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Showing posts from November, 2015

Daito Bunka University Women Break Nikko Irohazaka Ekiden Course Record

by Brett Larner

Last year's runner up Daito Bunka University came back strong to take down defending champion Tokyo Nogyo University in course record time at Sunday's Nikko Irohazaka Women's Ekiden in Nikko, Tochigi.  The most famous ekiden stage in Japan is the Fifth Stage at the university men's Hakone Ekiden, a 23.2 km run up a mountain with roughly 875 km of climb followed by descent and flat in the last few km.  Nikko Irohazaka, the newest addition to the university women's calendar, takes almost identical dimensions and divides it into six stages, the toughest with 400 m of climb in 3.5 km.

Making its Nikko Irohazaka debut, Nittai University took an early lead with a First Stage win by Nanako Yasaku, who put Nittai 8 seconds ahead of Daito Bunka.  Tokyo Nogyo took over on the Second Stage with a new course record run by Moeno Shimizu, Daito Bunka 13 seconds back on total time at the start of the Third Stage.  DBU's Soyoka Segawa broke the course record on…

Karemi Repeats at Record-Setting Kumamoto Kosa 10-Miler

by Brett Larner
photos by @t_tsuki

Less than 24 hours after world record-setting 10000 m depth in Hachioji, another record fell at the 40th anniversary Kumamoto Kosa 10-Miler.  Expectations were high that the talented Kenta Murayama (Team Asahi Kasei) would follow up on his twin brother Kota's 10000 m national record in Hachioji by breaking the 45:40 Japanese 10 mile national record set back in 1984, almost a decade before the Murayamas were born.

Murayama came out swinging, running side-by-side with defending champion Jeremiah Thuku Karemi (Team Toyota Kyushu) through a 2:47 opening km, 44:47 pace.  Karemi pushed on but Murayama soon let go and dropped back behind another Kenyan, Charles Ndungu (Team Komori Corp.), picking up company from teammate Kenjiro Mogi.

Running alone Karemi couldn't sustain his course record pace but had no trouble taking a second-straight win.  His time of 45:19 was 32 seconds better than last year and the seventh-best winning time in Kosa history beh…

Kota Murayama and Tetsuya Yoroizaka Photo Finish Double 10000 m Japanese National Record (updated)

by Brett Larner
video by Ekiden News



Fourteen and a half years is a long time to wait.

Everything was aligned. The field. The weather.  The loom of impending Olympic glory.  The sheer vibe.  Hachioji.   Thousands of fans packed around a home soil track tucked in the mountainous foothills of suburban western Tokyo knowing they were going to see something special, that, after the 5000 meter-wide leak sprung mid-summer by the Salazar-powered Suguru Osako, the sheer mass of young talent building in Japan was finally going to break through the dam holding them back.

All credit due to Kenyan William Malel (Honda), who went out at 10000 m world record pace and led completely alone start to finish, withering on the vine with 1000 to go but pulling down a PB of 27:22.12 for the win, and to Johana Maina (Fujitsu) who almost ran him down.  But the race was not their story.

From the start Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Asahi Kasei), once the fastest-ever Japanese collegiate over 10000 m and until today the …

10000 m, 10 Miles and a Run Up the Mountain - Weekend Preview

by Brett Larner

It’s another big weekend of racing in Japan with the main action split evenly between track, road racing and ekiden. Saturday’s Hachioji Long Distance meet in western Tokyo is the pick of the weekend, with 22 men with sub-28 minute bests and another half dozen a few seconds off or debuting in the 10000 m A-heat, the Africans in prep for the New Year Ekiden and the Japanese runners taking a shot at Rio Olympic marks and the Japanese national record. 2013 World XC Jr. silver medalist Leonard Barsoton (Team Nissin Shokuhin) leads the way with a 27:20.74 best with Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Team Asahi Kasei), all-time Japanese #5 over 10000 m at 27:38.99, heading the Japanese contingent off a 5000 m national record-breaking 13:12.63 this summer. Ekiden fans will be most closely watching 5000 m national university champion Hazuma Hattori who is targeting sub-28 in hopes of making next year’s Olympic team during his senior year at 2015 National University Ekiden champion Toyo Un…

'Ukraine Bans Three-Time Osaka International Ladies Marathon Champion for Four Years'

http://www.insidethegames.biz/articles/1031964/ukraine-bans-three-time-osaka-international-ladies-marathon-champion-for-four-years

Tetiana (Gamera) Shmyrko was yet another athlete managed by Andrey Baranov to have received a doping ban following a win at a Japanese marathon, joining last year's Nagoya Women's Marathon winner Mariya Konovalova and 2011 Tokyo Marathon winner Tatyana Aryasova among others.  Shmyrko's Osaka wins cost Japan's Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) and Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) home-soil wins, in Akaba's case in her final race before retiring, as well as taking victory from Jelena Prokopcuka (Latvia) this year.

Kyushu Corporate Ekiden Rounds Out Qualification for 60th Anniversary New Year Ekiden

by Brett Larner



Following other regional corporate league ekiden winners Honda (East Japan), Toyota (Chubu), YKK (Hokuriku), Otsuka Seiyaku (Kansai) and Mazda (Chubu), the Asahi Kasei team brought the qualification round for the 60th anniversary New Year Ekiden national corporate men's championships to a close with a win by more than a kilometer at Monday's Kyushu Corporate Ekiden.

The Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden is the primary reason for the existence of Japan's men's corporate team leagues and a nationally-televised event.  It is also one of the few championship ekidens without a seeded bracket, meaning that every team, even the winner, must run one of the November regional qualifying ekidens to re-qualify the next year.  This has a direct impact on Japanese men's ability to run fall marathons outside Japan.

With a huge group of new team members this year Asahi Kasei did what every team should, using its regional qualifier as a way to get its rookies used to corporate…

Kyoto Sangyo Over Ritsumeikan at Tango University Ekiden

by Brett Larner

While Japan's elite Kanto Region collegiates were turning in historic performances on a suburban Tokyo track in preparation for the peak of their season at January's Hakone Ekiden, their rivals in western central Japan were wrapping their season up at the 77th Kansai Region University Ekiden Championships in Tango, Kyoto.  Top local schools Kyoto Sangyo University and Ritsumeikan University ran an exciting race within seconds of each other over the entire 81.4 km course, their runners setting new records on 5 of the 8 stages before finishing with one of the closest finishes in Kansai history.

Kazuki Muramoto (Hyogo Kenritsu Univ.) set the tone for the day with a new 23:36 record on the 8.0 km First Stage, 44 seconds ahead of his nearest competiton Satoshi Shimoyabu (Kansai Univ.).  Kansai's next two runners Akira Yonezawa and Kohei Yamaguchi were first and third on their stages, putting Kansai into the lead before they began to drop back on the Fourth Stage …

Aoyama Gakuin University Sends Eight Men Sub-29 in One Race at Kanto Region 10000 m Time Trials

by Brett Larner
video by naoki620



With six weeks to the day to go to the start of the 2016 Hakone Ekiden, defending champion Aoyama Gakuin University showed that it is right on the cusp of realizing head coach Susumu Hara's vision with one of the greatest team performances in Japanese track history at the Kanto Region University 10000 m Time Trials at Kanagawa's beautiful Keio University Field. 

青学強すぎる((((;゚Д゚))))))) pic.twitter.com/Jd9TEhI2Gt — EKIDEN News (@EKIDEN_News) November 21, 2015
Aoyama Gakuin's entire roster of A-listers was entered in the fastest of the day's 13 heats, and in absolutely perfect conditions all but captain Daichi Kamino started.  Senior Kazuma Kubota, winner of his stages at this season's Izumo and National University Ekidens, led almost the entire way after a 2:47 opening 1000 m, talented first-year Kazuya Shiojiri (Juntendo Univ.), 2015 World University Games half marathon bronze medalist Yuta Takahashi (Teikyo Univ.) and silver med…

Chamber of Commerce Puts Up Colored Light Display in Support of Sera H.S. Ekiden Team

https://www.chugoku-np.co.jp/local/news/article.php?comment_id=201224&comment_sub_id=0&category_id=112

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The local Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Sera, Hiroshima has put up a display of festive colored lights in support of the Sera H.S. boys' and girls' ekiden teams on the roof of its offices facing Route 432.  Both teams will run the Dec. 20 National High School Ekiden Championships where the boys are the defending national champions.  The display will be illuminated from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

Russian Ugarov Faces 4-Year Ban for Kanazawa Marathon Victory Post-ARAF Suspension

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20151118-00000057-jij-spo
http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2015/11/18/kiji/K20151118011531820.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On Nov. 17 the Russian Federation (ARAF) announced that it intends to impose a suspension of up to four years on marathoner Victor Ugarov for running in and winning the Nov. 15 Kanazawa Marathon after the IAAF's provisional suspension of the ARAF.  On Nov. 13 the IAAF voted to provisionally suspend the ARAF in response to revelations of systematic doping in Russia, a move which included a ban on Russian athletes competing internationally.  As such Ugarov was ineligible to participate in the Kanazawa Marathon but nevertheless ran the Nov. 15 race, which he won in a PB of 2:17:19.  A JAAF spokesperson indicated that Ugarov's mark will now be annulled.

ARAF officials did not know of Ugarov's participation in the Kanazawa Marathon and are launching an investigation.  At the same time they pointed out that…

Russian Victor Ugarov Wins Inaugural Kanazawa Marathon (updated)

http://kanazawa.keizai.biz/headline/2553/
http://www.chunichi.co.jp/hokuriku/article/news/CK2015111602100006.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner
updated 11/16/15 with a quote from organizers from the second article above

The first running of the Kanazawa Marathon took place Nov. 15, with 11,821 runners traversing the course from the start on Hirosaka Dori to the finish at Seibu Ryokuchi Koen Field and enjoying the best of the Kanazawa autumn.

At 9:00 a.m., almost in sync with the starting pistol fired by Mayor Yamano, the rain that had been falling all morning abruptly stopped.  Runners from across the country and from Taiwan, America and other far-off lands made their way through the 7-zone course designed with the catchphrase "Run the whole of Kanazawa!" in mind.

Volunteers along the course handed out unusual refreshments like traditional Japanese sweets and Kanazawa curry, and brass bands and local firefighters in fancy dress provided courseside entertainment and en…

Sonota and Nishiyama Make It a Komazawa 1-2, Yiu Breaks own NR at Ageo City Half Marathon

text and photos by Brett Larner
video by Ekiden News

Fresh off two hard-fought losses in the season's first two university ekidens and two big 10000 m PBs at yesterday's Nittai University Time Trials, Komazawa University dominated the fall's major Japanese half marathon as fourth-year Kenya Sonota and third-year Yusuke Nishiyama went 1-2 at the Ageo City Half Marathon.

With invites to the 2016 United Airline NYC Half on the line to the top two Japanese collegiate finishers, in light rain and temps in the mid-teens the pack went out on fast on high-1:01 pace, clearing 5 km in 14:40 with a lead pack of around ten gaining separation on a larger chase pack.

The pace slowed slightly over the next 5 km, the leaders going through 10 km in 29:33, with the chase group of around 20 still in sight.  On the most technical part of the course near 13 km the leaders slowed as the humidity rose before a move from Taiga Machizawa (Chuo Univ.) shook things up, dropping Shinichiro Nakamura (W…

Cause to Reflect at Saitama International Marathon

by Brett Larner

In wet conditions on an untested course full of twists, turns and ups and downs, Ethiopian Atsede Baysa scored an easy win at the first running of the Saitama International Marathon, pulling away from the rest of the small front group after 30 km to open a lead of nearly a kilometer on the way to a 2:25:44 finish.  Kaori Yoshida (Runners Pulse) ran down Kenyan Rebecca Kangogo Chesir to take 2nd in a PB 2:28:43, putting her name into contention, distantly, for the Rio Olympic team.  Former national record holder Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) came up short of her Olympic hopes, 4th in 2:31:06 after running up front until late in the race.

The race itself will be covered in more detail elsewhere, but as an inaugural event, as an Olympic selection race, and in other aspects, Saitama brought up a lot of cause for reflection.
A step down from its Tokyo International Women's Marathon and Yokohama International Marathon predecessor, Saitama joined March's Nag…

Kawauchi Speaks Out on Doping Problem

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2015/11/14/kiji/K20151114011507760.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The civil servant runner has spoken out.  In an interview on Nov. 14 following his appearance at a talk show event ahead of the Nov. 15 Saitama International Women's Marathon, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) addressed the problem of systematic doping in the Russian athletics world.  "All of the strict drug testing we have to go through, and now this?  It's really unpleasant news," he said.

For elite athletes drug testing is rigorous and strict.  Since his breakthrough to the top level of the sport in Japan at the 2011 Tokyo Marathon Kawauchi has been tested over 30 times.  He and other athletes must report their daily whereabouts to the JADA in conjunction with WADA and are subjected to surprise, unannounced testing.  Kawauchi has been woken up for testing at 6:00 a.m. in the days before major races and while relaxing at home at 9:00 p.m.  In som…

Arkhipova Withdraws From Tomorrow's Saitama International Marathon After Russian Suspension

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20151114/k10010305811000.html

translated by Brett Larner

In the wake of the IAAF's provisional suspension of the Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF) for systematic doping, a Russian athlete scheduled to compete in tomorrow's Saitama International Marathon has withdrawn from the race.

On Nov. 13 the IAAF voted to provisionally suspend the ARAF, barring Russian athletes from competing in international events.  London Olympics women's marathon bronze medalist Tatyana Arkhipova of Russia was already in Japan at the time to run in the Saitama International Marathon, taking part in the pre-race press conference on the 13th.

According to the JAAF, after receiving the judgment against the ARAF, on Nov. 14 they notified Arkhipova of the suspension of her eligibility to compete.  She subsequently withdrew.  Arkhipova is the first athlete to be barred from an international competition in Japan as a consequence of the ruling against the ARAF.

Russian Athlete Running Saitama International Marathon Perplexed at Press Conference

http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/20151113/ath15111318260007-n1.html

translated by Brett Larner

On Nov. 13 London Olympics women's marathon bronze medalist Tatyana Arkhipova of Russia appeared at the pre-race press conference for the Nov. 15 Saitama International Marathon.  Questioned afterward about revelations concerning systematic doping in her home country she appeared perplexed, answering, "I know that it has become a problem, but I don't know what I am supposed to say about it."

Arkhipova arrived on Nov. 12 before taking part in today's international elite athlete press conference.  Organizers requested that questions be limited to the race itself and stopped the press conference before any questions regarding the doping issue were asked.

Ageo City Half Marathon Leads Weekend Action - Preview

by Brett Larner

Rainy weather lies ahead for a busy weekend of racing across the country.  Track is a part of the calender from April through December, and this weekend features several large time trial meets including the Shizuoka Long Distance Time Trials Meet and, closer to Tokyo, the Nittai University Time Trials Meet.  Men's 5000 m is the focus at Nittai with 37 separate heats in one day, the fastest heat led by 12 Japan-based Africans including Bedan Karoki (DeNA RC), Ronald Kwemoi (Team Komori Corp.) and Paul Kuira (Team Konica Minolta).

The main action this weekend, however, happens on the roads, and there's no question that the Ageo City Half Marathon is the main event.  Ageo, the race that university coaches use to thin their rosters ahead of deciding their lineups for January's Hakone Ekiden, is one of two Japanese half marathons vying for the title of world's greatest half, locked in a duel with March's National University Half Marathon to produce the d…

Tsukuba Marathon to Introduce Japan's First Wave Start

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/local/ibaraki/news/20151111-OYTNT50379.html

translated by Brett Larner

The Tsukuba Marathon in Tsukuba, Ibaraki will feature the country's first wave start system at its 35th running on Nov. 22, staggering the race's start based on entrants' declared times.  The move is intended to reduce congestion and risk of falling at the start, and experts from Tsukuba University will study its effects.

Currently, almost all domestic Japanese marathons feature a single start.  In many races with 10,000 or more entrants it can take more than 10 minutes for the last runners to cross the start line.  Official results utilize gross time, the time from the starting gun to when the runner crosses the finish line, but with the growth of mass participation the large discrepancy between gross time and net time, a runner's actual time from the start line to the finish line as determined by timing chips, has become an increasing problem.  Another is that the congestio…

Kobayashi Withdraws From Fukuoka International Marathon

http://www.jiji.com/jc/zc?k=201511/2015111100785&g=spo

translated by Brett Larner

On Nov. 11 the organizers of the Dec. 6 Fukuoka International Marathon, the first domestic selection race for the Rio de Janeiro Japanese men's Olympic marathon team, announced that KojiKobayashi (Team Subaru) has withdrawn with an injury to his left leg.  YukiKawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) and Dennis Kimetto (Kenya), holder of the 2:02:57 world record, are scheduled to compete.

Translator's note: With a 2:08:51 best from last year's Tokyo Marathon Kobayashi was Kawauchi's main competition in Fukuoka for a place on the Rio team.

The 2015 Marathon des Alpes-Maritimes Nice-Cannes in Pictures

text and photos by Brett Larner
supplementary photos c/o race organizers
click any photo to enlarge


The organizers of France's Marathon des Alpes-Maritimes Nice-Cannes invited JRN to this year's race to run it and write about the experience.  In just eight years Nice-Cannes has quickly risen to become the most popular autumn marathon in France and an international destination event, its spectacular mountain and ocean views along the Côte d'Azur between the cities of Nice and Cannes, nearly constantly ideal weather, major airport access and a weekend with little competition on the calendar attracting over 10,000 runners every year since its first running in 2008.

Since its sixth year Nice-Cannes has been an IAAF bronze label race, its men's course record of 2:08:40 and women's record of 2:30:37 an indication of its quality not just as a destination marathon but as a world-class race.  Event director Pascal Thiriot told JRN, "We feel that the IAAF label in an in…