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Showing posts from August, 2009

Njenga and Shimahara Top Hokkaido (updated)

by Brett Larner

Two veterans made comebacks to win the 2009 Hokkaido Marathon in its first edition on a new course. In the men's race Kenyan Daniel Njenga (Team Yakult) endured a relatively slow first 5k of 15:46, typical of hot, summery Hokkaido, before cutting loose at 12 km with a surge at world record pace. From 12 km to 18 km Njenga ran under 3:00 / km pace, clocking as fast as 2:50 / km to kill off all rivals. He hit halfway in 1:04:11 with a chase pack of three including fellow Kenyan Laban Kagika (Team JFE Steel), Seiji Kobayashi (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) and debutant Takayuki Tagami (Team Kyudenko) around 25 seconds behind.

A minute ahead of the Hokkaido Marathon record, Njenga began to slip in the heat and was down to 3:10 / km pace by 25 km. He continued to fade, but the chasers were likewise suffering and could make no headway. Approaching 40 km, first-timer Ryo Yamamoto (Team Sagawa Express) cruised past into second as Njenga dropped to 3:20 / km. Yamamoto almost …

Watch the Hokkaido Marathon Online

by Brett Larner

The 2009 Hokkaido Marathon takes place Sunday, Aug. 30. Typically run under hot summer conditions, the Hokkaido Marathon isn't known as a speed race but in most years attacts a top domestic field and several good overseas runners.

The highlight of this year's race, the first edition on a new course, will be the women's event. Defending champion Yukari Sahaku (Team Aruze) will be back straight from her disappointing run in the 10000 m at the Berlin World Championships. Her strongest competition and arguably the race favorite is her teammate Mizuho Nasukawa (Team Aruze), the 2009 Tokyo Marathon winner. Heat specialist Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC), who ran her PB of 2:26:14 in Hokkaido four years ago, ran her best half marathon in several years at last month's Sapporo International Half Marathon and may also be a threat. Also conceivably in contention is Naoko Sakamoto (Team Tenmaya), whose six-year old PB of 2:21:51 marks her as the fastest in the fiel…

Evaluating the Japanese Performance in Berlin

by Brett Larner

By most criteria the Japanese federation's stated goals in the 2009 Berlin World Championships were modest and clear-cut: one medal, six top-eight finishes and a 25% season best performance rate among the team as a whole, with the medal and two of the top-eight performances coming from the team's strongest component, the marathon squads. Despite no-shows and disappointment from many of the biggest Japanese stars including hammer thrower Koji Murofushi, 400 m runner Yuzo Kanemaru and marathoners Yoko Shibui and Yukiko Akaba the team came just within achieving all of Rikuren's aims. Below is a quick evaluation of the Japanese performances relative to the stated goals.

Marathon
Goal: one medal, two top-eight finishes
Actual: one medal, two top-eight finishes
With three potential medalists in its initial lineup the women's marathon squad was by far the strongest on the Japanese team. Yoko Shibui's withdrawal with a stress fracture and Yukiko Akaba's s…

JRN Contest Results

With the conclusion of the 2009 World Championships marathons it's time to announce the two divisional runners-up and the grand prize winner in our marathon prediction contest.

In the men's marathon division, celebrity JRN reader A. Webb beat the next entrant by a margin of nearly 100 points to take the prize. Webb successfully predicted top man Atsushi Sato's 6th place finish and was off by only 42 seconds with a time prediction of 2:11:23. More impressively Webb called Irifune's 2:14:54 finishing time, the only entrant to exactly nail one of the finishing times, and was off by only 5 spots with an estimated 9th place finish.

In the women's marathon division, enigmatic Japanese women's marathoning superfan Dennis, a/k/a Kevin, showed that he/she is not just talking when he/she is talking Japanese women's marathoning. Dennis/Kevin outwitted his/her nearest rival thanks to crafty time calls for Fujinaga, Kano and Ozaki, which he/she guessed within as close as …

Murakami a Surprise Bronze - Berlin World Championships - Day Nine

by Brett Larner

Following Yoshimi Ozaki's silver medal in the women's marathon, little-known Yukifumi Murakami earned Japan its second medal of this year's World Championships with a bronze in the men's javelin. Coming into the qualification round with a PB of 81.71, only the eighth-best in the field, Murakami shot to attention when he threw 83.10 on his second attempt, earning him the number two ranking going into the final and making him the first Japanese athlete in decades to make a javelin final.

With the national eye abruptly turned toward him, Murakami took the pressure in stride and again broke his pre-Championships PB with a throw of 82.97 to edge out Latvia's Vadims Vasilevskis for the bronze. Apart from the great hammer thrower Koji Murofushi, Murakami's medal was Japan's first-ever field medal. With this unexpected success he will return to Japan a star alongside Ozaki.

2009 Berlin World Championships - Top Results
Men's Javelin
1. Andreas Thorki…

Ozaki Silver! World Championships Women's Marathon

by Brett Larner

Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei) scored the silver medal in the women's marathon at the 2009 World Championships in a thrilling three-way battle against eventual winner Xue Bai (China) and bronze medalist Aselefech Mergia (Ethiopia), Japan's first silver medal at the World Championships since Mizuki Noguchi finished second to Catherine Ndereba in the 2003 Paris World Championships.

Holding the fastest qualifying time on the Japanese team, 2:23:30 at last year's Tokyo International Women's Marathon, Ozaki was a question mark coming into Worlds after a spring of injury and an absence from media coverage, but her powerful, efficient form was clearly operating at 100% right from the start. When Russian Nailiya Yulamanova attacked after a moderately-paced first 30 km Ozaki was one of only three athletes to follow. Men's steeplechase national record holder Yoshitaka Iwamizu came to the rescue when Ozaki missed her special drink shortly afterwards. In the…

Men's Marathon in Review

by Brett Larner

On many levels this year's World Championships men's marathon was a test for the Japanese marathon world. In the year since the system's breakdown at the Beijing Olympics, a year in which the world's top-level marathons have become fast-starting toughest man competitions regardless of conditions, the slow-moving bureaucracy at the top of the Japanese system and the athletes below have struggled with questions of their own competitiveness and even relevance and what, if anything, can be done to bring Japanese men back from the edge.

In this light the Japanese men's results in Berlin were a mixed grade - passing marks but maybe just so. After winning nothing but gold and silver in the World Cup team competition at the last six World Championships Japan earned only bronze this time, and that just by the barest of margins over Portugal. But it was still a medal against Ethiopia and arguably Kenya's strongest-ever World Championships teams. Top man Ats…

Always in Threes - Nakamura on World Championships Day Eight

by Brett Larner

2009 women's 5000 m national champion Yurika Nakamura may not be as talented as the top Kenyans and Ethiopians or even some of her countrywomen, but her performance in the 5000 m final at the 2009 World Championships marks her as the star of the Japanese team with only the medal hopefuls in the women's marathon and men's javelin left to outshine her efforts. In the 10000 m and the 5000 m heats Nakamura took the early lead to keep the races from going out too slowly, ran negative splits, and was rewarded with credible PBs. In the 5000 m final it was the same story. At 1000 m she was in the lead in 3:06.02. When the real racing began she was left behind, ultimately finishing 12th of 15, but she improved her PB from the heats by 8 seconds as she clocked a very decent 15:13.01. Three races in eight days, three PBs. With her stated goal for this year being to improve her track speed before taking another shot at the marathon Nakamura looks well on the way to some…

Akaba Checks in from Berlin

Click here to enter JRN's World Championships marathon prediction contest for a chance to win a 2009 Japanese national team singlet.

translated by Brett Larner

Berlin World Championships women's marathon medal favorite Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) and her husband and coach Shuhei updated their blog with some reports from Berlin ahead of tomorrow's zero day. Below are some highlights. Click here for a translation of Akaba discussing her Berlin training and preparations, her views on doping, and the connection between her family life and success in running.

Aug. 19 - In Berlin
Sorry we couldn't update the blog one more time before we left. We got to Berlin the evening of the 17th. The flight was really, really long, but I spent the whole time watching movies. Yesterday we went out to tour the marathon course, a 10 km loop that we run four times. There's basically no up-down, in fact it's almost perfectly flat, but there are a lot of curves, the road is very narrow, an…

JRN Contest Results - Marathon Predictions

Entries are now closed for JRN's World Championships marathon prediction contest. Thank you to everyone who entered worldwide. Below is a summary of entries; click the chart for a larger version. The red section shows the predicted finishing place and time of each Japanese athlete based on the average of all valid entries received. The next two columns show the highest and lowest individual finishing place predictions, and the final two columns the best and worst individual finishing time predictions.

Berlin World Championships - Day Seven

Click here to enter JRN's World Championships marathon prediction contest for a chance to win a 2009 Japanese national team singlet.

by Brett Larner

In the absence of distance running events, men's javelin thrower Yukifumi Murakami turned in the best Japanese performance of the day at the Berlin World Championships. Murakami threw a PB of 83.10 to win his qualification group and was ranked second overall after the completion of the round. A javelin medal in the final would be completely unexpected but more than welcome to the Japanese national team, which with the exception of women's 5000 m and 10000 m runner Yurika Nakamura has thus far underperformed.

The day's other strong Japanese performance came unsurprisingly in the men's 4x100 m relay, in which Japan won a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics. With only two members of the Beijing team still active, this year's squad featured new blood Masashi Eriguchi and Kenji Fujimitsu teaming up with medalists Naoki Ts…

Berlin World Championships - Day Six

Click here to enter JRN's World Championships marathon prediction contest for a chance to win a 2009 Japanese national team singlet.

by Brett Larner

Double 1500 m and 5000 m national champion Yuichiro Ueno ran according to his reputation today in the men's 5000 m heats at the 2009 World Championships. With one of the slowest PBs in the field, 13:21.49, Ueno took a cue from women's 5000 m champion Yurika Nakamura and went out the way he needed to in order to stand a chance of making the final - bang on a steady 2:40 pace. In Nakamura's case the field responded and went with her, but for Ueno he was left alone as the field relaxed and trailed a few seconds behind. On the strength of his recent performances Ueno should easily have been able to sustain the pace, but after only 1 km he abruptly slowed and was helpless as the field, which maintained its pace of around 2:43/km, breezed past. Virtually flailing, Ueno finished dead last in 14:30.76 versus winner Kenenisa Bekele&#…

Yoko Shibui Withdraws From World Championships Marathon With Likely Stress Fracture

http://mainichi.jp/enta/sports/general/track/news/20090820k0000e050009000c.html
http://mainichi.jp/enta/sports/news/20090821k0000m050127000c.html?link_id=REH04

translated by Mika Tokairin and Brett Larner

Click here to enter JRN's World Championships marathon prediction contest for a chance to win a 2009 Japanese national team singlet.

After initial reports on Aug. 19, Rikuren officially confirmed on Aug. 20 that marathoner Yoko Shibui (30, Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) is withdrawing from the Aug. 23 World Championships women's marathon in Berlin, Germany. Shibui began experiencing discomfort in the upper right side of her right foot on Aug. 14. After arriving in Berlin, the discomfort developed into pain bad enough that Shibui consulted a doctor on Aug. 18. The diagnosis was a likely stress fracture of the 4th metatarsal.

Since alternate Tomo Morimoto (Team Tenmaya) is also injured and unable to run, Japan will field a team of only four runners: Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren), Yo…

Atsushi Sato on the Year From Beijing to Berlin

http://www.energia-ssc.org/rikujou/2009/sato_interview.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner and Mika Tokairin

Click here to enter JRN's World Championships marathon prediction contest for a chance to win a 2009 Japanese national team singlet.

Atsushi Sato, 30, is Japan's best current marathoner with a PB of 2:07:13 from his 3rd place finish in the 2007 Fukuoka International Marathon where he raced Samuel Wanjiru and Deriba Merga. After melting down from stress a short time before the Beijing Olympics he finished last in the Olympic marathon. Since then he has been in a process of rebuilding himself physically and, more importantly, mentally. His sponsor company Chugoku Denryoku recently featured the following interview about his leadup to Saturday's Berlin World Championships marathon on its website.

Atsushi Sato ran the London Marathon as a preparation run for the August 22nd Berlin World Championships men's marathon, sealing his place on the national team with a 2:…

Yoshimi Ozaki Looking for Marathon Gold With Secret Weapon: Honey of the Giant Killer Hornet

Click here to enter JRN's World Championships marathon prediction contest for a chance to win a 2009 Japanese national team singlet.

translated and edited by Brett Larner
source articles below

Marathoner Yoshimi Ozaki (28, Team Daiichi Seimei) will employ a secret weapon in this weekend's World Championships women's marathon in Berlin: the honey of the giant killer hornet suzumebachi. The honey, which Ozaki received from one of her trainers, has been produced by the Fujiwara bee farm in Iwate Prefecture for over 108 years. 500 g costs around $100. In addition to providing energy, the honey reduces the sensation of muscle fatigue during strenuous exercise. "It tastes very rich and is really nutritious," said Ozaki. "I'll be using it to give my body back its energy in the second half of the race. It was pretty effective in training." Ozaki will dissolve the honey into her sports drink and water bottles in hopes that it will convey the power of the suzume…

Nakamura Rolls On - Berlin World Championships Day Five

Click here to enter JRN's World Championships marathon prediction contest for a chance to win a 2009 Japanese national team singlet.

by Brett Larner

Just days after setting a sizeable PB in the women's 10000 m to become the all-time #4 Japanese woman over the distance, 2009 national champion Yurika Nakamura came out tough again in the first heat of the women's 5000 m. Nakamura led for the first two kilometers at a relatively modest 15:30 pace before the big guns went to work. She managed to trail along in the lead pack and, with little hope of competing in the final kick, pushed back to the front in the final kilometer for a long surge. Outkicked over the last lap, Nakamura nevertheless rolled on to a negative split 6th place finish, clocking a PB of 15:21.01 and succeeding in advancing to the final on time despite having the slowest PB in the field coming into the race, development program runners aside. Her achievements at this year's World Championships mark Nakamura …

Three Days Left to Enter JRN's World Championships Marathon Prediction Contest

There are three days left to enter Japan Running News' World Championships marathon prediction contest with a grand prize of a 2009 Japanese national team singlet. It's easy to enter: just predict the finishing place and time of the five men and five women on the Japanese marathon squads. Click here for more information and to make your entry. Entries close at 4:00 p.m. on Aug. 22. The next two days will feature primarily articles about the members of the Japanese marathon teams.

World Championships Day Four

Click here to enter JRN's World Championships marathon prediction contest for a chance to win a 2009 Japanese national team singlet.

by Brett Larner

Barring a repeat of the Beijing Olympics marathons, 2009 national champion Yuzo Kanemaru's performance in the men's 400 m will be the biggest disappointment of this year's World Championships for Japanese fans. A legitimate contender for the final, despite setting a PB of 45.16 in May and being reliably under 46 seconds all season Kanemaru, who sustained a minor injury to his left thigh on the final day of training for Berlin, failed to make it out of the first round heats after delivering only a 46.83. Hideyuki Hirose actually ran faster in his heat, clocking 46.80, but likewise failed to advance.

The men's 200 m squad fared better, with Beijing Olympics 4x100 m relay bronze medalist Shinji Takahira and the young Kenji Fujimitsu leaving teammate Hitoshi Saito behind to advance to the quarterfinal. However, both Takahira …

Berlin World Championships - Day Three

Click here to enter JRN's World Championships marathon prediction contest for a chance to win a 2009 Japanese national team singlet.

by Brett Larner

2009 men's 10000 m national champion Yuki Iwai ran in the 10000 m on the third day of the 2009 World Championships in Berlin. Having experienced problems with his right Achilles tendon since winning the national title in June, Iwai was visibly wincing during his warmup and while stretching on the starting line and he fared accordingly in the race. In last place in the field of 30 after only a lap, Iwai soon lost contact with the group and was overtaken by the leaders twice in the course of the race which saw winner Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia set a new World Championships record of 26:46.31, all three medalists break 27 minutes, and the top 14 set season or lifetime bests.

In light of Rikuren's questionable decision to omit 27:38 runner Yuki Sato from the team Iwai was the sole Japanese runner, and unlike the five athletes who dr…

New York City Half Marathon - Results

Click here for complete results from the Aug. 16 New York City Half Marathon.

2009 New York City Half Marathon - Top Finishers
Men
1. Tadesse Tola (Ethiopia) - 1:00:50
2. Ridouane Harroufi (Morocco) - 1:02:32
3. Ryan Hall (U.S.A.) - 1:02:35
4. Abdi Abdirahman (U.S.A.) - 1:02:50
5. Henrick Ramaala (South Africa) - 1:02:52
6. Abderrahime Bouramdane (Morocco) - 1:04:08
7. Stephen Chemlany (Kenya) - 1:04:10
8. Ketema Nigusse (Ethiopia) - 1:04:13
9. Worku Beyi (Ethiopia) - 1:04:26
10. Hosea Rotich (Kenya) - 1:04:59
-----
11. Hiroshi Yamada (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:05:06
19. Shuichi Fujii (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 1:08:36

Women
1. Paula Radcliffe (U.K.) - 1:08:53
2. Mamitu Daska (Ethiopia) - 1:11:04
3. Catherine Ndereba (Kenya) - 1:12:22
4. Nadia Ejjafini (Bahamas) - 1:12:47
5. Buzunesh Deba (Ethiopia) - 1:13:17
6. Ilsa Paulson (U.S.A.) - 1:13:17
7. Deena Kastor (U.S.A.) - 1:13:33
8. Aniko Kalovics (Hungary) - 1:14:37
9. Lindsey Scherf (U.S.A.) - 1:14:56
10. Sheri Piers (U.S.A.) - 1:16:10
-----
12. Rie Matsumoto (Team…

Berlin World Championships - Day Two

Click here to enter JRN's World Championships marathon prediction contest for a chance to win a 2009 Japanese national team singlet.

by Brett Larner

Japan made little impact on the second day of competition at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin as its sprinters came up flat. Click event in summaries below for complete results.

-Beijing Olympics men's 4x100m relay bronze medalist Naoki Tsukahara had vowed to become the first Japanese sprinter to break 10.0 seconds in the open men's 100 m and to make the final at the World Championships. Despite making the semi final comfortably, Tsukahara had an off run as he finished last in his semi final heat in only 10.25.

-Women's 100 m national record holder Chisato Fukushima became the first Japanese woman to advance to the quarter final in a world-level championships 100 m but just missed out on making the semi final by 0.03 seconds. 2009 national champion Momoko Takahashi did not advance past the first round of heats.

-Men's…

Sahaku in Wonderland

Immediately after finishing last by one minute in the women's 10000 m to a roaring ovation at the Berlin World Championships, the 142 cm-tall Yukari Sahaku, 20, was picked up by mascot Berlino and given a huge, twirling hug like the junior high school-aged girl she resembles.



The delighted Sahaku enjoyed every moment, then made her way through a short interview in English during which Berlino again picked her up and held her at the interviewer's level. Click the photos for full-sized images.

Nakamura the Star of the Japanese Team on Berlin Day One

Click here to enter JRN's World Championships marathon prediction contest for a chance to win a 2009 Japanese national team singlet.

by Brett Larner

Although she only made the Japanese 10000 m squad by default after winning the 5000 m at June's National Championships, Beijing Olympics marathoner Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya) turned in the run of her life on the first day of the 2009 World Championships in the women's 10000 m. Nakamura ran a PB of 31:14.39 to finish 7th, making her the all-time 4th-fastest Japanese woman over the distance and Japan's best World Championships 10000 m finish in ten years. Nakamura beat all-time #2 Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) who was 9th in 31:23.49, a SB in a season plagued by plantar fasciitis and other injury woes. The diminuitive Yukari Sahaku (Team Aruze), who unexpectedly beat both Nakamura and Fukushi at Nationals to make the Berlin team, finished last by a minute in 33:41.17.

After finishing 13th in last summer's Beijing Olympic…

Yukiko Akaba Talks About Her Final Training for World Championships Marathon

translated and edited by Mika Tokairin and Brett Larner

Click here to enter JRN's World Championships marathon prediction contest for a chance to win a 2009 Japanese national team singlet.

World Championships marathoner Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) writes an entertaining blog together with her husband and coach Shuhei mostly talking about the food she eats as part of her training and about her daughter Yuna. In recent weeks she has written about some of her final training for next week's marathon where she is a potential medal winner. Below are highlights of some of her recent entries. Click photos for full-sized versions.

July 14 - Running in Thick Fog!!
There are only a few days left at the Sugadaira high altitude training camp. Since it's the rainy season we've had lots of rain but I went through all the training as planned. Almost as bad as the rain is Sugadaira's one of a kind fog. When I had a key workout the other day the fog was really thick.

This is a picture a…

Fukushi and Nakamura Leave for Berlin

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/2009/news/f-sp-tp0-20090812-530260.html

translated by Brett Larner

Click here to enter JRN's World Championships marathon prediction contest for a chance to win a 2009 Japanese national team singlet.

2009 World Championships 5000 m and 10000 m runner Yurika Nakamura (23, Team Tenmaya) and 10000 m runner Kayoko Fukushi (27, Team Wacoal) left for Germany on Aug. 12 ahead of this year's games, which begin Aug. 15. For Nakamura, who won the 5000 m at June's National Championships, it is her first time at the World Championships. "The difference between Japan and the rest of the world is bigger on the track than in the marathon," said Nakamura. "I don't know how far I can go, but just making the team and then running doesn't mean anything." Fukushi, who has been training in Hokkaido and Hiroshima, added with a laugh, "I feel good. I'm going to enjoy myself when I race."

World Championships Women's Marathon Preview

by Brett Larner

Click here to enter JRN's World Championships marathon prediction contest for a chance to win a 2009 Japanese national team singlet.

Japanese women have dominated the World Championships marathon like no one else. Since 1991 they have won two gold, four silver and three bronze medals, most notably taking 2nd through 4th in Paris in 2003. There is an excellent chance of one or more Japanese women going home from Berlin with a souvenir, particularly with several of their major competitors out of the race. If, that is, their own big names are in one piece. Below is a quick guide to the members of the Japanese team in the Aug. 23 women's marathon, the highs and lows of their seasons, and some predictions. Athletes are listed in order of estimated chance of success. Click the names for photos and more detailed profiles.

Yukiko Akaba - SB/PB: 2:25:40 (Osaka '09 - debut)
Akaba is the best Japanese hope for a medal. Following a 2008 which saw her make the all-time Japa…