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Saitama International Marathon Elite Field

The first women's race in the 2020 Sapporo Olympic marathon team Final Challenge, the chance for a Japanese woman to pick up the third spot on the Olympic team by running 2:22:22 or better, in its 5th edition the Saitama International Marathon continues its slide toward oblivion as an elite race. The international field is good, and well-positioned to set it up for a Japanese woman to attack that kind of time with 2:21:53 Ethiopian Belaynesh Oljira and debuting 1:05:06 Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir in the foreground, but Japanese women have almost entirely given it a miss. Only one independent runner, Kaori Yoshida (Team RxL) and one semi-corporate leaguer, Hiroko Yoshitomi (Memolead) are on the  entry list, raising the obvious question of why bother?

Saitama is popular as a mass-participation race, and it is raised a little higher by the quality of internationals it attracts. But as a national team selection race, it seems like only a matter of time before it loses that status to the…
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SGH Group, Toyota and YKK Win Final Three New Year Ekiden Qualifiers

The last two qualifying races for the 64th New Year Ekiden corporate men's national championships on Jan.1 took place Nov. 17. At the 62nd Kansai Corporate Ekiden in Wakayama, 14 teams competed for the 4 spots available at the New Year Ekiden. The SGH Group team covered the 7-stage, 80.45 km course in 3:57:43 to claim its first win in 2 years. Sumitomo Denko was 2nd just 13 seconds back from SGH Group, with Osaka Gas taking 3rd in a team record performance. Last year's winner NTT Nishi Nihon placed 4th to round out the list of qualifiers.



At the Chubu / Hokuriku Corporate Ekiden, local powerhouse Toyota ran 3:55:38 for the 7-stage, 80.5 km course to win the Chubu region division for the sixth year in a row. On the Fourth Stage Toyota dropped back from leader Toyota Boshoku, but after getting back on track with quality runs from captain Minato Oishi on the Fifth Stage and 2020 Olympic marathon team member Yuma Hattori on the anchor stage the team succeeded in opening a 2:14 ma…

Takushoku Teammates Lemeteki and Akasaki Sub-62 For 1-2 at Ageo City Half Marathon

Takushoku University teammates Joseph Razini Lemeteki and Akira Akasaki dominated the 2019 Ageo City Half Marathon, alternating the lead throughout almost the entire race to go 1-2 in school record times.

With invitations to the 2019 United Airlines NYC Half up for grabs to the top two Japanese collegiate finishers in the unofficial intramural tryout for Japan's most prestigious race, the 2020 Hakone Ekiden, things went out very conservatively by Ageo standards at just 3:00/km for the first 2 km. Not content with that, Akasaki, 3rd on his stage at both the Izumo Ekiden in October and the National University Ekiden earlier this month, picked up the race and carried it until 15 km. From 3 km to 8 km Akasaki split 14:33, pace for 1:01:24, condensing the pack behind him down to eight.


After the 10 km turnaround Akasaki's teammate Lemeteki made a bold move to gain contact with the lead group, and when he did it shaved things down to seven serious contenders. The front group stayed …

Japanese Amateur Yamaguchi and Ugandan Kusuro Break Kobe Course Records

Amateur Japanese club runner Haruka Yamaguchi (AC Kita) and Ugandan Geoffrey Kusuro had dominant wins at the 9th running of the Kobe Marathon Sunday, both running PBs and winning by almost 4 minutes in course record time.

Yamaguchi, who ran a PB 2:33:06 in Sydney in September and dropped a surprise 31:58 at last weekend's East Japan Women's Ekiden, slipped away early, never challenged by the pack of invited African elites or by friend and rival club runner Shiho Kaneshige (GRlab Kanto). Going through halfway faster than her half marathon PB in 1:13:08. She slowed slightly in the second half, especially on the large bridge out to the island finish line, but her win was never in doubt as she broke the tape in 2:27:39. Previously, the fastest pure amateur Japanese women's marathon performance was Chihiro Tanaka's 2:29:30 in Nagoya in 2002. Breaking that by almost two minutes, Yamaguchi staked her claim as Japan's best-ever amateur.


2nd through 5th were close together…

800 m High School National Record Holder Clay to Attend Texas A&M

2019 men's 800 m national champion and Soyo H.S. 3rd-year Aaron Tatsunami Clay will enroll in America's Texas A&M University next September, it was learned on Nov. 14. Until then he plans to remain based at Soyo in preparation to go for the win at next year's National Championships and to clear the 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualifying standard.

The prestigious Texas A&M is where Donovan Brazier (U.S.A.), winner of the gold medal in the men's 800 m at this fall's Doha World Championships, is enrolled. Soyo H.S. head coach Mitsuru Zeniya, 53, who accompanied Clay on a visit to see the university, was supportive of Clay's decision and goals, saying, "He just barely missed the World Championships qualifying standard. If he trains with athletes who are stronger than him he'll grow more."

Last year at the October Niigata Autumn Time Trials meet Clay set a national high school record of 1:47.51 for 800 m. At the National Championships in June this yea…

IOC's Coates Insists Sapporo 2020 Men's Marathon Be Held on Last Day of Olympics

Speaking about the relocation of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics road events to Sapporo at a press conference in Sydney on Nov. 13, IOC coordination committee chairperson John Coates reiterated the IOC's insistence that the men's marathon be staged on the final day of the Olympics, Aug. 9, saying, "It is to be held on the last day of the Olympics, and the athletes must be put on a plane and returned (to Tokyo) in time for the closing ceremonies."

In response to the IOC's edict that the premier event of the Olympics, the men's marathon, be moved out of Tokyo to Sapporo, 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics organizing committee head Yoshiro Mori had indicated that the date of the men's marathon would be changed in order to overcome the logistical impossibilities created by the move to Sapporo. The IOC responded by saying the marathon was still to be held on the 9th. "No final decision has yet been made, but the organizers should be prepared to hold it on the s…