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2019 Tokyo Marathon Elite Field

Hot on the heels of the London Marathon field announcement, the Tokyo Marathon has put its 2019 elite field into the public sphere. With a new date a week later on March 3rd thanks to the impending Imperial succession Tokyo has at last put together a proper elite women's field at parity with the men's field, one including top-level Japanese women for the first time. Change is slow to come, but with this field it looks like it has arrived. 2:18:34 for 2nd in Berlin last year,

Ethiopian Ruti Aga leads 14 women with times 2:23 or better in the last 3 years. Half are Ethiopian, two Kenyan, two Bahraini and three Japanese, with two high-level first-timers, Kenya's Joan Chelimo Melly and Japan's Mao Ichiyama, tacked on. #2 through #4-ranked women Boru Feyse Tadese, Yebrgual Melese and Ababel Yeshaneh all ran 2:19 to 2:20 last year, making the chances of an Ethiopian sweep definitely greater than zero.

The structure of Japanese national team selection and marketing-related f…
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Takechi, Ozaki and Mohamed Scratch From Osaka International Women's Marathon

The organizers of the 38th Osaka International Women's Marathon have announced cancellations from Sunday's race. Mari Ozaki (Noritz) has withdrawn due to sciatic nerve pain, Shiho Takechi (Yamada Denki) with a stress fracture, and Maki Ashi (Kyudenko) and Rie Fujita (Kyocera) with Achilles tendon pain.

From overseas, Merima Mohamed (Bahrain) has also withdrawn for reasons unspecified, to be replaced by Abebech Afework (Ethiopia), runner-up at the 2016 Amsterdam Marathon in 2:24:27.

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translated and edited by Brett Larner

Hayakawa and Yamamoto Named New Coaching Staff of Toto Corporate Team

On Jan. 21 the Toto corporate women's long distance team announced that 2014 Asian Games women's marathon 4th-placer Eri Hayakawa, 37, will become assistant coach starting Feb. 1. Mitsuhiro Yamamoto, 55, who coached Hayakawa prior to her retirement in 2017, will take over as head coach the same day.

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translated by Brett Larner

Karemi and Matsuda Break Okukuma Course Record - Weekend Half Marathon Roundup

For the second year in a row Japan-based Kenyan Jeremiah Thuku Karemi (Toyota Kyushu) broke the course record at Kumamoto's Okukuma Half Marathon. Coached by 1992 Barcelona Olympics marathon silver medalist Koichi Morishita, Karemi took 27 seconds off his winning time last year to win by over a minute in 1:01:21. Joel Mwaura (Kurosaki Harima) was a distant 2nd in 1:02:40, with Karemi's teammate Yuki Oshikawa (Toyota Kyushu) taking the top Japanese spot at 3rd in 1:03:13. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) was 9th in 1:04:04 a week after running the Ibusuki Nanohana Marathon.

In the women's race, Anna Matsuda (Kyocera), coached by former men's half  marathon national record holder Atsushi Sato, took 26 seconds off the course record to win in 1:13:10. Not far off, Kotomi Tsubokura (Wacoal) was a clear 2nd in 1:03:27 with Maki Saito (Higo Ginko) improving on her 10th-place finish last year to take 3rd in 1:14:46.

Also Sunday, up in Tokyo the Akabane Half Marathon ce…

Tenmaya and Kamimura Gakuen Win KItakyushu Women's Ekiden

The 30th Kitakyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden took place Jan. 20 with a 32.7 km course divided into 5 stages for the open division and 6 for the high school division and a start and finish in front of Kitakyushu City Hall. Tenmaya took the top spot in the open division for the first time in 6 years in 1:46:32, while 2018 National High School Ekiden champion Kamimura Gakuen H.S. won the high school division in 1:47:41, its first win in 16 years.

Since the start of the year Tenmaya's star runner Rei Ohara has been suffering back pain and came to Kitakyushu undertrained as a result. That didn't stop her from running the fastest time on the anchor stage, covering the 11.4 km leg in 36:33. "Once I got started it was a lot easier to move than I'd expected," she said post-race. "Our first four runners ran really well, and thanks to them I was able to be the one to break the tape at the finish line."

A relieved Tenmaya head coach Yutaka Taketomi commente…

Fukushima Wins First-Ever National Men's Ekiden Title

video highlights via NHK

Two and a half weeks after delivering the standout performance of the 2019 Hakone Ekiden, Toyo University third-year Akira Aizawa did it again, just missing the stage record as he anchored the Fukushima team to its first-ever National Men's Ekiden title.

The season-ending national championship ekiden for Japanese men, the race features teams made up of the top junior high school, high school, university, club and pro runners from each of Japan's 47 prefectures, an entertaining format that often produces the national debuts of future stars from the next two generations alongside the best of the current one.

No team from the Tohoku region, Japan's northeastern area that was hit by the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster, had ever won the National title before today. Fukushima started well in 4th, but over the next two stages it dropped to 12th as 3rd man Hiroki Abe, the only Japanese collegiate man to break 28 minutes for 10000 m last year and one of t…

Mokgobu and Sonoda Return to Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon

After an exciting head-to-head last year that saw them race each other to sub-2:10 PBs, Desmond Mokgobu (South Africa) and Hayato Sonoda (Kurosaki Harima) return to the Feb. 3 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon. The pair face not only each other but recent sub-2:10 men Hicham Laqouahi (Morocco), Abdela Godana (Ethiopia), Hiroyuki Yamamoto (Konica Minolta), Daisuke Uekado (Japan/Otsuka Seiyaku), Justus Kiprotich (Kenya), Takuya Fukatsu (Asahi Kasei) Kohei Ogino (Japan/Fujitsu) and Yihunilign Adane (Ethiopia) and sub-62 half marathoners Keijiro Mogi (Asahi Kasei), Charles Ndirangu (JFE Steel) and Shuho Dairokuno (Asahi Kasei), setting up a better-than-average pack by Beppu-Oita standards.

For the Japanese men Beppu-Oita counts toward qualification for the MGC Race, Japan's 2020 Olympic Trials. Sonoda and Uekado have already made it along with fellow entrants Naoki Okamoto (Chugoku Denryoku) and Tomohiro Tanigawa (Konica Minolta), but for Ogino and others it will be just about their last …

National Sports Agency Issues Notice Urging Restriction of Iron Injections

On Jan. 11 the Japan Sports Agency sent out a notice to prefectural boards of education and sports organizations urging them to prevent unnecessary iron injections in student athletes. Late last year the issue of high school ekiden athletes being given injections of iron despite not suffering from anemia came to light.

According to the Sports Agency's bulletin, intravenous injection of iron can lead to excessive levels of iron in the body, which in turn can negatively impact internal organs such as the liver, heart and pancreas as well as lowering the body's ability to produce hemoglobin. Iron injections should only be employed in cases where the anemia is critical or where oral administration of iron is not appropriate.

The notice also pointed out that doctors should not make the decision to administer iron injections simply because a coach or athlete complains that their performance level is declining, and that appropriate treatment should be selected based on proper examin…