Sunday, August 31, 2014

Kawauchi Gets Fifth Course Record of Year in Perth



by Brett Larner

In his last marathon before focusing his energies on the Oct. 3 Incheon Games Marathon, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) returned to Australia for the Aug. 31 Perth City to Surf Marathon.  Much of the race went by with a pack of four featuring Kawauchi, fellow 2:08 man Samuel Woldeamanuel Gebremichael (Ethiopia), course record holder Luka Chelimo (Kenya) and his countryman Simon Kirui (Kenya) up front.  Gebremichael, who lost out to Kawauchi at July's Gold Coast Airport Marathon, was the first casualty.  A move by Chelimo around 29 km looked like it might add Kawauchi to the casualty list as Chelimo and Kirui pulled around 100 m ahead, but as per his usual pattern Kawauchi came back aggressively in the final 5 km to pass both Kenyans.  Crossing the line in 2:12:55 he took 21 seconds off the record Chelimo set at last year's race, his fifth marathon course record win in eight starts so far this year.  Joan Rotich (Kenya) was the women's winner in a modest 2:43:29.

After returning to Japan Kawauchi will join the Japanese Federation's new marathon National Team training camp in Hokkaido, a program with the aim of maximizing Japanese athletes' hot weather performance ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  On Oct. 3 he runs the Incheon Asian Games marathon alongside fellow National Team member Kohei Matsumura (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki), 2:08:09 at February's Tokyo Marathon.

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Nojiri and Tsuji Win Hokkaido Marathon

by Brett Larner

Taking on increased importance as the Japanese Federation focuses on hot weather racing in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics men's and women's marathons, the Hokkaido Marathon featured one of its deepest men's fields in memory.  The women's field was smaller but featured at least three good up-and-coming talents.  Getting the better of them all in the mid-20s temperatures was former pro-XC skier and mountain running champion Azusa Nojiri (Hiratsuka Lease), a 2:24:57 marathoner while at the Sachiko Yamashita-coached Daiichi Seimei corporate team but mostly unsuccessful since leaving to follow an Arata Fujiwara-inspired route of independent sponsorship.  In Hokkaido Nojiri easily dropped the rest of the field to win in 2:30:26, a quality mark in a typically hot race that rarely sees sub-2:30 winning times.  Debuting runner-up Shoko Mori (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) was nearly five minutes back in 2:35:10, just beating pre-race favorite Yuka Yano (Canon AC Kyushu) who took 3rd in 2:35:22.  Seemingly immortal masters' runner Chihiro Tanaka (Athlec AC), 44, the 1997 and 2003 Hokkaido winner, was 6th in 2:41:48.

Despite its depth the men's race played out slower than expected.  Last year's runner-up Shigeki Tsuji (Team Otsuka Seiyaku), coached by Japan's first 2:06 man Takayuki Inubushi, used his experience to his advantage to outdo over a half dozen runners with faster times, taking the win by more than a minute over the promising Ryoichi Matsuo (Team Asahi Kasei) in 2:15:24.  3rd through 8th came in in a tight pack that saw Masamichi Shinozaki (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) outkick National Team member Masanori Sakai (Team Kyudenko) for 3rd in  2:17:22.  Etsu Miyata (Arata Project), another runner to leave the corporate team system in search of independence and finding it with support from Olympian Fujiwara, was 8th in 2:17:46 in a step back from injury problems shortly after going his own way.  Look for Miyata, Fujiwara and other corporate league expatriates in Fujiwara's Arata Project club team to run November's East Japan Corporate Ekiden in a shot at making the New Year Ekiden national corporate championships.

Hokkaido Marathon
Sapporo, Hokkaido, 8/31/14
official results coming shortly

Women
1. Azusa Nojiri (Hiratsuka Lease) - 2:30:26
2. Shoko Mori (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:35:10 - debut
3. Yuka Yano (Canon AC Kyushu) - 2:35:22
4. Megumi Amako (Canon AC Kyushu) - 2:37:42 - debut
5. Manami Kamitanida (Team Hitachi) - 2:41:00
6. Chihiro Tanaka (Athlec AC) - 2:41:48

Men
1. Shigeki Tsuji (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:15:24
2. Ryoichi Matsuo (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:16:32
3. Masamichi Shinozaki (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) - 2:17:22
4. Masanori Sakai (Team Kyudenko) - 2:17:24
5. Yuji Iwata (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) - 2:17:26
6. Yuki Oshikawa (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 2:17:32
7. Takuya Suzuki (Team Aisan Kogyo) - 2:17:35
8. Etsu Miyata (Arata Project) - 2:17:46
9. Yukihiro Kitaoka (Team NTN) - 2:19:06
10. Shingo Igarahi (Team Subaru) - 2:19:10
11. Kiyokatsu Hasegawa (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:19:19
12. Masaki Hori (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:19:53

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Friday, August 29, 2014

Sakai and Yano Lead Sunday's Hokkaido Marathon

by Brett Larner

The fall elite marathon season gets underway this Sunday with Sapporo's Hokkaido Marathon.  Two years organizers did away with their elite fields, leaving top amateurs Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) and Yuri Yoshizumi (Osaka Nagai AC) to win in two of the slowest winning times in event history.  Last year the elite fields returned with a small international contingent that proved mostly superfluous as Japanese runners swept the podium in both the men's and women's race.  Organizers have trimmed the fat this year to focus on a good domestic field that on paper any other country outside Africa would have a tough time matching.

Leading the men's field is the 4th-fastest Japanese man of the year, Masanori Sakai (Team Kyudenko), who ran 2:09:10 in Tokyo in February.  Named to the federation's new marathon National Team program on the strength of that performance, with Hokkaido's always-hot conditions Sakai will be the first guinea pig in the program to be subjected to the program's objective of developing marathoners who can excel in heat for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Sakai is the class of the field by a considerable margin, but his competition includes last year's runner-up Shigeki Tsuji (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) who improved his PB to 2:13:41 at March's Lake Biwa Marathon, 2010 Asian Games silver medalist Yukihiro Kitaoka (Team NTN), multiple-2:11 man Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and the up-and-coming Ryoichi Matsuo (Team Asahi Kasei) and Yuki Oshikawa (Team Toyota Kyushu).  Unsuccessful in the marathon so far but hoping for more are Hakone Ekiden Sixth Stage record holder Kenta Chiba (Team Fujitsu) and one of Japan's all-time best high school runners Satoru Kitamura (Team Nissin Shokuhin).  Of special note among the first-timers is Hiroyuki Yamamoto, a graduate of Hakone Ekiden course record holder Toyo University now running for two-time corporate national champion team Konica Minolta.  2013 Hakone winner Nittai University will also field its entire squad, aiming to run between 2:20 and 2:30 as a training run.

The top end of the women's field is packed with former corporate-league athletes pursuing different directions.  Yuri Kano (Kyoto T&F Assoc.) and Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC) were longtime teammates who balanced each other well.  On the dark side, Kano has had a complicated career trajectory that saw her leave the Shiseido corporate team with Shimahara, head coach Manabu Kawagoe and others to form the Second Wind club team, then leaving Second Wind to return to Shiseido, then finally quitting Shiseido this spring to run as an independent.  Representing the light, Hokkaido course record holder took time off a few years ago to have a child, and since returning has been running in the mid-2:40s.  Kumi Ogura (Kochi T&F Assoc.) is another former pro now running as an independent.  Former pro skiier and mountain runner Azusa Nojiri quit the Daiichi Seimei corporate team to run with private sponsor Hiratsuka Lease, mostly without success so far with a 2014 best of only 2:33:39.

All of which leaves Yuka Yano (Canon AC Kyushu), winner of this year's inaugural Kitakyushu Marathon in a solo 2:31:02, as the favorite.  Manami Kamitanida (Team Hitachi), 2:31:34 in Tokyo this year, should bring a solid challenge along with debuting Shoko Mori (Team Otsuka Seiyaku), a training partner of Daegu World Championships marathoner Mai Ito.

2014 Hokkaido Marathon Elite Field
Sapporo, Hokkaido, 8/31/14
click here for complete elite field listing

Men
Masanori Sakai (Team Kyudenko) - 2:09:10 (2014 Tokyo Marathon)
Yukihiro Kitaoka (Team NTN) - 2:10:51 (2010 Biwako Mainichi Marathon)
Hideaki Tamura (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:10:54 (2013 Biwako Mainichi Marathon)
Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:11:15 (2013 Tokyo Marathon)
Ryoichi Matsuo (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:12:11 (2014 Nobeoka Nishi Nihon Marathon)
Yuki Oshikawa (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 2:13:24 (2014 Biwako Mainichi Marathon)
Sho Matsumoto (Nikkei Business) - 2:13:38 (2013 Nobeoka Nishi Nihon Marathon)
Shigeki Tsuji (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:13:41 (2014 Biwako Mainichi Marathon)
Shingo Igarashi (Team Subaru) - 2:13:46 (2011 Nobeoka Nishi Nihon Marathon)
Yudai Yamakawa (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:14:28 (2014 Nobeoka Nishi Nihon Marathon)
Kazuyoshi Tokumoto (Team Monteroza) - 2:14:48 (2012 Hofu Yomiuri Marathon)
Kiyokatsu Hasegawa (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:15:15 (2010 Tokyo Marathon)
Yasuaki Kojima (Team Subaru) - 2:15:38 (2014 Nobeoka Nishi Nihon Marathon)
Takuya Suzuki (Team Aisan Kogyo) - 2:15:40 (2014 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon)
Masamichi Shinozaki (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) - 2:16:15 (2014 Biwako Mainichi Marathon)
Kenta Chiba (Team Fujitsu) - 2:18:07 (2014 Nobeoka Nishi Nihon Marathon)
Kyohei Nishi (Team Kyudenko) - 2:18:37 (2014 Nobeoka Nishi Nihon Marathon)
Masaki Hori (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:18:55 (2014 Nagano Marathon)
Satoru Kitamura (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 2:27:15 (2010 Tokyo Marathon)
Hiroyuki Yamamoto (Team Konica Minolta) - debut - 1:32:20 (2013 Ome 30 km)
Shun Suzuki (Nanyo City Hall) - debut - 1:34:26 (2013 Kumanichi 30 km)
Takahiro Yamanaka (Team Honda) - debut - 1:01:57 (2012 Marugame Half)
Hideto Yamanaka (Nittai Univ.) - debut - 1:02:09 (2014 National University Half)
Minoru Ikebe (Team Honda) - debut - 1:02:47 (2013 National Corporate Half)
Yuma Morii (Team SGH Group Sagawa) - debut - 1:03:57 (2014 Marugame Half)
Norimasa Yoshida (Team Subaru) - debut - 28:46.56 (10000 m)

Women
Yuri Kano (Kyoto T&F Assoc.) - 2:24:27 (2008 Tokyo Int'l Women's Marathon)
Azusa Nojiri (Hiratsuka Lease) - 2:24:57 (2012 Osaka Int'l Women's Marathon)
Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC) - 2:25:10 (2009 Hokkaido Marathon)
Yuka Yano (Canon AC Kyushu) - 2:31:02 (2014 Kitakyushu Marathon)
Manami Kamitanida (Team Hitachi) - 2:31:34 (2014 Tokyo Marathon)
Kumi Ogura (Kochi T&F Assoc.) - 2:34:01 (2013 Nagoya Women's Marathon)
Sayuri Baba (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 2:37:38 (2012 Nagano Marathon)
Shoko Mori (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - debut - 1:11:41 (2010 Sanyo Women's Half)
Megumi Amako (Canon AC Kyushu) - debut - 1:12:44 (2013 Sanyo Women's Half)

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Kawauchi Looking for the Win in Asian Games Dry Run at Perth Marathon

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2014/08/29/kiji/K20140829008829260.html

translated by Brett Larner

Incheon Asian Games men's marathon team member Yuki Kawauchi (27, Saitama Pref. Gov't) left from Narita Airport to for Perth, Australia where he will run the Aug. 31 City to Surf Marathon.  Due to a significant delay to his scheduled flight leaving Japan Kawauchi was not going to be able make his connecting flight in Australia, but it was no problem to reroute his booking to take a connecting flight on another airline.  Excited for his final full marathon before Incheon, Kawauchi said, "If I win it'll be a good dry run for the Asian Games."

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Incheon Asian Games Unveils 15000-Person Athletes' Village

http://www.47news.jp/smp/CN/201408/CN2014082601001851.html

translated by Brett Larner

With one month to go until the start of track and field competition, the 2014 Incheon Asian Games athletes' village where competitors will stay during the Games was unveiled to the media on Aug. 26.  With 2200 rooms in 22 newly-built apartment buildings in Incheon, South Korea, the village is capable of hosting up to 15000 people.  The 10000 square meter dining hall will be open 24 hours a day, with room for 3500 people to eat at the same time.

Along with accommodations, the athletes' village includes a medical center and service center in its international zone, with press conference space and other facilities located in the public area.  The athletes' village is located 40 minutes by car from the main stadium.  It will officially open on Sept. 12.  The Korea Broadcasting Corporation made up of three domestic South Korean broadcasters also announced on Aug. 26 that it would offer Incheon Asian Games broadcast rights to North Korea free of charge.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Kikuchi and Takenaka Join Farah, Kiprotich, Kiplagat and Keitany at Sept. 7 Great North Run

by Brett Larner
photos by rikujolove

2014 Copenhagen World Half Marathon Japanese national team members Masato Kikuchi (Team Konica Minolta) and Risa Takenaka (Team Shiseido) will join London Olympics and Moscow World Championships 5000 m and 10000 m double gold medalist Mo Farah (GBR), London and Moscow marathon gold medalist Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda), Daegu and Moscow World Championships marathon gold medalist Edna Kiplagat (Kenya), Birmingham World Half Marathon gold medalist Mary Keitany (Kenya) and others at the Sept. 7 Great North Run half marathon in Newcastle, U.K.

Kikuchi, formerly captain of Meiji University's Hakone Ekiden team, has broken 62 minutes for the half marathon three times so far this year including a 1:01:17 PB for 2nd at February's National Corporate Half Marathon Championships and a 1:01:23 at March's Copenhagen World Half Marathon, where he was the only athlete born outside Africa to make the top 25.  Takenaka, a former captain of National University Women's Ekiden champion Ritsumeikan University, made her half marathon debut at this year's National Corporate Half in 1:10:10 for 2nd, following up with a 1:10:30 at the World Half to help the Japanese women win the team bronze medal.

2014 National Track and Field Championships men’s 1500 m winner Keisuke Tanaka (Team Fujitsu) and 2013 Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon winner Hiroaki Sano (Team Honda) will also race with support from JRN, along with Takamitsu Hashimoto (Team Komori Corporation), Sho Matsueda (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) and Haruna Takada (Team Yamada Denki).

With over 60,000 participants making it the largest half marathon in the world, the Great North Run this year will celebrate its 1 millionth finisher, the first race in the world to reach that milestone. It will be broadcast live on the BBC.

Risa Takenaka (Team Shiseido)
PB: 1:10:10 (2014 National Corporate Half Marathon)
17th, 2014 World Half Marathon - 1:10:30

Haruna Takada (Team Yamada Denki)
PB: 1:11:46 (2014 National Corporate Half Marathon)

Masato Kikuchi (Team Konica Minolta)
PB: 1:01:17 (2014 National Corporate Half Marathon)
18th, 2014 World Half Marathon - 1:01:23

Keisuke Tanaka (Team Fujitsu)
PB: 1:02:38 (2014 National Corporate Half Marathon)
2014 national 1500 m champion
2010 national university 1500 m champion

Hiroaki Sano (Team Honda)
PB: 1:02:40 (2014 Sendai International Half Marathon)
top Japanese man, 2013 Chicago Marathon - 2:10:29
1st, 2013 Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon - 2:12:14 (debut)

Sho Matsueda (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki)
PB: 1:02:41 (2013 Marugame International Half Marathon)

Takamitsu Hashimoto (Team Komori Corp.)
PB: 1:03:13 (2014 National Corporate Half Marathon)
anchor, 2007 National High School Ekiden champion Sendai Ikuei H.S.

(c) 2014 Brett Larner, all rights reserved
photos (c) 2014 M. Kawaguchi, all rights reserved

Monday, August 25, 2014

Onogawa and Takamatsu Take Gold at 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympics - Day Five and Six Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

Following up on Sunday's double silver medal haul, girls' 3000 m favorite Nozomi Musembi Takamatsu and 10000 m race walk entrant Minoru Onogawa delivered PB performances to bring Japan a pair of gold medals on the fifth day of athletics competition at the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympics.

#1-seeded Takamatsu, 4th at the Eugene World Junior Championships in a then-PB 9:02.85, showed the wisdom of her conservative opener by outclassing the crowd of Africans who PBd in the qualifying round.  Sitting on #2 seed Alina Reh (Germany) through 2000 m, Takamatsu dropped a 2:55 final 1000 m to take over a second off her best and score gold in 9:01.58, almost four seconds better than Reh's silver medal-winning time.  Berhan Demiesa Asgedom (Ethiopia), who PBd in the qualifying round, ran another PB of 9:06.10 to pick up the bronze medal.

In the boys' 10000 m race walk, Onogawa likewise sat on Noel Ali Chama Almazan (Mexico), twice taking the lead before breaking away for good at 9000 m.  Onogawa's time of 42:03.64 was a sizeable PB, his last surge putting him well clear for gold by seven seconds over Russian Vladislav Saraikin.  Almazan held on to bronze another four seconds back in 42:14.11.

The day's sole low point came in the boys' 200 m, where Jun Yamashita, 3rd at this year's National High School Championships, faltered in his quest for a sub-21 clocking and finished 6th in the A final in 21.62 (+0.3). In the last individual event A final for the Japanese contingent, Nagisa Mori delivered a surprise in the girls' javelin throw.  Only 5th at the National High School Track and Field Championships earlier this month, Mori threw a PB 52.27 m to take the bronze medal, the latest addition to the ongoing Japanese javelin renaissance.  With five of the thirteen athletes on the team winning medals, two gold, two silver and one bronze, the second edition of the Youth Olympics wound up on a high note for Japanese fans.

2014 Youth Olympics Day Five and Six
Nanjing, China, Aug. 24-25, 2014
click here for complete results

Women's 3000 m A Final
1. Nozomi Musembi Takamatsu (Japan) - 9:01.58 - PB
2. Alina Reh (Germany) - 9:05.07
3. Berhan Demiesa Asgedom (Ethiopia) - 9:06.10 - PB
4. Fatuma Chebsi (Bahrain) - 9:12.66
5. Cavaline Nahimana (Burundi) - 9:14.45
6. Jackline Chepkoech (Kenya) - 9:20.43
7. Janat Chemusto (Uganda) - 9:22.42
8. Behafeta Abreha (Azerbaijan) - 9:22.60
9. Maria Magdalena Ifteni (Romania) - 9:29.53
10. Gebrekrstos Weldeghabr (Eritrea) - 9:30.65 - PB

Men's 200 m A Final +0.3
1. Noah Lyles (U.S.A.) - 20.80
2. Baboloki Thebe (Botsawa) - 21.20
3. Chun-Han Yang (Taiwan) - 21.31
4. Akanni Hislop (Trinidad and Tobago) - 21.57
5. Brian Kasinda (Zambia) - 21.61
6. Jun Yamashita (Japan) - 21.62
DQ - Chad Walker (Jamaica)

Men's 10000 m Race Walk
1. Minoru Onogawa (Japan) - 42:03.64 - PB
2. Vladislav Saraikin (Russia) - 42:10.95 - PB
3. Noel Ali Chama Almazan (Mexico) - 42:14.11
4. Cesar Rodriguez (Peru) - 42:26.49
5. Heyonmyeong Joo (South Korea) - 43:51.89 - PB

Women's Javelin Throw A Final
1. Hanna Tarasiuk (Belarus) - 59.92 m - PB
2. Fabienne Schonig (Germany) - 53.68 m
3. Nagisa Mori (Japan) - 52.27 m - PB
4. Laine Donane (Latvia) - 51.90 m
5. Aleksandra M. Ostrowska (Poland) - 51.79 m

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Ndirangu Wins Hiroshima Cross-Country Meet

by Brett Larner

Despite weeks of heavy rains that brought fatal landslides across the Hiroshima region, the 2014 Hiroshima Cross-Country Meet went ahead as planned under relatively good conditions.  Charles Ndirangu (Team JFE Steel), a graduate of the local Sera H.S. ekiden program that previously produced the likes of sub-27 man Bedan Karoki (DeNA RC) and 2012 Fukuoka International Marathon winner Joseph Gitau (Team JFE Steel), had an easy time adding a win to his resume, finishing more than 30 seconds up on the rest of the men's 8 km field in 24:24.  Little-known Shogo Kanezane (Team Chugoku Denryoku) outran the rest of the Japanese field for 2nd, at 24:55 the only Japanese man to go under 25 minutes. His teammate Kaido Kita filled out the podium in 25:01.  The top man from the third corporate team at the meet, Chudenko's Naoya Hashimoto, was 6th in 25:16 in the midst of the chase pack's blanket finish.

2014 Hiroshima XC Meet Men's 8 km
Hiroshima, 8/23/14
click here for detailed results

1. Charles Ndirangu (Kenya/Team JFE Steel) - 24:24
2. Shogo Kanezane (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 24:55
3. Kaido Kita (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 25:01
4. Satoshi Kubooka (Team JFE Steel) - 25:09
5. Kota Otani (Team JFE Steel) - 25:15
6. Naoya Hashimoto (Team Chudenko) - 25:16
7. Ryota Nakamura (Team Chudenko) - 25:17
8. Hiroki Tanaka (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 25:19

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Osako and Hanyu Chase Records in Europe While Tayama Twins Take New Caledonia

by Brett Larner

Waseda University graduate Suguru Osako (Team Nissin Shokuhin) turned up at Sunday's Birmingham Grand Prix to run with sometimes training partner Mo Farah in pursuit of fellow Waseda grad Kensuke Takezawa's Japanese national record of 8:24.69.  While Farah went out way ahead of the field to set a European area record of 8:07.85 for the win, Osako came up a few seconds short of Takezawa's mark in 8:28.30.  In a distance rarely raced by Japanese athletes, Osako's time was good enough for all-time Japanese #2, joining his all-time #6 5000 m best of 13:20.80 just behind Takezawa's all-time #5 mark of 13:19.00.

A small contingent of Japanese high schoolers also turned up at Saturday's International Antwerp Athletics Gala.  Takuya Hanyu (Yachiyo Shoin H.S.), who last November ran 14:00.55 to become Japan's fastest-ever high school first-year for 5000 m, finished 2nd behind Australia's Mitchel Brown in a new PB of 13:52.98 that moved him up to #2 on the high school second-year lists.  Nodoka Aoki (Mashita Seifu H.S.) and Ryoko Matsukawa (Kita-Kyushu Municipal H.S.) ran in the women's 1500 m, both off their bests but Aoki taking 6th in the A-heat and Matsukawa winning the B-heat.

Half a world away, Japanese athletes won both the men's and women's race at the 32nd running of the New Caledonia International Half MarathonDaito Bunka University wonder twins Mari and Eri Tayama led a Japanese sweep of the top six places in the women's race, winner Mari Tayama placing 3rd overall in 1:15:40 less than a minute out of 2nd.  Men's winner Hayato Kono ran only 1:12:39, putting him less than a kilometer ahead.

Birmingham Grand Prix
Birmingham, U.K., 8/24/14
click here for complete results

Men's 2 Miles
1. Mo Farah (Great Britain) - 8:07.85 - AR
2. Zane Robertson (New Zealand) - 8:22.82
3. Emmanuel Bett (Kenya) - 8:25.55
4. Jordan McNamara (U.S.A.) - 8:26.50
5. Will Leer (U.S.A.) - 8:27.15
6. Andy Vernon (Great Britain) - 8:27.55
7. Suguru Osako (Japan/Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 8:28.30
8. Thomas Farrell (Great Britain) - 8:30.39
9. Jonathan Hay (Great Britain) - 8:38.66
10. Thomas Lancashire (Great Britain) - 8:43.77
11. Lee Emanuel (Great Britain) - 8:50.18

International Antwerp Athletic Gala
Antwerp, Belgium, 8/23/14
click here for complete results

Men's 5000 m
1. Mitchel Brown (Australia) - 13:50.06 - PB
2. Takuya Hanyu (Japan/Yachiyo Shoin H.S.) - 13:52.98 - PB
3. Nico Sonnenberg (Germany) - 13:59.59 - PB
4. Mats Lunders (Belgium) - 14:03.59
5. Nick Van Peborgh (Belgium) - 14:25.85

Women's 1500 m Heat 1
1. Melissa Courtney (Great Britain) - 4:16.38
2. Felicitas Krause Gesa (Germany) - 4:19.09
3. Kara Macdermid (New Zealand) - 4:21.92
4. Stella Kubasch (Germany) - 4:22.96
5. Noelle Yarigo (Benin) - 4:27.21
6. Nodoka Aoki (Japan/Mashita Seifu H.S.) - 4:27.57

Women's 1500 m Heat 2
1. Ryoko Matsukawa (Japan/Kita-Kyushu Municipal H.S.) - 4:37.92
2. Christina Gerdes (Germany) - 4:41.37
3. Diane van Es (Netherlands) - 4:45.87
4. Ydwine van der Veen (Netherlands) - 4:46.59 - PB
5. Lieselotte Schellekens (Belgium) - 4:46.81

New Caledonia International Half Marathon
New Caledonia, 8/24/14
click here for complete results

Women
1. Mari Tayama (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 1:15:40
2. Eri Tayama (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 1:16:40
3. Yukiko Okuno (Kyoto Sangyo Univ.) - 1:17:29

Men
1. Hayato Kono (Japan) - 1:12:39
2. Nordine Benfodda (France) - 1:14:48
3. Sebastien Guesdon (France) - 1:18:49

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Hiramatsu and Oshima Win Silver at 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympics - Day Four Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

The fourth day of athletics competition at the 2014 Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China saw the Games' first round of medal competition.  2014 National High School Champion Kenta Oshima gave Japan its first medal of the day, taking silver in the boys' 100 m in 10.57 (-0.5) just behind winner Sydney Siame of Zambia in 10.56.  2014 high jump National High School Champion Yuji Hiramatsu followed up quickly with a PB jump of 2.14 m, far short of Russian winner Danil Lysenko's jump of 2.20 m but good for another silver medal.

In the girls' 5000 m race walk Sayori Matsumoto came up just short of the medals in 4th in 23:54.71.  Discus throw youth national record holder Yume Ando was also 4th, his throw of 57.36 m undone by a PB 57.48 m throw by Ukrainian Ruslan Valitov.  In the girls' 800 m, 2014 National High School Champion Hina Takahashi was off her game, finishing last in the final in 2:09.96.

Three Japanese athletes will be competing for medals on Sunday.  Nozomi Musembi Takamatsu will be looking to improve on her 4th-place finish in this year's World Junior Championships 3000 m, coming into the 3000 m final with the best PB in the field, 9:02.85.  Minoru Onogawa, 2nd at the 2014 National High School Championships, races the boys' 10000 m race walk, while Jun Yamashita, 3rd in the 2014 National High School Championships, runs the boys' 200 m A final.

2014 Youth Olympics Day Four
Nanjing, China, Aug. 23, 2014
click here for complete results

Women's 800 m A Final
1. Martha Bissah (Ghana) - 2:04.90 - PB
2. Hawi Alemu Negeri (Ethiopia) - 2:06.01 - PB
3. Mareen Kalis (Germany) - 2:06.03
4. Elena Belo (Italy) - 2:06.31 - PB
5. Lotte Scheldeman (Belgium) - 2:07.83
6. Louise Shanahan (Ireland) - 2:08.29 - PB
7. Ekaterina Alekseeva (Russia) - 2:09.21
8. Hina Takahashi (Japan) - 2:09.96

Men's 100 m A Final (-0.5)
1. Sydney Siame (Zambia) - 10.56
2. Kenta Oshima (Japan) - 10.57
3. Trae Williams (Australia) - 10.60
4. Altor Same Ekobo Marama (Spain) - 10.71
5. Meshaal Almutairi (Kuwait) - 10.80
6. Kristoffer Hari (Denmark) - 10.80
7. Josneyber Ramierz (Venezuela) - 10.82
8. Tyler Bower (Bahamas) - 10.96

Women's 5000 m Race Walk
1. Zhenxia Ma (China) - 22:22.08
2. Valeria Ortuno Martinez (Mexico) - 23:19.27
3. Noemi Stella (Italy) - 23:38.10
4. Sayori Matsumoto (Japan) - 23:54.71
5. Athanasia Vaitsi (Greece) - 24:22.21 - PB

Men's High Jump A Final
1. Danil Lysenko (Russia) - 2.20 m
2. Yuji Hiramatsu (Japan) - 2.14 m - PB
3. Shemaiah James (Australia) - 2.14 m - PB
4. Oleksandr Barannikov (Ukraine) - 2.14 m
5. Lushane Wilson (Jamaica) - 2.08 m - PB
6. Igor Franciszek Kopala (Poland) - 2.08 m
7. Hicham Bouhanoun (Algeria) - 2.08 m
8. Jahnhai Perinchief (Bermuda) - 2.00 m

Men's Discus Throw A Final
1. Yulong Cheng (China) - 64.14 m - PB
2. Clemens Prufer (Germany) - 63.52 m
3. Ruslan Valitov (Ukraine) - 57.48 m - PB
4. Yume Ando (Japan) - 57.36 m
5. Mithrava Senthil Kumar (India) - 57.06 m - PB
6. Andrea Thanasis (Greece) - 56.80 m - PB
7. Tyler Merkley (U.S.A.) - 56.27 m
8. Stefan Mura (Moldova) - 49.81 m

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Saturday, August 23, 2014

2014 Nanjing Youth Olympics - Day Two and Three Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

The last two days of qualification rounds at the 2014 Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China saw three Japanese athletes advance to the medal-earning A finals in their events.  2014 National High School Champion Kenta Oshima led the way in the boys' 100 m, winning his heat in 10.62 (-0.5).  Jun Yamashita followed suit in the boys' 200 m, running a PB of 21.11 (-0.4) for 2nd in his heat to make the medal round.  Tomomi Kawamura missed making it a 100% success rate for Japan's sprinters, her 25.10 in the girls' 200 m only good for 4th in her heat and a place out of the medals in the B final.  In the girls' javelin, Nagisa Mori, only 5th at the Naitonal High School Track and Field Championships earlier this month, threw a PB of 50.72 for 5th in the qualification round and making the A final.

The finals get underway Saturday, with five Japanese athletes competing for medals.  Oshima returns for the boys' 100 m final.  The girls' 800 m features 2014 National High School Champion Hina Takahashi, with her fellow 2014 National High School Champions Yuji Hiramatsu and Sayori Matsumoto taking on the boys' high jump and girls' 5000 m race walk.  Yume Ando will compete in the boys' discus, where he is the Japanese youth national record holder.

2014 Youth Olympics Day Two and Three
Nanjing, China, Aug. 21-22, 2014
click here for complete results

Men's 200 m Heat 1 -0.4
1. Noah Lyles (U.S.A.) - 20.71 - PB
2. Jun Yamashita (Japan) - 21.11 - PB
3. Akanni Kislop (Trinidad and Tobago) - 21.42
4. Jordan Csabi (Australia) - 21.70
5. Erick J. Sanchez Guzman (Dominican Republic) - 21.72 - PB
6. Wojciech Jan Kaczor (Poland) - 22.01
DNF - Jorge Ely Sanchez Davila (Puerto Rico)

Women's 200 m Heat 3 +0.0
1. Nataliah Whyte (Jamaica) - 23.79
2. Ina Huemer (Austria) - 24.74
3. Kelly Laydy Barona Mora (Ecuador) - 24.75
4. Tomomi Kawamura (Japan) - 25.10
5. Fatoumata Bangoura (Guinea) - 26.61
6. Pearl Morgan (Cayman Islands) - 26.98
7. Maryan Nuh Muse (Somalia) - 30.35 - PB

Men's 100 m Heat 1 -0.5
1. Kenta Oshima (Japan) - 10.62
2. Josneyber Ramirez (Venezuela) - 10.82
3. Sergio Becerra (Colombia) - 11.09
4. Keasi Naidroka (Fiji) - 11.23
5. Sekou Traore (Mali) - 11.24
6. Jeffrey Uzzell (U.S.A.) - 11.27
7. Gwynn Uehara (Palau) - 11.51 - PB
8. Cheikh Beya (Mauritania) - 14.29

Women's Javelin Throw Qualification
1. Hanna Tarasiuk (Belarus) - 55.48 m
2. Fabienne Schonig (Germany) - 52.83
3. Jo-Ane Van Dyk (South Africa) - 52.60 - PB
4. Aleksandra M. Ostrowska (Poland) - 52.21
5. Nagisa Mori (Japan) - 50.72 - PB

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Thursday, August 21, 2014

2013 Hakone Ekiden Winner Nittai University to Run Aug. 31 Hokkaido Marathon

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20140821-OHT1T50125.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

University runners aiming for the Hakone Ekiden spend their harsh summers building a base of around 40 km a day.  They have a saying about the importance of their summer training camps: "Those who win the summer win the winter."  To protect its legacy of ten overall Hakone wins, the prestigious Nittai University is not afraid of new challenges that take it even beyond.

As usual, Nittai arrived in Yamagata on Aug. 8 for primary training at Zhao Onsen and Zhao Bodaira, breaking camp after morning practice on Aug. 18.  Team members had the rest of the day to spend as they like and to figure out how to get themselves to their scheduled assembly at Sendai Port at 6:30 p.m.  "If you can't think about everything for yourself as an athlete, you'll never be strong," says head coach Kenji Beppu, 48.  From Sendai the team boarded a ferry bound for Hokkaido, where it would go straight on into the next stage of its training camp.

Up to this point it's the same schedule they've always had, but this year the camp will be stretched out an extra three weeks.  For the first time, the Nittai team will run the Hokkaido Marathon, scheduled for Aug. 31.  They will run as a pack at a predetermined pace until 30 km, free to run the remaining 12.195 km however they like.  The target for members' final finish times is between 2:20 and 2:30.

Nittai's captain for its 2013 Hakone Ekiden win, Shota Hattori, 22, graduated this spring and is now running for the Honda corporate team.  "Up until last year we had a strong individual runner who could affect the outcome of the race all by himself," says this year's captain Hikaru Kato, a senior.  "This season every single one of us needs to deliver his absolute best."  To build the strength needed for the winter's greatest road relay, Nittai University will seek to conquer the summer's 42.195 km.

2014 Nanjing Youth Olympics - Day One Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

Over half of the small Japanese track and field contingent at the 2014 Youth Olympics saw action on the first day of competition, with over half of those qualifying for the A-level final in their events.  4th in the 3000 m at this year's World Junior Championships, Nozomi Musembi Takamatsu, the daughter of 2001 Nagano Marathon winner Maxwell Musembi, led the way with a time of 9:08.01 for 4th in the girls' 3000 m qualification round, the only runner in the top five not to PB but only 1.14 seconds behind winner Fatuma Chebsi (Bahrain).  2014 National High School champions Hina Takahashi and Yuji Hiramatsu finished 4th in their events' qualifying rounds to both make their A finals, Takahashi quick enough at 2:09.59 in the girls' 800 m and Hiramatsu one of only five athletes to clear 2.10 m in the boys' high jump.  Boys' discus national youth record holder Yume Ando threw 55.87 m for 6th in the qualifying round, good enough to also make the A final.

In the girls' pole vault, Misaki Morota cleared only 3.40 m, missing the A final cutoff and bumped down to the B final.  Also making the B final was 100 m hurdler Nana Fujimori, just 0.03 outside the A final at 13.83 (-0.7).  Nao Kanai had an off day in the boys' 110 m hurdles, well off his PB in 14.03 (+0.4) for the dubious distinction of being the only Japanese athlete of the day to make a C final.  Track and field events at the Youth Olympics continue through August 26.

2014 Youth Olympics Day One
Nanjing, China, 8/20/14
click here for complete results

Women's 3000 m Qualification
1. Fatuma Chebsi (Bahrain) - 9:06.87 - PB
2. Berhan Demiesa Asgedom (Ethiopia) - 9:07.05 - PB
3. Cavaline Nahimana (Burundi) - 9:07.23 - PB
4. Nozomi Musembi Takamatsu (Japan) - 9:08.01
5. Jackline Chepkoech (Kenya) - 9:08.54 - PB
6. Alina Reh (Germany) - 9:08.70
7. Janat Chemusto (Uganda) - 9:10.74 - PB
8. Behafeta Abreha (Azerbaijan) - 9:14.06 - PB
9. Maria Magdalena Ifteni (Romania) - 9:15.00 - PB
10. Gebrekrstos Weldeghabr (Eritrea) - 9:34.73 - PB

Women's 800 m Heat 3
1. Martha Bissah (Ghana) - 2:07.67
2. Hawi Alemu Negeri (Ethiopia) - 2:08.18
3. Ekaterina Alekseeva (Russia) - 2:09.32
4. Hina Takahashi (Japan) - 2:09.59
5. Thandi Uerimuna (Botswana) - 2:11.97 - PB
6. Maryna Duts (Ukraine) - 2:13.76
7. Dhakirina Fatima (Colombia) - 2:28.17
DNF - Delgado J. Espinales (Nicaragua)

Men's 110 m Hurdles Heat 3 +0.4
1. Henrik Hannemann (Germany) - 13.55 - PB
2. Dawid Aaron Zebrowski (Poland) - 13.64
3. Joshuan J. Berrios Mora (Colombia) - 13.66
4. Tavonte Dejour Mott (Bahamas) - 13.86 - PB
5. Nao Kanai (Japan) - 14.03
6. Chi-Hung Cheng (Taiwan) - 14.09
DQ - Mohd Rizzua Muhamad (Malaysia)

Women's 100 m Hurdles Heat 1 -0.7
1. Klaudia Sorok (Hungary) - 13.66
2. Natalia Christofi (Cyprus) - 13.80
3. Rachel Pace (Australia) - 13.83
4. Nana Fujimori (Japan) - 13.83
5. Paolla Ferlin Luchin (Brazil) - 14.32
6. Emanuelle Masse (Canada) - 14.49

Mens' High Jump Qualification
1. Daniel Lysenko (Russia) - 2.10 m
2. Oleksandr Barannikov (Ukraine) - 2.10 m
3. Jahnhai Perinchief (Bermuda) - 2.10 m - PB
4. Yuji Hiramatsu (Japan) - 2.10 m
5. Igor Franciszek Kopala (Poland) - 2.10 m

Women's Pole Vault Qualification
1. Angelica Moser (Switzerland) - 3.80 m
2. Thiziri Daci (France) - 3.70 m
2. Leda Kroselj (Slovenia) - 3.70 m
2. Robeilys Peinado (Venezuela) - 3.70 m
2. Anna Shpak (Belarus) - 3.70 m
-----
11. Misaki Morota (Japan) - 3.40 m

Men's Discus Throw Qualification
1. Yulong Cheng (China) - 59.88 m
2. Clemens Prufer (Germany) - 59.88 m
3. Pavol Zencar (Slovakia) - 59.64 m
4. Ruslan Valitov (Ukraine) - 56.97 m - PB
5. Tyler Merkley (U.S.A.) - 56.61 m - PB
6. Yume Ando (Japan) - 55.87 m

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Kiryu Going for Asian Games Gold Despite Hip Pain

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2014/08/19/kiji/K20140819008774070.html
http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2014/08/20/kiji/K20140820008775040.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

With one month to go until the start of the Incheon Asian Games, ten members of the national team's sprint contingent held a practice session open to members of the media at an indoor facility in Eniwa, Hokkaido on Aug. 19.  The big hope for Japan's first sub-10 in the men's 100 m, 18-year-old Yoshihide Kiryu (Toyo Univ.) talked about his ambitions for the Asian Games, saying, "I don't what kind of time I'll run, but I will be running to win."

In April Kiryu sensed tightness in his right thigh during the heats at the Oda Memorial Meet and sat the final out.  Suffering from pain in his right heel since winning the National Championships in June and cancelling two subsequent meets, Kiryu won the bronze medal at July's World Junior Championships.  Since then he has also been having pain in his left hip joint.  At the press session he worked on baton passing with the relay team and did light training.  "This is most injuries I've had in one year since I started running," he said.  Coach Hiroyasu Tsuchie commented, "I'd be lying if I said there were no worries at all, but we want him to have the best preparations he can for the Asian Games."

At September's National University Track and Field Championships Kiryu plans to run the 200 m and the 4x100 m relay before heading to Incheon.  "I've been wanting to run the 200 m, so I want to tweak things to be ready for that and then ride that flow to the Asian Games. I can't help thinking about injuries.  My situation now is that I'm injured, so I have to try to see how competitive I can be in this condition.  I think once I get there it'll be game on."

Japan's other hope for a sub-10, London Olympian Ryota Yamagata (Keio Univ.) looked fresh and light after recovering from hip problems of his own.  "My sense of the times I'm running and the actual times are matching up well and consistent with when I'm feeling good.  I want to come back with my best running and a good placing."

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Japan Sends Team of Thirteen to Nanjing Youth Olympics

by Brett Larner

Amid concerns for athletes' safety in a city with strong resentment of Japanese denial of the Nanking Massacre, with delegation head Yosuke Fujiwara directing team members not to wear their uniforms outside the athletes' village and boos greeting the Japanese delegation during the opening ceremonies, Japan sends a team of only thirteen to compete in athletics at the second Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China.

4th in the girls' 3000 m at last month's World Junior Championships in Eugene, U.S.A., Nozomi Musembi Takamatsu (Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S.) is the lone distance runner on the team, a sure medal contender after her 9:02.85 in Eugene.  Other prominent members include Hina Takahashi (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) in the girls' 800 m, Kenta Oshima (Tokyo H.S.) in the boys' 100 m, Sayori Matsumoto (Nara Ikuei H.S.) in the girls' 5000 m race walk and Yuji Hiramatsu (Shijoyo H.S.) in the boys' high jump, all national title winners at the National High School Track and Field Championships earlier this month, along with boys' discus youth national record holder Yume Ando (Tokyo H.S.).  Below is a complete breakdown of the team roster.

2nd Youth Olympics
Japanese National Team in Athletics
Nanjing, China, Aug. 20-26, 2014
click here for detailed English-language bios of each team member

Boys' 100 m - Kenta Oshima (Tokyo H.S.) - P.B.: 10:37 (+1.9)
1st, 2014 National High School Track and Field Championships

Boys' 200 m - Jun Yamashita (Fukushima H.S.) - P.B.: 21.23 (-0.2)
3rd, 2014 National High School Track and Field Championships

Boys' 110 m Hurdles - Nao Kanai (Tachibana H.S.) - P.B.: 13.77 (-0.1)
3rd, 2014 National High School Track and Field Championships

Boys' High Jump - Yuji Hiramatsu (Shijoyo H.S.) - P.B.: 2.19 m
1st, 2014 National High School Track and Field Championships

Boys' Discus Throw - Yume Ando (Tokyo H.S.) - P.B.: 59.48 m - Youth NR
2nd, 2014 National High School Track and Field Championships

Boys' Race Walk - Minoru Onogawa (Tokyo Jitsugyo H.S.) - P.B.: 46:06.83
2nd, 2014 National High School Track and Field Championships

Girls' 200 m - Tomomi Kawamura (Morioka Daiichi H.S.) - P.B.: 24.29 (-0.3)
4th, 2014 National High School Track and Field Championships

Girls' 800 m - Hina Takahashi (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) - P.B.: 2:07.19
1st, 2014 National High School Track and Field Championships

Girls' 3000 m - Nozomi Musembi Takamatsu (Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S.) - P.B.: 9:02.85
4th, 2014 World Junior Track and Field Championships

Girls' 100 m Hurdles - Nana Fujimori (Hamamatsu Municipal H.S.) - P.B.: 13.84 (+0.2)
3rd, 2014 National High School Track and Field Championships

Girls' Pole Vault - Misaki Morota (Ota Joshi H.S.) - P.B.: 3.50 m

Girls' Javelin Throw - Nagisa Mori (Meijo Prep Fuzoku H.S.) - P.B.: 49.03 m
5th, 2014 National High School Track and Field Championships

Girls' Race Walk - Sayori Matsumoto (Nara Ikuei H.S.) - P.B.: 24:13.13
1st, 2014 National High School Track and Field Championships

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Perkins Crushes 100 Meilen Berlin Course Record (updated)

by Brett Larner
photos by Dr. Helmut Winter

In the 25th anniversary year of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Great Britain's Mark Perkins ran the race of his life to take nearly three hours off the 100 Meilen Berlin course record and an hour off his own best, covering the 100 mile course along the former path of the Berlin Wall in 13:06:52.

A partially handicapped runner ranked 6th in the world for 100 km in 2013, Japan's Tsutomu Nagata took the race out hard in his European debut, running mid-11 hour pace, just one second off world record pace through 21 km, and holding near world record level through 30 km before settling into something more sustainable in the low-12 hour range.  Skipping many aid stations while receiving on-the-run assistance from his wife and daughter, Perkins was never far behind him, maxing out at 4 minutes behind as he followed Nagata's lead and ran steadily on low-12 hour pace.



Nearing halfway Nagata began to suffer stomach trouble and slowed.  Perkins made contact around 75 km, but while Nagata tried to stay with him he quickly lost touch and was two minutes behind by 79 km.  Now alone out front, Perkins gradually slowed, unchallenged the rest of the way but just missing a rare sub-13 hour clocking as he knocked the course record from last year's 15:53:45 to a world-class 13:06:52, a major improvement on his 14:03:54 best.  Runner-up Marco Bonfiglio just missed Perkins' old PB as he took 2nd in 14:04:27.  The top five, including last year's course record-setter Peter Flock, all broke the former course record.

After being left behind Nagata suffered mightily from his internal problems, clocking over an hour for the 6 km from 79 to 85 km after an extended break at an aid station.  Following that he got back in gear with some of the fastest splits of his race, but he again ran into trouble near 110 km.  After staggering through the next 27 km Nagata talked with the race doctor who made an initial determination that his stomach trouble made it dangerous for him to continue the race, but thanks to the intervention of an interpreter Nagata was allowed to continue.  Pulling himself together, he covered the final 23 km two minutes faster than winner Perkins' split, crossing the line in 11th in 16:50:59.



Nearly an hour and a half after him, women's winner Grit Seidl finished in 18:16:29 not far ahead of fellow German Martina Schliep, 2nd in 18:59:19.  Canadian Veronique Bourbeau was 3rd in 21:19:32.  All told 120 men and 10 women in the starting field of 300 cleared 24 hours for the complete course.

Update: Winner Mark Perkins has posted his recap of his race here.  Read Dr. Helmut Winter's firsthand account of the race in German here.

100 Meilen Berlin
Berlin, Germany, Aug. 16-17, 2014
click here for complete results

Men
1. Mark Perkins (Great Britain) - 13:06:52 - CR
2. Marco Bonfiglio (Italy) - 14:04:27 (CR)
3. Patrick Hoesl (Germany) - 15:19:46 (CR)
4. Peter Flock (Germany) - 15:51:50 (CR)
5. Christof Kuehner (Germany) - 15:53:31 (CR)
-----
11. Tsutomu Nagata (Japan) - 16:50:59

Women
1. Grit Seidl (Germany) - 18:16:29
2. Martina Schliep (Germany) - 18:59:19
3. Veronique Bourbeau (Canada) - 21:19:32

text (c) 2014 Brett Larner, all rights reserved
photos (c) 2014 Dr. Helmut Winter, all rights reserved

The 'Kawauchi Effect' Brings Record-Setting 779 to Nosappu Misaki Half Marathon

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20140817-00000035-nksports-spo

translated by Brett Larner

The 33rd Hoppo Ryodo Nosappu Misaki Half Marathon took place Aug. 17 on the northeastern coast of Nemuro, Hokkaido. 2014 Incheon Asian Games marathon team member Yuki Kawauchi (27, Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran the half marathon division as an invited athlete, taking 1st in 1:06:12. The last time the Nosappu Misaki Half invited an athlete was nine years ago when it featured Seoul Olympian Akemi Matsuno.  As a measure of the 'Kawauchi Effect,' 779 people entered the race, the most ever in the event's 33-year history.

Wearing a bib reading "Give back the Northern Territories!" [a reference to an ongoing territorial dispute with Russia involving nearby islands held by the Soviet Union and Russia since the end of World War II but still claimed by Japan] emblazoned across his chest, Kawauchi showed his strength to local fans.  After finishing, he gorged himself on the local specialty, hanasaki crab soup.

At the end of the month Kawauchi plans to run a full marathon in Perth, Australia on Aug. 31.  After coming back to Japan he will return to Hokkaido to take part in the Japanese Federation's men's marathon National Team training camp in preparation for the Oct. 3 Asian Games men's marathon.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Federation Officials Examine Rio Olympics Marathon Course

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20140813/k10013771981000.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

In preparation for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics two years from now, executives from each Japanese sports federation visited the city this week to inspect the venues for their disciplines during the same period in which the Olympics will take place.  JAAF representatives including men's marathon director Takeshi Soh and women's marathon director Yutaka Taketomi examined the marathon course running through the heart of the city.

For the most part the course avoids the Copacapana and Ipanema waterfront that characterizes Rio de Janeiro, instead featuring many straight sections with few hills or undulations.  Although it is winter, temperatures in Rio de Janeiro peaked at 30 degrees with strong sunshine on the day of the course inspection.  Members of the inspection committee began at the start point of the marathon, examining the road conditions and taking measurements of the road surface temperature and perceived heat in the shade all along the course.

Men's director Soh commented, "I had heard that the humidity would be quite high but it was unexpectedly low.  I think the crosswind from the ocean helped to lower the heat.  I plan to take full advantage of the data we have gathered for our planning and future development.  The sooner we can do that the better.  If the race goes right I think we can target times as well.  It's a great course."  Women's director Taketomi spoke about the difficult hills at the turnaround point, saying, "That will be the deciding point of the race.  We have to come into this being comfortable enough to be able to compete at that point in the race.  There is a great deal we can do to prepare beforehand, and that gives us a chance."

2012 National 800 m Champion Ruriko Kubo to Leave Edion Team

http://www.jiji.com/jc/zc?k=201408/2014081500449&g=spo

translated by Brett Larner

On Aug. 15 it was announced that middle-distance runner Ruriko Kubo (25) will leave the Edion corporate women's team at the end of this month.  In 2011 Kubo ran 2:01.90 to become the second-fastest Japanese woman in history, going on to win the 800 m at the 2012 Japanese National Championships.  According to an Edion spokesperson, Kubo explained the decision by saying "I want to re-examine myself."

Friday, August 15, 2014

Elite Trail Runner Tsuyoshi Soma Disappears While Climbing The Matterhorn (updated)

http://fuji-trailhead.com/archives/1779 https://www.facebook.com/fujitrailhead
http://fuji-trailhead.com/archives/1784 http://fuji-trailhead.com/archives/1788
http://fuji-trailhead.com/archives/1791 http://fuji-trailhead.com/archives/1794

translated by Brett Larner

I will continue to update this story as Fuji Trailhead posts new information to its website.

July 15
From July 16 to July 25 I'll be in Switerland.  I'm running the Eiger Ultra Trail race, 101 km with 6700 m total elevation change.  After the race I want to climb the Matterhorn, but from looking at live cameras I get the feeling for some reason that the snow conditions aren't very good, so I wonder whether I should do it.

But, I'm going to run, climb, and enjoy it with all my heart.  I can't wait to do my kind of trail running and mountain climbing for the first time in a long time.  While I'm in Switzerland it make take me a while to reply to emails.  When I get back home, let's enjoy the mountains of Japan together.

--Tsuyoshi Soma, trail runner

Soma placed 11th overall at the Eiger Ultra Trail race, running 14:15:06.7.

July 23
The sky is threatening rain.

In the mountainous areas of Europe it tends to rain for a long time.  The air is heavy with humidity and the village in this valley is beautifully lush and moist, but the presence of one particular mountain leaves me impatient.  Perhaps she'll appear tomorrow.

The Matterhorn.

--Tsuyoshi Soma, trail runner

July 26
Fuji Trailhead representative Tsuyoshi Soma suffered an accident while climbing the Matterhorn on July 23.  He fell from a ridge, slid roughly 800 m, and was buried by an avalanche or new-fallen snow.  Although some of his equipment has been found, Soma has not yet been located.  The best search and rescue operations possible in the area are being conducted, but, according to local police, given the circumstances of the accident the chance of survival is very low.

Therefore, until Soma is found safely and returns home to Japan, all scheduled Fuji Trailhead events will be cancelled.  We will make every effort to contact all entrants but it may not be possible to reach every person in time.  We are very sorry if this proves to be the case.

Additionally, because we are in active communication with local police engaged in the search in Switzerland, it is difficult for us to respond to each and every inquiry we receive about this terrible news.  We are very sorry for any distress that our inability to answer such correspondence may cause.  We sincerely appreciate all of your notes and apologize for putting our own concerns first.  As soon as new information becomes available we will update our website.

--on behalf of the Fuji Trailhead staff

July 27
With regard to Tsuyoshi Soma's accident, we would like to apologize for causing so many people distress and concern.  Additionally, we would like to say thank you for the countless messages of support and encouragement that we have received.  From the heart, we are deeply grateful.  Soma's family likewise send their gratitude and thanks to you all.

Members of Soma's family have arrived in Switzerland and are staying locally, but please rest assured that they are accompanied by two Japanese guides.  At the current time the weather in the area of Soma's accident has turned bad, and as our priority is to not have a secondary accident we have temporarily suspended the search.  Once the weather improves the search and rescue crews will be back out there.  As soon as new information becomes available we will update our website.

--on behalf of the Fuji Trailhead staff

Aug. 4
With regard to Tsuyoshi Soma's accident, we are very sorry not to be able to respond to all of the kind messages of concern that we continue to receive.  We would like to give you an update on the progress since our last website posting on July 27.  Since then, rain and snow have continued to fall in the area of the accident without sign of the weather changing, every day preventing the search operation from going forward.

In terms of what has been found in the search so far, the area of the search has been narrowed thanks to the discovery of some of Soma's equipment, but it is in an area of glaciers and within the danger zone of frequent avalanches from the Matterhorn's eastern face.  Considering the dangers of the area and the weather, no rescue team has been sent in yet.  However, the Hoernli hut, the highest encampment for climbers on the Matterhorn, is being renovated this year, so if the weather clears there will be many helicopters flying and landing there daily.  The information about the location of Soma's accident has been given to all local pilots, and during each of their renovation runs and sightseeing flights they will fly over the glacier and perform visual searches.

Additionally, a local rescue company called Air Zermatt, the world's leading helicopter rescue team, is involved in the search.  We are receiving messages from many people questioning the skill of the search teams and the circumstances of the search but can assure you that the world's best rescue team is conducting the search and rescue operation.  We realize that it is painful to think that there has been no progress but we ask for your understanding of the situation.

As soon as new information becomes available we will update our website.

Aug. 14
This is Tsuyoshi Soma's wife.   Once again, I'm very sorry for all of the tremendous worry this has caused everybody.

Several days have passed since I returned to Japan.  I wondered whether or not it would be better to wait until he was found and hesitated about it for a while, but the days of waiting just went by with nothing I could do and I thought that he would not want that for me, so that led me to come back here.

Even now that I'm back the rescue team continues to search, and having gone there and met them, talked to them and listened to them, I could feel that they were trustworthy, reliable people.  They're going to find him.  I believe it.

Thanks to the support of everyone around us, even when there are times like this we can still find ways to think about things positively and move forward in one piece.  If you happen to see me around I'll be very happy if you'll just talk to me normally.  I'm eternally grateful for all the messages I've received from so many people.  Thank you.  I felt the warmth of human nature.  Please forgive me if I'm not able to reply.

Come back, without fail.  We're all waiting for you!

Mayumi Soma

Thursday, August 14, 2014

"I Want to Send a Message" - Tsutomu Nagata to Make European Debut at This Weekend's 100 Meilen Berlin

by Brett Larner

In the fall of 2010 Tsutomu Nagata was in his mid-20's, a nearly-elite runner who had done 14:16 and 29:44 on the track before leaving the Self-Defense Forces team to join the ranks of the world's countless full-time working amateur runners.  On November 28, 2010, he raced the Tsukuba Marathon, running down four people in the last 5 km to take 3rd in a PB 2:27:36.  Nine days later Nagata's right arm was caught in the conveyor belt of a can-pressing machine at the factory where he worked, causing serious damage that left him hospitalized for almost two months.  Reconstructive surgery was unsuccessful, leaving his right arm permanently in a brace with limited use of his hand and fingers.

After months in the hospital he was unsure of the impact on his running, but, he says, "there was never any question of quitting.  Instead, I felt very strongly that 'I can still do it!'"  Once he returned home he started with walking, building up to 30 minutes and then tentatively edging back into running.  "A year after the surgery to help repair the injury I was running again, slowly," he says.  The injury and brace prevented him from doing the kind of hard speed workouts he was used to, a serious blow to his hopes at the marathon and shorter distances.  But his stamina remained, and in the interim he had discovered something new.
 
"I found out about the ultramarathon scene and the level of competition there from magazines," he says.  "I tried it out at the Miyakojima 100 km and that served as a recruitment call for a 100 km novice like me.  At that point I was already thinking about the Lake Saroma 100 km."

Lake Saroma, the course where both the men's and women's 100 km world records were set.  Just two and a half years after his accident, at the 2013 Lake Saroma 100 km Nagata had a major breakthrough, finishing 3rd in 6:44:33.  His time put him 6th in the world for the year.  "I felt like it was the real start to my career as an ultra runner," he says.  "As far as the quality of the time, there were faster people out there so I knew I still had work to do."

On an invitation from friends in the My Star running club Nagata went outside Japan for the first time in his life to run the Coldwater Rumble 100 mile trail race in the U.S. in January, 2014, his first time taking on that kind of distance.  After leading early at an extremely ambitious pace he crashed on the last of the course's five laps, literally crashing into cacti and to the ground in the dark before finishing a bruised 2nd in 16:14:21.  But despite the disappointing result the race proved another life-changing moment for Nagata.  "Running that 100 mile race in the U.S. had a major impact on my way of thinking," he says.  "It took someone like me who was only conscious of Japan and turned me toward the world overseas.  It got me excited about going out there and searching out interesting races."

He returned to Japan transformed, quitting his job in Niigata and moving to Tokyo to try to start a career as a professional ultramarathoner, forming long-term goals and working out his training methodology and sponsor and coaching relationships.  "At the moment I'm not working and am staying with friends, sponging off them as I train and try to get established," he says.  "As far as sponsors, Medalist, New Hale and Shields are supplying me with gear, but I'm looking for others interested in supporting what I want to do."  His first opportunity came with a message from Berlin Marathon founder Horst Milde inviting him to run the August 16-17 100 Meilen Berlin along the former border of the Berlin Wall.  "In Berlin I want to run a race that demonstrates the ability and strength I couldn't show at the Coldwater 100," he says.

Beyond Berlin, he has a clear idea of his long-term purpose: "My goal is to be out there racing ultramarathons on the road and trails without boundaries.  To start with I want to make Western States.  I want people to know that there is an ultra runner named Tsutomu Nagata out there.  I run aggressively with all my heart and I hope that people notice.  In my running I want to send a message to all the high school and university kids who are thinking of quitting their schools' teams, to all the other people out there who have had accidents or have disabilities, to show them that even if you aren't fast, even if you aren't pretty, patience and perseverance will bring success.  My handicapped right arm is a strength.  How far can I go?  I don't know.  Personally, I have very high expectations for myself.  The possibilities are infinite."

interview and text (c) 2014 Brett Larner, all rights reserved
Coldwater Rumble photo (c) 2014 Aravaipa Running, all rights reserved
other photos c/o Tsutomu Nagata 

Kawauchi to Run Last Marathon Before Asian Games at Perth Marathon

http://mainichi.jp/sponichi/news/20140813spn00m050012000c.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

2014 Incheon Asian Games men's marathon team member Yuki Kawauchi (27, Saitama Pref. Gov't) has confirmed that he will run the Aug. 31 City to Surf Marathon in Perth, Australia.  The race has been on his tentative schedule for some time but he did not officially commit to it until Aug. 12.  It will be Kawauchi's final marathon before the Oct. 3 Asian Games.

Kawauchi has run many Australian marathons in recent years, winning the Gold Coast Airport Marathon and Sydney Marathon and finishing 2nd at the Melbourne Marathon.  Famous for running while maintaining his career as a civil servant, interviews with him have been published in Australian running magazines.  A familiar and comfortable place for him, Kawauchi hopes that another quick spin through Australia will help him succeed in his ambitions for the Asian Games.

Before Perth, Kawauchi will run Sunday's Hoppo Ryodo Nosappu Misaki Half Marathon in eastern Hokkaido. At the beginning of September the Federation's new National Team training camp will begin in Shibetsu, Hokkaido. After returning from Australia Kawauchi will be using paid vacation days to take part in the training camp. The camp includes mandatory 40 km training runs alongside the best of the corporate leagues, but for Kawauchi it will all be part of a nonstop buildup to the peak of his season at the Asian Games.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Japan's Marathon Women Can Still Aim for the Win

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/running/kataru/20140723-OYT8T50026.html

translated by Brett Larner

Part of a series, an interview with former women's marathon world record holder and Sydney Olympics gold medalist Naoko Takahashi, the first woman to ever break 2:20 for the marathon.

With regard to the Japanese athletics world, ever since Mizuki Noguchi won the medal at the Athens Olympics women's long distance has taken a downturn.

Yes, it has fallen a bit, hasn't it?

Are there any athletes in particular that you're paying special attention to?

Personally speaking, I'm watching Natsuki Omori from Ritsumeikan University. She never made the National High School Championships, but now that she's in her second year of university she has just exploded and is developing quickly. She's aggressive and has really nice form, so if she can keep going like this for four years without getting injured then I want to see her go to the marathon. She's somebody I'm really excited about.

Omori is 20 this year, so when the Tokyo Olympics happen she'll be 26.

The perfect age.  When I ran Sydney I was 28.  Right now as a university student she hasn't run even one marathon, but I think there's plenty of chance that we'll see her there at the 2020 Olympics.

What do you think needs to be done to improve the current situation?

I don't think our women are in a position right now where medals are out of reach.  If you ask why, well, look at the men's world record, low 2:03.  The Japanese men's national record is 2:06:16.  Toshinari Takaoka ran that in 2002 at the Chicago Marathon, but in all the time since then nobody has broken it.  However, in today's world there are loads of athletes, Africans included, running 2:06.  Japanese men still have to break through that.

The women's world record is Paula Radcliffe's 2:15:25 from 2003, but the next-fastest is 2:18.  If you can run 2:19 you've got a shot at winning races around the world.  Japan has three women who've run 2:19, Noguchi, Yoko Shibui and me.  We proved that Japanese people can break 2:20, and of course the knowhow of how to make that happen is still there.  I think this should be a major boost.  Our women should be going into any race in the world seriously targeting the win.  That's the way I did it, but having doubts about whether something is really possible because you're going where nobody has gone before and following the road that others have already opened up are completely different situations.  I want to see all of our women have more confidence and really believe that they can do it too.

Children today are taller and have longer legs than when I was a kid.  They're blessed with talent.  All they need is to blossom.  There's no reason that can't happen.

Naoko Takahashi - Sportscaster, marathon commentator, JAAF executive member, JOC executive member, professor at Osaka Gakuin University.  Born May 6, 1972 in Gifu.  Began running in junior high school, joining the corporate leagues after graduating from Gifu Shogyo H.S. and Osaka Gakuin University.  Made her marathon debut in January, 1997 at the Osaka International Women's Marathon. Won the Nagoya International Women's Marathon in March, 1998.  In December the same year she set a then-Asian record 2:21:47 to win the Asian Games. In September, 2000 she won the gold medal at the Sydney Olympics, leading to her selection for the People's Honor Award.  In September, 2001 at the Berlin Marathon she became the first woman to break 2:20, winning in a world record 2:19:46.  In May, 2005 she left her longtime coach Yoshio Koide.  In November that year she ran her first marathon in two years, winning the Tokyo International Women's Marathon in 2:24:39.  She announced her retirement in October, 2008.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Josai University's Kishima Twins Face One Last Chance for Hakone Ekiden Glory

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20140807-OHT1T50169.html

translated by Brett Larner

Tossed about by the winds of a complex fate, Josai University's twin runners Ryota and Keita Kishima, both seniors, face their final year at the Hakone Ekiden together.  At the last Hakone this past January, the younger Keita was scheduled to run the anchor Tenth Stage but was replaced by the older Ryota on race morning.  In his debut at Japan's greatest race Ryota finished only 18th, while Keita still awaits what will be his first and last time setting foot on Hakone's hallowed ground.  This season the pair are aiming to make the team together, handing off the tasuki one to another and going for the top.

This year Hakone celebrated its 90th running.  Course record holder Toyo University's twins Yuta Shitara (now Team Honda) and Keita Shitara (now Team Konica Minolta) won the Third and Fifth Stages, playing crucial roles in guaranteeing Toyo the overall win.  While the Shitara twins bathed in the spotlight, Josai's Kishima twins drowned in tears of disappointment.  Just before the start of the second day of the race on Jan. 3, Josai head coach Seiji Kushibe (42) took anchor Keita off the roster, replacing him with alternate Ryota.  Neither of them had made Hakone their first or second years.  Finally as juniors it looked like the brothers would make the big show, but when it came time there was only one seat open for the two of them.  Keita set off that morning for the Tsurumi handoff zone as planned with Ryota there to assist him pre-race, but it was Ryota who ultimately stood on the line waiting to receive Josai's tasuki.

Ryota set off from Tsurumi on the 23.1 km to the finish line in Otemachi full of the sense of responsibility to his younger brother and the rest of his teammates, but, unable to bring out his full potential, he finished only 18th out of the 23 runners on his stage.  Josai finished 20th overall.  "I wanted to run my best for Keita who stayed to help me get ready, but I blew it," said Ryota.  "I disrespected him and the rest of the team.  It hurt me to my soul."

And it hurt Keita even more.  "When they made the decision to replace me it was devastating," he said.  "Even though the alternate was my twin brother I wanted to be the one running."  A spokesperson for Hakone Ekiden organizers Inter-University Athletic Union of Kanto commented, "We don't keep formal records of race day start list changes, but I do not remember any previous case of a twin replacing his brother."

The Kishimas' father Toshimi (50) and mother Miyoko (50) came up to Tokyo from Kita-Kyushu for the race.  By jumping on the train they were able to cheer for Ryota at the 1 km and 15 km points on the Tenth Stage before going to the finish line.  "We'd be happiest if they both got to run, but athlete changes are entirely the coach's decision and that has to be respected," said Toshimi.  Having to make that coldhearted decision was not easy on coach Kushibe.  "Ryota was in better shape, so I replaced Keita with him.  I had to make what was best for the team the top priority and not think about the complex personal issues involved in replacing one twin with another," he reflected with visible sadness.

For the bitterly disappointed Kishima twins, the outcome ultimately meant there would be only one last chance for salvation a year later as seniors.  With Hakone finished, the pair headed home to recover and regroup.  Home for the first time in a year, Keita stated it plain to Ryota: "If you were going to finish 18th on the stage then I should have just gone ahead and run."  "Fuck off," shot back Ryota.  "I got picked to run anchor because I was better."  Both spoke their minds honestly during the fight, but even so the brothers ran 20 km together every day that they were home that week.

Josai University's captain and star runner, senior Kota Murayama is also an identical twin.  His brother, the older of the pair, is Kenta Murayama (Komazawa University), who has transcended the level of university competition to become the top-level distance runner in Japan.  "We chose to go to different universities, but I feel envious of Ryota and Keita going to the same school," smiled Kota.  "They can always push each other."

Going into their final university year, the as yet-Hakoneless Keita leads his older Hakone Ekiden Runner twin.  Running in extreme heat and humidity at the July 12-13 Tokai University track meet, Keita won the first day's 10000 m in 30:34.88, returning the next day to take 3rd in the 5000 m in 14:35.61.  Sitting the meet out with pain in his left knee, Ryota tried to play catch-up from Josai's summer training camp.  "At our final Hakone Ekiden I want to make top three on the second day's most competitive stage, the Ninth Stage," said Keita.  Ryota was quick to follow with, "I want payback on the Tenth Stage.  Top three."  If the twins both meet their goals, handing off the tasuki in a rare brother-to-brother exchange, it should move Josai way up through the field late in the game.  Both plan to quit running after graduation.  Having gone it together for ten years since they first started junior high school, the Kishima twins are readying themselves to launch their final kick.

Ryota and Keita Kishima - Born May 15, 1992 in Kita-Kyushu.  22 years old.  Ryota is 170 cm, 53 kg, Keita 172 cm, 53 kg.  Both began track and field as first-years at Numa J.H.S. in Kita-Kyushu, going on to the powerhouse Omuta H.S.  At the National High School Ekiden Championships Ryota finished 10th on the Seventh Stage as a first-year, 14th on the Sixth Stage as a second-year, and 29th on the First Stage as a third-year.  Keita was an alternate and did not run as a first year, finished 21st on the Fifth Stage as a second-year, and 28th on the Second Stage as a third-year.  Omuta H.S. was 10th overall their first year, 13th their second year and 20th their third year.

Great Twins of Japanese Long Distance

Shigeru and Takeshi Soh - Born Jan. 9, 1953 in Usuki, Oita.  61 years old.  The iconic athletes of the still-dominant Asahi Kasei corporate team, both made the Japanese marathon team for the 1980 Moscow Olympics, which Japan boycotted, and the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.  Along with rival Toshihiko Seko, they were the world's best marathoners of the late 70s and early 80s.

Takayuki and Yuko Matsumiya - Born Feb. 21, 1980 in Kazuno, Akita.  34 years old.  Takayuki (Team Konica Minolta) holds the Japanese national record for 5000 m, 13:13.20, and 30 km, 1:28:00.  Yuko (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) has a marathon best of 2:09:18.  Both continue to compete as veteran athletes.

Keita and Yuta Shitara - Born Dec. 18, 1991 in Yorii, Saitama.  22 years old.  As seniors at Toyo University, in May last year the Shitara twins broke 28 minutes for 10000 m in the same race, the first time in Japanese history and only the second time in the world that twins have achieved the feat.  Both Keita (Team Konica Minolta) and Yuta (Team Honda) are expected to figure prominently at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

William Malel Drives Honda to Second-Straight Towada Hachimantai Ekiden Title

by Brett Larner

Despite thunderstorms bringing heavy rain that shut down highways and roads in the area, the Honda corporate team came through with its second-straight win today at the 67th Towada Hachimantai Ekiden in Akita.  The rain may actually have helped the situation by alleviating Towada's normal summer heat as times were fast across the board compared to other years.  None was faster than Honda's William Malel (Kenya), who covered the 13.4 km, 180 m downhill Second Stage in 35:27 and took an incredible 45 seconds off the stage record set just last year.  Malel started the Second Stage in 7th, but by the time he handed off to Honda's third man Hiroaki Sano he had a lead of 33 seconds and from there Honda never looked back.

Sano, the top Japanese man at last year's Chicago Marathon, extended the lead to 1:29, running 46:23 for the 16.2 km Third Stage.  Honda's Keita Baba ran 49:17 for the 16.4 km Fourth Stage, its fastest mark by over a minute, to put the team 2:40 ahead.  Anchor Shota Hattori, a winner of the Hakone Ekiden's uphill Fifth Stage, made his pro ekiden debut on Towada's likewise uphill Fifth Stage, but although he faltered with only the tenth-fastest time on the stage Honda's lead was enough to guarantee the win.

Honda totalled 3:45:10 for the complete 73.7 km, 1:28 ahead of runner-up Yakult.  First Stage leader Komori Corporation, missing its star member and 2014 Commonwealth Games 1500 m silver medalist Ronald Kwemoi (Kenya), was close behind in 3rd in 3:46:54.  Top ten team times were two minutes faster than last year on average, with four of the five stages seeing faster winning times.  All told the weather proved a lucky break after speculation that the race would be cancelled due to flooding.

67th Towada Hachimantai Ekiden
Kazuno, Akita, 8/7/14
5 stages, 73.7 km, 29 teams
click here for complete results 

Overall Team Results
1. Honda - 3:45:10
2. Yakult A - 3:46:38
3. Komori Corporation - 3:46:54
4. Yachiyo Kogyo - 3:47:33
5. Yakult B - 3:48:26
6. JR Higashi Nihon - 3:49:12
7. East Japan Corporate Select Team - 3:50:05
8. Kokushikan University A - 3:52:55
9. Omokawa Lumber - 3:53:03
10. Tokyo Police Department - 3:53:13

First Stage - 13.6 km
1. Hirotoshi Sato (Komori Corp.) - 41:00
2. Yoshihiro Nishizawa (Tamagawa Club) - 41:12
3. Shota Yamazaki (Yakult B) - 41:12
4. Kenta Kitazawa (Yachiyo Kogyo) - 41:15
5. Sho Matsumoto (Arata Project) - 41:20

Second Stage - 13.4 km, ~180 m descent
1. William Malel (Kenya/Honda) - 35:27 - CR
2. Kassa Mekashaw (Ethiopia/Yachiyo Kogyo) - 36:21
3. Joseph Onsarigo (Kenya/Nanyo City Hall) - 36:24
4. Naohiro Domoto (JR Higashi Nihon) - 36:25
5. Norio Kamijo (Omokawa Lumber) - 37:13

Third Stage - 16.2 km
1. Bernard Kimanyi (Kenya/Yakult A) - 45:00
2. Cyrus Gichobi Njui (Kenya/Arata Project) - 45:40
3. David Njuguna (Kenya/Yakult B) - 46:06
4. Hiroaki Sano (Honda) - 46:23
5. Dishon Karukuwa Maina (Kenya/Omokawa Lumber) - 46:38

Fourth Stage - 16.4 km
1. Keita Baba (Honda) - 49:17
2. Koji Gokaya (JR Higashi Nihon) - 50:23
3. Masahiro Kawaguchi (Yakult A) - 50:28
3. Kazuyoshi Shimozato (Komori Corp.) - 50:28
5. Norikazu Kato (Yakult B) - 50:32

Fifth Stage -14.1 km, ~680 m ascent
1. Tomohiro Tanigawa (Tamagawa Club) - 50:18
2. Tatsunori Hamasaki (Komori Corp.) - 50:37
3. Tsukasa Koyama (East Japan Corp. Select Team) - 50:56
4. Akihiro Hirai (Yachiyo Kogyo) - 51:10
5. Soji Ikeda (Yakult A) - 51:15

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

"The Further We Got the Longer and Steeper the Hills Became" - The Kyoto Isshu Trail Run

by Gregg Yarborough

Reader Gregg Yarborough recently visited Japan on business, running the 6th Kyoto Isshu Trail Run while he was here.  This is his account of the race.

When I was informed by my company that I would be traveling to Japan for 3 weeks on business I thought I would take advantage of the opportunity to find a trail race in Japan to run during my visit. Not knowing anything about races in Japan I enlisted the help of Brett Larner who got me registered for the Kyoto Trail Run, a 32 km trail run across the mountains in the north of Kyoto, Japan.  Although I never received my race packet I took the bullet train to Kyoto with the assurance that just telling them my name would be enough to get my number and be able to line up on the starting line, and so it was. When I arrived at the check-in area I could only hope that someone there would be able to speak English since I know almost no Japanese. As it turns out the first volunteer I approached spoke enough English to understand and I soon had my race number and packet.

With clear skies and temperatures from 14 C at the start of the race to 21 C for the high one could not ask for a better day for a run. 597 runners showed up to start the race: 1 American, 2 Canadians, 1 British, and 593 Japanese. Beginning at 8:30 am we are sent off in waves of 100 every 5 minutes.

The race begins following the road through the park for about a mile allowing us to spread out before hitting the trails. It starts with a gradual climb on the Higashiyama trails up Daimonji. It does not take long before the climb becomes much steeper. I quickly slow to a walk as do many of the runners around me, reserving our energy for what is to come. The scenery is beautiful as we travel through the cedar forests and eventually near the top where we can see out over Kyoto and to the mountains in the distance. The views are absolutely breathtaking and I as well as many of the other runners could not resist the opportunity to pause in our run and snap off a few pictures.

We begin our descent back into town running down steps built into the mountain. Once we get to the end of the stairs, we begin to see some of the technical areas that we will be facing throughout the course of the run. Large rocks, and deep crags created by rain washout mark some areas of this section. Once we have navigated this area we come out into town where we are made to slow again to a walk. It is also here that we come across the first of our three aid stations.  Aid stations in Japan are much like those in the States in that they both provide raisins, bananas, chips, water and sports drink. The biggest difference is that the aid stations in Japan also offer green tea. The volunteers throughout the race were very courteous, friendly, and helpful. You couldn’t have asked for a better group of volunteers and staff to run any race.

After almost a mile we again hit the trails. It seemed the further we got into the race the longer and steeper the uphill and downhill sections became. Throw into that mix the fact that many have steps cut into the mountains or many very large roots protruding. The trails quickly became some of the most technical that I have run on. For someone not used to running up and down so many steps these began to take quite a toll on me.  Almost 5 hours after beginning this journey I finally and almost regrettably reached the finish line. While this was one of the hardest and most technical courses that I have run it was also one of the most beautiful. By the end of the race I was beaten, battered, and sore from the sheer physical effort it took to accomplish this run.

Even so with the views of Kyoto from above, the blooming springtime flowers throughout the mountains, the shrines and temples that were all along the way, the tall cedar forests, the many people that I encountered throughout the run always yelling encouragement to us all or even just simply saying hello, it is one experience that I shall never forget. This will always rank as one of my favorite races of all time. The scenery alone could have accomplished that but combined with a group of runners and volunteers such as those at this race makes this one truly epic.

text and photos (c) 2014 Gregg Yarborough
all rights reserved