the 32.8 km course's first four stages.  31 seconds behind by the time she started, Kato was obliged to run 11.7 km while the high school teams had the anchor stage split into 4.9 km and 6.8 km sections with two different runners.  Ritsumeikan Uji's Aki Manabe and Yuka Sato both ran the fastest times on those two segments, but Kato, on a steady rise since a sub-71 half marathon debut at last September's Great North Run, was simply too much for them to handle.  Near the end of the race Kato overtook Sato, opening 10 seconds in the home straight to seal Kyudenko's win in 1:46:01.  2013 National Corporate Women's Ekiden champion team Denso was a distant 3rd in 1:47:47.

Kato told JRN she next plans to race February's National Corporate Half Marathon Championships, where she will be among the major contenders for a place on the Japanese team for March's Copenhagen World Half Marathon.

25th Kita-Kyushu Invitational Women's Ekiden
Kita-Kyushu, 1/19/14
open division: 7 teams, 5 stages, 32.8 km
H.S. division: 14 teams, 6 stages, 32.8 km
click here for complete results

Top Team Results - Open Division
1. Kyudenko - 1:46:01
2. Denso -- 1:47:47
3. Toto - 1:48:16
4. Tenmaya - 1:48:53
5. Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo - 1:49:06

Top Team Results - High School Division
1. Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. - 1:46:11
2. Kojokan H.S. - 1:49:30
3. Saikyo H.S. - 1:50:06
4. Suma Gakuen H.S. - 1:50:23
5. Kita-Kyushu Municipal H.S. - 1:51:13

Stage Best Performances
First Stage (4.2 km) - Yui Fukuda (Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 13:34
Second Stage (5.9 km) - Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) - 18:11 - CR tie
Third Stage (5.1 km) - Sayaka Takarada (Kojokan H.S.) - 16:28
Fourth Stage (5.9 km) - Tomoka Katada (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 19:32
Fifth Stage - open (11.7 km) - Misaki Kato (Team Kyudenko) - 36:55
Fifth Stage - H.S. (4.9 km) - Aki Manabe (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 16:18
Sixth Stage - H.S. (6.8 km) - Yuka Sako (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 21:18

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Hakone Ekiden Stars Dominate 2014 Kumanichi 30 km Elite Field

https://twitter.com/a_yamako/status/424296422305849344/photo/1

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The organizers of the 58th Kumanichi 30 km and 3rd Kumamoto-jo Marathon on Feb. 16 announced the 20 members of its 2014 elite field on Feb. 2.  Previously-announced Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't), has elected to run the marathon division rather than defend his course record win last year in the 30 km division, but the 30 km will focus on university athletes from the popular Hakone Ekiden, making it one of the freshest young fields in years.  From Hakone winner Toyo University come ace Yuma Hattori who took 3rd on Hakone's Second Stage, its most competitive, and Eighth Stage winner Ryu Takaku. Hakone runner-up Komazawa University sends two of its best men, team captain Shinobu Kubota and 2013 National University Half Marathon champion Shogo Nakamura.  3rd-place Nittai University sends top man Takumi Honda.  2012 National University Half Marathon winner Toshikatsu Ebina is also in the field, representing Hakone 8th-placer Teikyo University.

Not to be outdone, the corporate leagues are represented by Hayato Ideue of New Year Ekiden runner-up Team Toyota Kyushu, three members of New Year Ekiden 6th-place Team Fujitsu led by Kenyan Johana Maina, and more.  The small women's field of four is topped by 2011 Tokyo Marathon winner Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) and elite marathoner Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera).  The races begin at 9:00 a.m. on the 16th.

58th Kumanichi 30 km and 3rd Kumamoto-jo Marathon Elite Fields
Kumamoto, 2/16/14
listed times are half-marathon bests except where noted

Marathon - Men
Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 2:08:14 (Seoul 2013)
Shota Jige (Kumamura Town Hall) - 2:17:06 (Lake Biwa 2011)

30 km - Men
Johana Maina (Kenya/Team Fujitsu) - 1:01:28 (Nat'l Corp. Half Marathon 2013)
Shinobu Kubota (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:01:38 (Marugame 2012)
Shota Yamaguchi (Team Fujitsu) - 1:01:42 (Marugame 2012)
Toshikatsu Ebina (Teikyo Univ.) - 1:02:23 (Nat'l Univ. Half Marathon 2012)
Takumi Honda (Nittai Univ.) - 1:02:37 (Nat'l Univ. Half Marathon 2012)
Shogo Nakamura (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:02:41 (Nat'l Univ. Half Marathon 2013)
Kosuke Murasashi (Team YKK) - 1:02:46 (Marugame 2012)
Shogo Sekiguchi (Hosei Univ.) - 1:02:57 (Ageo 2013)
Yuya Taguchi (Team Toyota Boshoku) - 1:03:19 (Nat'l Corp. Half Marathon 2013)
Ryu Takaku (Toyo Univ.) - 1:03:20 (Nat'l Univ. Half Marathon 2013)
Hiroki Kubota (Team Yasukawa Denki) 1:03:38 (Nat'l Corp. Half Marathon 2013)
Hayato Ideue (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 1:03:42 (Tamana 2012)
Kazuki Sakurai (Takushoku Univ.) - 1:04:47 (Ageo 2013)
Shintaro Ogami (Takushoku Univ.) - 1:05:00 (Ageo 2013)
Yusuke Sato (Team Fujitsu) - 59:28 (Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai 20 km 2011)
Yuma Hattori (Toyo Univ.) - 28:22.43 (HDC Kitami Meet 10000 m 2013)

30 km - Women
Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 1:09:23 (Sanyo Women's 2011)
Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) - 1:10:51 (Marugame 2010)
Yuka Takashima (Team Denso) - 1:13:30 (Nat'l Corp. Half Marathon 2012)
Kana Orino (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) - 1:13:38 (Matsue Ladies' 2013)

Friday, January 17, 2014

National Men's Ekiden Wraps Up Championship Ekiden Season This Sunday

by Brett Larner

This Sunday's 19th National Men's Ekiden in Hiroshima brings Japan's 2013-2014 national championship ekiden to a close with one of the most entertaining races of them all. Teams from each of Japan's 47 prefectures made up of junior high school, high school, university and pro runners race over 7 stages and 48 km, one of the few chances of the year to see the best of the corporate league's New Year Ekiden men duel with the university circuit's Hakone Ekiden stars and often the first glimpse of upcoming stars running young.  It's all broadcast live nationwide and commercial-free on NHK starting at 12:30 p.m.  As usual, JRN will cover the race live on Twitter @JRNLive.

This year university runners seem to outweigh the pros, with many of the Hakone stage winners and upper-echelon men taking the top positions on a number of teams.  That may in part be due to this year's World Half Marathon Championships being held in March and the National Corporate Half Marathon Championships, usually held mid-March, being bumped back to mid-February as a consequence.  The new Okukuma Half Marathon, of which more later, could also be playing a role.

Whatever the reason, defending champion Hyogo returns with a quality lineup led by London Olympics marathoner Ryo Yamamoto (Team SGH Group Sagawa) and Hosei University ace Kazuto Nishiike.  Nishiike suffered a minor injury at the end of December and was unable to run Hakone, but if he is not ready to start in Hiroshima team alternate Keisuke Nakatani of Hakone runner-up Komazawa University, the only Komazawa man to win his stage at Hakone, is a more than suitable replacement.  High school powerhouse Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S. also fields two members, giving Hyogo a good shot at a title defense.

Fukushima fields an exceptionally strong team including 5000 m national champion Sota Hoshi (Team Fujitsu) and Toyo member Norihisa Imai.  With a 5000 m best of 14:01.63 its leading runner Masaki Takamoto (Gakuho Ishikawa H.S.) is one of the fastest on the First Stage, so look for Fukushima to be in the action from the early going.

Yamanashi's team is stacked with four members of 2013 national champion Yamanashi Gakuin Prep H.S. including sub-14 high schoolers Ryotaro Ichitani and Kenta Ueda, but its chances will be largely up to sub-28:40 collegiate Kazuma Tashiro (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) and late-career pro Norio Kamijo.  Nagano is likewise stacked with four members of National High School Ekiden 5th-placer Saku Chosei H.S., former 1500 m and 5000 m national champion and Saku Chosei alum Yuichiro Ueno (DeNA RC) and Hakone Ninth Stage winner Keigo Yano (Nittai Univ.).  Following the same pattern, Hiroshima's team features four people from High School Ekiden 4th-place Sera H.S. backing former collegiate 10000 m national record holder Tetsuya Yoroizaka and New Year Ekiden ace Fourth Stage 4th-place Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku), a lineup that should be enough for it to be near the front of the race.

One of Hyogo's strongest challengers could be last year's 4th-placer Saitama, which includes Hakone Fifth Stage top two Keita Shitara (Toyo Univ.) and Shota Hattori (Nittai Univ.) as its two main members and Third Stage winner Yuta Shitara (Toyo Univ.) as alternate.  Much depends on how its high school men perform, and with 14:06.73 man Kazuki Takeshita (Tokyo Nogyo Prep #3 H.S.) on board they could have that angle covered.

Saitama's most famous runner, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) is giving the National Men's Ekiden a pass in favor of the new Okukuma Road Race half marathon the same day in Kumamoto.  Having just started last year, Okukuma is already establishing itself as a top drawer-race.  Alongside Kawauchi the field includes defending winner Hayato Ideue, New Year Ekiden Fourth Stage runner-up Masato Imai, Seventh Stage winner Ryuji Watanabe and 2013 Tamana Half Marathon winner Daichi Kato (all four of Team Toyota Kyushu), members of most of the top ten teams at Hakone, and a few dozen other elite university and corporate league men.  Imai, Watanabe and Kato have all beaten Kawauchi in half marathons in the last year, and with an unexpected loss behind him last weekend at the Tanigawa Mari Half Kawauchi will no doubt be going for payback.  Ideue's 1:04:31 course record from last year should fall by a wide margin.

Although the women's national championship ekiden season wrapped up last weekend with the National Women's Ekiden in Kyoto, across Kyushu from Kumamoto there's one more for the road as the Kita-Kyushu Invitational Women's Ekiden celebrates its 25th anniversary.  Kita-Kyushu gives some of the country's top high schools the chance to take a shot at top pro and university teams, with the 32.8 km event's longest stage divided into two for the high schoolers.  2013 winner Ritsumeikan Uji H.S., which became the first high school in event history to beat every corporate league team as it set the course record last year, returns to take on the two best corporate teams it outran, Tenmaya and Kyudenko. Last weekend London Olympics marathoner Risa Shigetomo won the National Women's Ekiden's 10 km anchor stage in 31:50 with Kyudenko anchor Misaki Kato 4th in 32:28.  Their rematch here should be one of the day's highlights.

Check back over the weekend for coverage of these and other road action.

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Hakone Ekiden Winner Toyo University Greeted by Throngs of Screaming Fans at Victory Rally

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20140117-OHT1T00043.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Having returned to the victor's stand for the first time in two years, 2014 Hakone Ekiden overall winner Toyo University held a victory rally Jan. 16 at its Hakusan Campus in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo.  Members of the champion team were greeted by deafening cheering from the crowd of university women.  The 700-seat Inoue Enryo Hall was sold out and packed to overflowing, almost entirely by female university students.  When the athletes whose running on the Hakone course wowed the nation Jan. 2 and 3 appeared, the hall was filled with screaming as if it was a pop idol concert.  Head coach Toshiyuki Sakai, 37, told his athletes sternly, "Do not get the wrong idea."

Set to become the team's star runner next season, second-year Yuma Hattori did not betray a smile as he declared Toyo's intent to defend its title, saying, "Next year we will do everything we can to win again."

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Noguchi Out of Osaka International With Stress Fracture

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20140116-OHT1T00079.htm

translated by Brett Larner

On Jan. 16 the organizing committee of the Jan. 26 Osaka International Women's Marathon announced that 2004 Athens Olympics marathon gold medalist and national record holder Mizuki Noguchi (35, Team Sysmex) has withdrawn from the race after sustaining a stress fracture in the shaft of her right femur.  Now the third year in a row that she has withdrawn from Osaka shortly before the race, Noguchi issued a statement through the organizers saying, "I very strongly want to run this race, but rather than overdoing it now it's more important to let my leg recover and make progress toward another goal.  Once this injury is healed I'd like to set an early spring race as a target and start working on training for that."

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Bat-Ochir, Mbote, Imai and Maeda to Face Off at Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon

http://www.jiji.com/jc/c?g=spo&k=2014011500595

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On Jan. 15 the organizers of the 63rd Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon on Feb. 2 announced the names of this year's elite field.  On the domestic men's list are the fastest Japanese marathoner of 2013, Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko), 2013 New York City Marathon 6th-place finisher Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) and Kenichi Shiraishi (Team Asahi Kasei), winner of last weekend's Oita City Half Marathon.  Their top foreign competition comes from 2013 Hofu Yomiuri Marathon winner and 2012 Beppu-Oita runner-up Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Mongolia) and 2:07:37 Kenyan Jason Mbote.

63rd Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon Elite Field
Oita, 2/2/14
click here for complete field listing

Men
Daniel Njenga (Kenya/Team Yakult) - 2:06:16 (Chicago 2002)
Jason Mbote (Kenya) - 2:07:37 (Seoul 2008)
Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) - 2:08:00 (Tokyo 2013)
Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Mongolia) - 2:09:00 (Hofu 2013)
Yuko Matsumiya (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) - 2:09:18 (Lake Biwa 2005)
Tomoyuki Sato (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:09:43 (Tokyo Int'l 2004)
Fekadu Lema (Ethiopia) - 2:09:50 (Hamburg 2012) - withdrawn, Jan. 30
Masashi Hayashi (Team Yakult) - 2:09:55 (Lake Biwa 2012)
Bunta Kuroki (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 2:10:08 (Fukuoka Int'l 2012) - withdrawn, Jan. 30
Gezahegn Abera (Ethiopia) - 2:10:17 (Barcelona 2013)
Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 2:10:29 (Tokyo 2013)
Seiji Kobayashi (Mitsubishi Juko RC) - 2:10:38 (Beppu-Oita 2009)
Soji Ikeda (Team Yakult) - 2:10:59 (Tokyo 2013)
Takaaki Koda (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:11:08 (Tokyo 2011)
Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:11:15 (Tokyo 2013)
Yuki Moriwaki (Team JFE Steel) - 2:11:52 (Beppu-Oita 2012)
Kazuya Ishida (Team Nishitetsu) - 2:11:57 (Nobeoka 2012)
Tatsunari Hirayama (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 2:12:38 (Nobeoka 2013)
Kazuaki Shimizu (Team Yakult) - 2:12:49 (Nobeoka 2013)
Norihide Fujimori (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:13:11 (Tokyo 2013)
Masayuki Obata (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 2:13:17 (Lake Biwa 2013)
Yu Chiba (Team Honda) - 2:13:19 (Beppu-Oita 2013)
Abraham Kiplimo (Uganda) - 2:13:32 (Rotterdam 2013)
Naoya Hashimoto (Team Chudenko) - 2:13:50 (Beppu-Oita 2010)
Keisuke Nakatani (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:14:16 (Tokyo 2011)
Najim El Qady (Morocco) - 2:14:29 (Seoul 2009)
Kiyokatsu Hasegawa (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:15:15 (Tokyo 2010)
Naoki Inoue (Team Komori Corp.) - 2:15:38 (Nobeoka 2012)

Debut Men
Mamoru Hirano (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 1:01:49 (Marugame 2012)
Ryo Kiname (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) - 1:02:22 (Marugame 2012)
Kenichi Shiraishi (Team Asahi Kasei) - 1:02:23 (Nat'l Corp. Championships 2007)
Hiroyuki Yamamoto (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:02:43 (Marugame 2013)
Ryuji Watanabe (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 1:02:58a (Great North Run 2013)
Ryuji Ono (Team Asahi Kasei) - 27:53.19 (Niigata 2008)

Women
Mika Okunaga (Yufuin Hammock AC) - 2:27:16 (Osaka Int'l 2009)
Hisae Yoshimatsu (Shunan City Hall) - 2:28:49 (Sapporo 2002)
Rina Abe (Canon AC Kyushu) - debut - 1:18:20 half marathon

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Augusto, Birmingham, Fujiwara, Mathathi Headline Marugame Half (updated)

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20140114-OHT1T00116.htm
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/region/news/140115/kgw14011502170000-n1.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On Jan. 14 the organizers of the Feb. 2 Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon announced the 35 men and 12 women making up the domestic and overseas elite fields for the event's 68th running.  London Olympics marathoner Arata Fujiwara (Miki House), 2012 National Corporate Half Marathon champion Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota), Hakone Ekiden Seventh Stage winner Hazuma Hattori of Hakone champion Toyo University, 2013 Izumo Ekiden and National University Ekiden stage record setter Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.) and last month's Fukuoka International Marathon winner Martin Mathathi (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) top the domestic list for the men's race.  This year's race is a selection event for the men's team for March's World Half Marathon Championships in Copenhagen, meaning many top corporate team stars are also on the list.  Their four overseas competitors include defending champion Collis Birmingham (Australia) and London Olympics 5000 m runner Amanuel Mesel (Eritrea).

The women's race features November's Yokohama International Women's Marathon runner-up Azusa Nojiri (Hiratsuka Lease), 2009 Tokyo Marathon runner-up Yukari Sahaku (Team Univ. Ent.) and, from overseas, London Olympics marathon 7th-placer Jessica Augusto (Portugal).

A total of 11,705 people are entered in the half marathon, 3 km and 1 km divisions, with 10,577 entered in the half.  Although the application deadline has passed, entries will also be accepted the day before the race.  Final numbers are expected to be similar to last year's 12,810 entrants.

68th Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon Elite Field
Marugame, Kagawa, 2/2/14
click here for complete field listing

Women
Jessica Augusto (Portugal) - 1:09:10 (Ostia 2011)
Yukari Sahaku (Team Universal Entertainment) - 1:09:36 (Sapporo Int'l 2009)
Eri Hayakawa (Team Toto) - 1:10:13 (Marugame 2013)
Misato Horie (Team Noritz) - 1:10:26 (Marugame 2013)
Yolanda Caballero (Colombia) - 1:10:30 (New York 2013)
Azusa Nojiri (Hiratsuka Lease) - 1:10:53 (National Corporate Championships 2009)
Ayame Takaki (Meijo University) - 1:11:10 (Matsue Ladies' 2012)
Aliaksandra Duliba (Belarus) - 1:11:30 (Chicago 2013)
Seongeun Kim (South Korea) - 1:11:34 (Marugame 2010)
Kikuyo Tsuzaki (Team Noritz) - 1:11:53 (Matsue Ladies' 2009)
Michi Numata (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 1:12:47 (Sanyo Ladies' 2013)
Ho-Sun Park (South Korea) - 1:12:58 (Marugame 2008)

Men
Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 58:56a (Great North Run 2011)
Amanuel Mesel (Eritrea) - 1:00:10 (Prague 2013)
Jacob Wanjuki (Kenya/Team Aichi Seiko) - 1:00:32 (Nagoya 2010)
Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota) - 1:00:53 (National Corporate Championships 2012)
Collis Birmingham (Australia) - 1:00:56 (Marugame 2013)
Daniel Gitau (Kenya/Team Fujitsu) - 1:01:01 (Marugame 2012)
Kenta Murayama (Komazawa University) - 1:01:19 (Marugame 2013)
Yusuke Takabayashi (Team Toyota) - 1:01:31 (Marugame 2012)
Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) - 1:01:34 (Marugame 2012)
Yemane Tsegaye (Ethiopia) - 1:01:37 (Prague 2010)
Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) - 1:01:41 (National Corporate Championships 2009)
Tatsunori Hamasaki (Team Komori Corp.) - 1:01:45 (Marugame 2012)
Ryotaro Nitta (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:01:45 (Marugame 2012)
Yuta Igarashi (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 1:01:46 (Marugame 2012)
Hiromitsu Kakuage (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:01:56 (Marugame 2012)
Yuki Iwai (Team Asahi Kasei) - 1:01:58 (Marugame 2012)
Akihiko Tsumurai (Team Mazda) - 1:01:58 (National Corporate Championships 2010)
Yusei Nakao (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:02:00 (Sendai 2008)
Yoshihiro Yamamoto (Team Toyota Boshoku) - 1:02:03 (Nat'l Corp. Championships 2004)
Osamu Ibata (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:02:08 (Sendai 2008)
Kenta Iinuma (Team SGH Group Sagawa) - 1:02:09 (Marugame 2012)
Tomohiro Tanigawa (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:02:17 (Marugame 2013)
Shuho Dairokuno (Meiji University) - 1:02:19 (Marugame 2012)
Chiharu Takada (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 1:02:22 (Marugame 2013)
Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda) - 1:02:23 (Hakodate 2004)
Suehiro Ishikawa (Team Honda) - 1:02:23 (Kyoto 2003)
Masato Kikuchi (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:02:26 (Marugame 2013)
Masatoshi Kikuchi (Team Fujitsu) - 1:02:28 (Marugame 2012)
Takashi Kumamoto (Team Toyota) - 1:02:29 (National Corporate Championships 2007)
Koki Takada (Waseda University) - 1:02:38 (Ageo 2013)
Yusuke Nishiyama (Komazawa University) - 1:02:54 (Ageo 2013)
Hazuma Hattori (Toyo University) - 1:02:54 (Ageo 2013)
Hiroto Inoue (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:58 (National University Championships 2013)
Jeffrey Eggleston (U.S.A.) - 1:03:41
Daniel Muiva Kitonyi (Kenya/Nihon Univ.) - 58:00 (Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai 20 km 2013)
Kota Murayama (Josai University) - 59:17 (Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai 20 km 2013)
Kazuma Ganaha (Kanagawa University) - 59:29 (Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai 20 km 2013)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Unknown Runner Emerges, Outruns Kawauchi for Tanigawa Mari Half Course Record (updated)

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20140112-1243077.html
http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20140112-1243078.html
http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20140112-1243079.html
http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20140113-OHT1T00039.htm

translated and edited with additional background information by Brett Larner

At the 15th Tanigawa Mari Half Marathon, Jan. 12 along the Arakawa River in northern Tokyo, unknown university runner Hideyuki Ikegami (20, 2nd-yr., Kyoto Kyoiku Univ.) ran 1:03:09, opening a massive lead over defending champion Yuki Kawauchi (26, Saitama Pref. Gov't) and 2012 winner Kazuyoshi Tokumoto (Team Monteroza) to take the win. Around 10 km he attacked with a series of surges before pulling away to run the final 10 km alone. Thinking, "What do you know, Kawauchi's mortal after all," Ikegami broke the finish line tape with a lead of 1:08, his time a PB by more than two and a half minutes and a new course record.  Tokumoto took 3rd in 1:05:35.

A native of Kameoka, Kyoto, Ikegami graduated from Rakunan H.S., alma mater of 10000 m and marathon national record holder Toshinari Takaoka and home of sprint sensation Yoshihide Kiryu, before entering Kyoto Kyoiku University.  He ran in the National High School Ekiden Championships all three years at Rakunan, but even then he knew he wanted to be a marathoner and had no interest in spending his university years focused on the Hakone Ekiden.  As a first-year at Kyoto Kyoiku Univ. he won the Division II 10000 m and half marathon at the Kansai Region University Track and Field Championships, setting the D-II meet record in the 10000 m, but then quit the school's track team to train his own way.  At the end of last year he joined independent Olympic marathoner Arata Fujiwara's Team Arata training project.

This was already Ikegami's second road race win of 2014, having won his local Kameoka Yunohana 10 km in 30:55 on New Year's Day.  "I lucked out with the win today," he said after the Tanigawa Mari Half.  "I'm not that confident, but I hate to lose to anybody so if we ever have the chance to race again I'll be going for the win."  His innocent young face couldn't hide the competitor's spirit hiding within.

Kicking off his year, civil servant runner Kawauchi took 2nd in 1:04:17, his fastest time on the Tanigawa Mari Half course and just 7 seconds off the old course record.  Running side-by-side, he fell behind when Ikegami made a move near 10 km.  He came back on a downhill and they were again head-to-head, but when Ikegami attacked again Kawauchi was suddenly left on his own. "It's still early in the new year, but this was a real smack on the head," Kawauchi said.  Having lost to another independent amateur for the first time in ages and by a wide margin he gave due credit to Ikegami, saying, "He crushed me. In terms of time there was nothing wrong with how I ran, but he taught me a valuable lesson. Before the race I was all snug and comfortable in a nice warm hospitality tent, but he was different. A difference of attitude. You can't let yourself get too comfortable and complacent.  I have to be more stoic."

Both of Kawauchi's younger brothers also ran, the first time in years that all three brothers have done the same race together.  Yuki, the oldest of the three, kept face by taking 2nd in 1:04:17, with his youngest brother Koki (3rd yr., Takasaki Keizai Univ.) 13th in 1:09:18 and 23-year-old middle brother Yoshiki 26th in 1:11:53.  Professional Yuki Kawauchi impersonator Takashi M, 29, was 84th in 1:18:26.  Akane Mutazaki (Team Edion) won the women's race in 1:15:30 in the absence of five-tiime defending champion Kaori Yoshida (Puma RC).

In March Kawauchi is running the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon.  "I have to work hard to be able to run a 2:07," he said of his goals for that race.  Until then he will race almost every week, running the Okukuma Road Race in Kumamoto on Jan. 19 and the Okumusashi Ekiden in Saitama on Jan. 26.

In other early-season half marathon action across the country over the long weekend, Kenichi Shiraishi (Team Asahi Kasei) delivered one of the fastest winning times in the 54-year history of the Oita City Half Marathon as he won in 1:03:59 by 20 seconds over Kazuya Ishida (Team Nishitetsu).  Shiraishi will return to Oita in three weeks to go for another win at the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon.  19-year-old Wakana Itsuki (Fukuoka Univ.) took the women's division by nearly two minutes in 1:16:37.  Hakone Ekiden 5th-placers Aoyama Gakuin University and 13th-place Tokai University turned the 41st Takanezawa Half Marathon into a virtual JV dual meet as their B-teams filled the top ten, giving Takanezawa greater depth than in the weekend's other half marathon. Tokai's Atsunori Higuchi came out on top in a PB 1:04:39, two seconds ahead of Aoyama Gakuin's Takashi Mino.

15th Tanigawa Mari Half Marathon
Arakawa, Tokyo, 1/12/14
click here for complete results

Men
1. Hideyuki Ikegami (Kyoto Kyoiku Univ.) - 1:03:09 - PB, CR
2. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 1:04:17
3. Kazuyoshi Tokumoto (Team Monteroza) - 1:05:35
4. Sho Matsumoto (Nikkei Business) - 1:05:37
5. Nao Kazami (Aichi T&F Assoc.) - 1:05:38
6. Yusuke Kodama (Team Comodi Iida) - 1:05:38 - PB
7. Kodai Matsumoto (Puma RC) - 1:05:39

Women
1. Akane Mutazaki (Team Edion) - 1:15:30
2. Yukie Sarada (Team Edion) - 1:16:31
3. Eri Suzuki (Noshiro Yamamoto T&F Assoc.) - 1:16:36
4. Mitsuko Hirose (Tokyo Wings AC) - 1:17:22
5. Naoko Tsuchiya (Shizuoka T&F Assoc.) - 1:18:18

54th Oita City Half Marathon
Oita, 1/13/14
click here for complete results

Men
1. Kenichi Shiraishi (Team Asahi Kasei) - 1:03:59
2. Kazuya Ishida (Team Nishitetsu) - 1:04:19
3. Nobuki Hatayama (Nippon Bunri Univ.) - 1:05:11
4. Yuki Nanba (Oita Tomei H.S. Staff) - 1:05:32
5. Ryuichi Tabuki (Hita City Hall) - 1:05:57

Women
1. Wakana Itsuki (Fukuoka Univ.) - 1:16:37
2. Hazuki Kadoyanagi (Fukuoka Univ.) - 1:18:21

41st Takanezawa Half Marathon
Takanezawa, Tochigi, 1/12/14

Men
1. Atsunori Higuchi (Tokai Univ.) - 1:04:39 - PB
2. Takashi Mino (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:04:41
3. Toshinori Watanabe (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:04:44
4. Haruka Suzuki (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:04:57
5. Nanami Arai (Tokai Univ.) - 1:05:12