Thursday, April 30, 2015

'Marathon Star From Kenya Runs Into Criticism'

http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/article.aspx?aid=3003692&cloc=joongangdaily|home|newslist2

Background on this story: Part 1 - Part 2

Note: Sohn Kee Chung competed in the 1936 Olympics under the Japanese flag during the Japanese occupation of Korea.

Fujiwara Plans to Seal Up Rio Olympics Spot in Beijing

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20150429-OHT1T50341.html

translated by Brett Larner

2015 Beijing World Championships team member Masakazu Fujiwara (34, Team Honda) ran in the 5000 m at the Apr. 29 Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials meet.  His first race of the season, he finished in 14:22.76.  "That was about what I expected," he said.

Along with World Championships teammates Masato Imai (31, Team Toyota Kyushu) and Kazuhiro Maeda (34, Team Kyudenko), if Fujiwara makes the top 8 in Beijing and is the top Japanese finisher he will be named to the Rio Olympics team.  "I definitely want to seal up a place on the Olympic team in Beijing," he said.  Anticipating a battle between veterans he added, "The other two guys are probably thinking the same thing.  If we don't do it in Beijing it will be hard to make the team.  We're all in our 30s so we can't keep running lots and lots of marathons."

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Mathathi, Karoki, Kebede, Kipkoech, Baysa and Kirwa Lead Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon Field

by Brett Larner

Course record holder Bedan Karoki (Kenya/DeNA RC), past champion Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and Fukuoka International Marathon course record holder Tsegaye Kebede (Ethiopia) lead the men's field for the 5th edition of the Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon on May 17, an event that has quickly surpassed the Sendai International Half Marathon as Japan's premier late-spring half marathon.  Former Toyota runner James Rungaru (Kenya) is back and with a 1:00:12 best looks like another contender up front, and Australian 10000 m national record holder Ben St. Lawrence is also in the field.  Japanese entries include sub-1:02 men Kenji Yamamoto (Team Mazda), Kenta Matsumoto (Team Toyota) and Masamichi Shinozaki (Team Hitachi Butsuryu), plus 2014 Asian Games marathon bronze medalist Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't).

On the women's side, Asian Games marathon gold medalist Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) returns to Japan after winning March's Nagoya Women's Marathon, facing serious competition from sub-1:08 women Paskalia Kipkoech (Kenya) and Atsede Baysa (Ethiopia).  Other internationals including Brianne Nelson (U.S.A.), Rene Kalmer (South Africa) and the newly Japan-based Malika Mejdoub (Morocco/Team Edion) are better positioned as competition for the relatively weak Japanese women's field headed by Hiroko Shoi (Team Denso) and Yuko Mizuguchi (Team Denso).

5th Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon Entry List Highlights
Gifu, 5/17/15
click here for complete elite field listing

Men
Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 58:56a / 59:48
Bedan Karoki (Kenya/DeNA RC) - 59:21
Tsegaye Kebede (Ethiopia) - 59:35
James Rungaru (Kenya) - 1:00:12
Jacob Wanjuki (Kenya/Aichi Seiko) - 1:00:32
Cyrus Njui (Kenya/Arata Project) - 1:01:03
Josephat Boit (U.S.A.) - 1:01:33
Shadrack Biwott (U.S.A.) - 1:01:40
Kenji Yamamoto (Japan/Mazda) - 1:01:47
Kenta Matsumoto (Japan/Toyota) - 1:01:55
Patrick Mwaka (Kenya/Aisan Kogyo) - 1:01:56
Masamichi Shinozaki (Japan/Hitachi Butsuryu) - 1:01:58
Yusei Nakao (Japan/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:02:00
Yoshihiro Yamamoto (Japan/NTN) - 1:02:03
Yuki Kawauchi (Japan/Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 1:02:18
Dishon Karukuwa Maina (Kenya/Omokawa Lumber) - 1:02:20
Ismail Juma (Tanzania) - 1:02:42
Ben St. Lawrence (Australia) - 1:02:51
Agato Yasin Hassan (Ethiopia/Chuo Hatsujo) - debut - 27:46.35

Women
Paskalia Kipkoech (Kenya) - 1:07:17
Atsede Baysa (Ethiopia) - 1:07:34
Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) - 1:08:31
Brianne Nelson (U.S.A.) - 1:10:16
Kiyoko Shimahara (Japan/Second Wind AC) - 1:10:16
Marta Tigabea (Ethiopia) - 1:10:32
Rene Kalmer (South Africa) - 1:10:37
Hiroko Shoi (Japan/Denso) - 1:10:48
Azusa Nojiri (Japan/Hiratsuka Lease) - 1:10:53
Yuko Mizuguchi (Japan/Denso) - 1:11:03
Eri Okubo (Japan/Miki House) - 1:11:22
Malika Mejdoub (Morocco/Edion) - 1:11:33

Monday, April 27, 2015

Okayama and Masuda Score Sado Toki Marathon Victories, Kawauchi Wins Half

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2015/04/27/kiji/K20150427010244100.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

2726 people ran the 2015 Sado Toki Marathon on April 26 on a course starting and finishing in front of Ondeko Dome on the island of Sadogashima, Niigata.  In the race's main distance, Haruki Okayama, 20, won the men's marathon in 2:37:16, with Akiko Masuda, 30, winning the women's marathon in 3:05:28.  Appearing as a special guest, 2014 Asian Games marathon bronze medalist Yuki Kawauchi brought prestige and popularity to the event as he was first across the finish line in the half marathon in 1:06:14.

Making his marathon debut, Okayama took the lead at 35 km and opened a margin of 5 minutes 30 seconds over 2nd place.  "I didn't know how I should be pacing myself and it got pretty hot out there, so it was tough," he said.  "I didn't think I could win it."  As a student in Kumamoto Okayama was a member of the Chinzei H.S. ekiden team but was frequently injured.  Currently in his third year at Tokyo Nogyo University, he trains with the Waseda University Running Club.  His goal for the future is to emulate Kawauchi.  "In the future I want to be a force to reckon with as an amateur runner."

With a 2:41:25 best women's winner Masuda was in a different league from the rest of the field in her first time running the Sado Toki Marathon.  "Recently I've only been jogging," she said, but even so she beat 2nd place by a massive margin of over 20 minutes.  At Niigata Daiichi H.S. she ran the National High School Ekiden Championships twice, both times running its highly competitive First Stage.  Last year she won the Niigata City Marathon, another indication of her ability.  Of her first time on Sadogashima she said, "It was very pleasant to run in the midst of the beautiful natural environment here on Sadogashima."

Malel Runs World-Leading 10000 m in Hyogo - Weekend Track Roundup (updated with video)

by Brett Larner
videos by Ekiden News and Tomoyuki Maruyama



Honda's William Malel led the results from the weekend's two big Japanese meets, Kobe's Hyogo Relay Carnival and Yokohama's Nittai University Time Trials, frontrunning to a world-leading 27:42.99 in the Hyogo Grand Prix Men's 10000 m.  Malel and James Mwangi (Kenya/Team NTN) ran together on low-27 pace for the first half of the race, while former Komazawa University star Kenta Murayama (Team Asahi Kasei) ran at the front of a chase pack hoping to hit the 27:45.00 standard for the Beijing World Championships.  The pace in both groups slowed in the second half, and when Mwangi lost touch Murayama was quick to run him down for 2nd in 28:09.28.  Hakone Ekiden champion Aoyama Gakuin University's Tadashi Isshiki, winner of last month's record-setting National University Half Marathon, was the top collegiate runner in 28:37.82.



With Isshiki already leading the World University Games half marathon team thanks to his National win most of the other top collegiate runners were in the World University Games Selection 10000 m heat, where Hironori Tsuetaki (Chuo Gakuin Univ.) raced Isshiki's teammate Yusuke Ogura (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) all the way to take the win in 28:36.61, Ogura just behind in 28:38.57.  Kazuto Kawabata (Tokai Univ.) took 3rd in 28:44.71 to round out the World University Games 10000 m team.



Women's World University Games selection happened at Nittai, where Rina Koeda (Daito Bunka Univ.) won a close race over Sakie Arai (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) and Mai Shoji (Chukyo Univ.) in 33:03.03, all three finishing within just over a second of each other.



Back in Hyogo, Yuika Mori (Yamada Denki) and Ronald Kwemoi (Kenya/Komori Corp.) ran meet record times, Mori winning the Asics Challenge women's 5000 m in 15:39.79 and Kwemoi the Grand Prix men's 1500 m in 3:37.94.  Year-leading Japanese half marathoner Michi Numata (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) added the leading 10000 m time to her resume, winning in 32:25.08 but coming up well short of the Beijing qualifying mark as most of her competition opted for next weekend's Payton Jordan Invitational in the U.S.A.

Other winners included Melaku Abera (Ethiopia/Kurosaki Harima) in the Hyogo Asics Challenge men's 10000 m in 28:10.29, 2007 World Championships 10000 m bronze medalist Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) in the men's 10000 m A-heat at Nittai in 28:14.24, Daniel Kipkemoi (Kenya/Toyota Boshoku) in the Nittai men's 5000 m A-heat in 13:27.44, and Pauline Kamulu, an apparent new addition to the fledgling Route Inn Hotels team, in the Nittai women's 3000 m A-heat in 9:10.84.  At Nittai, Taiga Machizawa (Chuo Univ.) turned in what may have been the collegiate men's performance of the weekend, running a 10000 m PB of over one minute to finish 4th behind Mathathi in 28:43.51.  Nine university men broke 29 minutes at Nittai versus eight at Hyogo, despite the Hyogo Relay Carnival counting as the selection event for the World University Games team.

Hyogo Relay Carnival
Kobe, Hyogo, 4/25-26/15
click here for complete results

Grand Prix Men's 10000 m
1. William Malel (Kenya/Honda) - 27:42.99 - WL
2. Kenta Murayama (Asahi Kasei) - 28:09.28
3. James Mwangi (Kenya/NTN) - 28:20.21
4. Naohiro Domoto (JR Higashi Nihon) - 28:21.00
5. Hiroyuki Yamamoto (Konica Minolta) - 28:22.92
6. Hiroto Inoue (Mitsubishi HPS Nagasaki) - 28:32.09
7. Tsubasa Hayakawa (Toyota) - 28:33.34
8. Keita Shitara (Konica Minolta) - 28:35.76
9. Tadashi Isshiki (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 28:37.82
10. Keisuke Nakatani (Komazawa Univ.) - 28:49.10

Grand Prix Women's 10000 m
1. Michi Numata (Toyota Jidoshokki) - 32:25.08
2. Ai Inoue (Noritz) - 32:39.04
3. Keiko Nogami (Juhachi Ginko) - 32:40.53
4. Chieko Kido (Canon AC Kyushu) - 33:02.59
5. Rika Shintaku (Shimamura) - 33:02.61
6. Hanami Sekine (JP Post) - 33:20.99
7. Misato Horie (Noritz) - 33:23.95
8. Kotomi Takayama (Sysmex) - 33:26.34
9. Fumiko Hashimoto (Shimamura) - 33:28.73
10. Yuki Hidaka (Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 33:29.58

Asics Challenge Men's 10000 m
1. Melaku Abera (Ethiopia/Kurosaki Harima) - 28:10.29
2. Alex Mwangi (Kenya/YKK) - 28:17.16
3. Patrick Mwaka (Kenya/Aisan Kogyo) - 28:19.60
4. Joseph Onsarigo (Kenya/ND Software) - 28:22.64
5. Akihiko Tsumurai (Mazda) - 28:22.86
6. Sota Hoshi (Fujitsu) - 28:23.75
7. Yuki Matsuoka (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 28:25.97
8. Masaru Aoki (Kanebo) - 28:26.27
9. Ryo Kiname (Mitsubishi HPS Nagasaki) - 28:36.51
10. Takashi Ichida (Asahi Kasei) - 28:40.40

World University Games Selection Men's 10000 m
1. Hironori Tsuetaki (Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 28:36.61
2. Yusuke Ogura (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 28:38.57
3. Kazuto Kawabata (Tokai Univ.) - 28:44.71
4. Kaido Kita (Chugoku Denryoku) - 28:45.42
5. Shin Kimura (Meiji Univ.) - 28:52.15
6. Naoki Kudo (Komazawa Univ.) - 28:54.40
7. Ryosuke Maki (Subaru) - 28:55.60
8. Yuki Muta (Meiji Univ.) - 28:59.03
9. Shinnosuke Ogino (Nihon Univ.) - 29:09.41
10. Tsukasa Koyama (Subaru) - 29:10.33

Asics Challenge Women's 5000 m
1. Yuika Mori (Yamada Denki) - 15:39.79 - MR
2. Susan Wairimu (Kenya/Denso) - 15:41.37 (MR)
3. Sakiho Tsutsui (Yamada Denki) - 15:41.63
4. Akane Yabushita (Toyota Jidoshokki) - 15:47.45
5. Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) - 15:55.66
6. Kasumi Nishihara (Yamada Denki) - 15:57.32
7. Nami Hashimoto (Denso) - 15:59.14
8. Ami Hirose (Kansai Univ.) - 16:00.77
9. Miyuki Oka (Denso) - 16:02.81
10. Naoka Akutsu (Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 16:08.84

Grand Prix Men's 1500 m
1. Ronald Kwemoi (Kenya/Komori Corp.) - 3:37.94 - MR
2. Enock Omwamba (Kenya/Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 3:38.78 (MR)
3. Masaki Noda (Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) - 3:42.14
4. Daiki Hirose (Osaka Gas) - 3:42.15
5. Yuki Akimoto (Sanyo Tokushu Seiko) - 3:43.92

Nittai University Time Trials
Yokohama, Kanagawa, 4/25-26/15
click here for complete results

Men's 10000 m Heat 9
1. Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 28:14.24
2. Mitchell Gizae (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 28:36.12
3. Dominic Nyairo (Kenya/Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 28:38.46
4. Taiga Machizawa (Chuo Univ.) - 28:43.51
5. Shohei Otsuka (Komazawa Univ.) - 28:44.31
6. Ryohei Nishiyama (Kanagawa Univ.) - 28:44.88
7. Hiroki Matsueda (Juntendo Univ.) - 28:46.42
8. Sho Tokunaga (Chuo Univ.) - 28:48.19
9. Kenta Ueda (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 28:48.92
10. Kento Hanazawa (Juntendo Univ.) - 28:49.96

World University Games Selection Women's 10000 m
1. Rina Koeda (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 33:03.03
2. Sakie Arai (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) - 33:03.18
3. Mai Shoji (Chukyo Univ.) - 33:04.22

Men's 5000 m Heat 29
1. Daniel Kipkemoi (Kenya/Toyota Boshoku) - 13:27.44
2. Paul Kuira (Kenya/Konica Minolta) - 13:28.18
3. Rodgers Chumo Kemoi (Kenya/Aisan Kogyo) - 13:30.20
4. Edwin Mokua (Kenya/Nissin Shokuhin) - 13:32.16
5. Silas Kingori (Kenya/Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 13:43.28
6. Samuel Mwangi (Kenya/Konica Minolta) - 13:43.54
7. Benjamin Ngandu (Kenya/Monteroza) - 13:45.22
8. Daniel Muiva Kitonyi (Kenya/Nihon Univ.) - 13:47.04
9. Patrick Wambui (Kenya/Nihon Univ.) - 13:48.74
10. Tomoyuki Morita (Kanebo) - 13:49.50

Women's 5000 m Heat 2
1. Moeno Nakamura (Universal Entertainment) - 15:52.65
2. Hitomi Nakamura (Panasonic) - 15:56.21
3. Wakana Itsuki (Fukuoka Univ.) - 15:57.21
4. Mizuho Nasukawa (Universal Entertainment) - 15:57.61
5. Akane Higashimura (Sysmex) - 15:58.07
6. Kureha Seki (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 15:59.17
7. Saki Fukui (Josai Univ.) - 16:00.97
8. Nana Sato (Starts) - 16:06.42
9. Shiori Yano (Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 16:12.96
10. Eri Hashimoto (Shimamura) - 16:16.61

Women's 3000 m Heat 6
1. Pauline Kamulu (Kenya/Route Inn Hotels) - 9:10.84
2. Monica Margaret (Kenya/Aomori Yamada ) - 9:15.20
3. Maki Izumida (Rikkyo Univ.) - 9:19.13
4. Miho Shimada (Yamanashi Gakuin Prep H.S.) - 9:20.05
5. Rika Toguchi (Route Inn Hotels) - 9:20.83

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

'Lemi Berhanu Continues Unbeaten Marathon Streak in Warsaw'

http://www.iaaf.org/news/report/lemi-berhanu-warsaw-marathon

Chiharu Takada (Team JR Higashi Nihon) ran 2:12:27 for 13th in Warsaw, just missing the 2:12:13 run in Zurich last week by Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) as the year's fastest time by a Japanese man outside Japan.  Click here for complete results.

Elsewhere, Yuko Watanabe (Team Edion) was an apparent DNF at the Hamburg Marathon.  Click here for complete results.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Big 10000 m on Deck at Hyogo Relay Carnival

by Brett Larner

The first big 10000 m on the Japanese track calendar, this weekend's Hyogo Relay Carnival is geared up to be a shot at World Championships entry standards and World University Games national team places.  The Grand Prix men's 10000 m features sub-27 world-level medalists Kenyans Paul Tanui (Team Kyudenko) and Bedan Karoki (DeNA RC) and four others with sub-27:30 bests to pull the top Japanese men along to clear the 27:45.00 Beijing standard.  The only man to do it so far, Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Team Asahi Kasei) with a 27:38.99 last November in Hachioji, is not in the race, but two others who have cleared that time before, Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta) and Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota) are, along with young stars who have come close like Kenta Murayama (Team Asahi Kasei) and Keita Shitara (Team Konica Minolta).  Especially worth watching is Masato Kikuchi (Team Konica Minolta), who tied the 20 km national record earlier this year on the way to a 1:00:32 half marathon.

2014 World Half Marathon Championships bronze medalist Sally Chepyego (Team Kyudenko) leads the Grand Prix Women's 10000 m.  None of the four Japanese women who have already run Beijing qualifiers are on the entry list, leaving Chieko Kido (Canon AC Kyushu) in the top Japanese position at 32:11.21 followed closely by Kotomi Takayama (Sysmex) in 32:15.20.  Under-20 marathon national record holder Reia Iwade (Team Noritz) sits mid-field at 32:24.38. At 1:09:27 this year's fastest Japanese woman over the half marathon, 2015 National Corporate Champion Michi Numata (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) is also in the race and should make a pretty serious improvement to her 32:45.86 best.  One of the women who has cleared the Beijing 10000 m standard, Kasumi Nishihara (Yamada Denki) with a 31:53.69 at last year's Hyogo Relay Carnival, will be in the Asics Challenge Women's 5000 m, where she and her Yamada Denki teammates Yuika Mori, Shiho Takechi and Sakiho Tsutsui dominate the entry list.

Things are deep enough on the men's front that the Asics Challenge 10000 m, effectively the B-heat, also has a solid field.  Patrick Mwaka (Team Aisan Kogyo) leads seven men with sub-28 bests at 27:30.32, with solid competition from this year's 5000 m world leader Hiram Ngatia (Toyota) who is bound to take a big chunk off his 28:25.25 best.  A good number of 2015 Hakone Ekiden stars will be making their pro 10000 m debuts in the Asics Challenge heat, including Shogo Nakamura (Fujitsu), Shuho Dairokuno (Team Asahi Kasei) and twins Hiroshi and Takashi Ichida (Team Asahi Kasei).

Many of the current top Hakone stars get their seasons started in the men's World University Games National Team Selection 10000 m.  2015 Hakone course record setter Aoyama Gakuin University fields its big four, Tadashi Isshiki, Yusuke Ogura, Kazuma Kubota and, making a return from a post-Hakone stress fracture should he start, Fifth Stage star Daichi Kamino.  Isshiki is already on the World University Games after winning March's profound National University Half Marathon Championships, as are 19-year-old Naoki Kudo (Komazawa University) who will be making his 10000 m debut after already running PBs of 13:52.97 and 1:02:12 in 2015, and alternate Ryo Shirayoshi (Tokai Univ.).  Kentaro Hirai (Kyoto Univ.) is the only big name from outside the Hakone Ekiden-focused Kanto Region, seeded #4 with a best of 28:36.72.  The other main competition comes from senior Ken Yokote (Meiji Univ.), who set a stage record at November's National University Ekiden Championships before a superb half marathon best of 1:01:37 in February.

63rd Hyogo Relay Carnival Entry List Highlights
Kobe, Hyogo, 4/25-26/15
click here for complete entry lists

Men's Grand Prix 10000 m
Paul Tanui (Kenya/Kyudenko) - 26:49.41
Bedan Karoki (Kenya/DeNA) - 26:52.36
Edward Waweru (Kenya/NTN) - 27:13.94
Leonard Barsoton (Kenya/Nissin Shokuhin) - 27:20.74
James Mwangi (Kenya/NTN) - 27:23.66
William Malel (Kenya/Honda) - 27:25.56
Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Konica Minolta) - 27:40.69
Chihiro Miyawaki (Toyota) - 27:41.57
Kensuke Takezawa (Sumitomo Denko) - 27:45.59
Kenta Murayama (Asahi Kasei) - 27:49.94
Keita Shitara (Konica Minolta) - 27:51.54
Yuichiro Ueno (DeNA) - 28:01.71
Masato Kikuchi (Konica Minolta) - 28:04.25
Shota Hattori (Honda) - 28:22.79
Hiroto Inoue (Mitsubishi HPS Nagasaki) - 28:23.34

Women's Grand Prix 10000 m
Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Kyudenko) - 31:22.11
Chieko Kido (Canon AC Kyushu) - 32:11.21
Kotomi Takayama (Sysmex) - 32:15.20
Felista Wanjugu (Kenya/Universal Entertainment) - 32:16 (road)
Yurie Doi (Starts) - 32:16.05
Grace Kimanzi (Kenya/Starts) - 32:22.14
Reia Iwade (Noritz) - 32:24.38
Megumi Hirai (Canon AC Kyushu) - 32:38.59
Misato Horie (Noritz) - 32:40.82
Yukari Abe (Shimamura) - 32:41.38
Mao Kuroda (Wacoal) - 32:41.92
Michi Numata (Toyota Jidoshokki) - 32:45.86

Men's Asics Challenge 10000 m
Patrick Mwaka (Kenya/Aisan Kogyo) - 27:30.32
Joseph Kamathi (Kenya/Toyota) - 27:38.18
Alex Mwangi (Kenya/YKK) - 27:42.20
Melaku Abera (Ethiopia/Kurosaki Harima) - 27:42.35
Charles Ndirangu (Kenya/JFE Steel) - 27:58.02
Macharia Ndirangu (Kenya/Aichi Seiko) - 27:59.11
Yuki Matsuoka (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 27:59.78
Shogo Nakamura (Fujitsu) - 28:05.79
Ryo Yamamoto (SG Holdings) - 28:13.23
Joseph Onsarigo (Kenya/ND Software) - 28:16.72
Hiram Ngatia (Kenya/Toyota) - 28:25.25
Charles Ndungu (Kenya/Komori Corp.) - 28:36.77
Shuho Dairokuno (Asahi Kasei) - 28:40.88
Takashi Ichida (Asahi Kasei) - 28:43.93
Hiroshi Ichida (Asahi Kasei) - 28:51.43

Men's World University Games National Team Selection 10000 m
Tadashi Isshiki (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 28:23.40
Yusuke Ogura (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 28:27.73
Kazuma Kubota (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 28:30.78
Kentaro Hirai (Kyoto Univ.) - 28:36.72
Hironori Tsuetaki (Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 28:36.85
Ken Yokote (Meiji Univ.) - 28:38.73
Yuki Muta (Meiji Univ.) - 28:43.20
Ryo Shirayoshi (Tokai Univ.) - 28:48.03
Koki Takada (Waseda Univ.) - 28:49.59
Daichi Kamino (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 28:51.98
Hazuma Hattori (Toyo Univ.) - 28:55.31
Naoki Kudo (Komazawa Univ.) - debut

Women's Asics Challenge 5000 m
Mari Ozaki (Noritz) - 15:12.76
Susan Wairimu (Kenya/Denso) - 15:20.49
Yuika Mori (Yamada Denki) - 15:25.58
Kasumi Nishihara (Yamada Denki) - 15:25.50
Shiho Takechi (Yamada Denki) - 15:29.85
Saori Noda (Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 15:37.74
Miho Ihara (Sekisui Kagaku) - 15:41.67
Sakiho Tsutsui (Yamada Denki) - 15:42.23
Chika Nakama (Aichi Denki) - 15:48.79
Akane Yabushita (Toyota Jidoshokki) - 15:46.47

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Thursday, April 23, 2015

'Why Japan's Incredible Long-Distance Runners Will Never Win the London Marathon'

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/why-japans-incredible-longdistance-runners-will-never-win-the-london-marathon-10182050.html

Two Japanese long distance runners have, in fact, won the London Marathon.  The coach cited in the article, Kenji Takao, is a middle and long distance track coach at Ritsumeikan University, a Kansai Region school in Kyoto that, being outside the Tokyo-centric Kanto Region, does not participate in the Hakone Ekiden.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sakamoto Wins Zurich Marathon in International Debut, Kawauchi 2nd Behind Kiyeng

by Brett Larner
photos by Chris Godfrey, Martin Yelling and Brett Larner

Making her international marathon debut in excellent conditions on an almost perfectly flat course, Yoshiko Sakamoto (Y.W.C.) won the Zurich Marathon with an evenly-paced solo run that put her more than 8 minutes ahead of runner-up Nicola Spirig (Switzerland), the London Olympics triathlon gold medalist.  A 36-year-old mother of three, Sakamoto was a high school star who quit running completely for 9 years before starting again in her early 30s and set a PB 2:36:29 in January this year. Running in Zurich with support from JRN and targeting a 2:34 PB, Sakamoto was slightly off pace from the beginning but never flagged dramatically, going through halfway in 1:18:18 and facing headwinds on the return trip into town before crossing the finish line first in 2:37:47.

Australia's Jane Fardell, a late addition to the field, ran 2nd throughout the race but with a little over a km to go was run down by Spirig, the fastest in the field over the final quarter of the race.

"I'm so relieved and happy to have run a good time," Sakamoto said post-race.  "I had had some leg pain a couple of weeks ago that cut into my training, but it was no trouble during the race.  Partway through I thought I was going to fade and not break 2:40, but I started overtaking some men and that kept me going.  I can't believe I really did it.  I want to take it easy for a little while now and then race on the track.  My next marathon won't be until the fall."

The men's race was likewise slightly behind pace from the start, a ten-man group led by pacer Boaz Kipyego (Kenya), Edwin Kemboi Kiyeng (Kenya) and Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) staying right together on a pace hovering around 2:11 through 35 km before Kiyeng threw in a surge that put him in position for the win in 2:11:35.  Kawauchi fell to 7th in the wake of Kiyeng's move, but clawing his way back up he was in 4th by 41 km and outkicked Ethiopian Gebre Mekuant Ayenew by 4 seconds in the final 250 m to take 2nd in 2:12:13, his best time so far in a year in which he has struggled to recover from a bad ankle sprain in late December.

Post-race Kawauchi commented, "I'm disappointed not to win, but this was my first time making the podium in Europe so I'm very happy.  My time was not what I was going for either, but there was absolutely no pain or trouble with my ankle and it was just a case of my fitness not being up to where I thought it was yet.  In terms of level the Zurich Marathon was the perfect race for where I am right now and I'm extremely glad I chose it for my main spring race."

Zurich Marathon
Zurich, Switzerland, 4/19/15
click here for complete results

Women
1. Yoshiko Sakamoto (Japan/YWC) - 2:37:47
2. Nicola Spirig (Switzerland) - 2:46:09
3. Jane Fardell (Australia) - 2:46:39
4. Daniella Aeschbacher (Switzerland) - 2:47:38
5. Astrid Muller (Switzerland) - 2:53:18

Men
1. Edwin Kemboi Kiyeng (Kenya) - 2:11:35
2. Yuki Kawauchi (Japan/Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 2:12:13
3. Gebre Mekuant Ayenew (Ethiopia) - 2:12:17
4. Richard Kiprono Bett (Kenya) - 2:12:38
5. Boaz Kipyego (Kenya) - 2:12:59
6. Emmanuel Sikuku (Kenya) - 2:13:10
7. Edwin Kiprop Korir (Kenya) - 2:13:34
8. Robert Ndiwa (Kenya) - 2:13:41
9. Aleksey Sokolov (Russia) - 2:14:45
10. Andrey Safronov (Russia) - 2:15:48
11. Martin Fagan (Ireland) - 2:16:09

Sakamoto finish photo (c) 2015 Chris Godfrey, all rights reserved
Sakamoto solo photo (c) 2015 Martin Yelling, all rights reserved
text and Kawauchi photos (c) 2015 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

'Chirchir and Toroitich Land Kenyan Double in Nagano'

http://www.iaaf.org/news/report/nagano-marathon-2015-chirchir-toroitich

Friday, April 17, 2015

A Second Chance to Make the Dream Come True - Yoshiko Sakamoto at the Zurich Marathon

by Brett Larner

What if you could have a second chance?  Drifting toward 40, long out of the game, the chance to make all the things you thought you would do when you were younger happen.  What if you had the chance to answer the question, "What if?"

In the mid-90s Yoshiko Sakamoto, then Yoshiko Akiba, was one of the top high school runners in Japan, beating future marathon national record holders Yoko Shibui and Mizuki Noguchi on the most competitive stage at the National High School Ekiden Championships and setting a still-standing Fukushima prefecture record for 5 km on the roads.  After graduating in 1997 she and Shibui joined the Mitsui Kaijo corporate team alongside two-time World Championships marathon medalist Reiko Tosa, forming the core of a lineup that would make Mitsui Kaijo into one of the most dominant teams of the day.

At Mitsui Kaijo she had a smattering of success, again beating Noguchi on the track at the 1997 National Corporate Championships and going as far as the half marathon, but for the most part the transition to the higher workloads at the corporate level was rocky and she was sidelined by injury.  A planned early marathon debut at the 1999 Nagano Marathon never made it farther than the entry list.  After just a few seasons her short pro career was over, just another of the countless high school stars to disappear into the machinery of the Japanese corporate system.

Life went on.  She met and married a runner from the Yachiyo Kogyo men's corporate team, taking the name Sakamoto, moving to Mie prefecture and starting a family.  As her first two children were born in 2002 and 2003 Shibui, Noguchi and Tosa became the stars of the golden era of Japanese women's distance running, and Sakamoto watched from home as all three went to the 2001 World Championships where Tosa took silver and Shibui 4th, as Shibui set a 10000 m national record in 2002, as Noguchi won silver at the 2003 World Championships and then came home a gold medalist from the 2004 Olympics, as Shibui ran a 2:19:41 marathon national record in 2004 and Noguchi 2:19:12 a year later, and as Tosa picked up a second World Championships marathon medal in Osaka in 2007.

For nine years Sakamoto didn't run at all, but following the birth of her third child in 2010 something changed.  Women like Yukiko Akaba and Mari Ozaki came back from having children to success, and Sakamoto found herself asking the question.  What if?  After surprising herself by finishing 3rd on her stage behind two pros at her local community ekiden in 2011 she made a return to racing with a 5 km win at the Mie prefecture road championships, her time of 16:40 not far off her high school-era Fukushima record of 16:25.  In November that year she took the plunge, making her marathon debut at the Aino Tsuchiyama Marathon at age 32.

And it was a decent debut.  On a hilly course Sakamoto won in 2:49:05, far from the kind of times her former teammates and rivals had run but still a major confidence boost.  Four months later she went for it at the Nagoya Women's Marathon.  Her time of 2:37:18 there was on the same level as the kinds of times corporate league women 10 years younger often run in their first or second marathons and immediately put Sakamoto near the top of Japan's amateurs, one of the few to clear IAAF bronze label status.

Self-coached and training by herself she made her share of mistakes and was mostly injured in 2013.  At the Kurobe Meisui Half Marathon that spring she was the 1st general division woman in 1:23:05, watching from the side as invited runners Azusa Nojiri and Yuki Kawauchi took the top spots on the podium but still winning a trip to run her first race outside Japan at the 2013 Portland Half Marathon in the U.S.A.  2014 by comparison was a breakthrough year.  Now 35, she ran just 4 seconds off the track 5000 m PB she had run 17 years earlier with a 16:32.53 at the Shizuoka Time Trials meet.  A few months later she was less than a minute off her pro-era half marathon best when she won the Ibigawa Half Marathon in 1:15:54.  In December she took that down to seconds off her best with a 1:15:13 course record win at the Isesan Half.

In January, 2015 she made news with a 2:36:29 PB to finish 11th at the Osaka International Women's Marathon, a result that caught the eye of Switzerland's Zurich Marathon and race director Bruno Lafranchi, the 1988 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon winner.  Kawauchi was already planning to run Zurich with support from JRN and race organizers invited Sakamoto to join him, with a catch.  With a 2:37:12 marathon best run in Zurich at last year's European Championships, the main woman in the race would be Switzerland's own London Olympics triathlon gold medalist Nicola Spirig.

And so come Sunday, a 36-year-old amateur Japanese runner and mother of three will line up on foreign soil for the first time to go head-to-head with a home ground defending Olympic gold medalist.  Her biggest race ever, but with a realistic chance of winning and optimistic of taking her best time even further.  It's not the Olympics.  It's not the World Championships.  It's not even a World Marathon Major.  But most would agree that it is still a chance for Yoshiko Sakamoto to live the dream.  The dream we all dream of.  And to find an answer to the question, "What if?"

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Kawauchi Leads Invited Athletes for 25th Sendai International Half Marathon

http://www.kahoku.co.jp/tohokunews/201504/20150414_14009.html

translated by Brett Larner

On April 13 the organizers of the May 10 Sendai International Half Marathon announced that the elite field of four specially invited athletes for this year's 25th anniversary edition will be led by civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi (28, Saitama Pref. Gov't), with Athens Olympics women's marathon gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi (36, Team Sysmex) among five additional special guests for the 25th running.

In last fall's Incheon Asian Games men's marathon Kawauchi won the bronze medal.  This year will his fifth time and fourth-straight year running the Sendai International Half Marathon.  Last year he placed 4th in 1:03:23, and this year he is again targeting the podium.  Other domestic invited elites include 2015 Beijing World Championships men's marathon team member Masakazu Fujiwara (34, Team Honda) and women's marathon team members Risa Shigetomo (27, Team Tenmaya) and Sairi Maeda (23, Team Daihatsu), all appearing in Sendai for the first time.

Special guests include 2015 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon 5th-placer Takuya Noguchi (26, Team Konica Minolta) and 2014 World Half Marathon Championships team member Sota Hoshi (27, Team Konica Minolta), both natives of northeastern Japan.  Along with Mizuki Noguchi, special guest women include mama-san runner Mari Ozaki (39, Team Noritz) and Hoshi's World Championships teammate Risa Takenaka (25, Team Shiseido).

General corporate league elites in the race include 2012 Sendai winner Johana Maina (24, Team Fujitsu).  The wheelchair race is led by two-time defending champion Masayuki Higuchi (36).  Sydney Olympics women's marathon gold medalist and former marathon world record holder Naoki Takahashi (42) will appear as a guest runner for the fourth-straight year.

This year's race hit its field limit of 7000 just 1 hour and 55 minutes after entries opened, the fastest in the race's history.  Including the 2 km and 5 km divisions a total of 14,910 people are entered.

World Championships Marathon Men Preparing for the Worst in Beijing Air Quality

http://www.daily.co.jp/general/2015/04/14/0007915752.shtml

translated by Brett Larner

2015 Beijing World Championships men's marathon team members Masakazu Fujiwara (34, Team Honda), Masato Imai (31, Team Toyota Kyushu) and Kazuhiro Maeda (33, Team Kyudenko) left from Tokyo's Narita Airport on April 13 for a tour of the World Championships race course.  Along with the course, a major concern is the increasingly serious problem of air pollution in Beijing.  Steeling himself for the worst, Imai commented, "There's nothing I as an individual can say that will improve the situation, so you just have to accept it as normal and run.  The conditions will be the same for everybody." 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Kawauchi Plans to Retire from National Team Competitions at World Championships: "London Will Make a Good Punctuation Mark"

http://news.livedoor.com/article/detail/9997814/

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The civil servant runner plans to step down from the dream stage where the world's fastest men run.  On April 12 Yuki Kawauchi (28, Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran as a special guest at the local Honjo Waseda no Mori Cross Country Race and Half Marathon in Saitama, winning the half marathon in 1:07:47.  Afterward he told reporters that following the 2017 London World Championships he will "retire" from competing to be on the Japanese national team.  "My plan is to win a medal at the London World Championships and then to really say sayonara to the national team," he said.

At the time of the 2013 Moscow World Championships Kawauchi also suggested he would remove himself from consideration for future world level national teams, but he continues to work hard in anticipation of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.  To Kawauchi, who has struggled in hot weather races in the past, the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics both represent very difficult conditions.  In that respect, London looks like the place to put an end to his national team ambitions.  "London reminds me of not making the [2012] Olympics, so I have a lot of different feelings about it," he said.  "I think London will make a good punctuation mark."  100 and 200 m world record holder Usain Bolt (28, Jamaica) has also indicated that he plans to retire after the London World Championships.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

'Kuma Gets Maiden Marathon Win in Windy Rotterdam'


http://www.iaaf.org/news/report/abera-kuma-rotterdam-marathon

Evidently Asami Kato (Team Panasonic) was not worth a headline mention and less than a handful of sentences as the winner of the Rotterdam Marathon to the IAAF and writer Cors van den Brink despite having previously won races in both the U.S.A. and Australia.  Likewise, her nationality didn't seem to matter to race broadcasters to whom it was no doubt a given that a non-white winner must be African.  Even the usually-reputable German Road Races website condescended toward Kato's win with the headline "Abera Kuma gewinnt in Rotterdam - Schnellste Frau eine Japanerin," in English "Abera Kuma wins in Rotterdam - The fastest woman a Japanese woman."  The 'invisible Japanese' phenomenon remains a constant source of puzzlement.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Kenyan Marathon Runner Erupe to Enter South Korea Next Week to Begin Naturalization Procedures

http://japanese.donga.com/srv/service.php3?biid=2015041046598

translated by Brett Larner

After shining as the champion of the 2015 Seoul International Marathon, Wilson Loyanae Erupe (Kenya, 27), has taken the first step toward South Korean naturalization.  Serving as Erupe's coach and domestic representative, on April 9 Professor Chang Seok Oh of Baekseok University told reporters, "Erupe signed a contract with the South Chungcheong Provincial Sports Association on April 8 and received a foreign registration number from immigration authorities."

After winning the March 15 Seoul International Marathon in 2:06:11 Erupe indicated that he was interested in transferring his citizenship to South Korea.  He plans to enter South Korea next week on an E-6 Entertainer and Performer visa to begin naturalization procedures with the support of the Korean Association of Athletics Associations (KAAF).  A Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) spokesperson commented, "Above all, the most important factor in Erupe's naturalization is the support of the KAAF."  With regard to this KAAF president Dong Jin Oh said, "Erupe's naturalization will make an important contribution to the forward development of South Korean marathoning.  As a South Korean citizen he will run in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, contending for the medal that has eluded us since the days of 1992 Barcelona Olympics gold medalist Young Cho Hwang and 1996 Atlanta Olympics silver medalist Bong Ju Lee."

After the Korean Olympic Committee's Legal Reward and Punishment Committee authorizes Erupe's naturalization application it will be sent to the South Korean Ministry of Justice's Nationality Review Committee for final processing.  If Erupe receives South Korean citizenship he will eligible to compete for South Korea in the Olympics after one year.

Translator's note: The article does not mention that Erupe was suspended from February 2013 to February 2015 for a positive test for EPO.  His win in Seoul in March was his first race after his suspension ended.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Police to Employ Drones for Security at Nagano Marathon for First Time

http://www.shinmai.co.jp/news/20150409/KT150408FTI090009000.php

translated by Brett Larner

The Nagano Prefectural Police Department announced this week that for the first time it will employ radio-controlled multicopter drones for security at the 17th running of the Nagano Marathon on April 19.  The drones were introduced in March for functions such as traffic accident site investigation.  At the Nagano Marathon they will play a surveillance role to help detect suspicious people and trouble in its early stages.  Images taken from the sky via the drones' onboard cameras will be transmitted to on-the-ground computers.  As a contingency for any crashes, the police plan to fly the drones high above areas without runners or race officials below.

According to the Prefectural Police Security Division Two, the drones will fly around the start area at Nagano Sports Park in the Yoshida neighborhood of the city and the finish at Nagano Olympic Stadium in the Shinonoitofukuji district. They will be used at the start in Nagano Sports Park from 8:15 to 8:45 a.m. to coincide with the 8:30 a.m. start, and likewise they will fly above the Nagano Olympic Stadium finish at the point with the highest density of runners finishing, roughly from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m.

A Security Division 2 spokesperson commented, "The use of drones allows us to ascertain the situation over a large area."  After evaluating the outcome of this year's drone program police officials will determine whether to expand their use beyond the start and finish areas next year.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Why Is There a Track in Narita Airport Terminal 3? Designer Naoki Ito's Concept of Airport Design



http://top.tsite.jp/news/o/23102997/

translated and edited by Brett Larner
photos and images of the Narita Airport Terminal 3 running track design:
image one - image two - image three - image four

A "low-cost carrieresque" design scheme with attention to detail.

Constructed for use by low-cost carrier budget airlines, Narita Airport's new Passenger Terminal 3 opened on April 8, and its overall design concept is now clear.  With a total floor area of 66,000 square meters it is able to handle 50,000 arrivals and departures per year with expected passenger traffic on the scale of 7.5 million people annually.  Apart from just those hard numbers, in details like color-coded foot traffic flow lines in the design of a running track, departure gates featuring wire mesh instead of glass and a 450-seat food court, the new terminal fully embraces its "low-cost carrieresqueness."  We spoke with the person in charge of creative direction for Passenger Terminal 3, Naoki Ito of Creative Lab Party, about the project's concept and realization.

-- How did you exercise creative direction within the constraints of a limited project budget?

Ito: Firstly, I tried to capture the positive within the fact that the design budget was itself "low cost."  To give you an idea of how tight things were, the very first thing the other party in the negotiations said after our proposal was, "About the budget....." [laughs]  I made it the top priority to include economic rationality in the design, essentially asking myself whether I could come to enjoy working within constraints.  If you can come to love constraints then you can also come to love not having a budget.  My conceptualization process became, "OK, what if we do this?" and "How about this idea?"  If we're not going to make signs, let's make the path you're walking itself guide you.  Let's use large-scale, easy-to-understand design on the walls.  Through this kind of concept we greatly reduced the number of signs to be put up.

The running track design unites two disparate elements into one, transforming air travel into a mirror image of sports.

One of the results born from these constraints features prominently in the new terminal, the foot traffic flow lines designed to replicate a running track.  The track employs the same rubber chip materials used in actual running track surfaces and its lanes are color coded, blue for departures and reddish-brown for arrivals.  Clearly providing guidance to travellers while minimizing the need for electronic monitor boards, the design succeeded in reducing costs.

-- How did you come to end up with a running track design?

Ito: I was on the track team in elementary school and have done a lot of work with sports brands, and I thought that it would be interesting if we could capture the positive feeling that occurs in the moment of running.  That was at the root of our proposal, and right from the beginning of planning three years ago we've continued to follow that idea.  The concept this time was "more than 2 into 1," the economic rationality of combining multiple functions in one construction.  You could say "killing two birds with one stone." [laughs]  Since the budget was very limited, we would never have made it if we'd let a sign just be a sign.  Along with that, I had the idea that it would be really interesting to create the experience of being on a track and finding yourself at your boarding gate.

What is called the traffic flow line of an airport is actually very simple.  Everyone enters from the train and bus entrances, and after passing through security they proceed to the departure gates.  I think that simple directional flow suggested a running track, and in terms of the movement within an airport the traffic load is pretty heavy.  People have suitcases, and particularly with low-cost carriers they often have to walk quite a long way [before they can board].  To reduce this load the other terminals have moving sidewalks, but the constraints made it difficult to use them in Terminal 3.  If you have to go to Terminal 3 from Terminal 2 you either have to walk or use the shuttle bus that runs between Terminals 2 and 3.  There aren't any moving sidewalks, and the distance between the two terminals is around 500 m [12 minutes or so on foot].  It was of major importance to us that that area be both highly functional and an enjoyable environment.  As a result we thought that highlighting the movement in a positive way would be a good thing, and that is how we settled on this kind of design.

A design made possible by studying the construction of big boxes.

-- Including the track, please talk about your choices of colors and materials.

Ito: In terms of the overall design, because I had the concept of "design without design" in mind, I found inspiration for the necessary components of the original building by researching non-airport spaces such as factories, warehouses and stadiums.  The ceiling piping was done in the image of a factory, and the layout of IKEA stores was very helpful in conceiving traffic flow lines.  With the image of long layover times associated with low-cost carriers in mind, we even made original color-coded sofas for the airport.

The colors used in the track in the terminal are the same as those used in official athletics tracks.  We used blue, representing movement toward the sky, for departures, and earth-colored reddish-brown for arrivals.  The rubber chip material used in the track reduces the burden placed on the legs, minimizing fatigue even if you have to walk long distances.  The blue color of the track is particularly bright, so we minimized the use of color elsewhere to give a clean monochrome appearance.  The Western font employed throughout the terminal is Frutiger Next.

We were very fortunate to be able to handle the environmental design all the way from the construction stage.  The Narita Airport management put in many, many specific functional requests regarding ease of cleaning, durability, counterterrorism and the like, and it was necessary to correctly find the solutions for each of these needs.  In terms of pictograms, it was unacceptable that they not be in conformity with those in Terminal 1 and 2, so the shapes are basically the same.  But the track-style triangle-shaped direction arrows and other details are different from anything seen until now.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

ND Software Programs Men's Running Team Targeting New Year Ekiden

http://yamagata-np.jp/news/201503/13/kj_2015031300287.php

translated by Brett Larner

ND Software, makers of nursing and wellness-related software based in Nanyo, Yamagata, have announced the formation of the ND Software AC men's running team.  Alongside a core lineup of runners transferring in from strong corporate league teams, a number of athletes are transferring to ND Software from the Nanyo City Hall team which qualified for the last two straight New Year Ekiden national championships.  As a corporate team they are set on making the New Year Ekiden.

According to a company spokesperson, the new team was officially launched on April 1.  Plans call for a team of around 10 runners including those who have run the New Year Ekiden with other corporate teams and recent graduates who have experience at the Hakone Ekiden.  Team members will work alongside regular company workers, and recruitment offers have already gone out to top-level athletes across the country.  Kenyan Joseph Onsarigo, who retired from his position at a temporary employee at Nanyo City Hall in January, will be welcomed to the ND Software team along with Tetsu Takashima, who likewise retired as Nanyo City Hall head coach in January.

As holder of the naming rights to Yamagata Prefectural Sports Park Field, ND Software already has a history of contributing to society through supporting sports.  With the purpose of making further contributions to the region, the team and company will conduct running education and training sessions for local elementary and junior high school students to help develop local middle and long distance athletes, all the while working toward the goal of qualifying for the New Year Ekiden within three years.  A company spokesperson commented, "The goal is not PR for our company, but rather to highlight the city of Nanyo and Yamagata prefecture."

While several members of the Nanyo City Hall team are set to transfer to ND Software AC, the remaining members are hard at work on preparing to go for a fourth-straight win as part of the Nanyo Higashi Okitama team at the Trans-Yamagata Ekiden.  In an interview Nanyo mayor Takao Shiraiwa commented, "I hope that those athletes who want to further themselves even more will find great success in their new club environment.  Working together as a team still based here in the same city, I hope that it will lead to a positive contribution to the local community."

Nitori to Form Women's Team Featuring Remi Nakazato and Focusing on the Marathon

http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASH4464KHH44UTQP02W.html

translated by Brett Larner

An involved source has revealed that Sapporo-based furniture and interior supplies retailer Nitori Holdings is in the process of forming a women's running team.  2011 Daegu World Championships marathoner Remi Nakazato, who quit the Daihatsu team in February last year, will feature prominently on the team, which will be based in Kanto and, with a small number of athletes, will focus on developing marathoners.  The new team's coaching staff will include former Sakura AC assistant coach Katsuhiko Takahashi and former Route Inn Hotels head coach Tsutomu Takahashi.

'Der Schnellste Hobbyläufer der Welt Kommt Nach Zürich – Seine Geschichte ist Grandios'

http://www.watson.ch/!984013351

A long article on Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) ahead of his Swiss debut at next week's Zürich Marathon.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Yokohama Marathon Course Found to Be Short

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20150407/k10010040411000.html

translated by Brett Larner

It has come to light that the new mass participation Yokohama Marathon held for the first time last month in Yokohama did not receive certification from the JAAF because its course did not cover the complete full marathon distance.  Held on March 15th, the first running of the Yokohama Marathon featured 23,000 runners making it the third-largest in the country behind Tokyo and Osaka.  The scenic course passed many of Yokohama's most famous landmarks such as Chinatown and Yamashita Park, but it has become apparent that its length was less than the full marathon's standard 42.195 km.

According to the organizing committee, on the day of the race they received notification from the JAAF that the official course measurement they had requested indicated that the course was shorter than the full marathon distance by at least several tens of meters, and that the event would be denied certification as a result.  The organizers said the problem arose because they could not divert traffic on the Metropolitan Highway section of the course prior to race day, meaning that that part of the course could not be measured exactly in advance.  An organizing committee spokesperson commented, "We had calculated the distance of the Metropolitan Highway section from maps, but this turned out to be insufficient.  We will make the necessary adjustments to the course in time for next year."

New Sumitomo Denko Head Coach Watanabe: "It is Critical to Reduce the Risk of Injury to Nearly Zero"

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2015/04/07/kiji/K20150407010124520.html

translated by Brett Larner

At a Sumitomo Denko men's corporate team press conference in Osaka, Yasuyuki Watanabe, 41, who took over as the team's head coach at the start of this month, vowed to make eliminating injury among the athletes under his guidance one of the key themes of his tenure as head coach.  Having seen his own career cut short by an Achilles tendon injury while still in his 20s, Watanabe told the media that he wants to tailor his coaching to suit the needs and abilities of the individual athletes, saying, "In Japan we train on the roads and run a lot of races.  It is critical that we reduce the risk of injury to nearly zero.  I want to make it so that athletes can train 365 days a year."  Sumitomo Denko president Masayoshi Matsumoto commented, "Ekidens are interesting but not a worldwide event.  Japan has become like the Galapagos."  Matsumoto indicated his commitment to entrusting Watanabe with the task of developing world-class athletes through a "de-ekiden principle."

Monday, April 6, 2015

Kawauchi Wins Satte Sakura 10-Miler, Talks About Dream Plan for Using $1 Million NR Bonus

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2015/04/06/kiji/K20150406010120930.html

translated by Brett Larner

On April 5 Yuki Kawauchi (28, Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran the Satte Sakura 10-Mile Road Race in Satte, Saitama, finishing 1st in 49:20.  Still recovering fitness from time lost to a sprained ankle he suffered at the end of last year, he said, "I pushed it right on my target pace."  After the race he also ran as a special guest in the 2 km family run.

In interviews post-race Kawauchi talked about his dream plan for using the new 100 million yen bonus [~$1 million USD at normal exchange rates] for a Japanese marathon national record.  "If I won 100 million yen," he said, "I would use it to establish an athlete support fund."  Kawauchi declared that through his funding initiative he would help support talented amateur runners and university students who do not attend powerhouse ekiden schools, saying, "If I helped ten runners with 500,000 yen [~$5000] each per year it would last for 20 years.  The money would go to help fund them racing overseas and such."  With this dream he is poised to help support future generations of runners and to back Japan's next great amateur runner.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Ngatia Runs 5000 m WL at Kanaguri Memorial Meet

by Brett Larner
videos by Ekiden News



Kenyan Hiram Ngatia (Team Toyota) came up with a major PB at Saturday's Kanaguri Memorial Meet, beating Moscow World Championships 10000 m bronze medalist Paul Tanui (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) to win the 5000 m A-heat in a world-leading 13:13.66.  Running on his birthday, Yamanashi Gakuin University star Enock Omwamba (Kenya) likewise PBd in 13:28.41, with Keita Shitara (Team Konica Minolta) edging his twin brother Yuta Shitara (Team Honda) for top Japanese honors at 6th in 13:41.04.

The Shitara twins' former Toyo University teammate Takanori Ichikawa (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) came up with a PB almost identical to theirs to win the B-heat in 13:41.84 just ahead of top collegiate Hironori Tsuetaki (Chuo Gakuin Univ.).  After running last month's United Airline NYC Half with support from JRN, Takashi Ichida (Team Asahi Kasei) and his former Kagoshima Jitsugyo H.S. teammate Koki Takada (Waseda Univ.) both PBd in the B-heat, Ichida 4th in 13:43.38 and Takada 6th in 13:50.32.



In the men's 1500 m, Ronald Kwemoi (Kenya/Team Komori Corp.) led James Mwangi (Kenya/Team NTN) and Kota Murayama (Team Asahi Kasei) under the old meet record, winning in a solid 3:38.04.  Murayama's twin Kenta Murayama (Team Asahi Kasei) was 13th in 3:48.22.  Results were not as deep in the women's races, but Sayaka Kuwahara (Team Sekisui Kagaku) unexpectedly outran one of last year's top Japanese women, Yuka Takashima (Team Denso) for the 5000 m win in a good early-season PB of 15:35.56.  Kyoka Nakagawa (Kumamoto Shinai H.S.) won the high school girls' 3000 m A-heat in a relatively conservative 9:33.03.



Further north in the suburbs of Tokyo the Setagaya Time Trials meet was unusually high level up against Kanaguri in its first edition of the year.  2015 Hakone Ekiden course record setter Aoyama Gakuin University showed up to race, three of its four core members turning up in the A-heat and all PBing along with second-year Yuki Nakamura and third-year Yuya Ando, who both broke 14 for the first time.  AGU junior Tadashi Isshiki, the 2015 National University Half Marathon champion, outkicked Ethiopian Kassa Mekashaw (Team Yachiyo Kogyo) for the win in a PB 13:44.96.  Seniors Kazuma Kubota and Yusuke Ogura took 3rd and 5th in PBs of 13:49.27 and 13:55.97, with Nakamura 9th in 13:57.40 and Ando 11th in 13:57.75.



2013's 5000 m national champion Sota Hoshi (Team Fujitsu) led a quality 3000 m A-heat that saw the top 8 all run sub-8:10 PBs, Hoshi getting the win in 8:06.58.  High schooler Kazuyoshi Tamogami (Gakuho Ishikawa H.S.) turned heads in the 1500 m A-heat, winning in 3:50.13 over pro Yoshihiro Wakamatsu (Team Nissin Shokuhin).  Another high schooler, Ryoji Tatezawa (Saitama Sakae H.S.), was 3rd in 3:51.38.

24th Kanaguri Memorial Meet
Kumamoto, 4/4/15
click here for complete results

Men's 5000 m Heat 5
1. Hiram Ngatia (Kenya/Toyota) - 13:13.66 - WL, PB
2. Paul Tanui (Kenya/Kyudenko) - 13:19.62
3. William Malel (Kenya/Honda) - 13:26.86
4. Enock Omwamba (Kenya/Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 13:28.41 - PB
5. Patrick Mwaka (Kenya/Aisan Kogyo) - 13:31.00
6. Keita Shitara (Konica Minolta) - 13:41.04
7. Joseph Onsarigo (Kenya/ND Software) - 13:41.09
8. Yuta Shitara (Honda) - 13:41.66 - PB
9. Shuho Dairokuno (Asahi Kasei) - 13:42.82 - PB
10. Yuki Sato (Nissin Shokuhin) - 13:47.02

Men's 5000 m Heat 4
1. Takanori Ichikawa (Hitachi Butsuryu) - 13:41.84 - PB
2. Hironori Tsuetaki (Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 13:42.16 - PB
3. Akihiko Tsumurai (Mazda) - 13:43.36 - PB
4. Takashi Ichida (Asahi Kasei) - 13:43.38 - PB
5. Hiroki Matsueda (Juntendo Univ.) - 13:49.74
6. Koki Takada (Waseda Univ.) - 13:50.32 - PB
7. Taku Fujimoto (Toyota) - 13:52.12
8. Ryo Matsumoto (Toyota) - 13:52.89
9. Yuta Takahashi (DeNA) - 13:56.88
10. Lazarus Motanya (Kenya/Obirin Univ.) - 13:57.53

Women's 5000 m Heat 2
1. Sayaka Kuwahara (Sekisui Kagaku) - 15:35.56 - PB
2. Yuka Takashima (Denso) - 15:37.68
3. Eri Makikawa (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 15:54.58
4. Miki Sakakibara (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 15:57.03
5. Yuki Mitsunobu (Denso) - 16:00.86

High School Girls' 3000 m Heat 4
1. Kyoka Nakagawa (Kumamoto Shinai H.S.) - 9:33.03
2. Yuki Shibata (Kitakyushu Municipal H.S.) - 9:34.88
3. Maho Jono (Oita Tomei H.S.) - 9:37.68
4. Yuki Udagawa (Kashiwa Nittai Prep H.S.) - 9:38.29
5. Rina Yamashita (Oita Tomei H.S.) - 9:43.38

Men's 1500 m Heat 2
1. Ronald Kwemoi (Kenya/Komori Corp.) - 3:38.04 - MR
2. James Mwangi (Kenya/NTN) - 3:40.04 (MR)
3. Kota Murayama (Asahi Kasei) - 3:41.16 (MR)
4. Masaki Toda (Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) - 3:42.76 - PB
5. Daiki Hirose (Osaka Gas) - 3:43.78
-----
10. Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Asahi Kasei) - 3:45.94
13. Kenta Murayama (Asahi Kasei) - 3:48.22
15. Yuki Sato (Nissin Shokuhin) - 3:51.12

Women's 1500 m
1. Ayaka Nakagawa (Sekisui Kagaku) - 4:25.83
2. Maya Iino (Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) - 4:26.90
3. Haruka Mochizuki (Kojima Press) - 4:28.46
4. Yurino Yokoyama (Meijo Univ.) - 4:29.08
5. Ayaka Yokose (Yamada Denki) - 4:29.58

Setagaya Time Trials
Setagaya, Tokyo, 4/4/15
click here for complete results

Men's 5000 m Heat 10
1. Tadashi Isshiki (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 13:44.96 - PB
2. Kassa Mekashaw (Ethiopia/Yachiyo Kogyo) - 13:45.17
3. Kazuma Kubota (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 13:49.27 - PB
4. Kenta Matsubara (Toyota) - 13:55.52
5. Yusuke Ogura (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 13:55.97 - PB
6. Shota Kai (Yachiyo Kogyo) - 13:56.28 - PB
7. Keisuke Fujii (Toyota) - 13:56.35 - PB
8. Hayato Yamada (Toyota Boshoku) - 13:56.92 - PB
9. Yuki Nakamura (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 13:57.40 - PB
10. Tatsuya Hayashi (Toyota) - 13:57.57 - PB

Men's 3000 m Heat 8
1. Sota Hoshi (Fujitsu) - 8:06.58 - PB
2. Shota Shinjo (Honda) - 8:07.21 - PB
3. Yuki Munakata (Kanebo) - 8:07.77 - PB
4. Tsubasa Hayakawa (Toyota) - 8:07.88 - PB
5. Kazuto Kawabata (Tokai Univ.) - 8:08.48 - PB
6. Shuhei Shirota (Kanebo) - 8:08.96 - PB
7. Hiroyuki Fujii (Chuo Univ.) - 8:09.02 - PB
8. Shogo Nakamura (Fujitsu) - 8:09.06 - PB
9. Tomoyuki Morita (Kanebo) - 8:10.53
10. Keisuke Nakatani (Komazawa Univ.) - 8:11.01 - PB

Men's 1500 m Heat 6
1. Kazuyoshi Tamogami (Gakuho Ishikawa H.S.) - 3:50.13 - PB
2. Yoshihiro Wakamatsu (Nissin Shokuhin) - 3:50.48 - PB
3. Ryoji Tatezawa (Saitama Sakae H.S.) - 3:51.38 - PB
4. Keisuke Nakatani (Komazawa Univ.) - 3:51.64
5. Akihito Kobari (Tokyo Kokusai Univ.) - 3:52.00
-----
8. Akinobu Murasawa (Nissin Shokuhin) - 3:55.53
10. Jordan Donnelly (U.S.A.) - 3:59.12

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Friday, April 3, 2015

Federation Vice Chairman of Development Katsumi Sakai: "Time is More Important Than Winning"

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/1456012.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Following a meeting of the JAAF's Development Committee in Tokyo on Apr. 2, Vice Chairman of Development Katsumi Sakai, 55, commented on the controversy surrounding the selection for the women's marathon team for August's Beijing World Championships.  "You absolutely have to go with the lead group from the beginning.  It's not about winning.  It's about trying to run the target time that we determine.  That is the message we have sent," he said of the Federation's exclusion of Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei), winner of November's Yokohama International Women's Marathon in 2:26:57, in favor of Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya), who ran 2:26:39 for 3rd more than 4 minutes behind winner Tetiana Gamera (Ukraine) after going through halfway with Gamera in 1:11:15, and who is coached by Federation Director of Women's Marathoning Development and Training Yutaka Taketomi.

Both Tanaka's coach, 1991 World Championships silver medalist Sachiko Yamashita, and Federation board executive member Naoko Takahashi, the 2000 Sydney Olympics gold medalist and former marathon world record holder, have publicly questioned and criticized the decision and process.  Late last month Sakai spoke with Coach Yamashita directly.  Yamashita pointed out that based on the published selection criteria it was not common knowledge that the Federation would prioritize trying to run the sub-2:22:30 standard it set over trying to win the race, to which Sakai said, "That's too bad.  We assumed she knew about that."  With regard to the fact that some of the selection races had pacers while others did not and that there were differences in the target times between selection races Sakai said, "The Federation is discussing whether or not that's something we should consider making a decision about."  He indicated, however, that there will be no change in the future in the Federation prioritizing time trialling over winning.

Translator's note:  Sakai was one of the people involved in setting the sub-2:06:30 and sub-2:22:30 standards for the Beijing World Championships team, of which mention of the men's standard, which only one Japanese man has ever cleared, quickly disappeared in race broadcasts as the selection process went on.  At the Tokyo Marathon men's selection race Hiroaki Sano (Team Honda) was one of the last two Japanese men to survive in the lead pack until the very late stages of the race, running a PB of 2:09:12.  However, he was left off the team in favor of Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko), a 2:08:00 runner who ran 2:11:46 for 4th a week after Tokyo at the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon selection race after making no effort at all to go with Kenyan Samuel Ndungu, who won in 2:09:08.  Based on what Sakai says above Sano should have been chosen, but Maeda is a member of the high-priority National Team marathon development project, of which Sakai and Taketomi are two architects, while Sano is not, indicating that other factors are at play than just what Sakai says here.

With regard to the justification Sakai and others on the Federation team selection committee have given for excluding Tanaka that she did not try to run with the lead pack, a look at the splits from Yokohama indicates that this is not true at all.  Tanaka was part of the lead group that went through 5 km in 16:57-58, just off the target sub-2:22:30 split of 16:53.  When pacer Purity Cherotich lost control and ran the next 5 km in 16:35, 2:19:57 pace, eventual 3rd and 5th-placers Reia Iwade and Azusa Nojiri went with her to hit 10 km in 33:31 while winner Tanaka, 2nd-placer Philes Ongori and 4th-placer Caroline Rotich sped up slightly to hit 10 km in 33:47, 2:22:33 pace.  The gap between them was never more than 16 seconds, and within a few km the Kenyan pacer had slowed again and the lead group was back together.  From there on out Tanaka was among the leaders before outkicking Ongori for the win in 2:26:48.  The description Sakai and the rest of the committee have given of Tanaka's race simply does not match the facts.  Compare it to Shigetomo's performance in Osaka, where she pushed the pace against Gamera to 1:11:15 at halfway before abruptly falling off in the 22nd km to finish in 2:26:39, losing to Gamera by more than 4 minutes and to Jelena Prokopcuka, who had been over a minute behind at halfway, by more than 2 1/2 minutes.

Sakai and the committee also claimed that the Yokohama field was not as good as at the other selection races.  In Yokohama Tanaka beat defending Olympic gold medalist Tiki Gelana, three women who had run 2:23 within the two years prior to the race, and four other women with better PBs than her 2:26:05 debut.  In Osaka Shigetomo had the second-best PB in the field and there were only two women to have run 2:23 in the last two years.  Nagoya had only 40-year-old Russian Mariya Konovalova at 2:22:46 and Asian Games gold medalist Eunice Kirwa at 2:23:34 within the last two years.  Comparing the three it is clear that that description of the Yokohama field is not factually accurate either.

Nowhere that I have seen is there mention by the committee of the simple fact that the athlete chosen, Shigetomo, 79th at the London Olympics in 2:40:06, is under the care of one of its own, while Tanaka, a two-time National Corporate Half Marathon champion coached by World Championships medalist Yamashita who most recently coached Yoshimi Ozaki to a silver medal at the Berlin World Championships, is not.  Surely it's a coincidence that Yamashita is also one of the only female coaches working at the elite end of the sport.  In Sakai's statement the committee is unabashedly sending exactly the wrong message to the country's athletes, and its post hoc rationalizations of its decision are an embarrassment for everybody involved, especially for Shigetomo.  Likewise for its claim that its decision was unanimous, a claim member Naoko Takahashi has publicly denounced as untrue.  She, Yamashita and journalists like Akemi Masuda and Tadashi Imamura are right to continue to shine a light on this scandal and to call for reform of a system that, all too characteristically conforming to the worst stereotypes of Japan, attempts to hide the appearance of impropriety behind a wall of bureaucracy.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Kenyans Chanchima, Chirchir and Jepkemboi Lead Nagano Marathon Elite Field

by Brett Larner

Kenyans Jairus Chanchima and Henry Chirchir top the men's entry list for the Apr. 19 Nagano Marathon, with Beatrice Jepkemboi joining them in hope of becoming just the second Kenyan women's champion in Nagano's 17-year history.  Kiflom Sium (Eritera) and Bayron Piedra (Ecuador) round out the small international men's field, 2:11 man Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and debuting 1:01:25 half marathoner Takuya Fukatsu (Team Asahi Kasei) looking like the domestic Japanese favorites.

The women's race features good old-time names like Catherine Ndereba (Kenya), Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC), Eri Okubo (Miki House) and Chihiro Tanaka (Athlec AC), but with Russian women having taken 7 of the last 10 Nagano titles it's safe to say that Nadezhda Leonteva is likely to be Jepkemboi's toughest competition in the women's race despite a difference of over 4 minutes in their bests.  Shoko Mori (Team Otsuka Seiyaku), a training partner of Beijing World Championships marathon team member Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku), ran her PB of 2:34:28 in Osaka in January to come in as the Japanese favorite, followed closely by Yumiko Kinoshita (Second Wind AC) who likewise PBd in Tokyo in February in 2:35:49.

17th Nagano Marathon
Nagano, 4/19/15
click here for complete field listing

Men
Jairus Chanchima (Kenya) - 2:07:43 (Seoul Int'l 2012)
Henry Chirchir (Kenya) - 2:09:24 (Koln 2012)
Kiflom Sium (Eritrea) - 2:11:09 (Padua 2012)
Taiga Ito (Japan/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:11:15 (Tokyo 2013)
Masanori Ishida (Japan/SG Holdings) - 2:13:07 (Beppu-Oita 2013)
Kohei Ogino (Japan/Fujitsu) - 2:13:12 (Hofu 2013)
Sho Matsumoto (Japan/Nikkei Business Service) - 2:13:38 (Nobeoka 2013)
Bayron Piedra (Ecuador) - 2:14:39 (Torreon 2015)
Hiro Tonegawa (Japan/Alps Tool) - 2:18:55 (Tokyo 2014)
Yuta Koyama (Japan/Kotohira Kogyo) - 2:20:43 (Nagano 2013)
Takuya Fukatsu (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - debut - 1:01:25 (Tamana Half 2012)

Women
Catherine Ndereba (Kenya) - 2:18:47 (Chicago 2001)
Kiyoko Shimahara (Japan/Second Wind AC) - 2:25:10 (Hokkaido 2009)
Eri Okubo (Japan/Miki House) - 2:26:08 (Tokyo 2012)
Beatrice Jepkemboi (Kenya) - 2:27:41 (Hamburg 2012)
Chihiro Tanaka (Japan/Athlec AC) - 2:29:30 (Nagoya Women's 2002)
Nadezhda Leonteva (Russia) - 2:31:57 (Russian Championships 2011)
Shoko Mori (Japan/Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:34:28 (Osaka Women's 2015)
Yumiko Kinoshita (Japan/Second Wind AC) - 2:35:49 (Tokyo 2015)
Akane Mutazaki (Japan/Edion) - 2:37:14 (Nagoya Women's 2013)

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

'World-Class Athletes Give Track Tips at Yokota'

http://www.stripes.com/sports/pacific/world-class-athletes-give-track-tips-at-yokota-1.337336

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Karoki to Transfer Nationality to Japan (updated)

http://www.fnn-news.com/news/headlines/articles/CONN00289305.html
http://dena.com/running/news/2015/04/04-01.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Karoki and Seko backstage before the announcement.

In the wake of Monday's Japan Industrial Track and Field Association press conference formally announcing the corporate federation's new Project Exceed 100 million yen [~$1 million USD at normal exchange rates] bonus program for a new Japanese marathon national record in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the DeNA corporate team held a press conference Tuesday at the DeNA offices in Shibuya, Tokyo to announce that its star runner, 2015 World Cross Country Championships silver medalist Bedan Karoki, has filed the necessary paperwork to transfer his citizenship from Kenya to Japan.  "Please look kindly upon me as I strive to bring Japan gold," Karoki said.

Appearing at the press conference alongside Karoki were DeNA CEO Isao Moriyasu, executive head coach Toshihiko Seko and assistant coach Tomoaki Kunichika.  Moriyasu told members of the media, "Karoki has lived in Japan for nearly ten years, graduated from a Japanese high school, recently passed the highest level of the JLPT Japanese Language Proficiency Test, and is a productive member of our team, company and society.  A large part of DeNA's innovative workforce is made up of talented, hardworking immigrants, people who now make up a significant percentage of Japanese society.  It is time that we rethink what it means to be Japanese.  DeNA prides itself on its forward thinking and cutting edge innovation and we are likewise proud to take this step and welcome Karoki as one of our own."

Seko commented, "There is a great deal of talk that we need to look to what the U.S.A. is doing right in order to win medals.  Most of their best athletes are immigrants, and their success has motivated their best native-born athletes to try harder.  Looking at that example it's easy to see that the time is right to take this step.  Karoki is the most talented athlete I have ever coached.  I hope that he will be able to achieve what neither I nor any of the others I have coached were able to do and win an Olympic marathon medal for Japan."

Kunichika discussed Karoki's development plan, saying, "The ultimate goal will be a gold medal in the marathon at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  If his citizenship is processed in time for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics the focus there will be on the 5000 m and 10000 m, but in any case before moving to the marathon he will work to deliver Japan's first-ever sub-13 5000 m, sub-27 10000 m and sub-hour half marathon.  We hope that other Japanese athletes will be inspired to follow his lead."

Although he will not change his name, as part of his transfer of citizenship Karoki will take a kanji reading of his birth name.  "His family name will become 黒木  [Kuroki, black tree]," revealed Seko.  "In light of his good looks we considered 美男 [Binan, handsome man] for his given name, but instead chose 美談 [Bidan, beautiful story] as we hope that by the time his story is finished it will indeed be a beautiful one."  Former Yamanashi Gakuin University star Stephen Mayaka took Japanese citizenship following his retirement, but Karoki is believed to be the first Kenyan to transfer nationality to Japan while at the height of his career.  2013 Fukuoka International Marathon winner and Osaka World Championships 10000 m bronze medalist Martin Mathathi (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) is also reported to be in the process of transferring his citizenship to Japan and will take the name 鈴木マサシ [Masashi Suzuki].

Update: This was an April Fool's Day story.  Neither Karoki nor Mathathi have officially announced plans to become Japanese citizens.