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

Takushoku Teammates Lemeteki and Akasaki Sub-62 For 1-2 at Ageo City Half Marathon

Takushoku University teammates Joseph Razini Lemeteki and Akira Akasaki dominated the 2019 Ageo City Half Marathon, alternating the lead throughout almost the entire race to go 1-2 in school record times.

With invitations to the 2019 United Airlines NYC Half up for grabs to the top two Japanese collegiate finishers in the unofficial intramural tryout for Japan's most prestigious race, the 2020 Hakone Ekiden, things went out very conservatively by Ageo standards at just 3:00/km for the first 2 km. Not content with that, Akasaki, 3rd on his stage at both the Izumo Ekiden in October and the National University Ekiden earlier this month, picked up the race and carried it until 15 km. From 3 km to 8 km Akasaki split 14:33, pace for 1:01:24, condensing the pack behind him down to eight.


After the 10 km turnaround Akasaki's teammate Lemeteki made a bold move to gain contact with the lead group, and when he did it shaved things down to seven serious contenders. The front group stayed …

Japanese Amateur Yamaguchi and Ugandan Kusuro Break Kobe Course Records

Amateur Japanese club runner Haruka Yamaguchi (AC Kita) and Ugandan Geoffrey Kusuro had dominant wins at the 9th running of the Kobe Marathon Sunday, both running PBs and winning by almost 4 minutes in course record time.

Yamaguchi, who ran a PB 2:33:06 in Sydney in September and dropped a surprise 31:58 at last weekend's East Japan Women's Ekiden, slipped away early, never challenged by the pack of invited African elites or by friend and rival club runner Shiho Kaneshige (GRlab Kanto). Going through halfway faster than her half marathon PB in 1:13:08. She slowed slightly in the second half, especially on the large bridge out to the island finish line, but her win was never in doubt as she broke the tape in 2:27:39. Previously, the fastest pure amateur Japanese women's marathon performance was Chihiro Tanaka's 2:29:30 in Nagoya in 2002. Breaking that by almost two minutes, Yamaguchi staked her claim as Japan's best-ever amateur.


2nd through 5th were close together…

800 m High School National Record Holder Clay to Attend Texas A&M

2019 men's 800 m national champion and Soyo H.S. 3rd-year Aaron Tatsunami Clay will enroll in America's Texas A&M University next September, it was learned on Nov. 14. Until then he plans to remain based at Soyo in preparation to go for the win at next year's National Championships and to clear the 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualifying standard.

The prestigious Texas A&M is where Donovan Brazier (U.S.A.), winner of the gold medal in the men's 800 m at this fall's Doha World Championships, is enrolled. Soyo H.S. head coach Mitsuru Zeniya, 53, who accompanied Clay on a visit to see the university, was supportive of Clay's decision and goals, saying, "He just barely missed the World Championships qualifying standard. If he trains with athletes who are stronger than him he'll grow more."

Last year at the October Niigata Autumn Time Trials meet Clay set a national high school record of 1:47.51 for 800 m. At the National Championships in June this yea…