Thursday, January 19, 2017

Keny and Maruyama Lead Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon Field

by Brett Larner

With just over two weeks to go the organizers of the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon have announced their elite field for their 66th running on Feb. 5. Kenyan Felix Keny fronts the field, a former 2:07 man with a best recent time of 2:09:04 in Hamburg three years ago.  Likewise, #2-ranked international Dereje Debele of Ethiopia has run 2:07 in years past, but in the last three years hasn't broken 2:10 with his 2:10:31 at the 2015 Mumbai Marathon his best recent credential.  American Jeffrey Eggleston completes the front of the overseas contingent with a 2:10:52 runner-up finish at the 2014 Gold Coast Airport Marathon.

Beppu-Oita Mainichi factors into the complicated selection process for the 2017 London World Championships men's marathon team with a slot potentially available to a Japanese winner.  The best chance of seeing that happen comes from the talented Fumihiro Maruyama of the 2017 New Year Ekiden national champion Asahi Kasei team, Maruyama having debuted in style in 2:09:39 at last year's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon with an overly aggressive surge near 30 km.  If he learned from that mistake and is near the same fitness he may become the first Japanese man to win Beppu-Oita since Yuki Kawauchi in 2013.

The runner-up in that race, Kentaro Nakamoto (Yasukawa Denki), is one of the best Japanese marathoners of the modern era but has been in decline since finishing 5th at the 2013 Moscow World Championships.  A comeback run would make him a definite contender.  Likewise for Maruyama's sub-2:10 teammate Tomoya Adachi (Asahi Kasei), a local who won Beppu-Oita in 2008 in his marathon debut.  Despite only having a 2:12:48 best, Ryo Kiname (MHPS) is a solid threat after winning August's Hokkaido Marathon.

Potential darkhorses include the independent Aritaka Kajiwara, who trains with three-time Hakone Ekiden champion Aoyama Gakuin University, debuting New Year Ekiden Third Stage winner Minato Oishi (Toyota) and his teammate Tsubasa Hayakawa (Toyota), and the Koichi Morishita-coached Kento Otsu (Team Toyota Kyushu), running his second marathon after a failed debut in Hokkaido last year.

The Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon will be broadcast live by TBS on Feb. 5 starting at 11:50 a.m. Japan time.  Follow @JRNLive for coverage and live streaming details.

66th Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon 
Elite Field Highlights
Oita, 2/5/17
click here for complete field listing
times listed are best in last three years except where noted

Men
Felix Keny (Kenya) - 2:09:04 (Hamburg 2014)
Fumihiro Maruyama (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 2:09:39 (Lake Biwa 2016)
Tomoya Adachi (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 2:09:59 (Fukuoka Int'l 2014)
Dereje Debele (Ethiopia) - 2:10:31 (Mumbai 2015)
Hiroki Kadota (Japan/Kadota) - 2:10:46 (Beppu-Oita 2015)
Jeffrey Eggleston (U.S.A.) - 2:10:52 (Gold Coast 2014)
Yoshiki Otsuka (Japan/Aichi Seiko) - 2:11:40 (Fukuoka Int'l 2014)
Kohei Ogino (Japan/Fujitsu) - 2:11:42 (Nagano 2015)
Kentaro Nakamoto (Japan/Yasukawa Denki) - 2:11:58 (Fukuoka Int'l 2014)
Taiga Ito (Japan/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:12:04 (Nagano 2015)
Kazuya Ishida (Japan/Nishitetsu) - 2:12:25 (Beppu-Oita 2016)
Ryo Kiname (Japan/MHPS) - 2:12:48 (Beppu-Oita 2014)
Keita Akiba (Japan/Komori Corp.) - 2:13:12 (Lake Biwa 2014)
Solonei Da Silva (Brazil) - 2:13:15 (Milan 2015)
Yusei Nakao (Japan/Smiley Angel AC) - 2:13:23 (Beppu-Oita 2015)
Shigeki Tsuji (Japan/Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:13:41 (Lake Biwa 2014)
Kenta Chiba (Japan/Fujitsu) - 2:14:00 (Nobeoka 2015)
Keisuke Kusaka (Japan/Hitachi Butsuryu) - 2:14:11 (Beppu-Oita 2016)
Shogo Kanezane (Japan/Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:14:15 (Beppu-Oita 2016)
Junichi Tsubouchi (Japan/Kurosaki Harima) - 2:14:20 (Beppu-Oita 2016)
Aritaka Kajiwara (Japan/Atsugi T&F Assoc.) - 2:14:27 (Fukuoka Int'l 2016)
Bunta Kuroki (Japan/Yasukawa Denki)- 2:14:27 (Warsaw 2014)
Yuji Iwata (Japan/MHPS) - 2:14:46 (Nobeoka 2014)
Khalil Lemiciyeh (Morocco) - 2:14:56 (Casablanca 2016)
Kaito Koitabashi (Japan/Konica Minolta) - 2:15:03 (Hokkaido 2016)
Takafumi Kikuchi (Japan/SG Holdings) - 2:15:07 (Hokkaido 2016)
Saeki Makino (Japan/DNPL) - 2:15:22 (Seoul 2015)
Paul Pollock (Ireland) - 2:15:38 (Berlin 2015)
Takuya Suzuki (Japan/Aisan Kogyo) - 2:15:40 (Beppu-Oita 2014)

Debut / Do-Over
Kento Otsu (Japan/Toyota Kyushu) - 1:02:09 (Marugame Half 2016)
Minato Oishi (Japan/Toyota) - 1:02:32 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2016)
Tsubasa Hayakawa (Japan/Toyota) - 1:02:34 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2016)

© 2017 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Three People Disqualified for Cutting Course and Switching Bibs at Tokorozawa Half Marathon

http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASK1L5D1CK1LUTNB00Y.html

translated by Brett Larner

The city government in Tokorozawa, Saitama announced on Jan. 18 that three people including two podium placers at last month's 27th Tokorozawa City Half Marathon had been disqualified for offenses including cutting the course and swapping bib numbers.  It was the first time that cheating had been discovered in the event's history.

According to a spokesperson, organizers received a phone call regarding the splits of the men's 60-and-over half marathon division winner saying, "Something is wrong with his second-half 10 km split."  When officials contacted the winner he initially denied any wrongdoing, but on Jan. 10 he visited city hall and admitted, "I cut part of the course."

In a separate incident, a city official found online comments pointing out that there was a man running with a woman's bib number in online photos of the race.  The official contacted the woman registered under the women's 39-and-under bib number, who had finished 2nd in that division, and she admitted that a male friend registered in the men's 39-and-under 5 km division had switched bib numbers with her and run in her place.  The woman ran with the man's bib, finishing 266th in his division.

The organizing committee made up of city government officials and others decided to disqualify all three people and asked that they not run the race again in the future.  The City Sports Bureau commented, "We plan to add more timing mats and take other steps to help prevent cheating in the future."

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A Different Kind of Runner Completes Aoyama Gakuin Marathon Training Camp - Aritaka Kajiwara

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/feature/hakone/20170117-OHT1T50256.html

translated by Brett Larner

Four runners from Hakone Ekiden champion Aoyama Gakuin University including under-20 national record holder Yuta Shimoda, a third-year at Aoyama Gakuin, completed a three-day marathon training camp in Futtsu, Chiba from Jan. 13th to 15th.  Alongside them was Aritaka Kajiwara, 28, an unsponsored independent who ran the Hakone Ekiden for straight years as part of the Kanto Region Select Team while at Reitaku University and who has trained with the Aoyama Gakuin ekiden team since last year.

Kajiwara quit the Press Kogyo corporate team in 2015.  At December's Fukuoka International Marathon he ran a PB of 2:14:27.  He now plans to run both the Feb. 5 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon and the Mar. 5 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon.  "I'll be going for 2:12 at Beppu-Oita and 2:10 at Lake Biwa," he said.  Aoyama Gakuin head coach Susumu Hara commented, "We're currently taking applications for a sponsor for Kajiwara."

Translator's note: Kajiwara was a teammate of Yuki Kawauchi's on the Kanto Region Select Team at the Hakone Ekiden.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Osako and Murayama Twins Lead National Record Shot at Marugame Half

by Brett Larner
click here for women's field listing

As strong as its women's field looks, the men's field for the Feb. 5 Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon is something else.  The half marathon is the sweet spot of Japanese training, the distance that the top university men focus on for the Hakone Ekiden and the best corporate men at the New Year Ekiden national championships.  The official half marathon Japanese national record is 1:00:25 by Atsushi Sato at the 2007 World Half Marathon, but it's pretty common to see the top men running that kind of time on the longest half marathonish-length stages at both Hakone and New Year.  If they all got together, focused, and put the same intensity and drive into a serious half marathon the national record would surely fall, and maybe even the hour mark.  This year's Marugame looks like the best chance to date for that to happen.

Up front: 59:01 man Kenneth Kipkemoi and once-upon-a-time sub-59 man Atsedu Tsegay of Ethiopia.  Positioned just ahead of the Japanese NR: Abraham Kipyatich of Kenya and wunderkind Callum Hawkins of Great Britain.  Right at the level of the current generation of Japan's best: Bernard Kimanyi and Dominic Nyairo of Kenya.  And following them, most of the very best Japan has to offer:

  • 5000 m NR holder Suguru Osako, a member of the Nike Oregon Project with a 1:01:47 Asian junior record half marathon debut and a 1:01:10 equivalent at Hakone.
  • 10000 m NR holder Kota Murayama in his serious half marathon debut, with a 58:26 for 20 km to his name giving him mid-1:01 credentials.
  • His twin brother Kenta Murayama with a 1:00:50 best in Marugame in 2014.
  • Keita Shitara, 1:01:12 at the 2015 National Corporate Half.
  • His twin brother Yuta Shitara, 1:01:48 at the New York Half at age 20 and a 1:00:11 equivalent at last year's New Year Ekiden.
  • Daichi Kamino, 1:01:21 in Marugame two years ago following a spectacular uphill run on Hakone's Fifth Stage and just as ascendant as a young corporate runner.
  • Chihiro Miyawaki, 1:00:53 to win the 2012 National Corporate Half.

There are only two or three names missing from an otherwise perfect collection of Japanese runners to collectively go for the national record, sure to get further support from the massive number of 62 minute-range runners just behind them.  Kenta Murayama told JRN that he and Kota will be going for a time under 1:00:30, at worst under 1:00:50, and the presence of Osako, a training partner of Galen Rupp who was scheduled to go for the U.S.A. NR last weekend, suggests big things.  Marugame usually has ideal weather that contributes to world record-setting depth at quality.  The current forecast calls for cloudy skies and race time temperatures between 2 and 5 degrees Celsius, a little on the cold side but still within a range that would allow for something special.

71st Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon
Men’s Elite Field Highlights
Marugame, Kagawa, 2/5/17
click here for complete field listing
times listed are best within last three years except where noted

Kenneth Kipkemoi (Kenya) – 59:01 (Valencia 2014)
Abraham Kipyatich (Kenya) – 1:00:03 (Berlin 2015)
Callum Hawkins (Great Britain) – 1:00:24 (Glasgow 2016)
Bernard Kimanyi (Kenya/Yakult) – 1:00:41 (Den Haag 2015)
Dominic Nyairo (Kenya/Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) – 1:00:50 (Marugame 2016)
Kenta Murayama (Japan/Asahi Kasei) – 1:00:50 (Marugame 2014)
Keita Shitara (Japan/Konica Minolta) – 1:01:12 (Nat’l Corp. Half 2015)
Fabiano Sulle (Tanzania) – 1:01:19 (Marugame 2016)
Daichi Kamino (Japan/Konica Minolta) – 1:01:21 (Marugame 2015)
Suguru Osako (Japan/NOP) – 1:01:47 (Ageo City 2010)
Kenta Ueda (Japan/Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 1 02:01 (Ageo City 2016)
Koki Takada (Japan/Sumitomo Denko) – 1:02:02 (Ageo City 2014)
Takashi Ichida (Japan/Asahi Kasei) – 1:02:03 (Ageo City 2014)
Akira Aizawa (Japan/Toyo Univ.) – 1:02:05 (Ageo City 2016)
Keita Shioya (Japan/Subaru) – 1:02:11 (Marugame 2016)
Chihiro Miyawaki (Japan/Toyota) – 1:02:18 (Nat’l Corp. Half 2015)
Masaya Taguchi (Japan/Honda) – 1:02:19 (Marugame 2016)
Kenya Sonoda (Japan/JR Higashi Nihon) – 1:02:20 (Nat’l Univ. Half 2015)
Kazuki Tamura (Japan/Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) – 1:02:22 (Nat’l Univ. Half 2015)
Shuji Matsuo (Japan/Kyudenko) – 1:02:25 (Nat’l Corp. Half 2015)
Gen Hachisuka (Japan/Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:26 (Marugame 2015)
Shusei Ohashi (Japan/Raffine) – 1:02:27 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2015)
Daiki Taguchi (Japan/Hitachi Butsuryu) - 1:02:30 (Nat'l Univ. Half 2014)
Yuki Oshikawa (Japan/Toyota Kyushu) – 1:02:30 (Marugame 2014)
Atsedu Tsegay (Ethiopia) – 1:02:39 (Rock ‘n’ Roll Lisbon 2015)
Wataru Ueno (Japan/Honda) – 1:02:39 (Marugame 2014)
Yusuke Nishiyama (Japan/Komazawa Univ.) – 1:02:43 (Nat’l Univ. Half 2015)
Natsuki Terada (Japan/JR Higashi Nihon) – 1:02:43 (Marugame 2015)
Masaru Aoki (Japan/Kanebo) – 1:02:45 (Nat’l Corp. Half 2015)
Rei Omori (Japan/Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:47 (Nat'l Univ. Half 2015)
Tomoki Ota (Japan/Waseda Univ.) - 1:02:48 (Ageo City 2016)
Ryuji Okada (Japan/Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:02:48 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2015)
Suehiro Ishikawa (Japan/Honda) – 1:02:49 (Marugame 2016)
Shota Inoue (Japan/Toyota) – 1:02:49 (Marugame 2015)
Takuya Noguchi (Japan/Konica Minolta) – 1:02:50 (Marugame 2014)
Taiga Machizawa (Japan/Chuo Univ.) - 1:02:52 (Nat'l  Univ. Half 2015)
Yuta Shitara (Japan/Honda) – 1:02:52 (Marugame 2015)
Hideaki Sumiyoshi (Japan/Kokushikan Univ.) - 1:02:53 (Marugame 2016)
Chiharu Takada (Japan/JR Higashi Nihon) – 1:02:58 (Marugame 2016)

20 km
Kota Murayama (Japan/Asahi Kasei) – 58:26 (Yosenkai 20km 2014)
Kazuya Shiojiri (Japan/Juntendo Univ.) – 59:36 (Takashimdaira 20km 2016)

Debut
Jonathan Ndiku (Kenya/Hitachi Butsuryu) – 27:11.23 (Nittai Univ. 2016)

© 2017 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Kirwa Faces Flanagan and Wellings at Marugame Half

by Brett Larner
click here for men's field listing

The Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon has lined up a great women's field for its 71st running on Feb. 5.  Rio Olympics marathon silver medalist and defending champion Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) will go up against Rio 6th and 9th-placers Shalane Flanagan and Amy Cragg of the U.S.A., 2015 Marugame winner Eloise Wellings of Australia and 2016 Japanese National Corporate Half Marathon champion Miho Shimizu (Team Hokuren).

Flanagan's 1:07:51 on the aided San Diego course last year is the only time that tops Kirwa's then-Bahraini national record 1:08:06 in Marugame 2016, promising a close race if Flanagan doesn't repeat her 2015 DNS.  Shimizu, the only Japanese woman to break 1:10 in 2016, should likewise have a good race for 3rd against Wellings if the Australian shows a return to form following her DNF last month at the Sanyo Ladies Half.  One promising debut comes in the form of sub-31:45 track runner Riko Matsuzaki (Team Sekisui Kagaku), who ran well on the 10.0 km anchor stage at last weekend's Naitonal Women's Ekiden.

71st Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon
Women’s Elite Field Highlights
Marugame, Kagawa, 2/5/17
click here for complete field listing
times listed are best within last three years except where noted

Shalane Flanagan (U.S.A.) – 1:07:51a (San Diego 2016)
Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) – 1:08:06 (Marugame 2016)
Eloise Wellings (Australia) – 1:09:29 (Marugame 2016)
Miho Shimizu (Japan/Hokuren) – 1:09:41 (Nat’l Corp. Half 2016)
Amy Cragg (U.S.A.) – 1:09:50a (San Diego 2016)
Reia Iwade (Japan/Noritz) – 1:10:13 (Nat’l Corp. Half 2015)
Eri Hayakawa (Japan/Toto) – 1:10:47a (San Diego 2015)
Kaho Tanaka (Japan/Daiichi Seimei) – 1:11:12 (Marugame 2015)
Akane Sekimo (Japan/Imabari Zosen) – 1:11:17 (Marugame 2016)
Kellys Arias (Colombia) – 1:11:21 (Cardiff 2016)
Moeno Nakamura (Japan/Univ. Ent.) – 1:11:33 (Marugame 2016)
Miharu Shimokado (Japan/Shimamura) – 1:11:48 (Matsue Ladies 2016)
Winfridah Kebaiso (Kenya/Nitori) – 1:12:36 (Shibetsu 2015)
Eri Tayama (Japan/Hitachi) – 1:12:44 (Matsue Ladies 2014)
Megumi Amako (Japan/Canon AC Kyushu – 1:12:49 (Nat’l Corp. Half 2014)
Mei Matsuyama (Japan/Noritz) – 1:12:58 (Marugame 2016)

Debut
Riko Matsuzaki (Japan/Sekisui Kagaku) – 31:44.86 (Abashiri 2015)
Yuko Aoki (Japan/Canon AC Kyushu) – 32:58.67 (Yamaguchi 2014)

© 2017 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

5000 m Collegiate Record Holder Kensuke Takezawa Announces Retirement

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/1766072.html
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20170116-00000213-sph-spo

translated and edited by Brett Larner



The Sumitomo Denko corporate men's team announced on Jan. 16 that Kensuke Takezawa, 30, a 2008 Beijing Olympian in the 5000 m and 10000 m, has made the decision to retire from competition.  Via a statement from the company Takezawa said, "I will retire from active competition at the end of this season.  The last few years I haven't been able to produce good results, but the strong, heartfelt support and encouragement I've received from everyone has made it possible to keep going this long.  I sincerely thank you all.  Please continue to cheer on the Sumitomo Denko team."

Takezawa graduated from Hyogo's Hotoku Gakuen H.S. before going to Waseda University, where he set the still-standing collegiate 5000 m record of 13:19.00 and as a fourth-year in 2009 broke the Hakone Ekiden Third Stage record despite an injury to his left Achilles to lead Waseda to an overall 2nd-place finish. He became the first active Hakone runner to make an Olympic team in 44 years when he ran in Beijing.  After graduating he joined the Toshihiko Seko-led S&B corporate team, leaving the team in 2013 to join Sumitomo Denko and leading it to its first New Year Ekiden appearance in 2014.  In 2015 his Waseda-era coach Yasuyuki Watanabe left Waseda to take over at Sumitomo Denko. Their reunion raising hopes that great things were on the way again, but a long-lasting injury to his left Achilles tendon and other injuries cut short his career.

Translator's note: Along with his high school and university rival Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin), Takezawa was a major Hakone star and true track talent with Galen Rupp or Dathan Ritzenhein-level ability.  Always plagued by injury, his achievements on the track included:

  • 13:22.36 for 5000 m at age 19
  • the 13:19.00 collegiate 5000 m national record at age 20
  • 27:45.59 for 10000 m at age 20
  • running the 1000 m at the 2007 Osaka World Championships at age 20
  • running the 5000 m and 10000 m at the 2008 Beijing Olympics at age 21
  • 7:49.26 for 3000 m at age 22
  • winning the 10000 m national title at age 23

Despite his popularity and his stunning Hakone Ekiden Third Stage course record, 1:01:40 for 21.5 km equating to 1:00:31 for the half marathon, Takezawa was under-appreciated as a talent on the roads, where his achievements included:

  • stage wins at major ekidens like the National University Ekiden, International Chiba Ekiden and National Men's Ekiden over an 8-year span from 2007 to 2015
  • a 1:02:27 win at the 2005 Ageo City Half Marathon as a 19-year-old first-year at Waseda
  • 1:02:26 for 3rd three months later at the Marugame Half Marathon
  • a win at the 2010 Himejijo 10-Miler at age 23
  • a win at the 2013 Kumamoto Kosa 10-Mier at age 27

Although time has gone by fans still held out hope that some day Takezawa would somehow return to his past self, and judging from the reaction on Twitter his retirement is deeply felt across the country. The fact that neither he nor Sato followed a career trajectory anything remotely close to Rupp's or Ritz's is as strong an indication of the problems with the Japanese corporate system as you could ask for.  Takezawa will be missed.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Aoyama Gakuin’s Shimoda Completes Marathon Training Camp With 42.195 km Run in Prep for Tokyo

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20170115-OHT1T50072.html
http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/1765865.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Having won the January 2-3 Hakone Ekiden with an unprecedented “double triple,” victories at all three Big Three University Ekidens in a single season and three-straight Hakone titles, Aoyama Gakuin University’s marathon training camp featuring under-20 marathon national record holder Yuta Shimoda (2:11:34, age 19) wrapped up Jan. 15 with a full marathon-length run in Futtsu, Chiba.

The 42.195 km run was the last workout on the schedule of the three day, two night training camp. Two days earlier on the 13th the camp’s participants ran 32.195 km, a tough schedule coming just two weeks after Hakone. Shimoda ran the first 40 km of the final workout in 2:21:18, roughly 3:32 per km, before accelerating to 2:52 per km for the final 2.195 km. His total time for the run was 2:27:35.

Aoyama Gakuin head coach Susumu Hara views the key to success as the last 2.195 km of the race. Both of the training camp’s main workouts, Friday’s 32.195 km run and Sunday’s 42.195 km run, were centered around picking up the pace to under 2:55 per km after running conservatively for the first part of the run. “It is critical to get your mind and body used to running one gear faster after 40 km,” said Hara. “That was the main purpose of this camp, to prime the mind and body to be ready to go for the last 2.195 km. It was excellent training.”

Along with Shimoda, other Aoyama Gakuin runners who did the 42.195 km included third-year Yuki Nakamura who is training for the Feb. 26 Tokyo Marathon along with Shimoda, and third-year Shunpei Oda, who will run the Mar. 5 Shizuoka Marathon. Joining the Aoyama Gakuin trio, independent runner Aritaka Kajiwara, 28, who ran Hakone all four years at Reitaku University as part of the Kanto Region Select Team, also completed the camp. Star Aoyama Gakuin fourth-year Tadashi Isshiki, training for the Mar. 5 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, developed a sore throat after the 32.195 km session and sat out the main workout. “It’ll take three or four days to fully recover,” he said. “Once I’m healthy again we’ll pick up where I left off.”

Having targeted the Hakone “double triple” as a thank-you to the country’s ekiden fans, Hara views Aoyama Gakuin’s pursuit of the marathon as an extension of that mission. “We want to deliver results that will show our gratitude to marathon fans as well,” said Hara. “Our goal is to raise the level of Team Japan’s results in the buildup to the Tokyo Olympics.” A long surge may be Japanese athletes’ best hope at competing seriously with overseas runners, but Hara hopes to bring out the speed needed to stand on equal ground with foreign athletes with kicks of their own. “Our rivals are Kenya and Ethiopia,” he said.

2000 People Shovel Snow to Prevent National Women's Ekiden From Being Cancelled

http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASK1H63JLK1HUTQP01K.html

translated by Brett Larner

Hit by heavy snow, organizers of the National Women's Ekiden were unsure if the race could be held until just before its start.  With 10 cm of snow blanketing the ground early on the 15th they leaned toward cancelling the national championship event.  2000 people pitched in to shovel snow off the course, but at 10:30 a.m. just two hours before the scheduled start, there was still snow on Gojo Street.  Teruo Ito, executive director of the Kyoto Athletics Association, commented, "I felt that if the snow melted we would make it in time.  Thinking of the athletes' efforts, I knew that if we did our best to make the race go off as planned we'd absolutely be able to make it happen."