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National Cross Country Championships and Osaka Marathon Story Lines

The Inuyama Half Marathon and National Cross Country Championships are happening Sunday, with Japan's team for March's Belgrade World Cross Country Championships to be mostly drawn from top placers in the different divisions at Nationals. It's being streamed above starting at 10:20 local time, with fields including Takuya Hanyu , Ryuto Igawa , Hazuma Hattori , Yuta Bando , Tomonori Yamaguchi and Masato Imai in the senior men's 10 km, Momoka Kawaguchi , Nana Kuraoka and Chika Kosakai in the senior women's 8 km, Sota Orita , Ryuto Kawahara , Tetsu Sasaki , Shunsuke Kuwata and Soma Nagahara in the junior men's 8 km, and Narumi Okumoto and Nodoka Ashida in the junior women's 6 km. But the main race Sunday is the Osaka Marathon . One of the world's biggest mass-participation marathons, Osaka has deep elite fields especially on the men's side. That's not surprising since for Japanese men it's one of the designated races where they have a
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Yamaguchi, Matsunaga and Ito to Run United Airlines NYC Half

Waseda University's Tomonori Yamaguchi , Hosei University's Rei Matsunaga and Yamaguchi's Waseda teammate Taishi Ito are part of the men's field for the Mar. 17 United Airlines NYC Half announced today by the New York Road Runners. Yamaguchi and Matsunaga were the top two Japanese collegiate finishers at November's Ageo City Half Marathon , Yamaguchi running 1:01:16 for 3rd overall and Matsunaga 1:01:56 for 4th to score invitations to NYC. Since then Yamaguchi has run particularly well, placing 4th on the Hakone Ekiden's highly competitive 23.1 km Second Stage where he ran the equivalent of a 1:00:45 half marathon, and running a 28:17.87 PB for 10000 m. Ito is also a sub-62 half marathoner, running 1:01:50 at last year's Marugame Half Marathon and setting a 28:37.34 PB for 10000 m in the same January race as Yamaguchi. All three have raced in other parts of Asia and both Yamaguchi and Ito in Europe, but for all of them it will be their first time racing i

Masato Imai to Retire After Sunday's National XC Championships

  On Feb. 21 the Toyota Kyushu corporate team announced that its longtime member Masato Imai , 39, known throughout Japan as the original God of the Mountain for his spectacular runs on the Hakone Ekiden's uphill Fifth Stage in college, will retire from competition. His final race will be Sunday's National Cross Country Championships in Fukuoka. After retirement Imai will remain with Toyota Kyushu and become part of its coaching staff. At Juntendo University , Imai won the Fifth Stage at the Hakone Ekiden in new course records in 2005, 2006 and 2007, taking the top spot in both 2006 and 2007. When he did it during his final Hakone his senior year in 2007, the late Nippon TV announcer Ryo Kawamura shouted the now-legendary words, "Right now, right here, the god of the mountain has descended! His name is Masato Imai!" Imai has been known by that moniker ever since, and the title has become a part of Hakone lore. Since his time it has been given to two other runners w

Ehime Marathon's Local Economic Impact Estimated at $3.1 Million USD

A record-breaking 10,547 people ran the 61st edition of the Ehime Marathon on February 11th, generating a local economic impact of roughly ¥467,000,000 (~$3.1 million USD). The Iyogin Regional Economic Research Center (IRERC) estimated that the marathon generated ¥370,000,000 (~$2.5 million USD) is "direct impact" including organizers' operating expenses and runners' transportation and accommodation costs, with an additional "indirect impact" of ¥161,000,000 (~$1.0 million USD) on the local accommodation and restaurant industries. Factoring in overlap, the total economic benefit to the area was estimated to be ¥467,000,000 (~$3.1 million USD). This exceeded last year's estimated impact, the Ehime Marathon's first edition in 3 years, by ¥28,000,000 (~$190,000 USD). The IRERC cited an increase in the number of spectators this year after the lifting of coronavirus pandemic-era restrictions, and an increase in the cost of accommodations. source article:

Yamamoto 3000 m Gold at Asian Indoor Championships

The Asian Indoor Athletics Championships took place Feb. 17-19 in Tehran, Iran, women's events happening in morning sessions and men's in evening sessions without overlap. The small Japanese team of 14 took four gold medals, four silvers, and one bronze. Asuka Terada got things rolling for the small Japanese team with a silver in the women's 60 mH, running 8.18 to win her heat and then 8.21 in the final behind Indian gold medalist Jyothi Yarraji 's 8.12. China's Zhang Mingkun fouled on 4 of his 6 attempts in the men's, but his 5th attempt of 7.97 m was enough for gold. Japan's Yuto Toriumi and Daiki Oda took silver and bronze at 7.89 m and 7.76 m. Nanako Matsumoto won the women's 400 m final in 55.14 over Iranians Nazanin Fatemeh Eidan and Kazan Rostami , with Haruna Kuboyama 4th in 56.28 almost a second behind Rostami. Yuma Yamamoto had a dominant run for gold in the women's 3000 m, running 9:16.71 to win by almost 10 seconds over India'

Weekend College Results

Tokyo University 's Hiroaki Furukawa and Hakone Ekiden winner Aoyama Gakuin University 's Shota Shiode scored sub-2:20 wins at the Kumamoto Castle Marathon and Kochi Ryoma Marathon, and Hakone runner-up Komazawa University 's Ibuki Kaneko and Kyosuke Hanao had good runs over 30 km , Kaneko 2nd at the Ome 30 km in 1:34:15 and Hanao only 5th at the Kumanichi 30 km but faster in 1:33:14. But there were other big results for Japanese collegiate runners this weekend overseas and at home. At the FISU World University Cross Country Championships in Muscat, Oman, Haruka Ogawa of Rikkyo University was at the front of the pack the entire way through the women's 10 km, unable to hang with eventual gold medalist Maria Karabo Mailula of South Africa over the last 2 km loop and losing touch with Great Britain's Alice Goodall just before the end but hanging on for bronze in 34:22. Ogawa was the only Japanese woman to make the top 10, with Rio Einaga (Osaka Gakuin Univ.)

Weekend Road Race Roundup

Both of the big 30 km races this weekend had some of the fastest winning times in their histories, with the Kumanichi 30 km the faster. Kotaro Kondo (SGH) pushed the pace to grind the competition, splitting 15:02-14:56-14:37-14:31 until only Kyuma Yokota (Toyota Kyushu) was left. Things slowed from 20 to 25 km but Kondo still pulled away, putting over a minute on Yokota over the last 10 km and just missing the CR by 2 seconds in 1:28:54. Yokota was 2nd in 1:30:01, with nobody else clearing 1:32. Mao Kiyota (Suzuki) had an even bigger margin of victory in the women's race, wining in 1:44:39 by nearly 2 minutes. At the Ome 30 km and 10 km Road Race , Paris Olympics marathon team members Akira Akasaki (Kyudenko) and Mao Ichiyama (Shiseido) took the top spots in solo performances. With a strong tailwind in the uphill first half and headwind in the mostly downhill second half Akasaki went out incredibly hard, splitting 28:45 at 10 km, on track to break the NR by 1:45, and 58:35 at

Weekend Preview

It's the only weekend from late January through mid-March without a major Japanese marathon, but there's still a lot going on. Overseas, Shunsuke Yoshii (Chuo Univ.) and Yuma Yamamoto (Sekisui Kagaku) lead a National Team of 14 at the Asian Indoor Championships in Tehran, Iran. Another team of 8 is in Muscat, Oman for Sunday's World University Cross Country Championships , with H.S. 5000 m NR holder Hiroto Yoshioka (Juntendo Univ.) and Asahi Kuroda , a key player in Aoyama Gakuin University 's 2024 Hakone Ekiden win, at the front end of the men's team and 2023 National University Individual Championships 5000 m runner-up Tomo Muramatsu (Ritsumeikan Univ.) leading the women's team. Back home, the 4th edition of the National University Mixed-Gender Ekiden happens at noon Sunday in Osaka, with 20 collegiate teams of 3 women and 3 men each racing short stages of from 2 km to 5 km. Top-tier teams like Ritsumeikan University , Josai University and Toyo Universi