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How Things Played Out - Hakone, Marathon Development, Where Things Went, and What's Still Ahead

Four and a half years ago JRN published a look at 20 years' worth of the Hakone Ekiden and the relationship between development at the university level on Japan's Hakone circuit and later success in the marathon. There are a lot more important things going on right now, but, since we've got some time on our hands, let's follow up on where things have gone since then and what might still be ahead.



In the original article I wrote, "In the next 4-6 years we are going to see a lot more Japanese marathoners running fast times, the first really significant overall change in Japanese men's marathoning since Barcelona ('92).....Once that ball gets rolling we should see an impact on the all-time marathon lists and when that happens you are talking real times. There's nothing to suggest Japanese men are going to start running 2:03 or 2:04 marathons, but given the numbers involved 2:07 and 2:08 should become normal, with 2:06 in range of the top men the way 2:07…
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Today's Race - 1983 Fukuoka International Marathon

Toshihiko Seko against Juma Ikangaa, the Soh twins and Alberto Salazar at the 1983 Fukuoka International Marathon.



Osaka Governor Admits "It Would be Pretty Difficult" to Put On Osaka Marathon This Year

Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura, 44, appeared remotely on a morning news talk show on May 31. Asked by one of the hosts whether the Nov. 29 Osaka Marathon, one of the world's ten largest marathons, would be held this year, Yoshimura answered, "I think it would be pretty difficult this year, but the organizers are in the final stages of their decision-making process. They will make an announcement soon."

Held annually since its launch in 2011, this year the Osaka Marathon is set to celebrate its tenth edition and its first running as a World Athletics label race. As mayor of the city of Osaka Yoshimura himself ran and finished the 2017 race. With a new course finishing at Osaka Castle Park, last year's race had 32,989 finishers. With that number of people it is likely that they would come into close proximity to each other at the start in front of the Osaka Metropolitan Government offices.

"We are in discussion with all involved parties," said Yoshimura. …

Today's Race - 2017 Hakone Ekiden Qualifying 20 km Road Race

Unlikely to happen this year, this was the 2017 edition of the Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai, the race where the second tier of teams qualifies for January's Hakone Ekiden. The world's #1 20 km race, this was the Yosenkai's final running at that distance before being changed to the half marathon distance the following year. The announcement at the end of the teams to make the cut is one of the most dramatic moments in the sport.

Tohoku Miyagi Fukko Marathon and Toyama Marathon Canceled

On the last business day of May four of the remaining fall Japanese marathons made announcements about their events' futures in the face of coronavirus crisis. The Oct. 4 Tohoku Miyagi Fukko Marathon, 7.457 finishers in its second edition two years ago and canceled last year due to a typhoon, announced the cancelation of this year's race. In their announcement the organizers said that while they did not want to cancel for the second year in a row, they felt that the options available to them for going ahead with the race would deviate too far from the race's mission of building contact between runners and local residents still rebuilding from the 2011 tsunami. All entry fees will be refunded.

Held in the only prefecture in Japan not to have found a single case of coronavirus infection to date,  the Oct. 25 Iwate Morioka Marathon, 5,729 finishers last year announced that it is stepping back from its plans to go ahead as scheduled. Race organizers said that they would make …

Today's Race - 1986 London Marathon

Another late-career overseas win from the great Toshihiko Seko, this one at the 1986 London Marathon.

Universities Taking First Steps Toward Resuming Sports Team Practice

Their activity curtailed by the coronavirus crisis, university sports teams are beginning to move toward resuming team practices. On May 27 the University of Tsukuba sports department released guidelines for gradually restarting team activities. Training sessions of up to one hour with fewer than 20 people are expected to be phased in, and it is expected that the university's facilities will reopen on June 19, the date on which the ban on traveling between prefectures in scheduled to be lifted.

The heads of each program within the department had submitted proposals for an early resumption of team training, but the university would not permit the use of on-campus facilities before that date. Based at Tsukuba, men's high jump national record holder Naoto Tobe (28, JAL) has been training at a nearby facility instead.

Nittai University is expected to maintain restrictions on access to its campus until June 10, and facilities at the university cannot be used until then. Juntendo Un…

Today's Race - 1987 Boston Marathon

Raw lead vehicle footage of marathon legend Toshihiko Seko's second Boston Marathon victory at the 1987 race.