Sunday, November 30, 2014

Zewdie Leads 11 Under 28:00, World Half Medalist Chepyego Runs 5000 m Best - Weekend Track Results (updated)



by Brett Larner
video and photos by Ekiden News

Second only to May's Prefontaine Classic, one of the world's few remaining ultra-deep 10000 m races went down Saturday in the misty mountains of Tokyo's western suburb of Hachioji at the Hachioji Long Distance Time Trials meet.  Japan-based Million Zewdie (Team Yachiyo Kogyo) ran a PB 27:36.35, the fastest time by an Ethiopian man in 2014, to lead 11 men sub-28 in one of the big tuneups for the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden corporate men's national championships.  Right with him was Kenyan Bernard Kimani (Team Yakult) with a 27:36.60 PB for 2nd, while a few strides back Zewdie's teammate Kassa Mekashaw (Team Yachiyo Kogyo) added to the PB haul in 3rd in 27:38.93.

The biggest news from the Japanese point of view came in 4th, where Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Team Asahi Kasei), already the fastest Japanese collegiate ever with a 27:44.30 in the U.K. in 2011, ran 27:38.99 for 4th, all-time #5 in the Japanese record books and the fastest time ever run by a Japanese man inside Japan.  Sitting in the second pack paced by his former Sera H.S. teammate Bedan Karoki, Yoroizaka ran dead on pace for the 2015 Beijing World Championships qualifying time of 27:45 before closing with a 62-second final 400 m to become Japan's first man to pick up the Beijing standard.  Post-race he tweeted, "4 seconds to the Japanese national record, 1:20 to the world record...Still lots of work to do!!"

Behind him, three-time National University Men's Ekiden champion Komazawa University anchor Shinobu Kubota (Team Toyota) broke 28 for the first time, 8th in 27:54.25, while former Toyo University wonder twins Keita Shitara (Team Konica Minolta) and Yuta Shitara (Team Honda) replicated their 2013 senior year feat of both running 27 in the same race, Keita 10th in 27:56.60 and Yuta 11th in 27:58.91.  2013 Hakone Ekiden champion Nittai University's then-captain Shota Hattori (Team Honda) led Heat 2 in 28:29.30.  5000 m and 30 km national record holder Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) won Heat 4 in 28:48.84.  In Heat 6, 38-year-old Daniel Njenga (Team Yakult), a 2:06:16 marathoner way back in 2002, showed that he is still going strong with a 29:01.01 for 3rd.

The four additions bring Japan's sub-28 total for the year to 6 men.  With minor additions still possible at the Dec. 11 Zatopek: 10 in Australia and, more distantly, the Dec. 6 Nittai University Time Trials meet, 46 men worldwide have broken 28 minutes in 2014 so far:
Kenya: 20
Ethiopia: 6
Japan: 6
Uganda: 3
Eritrea: 2
U.S.A.: 2
other (1/country): 7
Of these 46 men 21 are based in Japan, 11 from Kenya, 4 from Ethiopia and all 6 Japanese.  5 of the other 6 heats in Hachioji also saw winning times under 29 minutes.  The 10000 m may be fading away in Europe and elsewhere in the money marathon era, but Japan is definitely the land where it lives on.


Hachioji was not the only big track meet of the weekend.  On the western island of Kyushu, 2014 Copenhagen World Half Marathon bronze medalist Sally Kaptich Chepyego (Team Kyudenko) soloed a 15:08.31 PB at the Time Trial in Nagasaki meet, 2 seconds better than her previous best with 2nd-place Sakiho Tsutsui (Team Yamada Denki) running 15:48.35.  Northwest of Tokyo, Hiroshi Ichida (Daito Bunka Univ.) scored a rare win over his twin brother Takashi Ichida (Daito Bunka Univ.) at the Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials meet in Saitama, running a PB 28:51.43 for the win with Takashi, 2nd at the Ageo City Half Marathon in 1:02:03 two weeks ago, just over a second behind.  In Kyoto, Kotona Ota of 2014 National University Women's Ekiden champion Ritsumeikan University won the 10000 m in 33:24.73.  Aya Kuwabara (Bukkyo University) outran a large contingent from the Noritz corporate women's team to win the 5000 m in 16:10.99.  Sunday also saw its share of track action, with Mai Shoji (Chukyo Univ.) running a PB 32:27.36 at home at the Chukyo University Time Trials meet to break into the all-time Japanese collegiate top ten.  Her teammate Yurika Kubo finished over a kilometer behind Shoji, 2nd in 35:54.69.

Hachioji Long Distance Time Trials
Hachioji, Tokyo, 11/29/14
click here for complete results

Men's 10000 m Heat 1
1. Million Zewdie (Ethiopia/Team Yachiyo Kogyo) - 27:36.35 - PB
2. Bernard Kimani (Kenya/Team Yakult) - 27:36.60 - PB
3. Kassa Mekashaw (Ethiopia/Team Yachiyo Kogyo) - 27:38.93 - PB
4. Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Team Asahi Kasei) - 27:38.99 - PB
5. James Mwangi (Kenya/Team NTN) - 27:40.95
6. Paul Kuira (Kenya/Team Konica Minolta) - 27:48.08
7. Patrick Muendo Muwaka (Kenya/Team Aisan Kogyo) - 27:53.03
8. Shinobu Kubota (Team Toyota) - 27:54.25 - PB
9. Edward Waweru (Kenya/Team NTN) - 27:55.27
10. Keita Shitara (Team Konica Minolta) - 27:56.60
11. Yuta Shitara (Team Honda) - 27:58.91
12. Daniel Gitau (Kenya/Team Fujitsu) - 28:00.05
13. Ayele Abanyeh (Ethiopia/Team Mazda) - 28:04.16
14. Masato Kikuchi (Team Konica Minolta) - 28:04.25 - PB
15. Tsubasa Hayakawa (Team Toyota) - 28:15.36 - PB

Time Trial in Nagasaki
Nagasaki, 11/29/14
click here for complete results

Women's 5000 m Heat 2
1. Sally Kaptich Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) - 15:08.31 - PB
2. Sakiho Tsutsui (Team Yamada Denki) - 15:48.35
3. Misaki Kato (Team Kyudenko) - 15:48.85
4. Shiho Takechi (Team Yamada Denki) - 15:49.10
5. Sayaka Kurogi (Team Kyudenko) - 15:50.03 - PB

Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials
Heisei Kokusai University, Saitama, 11/29/14
click here for complete results

Men's 10000 m Heat 3
1. Hiroshi Ichida (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 28:51.43 - PB
2. Takashi Ichida (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 28:52.78
3. Kazuki Uemura (Toyo Univ.) - 29:25.89
4. Noriyasu Ikeda (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 29:26.92 - PB
5. Kazuma Kitamura (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 29:28.24 - PB

Kyoto Sangyo University Long Distance Meet
Kyoto Sangyo University, Kyoto, 11/29/14
click here for complete results

Women's 10000 m
1. Kotona Ota (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 33:24.73
2. Sakie Arai (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) - 33:27.26
3. Kanae Imai (Kyoto Sangyo Univ.) - 33:31:13
4. Natsumi Saito (Meijo Univ.) - 33:34.07
5. Yukako Ueno (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) - 33:35.75

Women's 5000 m Heat 2
1. Aya Kuwabara (Bukkyo Univ.) - 16:10.99
2. Mari Ozaki (Team Noritz) - 16:14.14
3. Misato Horie (Team Noritz) - 16:15.72
4. Kikuyo Tsuzaki (Team Noritz) - 16:15.86
5. Junko Katsuki (Bukkyo Univ.) - 16:15.96

Chukyo University Saturday Time Trials
Chukyo University, Nagoya, 11/30/14
click here for complete results

Women's 10000 m
1. Mai Shoji (Chukyo Univ.) - 32:27.36 - PB
2. Yurika Kubo (Chukyo Univ.) - 35:54.69
3. Yuno Tomimatsu (Chukyo Univ.) - 36:11.34

text (c) 2014 Brett Larner, all rights reserved
photos (c) 2014 Ekiden News, all rights reserved

Friday, November 28, 2014

Back on the Track, A New Ekiden and No Rest for Kawauchi - Weekend Preview

by Brett Larner

Earlier this year when Oregon-training then-future 3000 m national record holder Suguru Osako (Team Nissin Shokuhin) ran in a U.S. track meet its webcast announcer, talking about Osako's PBs, said in a mocking tone of voice, "Who runs track in November?"  The answer, of course, is just about every elite Japan-based runner.

November is full of track time trial meets that coaches use to assess fitness within their rosters ahead of the mid-December to mid-January national championship ekiden season.  One of the biggest happens on Saturday, the Hachioji Long Distance time trials meet in Tokyo's western suburbs featuring seven men's 10000 m heats packed with much of the top talent in the country.  The A-heat features 18 of the best Japan-based Africans paced by sub-27 man Bedan Karoki (DeNA RC), young sub-28 Japanese athletes Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota), Keita Shitara (Team Konica Minolta), Yuta Shitara (Team Honda) and Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Team Asahi Kasei) plus nine others hoping to join them.  The other 6 heats, staggered in 10-second target time increments, all feature Japan-based Kenyan pacers like 2013 World XC junior silver medalist Leonard Barsoton (Team Nissin Shokuhin) leading mixed pro and collegiate fields.  Quality track time trial meets are scheduled far to the west in Nagasaki, mid-country at Chukyo University, and northwest of Tokyo at Heisei Kokusai University in Saitama.  If you consider yourself a serious runner here, there's a pretty good chance you'll be running track in November.

Many college-aged women who aren't will instead be north of Tokyo in Tochigi at the Nikko Irohazaka Women's Ekiden, a brand-new event and welcome addition to the university women's calendar.  14 teams are entered for the one-way, uphill race that is looking to build up some of the buzz that surrounds the Hakone Ekiden's legendary uphill Fifth Stage.  With 6 stages totalling only 23.4 km it'll be over in a relative flash, but at 875 m of climb it's a tough course, especially on its own Fifth Stage which climbs roughly 400 m in 3.5 km.  The #1 women's university team in eastern Japan, Daito Bunka University, is fielding a lineup featuring A-listers Mari Tayama and Eri Utsunomiya, and national-level Osaka Geidai University and Chuo University likewise have some of their big names on their entry list, so in its first running the Nikko Irohazaka Women's Ekiden looks set for a good race.

The weekend's other main event comes in Saitama at the newish Koedo Kawagoe Half Marathon.  A week after a 2:12:59 course record at the Fukuchiyama Marathon, two weeks after a career third-best 1:02:55 at the Ageo City Half Marathon and four weeks after a disappointing turn at the TCS New York City Marathon, Kawagoe course record holder Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) returns to give his 1:04:44 record from last year a go in a tuneup for a shot at a 2:07 marathon next month.  Look for coverage of these and other events throughout the weekend here on JRN.

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Tanaka and Fukushi Entered for National Corporate Women's Ekiden

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20141126-1401292.html

translated by Brett Larner

Rosters for the 26 teams entered in the Dec. 14 National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships were announced Nov. 26.  Both 2014 Yokohama International Women's Marathon winner Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) and 2013 Moscow World Championships women's marathon bronze medalist Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) feature on the entry list.

Also entered are 2012 London Olympics marathoners Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) and Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya), along with 19-year-old Reia Iwade (Team Noritz), who finished 3rd in Yokohama on Nov. 16 in her marathon debut.  2004 Athens Olympics marathon gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi was not entered on the Sysmex team roster.

The National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships will be held on a six-stage, 42.195 km course from the Matsushima Culture and Tourism Exchange Center to Sendai Municipal Field.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Both London Olympics Gold Medalists to Run 2015 Tokyo Marathon

http://response.jp/article/2014/11/26/238309.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The organizers of the 2015 Tokyo Marathon have announced that both London Olympics gold medalists will run next year's race, men's marathon gold medalist Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda) and women's marathon gold medalist Tiki Gelana (Ethiopia) each signing on to run as invited athletes.  Kiprotich ran the Tokyo Marathon in 2012 to qualify for the Olympics, finishing 3rd in 2:07:50 behind winner Michael Kipyego (Kenya) and Arata Fujiwara (Japan).  Formerly based in Japan, Gelana ran the Yokohama International Women's Marathon earlier this month where she was 6th in 2:29:13.

The 2015 Tokyo Marathon is scheduled to be held Feb. 22.  As of Nov. 14, 304,825 people had entered for the 28,400 places in the general division, and with entries for the elite, sub-elite, charity runner and other divisions well over capacity across the board, preparations are progressing steadily.  114 companies are expected for the 2015 Tokyo Marathon Expo to be held Feb. 19-22, and with a Family Run and Friendship Run planned to be held and live nationwide TV and radio broadcasts starting at 9:00 a.m. there are many ways for people to enjoy race weekend apart from running in the main event itself.

An indication of the scale of the 2015 Tokyo Marathon is the number of people involved in supporting roles and at water and food stations.  1400 officials from the Tokyo Track and Field Association will be involved, along with 10,000 volunteers.  Aid stations are still be evaluated but plans call for 90,000 bananas, 40,000 chocolates and 72,000 tomatoes.

A preliminary report on initiatives for the 10th anniversary Tokyo Marathon in 2016 has also been made.  Tokyo Marathon Foundation president Koji Sakurai has been named head of the 2016 Tokyo Marathon Project committee.  Along with a proposal to expand the sub-elite component of the field in 2016, the issue of an international wheelchair race is under examination.  The 2015 edition will also feature a wheelchair race, but the aim is to receive certification from the International Paralympic Committee in 2016 in hopes of staging an international certified race.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Kyudenko Rounds Out New Year Ekiden Qualifiers With Kyushu Corporate Ekiden Win

by Brett Larner
photo by akm.y

Corporate men’s qualification for the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden national championships wrapped up Sunday with the westernmost region Kyushu Corporate Men’s Ekiden. Despite missing its top Japanese man, 2:08:00 marathoner Kazuhiro Maeda, defending champion and course record holder Kyudenko made it two in a row, taking the top spot over the seven-stage, 78.8 km course in 3:54:35 by 43 seconds over last year’s 3rd-placer Kurosaki Harima. After running almost even through the first two stages Kurosaki Harima pulled ahead and led Kyudenko until the 9.2 km Fifth Stage, when Moscow World Championships 10000 m bronze medalist Paul Tanui ran a stage best 25:24 to put Kyudenko in the lead for good.

Yasukawa Denki, featuring Moscow World Championships marathon 5th placer Kentaro Nakamoto, was another 40 seconds back, anchor Bunta Kuroki running down Barcelona Olympics marathon silver medalist Koichi Morishita-coached Toyota Kyushu anchor Kento Otsu to give Yasukawa Denki 3rd by 2 seconds. The too-proudly all-Japanese 2012 Kyushu champion Asahi Kasei team headed by JAAF men’s marathoning director Takeshi Soh was a shambles, all but one of its runners finishing 4th or lower on their stages and the team finishing only 5th overall. With six places at the New Year Ekiden up for grabs for the seven quality teams in the region the battle for 6th was a good one, with the Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki team led by 2014 Asian Games marathon silver medalist Kohei Matsumura going back and forth with the Nishitetsu team all day before just holding them off by 10 seconds to pick up the last ticket.

The 6 teams from the Kyushu region join the 31 teams from the corporate league’s other 5 regions who have already qualified for the New Year Ekiden. In the most competitive region, Tokyo-centric East Japan, two-time New Year Ekiden winner Konica Minolta, running with all of its big guns except track and half marathon star Tsuyoshi Ugachi, beat 2012 New Year Ekiden winner Nissin Shokuhin who were likewise absent #1 man Yuki Sato. The other big news came down at the bottom of the field, where tiny Nanyo City Hall beat Kanebo, formerly one of the best teams in the country, for the thirteenth and final New Year Ekiden spot available to East Japan teams.

In the Chubu Region, seven quality teams competed for seven places at the New Year Ekiden, illustrating the partial futility of the regional qualification system.  The best of them, Toyota, won easily, taking five of the seven stage bests in spite of splitting its roster into two squads with most of its best men on the A team.  The Toyota A men scored the fastest average pace of any of the 37 teams in the 6 corporate regional qualifiers by over 3 seconds per kilometer, an indication of how much the other teams will have to step up their game come Jan. 1.  Toyota anchor Shinobu Kubota, a 2014 graduate of 4-time National University Ekiden champion Komazawa University, won the 13.1 km anchor stage by nearly a minute and a half.  Toyota's B team finished 3rd overall without counting toward New Year qualification, meaning extra depth that majorly improves Toyota's chances of breaking East Japan's hold on the national title.

The tiny Hokuriku Region held its regional qualifier concurrently with Chubu, its teams competing alongside the bigger region's but scored separately.  The YKK team, the only true national-quality team in the region, has a perpetual lock on New Year Ekiden qualification and made it again with ease, but in the race for the second spot last year's Hokuriku 4th-placer Omokawa Lumber, which this year recruited the late-career but still-strong Norio Kamijo, pulled off a surprise and outran both of the region's other two teams, Sekino Reform and the Takada SDF Base, to take 2nd.

In the foreigner-free Kansai Region, last year's winner SGH Group fell to 4th out of the five teams to qualify, only London Olympics marathoner Ryo Yamamoto and anchor Takayasu Hashizume running up to potential with stage wins.  In its place last year's 2nd-placer Otsuka Seiyaku came out on top of a very close race, beating the still-developing new Sumitomo Denko team by just 8 seconds over 80.45 km as rookie anchor Yudai Yamakawa overtook Sumitomo's Noritaka Fujiyama, another Komazawa graduate, with NTT Nishi Nihon another 8 seconds back.

The Chugoku Region, another with an equal number of quality teams and New Year Ekiden spots, saw the dominant Chugoku Denryoku team win again for the millionth straight year, over two minutes ahead of runner-up Mazda with an all-Japanese lineup.  The biggest news came on the anchor stage, where Chugoku Denryoku's likable Takehiro Deki, an enigmatic ekiden star while at Aoyama Gakuin University who ran a 2:10:02 marathon his junior year without specific training and has struggled ever since, ran a 38:05 stage record on the 13.0 km anchor stage.  If Deki is back to full strength Chugoku Denryoku's chances of improving on last year's 5th-place New Year Ekiden finish will be very good indeed.  Look for a full New Year Ekiden preview next month closer to race date, and follow @JRNLive for the only live English-language coverage of the event that justifies the existence of Japan's corporate running league.

East Japan Region - Nov. 3, 7 stages, 77.5 km
Konica Minolta - 2:57.7 / km
Nissin Shokuhin - 2:58.3 / km
Honda - 2:59.1 / km
Fujitsu - 3:00.2 / km
Yakult - 3:00.7 / km
Press Kogyo - 3:01.4 / km
Komori Corp. - 3:01.8 / km
DeNA - 3:02.1 / km
Hitachi Butsuryu - 3:02.2 / km
Subaru - 3:02.6 / km
Yachiyo Kogyo - 3:03.5 / km
JR Higashi Nihon - 3:03.8 / km
Nanyo City Hall - 3:05.5 / km

Chubu Region - Nov. 16, 7 stages, 83.3 km
Toyota - 2:54.4 / km
NTN - 2:57.9 / km
Toyota Boshoku - 2:59.0 / km
Aichi Seiko - 2:59.6 / km
Aisan Kogyo - 2:59.7 / km
Chuo Hatsujo - 3:01.5 / km
Toenec - 3:04.7 / km

Kyushu Region - Nov. 23, 7 stages, 78.8 km
Kyudenko - 2:58.6 / km
Kurosaki Harima - 2:59.2 / km
Yasukawa Denki - 2:59.7 / km
Toyota Kyushu - 2:59.7 / km
Asahi Kasei - 3:00.9 / km
Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki - 3:03.3 / km

Kansai Region - Nov. 16, 7 stages, 80.45 km
Otsuka Seiyaku - 2:59.5 / km
Sumitomo Denko - 2:59.6 / km
NTT Nishi Nihon - 2:59.7 / km
SGH Group - 3:00.3 / km
Osaka Gas - 3:00.9 / km

Chugoku Region - Nov. 16, 7 stages, 82.8 km
Chugoku Denryoku - 2:57.8 / km
Mazda - 2:59.4 / km
JFE Steel - 3:01.8 / km
Chudenko - 3:02.0 / km

Hokuriku Region - Nov. 16, 7 stages, 83.3 km
YKK - 3:00.6 / km
Omokawa Lumber - 3:03.5 / km

(c) 2014 Brett Larner, all rights reserved
photo (c) 2014 akm.y, all rights reserved

Monday, November 24, 2014

Japan Scores First International Chiba Ekiden Win in Five Years In Anchor Stage Battle Against Kenya

by Brett Larner

Up against a relatively anonymous team fielded by course record holder and three-time defending champion Kenya, the Japan team fought hard over the final two of the day's six stages to come up with its first International Chiba Ekiden win since 2009, covering the 42.195 km course in 2:05:53 for the win with an all-star team of three men and three women.  But it was anything but a one-dimensional race, at least half a dozen countries bringing top-quality teams that made for an exciting race of turnover the entire way.

#1-ranked collegiate runner Kenta Murayama led off for Japan but fell behind the talented front pack midway and finished only 6th on the 5 km First Stage.  Jake Robertson (New Zealand) did most of the work against Lucas Bruchet (Canada), Tadashi Isshiki (Japan Univ.) Florian Orth (Germany), Egor Nikolaev (Russia), Tyler Pennel (U.S.A.) and Brett Robinson (Australia), all staying side by side through most of the stage before Robinson kicked past Robertson to hand off first.

The 5 km women's Second Stage started off as a quartet of Madeline Heiner (Australia), Nikki Hamblin (New Zealand), Jessica O'Connell and Saori Noda (Japan Univ.) with Elena Korobkina (Russia), Kathryn Matthews (U.S.A.) and Ayuko Suzuki (Japan) in pursuit.  Korobkina was the first to make contact, Suzuki dropping Matthews before going straight past the leader group.  Only Korobkina was able to stay with Suzuki, getting away from her in the final straight to put Russia into 1st at the handoff.

Kota Murayama, the identical twin of Japan's First Stage runner Kenta Murayama, went out with a reported 2:30 opening kilometer for the 10 km men's Third Stage, immediately catching Evgeny Rybakov (Russia), also a twin.  Kelly Wiebe (Canada) and Duer Yoa (Australia) initially drew to within a few seconds of the lead pair but lost ground over the second half and were swallowed up by Ken Yokote (Japan Univ. Team), who set a stage record three weeks ago at the National University Ekiden.  Rybakov outkicked Murayama in the last kilometer to keep Russia's lead.  After a weak first two stages, Henry Sang (Kenya) ran the fastest time on the Third Stage to catch Christo Landry (U.S.A.) and Callan Moody (New Zealand) and put Kenya into 6th.

Despite running the two fastest times on the 5 km women's Fourth Stage Liz Costello (U.S.A.) and Shelmith Nyawira Muriuki (Kenya) found themselves locked in 6th and 7th as the race ahead of them developed.  5000 m national champion Misaki Onishi (Japan) initially dropped Alla Kuliatina (Russia) for the lead, but in the final kilometer Kuliatina returned to put Russia back ahead.  Last year's Fourth Stage winner Natsuki Omori (Japan Univ. Team) looked like she would join the two leaders but soon faded, nearly run down by Natasha Labeaud (Canada) but holding onto 3rd.  Bridley Delaney (Australia) was caught by Muriuki and nearly by Costello late in the stage but outkicked both to hang on to 5th.

At the start of the final men's stage, the 10 km Fifth Stage, Russia and Japan were just 4 seconds apart, the Japanese University team 19 seconds behind them, Canada 18 seconds away and Australia another 18 seconds distant.  None of that made much difference to Kenya's Matthew Kisorio, wearing the Kenyan national colors for the first time since his doping suspension.  Starting in 6th exactly a minute off the lead, Kisorio grinned as he flew past Jack Rayner (Australia) within a few steps, outclassing Samil Jibril (Canada) and cockily giving a #1 sign as he overtook self-coached collegiate Kentaro Hirai (Japan Univ.) to move into 3rd.  Just before 7 km he caught lead pair Minato Oishi (Japan) and Anatoly Rybakov (Russia) and took the lead, but Oishi was not through.

A veteran of the Hakone Ekiden's ~900 m uphill Fifth Stage in university, Oishi pursued Kisorio, dropping Rybakov and actually regaining ground on Kisorio on each of the steep uphills in the final 3 km of the stage.  As Kisorio scored a new stage record of 27:42, at the anchor handoff Oishi was only 8 seconds behind him, having opened 30 seconds on Rybakov in just 3 km.  Further back, last year's Third Stage stage record setter Zane Robertson (New Zealand) passed Australia, Canada and the U.S.A. to move up from 8th to 5th with the next-best time on the stage, 28:22.

The 7.195 km women's Sixth Stage is the toughest in Chiba, hilly almost the entire way until the home straight to the stadium finish.  2014 World Half Marathon Championships 5th-placer Mercy Kibarus (Kenya) went out hard with a 2:45 km, immediately doubling her lead over Japanese anchor Ayumi Hagiwara.  Hagiwara, wary of Russian anchor Natalia Popkova, took her time catching up, working the uphills to close the gap to Kibarus.  Seemingly surprised when Hagiwara pulled even Kibarus panicked and surged back out front, but Hagiwara again reeled he in on the hills and opened a slight lead that grew slowly to Japan's final 37-second margin of victory.

Popkova, visibly out of shape, was never a factor and was quickly run down by the Japan University Select Team's anchor Rina Nabeshima, who gave the collegiates 3rd overall in 2:07:16, 47 seconds behind Kenya.  Russia was 4th in 2:07:42, while New Zealand anchor Camille Buscomb held off the American team's Rachel Ward to keep the Kiwis in 5th in 2:09:00, top five favorite U.S.A. close behind in 2:09:13 for 6th just ahead of Canada.  Although mostly absent real African competition, the back-and-forth between the countries in the top end of the field made for an exciting race that illustrated how entertaining the ekiden can be as a spectator event.  If it were truly international in its distribution or intent the International Chiba Ekiden could be a great contribution to international athletics.

2014 International Chiba Ekiden
Chiba, Chiba, 11/24/14
13 teams, 6 stages, 42.195 km
click here for complete results

Team Results
1. Japan - 2:05:53
2. Kenya - 2:06:29
3. Japan University Select Team - 2:07:16
4. Russia - 2:07:42
5. New Zealand - 2:09:00
6. U.S.A. - 2:09:13
7. Canada - 2:09:28
8. Australia - 2:10:16
9. Germany - 2:13:12
10. Chiba Prefecture - 2:13:16
11. France - 2:13:35
12. Estonia - 2:16:49
13. China - 2:19:56

Top Stage Performances - click stage for complete results
First Stage - 5 km, men
1. Brett Robinson (Australia) - 13:33
2. Jake Robertson (New Zealand) - 13:34
3. Lucas Bruchet (Canada) - 13:35
4. Tadashi Isshiki (Japan Univ.) - 13:35
5. Egor Nikolaev (Russia) - 13:38

Second Stage - 5 km, women
1. Elena Korobkina (Russia) - 15:21
1. Ayuko Suzuki (Japan) - 15:21
3. Jessica O'Connell (Canada) - 15:33
4. Nikki Hamblin (New Zealand) - 15:34
5. Madeline Heiner (Australia) - 15:37

Third Stage - 10 km, men
1. Henry Sang (Kenya) - 28:25
2. Kota Murayama (Japan) - 28:39
3. Evgeny Rybakov (Russia) - 28:43
4. Ken Yokote (Japan Univ. Team) - 28:44
5. Christo Landry (U.S.A.) - 28:55

Fourth Stage - 5 km, women
1. Liz Costello (U.S.A.) - 16:17
2. Shelmith Nyawira Muriuki (Kenya) - 16:19
2. Alla Kuliatina (Russia) - 16:19
4. Natashi Labeaud (Canada) - 16:20
4. Misaki Onishi (Japan) - 16:20

Fifth Stage - 10 km, men
1. Matthew Kisorio (Kenya) - 27:42 - CR
2. Zane Robertson (New Zealand) - 28:22
3. Minato Oishi (Japan)  28:46
4. Anatoly Rybakov (Russia) - 29:20
5. Kentaro Hirai (Japan Univ. Team) - 29:31

Sixth Stage - 7.195 km, women
1. Ayumi Hagiwara (Japan) - 23:02
2. Rina Nabeshia (Japan Univ. Team) - 23:21
3. Mercy Kibarus (Kenya) - 23:46
4. Lanni Marchant (Canada) - 24:09
5. Rachel Ward (U.S.A.) - 24:15

Alternates' 5000 m
Men
1. David McNeill (Australia) - 13:51.48
2. Rinas Akhmadeev (Russia) - 13:56.87
3. Amos Kiprono Kaptich (Kenya) - 13:59.08
4. Daniel Balchin (New Zealand) - 14:06.42
5. Pier-Olivier Laflamme (Canada) - 14:10.50

Women
1. Rachel Cliff (Canada) - 15:58.73
2. Casey Wood (Australia) - 16:10.82
3. Elina Sujew (Germany) - 16:15.70
4. Sarah Pagano (U.S.A.) - 16:21.13
5. Floriane Chevalier-Garenne (France) - 16:25.70

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Inoue Leads Kanto 10000 m Time Trials in 28:19.28 PB

by Brett Larner
video by naoki620

With universities in the Kanto Region gearing up for the season-ending Hakone Ekiden on Jan. 2-3 the KGRR held its annual 10000 m time trial meet Sunday, moved this year from Tokyo's soon-to-be-demolished National Stadium to one of the most beautiful tracks in Japan, Keio University's Hiyoshi Field in Kanagawa.  Sixteen men's 10000 m heats and one women's 10000 m filled up most of the day until well beyond sunset.



In the fastest men's heat, 2014 Copenhagen World Half Marathon Championships team member Hiroto Inoue (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) ran a PB 28:19.28 for the win over last year's top finisher Takuya Fujikawa (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.), whose 28:20.31 was a new AGU school record.  Inoue and Fujikawa ran in a front pack of five that included Kazuma Kubota (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.), Hironori Tsuetaki (Chuo Gakuin Univ.) and Yusuke Osumi (Daito Bunka Univ.), virtually all five men taking turns keeping the pace steady at 2:50/km, 28:20 pace, until 6800 m when Osumi was the first to slip.  Tseutaki was next, followed by Kubota, but both Inoue and Fujikawa held true to the pace all the way to the end, making up for a slightly slower ninth kilometer in their last kicks.  All five of the leaders broke 29 minutes in new PBs, earning scholarship money from the KGRR in the process.  Fujikawa and Kubota's success means AGU now has four men 28:30 or better this season, marking them as a legitimate threat to Hakone favorite Komazawa University.

Two other heats, both incorporating time trials for potential members of the newly-formatted Kanto Region University Student Alliance team for Hakone, saw the winners go sub-29, Inoue's teammate Junya Uemura (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) taking Heat 11 in 28:59.28 and Ryo Yamada and Hayato Yamada (both Meiji University) going 1-2 in 28:56.93 and 28:57.11.

The women's race saw a runner from outside the Kanto Region take the top position as Ayumi Uehara (Matsuyama Univ.) outran Fuyuka Kimura (Daito Bunka Univ.) for the win in 32:56.38 to 33:02.54.  The #1-ranked school in Kanto, the DBU women took six of the top ten places.

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

Tokyo Institute of Technology's First Hakone Ekiden Runner Masaki Matsui Hopes to Be the Next Kawauchi

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2014/11/23/kiji/K20141123009339970.html

translated by Brett Larner

A rebel runner with a high coefficient of variation is set to run the sport's biggest stage.  Members of the Kanto Region University Student Alliance team for the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden met with members of the media Nov. 23 in Yokohama for interviews following the Kanto Region University 10000 m Time Trials meet at Keio University.  Masaki Matsui, a junior at science powerhouse Tokyo Kogyo University, the Tokyo Institute of Technology, where he studies in the School of Engineering's Department of Aerospace Mechanics, told reporters, "Most of the time I train alone.  I mostly run by myself, so that's the way I want to run my race.  Whatever stage I'm put on I want to give it what I have."

As a second-year on the dominant Saku Chosei H.S. ekiden team Matsui suffered a stress fracture in his lower pelvis that forced him to leave the team.  Having gotten good grades ever since he was young, Matsui shifted his focus to his studies and was accepted to Tokyo Kogyo University.  "When I left the Saku Chosei team I thought that was it for me and athletics, but I started running again the day I got accepted," he said.

After entering Tokyo Kogyo University Matsui began living by himself in an apartment near the university campus.  At the university he is working to build "a robot that can do street performances."  While studying and working four part-time jobs as a tutor to make the money he needs to live Matsui has improved his 10000 m PB to 29:29.13.  His inspiration, he says, is civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't).  "I'm not thinking about going to the corporate leagues at all," he said.  "I want to become the best I can be on my own like Kawauchi has."  With a robotic mechanical accuracy to his pitch, Matsui is set to become Tokyo Kogyo University's first-ever Hakone runner.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Kawauchi Takes Nine Minutes Off Fukuchiyama Marathon Course Record - Road Review

by Brett Larner

Three weeks after an unsuccessful run at the TCS New York City Marathon and a week after the third-fastest half marathon of his career, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) returned to his favorite distance at the 24th Fukuchiyama Marathon in Kyoto.  Cancelled last year in the wake of a typhoon, Fukuchiyama was rewarded for its invite of Kawauchi as he took nearly nine minutes off the course record with a solo 2:12:59 win.  Opening with an ambitious 14:56 split for the first 5 km, 2:06 marathon pace, Kawauchi was immediately on his own, and despite progressively slowing for the rest of the way he opened over 14 minutes on 2nd place and held on well enough to just meet his pre-race goal of a 2:12 finish.  Post-race he deadpanned, "I'm majorly rewriting the course records at marathons across Japan to promote my "Japanese Archipelago Domestic Remodelling Project."  Click here for video of Kawauchi's finish.

Kawauchi's time also beat the new course record set at the weekend's largest marathon, the Kobe Marathon, at 17213 finishers nearly twice the size of Fukuchiyama.  In Kobe, Kenyan Harun Malel took four minutes off his PB to win in a new CR of 2:13:45.  Like Kawauchi's a mostly solo effort, Malel beat runner-up Yuya Takayanagi (Team Sysmex) by over six minutes.  The women's race was much closer, with Hiromi Saito (Team Kyocera) beating Riona Ishimoto (Team Noritz) by just three seconds for the win in 2:38:23.  Course record holder and defending champion Chihiro Tanaka (Athlec AC) outkicked Kenyan Mildred Kimanyi for 3rd by nine seconds in 2:41:15.

Ishimoto's teammate Kana Unno (Team Noritz) had better luck at the 27th Ohtawara Marathon, winning the women's race in 2:43:53.  Former national record holder Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo), a local to the Ohtawara area, won the women's 10 km in 34:27.  On the men's side, Shingo Igarashi (Team Subaru) won in 2:16:18 with teammate Hayato Kono winning the 10 km in a modest 31:33.  52-year-old Mike Trees (Great Britain) ran a solid 32:49.

Earlier in the week another Kyocera athlete, Asami Furuse, outran another British runner, Charlotte Purdue, to take the win in 1:12:01 at the 33rd Sanyo Ladies Road Race half marathon in Okayama.  Traditionally a year-ending highlight, Sanyo was moved five weeks earlier this year due to the planned opening of a major new shopping center in central Okayama in mid-December.  American Mattie Suver was 4th in 1:14:50 behind Shoko Mori (Team Otsuka Seiyaku).  In the 10 km, Kenyans Grace Kimanzi (Team Starts) and Felista Wanjugu (Team Univ. Ent.) went 1-2 with ease, Kimanzi taking the win in 32:05.  2011 Tokyo Marathon winner Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) was far back in 3rd in 33:23.

Overseas, Chiyuki Mochizuki (Canon AC Kyushu) took silver at the 100 km World Championships in Doha, Qatar in 7:38:23, leading three Japanese women into the top ten to also pick up the team silver medal.  The Japanese men also scored team silver on the strength of 4th and 5th-place finishes by Hideo Nojo and Yoshiki Takada.  In Europe, members of the Meijo University women's ekiden team once again ran in the Zevenheuvelenloop 15 km road race, Yomogi Akasaka leading the way with a 6th-place finish in 50:44.

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Ritsumeikan Tears Down Rivals Kyoto Sangyo and Kwansei Gakuin for Kansai University Men's Ekiden Championships Title

by Brett Larner

As the world's best university distance runners start their buildup to the main event of their year, the Kanto Region's Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden, and the U.S.A.'s NCAA holds its national cross country championships, their counterparts further west ran their season-ender Saturday at the 76th Kansai Region University Men's Ekiden Championships.

On a new course in Tango, Kyoto last year Kyoto Sangyo University beat crosstown rival Ritsumeikan University in a photo finish, both schools clocking 4:10:50 for the 8-stage, 81.2 km distance.  This year both were back up front on a slightly longer 81.4 km version of the Tango course, but instead of a two-school show both got a serious challenge from last year's 4th-placer Kwansei Gakuin University.

KSU started in 2nd with Ritsumeikan and KGU further back as most other schools put their best runners on the First Stage.  After a stage win by second man Yohei Koyama KGU was up to 2nd, and by the end of the Third Stage it was in the lead with a 6-second margin over KSU and an 11-second lead over Ritsumeikan.  KGU's next three men Masashi Nonaka, Hiroki Tsujiyoko and Kota Tamura all won their stages, putting KGU 1:11 ahead of KSU and 1:14 up on Ritsumeikan with two stages and 23.7 km to go.

KGU's seventh man Takahiro Kawaguchi faltered slightly, running only the fourth-best time on the Seventh Stage, but anchor Masaki Kai still inherited a 41-second lead on KSU and 59 seconds on Ritsumeikan with 11.8 km to run, not enough to be safe but far enough to make the other team's anchors work for it.  And they did.  With Kai running the third-fastest stage time of 36:57, KSU's Shuto Nakai ran 36:15 to catch Kai in the home staight.  It looked set to be a repeat of last year's photo finish, but Ritsumeikan anchor Shota Nagumo blazed a stage best 35:57 to fly past both Nakai and Kai and give Ritsumeikan the win in 4:10:04.

KSU was also timed at 4:10:04 but found itself on the other side of the line from last year's win, KGU almost dead even with them but given a 4:10:05 finish time.  4th-place Osaka Keizai University was a distant 4:15:56, showing the quality of the battle up front.  University men outside the Kanto Region don't get their fair share of attention, but this year's ekiden was as good as any racing to be found at the Hakone powerhouses.

76th Kansai Region University Ekiden Championships
Tango, Kyoto, 11/22/14
8 stages, 81.4 km, 20 teams
click here for complete results

Top Team Results
1. Ritsumeikan Univ. - 4:10:04
2. Kyoto Sangyo Univ. - 4:10:04
3. Kwansei Gakuin Univ. - 4:10:05
4. Osaka Keizai Univ. - 4:15:56
5. Kansai Univ. - 4:16:35

Stage Best Performances
First Stage - 8.0 km: Yuki Goto (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) - 23:49
Second Stage - 8.7 km: Yohei Koyama (Kwansei Gakuin Univ.) - 28:49
Third Stage - 7.0 km: Yuya Iwasaki (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 20:05
Fourth Stage - 9.7 km: Masashi Nonaka (Kwansei Gakuin Univ.) - 29:32
Fifth Stage - 12.3 km: Hiroki Tsujiyoko (Kwansei Gakuin Univ.) - 36:30
Sixth Stage - 12.0 km: Kota Tamura (Kwansei Gakuin Univ.) - 36:49
Seventh Stage - 11.9 km: Masatoshi Teranishi (Kyoto Sangyo Univ.) - 36:22
Eighth Stage - 11.8 km: Shota Ogumo (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 35:57

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Friday, November 21, 2014

International Chiba Ekiden Leads Weekend Action (updated)

by Brett Larner

Monday's International Chiba Ekiden leads Japan's weekend action, with 13 teams from 11 countries competing over a 6-stage, 42.195 course that alternates men's and women's stages.  Defending champion Kenya returns with a surprisingly weak team of relative unknowns led by Matthew Kisorio in his first race wearing the Kenyan national vest since his drug suspension and, on its women's side, Mercy Kibarus.  On paper at least 7 teams have a shot at beating the 3-straight winners, but Kenya has come to Chiba with uncredentialed teams that have mopped the roads with the competition before and can't be ignored.

The last team to beat them was the Japanese University Team in 2010, and this year's JUT is just as strong.  Meiji University's Ken Yokote broke a stage record at the National University Ekiden Championships 3 weeks ago and, with support from Aoyama Gakuin University stars Yusuke Ogura and Tadashi Isshiki, Kyoto University's independent-minded Kentaro Hirai and three collegiate women with 5000 m bests under 15:40 including last year's Fourth Stage winner Natsuki Omori (Ritsumeikan Univ.) the JUT team will do well.

But the Japanese National Team will have something to say about.  Not having won Chiba since 2009, after a runner-up finish last year Japan this year brings in the country's top two university men, identical twins Kenta and Kota Murayama of Komazawa and Josai universities, to prop up its corporate lineup.  The women's half of the team is flawless, with all four of the four fastest Japanese women of 2014 over 5000 m led by the #1-ranked Ayuko Suzuki (JP Post Group), 15:14.96 last month and last year's Second Stage winner, on the roster including alternate.  Going by entry lists few teams look like they can touch Japan.

The main competition for Kenya, JUT and Japan comes from Russia and the U.S.A.  Last year's 3rd-placer Russia looks to be the stronger of the two, featuring Chiba veterans Yevgeny and Anatoly Rybakov and four women with 5000 m bests under 15:30 led by Natalya Popkova in 15:05.95.  The American men's team is solid, with sub-28 men Girma Mecheso and Christo Landry, but the U.S. falters somewhat on the women's side with only one woman, Katie Matthews, under 15:45.  A repeat of last year's 5th-place finish looks possible.

Other solid teams with potential to challenge up front include Australia, featuring sub-13:20 men David McNeill and Brett Robinson, Canada, Germany and, returning with last year's Third Stage course record setter Zane Robertson and brother Jake, New Zealand.  JRN will cover the International Chiba Ekiden live on @JRNLive.  Check back over the weekend for start lists, final rankings, and info on streaming of Fuji TV's live broadcast.

Chiba is not the only thing going on this weekend, though.  The 4th running of the Kobe Marathon happens Sunday, its small elite field included 2:11:25 man Kensuke Takahashi formerly of the Toyota corporate team and women's course record holder Chihiro Tanaka (AthleC AC).  Athens Olympics marathon women's gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) heads Kobe's quarter marathon division.  3 weeks after running the TCS New York City Marathon and a week after the 3rd-fastest half marathon of his career, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) also returns to the marathon distance at the 24th running of the Fukuchiyama Marathon, part of his tuneup for a shot at 2:07 next month.

In Tokyo, the historic Fuchu Tamagawa Half Marathon celebrates its 37th running.  Further west, university men from outside the Tokyo-centric Kanto region will have their season-ender at the Tango University Men's Ekiden, a race serving as the Kanto Region University Men's Ekiden Championships.  Even further west, regional qualifying action for the corporate men's New Year Ekiden national championships wraps up with the Kyushu Corporate Men's Ekiden, one of Japan's most competitive.

There's even some track action as the Kanto Region hosts its annual University 10000 m Time Trials meet, traditionally at Tokyo's doomed National Stadium but this year to be held at Keio University due to the National Stadium's impending demolition.  The meet features a series of finely-graded men's 10000 m heats going all the way down to those targeting 28:00-28:20 plus one women's 10000.  With many top university names including last weekend's Ageo City Half Marathon runner-up Takashi Ichida (Daito Bunka Univ.) and 2014 Copenhagen World Half Marathon Championships team member Hiroto Inoue (Yamanashi Gakuin University) on the entry list JRN will be on-hand to cover the meet live.

2014 International Chiba Ekiden
Chiba, 11/24/14
13 teams, 6 stages,  42.195 km
click here for complete start list

Japanese National Team
Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.) - 13:34.53 / 27:49.94 / 1:00:50 (half)
Kota Murayama (Josai Univ.) - 13:34.57 / 28:45.66 / 58:26 (20 km)
Masato Kikuchi (Team Konica Minolta) - 13:35.18 / 28:32.05 / 1:01:17 (half)
Minato Oishi (Team Toyota) - 13:36.40 / 28:18.73
Ayuko Suzuki (Team Japan Post Group) - 15:14.96 / 32:49.02
Reiko Matsuzaki (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 15:18.95 / 32:48.00
Misaki Onishi (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 15:21.73 / 32:58.00
Ayumi Hagiwara (Team Uniqlo) - 15:24.56 / 31:41.80

Japanese University Team
Ken Yokote (Meiji Univ.) - 13:45.63 / 28:38.73
Yusuke Ogura (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 13:56.48 / 28:27.73
Tadashi Isshiki (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 13:59.07 / 28:23.40
Kentaro Hirai (Kyoto Univ.) - 14:00.92 / 28:36.72
Rina Nabeshima (Kanoya Taiiku Univ.) - 15:31.89 / 33:08.00
Sairi Noda (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) - 15:37.74 / 33:16.70
Natsuki Omori (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 15:39.96
Kotona Ota (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 16:42.04

Other Team Roster Highlights

Australia
David McNeill - 13:18.60 / 28:03.02
Brett Robinson - 13:18.96 / 28:45.39
Duer Yoa - 13:50.50 / 29:06.74
Madeline Heiner - 15:27.75 / 32:50.00
Courtney Powell - 15:56.00

Canada
Lucas Bruchet - 13:33.20
Kelly Wiebe - 13:49.54 / 29:12.3
Natasha LaBeaud - 15:44.89 / 32:43.14
Rachel Cliff - 15:48.14
Lanni Marchant - 16:07.62 / 32:29.61

Chiba Prefecture
Takanori Ichikawa (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) - 13:48.57 / 28:36.34
Shinichiro Tai (Team Fujitsu) - 13:56.35 / 28:55.77
Shota Yamada (Chiba T&F Assoc.) - 14:00.98 / 29:02.84
Kanako Fujiishi (Juntendo Univ.) - 15:58.15

China
Guo Jian Dong - 13:43.47 / 28:17.60
Ding Hong Yang - 13:49.02 / 28:19.08
Guoxiong Su - 14:06.56 / 29:02.60
Ting Lian Fu - 15:47.82 / 32:39.99

Estonia
Sergey Tserepannikov - 14:26.67 / 30:12.21
Roman Fosti - 14:45.58 / 30:25.06
Jekaterina Pajuk - 15:54.94 / 33:46.00

France
Djamel Bashiri - 13:56.47 / 29:04.30
Pierre Urruty - 14:04.99 / 29:23.19
Jean Damascene Habarurema - 14:06.02 / 29:03.00
Ophelie Claude-Boxberger - 33:44.00

Germany
Florian Orth - 13:34.54
Simon Stuetzel - 13:41.13 / 28:56.24
Nico Sonnenberg - 13:55.65 / 29:02.44
Diana Sujew - 8:47.68 (3000 m)
Elina Sujew - 8:57.56 (3000 m)

Kenya
Matthew Kisorio - 12:57.83 / 26:54.25 / 58:46 (half)
Amos Kiprono Kaptich - 14:02.08 / 29:37.27
Henry Sang - 14:05.8 / 28:23.00
Mercy Kibarus - 15:20.01 / 32:30.15
Maureen Mutindi Muthiani - 15:40.10 / 32:56.11

New Zealand
Zane Robertson - 13:13.83 / 29:29.00
Jake Robertson - 13:15.54 / 27:45.46
Daniel Balchin - 13:57.26 / 31:11.70
Camille Buscomb - 15:38.74 / 34:00.00

Russia
Egor Nikolaev - 13:42.84
Rinas Akhmadeev - 13:58.38 / 28:32.01
Yevgeny Rybakov - 28:02.79
Anatoly Rybakov - 28:03.59
Natalya Popkova - 15:05.95 / 31:55.83
Elena Korobkina - 15:14.67
Alina Prokopeva - 15:23.78 / 31:57.38
Alla Kuliatina - 15:27.26

U.S.A.
Jake Riley - 13:32.82 / 28:08.36
Girma Mecheso - 13:34.83 / 27:52.38
Christo Landry - 27:59.22
Tyler Pennell - 13:42.00 / 28:23.54
Katie Matthews - 15:42.95 / 32:44.58
Liz Costello - 15:45.11 / 32:40.55
Rachel Ward - 15:47.05 / 32:15.85

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Sunday, November 16, 2014

High School National Champion Teammates Takada and Ichida Go 1-2, Yiu Sets Women's NR at Fast Ageo City Half Marathon (updated)

by Brett Larner
videos by Ekiden News



The Ageo City Half Marathon, Japan's major fall half marathon and, jointly with March's National University Half Marathon Championships, the deepest race at its distance in the world, delivered again in perfect conditions for its 27th running.  Every year the head coaches of most of the men's university teams bound for Japan's premier sporting event, the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden, use Ageo to narrow down their rosters to their final Hakone squad, meaning a dedicated and motivated pack of hundreds going for all they're worth and almost unimaginable results.  For the last three years the New York City Half Marathon has invited the top two Japanese collegiates in Ageo to run NYC in a relationship set up by JRN, adding an extra drive to the front end of the race.

Last year Takashi Ichida (Daito Bunka Univ.) craftily kicked his way to the win in the last few meters in a PB 1:02:36, the top five all finishing within 2 seconds of him.  Now a senior, Ichida returned to Ageo off a superb run on the National University Ekiden Championships First Stage two weeks ago to try to become the first Japanese collegiate to defend his title.  A massive pack of around 50 went out fast, going through 5 km on mid-1:01 pace with just a few meters separating them from the rest of the field.

The pace stayed hot but the pack stayed together until Toyo University 1st-year Kenta Nakatani made a small move to the front on a corner near 9 km.  Ichida and his identical twin brother Hiroshi Ichida immediately responded, taking off from the rest of the field pursued by Koki Takada and Shinichiro Nakamura of Waseda University and 1st-year Naoki Kudo of 4-time defending National University Ekiden champion Komazawa University.

Takada, missing out on the NYC invite last year when he was the 3rd Japanese collegiate finisher by a fraction of a second, was teammates with the Ichida twins at Kagoshima Jitsugyo H.S. when K.J.H.S. won the 2010 National High School Ekiden Championships.  In that classic race Takashi Ichida ran the First Stage, Hiroshi Ichida covering the Sixth Stage and handing off to anchor Takada who ran down leader Sera H.S. to seal the win with a kick over the final 200 m.  All three now ran together again.

Behind them, a chase pack of around ten including Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) and like-mined independent Hideyuki Ikegami (Kyoto Kyoiku Univ.) separated from the main group.  Hiroshi Ichida dropped off the leaders to join the second pack just as Kawauchi, who missed three days of work with a cold after returning from the New York City Marathon two weeks ago, began to slip off the back.

At 15 km Nakamura was the next to falter, leaving just Takashi Ichida, Takada and Kudo in contention.  All three made small moves to the front, but the decisive move didn't come until 19 km where Ichida threw in a surge that got rid of Kudo.

A kilometer later Takada responded with a surge of his own, but Ichida hung on to him as the pair moved into the final kilometer.  Behind them, Komazawa head coach Hiroaki Oyagi shouted to Kudo to attack, and against odds he closed on the two leaders just before the turn into the stadium for the final lap of the track.

But he was too late.  Takashi Ichida surged again on the first curve, opening a gap of 10 m on Takada.  With a superb kick to his credit it looked like Ichida might pull it off, but Takada had his own kick in reserve and drove past Ichida on the back curve to win in a PB 1:02:02, the third-fastest winning time in Ageo history.  Ichida was next in 1:02:03, also a PB, meaning the former National Champion high school teammates will travel to New York together for the final race of Ichida's university career.

Kudo, a relative no-name who turned 19 in September, was 3rd in 1:02:18, the third-fastest time ever by a Japanese junior and better than the winning time in Ageo the last three years.  The next four runners likewise all broke Takashi Ichida's winning time from last year.  Waseda and Komazawa dominated the top ten with three runners each, broken up only by Takashi Ichida and Hazuma Hattori of 2014 Hakone Ekiden champion Toyo.  All of the top 9 ran PBs but Kudo, whose excellent time was a debut.

Kawauchi took 10th in 1:02:55, just the third time in his career that he has broken 1:03.  The list of PBs extended far down the field.  Overall depth was down slightly from Ageo's very best years despite the perfect conditions and hard-driving race up front but still exceeded anything found anywhere else:

1st: 1:02:02
10th: 1:02:55
25th: 1:03:30
50th: 1:04:09
100th: 1:05:02
200th: 1:06:21
300th: 1:08:05
400th: 1:10:43

Last year in Ageo Singapore's Mok Ying Ren set a men's national record to make the 2014 Copenhagen World Half Marathon.  Following his lead, Kit Ching Yiu of Hong Kong travelled to Ageo this year to go for the Hong Kong women's national record of 1:16:34.  And just got there, crossing the finish line in a 1:16:31 gun time after taking 8 seconds to get across the start line.   The pair's records show an interesting new possibility for the Ageo City Half Marathon, a small-town local race that just happens to be one of the world's great elite events, as a destination race of choice for people looking to be pulled along to their best.



27th Ageo City Half Marathon
Ageo, Saitama, 11/16/14

Men
1. Koki Takada (Waseda Univ.) - 1:02:02 - PB
2. Takashi Ichida (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 1:02:03 - PB
3. Naoki Kudo (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:02:18 - debut
4. Shinichiro Nakamura (Waseda Univ.) - 1:02:30 - PB
5. Hazuma Hattori (Toyo Univ.) - 1:02:31 - PB
6. Shun Inoura (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:02:32 - PB
7. Shohei Otsuka (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:02:32 - PB
8. Shun Sato (Waseda Univ.) - 1:02:49 - PB
9. Shun Sakuraoka (Toyo Univ.) - 1:02:53 - PB
10. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 1:02:55

Women
1. Kit Ching Yiu (Hong Kong) - 1:16:31 - NR
2. Risa Suzuki (Art Sports) - 1:18:27
3. Mayumi Uchiyama (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 1:18:44
4. Hiroko Abasaki (Second Wind AC) - 1:22:04
5. Shuku Iwashita (Restart) - 1:24:22


text and photos (c) 2014 Brett Larner, all rights reserved
except award ceremony photo c/o Yusuke Inoue

Tanaka Wins Final Yokohama International Women's Marathon, 19-Year-Old Iwade 2:27:21 Debut

by Brett Larner

Two-time National Corporate Half Marathon champion Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) continued her transition to the marathon today, following up on her 2:26:05 debut for 5th in Nagoya in March with a 2:26:57 win over London Olympics gold medalist Tiki Gelana (Ethiopia) and others at the final running of the short-lived Yokohama International Women's Marathon.

The race started close to target pace with a 16:56 opening 5 km split, but from there to 10 km the Kenyan pacer Purity Cherotich lost control, running 16:35, sub-2:20 pace, and dropping all but independent Azusa Nojiri (Hiratsuka Lease) and debuting 19-year-old Reia Iwade (Team Noritz).  With a 20-second lead over Tanaka and formerly Japan-based Kenyans Philes Ongori and Caroline Rotich both Nojiri and Iwade let go and coasted, returning to a more sensible pace with a 16:57 for the next 5 km.  Rotich soon closed the gap and went by the leading Japanese pair, Nojiri letting her go but Iwade throwing caution to the wind again and going with her.  Tanaka and Philes took their time regaining contact, catching up to form a pack of five after a slower 17:35 split took the leaders through 20 km.

Halfway came in a solid 1:11:56.  Nojiri, who won the Hokkaido Marathon in late August, began to fade despite the gradually slowing pace, 40 seconds behind by 25 km.  Little changed over the next 10 km until Rotich made a move at 35 km that dropped Iwade.  Side-by-side-by-side at 40 km, Rotich abruptly folded, vomiting and losing touch with Tanaka and Ongori.  Still together coming in to Yamashita Park for the finish, Tanaka opened a slight gap on Ongori that grew in the final straight to a 2-second margin of victory, 2:26:57 to 2:26:59.  Iwade ran down the stricken Rotich for 3rd, her 2:27:21 the fastest-ever by a Japanese teenager.  Olympic champion Gelana, appearing out of shape, was never a factor and finished a distant 6th in 2:29:13.

As the first selection race for the 2015 Beijing World Championships Japanese women's team Tanaka's win in Yokohama puts her name into the hat, but with a time far off the Federation's Beijing standard she is not likely to be picked if times in Osaka and Nagoya next year are several minutes faster.  Considering that the fastest time by a Japanese woman this year was only 2:25:26 that may not happen, but either way Tanaka's fate won't be decided for a few months to come.

In the meantime, following its eviction from Tokyo six years ago the Yokohama International Women's Marathon now moves northwest to Saitama.  The move may secure it the better budget it needed to achieve more than it did in Yokohama, but it also spells trouble for another long-standing elite race held the same day, the Ageo City Half Marathon in Ageo, Saitama, nearby the future Saitama International Women's Marathon's likely course.  With Saitama police among the strictest in the nation when it comes to road closure permits and the Saitama Prefectural Government signing on as co-sponsors of the relocating marathon, Ageo organizers are very concerned that the move will force them to change their traditional date, a major problem for its important role as a key pre-Hakone Ekiden prep event for university men.  How the move will play out remains to be seen.

6th Yokohama International Women's Marathon
Yokohama, Kanagawa, 11/16/14
click here for complete results

1. Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 2:26:57
2. Philes Ongori (Kenya) - 2:26:59
3. Reia Iwade (Team Noritz) - 2:27:21 - debut
4. Caroline Rotich (Kenya) - 2:27:32
5. Azusa Nojiri (Hiratsuka Lease) - 2:28:54
6. Tiki Gelana (Ethiopia) - 2:29:13
7. Alina Prokopeva (Russia) - 2:29:18
8. Olena Shurkhno (Ukraine) - 2:29:26
9. Mayumi Fujita (Team Juhachi Ginko) - 2:34:13
10. Zivile Balciunaite (Lithuania) - 2:35:36
-----
DNF - Marisa Barros (Portugal)
DNF - Irvette Van Zyl (South Africa)

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Gap Between Japan and the Rest of the World

by Brett Larner

I was asked to give a speech at the welcoming reception the night before this year’s Ageo City Half Marathon about the JRN-arranged invite for the top two Japanese university finishers in Ageo to run March’s NYC Half Marathon. Guests in the audience included Ageo mayor Minoru Shimamura, KGRR chairman and Hakone Ekiden race director Yoshiyuki Aoba, Waseda University head coach Yasuyuki Watanabe and other Hakone university teams’ head coaches, and 1999 World Championships marathon silver medalist Ari Ichihashi. I decided not to prepare anything and just freestyle it. This is a translation of what I can remember saying.

Good evening everybody. If you ever have to give a speech in a foreign language I would advise against drinking sake beforehand. The words don’t come out right. I’m not that strong with honorific language, so if I say things in a rude way I apologize in advance. That is not my intention. To begin with, congratulations to Mayor Shimamura and everyone on the Ageo City Half Marathon executive committee on tomorrow’s 27th running.

“The gap between Japan and the rest of the world.” You hear those words a lot, but what do they really mean? As a foreigner I often wonder about that. A month and a half ago we entered the 2:02 marathon era. 2:02. Needless to say there’s a gap there. How are we non-Africans supposed to deal with that? I don’t know the answer.

But if you look at the history of athletics, the only ones really trying to answer are Japan and the U.S.A. What kind of gap is there between Japan and the U.S.? If you compare them, right now there are 15-20 Japanese men who can break 2:10 for the marathon. In the U.S. there are only two. If you look at the 61-62 minute half marathon range there are more athletes at that level in Japan than in the U.S.A. Many years more Japanese men run 27 for 10000 m than Americans. Among university runners, especially here in the Kanto region, there are far more running 13 minutes for 5000 m than in the United States. There’s no question that there’s a gap there, in a positive meaning. But at the same time, at the Olympics, the World Championships, the World Half Marathon and World XC, Americans are winning medals. For the most part Japanese athletes aren’t, present company excluded, Ms. Ichihashi. So in another sense there is a gap there as well.

This is the fourth year that the NYC Half Marathon is inviting the top two Japanese collegiate runners from the Ageo City Half Marathon, and in the first three years of the two races’ relationship those collegiate runners have delivered results. Every year one of them has beaten an American world-level medalist. In 2012 Toyo University’s Yuta Shitara beat America’s Dathan Ritzenhein. Ritzenhein has run 12 minutes for 5000 m and has won two world-level medals, a bronze at the World Half Marathon and a bronze at World XC. In 2013 Komazawa University’s Kenta Murayama beat 8-time Olympic and World Championships American medalist Bernard Lagat. This year, picked up as an alternate a month before the race, Komazawa’s Ikuto Yufu beat American Meb Keflezighi, the Athens Olympics marathon silver medalist and 4th in the London Olympics marathon. In his next race Keflezighi became the first American Boston Marathon winner in 32 years.

If a young collegiate runner like Yufu can come into a race unprepared and beat a World Marathon Major winner like Keflezighi then what kind of gap is there between them? What kind of gap between the world and Japan, between Japan and the world? I don’t think there is one. When your young athletes are going from here at the Ageo City Half Marathon to New York and beating world-level medalists and seeing that truth for themselves, then five and a half, six years from now at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics their chances of winning a medal are going to be that much higher. I look forward to a great race tomorrow and to seeing the best two collegiates beat world-level medalists, American medalists, again next March at the NYC Half Marathon. Thank you.

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Friday, November 14, 2014

Ageo and Yokohama Lead a Busy Weekend Across Japan

by Brett Larner

It's one of the busiest weekends of the year across Japan, with three major road races, regional championship corporate ekiden action, two big track meets and even some overseas collegiates.



The biggest race on the schedule is Sunday's Ageo City Half Marathon in Ageo, Saitama, a local race used by coaches of university teams bound for Japan's most prestigious sporting event, January's Hakone Ekiden, to pare down their rosters to the final candidates for their Hakone lineups.  As a result Ageo regularly features jaw-dropping numbers, with close to 200 going under 1:06 and 4~500 under 1:10.  In a program put together by JRN, for the last three years the NYC Half Marathon has invited the top two Japanese collegiates in Ageo to its race in March, and in 2013 the invite had a measurable impact.  In its first 25 years Ageo saw 36 people break 1:03.  At last year's 26th running 18 more runners, all Japanese collegiates, broke 1:03.

Defending champion Takashi Ichida (Daito Bunka Univ.) will be back in pursuit of another shot in New York, and 2012 winner Kenta Murayama and 2013 National University Half Marathon champion Shogo Nakamura, both members of four-time National University Ekiden winner Komazawa University and of the Japanese National Team at the 2014 Copenhagen World Half Marathon Championships, are also on the entry list.  There's no telling who will actually start, but given the steady stream of record-breaking depth and quality in Japan since Tokyo won the 2020 Olympic bid it's safe to say that it's going to be another incredible day in Ageo no matter who ends up on the podium.  Local hero Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) will also make a return to competition in Ageo for the first time since running the TCS New York City Marathon two weeks ago.  JRN will be onhand to cover the race live.  Follow @JRNHeadlines and @JRNLive for more.

Next on the list is the Yokohama International Women's Marathon, going out with a bang after just six runnings by welcoming 2012 London Olympics gold medalist Tiki Gelana (Ethiopia) back to Japan.  Yokohama has always been something of a dinosaur, an attempt to hold on to something outdated as times change, bumped down from Tokyo to Yokohama as the new Tokyo Marathon shouldered aside the historic Tokyo International Women's Marathon, and while it is disappointing it's not really surprising that it never caught on and will be sent down again to Saitama next year, where it is due to be subsumed into a mass-participation race in 2016.

The formerly Japan-based Gelana makes for a good last hurrah along with fellow former Japan residents Philes Ongori (Kenya) and Caroline Rotich (Kenya), both of whom enigmatically have PBs of 2:23:22.  Joining them are the Euro cadre of Olena Shurkhno (Ukraine), Marisa Barros (Portugal), Zivile Balciunaitie (Lithuania) and Alina Prokopeva (Russia), and Irvette Van Zyl (South Africa).  Japanese hopes lie primarily in former teammates Azusa Nojiri (Hiratsuka Lease), an independent who won August's Hokkaido Marathon, and two-time National Corporate Half Marathon champion Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei), running her second marathon after debuting in 2:26:05 in Nagoya this year.  The most interesting Japanese woman may be Reia Iwade (Team Noritz), maing her debut at age 19 after a 1:09:45 half marathon at the Sanyo Ladies Half last December just after her birthday.  Follow @JRNLive for live coverage throughout the race.

Speaking of Sanyo, traditionally a year-end highlight producing many of the year's top Japanese women's times, this year it has moved to mid-November and now sits opposite Yokohama.  As a consequence its half marathon has taken a serious hit in quality.  Mattie Suver (U.S.A.) and Charlotte Purdue (Great Britain) face a weak domestic field with only two Japanese women, Shoko Mori (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) and Asami Furuse (Team Kyocera), holding bests under 1:15.  Better quality is to be found in Sanyo's 10 km division, where Japan-based Kenyans Grace Kimanzi (Team Starts) and Felista Wanjugu (Team Univ. Ent.) lead 2011 Tokyo Marathon winner Noriko Higuchi and her Wacoal teammates Yuka Hakoyama, Mao Kuroda and Ai Migita and others.

Japanese women are also to be found abroad this weekend as once again members of the Meijo University women's ekiden team will run the Netherlands' Zevenheuvelenloop road race.  Road action is rounded out by regional qualifying ekidens for the corporate men's New Year Ekiden national championships.  Across Japan, men's corporate teams in the Chubu, Chugoku, Hokuriku and Kansai regions will be racing to make the New Year cut, following last weekend's East Japan regional qualifier.  And for those not running in any of the races above, major track time trials will also happen at Nittai University in Yokohama and Ecopa Stadium further west in Shizuoka.  JRN will bring you results and coverage of all these events through the weekend and into next week.

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

International Chiba Ekiden Entry Lists

http://www.sankei.com/sports/news/141111/spo1411110022-n1.html

translated by Brett Larner

On Nov. 11 the Japanese Federation released the rosters for the thirteen combined men's and women's teams from eleven countries for the Nov. 24 International Chiba Ekiden.  The six-stage, 42.195 km race uniquely features alternating men's and women's stages.  At the forefront of the Japanese National Team are the leaders of the university athletics world, identical twins Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.) and Kota Murayama (Josai Univ.).  Joining them in hopes of generating Japan's first Chiba win in five years are Incheon Asian Games 10000 m bronze medalist Ayumi Hagiwara (Team Uniqlo) and other young stars.

The Japanese University Team features a solid lineup of current young collegiate talent including 2014 National University Track and Field Championships 10000 m runner-up Kentaro Hirai (Kyoto Univ.) and last year's Chiba Fourth Stage winner Natsuki Omori (Ritsumeikan Univ.).

Three-time defending champion Kenya returns in search of a fourth-straight win along with teams from nine other countries.  2011 World Cross-Country Championships 4th-placer Matthew Kisorio features prominently on the Kenyan team.

2014 International Chiba Ekiden
Chiba, 11/24/14
13 teams, 6 stages,  42.195 km
click here for complete entry lists - correct romanizations will be added later

Japanese National Team
Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.) - 13:34.53 / 27:49.94 / 1:00:50 (half)
Kota Murayama (Josai Univ.) - 13:34.57 / 28:45.66 / 58:26 (20 km)
Masato Kikuchi (Team Konica Minolta) - 13:35.18 / 28:32.05 / 1:01:17 (half)
Minato Oishi (Team Toyota) - 13:36.40 / 28:18.73
Ayuko Suzuki (Team Japan Post Group) - 15:14.96 / 32:49.02
Reiko Matsuzaki (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 15:18.95 / 32:48.00
Misaki Onishi (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 15:21.73 / 32:58.00
Ayumi Hagiwara (Team Uniqlo) - 15:24.56 / 31:41.80

Japanese University Team
Ken Yokote (Meiji Univ.) - 13:45.63 / 28:38.73
Yusuke Ogura (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 13:56.48 / 28:27.73
Tadashi Isshiki (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 13:59.07 / 28:23.40
Kentaro Hirai (Kyoto Univ.) - 14:00.92 / 28:36.72
Rina Nabeshima (Kanoya Taiiku Univ.) - 15:31.89 / 33:08.00
Sairi Noda (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) - 15:37.74 / 33:16.70
Natsuki Omori (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 15:39.96
Kotona Ota (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 16:42.04

Other Team Roster Highlights

Australia
David McNeill - 13:18.60 / 28:03.02
Brett Robinson - 13:18.96 / 28:45.39
Madeline Heiner - 15:27.75 / 32:50.00

Canada
Lucas Bruchet - 13:33.20
Natasha LaBeaud - 15:44.89 / 32:43.14
Lanni Marchant - 16:07.62 / 32:29.61

Chiba Prefecture
Takanori Ichikawa (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) - 13:48.57 / 28:36.34
Shinichiro Tai (Team Fujitsu) - 13:56.35 / 28:55.77
Kanako Fujiishi (Juntendo Univ.) - 15:58.15

China
Guo Chen Don - 13:43.47 / 28:17.60
Din Hon Yan - 13:49.02 / 28:19.08
Din Ren Fo - 15:47.82 / 32:39.99

Estonia
Sergey Tserepannikov - 14:26.67 / 30:12.21
Roman Fosti - 14:45.58 / 30:25.06
Ekaterina Pajuk - 15:54.94 / 33:46.00

France
Djamel Bashiri - 13:56.47 / 29:04.30
Pierre Urruty - 14:04.99 / 29:23.19
Oferi Crodobosberge - 33:44.00

Germany
Florian Orth - 13:34.54
Simon Stuetzel - 13:41.13 / 28:56.24
Diana Sujew - 8:47.68 (3000 m)
Elina Sujew - 8:57.56 (3000 m)

Kenya
Matthew Kisorio - 12:57.83 / 26:54.25 / 58:46 (half)
Mercy Kibarus - 15:20.01 / 32:30.15
Maureen Mutindi Muthiani - 15:40.10 / 32:56.11

New Zealand
Zane Robertson - 13:13.83 / 29:29.00
Jake Robertson - 13:15.54 / 27:45.46
Camille Buscomb - 15:38.74 / 34:00.00

Russia
Yevgeny Rybakov - 28:02.79
Anatoly Rybakov - 28:03.59
Natalya Popkova - 15:05.95 / 31:55.83
Elena Korobkina - 15:14.67
Alina Prokopeva - 15:23.78 / 31:57.38

U.S.A.
Jake Riley - 13:32.82 / 28:08.36
Girma Mecheso - 13:34.83 / 27:52.38
Christo Landry - 27:59.22
Tyler Pennell - 13:42.00 / 28:23.54
Katie Matthews - 15:42.95 / 32:44.58
Liz Costello - 15:45.11 / 32:40.55
Rachel Ward - 15:47.05 / 32:15.85

Monday, November 10, 2014

Monteroza Athletics Club to Hold Track School Session

http://www.work-master.net/201404814

translated by Brett Larner

The Monteroza Athletics Club is pleased to announce that it will hold a "Monteroza Track School" session on Nov. 15 at Hachioji Municipal Junior High School #6 in Hachioji, Tokyo.  Active both overseas and at some of the world's top-level meets, members of the Monteroza team will give demonstrations and lessons in sprint, hurdle, high jump and long jump events.  Some of Japan's best athletes will show the practical how-to of what they do right before the very eyes and beyond the wildest dreams of participating elementary school students in the hope that the hands-on experience will inspire the next generation to take up the sport.

After the competition experience session, registered dietitians from Meiji Savas will hold a nutrition seminar targeted at students' parents.  Meiji Savas provides nutritional advice and support to many of the country's top athletes including Monteroza decathlete Hiromasa Tanaka and will introduce the types of meals that elite athletes eat.  Monteroza continues to strive to implement initiatives that will contribute to better health for all.

Translator's note: Monteroza operates the Shirokiya, Uotami and Warawara chains of izakaya bars and restaurants.  Its athletics club includes Kenyan distance runner and former Nihon University star Benjamin Ngandu, pictured above.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

12,156 Take Part in First Running of Fukuoka Marathon

http://www.nishinippon.co.jp/nnp/f_toshiken/article/126034

translated by Brett Larner

The first running of the Fukuoka Marathon took place Nov. 9 on a course from downtown Fukuoka to Itoshima.  A total of 12,156 people took part in the full marathon and the 5.2 km fun run and wheelchair divisions, soaking up enthusiastic cheering from local residents as the course passed through towns and along the seafront.

The full marathon featured 11,173 participants including 7929 men and 2244 women.  Rain that began falling the night of the 8th lifted just before the 8:18 wheelchair start and 8:20 marathon and fun run start from Tenjin Crossing outside Tenjin Station in Fukuoka.  Light rain fell occasionally during the race, but with a high temperature of 18.4 degrees conditions throughout the day were comfortable for a marathon.  9898 runners, 7754 men and 2144 women, reached the finish line near Itoshima City Hall, a finish rate of 97.3%.

Local runners led the day, with Tetsuya Shoji (30, Fukuoka Track and Field Assoc.) winning the men's race in 2:27:57 and Mari Hanada (34, Ohori Runners) winning the women's race in 2:53:23.  Four athletes took part in the wheelchair race, three finishing.

According to race officials, five runners were transported by ambulance for hypothermia and vomiting, but in all cases, "The runners' symptoms were not severe."  Many of the cases came from the long waiting line for the shuttle busses to JR Chikuzen Maebaru Station, an issue that will need to be worked out for next year's race.

Race officials summed up the race positively, saying, "We are relieved that the first running went off successfully.  This event could not have happened without our sponsoring companies and regional organizations, our volunteers, and all the people who participated in the race.  We want to resolve what problems we did encounter to make an even better event in the future."

Translator's note: Only 4 weeks separate the Fukuoka Marathon from the long-standing elite Fukuoka International Marathon.  Race organizers told JRN that the Fukuoka Marathon, an expansion of the well-established Fukuoka Half Marathon, was envisioned as a mass-participation addition to Fukuoka International as is the trend with many of Japan's other elite races, but that this idea was flatly rejected by Fukuoka International organizers.  With police strict about issuing road closure permits and the mass-participation event bringing in considerable numbers of people from outside the region the new Fukuoka Marathon's success has to raise questions about the future of the older elite race.

photo (c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Osaka Gakuin and Gunma On Top As Women's Ekidens Turn 30

by Brett Larner

Two of Japan's elite women-only ekidens founded after the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics celebrated their 30th anniversaries Sunday.  At the Fukui Super Ladies Ekiden, last year's top collegiate team Osaka Gakuin University staged a classic come-from-behind race to take its first Fukui title, covering the six-stage, 30.0 km course in 1:38:23.  Down by more than a minute behind leader Panasonic and in 15th place after the 6.55 km First Stage, each of Osaka Gakuin's next five runners moved up in both stage ranking and overall standing until Sakie Arai took the lead by four seconds over 2014 National University Women's Ekiden champion Ritsumeikan University and by six over Panasonic with a 16:10 stage best on the Fifth Stage.  Anchor Saori Noda then put both Ritsumeikan and Panasonic away with a 24:25 stage best for the 7.45 km Sixth Stage to win by nearly a minute.  Panasonic's anchor, 2014 Gold Coast Airport Marathon winner Asami Kato, overtook Ritsumeikan anchor Mutsumi Ikeda for 2nd overall in 1:39:12.  Megumi Hirai of last year's runner up Canon AC Kyushu also sneaked by Ikeda for 3rd in 1:39:18.

Far to the northeast in Fukushima, the East Japan Women's Ekiden also turned 30.   Defending champion Chiba ran strong for the first seven of the race's nine stages, leading on stages and never falling more than a second out of top three.  Its final two runners struggling, however, Chiba ultimately dropped to 8th.  In its place, Gunma, Saitama and Tokyo battled throughout the race, the lead turning over six times from stage to stage.  Gunma took the lead on the 3.0 km Eighth Stage thanks to a 9:09 stage win by its Arisu Fuwa, and a 32:16 stage win for the 10.0 km anchor stage by star Shiho Takechi put it far out in front for the win in 2:16:43 by a margin of over a minute.  Leading on the Seventh Stage Saitama looked set for 2nd, but Kanagawa anchor Kaori Morita delivered a solid 32:37 to come up from 6th and catch Saitama anchor Fumiko Hashimoto to steal 2nd by just two seconds in 2:17:46.  After leading early and mid-race, Tokyo dropped to 5th overall behind Nagano.

30th Fukui Super Ladies Ekiden
Fukui, 11/9/14
6 stages, 30.0 km, 45 teams
click here for complete results

Top Team Results
1. Osaka Gakuin Univ. A - 1:38:23
2. Panasonic - 1:39:12
3. Canon AC Kyushu - 1:39:18
4. Ritsumeikan Univ. - 1:39:44
5. Meijo Univ. A - 1:40:08
6. Kyoto Sangyo Univ. - 1:40:09
7. Yamada Denki - 1:40:15
8. Hitachi - 1:40:17
9. Fukuoka Univ. A - 1:40:19
10. Edion - 1:40:31

Stage Best Performances
First Stage - 6.55 km: Rina Yamazaki (Panasonic) - 20:58
Second Stage - 3.0 km: Risa Kikuchi (Hitachi) - 9:30
Third Stage - 4.0 km: Yomogi Akasaka (Meijo Univ. A) - 12:52
Fourth Stage - 4.0 km: Doricah Obare (Kenya/Hitachi) - 12:28
Fifth Stage - 5.0 km: Sakie Arai (Osaka Gakuin Univ. A) - 16:10
Sixth Stage - 7.45 km: Saori Noda (Osaka Gakuin Univ. A) - 24:25

30th East Japan Women's Ekiden
Fukushima, 11/9/14
9 stages, 42.195 km, 18 teams
click here for complete results

Top Team Results
1. Gunma - 2:16:43
2. Kanagawa - 2:17:46
3. Saitama - 2:17:48
4. Nagano - 2:18:00
5. Tokyo - 2:18:23
6. Shizuoka - 2:19:37
7. Fukushima - 2:20:32
8. Chiba - 2:20:36
9. Tochigi - 2:20:56
10. Hokkaido - 2:21:06

Stage Best Performances
First Stage - 6.0 km: Hanami Sekine (Tokyo) - 19:02
Second Stage - 4.0 km: Kanako Shimada (Tokyo) - 12:56
Third Stage - 3.0 km: Ai Hosoda (Nagano) - 9:52
Fourth Stage - 3.0 km: Ema Hayashi (Gunma) - 9:19
Fifth Stage - 5.0875 km: Mao Kiyota (Shizuoka) - 16:20
Sixth Stage - 4.1075 km: Reina Shinozaki (Gunma) - 13:00
Seventh Stage - 4.0 km: Tomomi Miyasaka (Saitama) - 13:10
Eighth Stage - 3.0 km: Arisu Fuwa (Gunma) - 9:09
Ninth Stage - 10.0 km: Shiho Takechi (Gunma) - 32:16

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved