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Japanese Men Stuck Behind the 2:09 Wall Seven Minutes Behind the Rest of the World

http://www.nikkan-gendai.com/articles/view/sports/199496/1

translated by Brett Larner

It's turned into an era when it's hard to break even 2:09.

On Feb. 12, Yuki Kawauchi (29), the top Japanese finisher in December's Fukuoka International Marathon at 3rd overall, set a new course record of 2:09:54 to win the Ehime Marathon for the first time.  Speaking of 2:09, in Fukuoka as well Kawauchi ran 2:09:11.  On the 5th this month Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon winner Kentaro Nakamoto (34) ran 2:09:32 too.  And the three members of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics team did it in the selection races.  Satoru Sasaki barely broke 2:09 at 2:08:56 for 3rd in Fukuoka, and Hisanori Kitajima and Suehiro Ishikawa ran 2:09:16 and 2:09:25 for 2nd and 4th at Lake Biwa.  Even in the Olympic season when marathoners' gaze is supposed to be loftier, that was all they could do.

Even though the world standard in the men's marathon is now at the 2:02 level, Japanese haven't run 2:07 in a domestic race since Masato Imai's 2:07:39 for 7th in Tokyo back in 2015.  Maybe that's why the Tokyo Marathon, scheduled for the 26th this month, has changed its course to try to put out high-speed times.  Gone is the heartbreaking uphill, Tsukada Bridge, just after 35 km.  With the organizers having made the course easier it'll be fun to watch how much faster times might get.

Also on the 12th, Ai Utsunomiya, 21, ran a PB of 1:10:47 to win the National Corporate Women's Half Marathon, more than three minutes slower than Kayoko Fukushi's 1:07:26 Japanese national record.  But on the 10th at a half marathon in the U.A.E., Peres Jepchirchir (23, Kenya) set a new world record of 1:05:06.

Translator's note: One of JRN's purposes is to show the extent to which long distance features in the Japanese media and the ways in which they cover it. This article was translated to show that there is crap tabloid journalism and trolling in Japan too. 

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Jan. 14: Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:03:28 - 7th
Jan. 21: Yashio Isshu Ekiden, Saitama: 1:01:03 - 1st - ran entire 20.0 km ekiden solo and beat all 103 teams of 6 runners each
Jan. 28: Okumusashi Ekiden First Stage (9.9 km), Saitama - 29:41 - 6th
Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
Feb. 11: Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon, Shimane - cancelled due to heavy snow
Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama - 1:04:26 - 1st
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:04:49 - 12th
Mar. 11: Yoshinogawa Riverside Half Marathon, Tokushima - 1:05:50 - 1st - CR
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan - 2:14:12 - 1st
Mar. 24: Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials, Saitama
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              5000 m Heat 6: 14:36.58 - 2nd
           …

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