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Jepchirchir Wins Saitama, Yugeta Breaks Own 60+ WR, Yamaguchi Breaks Own Nara CR - Weekend Marathon Highlights

Two of Japan's main year-ending marathons celebrated anniversary runnings this year, with the Saitama International Marathon holding its 5th edition and the Nara Marathon marking ten years.

Former half marathon world record holder Peres Jepchirchir (Kenya) dropped the competition at 30 km to win in Saitama. Within the first kilometer an all-African lead group had left top Japanese entrants Kaori Yoshida (Team RxL) and Kasumi Yoshida (Nitori), and Nina Savina (Belarus) behind. The lead group quickly rounded down to four, Jepchirchir and Ethiopian trio Fatuma Sado, Belaynesh Oljira and Rahma Tusa. #1-ranked Oljira slipped off early in the second half, and when the pacers stopped at 30 km Jepchirchir had no trouble getting rid of Tusa and Sado.

Jepchirchir took 1st in a PB of 2:23:50, with Sado a distant 2nd in 2:26:45. After 35 km Tusa ran into trouble, stopping and stretching out her legs and losing ground first to Oljira, 3rd in 2:27:11, and then Savina, who ran a PB 2:28:44 for …
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Hironaka Breaks 5000 m Junior National Record and 2020 Olympic Standard

Just two weeks after her 19th birthday, Ririka Hironaka, star rookie for 2019 National Corporate Women's Ekiden champions Japan Post, ended the year in style with a nearly 18-second PB of 15:05.40 to break the great Kayoko Fukushi's U20 national record by 5 seconds and become just the second Japanese woman so far to break the 2020 Olympic standard in the 5000 m.

Running at Yamaguchi's National Corporate Women's Time Trials, after Kenyans Martha Mokaya (Canon AC Kyushu) and Hellen Ekarare (Toyota Jidoshokki) led the pack through opening splits of 3:01, 3:04 and 3:03, Hironaka took off in pursuit of the 15:10.00 Olympic standard, covering the next two 1000 m splits in 2:59 and 2:58. Along with breaking Fukushi's 2001-era junior record and clearing the Olympic standard, Hironaka moved up to all-time Japanese #5, following Nozomi Tanaka's all-time #2 15:00.01 at October's Doha World Championships to make this a pretty good year for the 5000 m by Japanese women…

Additional Cost of Moving Olympic Marathons and Race Walks to Sapporo Expected to Total Almost $100 Million

Multiple officials confirmed on Dec. 6 that the total additional cost of the IOC's decision to move the Tokyo 2020 Olympic marathons and race walks to Sapporo will be under 10 billion yen [~$92 million USD], likely totaling in the 7 to 8 billion yen range [~$65 million to $75 million USD]. The exact amount is still undetermined due to the IOC's rejection of the Organizing Committee's proposed two-lap course earlier this week, but the Organizing Committee intends to go ahead with this budget estimate.

Initially the IOC had decreed that the events should start and finish at Sapporo Dome. But with no access gate capable of handling a marathon, the construction costs necessary to make Sapporo Dome a suitable venue were said to be in the area of several billion yen [tens of millions of USD]. When the IOC made its proclamation that the road events would be relocated to Sapporo, the Citizens First Association group within the Tokyo Metropolitan Government estimated that the cost…

No Consensus Reached on Olympic Marathon Course - Impact on Athlete Preparations Inevitable

The IOC held an executive board meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland on Dec. 4. With regard to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics marathons and race walks, which the IOC decreed last month must be moved to north as an effort to combat expected high temperatures, the IOC's executive board turned down a plan from the Tokyo organizing committee for the marathon to be held on a two-lap course through the Sapporo city center. The board did accept an out-and-back race walk course along the major street in front of Sapporo Station.

The schedule for the marathons was settled, with the women's marathon to be held Aug. 8 and the men's on Aug. 9. A start and finish point at Odori Park and a first lap consisting of 20 km were also finalized, but an agreement on the rest of the marathon course could not be reached. Tadashi Fukushima, head coach of the Fujitsu corporate team whose runner Shogo Nakamura won September's MGC Race Olympic marathon trials, called for a decision to be made as quickly a…

2020 Sapporo Olympic Marathons and Race Walks to be Held With Four-Day Schedule

With the 2020 Tokyo Olympic marathons and race walks having been moved to Sapporo by the IOC, organizers have settled upon a four-day period for the events to be held and are currently in the final stages of settling the exact schedule. The men's marathon will be held as scheduled on the final day of the Olympic Games, Aug. 9, with the women's marathon moved from its original Aug. 2 date to Aug. 8. The three men's and women's race walk events will be held Aug. 6 and 7. Multiple sources involved in the planning confirmed the information.

The marathons will start and finish at Sapporo's Odori Park. The course will likely be a two-lap course through the city center as preferred by the organizing committee. World Athletics, the governing body of track and field, has insisted on a more compact course of around six laps, but in the interest of the Olympic Games having some sort of lasting legacy a proposal to use the course for a two-lap Olympic marathon as a half marat…

Singapore, Kosa, Minato and Nittai - Weekend Highlights

The Fukuoka International Marathon and Osaka Marathon were the two big headline-makers on the Japanese scene this weekend, but they were far from the only action to be had.

Just 13 days after running a four-minute CR of 2:27:39 to win the Kobe Marathon, Haruka Yamaguchi (AC Kita) ran the first nighttime edition of the Singapore Marathon. Starting conservatively, Yamaguchi moved up through the field mid-race to be in four-way contention for 3rd place. In the last dash to the finish she ended up 5th in 2:37:29, the fastest time ever by a Japanese woman on Singaporean soil by almost 10 minutes. Among those she beat was Ethiopian Aberash Feysa, who outkicked Yamaguchi for the win at June's Stockholm Marathon.

In Okinawa, local Tatsunori Hamasaki (Nanji AC) won the 35th edition of the Naha Marathon in 2:22:48. Corporate leaguer Hanae Tanaka (Shiseido) won the women's race in 2:42:40.

In Kumamoto, the Kumamoto Kosa 10-Miler held its 44th running. Locally-based Kenyan Abraham Kapsis…

Mekuria and Tefera Bring Osaka Into the Game With Course Record Wins

The Fukuoka International Marathon is the traditional major player on Japan's December marathon calendar, but resting on traditional can only last so long. The Osaka Marathon, one of the world's ten largest mass-participation marathons, this year got into the elite game in a big way with its best-ever fields and a race date that put it head-to-head with Fukuoka.

Bidding to get into the IAAF/World Athletics road race label game, Osaka brought in enough quality internationals to keep its mostly amateur domestic field off the eight-deep podium. Aberu Mekuria (Ethiopia) dominated the women's race with a 2:26:29 course record, more than two minutes ahead of Kenyan mercenary runner-up Monica Jepkoech (Bahrain). 2017 Osaka winner Yumiko Kinoshita (Japan) ran the second-fastest time of her career, 2:35:16, but finished off the podium in 9th.

The men's race must have had the Fukuoka organizers sweating, as Ethiopian Asefa Tefera dropped a 2:07:47 course record for the win, lik…