Monday, March 31, 2014

Kawauchi's "First Choice" of a Run Commute Comes True

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/p-sp-tp0-20140330-1277695.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The stars have aligned to bring the civil servant runner the perfect training situation. Ahead of September's Asian Games marathon, the Saitama Prefectural Board of Education announced on Mar. 29 that national team member Yuki Kawauchi (27, Saitama Pref. Gov't) will be transferred from Kasukabe H.S. to his hometown Kuki H.S. at the start of the new fiscal year on April 1.

Kawauchi began working for the Saitama government in 2009, and for five years he has worked as an administrative staff member at Kasukabe H.S.  With a work schedule that allowed him to train in mornings and run races on weekends, he rose at all once to the top class of Japanese marathoning.  The transfer is the first in his employment history, but at Kuki H.S. his position will be the same as his current clerical work.  Additionally, as a resident of Kuki the move will allow him to run to work, cutting down on his commute and giving him extra time to dedicate to his training.

With regard to the transfer, Board of Education director Ikuo Sekine commented, "There has been no special treatment," but when he was up for a possible transfer last year Kawauchi said that while he "did not want to be transferred," Kuki H.S. would be his "first choice."  It was only a wish, but this time it came true.

Over the weekend Kawauchi travelled to Incheon, South Korea to run the Incheon International Half Marathon and tour the Asian Games marathon course.  "It looks like there won't be any major changes to my situation," he said.  "I will still be going ahead with my race plans as scheduled."  In Incheon he placed 5th in 1:06:04.  Looking ahead after five years working at Kasukabe H.S., Kawauchi's resolve remained strong as he said, "the next five years are the main event."

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Japanese Women Score Team Bronze at World Half Marathon Championships

by Brett Larner

The Japanese women's team came through at the Mar. 29 World Half Marathon Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, narrowly outrunning a strong Italian squad for the team bronze medal.  Top-placing Japanese woman Sayo Nomura (Team Daiichi Seimei) started slow, nearly 15 seconds behind the lead pack at 5 km, but ran steadily to move up through the pack and overtake teammates Chieko Kido (Canon AC Kyushu), Reia Iwade (Team Noritz) and Risa Takenaka (Team Shiseido) for 15th place overall. Both Takenaka and Iwade finished within 30 seconds of Nomura to overcome Italian Valeria Straneo's strong 8th-place finish in 1:08:55 and give Japan the team bronze by just 24 seconds.

Further up front, Kyushu-based Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) took the individual bronze in a 1:07:52 PB, with Aomori Yamada H.S. graduate and former Suzuki runner Lucy Kabuu 4th in 1:08:37.

In the men's race, Komazawa University's Kenta Murayama and Shogo Nakamura ran up in the front lines in the early going, the other Japanese team members hanging further back in the pack.  By 10 km only Nakamura remained in contact with the leaders, both Murayama and Hiroto Inoue (Yamanashi Gakuin University) having slipped 45 seconds behind.  By 15 km Masato Kikuchi (Team Konica Minolta), who ran sub-62 PBs twice in two weeks in February to make the World Half team, had overtaken Nakamura and sat in 25th.  From there he steadily advanced to 18th, side-by-side with Spain's Ayad Lamdassem at 20 km and finishing just six seconds off his PB in 1:01:23.

Nakamura dropped further back but pushed on to take 44 seconds off his PB and join the ranks of Japan's sub-62 collegiate crowd with a new best of 1:01:57 for 28th.  Inoue, the fastest-ever Japanese 21-year-old in the half marathon, rounded out the team scoring in 1:02:25 for 36th.  Last year's 5000 m national champion Sota Hoshi (Team Fujitsu) and Murayama, who hoped to break the Japanese national record of 1:00:25, had disappointing days and finished over 63 minutes.  The Japanese men took 6th, well out of the team bronze medal but in range of 4th-place South Africa and 5th-place Uganda.

World Half Marathon Championships
Copenhagen, Denmark, 3/29/14
click here for complete results

Women
1. Gladys Cherono (Kenya) - 1:07:29
2. Mary Wacera (Kenya) - 1:07:44 - PB
3. Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) - 1:07:52 - PB
4. Lucy Kabuu (Kenya) - 1:08:37
5. Mercy Jerotich (Kenya) - 1:08:42
6. Netsanet Gudeta (Ethiopia) - 1:08:46 - PB
7. Christelle Daunay (France) - 1:08:48
8. Valeria Straneo (Italy) - 1:08:55
9. Tsehay Desalegn (Ethiopia) - 1:09:04 - PB
10. Genet Yalew (Ethiopia) - 1:09:15 - PB
-----
15. Sayo Nomura (Japan/Team Daiichi Seimei) - 1:10:18
17. Risa Takenaka (Japan/Team Shiseido) - 1:10:30
19. Reia Iwade (Japan/Team Noritz) - 1:10:45
24. Chieko Kido (Japan/Canon AC Kyushu) - 1:11:17
48. Rina Yamazaki (Japan/Team Panasonic) - 1:14:20

Team Results
1. Kenya - 3:23:05
2. Ethiopia - 3:27:05
3. Japan - 3:31:33
4. Italy - 3:31:57
5. U.S.A. - 3:32:48
6. France - 3:36:21
7. China - 3:37:43
8. Eritrea - 3:41:58
9. Norway - 3:42:43
10. South Africa - 3:43:23

Men
1. Geoffrey Kipsang (Kenya) - 59:08
2. Samuel Tsegay (Eritrea) - 59:21 - PB
3. Guye Adola (Ethiopia) - 59:21 - PB
4. Zersenay Tadese (Eritrea) - 59:38
5. Nguse Amlosom (Eritrea) - 1:00:00
6. Wilson Kiprop (Kenya) - 1:00:01
7. Ghirmay Ghebreslassie (Eritrea) - 1:00:10
8. Samsom Gebreyohannes (Eritrea) - 1:00:13 - PB
9. Adugna Tekele (Ethiopia) - 1:00:15 - PB
10. Kenneth Kiprop (Kenya) - 1:00:29
-----
18. Masato Kikuchi (Japan/Team Konica Minolta) - 1:01:23
28. Shogo Nakamura (Japan/Komazawa University) - 1:01:57 - PB
36. Hiroto Inoue (Japan/Yamanashi Gakuin University) - 1:02:25
53. Sota Hoshi (Japan/Team Fujitsu) - 1:03:29
56. Kenta Murayama (Japan/Komazawa University) - 1:03:52

Team Results
1. Eritrea - 2:58:59
2. Kenya - 2:59:38
3. Ethiopia - 3:00:48
4. South Africa - 3:03:13
5. Uganda - 3:04:39
6. Japan - 3:05:45
7. U.S.A. - 3:06:18
8. Bahrain - 3:06:27
9. France - 3:07:28
10. Spain - 3:08:01

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Toyo University's Shitara Twins Throw Out First Pitch at Lions-Eagles Game



In their last appearance as members of Toyo University's 2014 Hakone Ekiden-winning team, graduating identical twins Keita Shitara (27:51.54, 1:01:45, 1st on 2014 Hakone Ekiden Fifth Stage) and Yuta Shitara (27:54.82, 1:01:48, 1st on 2014 Hakone Ekiden Third Stage) threw out the first pitch at the Mar. 28 Seibu Lions - Rakuten Eagles baseball game.  Next month the twins go separate ways, Keita joining 2013 and 2014 New Year Ekiden champion Konica Minolta, with Yuta staying in Saitama with the Honda corporate team.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Five-Time National Champion Toyokawa High School Head Coach Yasuhiko Mori Announces Retirement

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20140327-00000148-mai-spo

translated by Brett Larner

Having led Aichi prefecture's Toyokawa High School boys and girls teams to a combined five National High School Ekiden titles, head coach Yasuhiko Mori, 52, held a press conference on Mar. 27 at Toyokawa City Hall to announce that he is retiring both as head coach and from the school at the end of march.  He declined to give specific comment on his future plans, but with regard to the corporate leagues and the like he commented, "I want to go to the next level."

In December the Toyokawa girls won a fourth national title at the National High School Ekiden Championships, the most wins ever by a single school.  After that, said Mori, "I thought about a lot of different things."  In January he told the school, "I'm finished with high school ekidens," informing them of his intent to retire.

Mori became head coach of the Toyokawa girls in 2006, and in his third year there the team won the 2008 national title.  In 2012 he became head coach of the boys' team as well. In their first time qualifying for the National High School Ekiden the Toyokawa boys likewise won.

Mori's successor will be Hiroki Fukayama, 48, a longtime junior high school coach whose achievements include leading Saitama prefecture's Sumiyoshi J.H.S. boys to the 2003 National Junior High School Ekiden title.

Translator's note:  Mori's most notable protégées included Asami Kato and Nanaka Izawa.  In 2012 Toyokawa picked up ten athletes from powerhouse Sendai Ikuei H.S. who left the school in the wake of the 2011 disasters and a subsequent battle between its young head coach Junichi Seino and school administration officials dissatisfied with his performance.  Many of the boys on Toyokawa's 2012 national champion team came from the Sendai Ikuei group including stars Hazuma Hattori and Tadashi Isshiki, both now making a major impact on the university circuit.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Murayama and Iwade Lead Japanese Teams at Copenhagen World Half Marathon Championships

by Brett Larner
photo by Kazuyuki Sugimatsu

Running against the wind, Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.) at the 2013 Hakone Ekiden.

Japan is sending two strong squads to the Mar. 29 World Half Marathon Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, both led by their youngest member and each with a good chance of going home with hardware.

There's a lot of buzz domestically about the young and talented men's team, four of its five members between 21 and 23 years old, three of them university runners and three students at or graduates of three-time defending National University Ekiden champion Komazawa University.  Much of the buzz is focused on Komazawa third-year Kenta Murayama, freshly 21 and on a rapid rise to the very top of the Japanese distance world. Last year at age 19 he cracked the all-time Japanese half marathon top ten with a 1:01:19 in Marugame, following up a month later in 1:02:02 for 10th at the NYC Half Marathon.  This year, just before his 21st birthday, Murayama made all-time Japanese #3 when he ran 1:00:50 in Marugame, on pace for the 1:00:25 national record in a fearless one-on-one with Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) until near the end but still earning a place as the best-ever Japanese collegiate.  Since then he has tweaked his training to improve his stamina over the final 5 km, and there's no doubt that he is in Copenhagen to get that record.  His coaches and teammates tell JRN he is in outstanding shape and that everything is looking good.

The next two Japanese men on the team are two young corporate runners, Masato Kikuchi (Team Konica Minolta) and Sota Hoshi (Team Fujitsu).  Kikuchi ran against Murayama in Marugame but couldn't handle the pace, slowing to 1:01:50 to finish as the third Japanese man and likely outside contention for the Copenhagen team.  Two weeks later he was back to try again at the National Corporate Half Marathon where he ran head-to-head with 2013 national 5000 m champion Hoshi.  Kikuchi got there first in 1:01:17, Hoshi a step behind in a best of 1:01:18 but both getting tapped for the national team. Whether Kikuchi is ready to go after two fast half marathons so close together remains to be seen, but Hoshi, a Komazawa graduate who was all but forgotten by fans after a few years of injury problems, has been following a steady progression over the last two years and should be ready to step up.

Hiroto Inoue (Yamanashi Gakuin University) ran with Murayama and Kikuchi in Marugame just after his 21st birthday, and to the surprise of most he outran Kikuchi to take the second Japanese position and a place on the Copenhagen team in 1:01:39, the best-ever by a Japanese 21-year-old.  The other collegiate man on the team, Shogo Nakamura (Komazawa University), also 21 looks like an anomaly on paper with a best of only 1:02:41, but he has a solid pedigree to justify his inclusion.  Nakamura's PB came when he won the 2013 National University Men's Half Marathon, going from there to win bronze in the half marathon at last year's World University Games.  At Hakone in January he ran 1:01:36 for the 21.4 km First Stage, equivalent to 1:00:44 for a half marathon, then a few weeks later split 58:52 for 20 km en route to his 30 km debut in Kumamoto, a 1:02:06 half marathon split inside a 30 km.  Between him, Inoue and Murayama, Inoue's 21-year-old record is bound to fall.

Japan has often sent good teams overseas who have utterly failed to perform, but this young team, the first wave of the generation that will be at its peak for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, seems different from past ones, not content just to be there or just to get "experience."  The Kenyan and Eritrean teams are far ahead, but on paper Japan is a solid contender against Ethiopia for bronze, with competition just behind them from France, South Africa, the U.S.A. and Italy.  If they run to potential it could mean Japanese men's first team medal at the World Half since 2005.

Japan's two best female half marathoners, 2013 and 2014 National Corporate Half Marathon champions Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) and Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) passed on the World Half, meaning that like the men, the Japanese women's team is led by its youngest member, 19-year-old Reia Iwade (Team Noritz). One of the many Japanese women who go straight from high school to the corporate leagues, the little-known Iwade ran 1:09:45 for 4th behind Akaba at December's Sanyo Women's Half Marathon.  The only sub-70 woman on the team but also its least-experienced, Iwade is a wild card who could go either way.

Close behind her are former university stars Sayo Nomura (Team Daiichi Seimei) and Risa Takenaka (Team Shiseido).  Nomura, the 2009 World University Games half marathon silver medalist, took 5th behind Iwade in Sanyo before going on to make her marathon debut at January's Osaka International Women's Marathon.  With no major results since then it's hard to gauge her fitness, but with a history of experience and stable performances she should be viewed as a reliable scorer for the team.  Takenaka was a big name at ekiden powerhouse Ritsumeikan University before graduating and going on to the Shiseido corporate team.  She has struggled to make the transition to the corporate circuit, but in February she made a superb half marathon debut, battling Tanaka for the National Corporate title before fading to 2nd in 1:10:10.

Just behind her at the National Corporate Half and likewise just behind Nomura in Sanyo was Chieko Kido (Canon AC Kyushu), another little-known runner who made the jump from high school to the corporate leagues.  Although Sanyo was faster she earned her place in Copenhagen at the Corporate Half where she took 3rd behind the absent Tanaka and Takenaka.  4th in a photo-finish and clocking the same time, 1:10:45, was the final member of the women's team, Rina Yamazaki (Team Panasonic).  Yamazaki's biggest success to date came at the 2005 World Youth Championships, where she took 4th in the 3000 m.  A team medal would be a quality addition to her resume.  Needless to say, Kenya is the heavy favorite for the top medal position, but the Japanese women look to have a pretty good race on their hands against Italy for silver, with an inexperienced Ethiopian team also in the mix to get into the top three.

Men

Kenta Murayama (Komazawa University)
Born: Feb. 23, 1993 in Miyagi, age 21

PBs
5000 m: 13:47.19 (2011)
10000 m: 28:14.27 (2012)
half marathon: 1:00:50 (2014) - all-time Japanese #3

Major Results
2nd, 2014 Marugame Int’l Half Marathon - 1:00:50
2nd, 2014 Hakone Ekiden Second Stage (23.2 km) - 1:08:27
2nd, 2013 International Chiba Ekiden First Stage (5.0 km) - 13:40
1st, 2013 National University Men's Ekiden Fourth Stage (14.0 km) - 39:24 - CR
1st, 2013 Izumo Ekiden Third Stage (7.9 km) - 22:36 - CR
10th, 2013 World University Games 10000 m - 30:02.46
10th, 2013 NYC Half Marathon - 1:02:02
4th, 2013 Marugame Int'l Half Marathon - 1:01:19
1st, 2012 Ageo City Half Marathon - 1:02:46
6th, 2012 World Junior Championships 10000 m - 29:40.56
1st, 2012 Kanto Region University Track and Field Championships 10000 m - 28:58.20
1st, 2011 National University Track and Field Championships 5000 m - 13:54.00 - first man since Toshihiko Seko to win 5000 m national university title as a first-year
1st, 2011 National Men's Ekiden Fifth Stage (8.5 km) - 24:33
28:23.18 and 13:49.45 at age 17


Masato Kikuchi (Team Konica Minolta)
Born: Sept. 18, 1990 in Hokkaido, age 23
graduate of Meiji University

PBs
5000 m: 13:47.58 (2013)
10000 m: 28:42.61 (2013)
half marathon: 1:01:17 (2014)

Major Results
2nd, 2014 National Corporate Half Marathon - 1:01:17
5th, 2014 Marugame International Half Marathon - 1:01:50
2nd, 2014 New Year Ekiden Seventh Stage (15.5 km) - 47:37
4th, 2013 National Track and Field Championships 5000 m - 13:52.02


Sota Hoshi (Team Fujitsu)
Born: Jan. 6, 1988 in Fukushima, age 26
graduate of Komazawa University

PBs
5000 m: 13:43.66 (2012)
10000 m: 28:15.92 (2013)
half marathon: 1:01:18 (2014)

Major Results
3rd, 2014 National Corporate Half Marathon - 1:01:18
2nd, 2014 New Year Ekiden Third Stage (13.6 km) - 38:46
1st, 2013 East Asian Games 5000 m - 14:25.00
1st, 2013 National Track and Field Championships 5000 m - 13:49.57
2nd, 2012 Great Scottish Run - 1:03:49
1st, 2012 Karatsu Road Race 10-miler - 47:00
3rd, 2009 National University Men's Half Marathon - 1:02:47
1st, 2008 Inuyama Half Marathon - 1:04:10


Hiroto Inoue (Yamanashi Gakuin University)
Born: Jan. 6, 1993 in Nagasaki, age 21

PBs
5000 m: 13:56.46 (2013)
10000 m: 28:39.08 (2013)
half marathon: 1:01:39 (2014)

Major Results
3rd, 2014 Marugame Int'l Half Marathon - 1:01:39 - fastest-ever by Japanese 21-year-old
1st, 2013 National University Men's Ekiden Second Stage (13.2 km) - 38:08
2nd, 2012 National University Men's Ekiden First Stage (14.6 km) - 43:23
2nd, 2012 Kanto Region University Track and Field Championships half marathon - 1:04:26


Shogo Nakamura (Komazawa University)
Born: Sept. 16, 1992 in Mie, age 21

PBs
5000 m: 13:50.38 (2010)
10000 m: 28:05.79 (2013)
half marathon: 1:02:41 (2013)

Major Results
3rd, 2014 Kumanichi Road Race 30 km - 1:30:11
2nd, 2014 Hakone Ekiden First Stage (21.4 km) - 1:01:36
1st, 2013 National University Men's Ekiden First Stage (14.6 km) - 42:38
1st, 2013 Izumo Ekiden First Stage (8.0 km) - 23:25
3rd, 2013 World University Games half marathon - 1:04:21
5th, 2013 National Track and Field Championships 10000 m - 28:27.73
1st, 2013 National University Men's Half Marathon - 1:02:41
3rd, 2013 Hakone Ekiden Third Stage (21.5 km) - 1:03:34
1st, 2012 Inuyama Half Marathon - 1:03:26
3rd, 2010 National High School Track and Field Championships 5000 m - 14:00.98


Women

Reia Iwade (Team Noritz)
Born: Dec. 8, 1994 in Mie, age 19

PBs
5000 m: 15:46.37 (2013)
10000 m: 33:46.12 (2013)
half marathon: 1:09:45 (2013)

Major Results
4th, 2013 Sanyo Women's Half Marathon - 1:09:45
3rd, 2013 National Corporate Track and Field Championships Jr. 3000 m - 9:15.13
5th, 2013 National Women's Ekiden Second Stage (4.0 km) - 12:39
5th, 2012 National High School Ekiden First Stage (6.0 km) - 19:45


Sayo Nomura (Team Daiichi Seimei)
Born: Apr. 18, 1989 in Gifu, age 24
graduate of Meijo University

PBs
5000 m: 15:40.63 (2013)
10000 m: 32:31.78 (2013)
half marathon: 1:10:03 (2013)
marathon: 2:32:29 (2014)

Major Results
10th, 2014 Osaka International Women's Marathon - 2:32:29
5th, 2013 Sanyo Women's Half Marathon - 1:10:03
3rd, 2012 Marugame Int'l Half Marathon - 1:10:34
3rd, 2012 National Women's Ekiden First Stage (6.0 km) - 19:23
4th, 2011 Sanyo Women's Road Race 10 km - 33:06
2nd, 2011 National University Women's Ekiden Third Stage (9.1 km) - 30:07
2nd, 2009 World University Games half marathon - 1:14:23
4th, 2009 National University Women's Half Marathon - 1:11:54


Risa Takenaka (Team Shiseido)
Born: Jan. 6, 1990 in Shiga, age 24
graduate of Ritsumeikan University

PBs
5000 m: 15:31.12 (2010)
10000 m: 32:10.66 (2013)
half marathon: 1:10:10 (2014)

Major Results
2nd, 2014 National Corporate Women's Half Marathon - 1:10:10
3rd, 2013 Sanyo Women's Road Race 10 km - 32:38
5th, 2012 National Corporate Women's Ekiden Third Stage (10.9 km) - 36:29
1st, 2012 National Women's Ekiden Fourth Stage (4.0 km) - 12:48
1st, 2011 National University Women's Ekiden First Stage (5.8 km) - 18:16 - CR
2nd, 2011 National University Track and Field Championships 5000 m - 15:44.88
3rd, 2011 National Women's Ekiden First Stage (6.0 km) - 19:43
2nd, 2010 National University Track and Field Championships 5000 m - 15:46.99
30th, 2010 World Cross Country Championships - 26:29
26th, 2008 World Junior Cross Country Championships - 21:15


Chieko Kido (Canon AC Kyushu)
Born: Mar. 14, 1990 in Kumamoto, age 24

PBs:
5000 m: 15:36.90 (2013)
10000 m: 32:47.83 (2013)
half marathon: 1:10:11 (2013)

Major Results
3rd, 2014 National Corporate Women's Half Marathon - 1:10:45
6th, 2013 Sanyo Women's Half Marathon - 1:10:11


Rina Yamazaki (Team Panasonic)
Born: May 6, 1988 in Saitama, age 25

PBs
5000 m: 15:40.23 (2013)
10000 m: 32:41.16 (2013)
half marathon: 1:10:45 (2014)
marathon: 2:32:51 (2011)

Major Results
4th, 2014 National Corporate Women's Half Marathon - 1:10:45
3rd, 2011 National Corporate Women's Ekiden Sixth Stage (6.795 km) - 21:29
7th, 2011 Tokyo Marathon - 2:32:51
10th, 2006 World Junior Championships 5000 m - 16:33.02
4th, 2005 World Youth Championships 3000 m - 9:18.78


(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Hakone Ekiden photo (c) 2013 Kazuyuki Sugimatsu
all rights reserved

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

2008 Gold Coast Marathon Winner Kazuo Ietani Retires

http://www.kobe-np.co.jp/news/sports/201402/0006738287.shtml

translated and edited by Brett Larner

With a list of accomplishments over his 18-year career on the track and roads including a gold medal at the 2001 East Asian Men's Half Marathon, Kazuo Ietani (36, Team Sanyo Tokushu Seikyo) has announced that he is retiring from competition.  Beginning in April he will focus on his work with the Sanyo corporation.  The Mar. 2 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon will remain as his final race.

Ietani was born in Tatsuno, Hyogo.  After graduating from Tatsuno Higashi J.H.S. he attended Himeji Shogyo H.S., where he made a name on the ekiden circuit.  At Sanyo Tokushu Seiko he was the team's backbone, running the longest stage reserved for the best Japanese athletes at the New Year Ekiden.

He also had a wealth of international experience running on the Japanese National Team, sharing a joint men's-women's win with Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex, then Team Globally) at the 2001 East Asian Half Marathon, placing 8th in the World Road Running Championships and taking 5th in the 10000 m at the Asian Championships.  He ran a marathon best of 2:12:37 and won the 2008 Gold Coast Marathon.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Kawauchi Counter



Yuki Kawauchi's 2017 race results: 

Jan. 8: Ikinoshima Half Marathon, Nagasaki: 1:06:35 - 1st
Jan. 15: Okukuma Half Marathon, Kumamoto: 1:04:17 - 6th
Jan. 29: Okumusashi Ekiden Third Stage (4.3 km), Saitama: 13:16 - 9th
Feb. 5: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama: 36:59 - 3rd
Feb. 12: Ehime Marathon, Ehime: 2:09:54 - 1st - CR

Upcoming race schedule:

Feb. 26: Soja Kibiji Half Marathon,  Okayama
Mar. 19: Kuki Half Marathon, Saitama
Mar. 26: Kamisato Machi Kenmu Half Marathon, Saitama
early April: TBA overseas marathon
Apr. 30: Kawauchi no Sato Kaeru Half Marathon, Fukushima
early May: TBA overseas marathon
early June: TBA overseas marathon
early July: TBA overseas marathon
early Aug.: TBA overseas marathon
mid-Sept.: TBA overseas marathon

Past years' results:
2016 ・ 2015 ・ 2014 ・ 2013 ・ 2012

text and photo © 2017 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Monument Honoring Japan's First Women's Marathon Unveiled

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/running/news/20140322-OYT8T00326.htm?cx_thumbnail=01

translated by Brett Larner

The winner of Japan's first women's marathon and other dignitaries took part in a ceremony at Lake Tama in Higashiyamato, Tokyo on Mar. 21 unveiling a monument commemorating the race held at the site 36 years ago.  According to city officials, the first women-only full marathon, the "First National Women's Turtle Marathon Race" took place in April, 1978, sponsored by the Japan Turtle Association.  On a course covering three laps around the banks of Lake Tama, 49 women started the race, the oldest among them 71 years old.  46 finished.

The Higashiyamato city government planned the monument in connection with its sports promotion and local revitalization initiatives.  Including the base the monument measures 1.8 m tall, with a width of 0.5 m.  According to Musashino Art University lecturer Yasuyuki Nishio, 47, tying the monument's design to its location overlooking Lake Tama, which forms a vital water supply for Tokyo residents, the monument depicts an undine, a mystical female water spirit.  The design was selected by local citizens from among a group of finalists.

Taking part in the ceremony was Ichiko Hokazono, 73, winner of the first race in 3:10:48. "I can see my memories of running hard through the dancing cherry blossoms again as though watching them projected from a lantern," she said with a smile.  "In those days I was always happy just to run."  Mayor Yasuo Ozaki told attendees, "Together with Lake Tama, ever-changing and always beautiful throughout the four seasons, I hope that this monument will become the new symbol of Higashiyamato."

Also in attendance at the ceremony was 1991 Tokyo World Championships women's marathon silver medalist Sachiko Yamashita, whose Daiichi Seimei women's corporate team took part in the 24th running of the Lake Tama Ekiden following the ceremony.  A record 433 four-person teams took part in the ekiden, with more than 1700 people battling strong winds around the lake.  Yusuke Kodama, 27, anchor of the winning Comodity Ida corporate team, commented, "There were a lot of quick ups and downs, but it felt good to run surrounded by the abundant nature and I drew strength from that to push hard to the end."

Saturday, March 22, 2014

World University Cross Country Championships Results - Japan Takes Team Silver and Bronze

by Brett Larner

A local Ugandan newspaper as tweeted by WUCCC organizers FISU.

Hosts Uganda dominated the 19th edition of the World University Cross Country Championships Mar. 22 in Entebbe, winning both individual gold medals and the women's team gold.  The women's race, four laps of a roughly 1.5 km loop, went out as a race between Uganda and neighboring Kenya, with Kenya's Sheila Kandie leading Uganda's Winnie Nanyondo and Dorcus Ajok through the first lap before Nanyondo moved to the front.  Uganda's third woman, Prim Twikiriza, sat a few seconds back in the chase back with Japan's Ayumi Uehara, Fuyuka Kimura and Natsumi Ozawa.

On the third lap Nanyondo surged, covering it in 4:56.24, to drop both Kandie and Ajok, and from there she ran alone all the way to the finish to claim gold by a margin of nearly 30 seconds.  Ajok also got clear of Kandie on the third lap for silver, but on the fourth lap she was nearly run down by Twikiriza who surged hard to shake off her Japanese competition and was rewarded with bronze just five seconds back from Ajok, making it an Ugandan sweep of the podium.  Uehara, Kimura and Ozawa all ran Kenyan Kandie down on the bell lap to finish 4th through 6th and give Japan the team silver medal, with Canada's Julie-Anne Staehli also catching Kandie to lead Canada to the team bronze.

The seven-lap men's race also went out as a duel between Uganda and Kenya, with the top nine runners at the end of the first lap all hailing from those two countries.  By the end of the second lap the front group was down to Uganda's Joshua Cheptegei and Martin Chemtengin and Kenya's Daniel Muindi and Mark Lokwanamoi, with South African Alfred Mokopane and Japan's Shota Baba, of 2013 National University Ekiden champion Komazawa University, moving up to join the chase pack. A big move from Cheptegei on the third lap dropped all but Muindi, and from there the pair ran side-by-side for three laps.  On the sixth lap Cheptegei attacked again and got a gap on Muindi that proved permanent, Cheptegei claiming gold by six seconds over his Kenyan rival.

Chemtengin faded badly after the third lap, dropping to 8th by race's end.  After losing contact with Cheptegei and Muindi, Kenyan Lokwanamoi ran alone steadily in 3rd, but despite his teammate Calvin Chemoiywo's efforts to catch him Lokwanamoi was never in danger of losing the bronze.  Chemoiywo was next across the line to seal up the team gold for Kenya and disrupt Uganda's perfect sweep, the hosts consigned to team silver. Baba came up just short of catching Kenya's fourth man Joseph Kariuki but took a decent 6th, the first athlete from another country to cross the line and spearheading the Japanese men's team bronze medal.

Just behind him, Canada's Tristan Woodfine ran a very canny race, running each lap after the third progressively faster and closing with the third-fastest final lap in the field behind only top two Cheptegei and Muindi.   Woodfine ran down Uganda's second and third men Chemtengin and Julius Ochieng for 7th less than four seconds behind Baba after having been as far as 35 seconds back, but the rest of the Canadian men were unable to match him as the team failed to make the top five.

19th World University Cross Country Championships
Entebbe, Uganda, 3/22/14
click here for complete results

Women - Individual Results
1. Winnie Nanyondo (Uganda) - 20:33.77
2. Dorcus Ajok (Uganda) - 21:01.85
3. Prim Twikiriza (Uganda) - 21:06.14
4. Ayumi Uehara (Japan/Matsuyama Univ.) - 21:16.97
5. Fuyuka Kimura (Japan/Daito Bunka Univ.) - 21:22.31
6. Natsumi Ozawa (Japan/Hakuoh Univ.) - 21:30.63
7. Julie-Anne Staehli (Canada) - 21:31.34
8. Sheila Kandie (Kenya) - 21:39.15
9. Thembi Lucia Baloyi (South Africa) - 21:43.40
10. Anne Chebet (Uganda) - 21:43.50
-----
16. Maya Iino (Japan/Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) - 22:16.52

Women - Team Results
1. Uganda - 6
2. Japan - 15
3. Canada - 38
4. South Africa - 48
5. Italy - 51

Men - Individual Results
1. Joshua Cheptegei (Uganda) - 31:06.71
2. Daniel Muindi (Kenya) - 31:12.79
3. Mark Lokwanamoi (Kenya) - 32:33.26
4. Calvin Chemoiywo (Kenya) - 32:39.92
5. Joseph Kariuki (Kenya) - 32:51.36
6. Shota Baba (Japan/Komazawa Univ.) - 32:55.88
7. Tristan Woodfine (Canada) - 32:59.25
8. Martin Chemtengin (Uganda) - 33:00.09
9. Julius Ochieng (Uganda) - 33:12.93
10. Alex Baldaccini (Italy) - 33:16.55
-----
12. Masaya Kakihara (Japan/Kanagawa University) - 33:22.03
13. Mitsunori Asaoka (Japan/Tokyo Nogyo University) - 33:24.53
16. Hiroshi Ichida (Japan/Daito Bunka University) - 33:47.93

Men - Team Results
1. Kenya - 14
2. Uganda - 29
3. Japan - 47
4. South Africa - 74
5. Italy - 88

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Toyo University Spends $50,000 on New Downhill Track to Help Kiryu Achieve 9-Second Speed

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20140319-OHT1T00218.htm

translated by Brett Larner

With Japan's big hope for its first 9-second 100 m, Yoshihide Kiryu (18, Rakunan H.S.), set to enroll in April, Toyo University announced on Mar. 19 that it is building an inclined track, proven effective in building speed, at its campus in Kawagoe, Saitama.  With a 1% decline over its 60 m length, the track facilitates athletes experiencing running at sub-10 speed, moving Kiryu one step closer to realizing his dream.  Toyo's 2014 Hakone Ekiden champion long-distance team will also use the new track.

Dropping 60 cm over the course of 60 m, with just a 1% grade the track will serve as the jet-powered Kiryu's "runway."  "This track allows you to learn how to move your legs and contact the ground at 9-second speed," said Toyo sprint coach Michiaki Kajiwara, 60, explaining the new facility's potential impact on training.  "The 1% slope is the key.  If the slope is too severe it will alter the athlete's running form on flat ground."

The inclined track is being built just outside Toyo's 400 m track.  On a 30 m straightaway the track rises 60 cm, a 2% grade.  After a gradual curve the 60 m downhill section takes up the next straightaway.  The track's width is around 2 m.  With a packed dirt surface it is also suitable for use with spikes.  The track was modeled after the inclined track at the Ajinomoto National Training Center in Tokyo's Kita ward.  Construction has already begun, with completion expected within the month at a total cost of roughly $50,000.  Toyo University administration officials commented with pride, "We want everything to be perfect when we welcome Kiryu."

The main focus of Kiryu's training will be improving his speed on the downhill, but in training on the uphill he can expect to see the same sort of benefits racehorses gain from training on an incline.  "Training on the uphill section will improve his power," said coach Kajiwara.  Toyo's long distance team, which returned to the victor's stand after a two-year absence at the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden to claim its fourth Hakone title, will also use the track for speed training along with running mileage on a roughly 500 m outer loop equipped with some nice undulation.

On Mar. 11 Kiryu returned from Poland, where he made the 60 m semi-final at the Mar. 7-9 World Indoor Championships.  After enrolling at Toyo in April he plans to move from his family's home in Shiga prefecture to the Toyo track and field team dormitory in Kawagoe, Saitama.  He plans to take part in the Toyo entrance ceremony on April 6 as one of the incoming first-year class representatives.  At the ceremony he is expected to state his goal of improving on his all-time Japanese #2 best of 10.01 s to bring Japan an unprecedented 9-second national record.

Monday, March 17, 2014

'Karoki Makes Outstanding Half Marathon Debut With 59:58 Win in Lisbon'

http://www.iaaf.org/news/report/bedan-karoki-edp-half-marathon-of-lisbon-iaaf

Bedan Karoki is based in Tokyo where he runs for the DeNA Running Club corporate team coached by marathon legend Toshihiko Seko.  7th-placer Paul Tanui runs for the Kyushu-based Kyudenko Team alongside 2:08:00 marathoner Kazuhiro Maeda.  London Olympian Ryo Yamamoto (Team SGH Group Sagawa) was 20th in a weak 1:05:50.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Yufu and Ichida Run Strong in New York, Hagiwara and Okuno Top Matsue and University Women's Half

by Brett Larner



2013 National University 1500 m champion Ikuto Yufu (Komazawa University) and 2013 Ageo City Half Marathon winner Takashi Ichida (Daito Bunka University) made their U.S. half marathon debuts at this 2014 NYC Half Marathon, invited through a partnership between Ageo and the NYC Half.  Running in frigid, windy conditions, both Yufu and Ichida sat in the second pack through much of the race, gradually increasing the pace and splitting 15:18, 14:50 and 14:45 for the first three 5 km splits as the course came out of Central Park's hills and picked up a tailwind.

As the race got going in the final 5 km Ichida, hoping to break 62 minutes for the first time, fell behind, but in the final race of his collegiate career Yufu ran head-to-head with 2014 U.S.A. half marathon champion Meb Keflezighi and American Jacob Riley until the final corner at 21 km when he kicked away to take 9th in 1:02:50.  Yufu's time was just four seconds off his best and improved on his teammate Kenta Murayama's 10th-place finish in last year's NYC Half. Ichida pushed on alone to take 12th in 1:03:11, just making the 12-deep podium.

Back home in Japan, two of Ichida's teammates at Daito Bunka Univ., identical twins Eri and Mari Tayama, factored into the 17th National University Women's Half Marathon Championships held in conjunction with the 35th running of the Matsue Ladies' Half Marathon.  Making her half marathon debut, sub-32 minute 10000 m runner Ayumi Hagiwara (Team Uniqlo) ran one-on-one against two-time Matsue winner Doricah Obare (Kenya/Team Hitachi) up front, the pair more than a minute ahead of the rest of the pack at 10 km.  In a mirror of NYC men's winner Geoffrey Mutai's big play, Hagiwara then dropped a world record-pace 15:21 split from 10 km to 15 km to put Obare away. Needless to say Hagiwara slowed in the final 5 km but still crossed the line in 1:10:17 for the win, one of the better Japanese debuts in recent years.  Obare was nearly two minutes back in 2nd in 1:11:56.

The University Half Championships occupied the battle for 3rd, where at 15 km 3rd through 11th place all clocked an identical 1:09:18 split.  Coming down to the finish corporate runner Yukari Abe (Team Shimamura) had the strongest kick, claiming 3rd in 1:12:41, but just behind her Yukiko Okuno (Kyoto Sangyo Univ.) and Daito's Eri Tayama were in a virtual photo finish for the national collegiate title, both clocking 1:12:44 but Okuno getting the nod.  Corporate runners Asahi Takeuchi (Team Uniqlo) and Yuko Shimizu (Team Sekisui Kagaku) were also timed at 1:12:44, with Hitomi Suzuki (Tamagawa Univ.) outdoing Tayama's twin Mari for bronze in the university championships division another two seconds back.  Miho Shimizu (Team Hokuren) won the 10 km division by more than a minute in a PB of 33:02.

Elsewhere, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) won his local Saitama City Half Marathon in 1:04:49 without serious challenge as his nearest competitor, Sho Matsumoto (Arata Project) took 2nd in 1:06:17.  London Olympian Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) ran the 3 km as a special guest, jogging alongside local children.

9th NYC Half Marathon
New York, 3/16/14
click here for complete results

Men
1. Geoffrey Mutai (Kenya) - 1:00:50
2. Mo Farah (Great Britain) - 1:01:07
3. Stephen Sambu (Kenya) - 1:01:08
4. Juan Luis Barrios (Mexico) - 1:01:46
5. Aschalew Nigusse (Ethiopia) - 1:01:47
6. Mengistu Tabor Nebsi (Ethiopia) - 1:02:04
7. Matt Tegenkamp (U.S.A.) - 1:02:04 - debut
8. Arne Gabius (Germany) - 1:02:09 - debut
9. Ikuto Yufu (Japan/Komazawa Univ.) - 1:02:50
10. Meb Keflezighi (U.S.A.) - 1:02:53
11. Jacob Riley (U.S.A.) - 1:02:56 - debut
12. Takashi Ichida (Japan/Daito Bunka Univ.) - 1:03:11
13. Eric Gillis (Canada) - 1:03:30 - PB
14. Jeffrey Eggleston (U.S.A.) - 1:03:32
15. Luke Puskedra (U.S.A.) - 1:03:32

Women
1. Sally Kipyego (Kenya) - 1:08:31 - debut
2. Buzunesh Deba (Ethiopia) - 1:08:59 - debut
3. Molly Huddle (U.S.A.) - 1:09:04 - debut
4. Lisa Stublic (Croatia) - 1:09:36
5. Caroline Kilel (Kenya) - 1:10:00
6. Diane Nukuri-Johnson (Burundi) - 1:10:09
7. Hilda Kibet (Netherlands) - 1:11:37
8. Desi Linden (U.S.A.) - 1:11:37
9. Etaferahu Temesgen (Ethiopia) - 1:11:49 - PB
10. Adriana Nelson (U.S.A.) - 1:11:50
11. Askale Merachi (Ethiopia) - 1:12:19 - PB
12. Krista Duchene (Canada) - 1:12:26
13. Sarah Cummings (U.S.A.) - 1:14:10
14. Esther Erb (U.S.A.) - 1:14:46
15. Lauren Jimison (U.S.A.) - 1:14:49

35th Matsue Ladies Half Marathon
17th National University Women's Half Marathon Championships
Matsue, 3/16/14
click here for complete results

Women's Half Marathon
1. Ayumi Hagiwara (Team Uniqlo) - 1:10:17 - debut
2. Doricah Obare (Kenya/Team Hitachi) - 1:11:56
3. Yukari Abe (Team Shimamura) - 1:12:41
4. Yukiko Okuno (Kyoto Sangyo Univ.) - 1:12:44 - PB
5. Eri Tayama (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 1:12:44 - PB
6. Asahi Takeuchi (Team Uniqlo) - 1:12:44 - debut
7. Yuko Shimizu (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 1:12:44
8. Hitomi Suzuki (Tamagawa Univ.) - 1:12:46 - PB
9. Mari Tayama (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 1:12:52 - PB
10. Akiko Hatayama (Team Daihatsu) - 1:12:56 - PB

Women's 10 km
1. Miho Shimizu (Team Hokuren) - 33:02 - PB
2. Kaho Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 34:10 - debut
3. Yukari Ishizawa (Team Edion) - 34:18 - debut
4. Michiru Otsuki (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 34:24 - debut
5. Kazumi Hashimoto (Team Hokuren) - 34:58

2014 Saitama City Half Marathon
Saitama, 3/16/14
click here for complete results

Men' Half Marathon
1. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 1:04:49
2. Sho Matsumoto (Arata Project) - 1:06:17
3. Kazuki Tsuchiya (Shiraoka RC) - 1:06:59
4. Yusuke Kodama (Team Commodity Ida) - 1:07:34
5. Hideyuki Ikegami (Kyoto Kyoiku Univ.) - 1:08:15

(c) text and photos 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Friday, March 14, 2014

Ichida and Yufu Represent Japan's University Men at NYC Half (updated)

update: The NYRR posted its own story on Takashi Ichida (Daito Bunka Univ.) and Ikuto Yufu (Komazawa Univ.) this morning.  Click here to read it.

by Brett Larner

November's Ageo City Half Marathon has been in an arms race with March's National University Men's Half Marathon Championships for the last few years, both races riding a swell in Japanese university men's distance running to battle for the title of world's deepest half marathon.  Two weeks ago the National University Half became the first race to break the 200 sub-66 barrier, but competition up front in Ageo remains thicker with a sub-62 course record and nearly twice as many men going sub-63 as at the National University Half. Driving the race up front in Ageo this time was, for the third year in a row, the chance for the two top Japanese collegiates to run the NYC Half Marathon in a relationship set up between the two races by JRN.

Two years ago Yuta Shitara and Kento Otsu of Hakone Ekiden course record holders Toyo University set the bar high, Shitara outkicking World Half Marathon Championships medalist Dathan Ritzenhein (U.S.A.) to run the fastest time ever by a Japanese man on U.S. soil, 1:01:48.  Last year Otsu returned with Ageo winner Kenta Murayama of National University Ekiden Championships course record holder Komazawa University. Murayama ran 1:02:02 for 10th and returned to Japan full of confidence, setting new course records at both the Izumo Ekiden and National University Ekiden before running an all-time Japanese #3 1:00:50 at February's Marugame Half to make Japan's World Half team.

Seeing Murayama's transformation, other runners jumped at the chance to pick up the NYC invite.  In the first 25 years of Ageo's history 36 men had broken 63 minutes.  At last November's 26th running 18 more achieved that time, all but one university runners and almost all in PB times.  Winning the five-way sprint finish was Takashi Ichida of Daito Bunka University, clocking 1:02:36 in a photo finish with Hakone star Kazuto Nishiike of Hosei University.

Back in January, 2008 in the early days of JRN we translated an article about a pair of identical twin junior high school runners from Kyushu, Takashi and Hiroshi Ichida, who said they hoped to one day run the Olympic marathon together.  At that point still more or less unknown, the brothers became members of Kagoshima Jitsugyo High School's 2010 National High School Ekiden champion team before going on to lead the relatively minor Daito Bunka University.  While Hiroshi made the Japanese team for next week's World University Cross Country Championships in Uganda, Takashi's win in Ageo meant his route to achieving the twins' shared dream would take him through New York.  Having focused on peaking for the NYC Half since November, Takashi hopes to improve on both Shitara's 1:01:48 and Murayama's 10th-place finish.

Ageo runner-up Nishiike was injured before January's Hakone Ekiden and did not recover in time for New York.  Taking his place is the man who led the break in Ageo, 2013 National University Track and Field Championships 1500 m winner Ikuto Yufu.  Undefeated at the National University Ekiden Championships where he set two stage records among his four stage wins, Yufu is the Komazawa record holder for 1500 m, 5000 m and 10000 m but has yet to live up to the same standard over the half marathon.  In his last race wearing the Komazawa uniform before graduation he hopes for a major improvement on his 1:02:46 best.  If he succeeds both he and Ichida should make serious dents in the Japanese men's all-time U.S. soil top ten list:

1. Yuta Shitara - 1:01:48 - New York City 2012
2. Kenta Murayama - 1:02:02 - New York City 2013
3. Yasuaki Yamamoto - 1:02:28 - Philadelphia 1999
4. Yoshinori Oda - 1:02:50 - Virginia Beach 2007
5. Yoichiro Akiyama - 1:02:59 - Virginia Beach 2005
6. Kento Otsu - 1:03:15 - New York City 2012
7. Noritaka Fujiyama - 1:03:50 - Virginia Beach 2009
8. Kazuhiro Matsuda - 1:03:57 - San Diego 2003
8. Takayuki Matsumiya - 1:03:57 - Virginia Beach 2010
10. Kento Otsu - 1:04:03 - New York City 2013

Profiles:

Takashi Ichida
Daito Bunka University
Born: June 16, 1992, Kagoshima, attended Kagoshima Jitsugyo H.S.
identical twin brother Hiroshi Ichida also runs at D.B.U.

PBs
1500 m: 3:49.79 (2009) 5000 m: 13:55.44 (2010)
10000 m: 28:43.93 (2013) half-marathon: 1:02:36 (2013)

Major Results
Daito Bunka University record holder, half marathon
2013 Ageo City Half Marathon: 1st, 1:02:36
2013 Kanto Regional Univ. T&F Championships 10000 m: 3rd
2011 World XC Junior Race: 36th
2010 National High School Ekiden 1st Stage: 2nd
2010 World XC Junior Race: 40th
2010 National Men’s Ekiden 1st Stage: 3rd
2008 National Men’s Ekiden 2nd Stage: 2nd
2007 Junior Olympics 3000 m: 1st
2007 National Junior High School T&F Championships 3000 m: 1st

Team Titles:
2010 National High School Ekiden – 1st


Ikuto Yufu
Komazawa University
Born: July 7, 1991, Oita, attended Oita Tomei H.S.

PBs
1500 m: 3:42.37 (2012) 5000 m: 13:42.09 (2011)
10000 m: 28:02.46 (2011) half-marathon: 1:02:46 (2013)

Major Results
Komazawa University record holder, 1500 m, 5000 m and 10000 m
2014 Hakone Ekiden 3rd Stage: 3rd
2010-2013 National University Ekiden 3rd Stage: 1st, CR in 2010 and 2012
2013 Izumo Ekiden 4th Stage: 2nd
2013 National University T&F Championships 1500 m: 1st
2011 World University Games 5000 m: 14th
2010-2011: Kanto Region University T&F Championships 1500 m: 1st
2011 Hakone Ekiden 1st Stage; 3rd
2010 Asian Junior Championships 5000 m: 2nd; 1500 m: 4th
2009 National High School Ekiden 1st Stage: 2nd
2009 National High School T&F Championships 1500 m: 2nd; 5000 m: 4th

Team Titles
2014 Hakone Ekiden – 2nd
2013 National University Ekiden – 1st
2013 Izumo Ekiden – 1st - course record
2013 Hakone Ekiden – 3rd
2012 National University Ekiden – 1st - course record
2012 Hakone Ekiden – 2nd
2011 National University Ekiden – 1st
2011 Izumo Ekiden – 2nd
2011 Hakone Ekiden – 3rd
2010 National University Ekiden – 2nd
2010 Izumo Ekiden – 3rd

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

photo credits:
NYC photo (c) 2014 Shuta Baba, all rights reserved
Ageo lead group photo (c) 2013 Brett Larner, all rights reserved
Ageo award ceremony photo (c) 2013 Jason Lawrence, all rights reserved
Ichida photo (c) 2013 Kazuyuki Sugimatsu, all rights reserved
Yufu photo (c) 2014 Kazuyuki Sugimatsu, all rights reserved

Thursday, March 13, 2014

University Runners Feature in Rest of March's Races

by Brett Larner

With Japan's fiscal and academic year wrapping up at the end of March the majority of the country's corporate runners are in a holding pattern until track season gets underway in April.  Collegiate runners dominate what's left of the season, with Sunday's National University Women's Half Marathon Championships, held in conjunction with the Matsue Ladies' Half Marathon and 10 km, marking the last major domestic race of the season. Winning times at the National Championships have been in the 71-minute range the last few years.  The lack of a World University Games this year could bring down that leading edge, but if the record-setting depth at last week's National University Men's Half Marathon Championships was any indication the women's race should still be deeply competitive.

2013 Ageo City Half Marathon winner Takashi Ichida (Daito Bunka University) and 2013 National University Track and Field Championships 1500 m winner Ikuto Yufu (Komazawa University) represent Japan's university men this weekend at the NYC Half Marathon, the third time top-level Japanese collegiates have run NYC through a relationship set up by JRN between NYC and Ageo.  Ichida hopes to run sub-62 for the first time, with Yufu targeting a time better than his younger Komazawa teammate Kenta Murayama's 1:02:02 at last year's NYC Half.  Look for more on Ichida and Yufu in New York on JRN over the next few days.

Further ahead, Ichida's twin brother Hiroshi Ichida (Daito Bunka University) and Yufu's teammate Shota Baba (Komazawa University) lead the four-man Japanese team for next weekend's World University Cross Country Championships in Entebbe, Uganda, with Daito Bunka's Fuyuka Kimura also featuring prominently on the women's team.

A week later, Murayama, now all-time Japanese #3 over the half marathon with a best of 1:00:50 at age 20, his Komazawa teammate and 2013 World University Games half marathon bronze medalist Shogo Nakamura, and Hiroto Inoue (Yamanashi Gakuin University), with a 1:01:39 best making him the fastest-ever Japanese 21-year-old, make up the lion's share of the Japanese men's team for the Copenhagen World Half Marathon Championships.  Another Komazawa grad, last year's 5000 m national champion Sota Hoshi (Team Fujitsu), and Masato Kikuchi (Team Konica Minolta), both sub-1:01:30 men, round out the team, but hopes are high throughout Japan that Murayama, freshly 21, will lead the way with a mark well under the current Japanese national record of 1:00:25. The all-corporate women's team is relatively weaker, with only Reia Iwade (Team Noritz) having cleared the 70-minute mark in her career to date, running a best of 1:09:45 at December's Sanyo Women's Half Marathon to make the Copenhagen team.

For those craving their Yuki Kawauchi fix, Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) is lining up in half marathons both this weekend and next, running his home ground Saitama City Half Marathon this weekend and the Ogori Half Marathon a week later.  Kawauchi's rival independent Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) will also line up in Saitama's 3 km race.

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Federation Announces Marathon Team for 17th Asian Games

http://www.jaaf.or.jp/20140312_AsiaNationalTeam

translated by Brett Larner

The Japan Association of Athletics Federations is pleased to announce the nomination of the following athletes to the Japanese National Team for this fall's 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.

Men

Kohei Matsumura
Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki, Nagasaki
Asian Games debut
PB: 2:08:09 (2014 Tokyo Marathon)

Yuki Kawauchi
Saitama Prefectural Government, Saitama
Asian Games debut
PB: 2:08:14 (2013 Seoul International Marathon)

Women

Ryoko Kizaki
Team Daihatsu, Osaka
second Asian Games appearance; ran 5000 m at 2010 Asian Games
PB: 2:23:34 (2013 Nagoya Women's Marathon)

Eri Hayakawa
Team Toto, Tokyo
Asian Games debut
PB: 2:25:31 (2014 Nagoya Women's Marathon)

The formal confirmation of the athletes on the National Team will be made by the Japanese Olympic Committee, the official organizers of the Asian Games team.  The Asian Games will take place from Sept. 27 to Oct. 3.  Official website:

http://www.incheon2014ag.org/en

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Beijing Olympics Marathoner Yurika Nakamura and Teammate Kaori Urata Announce Retirement

http://mainichi.jp/sports/news/m20140311k0000m050012000c.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On Mar. 10, Beijing Olympics women's marathoner Yurika Nakamura, 27 announced her intent to retire at the end of March.  The announcement came via her corporate team sponsor Tenmaya.  Following her retirement she plans to focus on her work at the company.

Nakamura is a native of Hyogo prefecture.  After graduating from Nishinomiya H.S. she joined the Tenmaya team in 2004.  She won her marathon debut at the 2008 Nagoya International Women's Marathon to qualify for the Beijing Olympics where she placed 13th, the only Japanese woman to finish the race.  In the 2009 Berlin World Championships 10000 m she placed 7th, the top Japanese finisher.  After her last race in January, 2013 she took a leave of absence from competition to rest and recuperate.  "After re-examining myself I came to the conclusion that it was time to retire," she said in her statement.

Nakamura's teammate Kaori Urata, 28, also announced that she will likewise retire at the end of March.  Urata won the Sixth Stage at the 2010 National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships, helping to give the Tenmaya team its first overall national title.

Translator's note: Both Nakamura and Urata were coached by Yutaka Taketomi at Tenmaya.  Following Beijing Taketomi was named the JAAF's director of women's marathoning.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Konovalova Wins Nagoya Women's Marathon in 2:23:43, Westcott Over Kawauchi in Half

by Brett Larner

In a familiar sight on the Japanese women's marathon circuit, a late-30's Eastern European woman negative-splitted her way to the win of the world's largest women-only marathon, the Nagoya Women's Marathon.  39-year-old Russian Mariya Konovalova led virtually start to finish, more than often than not ahead of the lone Kenyan pacer as she progressively ground down the competition.  A lead pack of 21 at 10 km was down to 14 by halfway, which Konovalova crossed in 1:12:34.  Most of the burnoff happened between there and 25 km, with only defending champion and Moscow World Championships marathon 4th-placer Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu), 2005 Osaka International Women's Marathon winner Jelena Prokopcuka (Lativa), debuting National Corporate Half Marathon champion Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei), the idiosyncratic Eri Hayakawa (Team Toto), Ethiopian Ashete Dido and the pacer able to match Konovalova's pace.

Kenyan Agnes Kiprop managed to regain contact with the leaders just in time for Konovalova to take off with the pacer's departure at 30 km.  Both Prokopcuka and Kiprop went with her, Dido dropping and the three Japanese women forming a chase pack.  Dido soon slipped back to provide a convenient target for Kizaki and crew, who duly pulled her back and said goodbye.  Up front Konovalova managed to get a gap on Prokopcuka, 10 seconds ahead by 40 km.  The gap only grew on the way to the finish as Konovalova crossed the line in 2:23:43, the fourth-best winning time in Nagoya's 29 runnings and second-best on the current course.  The 37-year-old Prokopcuka was next in 2:24:07, her best time since 2005.

With a place on the Japanese team for this year's Asian Games at stake Hayakawa, who has had an interesting career trajectory that saw her become the first Japanese woman to win the Honolulu Marathon way back in 2003 while running as a club runner before signing on with triathlon coach Mitsuhiro Yamamoto in 2012 and joining the small Toto corporate team as their ekiden ringer, tried to get away with a long surge.  Tanaka went with her and Kizaki, experiencing some trouble, initially dropped far behind.  Kiprop came and went before Kizaki got back in gear, going after Hayakawa and Tanaka with less than 4 km to go. At 40 km Hayakawa led them both by a second, but the experienced Kizaki returned and as she and Hayakawa began to battle for 3rd the first-timer Tanaka fell away.  Hayakawa tried again to get away, but despite her best efforts she fell victim to Kizaki's proven closing speed.  Kizaki kicked away in the last 200 m to take 3rd in 2:25:26, Hayakawa 5 seconds back in a PB 2:25:31.  Tanaka, coached by Tokyo World Championships silver medalist Sachiko Yamashita and a former training partner of Berlin World Championships silver medalist Yoshimi Ozaki, was safe for 5th in 2:26:05, putting her in the all-time Japanese debut top ten.

Kizaki taking top Japanese honors in the fastest Japanese time of the year to date makes her the leading contender for the Asian Games team.  With Yokohama International Women's Marathon top Japanese woman Azusa Nojiri (Hiratsuka Lease) running only 2:28:47 and the top Japanese woman at January's Osaka International Women's Marathon Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) having announced her retirement, the most likely person to join Kizaki will be Sairi Maeda (Bukkyo Univ.), who set a collegiate national record 2:26:46 in Osaka to also make the all-time debut top ten.  Following her graduation this month Maeda is joining Kizaki on the Daihatsu corporate team, setting them both up perfectly to support each other in their Asian Games buildup and beyond.

In the mixed mass-participation half marathon that accompanies Nagoya, Australia's Scott Westcott, running as part of a cooperative relationship between Nagoya and the Sydney Marathon, battled with perpetual marathon machine Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) for the win, unexpectedly turning the amateur-level race into an elite event. Kawauchi, who ran 2:10:38 last weekend at Lake Biwa, led early before Westcott moved up to take over through the middle of the race.  Head to head at 20 km, Kawauchi went for a long surge in the last km but could not shake free of Westcott who kicked in the final stretch to take the win in 1:04:14 by three seconds.  Kawauchi will look to improve on that time on home ground at the Mar. 16 Saitama City Half Marathon.  "I can only say I am glad I am not racing him next weekend!" Westcott told JRN post-race.

2014 Nagoya Women's Marathon
Nagoya, Aichi, 3/9/14
click here for complete results

1. Mariya Konovalova (Russia) - 2:23:43
2. Jelena Prokopcuka (Latvia) - 2:24:07
3. Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) - 2:25:26
4. Eri Hayakawa (Team Toto) - 2:25:31 - PB
5. Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 2:26:05 - debut
6. Agnes Kiprop (Kenya) - 2:27:51
7. Misato Horie (Team Noritz) - 2:27:57 - PB
8. Asami Kato (Team Panasonic) - 2:29:08 - PB
9. Ashete Dido (Ethiopia) - 2:29:21
10. Agnes Barsosio (Kenya) - 2:30:37
11. Yuka Hakoyama (Team Wacoal) - 2:30:48 - debut
12. Jessica Trengove (Australia) - 2:31:23
13. Helena Kirop (Kenya) - 2:31:34
14. Yuko Mizuguchi (Team Denso) - 2:31:39 - debut
15. Chika Horie (Team Univ. Ent.) - 2:32:58
16. Hiroko Shoi (Team Nihon ChemiCon) - 2:33:06 - PB
17. Mayumi Fujita (Team Juhachi Ginko) - 2:33:13
18. Kikuyo Tsuzaki (Team Noritz) - 2:33:17 - PB
19. Kana Orino (Team Hokuren) - 2:33:51 - debut
20. Ayumi Sakaida (Team Daihatsu) - 2:34:12 - PB
21. Miranda Boonstra (Netherlands) - 2:34:41
22. Sayaka Kurogi (Team Kyudenko) - 2:35:48 - debut
23. Aki Odagiri (Team Tenmaya) - 2:35:52 - PB
24. Sakiko Matsumi (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 2:36:45 - debut
25. Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 2:36:51

2014 Nagoya City Half Marathon
Nagoya, Aichi, 3/9/14
complete results coming shortly

Men
1. Scott Westcott (Australia) - 1:04:14
2. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 1:04:17

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

photo (c) 2014 Scott Westcott
all rights reserved

Saturday, March 8, 2014

'Can Kizaki Retain Her Nagoya Women's Marathon Title?'

http://www.iaaf.org/news/preview/ryoko-kizaki-2014-nagoya-womens-marathon-iaaf

The last of Japan's major winter/early spring marathons, the Nagoya Women's Marathon kicks off at 9:00 a.m. Japan time on Sunday, Mar. 9.  JRN will cover the race live on Twitter @JRNLive.  Overseas viewers should be able to watch Fuji TV's live broadcast via Keyhole TV, for which a premium key is recommended for reliable quality.  Unofficial live streaming may be available on any of a number of overseas streaming sites.

Also newsworthy is Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) in the mass-participation Nagoya Half Marathon that accompanies the women-only marathon.  Kawauchi entered the half through the regular online lottery and was among those who won places in the field.

2014 Nagoya Women's Marathon
Nagoya, 3/9/14

1. Mariya Konovalova (Russia) - 2:22:46 (Chicago 2013)
2. Jelena Prokopcuka (Latvia) - 2:22:56 (Osaka Women's 2005)
11. Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) - 2:23:34 (Nagoya Women's 2013)
3. Helena Kirop (Kenya) - 2:23:37 (Venice 2011)
115. Yumiko Hara (AASP RC) - 2:23:48 (Osaka Women's 2007)
4. Agnes Kiprop (Kenya) - 2:23:54 (Frankfurt 2011)
5. Agnes Barsosio (Kenya) - 2:24:03 (Daegu 2013)
6. Zivile Balciunaite (Lithuania) - 2:25:15 (Tokyo Women's 2005)
102. Eri Okubo (Miki House) - 2:26:08 (Tokyo 2012)
107. Chika Hori (Team Universal Entertainment) - 2:26:11 (Hokkaido 2002)
12. Eri Hayakawa (Team Toto) - 2:26:17 (Nagoya Women's 2013)
13. Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 2:26:23 (Nagoya Women's 2012)
7. Miranda Boonstra (Netherlands) - 2:27:32 (Rotterdam 2012)
8. Ashete Dido (Ethiopia) - 2:27:47 (Kosice 2013)
14. Mayumi Fujita (Team Juhachi Ginko) - 2:29:02 (Yokohama Women's 2012)
108. Chihiro Tanaka (Athlec RC) - 2:29:30 (Nagoya International 2002)
15. Asami Kato (Team Panasonic) - 2:30:26 (Nagoya Women's 2013)
16. Misato Horie (Team Noritz) - 2:30:52 (Nagoya Women's 2013)
9. Jessica Trengove (Australia) - 2:31:02 (Nagoya Women's 2012)
17. Korei Omata (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 2:31:13 (Nagoya Women's 2012)
103. Hiroko Yoshitomi (First Dream AC) - 2:31:28 (Tokyo 2013)
106. Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 2:32:20 (Yokohama Women's 2009)
104. Chizuru Ideta (Team Daihatsu) - 2:32:50 (Nagoya Women's 2013)
105. Hiroko Shoi (Team Nihon ChemiCon) - 2:33:21 (Tokyo 2013)
117. Ayumi Sakaida (Team Daihatsu) - 2:36:04 (Tokyo 2012)
109. Kikuyo Tsuzaki (Team Noritz) - 2:36:57 (Paris 2013)
110. Akane Mutazaki (Team Edion) - 2:37:14 (Nagoya Women's 2013)
111. Saki Tabata (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:37:40 (Tokyo 2013)
114. Aki Odagiri (Team Tenmaya) - 2:41:49 (Hokkaido 2013)

Debut
18. Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 1:09:24 (National Corporate Half 2014)
19. Sakiko Matsumi (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 1:10:10 (Marugame Half 2013)
20. Kumi Ogura (Team Toto) - 1:10:51 (Marugame Half 2013)
21. Yuka Hakoyama (Team Wacoal) - 1:11:29 (Marugame Half 2013)
22. Yuko Mizuguchi (Team Denso) - 1:13:27 (Matsue Women's Half 2008)
133. Risa Nakamura (Team Hitachi) - 1:14:43 (Marugame 2011)

Friday, March 7, 2014

Shizuoka to Again Host Mount Fuji University Women's Ekiden Championships

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/region/news/140307/szk14030702060000-n1.htm

translated by Brett Larner

At the Shizuoka Prefectural Assembly's regular meeting on Mar. 6, Governor Heita Kawakatsu confirmed that the Mount Fuji Women's Ekiden, first held last December, will be held again at the end of this year.  The news came in response to a question from Assembly representative Sakae Endo (Jimin Kaikaku Kaigi Party, Fuji City).

The ekiden commemorates Mount Fuji's registration as a World Heritage Site and served as the National Women's Invitational Ekiden Championships, the first time that event has been staged in Shizuoka.  At the first running twenty teams from across the country raced over a seven-stage, 43.4 km course in the foothills of Mount Fuji.

Governor Kawakatsu commented, "With 80,000 spectators having turned out to cheer along the course and impeccable race organization, we gave the event a very high evaluation.  TV viewership ratings within Shizuoka were an excellent 14.3%, and more than 90% of local residents surveyed said that they would like to see the race held again."  The governor said that for these reasons, on Jan. 24 the prefecture's Executive Committee approved plans for the second edition of the ekiden at the end of the calendar year.  The exact date of the race is yet to be determined.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

With Regard to the Kanto Region University Student United Team

http://ameblo.jp/senbatuyk/entry-11786606506.html
http://ameblo.jp/senbatuyk/entry-11786640592.html
http://ameblo.jp/senbatuyk/entry-11786683500.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Note: These blog posts were written by an athlete who ran on the Hakone Ekiden's Kanto Region University Select Team twice before going on to become one of Japan's most prominent distance runners and all-time great marathoners.  He semi-anonymously runs a blog called "The Former Hakone Ekiden Kanto Region University Select Team Member Blog" dedicated to preserving the Select Team from elimination by the powers that be. These posts are in response to the KGRR's decision to reintroduce the Select Team to Hakone in 2015 under a different name without counting its results.

According to the news on the net, the "Kanto Regional University Select Team" is going to be resurrected next year with its name changed to "Kanto Region University Student United Team."  In February at a party in Tokyo for people connected with the Hakone Ekiden some executives from the KGRR were saying, "The Select Team, you know, it's just a collection of fast runners from universities across Kanto, so the name should change," but I didn't think they were really going to change it.  Up to now it has always been called "Select," but now we're going to have to call it a "Union?"

According to the KGRR's proposal the Select Team is going to end up being called "Kanto United," but it's not just the name.  Lots of other changes are being made as well.
  • Participation only without team or individual results counting
  • One school, one runner
  • Only runners who have run Hakone two or less times are elligible
I think the point about the team becoming participation-only is the biggest change.  Since the 83rd Hakone Ekiden, when voices shouting, "Let's stop treating this like it's some kind of festival!" got the Select Team's results counted for the first time, the Select Team has been a motivation to the big powerhouse schools, who've been saying, "If they get into the top ten then they're going to knock one of us back to the qualifiers."  Now that extra motivation is gone.  The big boys are going to care less and less about racing the Select, uh, United Team.

The other two points look they're going to be plusses for athletes from weak small and mid-sized schools like my alma mater, but they mean that senior aces from major schools, like Hosei University's Hidehito Takamine at the 85th Hakone and Tokai University's Tsubasa Hayakawa at the 89th running, have a significantly lower chance of being picked for the team.  It may be true that this new system might help make it easier for athletes from small, weak schools get picked for the team, but I feel that this system is going to lower the motivation of mid-level and upper-echelon schools.

Additionally, thanks to flaws in the system athletes like Shoin University's Aritaka Kajiwara who ran on the Select Team all four years are being eliminated by the rule about not being picked more than twice.  As a result of his experience on the Select Team Kajiwara has had tremendous success as a speed runner, one of the top finishers on the track at last year's National Championships, and I'm very sorry to see the opportunity for athletes like him to develop again being taken away.  At the Hakone Ekiden party last month the KGRR bigwigs said, "We intend to put a much better system in place for the Select Team."  I can see now that when they said "a much better system" they meant "a system that will prevent athletes like Kajiwara from coming along."

I myself carry with me the memory of the joy of my teammates and I lifting our anchor runner onto our shoulders together in Otemachi when we got into the seeded top ten, and to see the team being returned to participation-only status, to know that scenes of joy like that are not going to be replayed, I think it is incredibly sad that these kinds of organizational changes have been made.

What direction is the United-Team-formerly-known-as-Kanto-Region-Select-Team going to take?  Last year when the vote took place on whether to keep the Kanto Region Select Team (every year) or abolish it (only have it once every five years), they listened to input from powerhouse schools, mid-level schools, and small, weak programs, and the decision was made to keep it.  But with the changes made this year, what happens a few years down the road when the Third Great Abolition Crisis happens?  I worry about what the future holds for the team.

I've written a variety of things here, but except for item three,
  • Only runners who have run Hakone two or less times are eligible
I feel like this is just an attempt to try to return to the time (and conventions) before the 83rd Hakone Ekiden. It seems like the number one priority of the KGRR executive committee was preventing the same athlete from making the team multiple times.  In these organizational changes I feel that they are saying, "The Select Team is intended to give as many athletes as possible a chance to experience the Hakone Ekiden," and returning to a time before the 83rd Hakone.

In those days when the Select Team was participation-only there wasn't much discussion about it being abolished, but I have the impression that once its results began to count in the team scoring (especially at the 84th Hakone when the Select Team finished 4th) and the one-school-one-runner rule was broken and one-school-two-runners became the norm the calls for it to be abolished became louder and louder, so now that we are "getting back to our roots" maybe that kind of talk will die down again.

To sum up these changes in one phrase, I think you could say that we've gone back to our roots but lost the added value of what we had gained.  Whatever else happens, I hope that the United-Team-formerly-known-as-Kanto-Region-Select-Team still serves as a motivation for athletes to grow and progress.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Hakone Ekiden Kanto Select Team to Return Without Results Being Counted

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/news/20140303-OYT1T01115.htm
http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2014/03/04/kiji/K20140304007705930.html
http://www.kgrr.org/event/2013/kgrr/90-hakone/91gakuseirengouteam_kirokunotoriatsukai.pdf

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On Mar. 4 the Inter-University Athletic Union of Kanto [KGRR] announced rule changes for the 91st Hakone Ekiden on Jan. 2-3, 2015 regarding the Kanto Region University Select Team, made up of top-placing individuals at October's Yosenkai 20 km Road Race from universities that do not qualify for Hakone as teams.  The Select Team was eliminated for this year's 90th Hakone Ekiden but will return next year with its name changed to the Kanto Region University Student United Team.  Along with the name, changes include:
  • only one runner is allowed from any single university
  • people may run on the team a maximum of twice
  • the team's results will not count in the official Hakone Ekiden team standings
  • individual placings will not count in the official individual stage standings
  • individual times will be recorded and are eligible for stage records
The new changes mean that the Kanto Region University Student United Team and its members will not be named the official winners even if they run the fastest time overall or on any individual stage.

Translator's note: Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't), a member of the 2009 Hakone Ekiden Kanto Region University Select Team that included four of Japan's other current best young distance runners, Aritaka Kajiwara (Team Press Kogyo), Norimasa Nishina (Team Fujitsu), Hiroaki Sano (Team Honda) and Hidehito Takamine (Team Fujitsu), has written a rebuttal of the KGRR's decision on his blog dedicated to saving the Select Team.  JRN will publish a translation tomorrow.  And happy 27th birthday to Kawauchi.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

'2014 NYC Half to Feature Top American and International Fields for March 16 Race'

http://www.nyrr.org/newsroom/press-release/2014-nyc-half-to-feature-molly-huddle-and-geoffrey-mutai-and-international-fields-for-march-16-race

2013 Ageo City Half Marathon winner Takashi Ichida (1:02:36, Daito Bunka University) and four-time National University Ekiden stage winner Ikuto Yufu (1:02:46, Komazawa University) are running the NYC Half Marathon with support from JRN after placing in Ageo last November.

8th NYC Half Marathon Elite Field
New York, NY, 3/16/14

Men
Geoffrey Mutai (Kenya) - 58:58 (Ras Al Khaimah 2013)
Mo Farah (U.K.) - 1:00:10a (Great North Run 2013)
Stephen Sambu (Kenya) - 1:00:41 (Boston 2013)
Meb Keflezighi (U.S.A.) - 1:01:00 (Rock 'n' Roll San Jose 2009)
Wesley Korir (Kenya) - 1:01:19 (New York 2012)
Juan Luis Barrios (Mexico) - 1:01:21 (New York 2013)
Kevin Chelimo (Kenya) - 1:01:21 (New York 2012)
Luke Puskedra (U.S.A.) - 1:01:36 (Houston 2012)
Matt Tegenkamp (U.S.A.) - 58:30 (New Haven 20 km 2012)
Jason Hartmann (U.S.A.) - 1:01:51 (New York 2013)
Brett Gotcher (U.S.A.) - 1:02:09 (Houston 2009)
Takashi Ichida (Japan/Daito Bunka Univ.) - 1:02:36 (Ageo 2013)
Reid Coolsaet (Canada) - 1:02:42a (New York 2011)
Ikuto Yufu (Japan/Komazawa Univ.) - 1:02:46 (Marugame 2013)
Ian Burrell (U.S.A.) - 1:02:51a (U.S.A. Championships 2012)
Jeffrey Eggleston (U.S.A.) - 1:03:00 (Marugame 2014)
Eric Gillis (Canada) - 1:03:34 (Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach 2011)
Arne Gabius (Germany) - debut
Jake Riley (U.S.A.) - debut

Women
Hilda Kibet (Netherlands) - 1:07:59a (Rome-Ostia 2013)
Caroline Kilel (Kenya) - 1:08:16 (World Half Marathon 2009)
Jessica Augusto (Portugal) - 1:09:08a (Great North Run 2009)
Diane Nukuri-Johnson (Burundi) - 1:09:12 (New York 2013)
Lisa Stublic (Croatia) - 1:09:18 (New York 2013)
Buzunesh Deba (Ethiopia) - 1:09:53 (Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia 2011)
Adriana Nelson (U.S.A.) - 1:09:59 (New York 2013)
Gemma Steel (U.K.) - 1:10:19 (Great Birmingham Run 2013)
Yolanda Caballero (Colombia) - 1:10:30 (New York 2013)
Desi Linden (U.S.A.) - 1:10:34 (Naples 2011)
Krista DuChene (Canada) - 1:10:52 (Scotiabank Vancouver 2013)
Sarah Cummings (U.S.A.) - 1:14:06 (Houston 2014)
Caroline LeFrak (U.S.A.) - 1:14:23 (Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia 2011)
Lauren Jimison (U.S.A.) - 1:14:29 (Sacramento 2013)
Esther Erb (U.S.A.) - 1:14:35a (U.S.A. Championships 2013)
Liz Costello (U.S.A.) - 1:14:42 (Brooklyn 2013)
Marci Gage (U.S.A.) - 1:14:49 (U.S.A. Championships 2013
Jane Vongvorachoti (Thailand) - 1:15:24 (Houston 2014)
Sally Kipyego (Kenya) - debut
Molly Huddle (U.S.A.) - debut

Monday, March 3, 2014

Ahouchar and Kim Set Course Records at New Taipei City Wanjinshi Marathon

by Brett Larner

Bringing in a broadly international field of elite athletes from nine countries in a bid for recognition as an IAAF bronze label race, the Mar. 2 New Taipei City Wanjinshi International Marathon was rewarded with new course records in both the men's and women's races despite unforgiving weather.

Men's winner Hassane Ahouchar.

With strong headwinds and rain in the first half of the seaside out-and-back course, the men's lead pack went through a leisurely first half just over 1:11 before rounding the turnaround point and turning it on to take advantage of the tailwind.  The men with the two fastest PBs in the field, Gudisa Shentema (Ethiopia) and Hassane Ahouchar (Morocco), burned off Kenyans Wilson Kibet and Geoffrey Birgen and North Korea's Yong Ho Ri to make it a duel.  Shentema led by a stride on the final uphill to the finish but Ahouchar's kick proved too strong as he took the win in 2:17:17, almost two minutes better than the old record set last year.  Shentema was a second behind him, with Kibet dropping Ri in the final two kilometers to take 3rd in 2:19:11, two seconds under last year's course record.

Ri, Rim, Kim and coaches.

The women's race was more aggressive, with Australia's Jane Fardell leading North Koreans Ji Hyang Kim and Kum Hui Rim and Kenyan Ednah Mukwanah through halfway on low 2:34 pace.  Japanese hopeful Yuri Yoshizumi (Osaka T&F Assoc.) was knocked out of contention early when she slipped on the wet pavement and fell hard in the first 10 km, injuring both legs and arms. Kim kept up the pace after the turnaround, pushing on alone to win in a PB of 2:34:52, three and a half minutes under last year's women's course record. Mukwanah shook free of Rim for second in 2:36:40, with Rim coming through 14 seconds back in 2:36:54, also a PB.  Running much of the race alone, Japan's Shoko Shimizu (Team Aichi Denki) took 4th, tying the old course record in 2:38:18. A familiar face further back was 2006 Asian Games silver medalist Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC), 8th in 2:46:59 in a training run-level effort as she continues her comeback from giving birth to a son a year and a half ago.

New Taipei City Wanjinshi International Marathon
New Taipei City, Taiwan, 3/2/14

Women
1. Ji Hyang Kim (North Korea) - 2:34:52 - CR, PB
2. Ednah Mukwanah (Kenya) - 2:36:40
3. Kum Hui Rim (North Korea) - 2:36:54 - PB
4. Shoko Shimizu (Japan/Team Aichi Denki) - 2:38:18
5. Tigisit Abidi Sheni (Ethiopia) - 2:42:53
6. Jeannette Faber (U.S.A.) - 2:43:57
7. Tinbit Gidey Weldegebriel (Ethiopia) - 2:45:16
8. Kiyoko Shimahara (Japan/Second Wind AC) - 2:46:59

Men
1. Hassane Ahouchar (Morocco) - 2:17:17 - CR
2. Gudisa Shentema Kudama (Ethiopia) - 2:17:18
3. Wilson Kibet (Kenya) - 2:19:11
4. Yong Ho Ri (North Korea) - 2:19:32
5. Geoffrey Birgen (Kenya) - 2:19:52
6. Sho Matsumoto (Japan/Nikkei Business) - 2:23:09
7. Jackson Kiprotich Chirchir (Kenya) - 2:23:34
8. Richard Kiplimo (Kenya) - 2:25:15

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved