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Last Run for Team Toshiba LSI: The Betsudai Marathon

translated by Brett Larner

At the 57th Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon [Betsudai] on Feb. 3, runners from Oita Prefecture will compete for the Ikenaka Cup, a trophy awarded each year to the top Oita finisher. Among the competitors will be 6 members of Oita-based Toshiba LSI's jitsugyodan team. For these 6 runners it will be their last run as teammates; Toshiba LSI has withdrawn its financial support and the team will be disbanded in March.

In this last run, Team Toshiba LSI entrants include Teppei Tsunesada, Kazuhiko Hirata, Keisuke Kihara, Tokio Miyazaki, Takanori Tagami and Masahiro Tsukamoto. "Once the team is disbanded these guys won't be able to keep practicing the way they have been, so in this last full marathon I want one of them to bring home the Ikenaga Cup," said the team's coach Kazuyuki Sato.

Tsunesada, Hirata and Miyazaki are in good shape and aiming to break 2:20. "The first 30 km will be critically important. How far can they go after that point? That is the question," commented Sato. Tsunesado gave his views, saying, "I want to run using everything I've learned over the years from my coaches and from more experienced runners." Hirata added, "This year is the last for us, so I want the Ikenaga Cup," with Miyazaki agreeing, "Betsudai will be the last time to run for any of us to run in this uniform. I want to do my best."

The winner of the 47th Beppu-Oita marathon, Akira Shimizu, is also scheduled to run but is injured and will probably not start. Other contenders for the Ikenaga Cup include Takayuki Tabe (Takeda High School, Teikkyo University), who finished 5th on the anchor leg of the Hakone Ekiden. Hiroshi Fujiwara (Bungo Ono Rikkyo) and Nihon Bunri University students are also entered.

In other Betsudai news, the 7 invited foreign athletes running Betsudai toured the race's course on Jan. 31. The group viewed the course by bus from the start at the Oita civic track, getting off at the 7 km point to run a section.

Australian Scott Wescott is making his 2nd appearance in Betsudai after running a PB here in 2005. "Right now it's summer in Australia. The Japanese winter is the perfect conditions for a marathon," Wescott told press. First-time Betsudai runner Ruggero Pertile of Italy added, "It looks like a fast course, but the wind is a concern so I'll have to run carefully. I'd like to break 2:10."

The Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon takes place Feb. 3. The 42.195 km course begins at the Oita civic track, runs to central Beppu, and returns to the Oita civic track.


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