Saturday, February 28, 2015

Star of the North Miho Shimizu Makes Her First World Cross Country Team

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20150225-OHT1T50141.html

translated by Brett Larner

This week the Federation announced the Japanese national team for the Mar. 28 World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China.  Making the senior women's 8 km squad for the first time is the Star of the North, Hokkaido's native daughter Miho Shimizu (24, Team Hokuren).  Her first time making a Japanese national team, Shimizu was hopeful as she said, "It's a great honor.  I want to run an aggressive race, experience the level and strength of the world's top athlete and apply what I learn there to track season."

At the first of the two selection races, the Feb. 8 Chiba International Cross Country Meet she ran 29:30 for 8 km to place 5th overall as the 4th Japanese woman.  At the second selection race, the Feb. 21 Fukuoka International Cross Country Meet, she took 3rd overall in the 6th in 20:02, scoring her place on the team by finishing as the 2nd Japanese woman.

After graduating from Ashoro H.S. Shimizu was a star at Hakuoh University, running big at the National University Women's Ekiden.  She joined the Hokuren corporate team in the spring of 2013.  Since the retirement of Hokuren's leader Yukiko Akaba last spring Shimizu has grown to become the team's big hope for its "post-Akaba" era.  At last June's National Track and Field Championships she was 2nd in the 5000 m.  At December's National Corporate Women's Ekiden she ran the most competitive stage, showing her strength by placing 5th on the Third Stage and helping lead Hokuren to a 9th-place team finish, its first time cracking the single digits in five years.

After the New Year Shimizu worked on strengthening her running, doing 30 km a day of mileage on a cross country course on the island of Tokunoshima.  Her main focus for the year is making the 5000 m at August's Beijing World Championships.  Her plan for the season has her first track race being at the April 18-19 Oda Memorial Meet in Hiroshima, and she will also run the May 2 Cardinal Invitational in the United States for the first time.  At the Japanese National Track and Field Championships, June 26-28 in Niigata, she plans to clinch her place on the World Championships team.

"The experience of running World Cross will help me hit the World Championships standard (15:20), and that is going to lead directly on to the Rio Olympics next year," she said.  If successful, she will follow Akaba as only the second Hokuren runner to make a World Championships team.

Miho Shimizu - born May 13, 1990 in Ashoro, Hokkaido.  24 years old.  Began track and field in 4th grade, finishing 3rd in the National Junior High School Championships 1500 m while in 8th grade at Ashoro J.H.S.  While an 11th grader at Sapporo Seishu H.S. she transferred to Ashoro H.S.  At the National High School Championships she won both the 1500 m and 3000 m for two straight years.  Her senior year at Hakuoh University she placed 4th in the 5000 m at the National University Championships.  Her PBs are 15:34.22 for 5000 m and 32:14.44 for 10000 m.  159 cm, 51 kg, blood type A.  Her family includes her parents, a younger brother and an older brother.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Japanese Men's World Championships Qualification Wraps Up at Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon - preview

by Brett Larner

It's a great luxury to get to watch a live marathon broadcast with no commercials, but that's just what you get with the 70th edition of the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon this Sunday.  Japan's first IAAF gold label race, Biwako as it is called here features a live ad-free nationwide broadcast on NHK starting at 12:15 p.m. Japan time with the race kicking off at 12:30.  Overseas viewers can follow @JRNLive for live coverage throughout the race if NHK is not available in your area.

And what does the race hold?  It's the last of the selection races for the Japanese team for the Beijing World Championships.  At Tokyo last week the Federation seemed to have backed off its sub-2:06:30 requirement for auto team selection, with more talk about the top Japanese position in the selection races and deserving praise for the 2:07:39 scored in Tokyo by Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu).  Imai is a clear favorite to make the team, with Fukuoka's top Japanese finisher Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda) also having a shot with his 2:09:06 for 4th barring something spectacular at Biwako.  More distantly, after a 2:09:12 PB for 9th in Tokyo Fujiwara's teammate Hiroaki Sano (Team Honda) could make it if the field flops in Biwako.  Unlikely to be named are Asian Games silver medalist Kohei Matsumura (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki), who bombed out in Tokyo, and Beppu-Oita runner-up Hiroki Kadota (Team Kanebo), whose PB 2:10:46 time didn't reflect the true quality of his race.

On the domestic front in Biwako there are three heavy favorites.  Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) was the fastest Japanese man of 2013 with a 2:08:00 at the Tokyo Marathon.  He has struggled to live up to that since then after injury troubles and comes into Biwako with few recent races behind him.  At the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden he finished 9th on the 22.0 km Fourth Stage, 59 seconds behind Imai but beating his main competitor for the Beijing team, last year's top Japanese finisher Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei), by 47 seconds.  Sasaki ran a 2:09:47 PB for 3rd in Biwako last year and comes in this year with a win at the Karatsu 10 Miler earlier this month and talking about 2:08.  Maeda is talking 2:07.

Their main competition is Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta), in the Japanese all-time top ten for 10000 m and half marathon and running his fourth marathon since debuting in Dubai 14 months ago.  In Dubai he ran 2:13, following up with a 2:12 in Sydney in September before PBing again in 2:10:50 in Fukuoka.  Another successful race would put him under 2:10 and in range of what Maeda and Sasaki say they're looking to do, but four marathons is a lot for your first year+ at the distance.  Not even Kawauchi tried that.  Other domestic notables in the field include veteran sub-2:10 twins Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) and Yuko Matsumiya (Team Hitachi Butsuryu), former Hakone Ekiden star and 2015 New Year Ekiden anchor stage winner Tsubasa Hayakawa (Team Toyota), sub-62 half marathoners Daisuke Shimizu (Team Kanebo) and Kenta Murotsuka (DeNA RC), and a raft of men at the 2:10-2:12 level who could make the jump in quality.

Defending champion Bazu Worku (Ethiopia) returns to lead the international field along with 2:06:07 Kenyan Eric Ndiema and 2012 Biwako winner Samuel Ndungu (Kenya).  Japan-based Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Team NTN) is talking about breaking the 2:08:50 Mongolian national record he set while beating Fujiwara and the rest of the Japanese men in Fukuoka in December, with Jose Antonio Uribe (Mexico), Jackson Kiprop (Uganda) and Fikadu Girma (Ethiopia) adding to the sub-2:10 numbers that will help push the front Japanese pack.  2014 European champion Daniele Meucci (Italy) is an interesting addition to the field and should be looking for a marathon breakthrough that will give him a time to better match his 1:01:05 half marathon best.  Wildcards include Japan-based Africans Agato Yashin Hassan (Ethiopia/Team Chuo Hatsujo) and Johana Maina (Kenya/Team Fujitsu), both with 2:13 marathon debuts last year.

70th Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon Elite Field Highlights
Otsu, Shiga, 3/1/15
click here for complete field listing

Bazu Worku (Ethiopia) - 2:05:25 (Berlin 2010)
Eric Ndiema (Kenya) - 2:06:07 (Amsterdam 2011)
Samuel Ndungu (Kenya) - 2:07:04 (Lake Biwa 2012)
Kazuhiro Maeda (Japan/Kyudenko) - 2:08:00 (Tokyo 2013)
Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Mongolia/NTN) - 2:08:50 (Fukuoka Int'l 2014)
Jose Antonio Uribe (Mexico) - 2:08:55 (Houston 2014)
Takayuki Matsumiya (Japan/Konica Minolta) - 2:09:14 (Tokyo 2013)
Yuko Matsumiya (Japan/Hitachi Butsuryu) - 2:09:18 (Lake Biwa 2005)
Jackson Kiprop (Uganda) - 2:09:32 (Mumbai 2013)
Fikadu Girma (Ethiopia) - 2:09:34 (Dusseldorf 2014)
Satoru Sasaki (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 2:09:47 (Lake Biwa 2014)
Bunta Kuroki (Japan/Yasukawa Denki) - 2:10:08 (Fukuoka Int'l 2012)
Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Japan/Konica Minolta) - 2:10:50 (Fukuoka Int'l 2014)
Yukihiro Kitaoka (Japan/NTN) - 2:10:51 (Lake Biwa 2010)
Keita Akiba (Japan/Komori Corp.) - 2:10:53 (Beppu-Oita 2009)
Soji Ikeda (Japan/Yakult) - 2:10:59 (Tokyo 2013)
Daniele Meucci (Italy) - 2:11:08 (European Championships 2014)
Takaaki Koda (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 2:11:08 (Tokyo 2011)
Stepan Kiselev (Russia) - 2:11:28 (Zurich 2014)
Noritaka Fujiyama (Japan/Sumitomo Denko) - 2:11:34 (Lake Biwa 2013)
Yoshiki Otsuka (Japan/Aichi Seiko) - 2:11:40 (Fukuoka Int'l 2014)
Rui Yonezawa (Japan/Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:11:59 (Lake Biwa 2014)
Noriaki Takahashi (Japan/DeNA) - 2:12:00 (Fukuoka Int'l 2014)
Ryoichi Matsuo (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 2:12:11 (Nobeoka 2014)
Kenji Higashino (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 2:12:13 (Beppu-Oita 2013)
Tatsunari Hirayama (Japan/Yasukawa Denki) - 2:12:38 (Nobeoka 2013)
Wirimai Juwawo (Zimbabwe) - 2:12:38 (Danzhou 2010)
Kazuaki Shimizu (Japan/Yakult) - 2:12:49 (Nobeoka 2013)
Agato Yashin Hassan (Ethiopia/Chuo Hatsujo) - 2:13:07 (Lake Biwa 2014)
Johana Maina (Kenya/Fujitsu) - 2:13:46 (Fukuoka Int'l 2014)

Debut/Do-over
Daisuke Shimizu (Japan/Kanebo) - 1:01:44 (Marugame 2012)
Kenta Murotsuka (Japan/DeNA) - 1:01:58 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2014)
Takumi Kiyotani (Japan/Chugoku Denryoku) - 1:02:15 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2014)
Tomohiro Shiiya (Japan/Toyota Boshoku) - 1:02:15 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2013)
Masatoshi Kikuchi (Japan/Fujitsu) - 1:02:28 (Marugame Half 2012)
Naohiro Yamada (Japan/YKK) - 1:02:40 (Marugame 2013)
Shota Inoue (Japan/Toyota) - 1:02:49 (Marugame Half 2015)
Takuya Noguchi (Japan/Konica Minolta) - 1:02:50 (Marugame Half 2014)
Yusuke Sato (Japan/Fujitsu) - 59:28 (Yosenkai 20 km 2011)
Tsubasa Hayakawa (Japan/Toyota) - 1:00:03 (Yosenkai 20 km 2010)
Taiki Yoshimura (Japan/Ryutsu Keizai Univ.) - 1:00:24 (Yosenkai 20 km 2013)

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Imperial Crown Prince Allowed to Run Outside in Public for First Time in 7 Years

http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASH2T4R9BH2TUTIL01G.html

translated by Brett Larner

Imperial Crown Prince Hironomiya enjoyed jogging a loop of the popular running course around the outside of the Imperial Palace on Feb. 25.  The Prince runs daily inside the grounds of the Crown Prince's Palace in Akasaka, Tokyo, but this was the first time he was allowed to run out in public in 7 years.

Accompanied by Imperial Household Agency officials, the Prince began his run around 3:20 p.m. from Kikyo Gate on the Tokyo Station side of the Palace.  Under cloudy skies he completed the 5 km course in 27:20.  After finishing he smiled as he commented, "It was neither too cold nor too hot.  It was a truly comfortable run."

No announcement about the run was made beforehand, so pedestrians and other runners on the course were caught by surprise.  One woman called out, "Your Majesty!" to which the Crown Prince responded with a wave.  The Prince last ran the loop around the Imperial Palace in February, 2007.  In March, 2008 he was allowed out to run the loop around the outside of the Akasaka Palace grounds.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Japan Names Team of 21 for 2015 World Cross Country Championships

by Brett Larner

Japan will send a team of 21 athletes to next month's World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China.  As always, its strongest contingent is its junior women, in this case led by 9:00.89 high schooler Azusa Sumi, undefeated since 2013, and teammate Yuka Sarumida of Toyokawa H.S.  The junior men's team features three athletes with 5000 m bests under 14 minutes including 2014 World Junior Championships team member Shota Onizuka (Omuta H.S.).

2015 Fukuoka International Cross Country Meet winner Mai Shoji (Chukyo Univ.) leads the senior women's squad which also includes her collegiate rival Maki Izumida (Ritsumeikan Univ.).  Once again this year, Japan's senior men are largely giving World Cross a miss, with only three entered versus six on the each of the other three squads.  Corporate runners are completely absent, with 2015 Hakone Ekiden winner Aoyama Gakuin University's Kazuma Kubota the biggest name of the three and Juntendo University teammates Hiroki Matsueda and Kento Hanazawa rounding out the roster.

Senior Women
Miho Shimizu (Team Hokuren) - 15:34.22 / 32:14.44
Mai Shoji (Chukyo Univ.) - 15:34.73 / 32:27.36
Maki Izumida (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 15:38.22 / 33:15.18
Tomoka Kimura (Team Univ. Ent.) - 15:44.02
Yui Fukuda (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 15:50.07
Erika Ikeda (Team Higo Ginko) - 15:54.01 / 34:06.75

Senior Men
Hiroki Matsueda (Juntendo Univ.) - 13:49.18 / 29:13.81
Kazuma Kubota (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 13:56.69 / 28:30.78
Kento Hanazawa (Juntendo Univ.) - 13:59.09 / 29:25.76

Junior Women
Azusa Sumi (Toyokawa H.S.) - 9:00.89
Yuka Sarumida (Toyokawa H.S.) - 9:08.72
Yuri Nozoe (Kamimura Gakuen H.S.) - 9:14.72
Miho Shimada (Yamanashi Gakuin Prep H.S.) - 9:15.18
Wakana Kabasawa (Tokiwa H.S.) - 9:19.84
Nana Kuraoka (Kagoshima Joshi H.S.) - 9:23.58

Junior Men
Haruki Minatoya (Akita Kogyo H.S.) - 13:57.29
Hiroyuki Sakaguchi (Isahaya H.S.) - 13:57.41 / 29:12.75
Shota Onizuka (Omuta H.S.) - 13:58.43
Fuminori Shimo (Iga Hakuho H.S.) - 14:01.59
Ryoji Tatezawa (Saitama Sakae H.S.) - 14:07.32
Junnosuke Matsuo (Akita Kogyo H.S.) - 14:11.24

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Kamino and Yokote Lead National University Men's Half Marathon Entries

by Brett Larner
video by Ekiden News

The record-setting 2014 National University Half Marathon finish.

Thanks to an average stage length of 21.7 km at the ten-stage Hakone Ekiden every Jan. 2-3 the half marathon is the distance Japan's collegiate men focus on and the one at which they excel more than any other.  Sub-63 half marathon bests have become commonplace on the Kanto university circuit and sub-62, even sub-61, the new standard for the top Hakone stars.  This Sunday's National University Half Marathon is no exception, with at least 25 men on the entry list having sub-63 PBs led by Hakone Ekiden Fifth Stage course record setter Daichi Kamino (3rd yr., Aoyama Gakuin University) in 1:01:21 and National University Men's Ekiden Fifth Stage course record setter Ken Yokote (3rd yr., Meiji Univ.) in 1:01:37.

Last year's National University Half, held as always in conjunction with Tokyo's Tachikawa City Half Marathon, saw both a new course record of 1:02:09 from Hideto Yamanaka (2nd yr., Nittai Univ.) and a world record for depth, with 207 men breaking 66 minutes to overtake even November's Ageo City Half Marathon in sheer numbers.  This year the National University Half serves as the qualifying race for the Japanese half marathon team for July's Gwangju Universiade in South Korea, aka the World University Games, where Japanese collegiate men have won individual medals for the last five-straight Games.  Most 4th-years sit Nationals out and some top younger runners like Hazuma Hattori (2nd yr., Toyo Univ.) and Koki Takada (3rd yr., Waseda Univ.) chose to race elsewhere, but even with only one 4th-year, Hiroshi Ichida (Daito Bunka Univ.) and one 1st-year, Naoki Kudo (Komazawa Univ.) in the top-ranked 25 there is a good chance that the race for national representation will push the field past even last year's incredible results.

Hakone winner Aoyama Gakuin University is stacking the field with most of its A-list, AGU runners led by Kamino making up three of the four entries with bests better than or equal to Yamanaka's year-old 1:02:09 course record, and with another star AGU 3rd-year Kazuma Kubota making his serious half marathon debut AGU could completely fill the Universiade team.  18-year-old Komazawa University 1st-year Kudo, 3rd in Ageo last November in a stunning 1:02:18 debut, leads four Komazawa men in the top 25-ranked.  At the last Universiade Komazawa's Shogo Nakamura won the individual bronze medal, and after another great run earlier this month at the Karatsu 10-miler Kudo looks like its best bet to follow Nakamura.  Waseda University, led by last year's 3rd-placer Koki Ido, also has four men in top 25-ranked and could also get some representation if the front group does not go at course record pace.

The National University Women's Half Marathon will be held a week later together with the Matsue Ladies' Half Marathon.  The team for the Universiade women's half marathon, where Japanese women have won individual medals in every Games since their 2nd edition including a sweep of the podium in 2009, will be decided there with the same criteria as in the men's race.

18th National University Men's Half Marathon
Entry List Highlights
Tachikawa, Tokyo, 3/1/15
click here for complete entry list

Daichi Kamino (3rd yr., Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:01:21
Ken Yokote (3rd yr., Meiji Univ.) - 1:01:37
Yusuke Ogura (3rd yr., Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:03
Tadashi Isshiki (2nd yr., Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:09
Masaki Toda (3rd yr., Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) - 1:02:14
Naoki Kudo (1st yr., Komazawa Univ.) - 1:02:18
Gen Hachisuka (2nd yr., Koku Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:26
Shinichiro Nakamura (3rd yr., Waseda Univ.) - 1:02:30
Koki Ido (2nd yr., Waseda Univ.) - 1:02:33
Shota Baba (3rd yr., Komazawa Univ.) - 1:02:37
Yuta Katsumata (3rd yr., Nittai Univ.) - 1:02:39
Shohei Yamaguchi (3rd yr., Soka Univ.) - 1:02:41*
Ryo Shirayoshi (3rd yr., Tokai Univ.) - 1:02:44
Kazuma Kubota (3rd yr., Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:44*
Shin Kimura (3rd yr., Meiji Univ.) - 1:02:45
Kazuma Ganaha (3rd yr., Kanagawa Univ.) - 1:02:45*
Shoya Okuno (3rd yr., Nittai Univ.) - 1:02:46
Soma Ishikawa (2nd yr., Nihon Univ.) - 1:02:46
Yusuke Nishiyama (2nd yr., Komazawa Univ.) - 1:02:47
Jun Sato (2nd yr., Waseda Univ.) - 1:02:49
Masahiro Miura (3rd yr., Waseda Univ.) - 1:02:52
Shun Sakuraoka (2nd yr, Toyo Univ.) - 1:02:53
Hiroshi Ichida (4th yr., Daito Bunka Univ.) - 1:02:56*
Keita Shioya (3rd yr., Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:57
Shota Miyakami (3rd yr., Tokai Univ.) - 1:02:58

*extrapolated from 20 km time

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Monday, February 23, 2015

Asian Games Silver Medalist Matsumura a Disappointing 25th at Tokyo Marathon

http://www.sankei.com/sports/news/150222/spo1502220024-n1.html

translated by Brett Larner

Just over 30 minutes into the Tokyo Marathon, 2014 Asian Games silver medalist Kohei Matsumura (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) was already showing strain on his face.  Around 12 km he suddenly fell back from the lead group never to return, finishing 25th in 2:16:25.  "Am I shocked?  I guess so..." he said in a thin voice post-race.  "I felt it in my legs right from the start."  In past races he has been able to pick it up partway through, but this time he was unable to focus and get into a steady rhythm.  "I just couldn't get it together today," he said.

Last year Matsumura was the top Japanese finisher in Tokyo, 8th in 2:08:09.  At the Asian Games he won the silver medal in the marathon.  Aware of his status as Japan's top current marathon, pre-race he enthusiastically said, "My goal is 2:07.  I want to live up to expectations."  But those same expectations may have become an "invisible pressure."  JAAF director of marathoning Takeshi Soh, one of the architects of both the Federation's sub-2:06:30 standard for the Beijing World Championships team and the National Team program that has overseen Matsumura and others since last April, commented, "I was concerned that he was overworking.  He went too far."

At the Asian Games Matsumura missed gold and a guaranteed place at the World Championships by 1 second.  With his performance in Tokyo his position has become precarious.  "I think it'll take me a little time to get it back together after this," he said.  Once a happy reminder of success, "Tokyo" now resonates with his humiliation.

Fujiwara Says "I'll Give It One More Year" After Tokyo Marathon

http://www.jiji.com/jc/zc?k=201502/2015022200087&g=spo

translated by Brett Larner

Having had one timely comeback to make the London Olympics team, Arata Fujiwara, now 33, fell to 37th at the Tokyo Marathon.  Around 20 km his legs began to grow heavy.  "I gave it my best, but my body just wouldn't move," he said, shoulders dropping.  "It felt like I was running in water."

Unable to pull out of his slump even in the familiar environment of a race where he had twice run PBs in the past, he said, "It feels like my competitive edge in the race has gone dull."  Asked about his future plans he indicated his drive to make the Rio de Janeiro Olympic team is undiminished, earnestly responding, "In terms of what's inside me, I'm going to give it everything I've got for one more year."

Kawauchi May Take a Break After Calf Pain in Half Marathon

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2015/02/22/kiji/K20150222009856070.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi (27, Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran the 9th Fukaya City Half Marathon on Feb. 22, but after experiencing pain in his left calf he finished 43rd in a personal worst 1:13:36.  Coming onto the track at the end Kawauchi ran with a limp, dragging his left foot a bit as he made it to the finish line, and after finishing he had an expression of pain as he held his left calf.

Disappointed with the result, he stayed in the back of the race organizers' area to avoid the public eye.  "I need to take a break," he said, raising the possibility of a long rest and recovery period.  During the Feb. 15 Kochi Ryoma Marathon his left calf "felt like it was going to cramp up," and with lingering twinges he ran Fukaya with a calf support sleeve on his left leg.  He began to feel pain around 5 km, and near 8 km he lost touch with the lead group.  His pace reduced to "jogging speed," Kawauchi was heckled by some spectators who shouted, "Too slow!" and "Slacker!"  "I guess they came to see me run, not jog, so some of that's inevitable," he said weakly.

Of the calf pain Kawauchi said, "I might have mildly pulled a muscle.  I think it's probably related to the ankle sprain."  In late December Kawauchi sprained his left ankle, going on to run a personal worst 2:24:18 at January's Ibusuki Nanohana Marathon.  Discussing what to do about recovery he said, "I'll take some time off, then try running, going to get treatment when I take time off.  If I don't do that things might get worse."  He plans to see how his leg responds to acupuncture before thinking about going to get it examined.

Next week Kawauchi is entered in the Tachikawa Half, followed by the Tamana Half and the Seoul International Marathon.  Cautious about the future, he said, "I entered the general division in Tachikawa so I will probably sit it out.  If I run it I think I will stay near the back and do it as a pace run."

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Ethiopians Negesse and Dibaba Double, Imai 2:07:39 at Tokyo Marathon

by Brett Larner
photos by rikujolove and Dr. Helmut Winter, video by naoki620



Endeshaw Negesse and Birhane Dibaba scored the first-ever Ethiopian double at the Tokyo Marathon, both close to the course records as they won in 2:06:00 and 2:23:15.  Former Hakone Ekiden uphill star Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) made it a show for the home crowd with a 2:07:39 PB for 7th, making him the all-time #6 Japanese man and fastest-ever on the Tokyo course.

With decent weather conditions the massive lead pack went out slower than the 1:02:35 first half planned to get them in range of Ethiopian Tsegay Kebede's 2:05:18 Japanese all-comers' record, Kebede among those up front as they went through half in 1:03:08.  Early casualties included last year's top Japanese man and 2014 Asian Games silver medalist Kohei Matsumura (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki), 2012 Tokyo winner Michael Kipyego (Kenya), debuting great Tariku Bekele (Ethiopia), 2012 Fukuoka International Marathon winner Joseph Gitau (Kenya/Team JFE Steel) and London Olympian Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) whose 2:07:48 in 2012 was the fastest time on the Tokyo course by a Japanese man prior to today.

A 2:54 split from 21 to 22 km broke the pack up, and by the time the pacers dropped off at 30 km the Koichi Morishita-coached Imai, 2:10:29 man Hiroaki Sano (Team Honda) and 27:38 track runner Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) were the only Japanese runners left in a lead group of eight Africans including Kebede, Negesse, London Olympics and Moscow World Championships gold medalist Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda) and course record holder Dickson Chumba (Kenya).  Sato and Japan-based Benjamin Ngandu (Kenya/Monteroza) were the first to drop, Sano following shortly to leave Imai struggling to hang on as the pace increased.

Up front, Negesse and Chumba pushed the pace, pulling away from Kiprotich, and the others.  Dropped, coming back, then dropped again, Imai used his uphill skills to catch up to Kebede, Geneti and Some on the bridges after 36 km.  After trading the led, Negesse got a gap that he translated into a 33-second lead over the final kilometers, just missing 2:05 territory as he crossed the finish line in 2:06:00.  Chumba looked set for 2nd but was caught just before the line by an ecstatic Kiprotich, who broke 2:07 for the first time with a new Ugandan national record of 2:06:33. 

Imai got rid of Kebede but faltered in the final stages and lost touch with Dechase, Some and Geneti.  Nevertheless, his 2:07:39 was a major step up, a PB by almost 2 minutes, 9 seconds better than Fujiwara's 2012 time and the fastest by a Japanese man since half marathon national record holder Atsushi Sato's 2007 2:07:13.  As the first superstar of the Hakone Ekiden's modern era, Imai's performance was a validation of the KGRR's move to make the ~900 m uphill Fifth Stage Hakone's longest in hopes that it would produce future marathon greats.  With subsequent Fifth Stage stars like Ryuji Kashiwabara, Shota Hattori, Keita Shitara, Kenta Murayama and Daichi Kamino yet to make their marathon debuts Imai's success means the next few years could be bright ones.

Kebede was 8th in 2:07:58, setting new world records as his 15th career sub-2:09, 16th sub-2:10 and 19th sub-2:11.  Further back, Sano and Koji Gokaya (Team JR Higashi Nihon) broke 2:10 for the first time, Sano in 2:09:12 and Gokaya in 2:09:21.  Once again top collegiate honors went to Jobu University senior Shun Sato, a regular in Tokyo the last few years and scoring a 2:11:39 best in his last race before graduating.

The women's lead pack went out firmly ensconced inside a massive pack of Japanese men.  With not a single top-level Japanese woman in the field the group included last year's runner-up Birhane Dibaba (Ethiopia), London Olympics gold medalist Tiki Gelana (Ethiopia), debuting 2014 Copenhagen World Half Marathon bronze medalist Selly Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) and others.  Dibaba ground the others down close to course record pace, but finding herself alone late in the race she couldn't sustain it and slipped to a 2:23:15, missing the course record and Yoko Shibui's age 21 world record of 2:23:11 but still easily getting the win.

Little-known Helah Kiprop (Kenya) dropped Gelana for 2nd in 2:24:03, a PB by more than 3 minutes, with Gelana looking heavily strained as she took 3rd in 2:24:26.  Chepyego outkicked the formerly Japan-based Flomena Cheyech Daniel (Kenya) for 4th in a decent debut time of 2:26:43.  Top Japanese honors went to Madoka Ogi (Team Juhachi Ginko), 7th in 2:30:25.  Two other Japanese women made the top 10, Yukari Abe (Team Panasonic) debuting in 2:34:43 and club runner Yumiko Kinoshita (Second Wind AC) running a 4 minute PB of 2:35:49.

Tokyo Marathon
Tokyo, 2/22/15
click here for top 500 men's results
click here for top 500 women's results

Men
1. Endeshaw Negesse (Ethiopia) - 2:06:00
2. Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda) - 2:06:33 - NR
3. Dickson Chumba (Kenya) - 2:06:34
4. Shumi Dechase (Bahrain) - 2:07:20
5. Peter Some (Kenya) - 2:07:22
6. Markos Geneti (Ethiopia) - 2:07:25
7. Masato Imai (Japan/Toyota Kyushu) - 2:07:39 - PB
8. Tsegaye Kebede (Ethiopia) - 2:07:58
9. Hiroaki Sano (Japan/Honda) - 2:09:12 - PB
10. Benjamin Ngandu (Kenya/Monteroza) - 2:09:18 - PB
11. Koji Gokaya (Japan/JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:09:21 - PB
12. Yared Asmerom (Eritrea) - 2:09:41
13. Takehiro Deki (Japan/Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:11:14
14. Shun Sato (Japan/Jobu Univ.) - 2:11:39 - PB
15. Tomoyuki Morita (Japan/Kanebo) - 2:11:41
16. Tatsunori Hamasaki (Japan/Komori Corp.) - 2:12:12 - PB
17. Ryo Yamamoto (Japan/SGH Group) - 2:12:46
18. Hirokatsu Kurosaki (Japan/Konica Minolta) - 2:13:16
19. Keiji Akutsu (Japan/Subaru) - 2:13:26 - PB
20. Yuki Sato (Japan/Nissin Shokuhin) - 2:14:15 - PB
21. Makoto Harada (Japan/JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:14:52
22. Atsushi Hasegawa (Japan/Subaru) - 2:15:18
23. Kenichi Shiraishi (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 2:15:31
24. Hideaki Tamura (Japan/JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:15:58
25. Kohei Matsumura (Japan/Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) - 2:16:08
-----
28. Shun Inoura (Japan/Komazawa Univ.) - 2:17:54 - debut
37. Arata Fujiwara (Japan/Miki House) - 2:19:40
55. Jun Hiratsuka (age 46) (Japan/Team RxL) - 2:23:13
-----
DNF - Adil Annani (Morocco)
DNF - Tariku Bekele (Ethiopia)
DNF - Joseph Gitau (Kenya/JFE Steel)
DNF - Michael Kipyego (Kenya)
DNF - Cyrus Njui (Kenya/Arata Project)

Women
1. Birhane Dibaba (Ethiopia) - 2:23:15
2. Helah Kiprop (Kenya) - 2:24:03 - PB
3. Tiki Gelana (Ethiopia) - 2:24:26
4. Selly Chepyego (Kenya/Kyudenko) - 2:26:43 - debut
5. Flomena Cheyech Daniel (Kenya) - 2:26:54
6. Yeshi Esayias (Ethiopia) - 2:30:15
7. Madoka Ogi (Japan/Juhachi Ginko) - 2:30:25
8. Albina Mayorova (Russia) - 2:34:21
9. Yukari Abe (Japan/Panasonic) - 2:34:43 - debut
10. Yumiko Kinoshita (Japan/SWAC) - 2:35:49 - PB
11. Lauren Kleppin (U.S.A.) - 2:37:13
12. Ayano Kondo (Japan/Noritz) - 2:38:06 - PB
13. Kaori Oyama (Japan/Noritz) - 2:38:43
14. Mayumi Uchiyama (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 2:39:54 - PB
15. Mitsuko Hirose (Japan/Tokyo Wings AC) - 2:40:35

text (c) 2015 Brett Larner, all rights reserved
photos (c) 2015 M. Kawaguchi, all rights reserved
Dibaba and Negesse photos (c) 2015 Dr. Helmut Winter, all rights reserved

Birmingham Indoor Grand Prix - Japanese Results

Birmingham, U.K., 2/21/15
click here for complete results

Men's 2 Miles
1. Mo Farah (Great Britain) - 8:03.40 - WR
2. Paul Koech (Kenya) - 8:13.46
3. Bernard Lagat (U.S.A.) - 8:17.05
4. Suguru Osako (Japan/Nissin Shokuhin) - 8:25.76
5. Thomas Farrell (Great Britain) - 8:26.01
6. Philip Hurst (Great Britain) - 8:26.56
7. Tom Lancashire (Great Britain) - 8:30.79
8. Jonny Hay (Great Britain) -  8:31.69
9. Rob Mullett (Great Britain) - 8:32.50
10. Florian Carvalho (France) - 8:32.87
DNF - Dale Clutterbuck (Great Britain)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Ndiku Over Murayama, Shoji Outkicks Lacaze at Fukuoka XC

by Brett Larner
photos by rikujoulove

Japan's two-race cross-country season wrapped up Saturday with the 29th Fukuoka International Cross-Country Meet, the last chance for Japanese athletes to make this year's World Cross-Country Championships team.  Two-time world junior 3000 mSC champion Jonathan Ndiku (Kenya/Team Hitachi Butsuryu) easily beat #1-ranked collegiate Kenta Murayama (Komazawa University) in the senior men's 10 km, surging on a corner mid-race to break free and win by a margin of 9 seconds in 29:22.  Murayama, in his last race wearing the Komazawa uniform, dueled with New Year Ekiden Fourth Stage course record setter Yuta Shitara (Team Honda) before kicking away for 2nd in 29:31, Shitara 4 seconds behind.

Corporate runner Yuta Takahashi (DeNA RC) outkicked 2014 Ageo City Half Marathon winner Koki Takada (Waseda Univ) for 4th in 29:36, with 2013 Ageo winner Takashi Ichida (Daito Bunka Univ.) closing fast but coming up short of catching his high school teammate Takada, 2 seconds back in 29:42 for 6th.  Murayama, Shitara and Ichida have all run the United Airlines NYC Half in conjunction with Ageo and support from JRN, with Takada set to join them and Ichida returning to NYC in 3 weeks.  Further back, Yu Mitsuya (Team Toyota Kyushu), one of Japan's all-time greats on the track but unable to translate it to success on the roads, finished 30th in his final race before retiring.

Both the senior women's 6 km and the junior women's 6 km came down to head-to-head races.  In the senior race Australia's Genevieve Lacaze pushed the tempo against Mai Shoji (Chukyo Univ.) and Miho Shimizu (Team Hokuren), shaking free of Shimizu but unable to get rid of Shoji.  Side-by-side until the final straight, Shoji proved to have the stronger kick as she took the win in 19:54 by 2 seconds over Lacaze.  Shimizu hung on for 3rd in 20:02, well clear of a chase pack led by Chiba XC runner-up Maki Izumida (Rikkyo Univ.) who took 4th in 20:11.

The junior race put the seniors to shame as Azusa Sumi (Toyokawa H.S.) hammered Miho Shimada (Yamanashi Gakuin Prep H.S.) on the string of hills midway through the final lap to pull free to the win in 19:50, beating Shimizu's winning time in the senior race by 4 seconds.  Shimada likewise bettered Lacaze's time, running 19:54 for 2nd.  Nana Kuraoka (Kagoshima Joshi H.S.) outran a chase pack including Chiba XC junior top 2 Wakana Kabasawa (Tokiwa H.S.) and Yuri Nozoe (Kamimura Gakuen H.S.) for 3rd in 20:04.

The junior men's 8 km may have been the race of the day, with constant turnover at the front as many of the country's best high schoolers surged repeatedly to try to take control.  Almost all the favorites except 2014 World Juniors team member Shota Onizuka (Omuta H.S.) were soon out of the lead pack, which shook down to five.  Junnosuke Matsuo (Akita Kogyo H.S.) managed to get control of the situation, but with a hard attack from Hiroyuki Sakaguchi (Isahaya H.S.) it went down to the tape, both clocking 24:12 but Sakaguchi getting the win.  Onizuka took 3rd, he and the rest of the front group timed at 24:14.

Haruki Nishiumura (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.), another top-level high schooler, opted for the junior men's 4 km where he outran two members of 2014 National High School Ekiden champion Sera H.S. for the win in 12:29.  Ami Yoshiki (Nakamura Joshi H.S.) won the relatively low-key junior women's 4 km in 13:55.

29th Fukuoka International Cross-Country Meet
Fukuoka, 2/21/15
click here for complete results

Senior Men's 10 km
1. Jonathan Ndiku (Kenya/Team Hitachi Butsuryu) - 29:22
2. Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.) - 29:31
3. Yuta Shitara (Team Honda) - 29:35
4. Yuta Takahashi (DeNA RC) - 29:36
5. Koki Takada (Waseda Univ.) - 29:40
6. Takashi Ichida (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 29:42
7. Kazuma Kubota (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 29:45
8. Tatsuya Hayashi (Team Toyota) - 29:50
9. Naohiro Domoto (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 29:55
10. Kazuhiro Kuga (Team Fujitsu) - 29:59

Senior Women's 6 km
1. Mai Shoji (Chukyo Univ.) - 19:54
2. Genevieve Lacaze (Australia) - 19:56
3. Miho Shimizu (Team Hokuren) - 20:02
4. Maki Izumida (Rikkyo Univ.) - 20:11
5. Erika Ikeda (Team Higo Ginko) - 20:14
6. Tomoka Kimura (Team Univ. Ent.) - 20:14
7. Yui Fukuda (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 20:16
8. Rina Koeda (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 20:17
9. Naoko Koizumi (Team Denso) - 20:20
10. Kaori Morita (Team Panasonic) - 20:32

Junior Men's 8 km
1. Hiroyuki Sakaguchi (Isahaya H.S.) - 24:12
2. Junnosuke Matsuo (Akita Kogyo H.S.) - 24:12
3. Shota Onizuka (Omuta H.S.) - 24:14
4. Kohei Nanba (Senshu Prep Matsudo H.S.) - 24:14
5. Haruki Minatoya (Akita Kogyo H.S.) - 24:14
6. Hiroki Miura (Tohoku H.S.) - 24:17
7. Tomoki Ota (Hamamatsu Nittai Prep H.S.) - 24:21
8. Tomoya Morita (Higashi Harima H.S.) - 24:22
9. Reiri Nakashima (Kurashiki H.S.) - 24:25
10. Kenshi Fukuda (Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 24:25

Junior Women's 6 km
1. Azusa Sumi (Toyokawa H.S.) - 19:50
2. Miho Shimada (Yamanashi Gakuin Prep H.S.) - 19:54
3. Nana Kuraoka (Kagoshima Joshi H.S.) - 20:04
4. Yuri Nozoe (Kamimura Gakuen H.S.) - 20:05
5. Yuka Sarumida (Toyokawa H.S.) - 20:08
6. Wakana Kabasawa (Tokiwa H.S.) - 20:08
7. Yuka Mukai (Sera H.S.) - 20:11
8. Yumika Miura (Yamanashi Gakuin Prep H.S.) - 20:17
9. Reina Shinozaki (Tokiwa H.S.) - 20:30
10. Kyoka Nakagawa (Kumamoto Shinai Joshi Gakuin H.S.) - 20:34

Junior Men's 4 km
1. Haruki Nishiumura (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) - 12:29
2. Hiroki Horiuchi (Sera H.S.) - 12:31
3. Naoki Nagareda (Sera H.S.) - 12:36
4. Masahiro Kamidoi (Junshin H.S) - 12:37
5. Chiaki Iwahara (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 12:41

Junior Women's 4 km
1. Ami Yoshiki (Nakamura Joshi H.S.) - 13:55
2. Mei Kawazi (Shonan H.S.) - 13:57
3. Minami Sato (Junten H.S.) - 13:59
4. Amiru Akiyama (Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 14:09
5. Momoko Watanabe (Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S.) - 14:14

text (c) 2015 Brett Larner, all rights reserved
photos (c) 2015 M. Kawaguchi, all rights reserved

Police Search for Suspicious Objects Ahead of Tokyo Marathon

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20150219/k10015583221000.html

translated by Brett Larner

As part of the counter-terrorism operations surrounding the Feb. 22 Tokyo Marathon, police officers and local residents patrolled part of the course in Ginza looking for suspicious objects.  Roughly 50 officers from the Tsukiji Police Station and members of the local merchants' association took part in the Ginza patrol, examining the area around the course to make sure there were no suspicious objects.  Afterward they handed out pamphlets to passersby on which was written, "If you see any suspicious people or objects, call the police at #110," asking for citizens' help in ensuring a safe race.

With 36,000 runners Sunday's Tokyo Marathon is the largest marathon in the country.  In response to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, beginning last year police and organizers have increased their counter-terrorism efforts.  This year 4500 police officers will be on duty at the race, with surveillance cameras placed around the course and armed riot police who will run among the Tokyo Marathon runners to patrol them.  Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department security director Hideki Shinohara commented, "The security of the Tokyo Marathon is a crucial step in the preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olymipcs and Paralympics, and we want our security efforts at each of these events to be successful."

Friday, February 20, 2015

Fukuoka XC, Osako on the Track, Three Half Marathons, A New Mass-Participation Marathon and Tokyo - Weekend Preview (updated)

by Brett Larner

It's another busy weekend in Japan, with at least six big races across the country and one important one overseas.  Saturday kicks off with the second of the two-meet Japanese cross country season as the Fukuoka International Cross Country Meet plays host to Japanese athletes hoping to join the National Team for this year's World Cross Country Championships.  With a total of four foreign athletes led by the Japan-based Jonathan Ndiku (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) in the senior men's 10 km there isn't much of an international component, but bigger Japanese names on the entry lists include #1-ranked collegiate runner Kenta Murayama making his last appearance in the Komazawa University uniform before his graduation next month and United Airlines NYC Half-bound Koki Takada (Waseda University) and Takashi Ichida (Daito Bunka University) in the senior men's 10 km, Chiba International XC runner-up Maki Izumida (Rikkyo Univ.) in the senior women's 6 km, Chiba junior women's winner Wakana Kabasawa (Tokiwa H.S.) and top-level junior track runner Azusa Sumi (Toyokawa H.S.) in the junior women's 6 km, and Fuminori Shimo (Iga Hakuoh H.S.), Shota Onizuka (Omuta H.S.), Shiki Shinsako (Sera H.S.) and many of the other best current high school boys in the junior men's 8 km.

Also Saturday, 3 weeks after setting an indoor 2 mile national record and a week after adding the indoor 5000 m NR to his resume, unofficial Nike Oregon Project member Suguru Osako (Team Nissin Shokuhin) will line up with the NOP's Mo Farah (Great Britain) in the 2 mile at the U.K.'s Sainsbury Indoor Grand Prix.  Osako's time 3 weeks ago was 8:16.47, beating the outdoor NR by more than 8 seconds.  Let's see if he can take that down a little further.

Back in Japan, Sunday features at least three elite-level half marathons across the country.  Far in the west, the Kashima Yutoku Half Marathon holds its 64th running, with the centrally-located Yomiuri Inuyama Half Marathon staging its 37th edition with a field including many good university athletes.  Two of the three men on the London Olympics marathon team were Inuyama winners while in university, marking the race as a good proving ground for future talent.  Further north, the Fukuya City Half Marathon, at just 9 runnings a relative newcomer on the scene, also hosts a good number of collegiates, but its main attraction is local Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't).  Kawauchi runs just a week after completing his first back-to-back marathon experiment with a 2:15:06 win at the Kochi Ryoma Marathon.

Sunday also features at least two noteworthy mass-participation marathons.  The 10000-runner Himeji Castle World Heritage Site Marathon in Hyogo goes off for the first time this year, replacing the Himeji Castle Road Race, an elite 10-miler with more than 50 years of history.  And of course there is the Tokyo Marathon.

At the elite men's level it's the best field ever assembled in Japan, with depth equaling last month's Dubai Marathon and far surpassing fellow spring World Marathon Majors London and Boston.  Up front are five sub-2:05 men led by aging greats last year's winner Dickson Chumba (Kenya) and Geoffrey Mutai (Kenya) and Tsegaye Kebede (Ethiopia).  In the middle, past winner Michael Kipyego (Kenya), London Olympics gold medalist Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda) and 8 Japanese men with current sub-2:10 times.  A question mark, the debut of Tariku Bekele (Ethiopia), the younger brother of 5000 m and 10000 m world record holder Kenenisa Bekele.  The record for Japanese sub-2:10 times in a single race is 6 at the legendary 2003 Fukuoka International Marathon, but there is a decent chance that will fall Sunday.

Most exciting among the Japanese men is Takehiro Deki (Team Chugoku Denryoku), returning to the marathon for the first time since his 2:10:02 debut without specific marathon training as a junior at Aoyama Gakuin University 3 years ago.  This time Deki is lean, showing he has been putting in the training, fast, with wins over two of Japan's greatest 10000 m runners on shorter ekiden stages last month in the midst of marathon training, and confident, saying he is in perfect condition.  Look for him to take it to the likes of 2014 Asian Games silver medalist Kohei Matsumura (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) and London Olympians Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) and Ryo Matsumoto (Team SGH) as all go for the Beijing World Championships team.

Looking at the history and structure of the Tokyo marathon it's not much of a secret that its women's field is only there to meet the minimum necessary requirements for international accolades like an IAAF gold label and World Marathon Major membership.  As a selection race only for men's national teams, stemming from the elite component's legacy as a continuation of the Tokyo International Men's Marathon, Tokyo in its current form discourages elite Japanese women from running, even when they pull in the best international competition to be found on Japanese soil.  This year there is not a single top-level Japanese woman in the field, and at only 8 entrants even the international field is tiny.  London Olympics gold medalist Tiki Gelana (Ethiopia), out of shape in her appearance at November's Yokohama International Women's Marathon, 2014 Tokyo runner-up Birhane Dibaba (Ethiopia) and formerly Japan-based Flomena Cheyech Daniel (Kenya) top the list, but the most exciting entrant is 2014 World Half Marathon bronze medalist Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko), making her debut off an easy sub-70 win at the Osaka Half Marathon in January.

At the mass-participation level, Tokyo leads the World Marathon Majors in bringing a futuristic dystopian security experience to its 36,000 amateur runners, citing fears of terrorism after ISIS' recent kidnapping and murder of 2 Japanese citizens in banning sports drink bottles, bringing in dozens of metal detectors to the start area, and having armed riot police running in the field along with the police department's utilization of the opportunity to increase its use of surveillance cameras.  The Yomiuri Newspaper's graphic of what the security restrictions mean for Tokyo participants, showing a runner being followed by police and surveillance cameras, is well worth a look.  All in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, a bid won in part on Tokyo's status as already being the safest city in the world.  You can only wonder what the future holds.  The key take home for international visitors for the race: expect heavy scrutiny, and if you are running Tokyo do not try to bring any kind of personal hydration to use during the race.

Update: DNS include Geoffrey Mutai (Kenya), Josphat Boit (U.S.A.), Koji Kobayashi (Japan/Team Subaru), Masanori Sakai (Japan/Team Kyudenko), Yuma Hattori (Japan/Toyo Univ.), Chiharu Takada (Japan/Team JR Higashi Nihon) and Risa Suzuki (Japan/Art Sports).

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Tokyo Marathon to Conduct Unprecedented Security Measures Against Runners

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/20150219-OYT1T50059.html
http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXLASDG17HCV_Y5A210C1CC0000/

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Click here for the above article's graphic showing a runner in the Tokyo Marathon being followed by police and surveillance cameras above pictures and a list of banned items and activities including plastic bottles, glass bottles, cans, poison, explosives, scissors, box cutters, tear gas, clothing bearing advertising, clothing that might upset others, and music and dancing on the course.

Over fears generated by the Islamic State kidnapping of Japanese citizens and the rising threat of terrorism worldwide, participants in the Feb. 22 Tokyo Marathon will be subjected to unprecedented security measures.  The 36,000 participants will be prohibited from bringing plastic sports drink bottles to the start and will each be screened with metal detectors.  Police have more than doubled the number of surveillance cameras monitoring runners and spectators along the course, and 64 riot police will run carrying additional surveillance equipment, pepper-spray and other anti-personnel weaponry.  The total police and security presence will number more than 10000, both the public and private security sector working together to prevent terrorism in an important warmup for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Participants will be prohibited from bringing drinks or water in plastic bottles, cans or glass bottles. The number of start area access gates where runners will be scanned and searched has been increased from 2 to 6 with the number of metal detectors likewise increased from 4 to 50.  Once baggage has been searched it may absolutely not be taken into the start area.  Only unopened commercially-available paper drink packs and jelly drinks may be brought in, with a maximum of 200 ml per beverage and a strict limit of no more than 400 ml per person to prevent poison and explosives from being brought into the start area.

Plastic drink bottles can easily be made into liquid bombs and have been used in terrorist acts in the past.  Because proper pre-race hydration is important in the marathon, it is extremely unusual for a race to ban participants from bringing drinks.  Organizers will provide runners with drinks in paper cups at water stations after the start, but many of the amateur runners making up the field have expressed unhappiness at the measures, saying, "We can't run properly like this."  Tokyo Marathon Foundation Chief Operating Officer Masayuki Tezuka commented, "It might inconvenience the runners but they must understand that it is for security."

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Kirwa Vs. Kizaki Rematch at Nagoya Women's Marathon

by Brett Larner

The Nagoya Women's Marathon, the world's largest women-only marathon, features a good matchup for this year's race on Mar. 8, bringing back together 2014 Asian Games marathon gold medalist Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain, nominally) and silver medalist Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu).  The pair's battle was one of the highlights of the Asian Games, and with any luck Nagoya will get a replay.  Their main competition is 40-year-old Mariya Konovalova, with a 2:22:46 PB at age 39 one of the seemingly few elite Russians to have escaped current doping revelations so far.

One of the notable things about the field for is its evenness, with a steady progression of PBs all the way from Kirwa's 2:21:41 to the 2:31 level.  Aheza Kiros (Ethiopia), Anna Incerti (Italy), Olena Burkovska (Ukraine) and others fill out the international component, but evenly mixed in with them is the best Japanese women's field in any of the three Beijing World Championships races and certainly a better one than at this weekend's Tokyo Marathon, where top Japanese women are effectively barred from competing.  Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) leads the group behind Kizaki fresh off a half marathon PB at last weekend's National Corporate Half Marathon Championships, along with Asian Games 4th-placer Eri Hayakawa (Team Toto).

The other notable thing is the quality of the younger part of the field.  Both of the best new hopes in Japanese women's marathoning, collegiate national record holder Sairi Maeda (Team Daihatsu) and under-20 national record holder Reia Iwade (Team Noritz), will be running their second marathons after record-setting debuts.  Two of Japan's best young half marathon talents, Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya) and Risa Takenaka (Team Shiseido) will hope to follow in their footsteps with solid first marathons.

The Nagoya Women's Marathon will be broadcast live nationwide on Sunday, March 8.  Check back closer to race date for more details and follow @JRNLive for live raceday coverage.

Nagoya Women's Marathon
Nagoya, Aichi, 3/8/15
click here for complete field listing

Eunice Jepkirui Kirwa (Bahrain) - 2:21:41 (Amsterdam 2012)
Mariya Konovalova (Russia) - 2:22:46 (Chicago 2013)
Ryoko Kizaki (Japan/Daihatsu) - 2:23:34 (Nagoya Women's 2013)
Aheza Kiros (Ethiopia) - 2:24:30 (Dubai 2013)
Mai Ito (Japan/Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:25:26 (Nagoya Women's 2012)
Eri Hayakawa (Japan/Toto) - 2:25:31 (Nagoya Women's 2014)
Anna Incerti (Italy) - 2:25:32 (Berlin 2011)
Sairi Maeda (Japan/Daihatsu) - 2:26:46 (Osaka Women's 2014)
Olena Burkovska (Ukraine) - 2:27:07 (Hannover 2013)
Reia Iwade (Japan/Noritz) - 2:27:21 (Yokohama Women's 2014)
Woynishet Girma (Ethiopia) - 2:27:51 (Amsterdam 2010)
Misato Horie (Japan/Noritz) - 2:27:57 (Nagoya Women's 2014)
Adriana Da Silva (Brazil) - 2:29:17 (Tokyo 2012)
Yuka Hakoyama (Japan/Wacoal) - 2:30:48 (Nagoya Women's 2014)
Asami Furuse (Japan/Kyocera) - 2:30:57 (Nagoya Women's 2013)
Yuka Yano (Japan/Canon AC Kyushu) - 2:31:02 (Kitakyushu 2014)
Manami Kamitanida (Japan/Hitachi) - 2:31:34 (Tokyo 2014)
Yuko Mizuguchi (Japan/Denso) - 2:31:39 (Nagoya Women's 2014)

Debut
Rei Ohara (Japan/Tenmaya) - 1:09:45 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2013)
Risa Takenaka (Japan/Shiseido) - 1:10:10 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2014)

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Survey Says Most Teens Don't Care About Tokyo Marathon

http://news.mynavi.jp/news/2015/02/18/148/

translated by Brett Larner

If you think about cold season sports, the marathon immediately comes to mind.  These days the number of amateur marathons run through the closed-off streets of big cities keeps going up.  Chief among these amateur races is of course February's Tokyo Marathon which sees hundreds of thousands of people applying every year.  What do the nation's teens think about this hugely popular event?  We asked 428 JOL teen readers, "Are you interested in the Tokyo Marathon?"

Are you interested in the Tokyo Marathon?
#1 - No, I'm not interested: 325 people (75.9%)
#2 - Yes, I'll go to watch and cheer: 17 people (4.0%)
#3 - Yes, friends or family members are running: 13 people (3.0%)
#4 - No, it's irritating because the roads are blocked: 12 people (2.8%)
#5 - Yes, I'm running: 8 people (1.9%)
#5 - Yes, I wanted to run but didn't get in: 8 people: (1.9%)

In #1, 325 people answered, "No, I'm not interested."  3 out of 4 JOL teen readers said they did not care about the Tokyo Marathon.  It's pretty common to run in school, so maybe a lot of them feel like they don't really want to go and do another race outside of that. When asked whether they have any special memories related to the Tokyo Marathon many answered like one 10th grader from Hokkaido who said, "I've watched it with my family."  Others, like a 10th grader from Tokyo who said, "I volunteered with my Girl Scout troop and saw a celebrity!" and another from Saitama who said, "I did yosakoi dance on the Tokyo Marathon festival stage," said that they had taken part by cheering or volunteering instead of running.  Through their school and club affiliations it's clear that many got the message that it's OK to participate even if you aren't a runner.

In #2, 17 people answered, "Yes, I'll go to watch and cheer."  Although not running, some people indicated that they would go to support the runners.  Some said that they usually go to cheer for friends and family members, and others like a Saitama 10th grader who said, "Last year I took part in dance cheerleading at the Tokyo Marathon" said that they would go this year to take part in official courseside cheering events.

In #3, 13 people said, "Yes, friends or family members are running."  Some people who don't run take part by cheering for friends or family members who won places in the Tokyo field.  "My parents ran about 2 years ago," said one Kanagawa 10th grader.  "My mom has run it," said a 12th grader in Tokyo.  "5 of my junior high school teachers run it together every year," said a Saitama 11th grader.  Like them, many others said that their parents or teachers are running.  It's no surprise that school teachers are more interested in the marathon than any other group of adults.

In #4, 12 people replied, "No, it's irritating because the roads are blocked."  Because an event like this takes place downtown, on race day the roads are closed to car traffic.  This causes some inconvenience to people who plan to out that day.  There's also the problem of noise for those whose homes are along the course.  It's a tough situation for people not interested in the Tokyo Marathon like one Tokyo 12th grader who complained, "I can't use the streets near my house."

In #5, 8 people said, "Yes, I'm running."  Running and finishing gives people a tremendous "sense of accomplishment," said one 11th grader from Aichi.  Others enjoy the feeling of taking part in a big festival atmosphere.  It's easy to feel a jealous of them!

Tying for #5, 8 people said, "Yes, I wanted to run but didn't get in."  In 2014 more than 300,000 people applied for the 36,000 places in the field, meaning that only about 10% got in.  Needless to say, with those kinds of numbers there are a lot of people who wanted to run but can't.  Among them are also some like a Tokyo 11th-grader who said, "I really wanted to run!  Bu I didn't apply!"  If you're one of them, please still come down and take part this year by cheering!

Along with being an amateur event, the Tokyo Marathon is also a serious race where gold medalists run.  Other events surrounding the marathon are also increasing every year, giving it more and more of a festival feeling.  It's fun to take part in those events too, not just running the race.  Your friends who don't care about the Tokyo Marathon might like checking them out. 

But no matter what, since it's a Tokyo event there will always be people like one Osaka 10th grader who said, "I'm from Osaka.  Screw Tokyo.  It's got nothing to do with us."  But even Osaka has a mass participation marathon, the Osaka Marathon that has been held since 2011.  Wherever you are, definitely check out your local amateur marathon!

2015 United Airlines NYC Half to Feature Elite American and International Men’s Fields for Sunday, March 15, Race

A New York Runners Press Release

Olympic silver medalist Meb Keflezighi and three-time Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein will lead the American charge, while top returning entrant Stephen Sambu and distance running star Wesley Korir, both of Kenya, headline a deep and diverse international lineup.

Race will air live in New York on ABC7 and stream live on WatchABC, 7online, and ESPN3 via WatchESPN.

New York, February 18, 2015—Defending Boston Marathon champion Meb Keflezighi and compatriot Dathan Ritzenhein, running the half-marathon distance for the first time since the 2013 NYC Half, will lead a resilient field of American men against a strong international contingent highlighted by last year’s third-place finisher Stephen Sambu and 2012 Boston Marathon champion Wesley Korir at the 2015 United Airlines NYC Half on March 15, 2015, it was announced today by Mary Wittenberg, president and CEO of New York Road Runners.

“From Meb and Dathan to Stephen and Wesley, the 2015 United Airlines NYC Half professional men’s field is one of our best ever,” said Wittenberg. “We’re especially excited that our lead group of men will be running alongside the many young runners who will be participating in the event’s inaugural NYRR Times Square Kids’ Run on Seventh Avenue, creating an inspiring and unique moment that will help us celebrate the tenth running of the race.”

Keflezighi, 39, of San Diego, CA, is one of the most decorated American marathoners of all-time with thrilling victories at the 2014 Boston Marathon and the 2009 New York City Marathon and a silver medal at the 2004 Olympic Games. This past fall, the three-time Olympian took fourth place at the TCS New York City Marathon, his seventh top-10 finish at the race. At the 2012 Olympic Games in the marathon, he took fourth place; his 2004 and 2012 Olympic Games performances are the only top-five finishes by an American man in the event since 1976. The former American record-holder at 10,000 meters and second-place finisher at the 2006 NYC Half has won more than 20 national championships in track and field, cross country, and road racing. He will attempt to defend his Boston Marathon title in April.

“It is always a thrill and an honor to compete in New York City, and NYRR has been the most consistent supporter of my running career,” said Keflezighi. “As I train to defend my Boston Marathon title in April, there is no better race to prepare than the United Airlines NYC Half.”

Ritzenhein, 32, is one of the best American half-marathon runners in history. He took home the bronze medal at the 2009 IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships with a time of 1:00:00, becoming the first American medalist at this event; his time is the second-fastest American performance ever, and he is the only American to run under 1:01:00 more than once. The former 5000-meter American record-holder and three-time Olympian finished third twice at the NYC Half (2008, 2013) and won the 2007 UAE Healthy Kidney 10K. He was the top American at the 2009 Olympic marathon, finishing ninth. The three-time national cross country champion (2005, 2008, 2009) owns a marathon personal best of 2:07:47, set at the 2012 Chicago Marathon. He will join Keflezighi at the Boston Marathon in April.

Sambu, 26, of Kenya, is the top returner from last year’s NYC Half, where he finished third with a time of 1:01:18, improving upon his seventh-place performance in 2013. At the 2014 B.A.A. 10K, the nine-time Division I NCAA All-American successfully defended his title, clocking a time of 27:25—the world’s fastest road 10K of the year. The 2013 and 2014 B.A.A. Distance Medley Champion won the 2014 UAE Healthy Kidney 10K by nearly 40 seconds with a time of 27:39, missing the event record by just four seconds; he finished third in the same event in 2013. At the 2013 NYC Half, he lowered his half-marathon personal best at the time by almost two-and-a-half minutes, and that fall he improved nearly another minute to his current personal best of 1:00:41 when he finished third at the B.A.A. Half-Marathon.

“During 2014, I became a more comfortable road racer,” said Sambu. “I love NYRR events and I hope to improve on my third place finish. 2015 marks my third year as a professional runner. I'm confident, as I have a tremendous coach in James Li. Last year, I managed to record personal bests for 5K, 8K, 10K, and 10 miles on the road and 10,000 meters on the track. My goals in 2015 are to improve, win, and set myself up for a 2016 marathon debut. It was a blast to watch the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon up close [on the press truck].”

Korir, 32, of Kenya, is the 2012 Boston Marathon champion and a two-time winner of the Los Angeles Marathon (2009, 2010). He recorded top-five finishes three times at the Chicago Marathon (2010: fourth, 2011: second, 2012: fifth) and two times at the Boston Marathon (2013: fifth) including his 2012 victory; he set his personal best of 2:06:13 at Chicago in 2012. A year after running his half-marathon personal best of 1:01:19 to finish fourth at the 2012 NYC Half, he was elected to the National Assembly (Kenyan Parliament). In his role, he has been instrumental in rebuilding Kenya through humanitarian efforts while continuing to train and race at a high level.

The 2015 United Airlines NYC Half will air live in New York on ABC7 and WatchABC from 7:00-9:00 a.m. EST and on 7online from 7:00-10:30 a.m. Outside of the New York area, coverage will also be available on ESPN3 via WatchESPN from 7:00-10:30 a.m. on computers, tablets, smartphones, Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox 360 and Xbox One for those who have video or internet subscriptions from affiliated providers. International viewers can watch the broadcast from 7:00-9:00 a.m. EST via a variety of global broadcast partners (international viewers should check local listings).

Additional Top Athlete Backgrounds and Notable Performances

Matt Tegenkamp, 33, of Portland, OR, is a two-time Olympian (2008, 2012) and the two-mile American record-holder. The six-time USA champion was the fourth American in history to break 13 minutes in the 5,000 meters and he finished fourth at the 2007 IAAF Outdoor Track and Field Championships at that distance. He was the top American at the 2014 NYC Half with a debut time of 1:02:04 and he placed 10th in his marathon debut at the 2013 Chicago Marathon.
Chris Solinsky, 30, of Williamsburg, VA, became the first non-African to break 27 minutes in the 10,000 meters in 2010 with a time of 26:59.60, a new American record by 14 seconds and a North American record by nine seconds. The five-time Division I NCAA champion and fourteen-time All-American is the second-fastest American ever in the 5000 meters with a personal best of 12:55.53. The 2015 United Airlines NYC Half will be his debut at the distance.
Andrew Bumbalough, 28, of Portland, OR, is the 2013 USA 5K champion and a five-time national team member for the United States, including the 5000 meters at the 2011 IAAF World Outdoor Track and Field Championships. In 2014, the eight-time Division I All-American ran under the 2000-meter American record at the NYRR Millrose Games and finished second in the 5000 meters at the 2014 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The 2015 United Airlines NYC Half will be his half-marathon debut.
Abdi Abdirahman, 38, of Tucson, AZ, qualified for his fourth U.S. Olympic team in 2012, his first team in the marathon. The 2012 USA Half-Marathon champion finished third in the 2006 NYC Half and second at the same event one year later; his time of 1:00:27 is the fastest time ever run by an American in New York. He is the only American to have run in three consecutive 10,000-meter Olympic finals and he has placed in the top 10 three times at the New York City Marathon, finishing a career-high of fifth in 2005.
Juan Luis Barrios, 31, of Mexico, is a two-time 5000-meter Olympian, finishing seventh in 2008 and eighth in 2012. The 2011 Pan American Games 5000-meter gold medalist took fifth in the 2013 NYC Half and improved to fourth at the same event in 2014. At the recent 2015 Marugame Half-Marathon, he finished fifth with a personal best of 1:00:46.
Lusapho April, 32, of South Africa, finished third at the 2013 New York City Marathon, the first podium finish from a South African since Hendrick Ramaala took third in 2007. Earlier that spring, the 2012 Olympian set a marathon personal best and course record of 2:08:32 at the Hanover Marathon. He represented his country at the 2014 IAAF Half-Marathon Championships, finishing 15th with a personal best of 1:01:16, and owns the 25K national record of 1:15:02, set in 2010.
Leonard Korir, 28, of Kenya, was a two-time Division I NCAA Champion and eight-time All-American at the tri-state area’s Iona College. He finished third at the 2014 B.A.A. Half-Marathon with a time of 1:01:50, contributing to his third-place finish overall in the 2014 B.A.A. Distance Medley. The 2012 UAE Healthy Kidney 10K runner-up finished fourth at the 2013 NYC Half with a personal best 1:01:19.
Arne Gabius, 33, of Germany, is the 2012 European Championships 5000-meter silver medalist and 11-time national champion. In his marathon debut at the BMW Frankfurt Marathon, he finished ninth with a time of 2:09:32, making him the fourth-fastest German ever; he is the first German in 24 years to run under 2:10:00. Last year, the 2012 Olympian and four-time IAAF World Championships (two indoors, two outdoors) qualifier finished eighth at the NYC Half.
Koki Takada, 21, and Takashi Ichida, 22, both qualified for the 2015 United Airlines NYC Half by placing first and second, respectively, at the 2014 Ageo City Half-Marathon, the deepest half-marathon in the world. Takada stopped Ichida’s title defense with a personal best of 1:02:02, the third-fastest winning time in race history. Both were teammates at Kagoshima Jitsugyo High School where they won the 2010 National High School Ekiden Championships.

10th United Airlines NYC Half Marathon Elite Men's Field
New York, U.S.A., 3/15/15

Dathan Ritzenhein (U.S.A.) - 1:00:00 (Birmingham World Half 2009)
Abdi Abdirahman (U.S.A.) - 1:00:29a (New York 2007) - 1:01:07 (Philadelphia 2006)
Stephen Sambu (Kenya) - 1:00:41 (Boston 2013)
Juan Luis Barrios (Mexico) - 1:00:46 (Marugame 2015)
Meb Keflezighi (U.S.A.) - 1:01:11 (San Jose 2009)
Lusapho April (South Africa) - 1:01:15 (Copenhagen World Half 2014)
Leonard Korir (Kenya) - 1:01:19 (New York 2013)
Wesley Korir (Kenya) - 1:01:19 (New York 2012)
Kevin Chelimo (Kenya) - 1:01:21 (New York 2012)
Fernando Cabada (U.S.A.) - 1:02:00 (Houston 2014)
Koki Takada (Japan/Waseda Univ.) - 1:02:02 (Ageo 2014)
Takashi Ichida (Japan/Daito Bunka Univ.) - 1:02:03 (Ageo 2014)
Matt Tegenkamp (U.S.A.) - 1:02:04 (New York 2014)
Arne Gabius (Germany) - 1:02:09 (New York 2014)
Brett Gotcher (U.S.A.) - 1:02:09 (Houston 2009)
Marcin Chabowski (Poland) - 1:02:26 (Pila 2011)
Jeffrey Eggleston (U.S.A.) - 1:02:41 (Houston 2015)
Chris Solinsky (U.S.A.) - debut - 26:59.60 for 10000 m (Palo Alto 2010)
Andrew Bumbalough (U.S.A.) - debut - 27:56.78 for 10000 m (Palo Alto 2013)

About the United Airlines NYC Half
Founded in 1958, New York Road Runners has grown from a local running club to the world’s premier community running organization, whose mission is to help and inspire people through running. The United Airlines NYC Half is NYRR’s signature half-marathon, and the opening event of the NYRR Five-Borough Series. The race features a talented American and international professional athlete field, competitive, recreational, and charity runners, some 1,500 volunteers and thousands of spectators. The event offers the quintessential New York experience—a 13.1-mile tour of the Big Apple like no other—from the rolling hills of Central Park, up to Harlem, down through Times Square, along the Hudson River waterfront, to a finish in lower Manhattan. United Airlines, New York area's largest airline, is the title sponsor of the United Airlines NYC Half and an NYRR foundation partner. To learn more, visit unitedairlinesnychalf.nyrr.org.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Officer Yukitomo Aiming for the Podium at Himeji Castle Marathon

http://www.kobe-np.co.jp/news/shakai/201502/0007744581.shtml

translated by Brett Larner

At the first edition of the Himeji Castle World Heritage Site Marathon on Feb. 22, senior patrol officer Makoto Yukitomo, 33, of Suma Police Station Department 3 will run as an invited elite athlete.  In his student days at Senshu University Officer Yukitomo ran the most competitive stage at the prestigious Hakone Ekiden, the Second Stage, two years in a row.  As a rookie police officer living in the Himeji police dormitory his regular running course was around Himeji Castle.  "It's fun to run on familiar old ground," he said in anticipation of the starting gun.

Officer Yukitomo was born in Yanai, Yamaguchi.  A member of his junior high school's kendo club, at a school sports day running event he caught the eye of the track coach who convinced him to become a long distance runner.  With a good track record of results in hard training he was recommended to and accepted by the sports powerhouse Ube Kojo H.S. in Ube, Yamaguchi.  At Ube he didn't make it to the National High School Championships, but nevertheless he attracted interest from the Tokyo-area Senshu University, a past Hakone Ekiden winner.  His second and third years at Senshu he ran the Second Stage against the best runners from every university in the field.  After graduation he joined the corporate leagues as a pro but after a series of injuries he was let go.

From his time as an athlete Yukitomo had been interested in the police officers who were responsible for traffic safety during the race, and in 2008 he joined the Hyogo Prefecture Police Department.  With no friends of family in Hyogo he was completely on his own, but, he said, "I had always hoped to find myself in the capitol of Japanese athletics, Hyogo."  Initially placed at the Tatsuno Police Station, he was transferred to the Suma Police Station in September, 2012.  In January, 2013 he was involved in questioning suspects in the theft of a bat autographed by major leaguer Ichiro Suzuki, contributing to their arrest.  He is currently responsible for the Tainohata Police Box in Kobe's Suma Ward, conducting regular patrols and cracking down on traffic violations.  "This work lets me take advantage of the patience and stamina I developed as a distance runner," he said.

Sunday will be Officer Yukitomo's first full marathon in eight years, his best time as a corporate runner having been around 2:26.  Also on the invited athlete list in Himeji is his junior high school era rival Masato Ando (Team Sanyo Tokushu Seiko, Hotoku H.S.).  "While it would be great if we could run together, I am just an amateur hobby runner," Officer Yukitomo said modestly.  But, he admitted, he does have ambitions for the race.  "My boss and colleagues will be there working and cheering, so I will be trying to make the podium."

Translator's note: The Himeji Castle World Heritage Site Marathon replaces the Himeji Castle 10-Miler, a race with more than 50 years of history.

Monday, February 16, 2015

30 km National University Record Holder Hattori Withdraws from Tokyo Marathon with Achilles Injury

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20150214-OHT1T50310.html

translated by Brett Larner

30 km national university record holder Yuma Hattori, a third-year at Toyo University, has withdrawn from his planned debut at the Feb. 22 Tokyo Marathon due to pain in his right Achilles tendon.  Hattori notified race organizers of his withdrawal on Feb. 14.

On Jan. 2 Hattori won the Hakone Ekiden's most competitive stage, the Second Stage, but injured his right thigh in the last part of that run.  After taking a week off to recover he returned to full training including two 40 km runs but began experiencing pain in his right Achilles.  Carefully considering his future, he made the tough decision to withdraw.

The decision means that Hattori has given up on his plans for the "shortest route" to the Olympics that were to have started at the Tokyo Marathon, but his goal of making the Rio de Janeiro Olympics has not changed.  He still plans to run next year's Tokyo Marathon to take a "single shot" at making the Olympic team.  He won't be alone.  Also planning to debut in Tokyo next year to try to make the Rio team are rival Aoyama Gakuin University's "God of the Mountain" Hakone Fifth Stage winner Daichi Kamino and Second Stage 3rd-placer Tadashi Isshiki.

Takeyuki Nakayama Breaks Three Hours at Senshu Marathon

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20150215-OHT1T50273.html

translated by Brett Larner

4th in the marathon at the Seoul Olympics and Barcelona Olympics, Takeyuki Nakayama, 55, ran Sunday's Senshu International Marathon as a specially invited guest.  Nakayama ran 2:54:26, finishing 19th in the general men's division and far surpassing his goal of 3:30.  "I started up front, so I went out at a faster pace than I was planning," he said with a smile.  "I figured that if I kept running like that I'd break 3 hours, so that's what I did."

In 1985 Nakayama set the then Japanese national record of 2:08:15.  Along with Toshihiko Seko and twins Shigeru Soh and Takeshi Soh he was one of the leaders of the Japanese marathon world.  Nakayama won the Senshu International Marathon in 1996 in 2:17:28.  "There was a headwind the whole way," he recalled.  "When I saw the bridge [at 40 km] I was totally exhausted."

These days the freelance Nakayama makes guest appearances at events and runs in races on his own.  Even now the original "natural runner" never misses running 20 km a day.  58 kg during his peak years, he still weighs only 63 kg.  "Yeah, I don't really want to get fat," he said.  "I'll keep running as long as I can."

Sunday, February 15, 2015

National, World and Course Records Everywhere - Weekend Summary

A quick summary of this weekend's major action.  Click any for detailed results and coverage.

Suguru Osako (Team Nissin Shokuhin) set a 13:28.00 indoor 5000 m national record at the Millrose Games in New York.

Charles Ndirangu (Kenya/Team JFE Steel) ran a 1:00:18 debut to break the National Corporate Half Marathon course record.  Masato Kikuchi (Team Konica Minolta) tied the 20 km Japanese national record of 57:24 but missed the half marathon NR by 7 seconds as he took 3rd in 1:00:32.  Michi Numata (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) won the women's half marathon in 1:09:27, while Yuika Mori (Team Yamada Denki) won the 10 km in a course record 32:26.

Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran 2:15:06 to win the Kochi Ryoma Marathon a week after running 2:15:16 in Nobeoka, his first time tackling back-to-back marathons.  Kawauchi set new world records with 35 career sub-2:16 marathons and 37 sub-2:17s.

Collegiates Shin Kimura (Meiji Univ.) and Saori Noda (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) won the Kumanichi 30 km Road Race, Noda's 1:45:00 the fastest-ever by a Japanese collegiate woman.  Hayato Sonoda (Team Kurosaki Harima) and Chigusa Yoshimatsu (Kumamoto T&F Assoc.) won the accompanying marathon, Yoshimatsu taking over 2 minutes off the course record in 2:49:29.

Ultramarathoner Kiyokatsu Hasegawa (Team JR Higashi Nihon) won the Ome 30 km Road Race in 1:33:06, American Nick Arciniaga more than a minute back in 5th.  Megumi Amako (Canon AC Kyushu) easily won the women's race in 1:46:52.

Collegiates Kimura and Noda Win Kumanichi 30 km, Hasegawa and Amako Take Ome

by Brett Larner

On a busy weekend the Japanese racing calendar featured not one but two elite 30 km road races.  In western Japan, the Kumanichi 30 km staged its 59th running, its fourth edition since adding a mass-participation marathon to help keep the small elite-level 30 km afloat.

The men's 30 km featured a pack of five up front featuring corporate teammates Sota Hoshi and Shota Yamaguchi (Team Fujitsu) and collegiates Shin Kimura (Meiji Univ.),  Shohei Otsuka (Komazawa Univ.) and Hazuma Hattori (Toyo Univ.), the younger brother of last year's winner Yuma Hattori (Toyo Univ.).  Kimura did most of the early leading before making a two-man break with Minato Oishi (Team Toyota) at 10 km, opening a 15-second lead by 15 km but swallowed back up by 20 km.  The pace slowed and the race turned tactical, and in a five-way sprint finish Kimura again pulled to the front for the win in 1:31:27, just ahead of 2013 national 5000 m champion Hoshi who clocked the same time and Yamaguchi another second back.

Five of the seven women in the race started together, running as a pack through 15 km before Saori Noda (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) accelerated to open a lead that was never challenged.  Noda won in 1:45:00, the fastest time ever by a Japanese collegiate woman in a 30 km race but slower than marathon collegiate record holder Sairi Maeda's split in Osaka last year.  41 seconds down at 25 km, Mao Kuroda (Team Wacoal) closed to within 12 seconds of Noda but was too far back to catch up, taking 2nd in 1:45:12.  Kuroda will make her marathon debut next month at the Asics L.A. Marathon.

In the marathon, Hayato Sonoda (Team Kurosaki Harima) soloed a 2:18:00 win, far off the 2:10:14 course record set last year by Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) but still the second-fastest time in the event's short history.  Local Chigusa Yoshimatsu (Kumamoto T&F Assoc.) did get the CR in the women's race, clipping nearly 2 1/2 minutes off the old mark in 2:49:29.

In eastern Japan the Ome 30 km, long a popular mass-participation race incorporating an elite race that brings high-placing Americans from the Boston Marathon and sends its top Japanese finishers there in exchange, staged its 49th running after heavy snow forced its cancellation last year.  On a very tough and hilly course Nick Arciniaga (U.S.A.) led a pack of six through 20 km in 1:03:01, more than 3 minutes slower than Kimura's 20 km split in Kumanichi, before Satoshi Kikuchi (Josai Univ.) led a break that dropped Arciniaga and cut the lead group down to three.  Over the flattish final 5 km 2011 Lake Saroma 100 km winner Kiyokatsu Hasegawa (Team JR Higashi Nihon) pulled clear of Kikuchi and Kohei Ogino (Team Fujitsu) for the win in 1:33:06.  Arciniaga ended up more than a minute back in 5th in 1:34:14.

Megumi Amako (Canon AC Kyushu), a training partner of 2014 100 km World Championships silver medalist Chiyuki Mochizuki (Canon AC Kyushu), ran unchallenged to win by more than 5 minutes in 1:46:52.  Yumi Motohiro (Hachioji H.S.) was similarly unchallenged in the women's 10 km, winning in 33:52 by over 20 seconds.

59th Kumanichi 30 km Road Race and 4th Kumamoto-jo Marathon
Kumamoto, 2/15/15
click here for complete results

Men's 30 km
1. Shin Kimura (Meiji Univ.) - 1:31:27
2. Sota Hoshi (Team Fujitsu) - 1:31:27
3. Shota Yamaguchi (Team Fujitsu) - 1:31:28
4. Shohei Otsuka (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:31:29
5. Hazuma Hattori (Toyo Univ.) - 1:31:31
6. Hiroto Kanamori (Takoshoku Univ.) - 1:33:54
7. Minato Oishi (Team Toyota) - 1:34:16
8. Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Mongolia/Team NTN) - 1:34:34
9. Yuji Nakamura (Team Aichi Seiko) - 1:35:10
10. Daichi Motomura (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 1:36:20

Women's 30 km
1. Saori Noda (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) - 1:45:00
2. Mao Kuroda (Team Wacoal) - 1:45:12
3. Kana Orino (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 1:48:04
4. Anna Hasuike (Team Higo Ginko) - 1:48:46
5. Sakie Arai (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) - 1:49:32

Men's Marathon
1. Hayato Sonoda (Team Kurosaki Harima) - 2:18:00

Women's Marathon
1. Chigusa Yoshimatsu (Kumamoto T&F Assoc.) - 2:49:29 - CR

49th Ome Road Race 30 km and 10 km
Ome, Tokyo, 2/15/15
click here for complete results

Men's 30 km
1. Kiyokatsu Hasegawa (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 1:33:06
2. Satoshi Kikuchi (Josai Univ.) - 1:33:24
3. Kohei Ogino (Team Fujitsu) - 1:33:42
4. Daisuke Matsufuji (Team Kanebo) - 1:34:11
5. Nick Arciniaga (U.S.A.) - 1:34:14
6. Mahoro Ikeda (Team Aichi Seiko) - 1:34:38
7. Masaki Matsui (Tokyo Kogyo Univ.) - 1:35:00
8. Takato Koitabashi (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:35:24
9. Keito Koitabashi (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:36:05
10.. Tetsuya Watanabe (Senshu Univ.) - 1:37:18

Women's 30 km
1. Megumi Amako (Canon AC Kyushu) - 1:46:52
2. Eri Okubo (Miki House) - 1:52:19
3. Akane Mutazaki (Team Edion) - 1:53:06

Men's 10 km
1. Hiromu Endo (Koku Gakuin Prep Kugayama H.S.) - 30:41

Women's 10 km
1. Yumi Motohiro (Hachioji H.S.) - 33:52
2. Yuri Ishikawa (Hachioji H.S.) - 34:13
3. Mayumi Harako (Kinjo Gakuen H.S.) - 35:15

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Kawauchi Breaks Two World Records With Kochi Ryoma Marathon Win

by Brett Larner

Running marathons on back-to-back weekends for the first time, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) improved on his 2:15:16 8th-place finish at last weekend's Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon with a 2:15:06 win at the 69th edition of the Kochi Ryoma Marathon.

Still recovering the fitness lost to a month off serious training after spraining his ankle in late December, Kawauchi found an unexpected challenge from Tatsuya Itagaki (Team JP Post), a 2:22:19 marathoner who went through halfway right next to him on 2:12 marathon pace.  Things slowed down in the uphill second half, Itagaki lasting until 27 km before a surge from Kawauchi put him away. From there Kawauchi was free all the way to the end, his 2:15:06 missing the course record by 42 seconds.  Itagaki was rewarded for a brave first half with a new best of 2:18:56.

Kawauchi's win marked his 35th career sub-2:16 marathon and 37th sub-2:17.  Both marks surpassed the world records held by Ethiopian great Abebe Mekonnen, who over the course of 14 years ran 34 sub-2:16s and 36 sub-2:17s.  In Kawauchi's case it took just under 5 years.  With fast overseas marathons planned in Seoul next month and Zurich in April Kawauchi is only one run away from tying Swede Kjell-Erik Stahl's record of 41 sub-2:18 marathons and two races from Mekonnen's sub-2:13, 2:14 and 2:15 records.  At this rate he's on track to truly go where no one ever has, or will again.

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Ndirangu and Numata Win National Corporate Half Marathon, Kikuchi Just Misses National Record in 1:00:32

by Brett Larner

A week after winning a muddy Chiba XC, Charles Ndirangu (Kenya/Team JFE Steel) was back for his half marathon debut at the National Corporate Half Marathon Championships.  The successor to 2015 Kenyan national XC champion Bedan Karoki (DeNA RC) at Hiroshima's Sera H.S., Ndirangu sat near the rear of the lead pack through a relatively conservative 14:29 opening split on the 30 m uphill first 5 km.  As the downhill started Masato Kikuchi (Team Konica Minolta), the top non-African at last year's World Half Marathon Championships who ran an all-time Japanese #5 1:00:57 two weeks ago in Marugame, began to push the pace, covering the next 5 km in 14:19.  Ndirangu temporarily lost contact with the lead group in Kikuchi's wake but came back in a hurry, surging at 11 km to go to the front and break up the pack.

Initially only Kikuchi and his teammate Keita Shitara (Team Konica Minolta), who likewise ran a PB 1:01:20 in Marugame two weeks ago, followed, but when they were joined by Macharia Ndirangu (Kenya/Team Aichi Seiko) Shitara lost touch.  Kikuchi went back to the front at 13 km, aggressively pushing toward Atsushi Sato's 1:00:25 national record.  At 18 km Charles Ndirangu attacked again, pulling away from Kikuchi and Macharia and cruising on to a solid 1:00:18 course record win in his debut.  43 seconds behind Sato's NR pace at 10 km, at 20 km Kikuchi exactly tied Sato's 57:24 split, incidentally becoming the co-national record holder at that distance, but almost staggering as he and Macharia hit the track.  He briefly rallied to go into 2nd, but Macharia went by for the runner-up spot in 1:00:30, a PB by nearly 2 1/2 minutes.

Kikuchi was just behind in 1:00:32, breaking the course record along with the two Ndirangu's but 7 seconds short of Sato's national record.  His time put him at all-time Japanese #3 and together with his time from Marugame made him the first Japanese man ever to break 61 minutes twice.  Combined with becoming the co-holder of the 20 km national record it wasn't a bad day, and the aggressive front-running Kikuchi showed marked him as one of the best of the new generation of under-25 Japanese making their way up the ranks.

Shitara held on for 5th in 1:01:12 to become all-time Japanese #10.  Four other Japanese men broke 62 minutes for the first time, Taku Fujimoto (Team Toyota) debuting in 1:01:31.  Previous course record holder Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota), formerly all-time Japanese #4 at 1:00:53, had his first good race since a 2:11:50 debut at last year's Tokyo Marathon at age 22, running 1:02:18 for 11th.  A total of 27 men broke 1:03.

The women's half marathon likewise didn't see things get moving until after 10 km.  Under-20 marathon national record holder Reia Iwade (Team Noritz) did most of the leading up to 10 km, running just under 70 minute pace before former Ritsumeikan University star Michi Numata (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) dropped a 16:16 split through 15 km to open up a solo lead that she held all the way to the win in a PB 1:09:27.  Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) was the only one to go after her, running a 3-second PB of 1:09:57 for 2nd.  Unable to follow the change in pace, Iwade rounded out the podium in 1:10:13.

36 years old next month, 10000 m and former marathon national record holder Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) was a surprise 6th in 1:11:00, her best time since 2008.  Looking relatively lean after altitude training on her old grounds in Kunming, China in preparation for next month's Nagoya Women's Marathon, Shibui hung back after Numata starting pushing, far back from the leaders at the turnaround but picking them off one at a time on the trip back to move up to 6th.

For the fifth year the women's field was divided between the half marathon and 10 km, with many of the younger names that might have taken on longer distances in older times opting for the 10 km.  A lead group of ten went through halfway in a leisurely 16:39, only slightly faster than the half marathoners' opening 5 km split, before things got moving.  Last year's runner-up Yuika Mori (Team Yamada Denki) burned off the competition with a 15:47 second half, crossing the finish line in a course record 32:26 PB.  Yuka Miyazaki (Team Kyudenko) was 3 seconds back in a major PB of 32:29, getting there just ahead of Mori's teammate Sakiho Tsutsui (Team Yamada Denki) who made an excellent road 10 km debut in 32:30.

National Corporate Half Marathon and 10 km Championships
Yamaguchi, 2/15/15
click here for complete results

Men's Half Marathon
1. Charles Ndirangu (Kenya/Team JFE Steel) - 1:00:18 - debut, CR
2. Macharia Ndirangu (Kenya/Team Aichi Seiko) - 1:00:30 - PB (CR)
3. Masato Kikuchi (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:00:32 - PB (CR)
4. Jacob Wanjuki (Kenya/Team Aichi Seiko) - 1:01:05
5. Keita Shitara (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:01:12 - PB
6. Shota Hattori (Team Honda) - 1:01:25 - PB
7. Johana Maina (Kenya/Team Fujitsu) - 1:01:29
8. Taku Fujimoto (Kenya/Team Toyota) - 1:01:31 - debut
9. Yuji Osuda (Team Mazda) - 1:01:40 - PB
10. Kenta Matsumoto (Team Toyota) - 1:01:55 - PB
11. Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota) - 1:02:18
12. Keita Baba (Team Honda) - 1:02:23 - PB
13. Shuji Matsuo (Team Chudenko) - 1:02:25 - PB
14. Shusei Ohashi (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 1:02:27 - PB
15. Kenta Kitazawa (Team Yachiyo Kogyo) - 1:02:32 - PB
16. Takuya Fukatsu (Team Asahi Kasei) - 1:02:36
17. Kazuyoshi Shimozato (Team Komori Corp.) - 1:02:44
18. Tomoya Shirayanagi (Team Toyota Boshoku) - 1:02:45 - PB
19. Masaru Aoki (Team Kanebo) - 1:02:45 - PB
20. Kyohei Nishi (Team Kyudenko) - 1:02:45 - PB
21. Yoshihiro Yamamoto (Team NTN) - 1:02:47
22. Ryotaro Otani (Team Toyota Boshoku) - 1:02:48 - PB
23. Ryuji Okada (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:02:48 - PB
24. Norihiro Komatsu (Team Aisan Kogyo) - 1:02:49 - PB
25. Kenta Matsubara (Team Toyota) - 1:02:50 - PB

Women's Half Marathon
1. Michi Numata (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 1:09:27 - PB
2. Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:09:57 - PB
3. Reia Iwade (Team Noritz) - 1:10:13
4. Misaki Kato (Team Kyudenko) - 1:10:43
5. Rina Yamazaki (Team Panasonic) - 1:10:57
6. Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 1:11:00
7. Yuka Yano (Canon AC Kyushu) - 1:11:11 - PB
8. Yurie Doi (Team Starts) - 1:11:28
9. Kotomi Takayama (Team Sysmex) - 1:11:48
10. Ai Inoue (Team Noritz) - 1:11:53 - PB

Women's 10 km
1. Yuika Mori (Team Yamada Denki) - 32:26 - CR, PB
2. Yuka Miyazaki (Team Kyudenko) - 32:29 - PB
3. Sakiho Tsutsui (Team Yamada Denki) - 32:30 - debut
4. Yuki Mitsunobu (Team Denso) - 32:38 - PB
5. Riko Matsuzaki (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 32:41 - PB
6. Nami Hashimoto (Team Denso) - 32:45 - debut
7. Nao Isaka (Team Hitachi) - 33:05 - PB
8. Ai Utsunomiya (Team Miyazaki Ginko) - 33:11 - PB
9. Mai Ishibashi (Team Denso) - 33:16
10. Eri Hashimoto (Team Shimamura) - 33:20 - PB

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved