Skip to main content

Is Naoko Running Nagoya for Real!? Takahashi Training in Tokunoshima

http://www.chunichi.co.jp/chuspo/article/sports/news/CK2009022002000136.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Naoko Takahashi stands between the two monuments in her honor on Tokunoshima island.

Sydney Olympics women's marathon gold medalist and former world record holder Naoko Takahashi (36, Phiten), who retired from professional running last fall, began training on the island of Tokunoshima in Kagoshima Prefecture on Feb. 19 for what she has up until now called a 'thank-you run' at the Mar. 8 Nagoya International Women's Marathon. Q-chan has said her goal for her 'final run' is simply, "to break 3 hours." However, she recently commented, "I'm really afraid that when the starting gun goes off I might get excited and try to run up front [in the lead pack] instead of going out as planned," suggesting the possibility that Nagoya might become a 'real run.' Takahashi was quick to add, "I'm going to try to hold back as much as possible."

Tokunoshima was where Takahashi trained for many of her greatest performances, including her national record win in her second marathon, her gold medal run in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and her two Nagoya victories. Returning to a place with so many positive associations, Takahashi has been quick to recover much of her fitness. She originally planned to just do whatever training she could in the short periods between the jobs which have come her way in her new capacity as a television personality, but after watching last November's Tokyo International Women's Marathon from the outside as an announcer her thoughts changed. "I understood again that an athlete gives everything they have, and that they must understand their own strength. I don't want to run 'adequately' or 'easily.' I want to do it with all my ability."

This is Takahashi's third island training camp since her strength-draining appearances during the New Year season. For today's public training she wore a warmup suit, but as her laps of the course piled up Takahashi ran faster and faster. In the afternoon she wore t-shirt and shorts for a session of speedwork. "[The 30 reporters] watching were expecting me to just be jogging, so they were surprised to see me dress that way and I really felt the tension." Even accustomed as she is to being in front of the cameras, the excitement got into this great runner's blood.

As part of her stay on Tokunoshima, Takahashi attending the unveiling of a momument commemorating her eleven marathons in front of the Sunset Resort hotel. The new monument stands next to one already raised to mark the start point of 'Naoko Road,' the course she used in training for her marathon gold medal in Sydney. "I am deeply grateful that my achievements have been permanently recorded here and want to help other athletes use Tokunoshima as a springboard to competing around the world." Currently staying at the Sunset Resort as they prepare for Nagoya are Hitomi Niiya (20, Team Toyota Jidoshokki) and Chika Horie (28, Team Aruze).

At the end of March Takahashi will take up a full-time position as a sportscaster. Of Nagoya she says, "My only goal is to run the 42 km as hard as I can together with everyone else and showing my thanks to everyone watching along the course. There probably isn't much chance I can follow the lead pack." With her hopes expanding the Takahashi of today may still show us something special.

Translator's note: The Nagoya International Women's Marathon has not yet released its elite field, but below is a listing of athletes other than Takahashi who have declared their intent to run in this year's World Championships selection race edition. Indicated times are the runner's best within the past two years.

2009 Nagoya International Women's Marathon - Preliminary Elite Field
Chika Horie (Team Aruze) - 2:27:16 (5th, Nagoya '08)
Takami Ominami (Team Toyota Shatai) - 2:29:24 (3rd, Nagoya '07)
Haruko Okamoto (Team Noritz) - 2:30:09 (6th, Nagoya '07)
Hitomi Niiya (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 2:31:01 (1st, Tokyo '07)
Yukiko Matsubara (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:34:05 (18th, Osaka '08)
Kei Terada (Team Tenmaya) - debut - 1:10:53 (half mar.)

Comments

dennis said…
The nagoya field is really weak. Even the winner probably won't get selected. The door is open for Tahakashi to win. Maybe she can make a comeback.
dennis said…
And I also wish Tahakashi would run Berlin. In 2005 and 2006 is a waste of year for her running in Tokyo. She should've run Berlin instead. Berlin is a special city for her. She set the WR there and yet she won't returned!!!
Anonymous said…
Realmente me encantaria que Takahashi , corriera fuerte y ganara en Nagoya , el campo es debil , y nadie sabe realmente en que forma ella se encuentra, seria maravilloso que pudiera ganar.
mis mejores deseos para ella.
Marcos

Most-Read This Week

Men's Marathon Rout - JAAF Executives Announce Resignation

http://www.nikkansports.com/olympic/rio2016/athletics/news/1698472.html

translated by Brett Larner

In the Rio de Janeiro Olympics men's marathon on Aug. 21, Satoru Sasaki (30) was the top Japanese man at 16th in 2:13:57.  Suehiro Ishikawa (36) was 36th, with Hisanori Kitajima (31) placing 94th.

At the end of athletics competition Japan's total was two medals and two top eight finishes, a total exceeding the JAAF's target one medal but falling short of its goal of five top eight finishes.  JAAF strengthening committee chairman Kazunori Asaba (55) announced that he intends to resign his position following the Rio Olympics.  Strengthening committee vice-chairman Katsumi Sakai (56) and director of men's marathoning Takeshi Soh (63) are also expected to join the exodus of resignations.  Japanese athletics will be forced to make a fresh start before the Tokyo Olympics.

Yuta Shitara Breaks Japanese Men's Half Marathon National Record in Berlin Marathon Tuneup at Usti nad Labem Half

A week after his 28:55 at the Birell Prague Grand Prix 10 km and just eight days out from the Berlin Marathon, Yuta Shitara (Honda) made the great leap forward, taking 8 seconds off Atsushi Sato's 2007 half marathon Japanese national record, finishing 8th at the Czech Republic's Usti nad Labem Half Marathon.

Shitara is probably most well-known outside Japan for going through halfway under 62 minutes during his marathon debut at this year's Tokyo Marathon and still ending up with a 2:09:27, but he's been turning heads in Japan since his second year at Toyo University when he broke a stage record at the 2012 Hakone Ekiden and outkicked the U.S.A.'s Dathan Ritzenhein to finish in 1:01:48 at the NYC Half two months later, until this year the fastest time ever by a Japanese man on U.S soil.

Three weeks before Tokyo this year he ran a 1:01:19 PB at the Marugame Half. Many people would call that a solid tuneup three weeks out from a serious marathon, but eight days? In P…

Kawauchi Leaves for Oslo After Trying 100 m Time Trial

The civil servant runner admits to being shocked. 2017 London World Championships marathoner and men's captain Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) left from Tokyo's Narita Airport for Norway the evening of Sept. 13 to run the Sept. 16 BMW Oslo Marathon.

On Sept. 9 at the National University Track and Field Championships, Yoshihide Kiryu (Toyo Univ.) became the first Japanese man to break 10 seconds in the 100 m when he set a new national record of 9.98. The news has been the talk of the nation ever since. Kawauchi said, "It's pretty amazing. It took up the front page of every newspaper." What can he run for 100 m? "My PB is 13.1, but right now, 13.9," he admitted.

Kawauchi ran that time, "in the morning the day before yesterday," he said. "I did two time trials. I even wore spikes. I ran them for real and only did 13.9. To be honest, it was pretty shocking." Although short sprints are well outside his area of expertise it seemed…