What was the Japanese men's performance of the year?

What was the Japanese men's performance of the year?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Weekend Track Results

Results: http://yabuinu2.blog18.fc2.com/

by Brett Larner

Like everywhere track season is over in Japan, but with the major championship ekidens approaching over the next month for high schoolers, university runners and pros many top athletes spent this rare fall weekend without a major road race at one of the many track time trials held across the country.

At the Hachioji Long Distance Time Trials in Tokyo's western suburbs, recently-graduated Masato Kihara (Team Kanebo) got back in the ring with a 28:09.38 to finish first in the 10000 m. Kihara joined Kanebo in April but was a DNS in every race he entered throughout the spring and summer. His pro debut came earlier this month with a so-so run at the East Japan Jitsugyodan Ekiden Championships, but with this 10000 m, just 3 seconds off his university-era PB, Kihara showed that he is back in form and ready to make the jump to pro running. In finishing 1st Kihara won by a margin of over 45 seconds and beat the likes of 5000 m and 30 km national record holder Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica-Minolta), 3000 m SC national record holder Yoshitaka Iwamizu (Team Fujitsu) and Berlin World Championships marathoner Arata Fujiwara (Team JR Higashi Nihon).

Across town at Tokyo's National Stadium, a range of Hakone Ekiden hopefuls from the Kanto region ran in the 11 heats of 10000 m at the aptly-named Kanto Regional University 10000 m Time Trials. Kanagawa University's Takuji Morimoto had the fastest time of the day with a 28:41.54, 3 seconds faster than runner-up Taku Fujimoto (Kokushikan Univ.). Neither Kanagawa Univ. nor Kokushikan Univ. qualified for the 2010 Hakone Ekiden, meaning both Morimoto and Fujimoto will be on what looks to be a powerful Kanto Regional University Select Team.

The biggest results of the weekend, however, may have come in the women's 5000 m at the small 5th annual Shizuoka Long Distance Time Trials meet. Defending high school girls national champion Toyokawa H.S. introduced their new Kenyan ringer Wainaina Murigi, who duly won the race in a quick 15:36.74. Close behind was Bukkyo University's Hikari Yoshimoto, who ran a PB of 15:39.51 less than a week after beating 5000 m national champion Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya) for stage best honors on the anchor leg of the International Chiba Ekiden. A solid top two, but the news did not stop there. 15 year-old high school first-year Moe Kyuma (Ayabe H.S.), who shot to national attention with a jaw-dropping stage record in January's National Interprefectural Women's Ekiden as a junior high school student, ran a PB of 15:48.87 for 3rd, beating university and professional runners as well as her identical twin sister Haruka who was 7th in 15:57.98. Watching Moe Kyuma break her 3000 m PB back in January former women's marathon world record holder Naoko Takahashi confidently said, "She's going to be big."

2009 Hachioji Long Distance Time Trials 10000 m Top Finishers
1. Masato Kihara (Team Kanebo) - 28:09.38
2. Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) - 28:55.39
3. Kazuyoshi Shimosato (Team Komori Corp.) - 28:59.13

2009 Kanto Regional University 10000 m Time Trials Top Finishers
1. Takuji Morimoto (Kanagawa Univ.) - 28:41.54
2. Taku Fujimoto (Kokushikan Univ.) - 28:44.88
3. Makoto Ozeki (Soka Univ.) - 29:14.27

2009 Shizuoka Long Distance Time Trials Women's 5000 m Top Finishers
1. Wainaina Murigi (Toyokawa H.S.) - 15:36.74 - PB
2. Hikari Yoshimoto (Bukkyo Univ.) - 15:39.51 - PB
3. Moe Kyuma (Ayabe H.S.) - 15:48.87 - PB

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Lateralus (updated)

When I'm not doing fun stuff like compiling 1990's Japanese university half marathon results here's how I spend my Friday nights.



Update: Here's another video of the first run-through that morning. A bit faster and tighter although not perfect.

Friday, November 27, 2009

100 Years of Japanese Marathoning in Pictures

http://mainichi.jp/enta/sports/graph/2009/marathon100/index.html

translated by Brett Larner

On March 21, 1909, the first 'marathon' in Japanese history took place. Announcing the race in its February 19, 1909 edition, the Osaka Mainichi Newspaper wrote of the "Great Osaka - Kobe 20 Mile Marathon Run." Describing the upcoming race, the newspaper said, "Such races frequently take place in Europe and America," and went on to describe the historical origins of the marathon in ancient Greece. This race is now considered the birth of Japanese marathoning.

The race's course covered 32 km between Osaka and Kobe and had a field of 20 athletes. Okayama Prefecture native Chonosuke Kaneko [featured in the first of the pictures linked above] won the race in 2:10:54. 100 years later, Japanese marathoners are competitive at the Olympic and World Championships and amateur marathons take place regularly across the country. Whether people run for a time goal, for health, or to lose weight, Japan is now in the midst of its greatest running boom. The landscape seen by the runners in the Great Osaka-Kobe 20 Mile Marathon Run has long since passed, but as long as there are roads in the next 100 years there will be Japanese marathoners to run them.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Credit Where Credit is Due: American and Japanese Men Aged 18-22 pt. I

by Brett Larner

special thanks to Ken Young at ARRS, the IAAF and All-Time Athletics for their database assistance in preparing this article

Last month I published a comparison of the results from the American NCAA Pre-Nationals XC Meet and the Hakone Ekiden Qualifier Road Race which showed that more Japanese university runners were running as fast or faster for a hilly 20 km on the roads than American university runners were running for a hilly 8 km XC. I received a fair amount of response to this comparison, much of it negative and much of it from American university runners, in the comment section, on message boards such as letsrun.com, and in my email inbox. One such letsrun poster asked what was apparently supposed to be a rhetorical question:

So how many of these "Rising Sons" have run sub-13:30 at age 18?

Yeah.
The poster was referring to Americans German Fernandez and Chris Derrick, both of whom achieved this impressive feat in late spring this year, clocking times of 13:25.46 and 13:29.98 to become the first American 18 year-olds to break this barrier. At the time I didn't know the answer, but it struck me as a good question. I recently had the time to look into it and found, unsurprisingly, perhaps, that the answer is 'zero.' Japan's best current track runner, 22 year-old Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) came the closest, clocking 13:31.72 at age 18. Very close, but no cigar. Were Sato an American this time would put him at all-time #3 well behind Fernandez, just behind Derrick, and far ahead of star Galen Rupp's 13:37.91 mark, but the letsrun poster is correct, the U.S. has two men with such times while Japan doesn't.

Thinking some more about this, I wondered how the numbers would look if you expanded the question out from its original one-dimensional form to include data for 19 year olds, 20 year olds and other comparable ages and distances. I compared runners from the U.S.A. and Japan at five ages from 18-22 and looked at results for 5000 m, 10000 m, half-marathon and marathon, even though the latter is rarely raced at such ages in either country. Setting the letsrun poster's arbitrary criterion of sub-13:30 as a benchmark, I used the popular McMillan calculator to find comparable marks for these longer distances. The McMillan calculator gives times of sub-28:03 for 10000 m, sub-1:02:24 for half-marathon, and sub-2:11:36 for the marathon as equivalent to a sub-13:30 5000 m. The results are quite interesting and seem to show clear trends in where the emphasis in coaching, racing, ability or some combination of all three lie.

The table below shows the complete all-time listings by age and distance for runners from the States and Japan who have achieved these times. With the exception of the marathon, in cases where no runners of a given age have achieved the mark, such as Sato at age 18 in the 5000 m, the fastest mark is listed. Click image for a full-sized version. You might need to enlarge it a bit.

Among 18 year-olds, German and Derrick have set new standards in the 5000 m and will hopefully continue to do so as they grow older. Looking at the the 10000 m and half-marathon, only Akinobu Murasawa's winning time at the 2009 Hakone Ekiden Qualifier is of comparable quality, but Japanese athletes have overall performed at a higher level with their advantage increasing with distance.

At age 19 Japanese runners surpass their American counterparts at every distance. Each country has produced two sub-13:30 athletes, but Japan's Kensuke Takezawa and Yuki Sato each recorded times around 5 seconds better than America's Dathan Ritzenhein and Hassan Mead. In the 10000 m two Japanese runners are under the 28:03 mark, with Ryuji Ono's 27:59.32 nearly 25 seconds ahead of top American Galen Rupp. The half-marathon is similar, two Japanese 19 year-olds coming close to breaking 1:02 while the best U.S. runner clocked 1:04:32.

Age 20 is where things start to diverge and thereby become more interesting. American runners show notable development in the 5000 m, with five men going sub-13:30. Only one Japanese 20 year-old, Kensuke Takezawa, has achieved the same mark. His time of 13:19.00 is considerably better than top American Bob Kennedy's 13:22.17 but there is no question that the U.S. excels in depth at this age. Looking at the longer distances the States begins to show development in the 10000 m, with two runners under 28:03 led by Galen Rupp's sensational 27:33.48. Japan likewise shows progress in the 10000 m, five men going under 28:03 topped by Yu Mitsuya's 27:41.10. Japan's progress in the half-marathon is identical, again five men going under 1:02:24 with top 20 year-old Masato Kihara's 1:01:50 over two minutes ahead of top American Herb Wills' 1:03:58.

The trends of rapidly-growing depth in the 5000 m and gradual progress in distance for Americans and of a shift in emphasis to the half-marathon and beyond for Japanese runners continue unabated at age 21. While there is roughly equal quantity and, with the exception of Dathan Ritzenhein's 27:38.50, quality in the 10000 m, the U.S. dominates Japan in the 5000 m, ten men to three and Bill McChesney's 13:18.6 leading Toshinari Takaoka's 13:20.43. The converse is true in the half-marathon, ten Japanese men led by Hidemori Noguchi's 1:01:55 against lone American Scott Bauhs' 1:03:04. Japanese 21 year-olds even take the occasional swing at the marathon. Masakazu Fujiwara's 2:08:12 list-topper would be a noteworthy result at any age, but two more Japanese men have broken 2:10 at age 21, well below the 2:11:36 cutoff.

The trends again continue at age 22. Seventeen American men have broken 13:30 at this age including Galen Rupp's 13:18.12 indoor mark, and Alan Webb's 13:10.86 is the fastest on the chart. While the U.S. numbers in the 10000 m do not improve in quality, the depth shows progression with six athletes cracking 28:03. The gradual move toward longer distances continues as one American 22 year-old, Todd Williams, has broken 1:02:24 in the half-marathon. Japan's numbers in the 5000 m and 10000 m remain relatively constant with the exception of Yuki Sato's 27:38.25 just over a second shy of top American Rupp. The Japanese depth in the half-marathon likewise remains constant at ten runners under 1:02:24, but there is a noticeable improvement in quality as four 22 year-olds have broken 1:02. The reverse is true in the marathon where the quality tops out with another 2:08, this one from Muneyuki Ojima, but the depth has improved to eight men under 2:11:36.

So, in summary, prior to Fernandez and Derrick Japanese teenagers consistently performed at a higher level than their American counterparts from 5000 m up, shifting in focus to longer distances as they entered their 20's while Americans continued to improve their speed at shorter distances and exceeded the achievements of Japanese men at such distances. Not exactly a secret, but those are the numbers. Fernandez and Derrick are clearly talented athletes who may well rewrite the lists. In a follow-up article later this weekend I will look at some of the reasons for these trends and what they might mean for both countries' young runners.

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

'Japanese-Trained Douglas Wakiihuri Won New York'

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1136217/index.htm

A propos of nothing, really, here's a great old article I stumbled across yesterday about pioneering Japan-based Kenyan great Douglas Wakiihuri. I last saw him at the 2006 Ohtawara Marathon near his then-home in Tochigi Prefecture. JRN's Mika Tokairin interviewed him a few months later, describing it as one of the two most interesting she has ever done. After retiring he pursued a music career in Japan and subsequently returned to Kenya where he helped establish the Sotokoto Safari Half Marathon.

Strangely enough, if you follow the 'Toshihiko Seko' link in the article it takes you to my YouTube channel to see the videos Mika filmed of Seko playing drums and singing 'Minnie the Moocher' in Japanese at last year's Tokyo Marathon.

Update: Here's another SI article from the archives, this one about Toshihiko Seko winning the '87 Boston Marathon.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1065895/1/index.htm

This one also has Seko's named linked to Mika's videos of Seko playing music. Strange choice.

'Second Wind'

http://www.globerunner.org/blog/?p=306

An article by Pat Butcher about interesting Tokyo-based club Second Wind. One thing worth noting with regard to Mari Hirata is that the English word 'coach' is used in Japanese more in the sense that we would use 'trainer.' The word 'kantoku' denotes what we think of as the 'coach.' Manabu Kawagoe is the coach, while Hirata is one of the club's trainers. By contrast, 1991 World Championships women's marathon silver medalist Sachiko Yamashita is the coach of Team Daiichi Seimei and its star runner, 2009 World Championships women's marathon silver medalist Yoshimi Ozaki, the younger sister of Second Wind runner Akemi Ozaki.

Reactions to Craig Mottram's Downhill 13:23 in Chiba

http://www.runnerstribe.com/blog/post/show/id/146-2009-Chiba-International-Ekiden-By-Len-Johnson

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/relay-puts-buster-back-in-business/story-e6frf9if-1225803460296

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

2908 Run Fuchu Tamagawa Half Marathon

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/tokyotama/news/20091123-OYT8T00946.htm

translated by Brett Larner

The 32nd Fuchu Tamagawa Half Marathon took place Nov. 23. Featuring three events, a 5 km, 10 km and half marathon, this year's Fuchu Tamagawa hosted a total of 2908 runners. Starting from the baseball grounds in Fuchu's Kyodonomori Park, runners ran through the cheers of courseside supporters along the banks of Tokyo's Tama River.

Athletes from Aoyama Gakuin University took the top four places. Team member Atsushi Suzuki (20, 3rd yr.) clocked 1:06:37 to take the win. "I need to get my pace down faster to get picked for the [Hakone Ekiden] team," Suzuki commented after the race. "Winning was a good experience."

Translator's note: This may not seem very noteworthy, but Fuchu Tamagawa is a long-standing, celebrated race with past winners including Toshihiko Seko, Atsushi Sato, Komazawa Univ. head coach Hiroaki Oyagi and Second Wind AC head coach Manabu Kawagoe. Seko set two national records on this course in the event's early years. Fuchu Tamagawa has suffered a bit as a university-oriented race since the rise of the Ageo City Half Marathon a week earlier, but Komazawa, Aoyama Gakuin and a few others still use it as a Hakone Ekiden tune-up.

What's noteworthy this year is what isn't there: Komazawa's A-squad. They always run Fuchu Tamagawa instead of Ageo, but after failing to make the seeded bracket at the last Hakone Ekiden they had to run the Yosenkai 20 km qualifier in October, something which is not usually part of their schedule. Their absence here suggests a very different training schedule this year and is the direct cause of the slowest winning time in Fuchu Tamagawa history.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Team Yasukawa Denki Scores First Kyushu Jitsugyodan Ekiden Win in Three Years

http://www.asahi.com/sports/update/1123/SEB200911230004.html

translated by Brett Larner

With just a narrow 4-second margin over defending champion Team Asahi Kasei, Team Yasukawa Denki scored its first Kyushu Jitsugyodan Ekiden win in three years at the 46th running of the seven stage, 78.8 km race from Fukuoka to Kita-Kyushu on Nov. 23.

Starting out in 8th place, Yasukawa shot up through the field thanks to Shinji Tateishi's stage best run on the Second Leg, taking the lead on the Sixth Leg. Anchor Ryohei Nakano battled with Team Asahi Kasei's Tomoyuki Sato before dropping him for the win.

In 3rd was Team Toyota Kyushu, which was unable to field a full squad for last year's ekiden. Led by Yu Mitsuya and Masato Imai's stage bests on the 4th and 7th legs, Toyota Kyushu was only 21 seconds off the leaders.

The Kyushu Jitsugyodan Ekiden served as the qualification race for the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden national corporate championships. Along with the top three, 4th place Team Kyudenko and 5th place Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki also qualified for the New Year Ekiden.

Gideon Ngatuny Breaks Own Course Record in Second Nagoya Half Marathon Win (updated)

http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/091123/spg0911231501002-n1.htm

translated by Brett Larner

Defending champion Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin) won his second-straight Nagoya Half Marathon on Nov. 23, breaking his own course record with a new PB of 59:50 at the 25th anniversary edition of the Rikuren-certified event. Yoshiki Otsuka (Team Aichi Seiko) was the top Japanese finisher, 6th overall in 1:03:29.

Julia Mombi (Team Universal Entertainment) had an easy victory in the women's race, running 1:10:35 to take the win over Maho Matsuno (Chukyo Women's Univ.) who was 2nd in 1:19:12.

2009 Nagoya Half Marathon - Top Finishers
Men - click here for complete results
1. Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 59:50 - CR, PB
2. Jacob Wanjuki (Team Aichi Seiko) - 1:01:30
3. Samuel Ndungu (Team Aichi Seiko) - 1:01:32
4. Mekubo Mogusu (Team Aidem) - 1:02:01
5. James Mwangi (Team NTN) - 1:02:35
6. Yoshiki Otsuka (Team Aichi Seiko) - 1:03:29
7. Kiyokatsu Hasegawa (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 1:03:29
8. Akinori Shibutani (Team Yanagawa Seiki) - 1:03:31
9. Satoru Kasuya (Team Toyota Boshoku) - 1:03:33
10. Satoshi Abe (Team Toenic) - 1:03:34

Women - click here for complete results
1. Julia Mombi (Team Universal Entertainment) - 1:10:35
2. Maho Matsuno (Chukyo Women's Univ.) - 1:19:12
3. Sachiko Kano (Gifu Athletics Association) - 1:21:52

Translator's note: Well, that explains why Ngatuny was sitting around pouring water for his teammates during Nissin's track workout on Saturday. This was his first time under the hour mark.

Japanese Juggernaut Rolls Over International Chiba Ekiden

by Brett Larner

Japan's excessively stacked national team did the expected, taking the 2009 International Chiba Ekiden over teams from Kenya, the U.S.A, Russia and elsewhere. The team, made up of 1500 m and 5000 m national champion Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B), women's 1500 m national record holder Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshoki), 5000 m and 10000 m national university record holder Kensuke Takezawa (Team S&B), women's 10000 m national champion Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren), half-marathon national record holder Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) and women's 5000 m national champion Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya), all of whom ran in the Berlin World Championships, the Beijing Olympics, or both, took the lead on the 5 km Second Stage and never looked back. Kobayashi, Takezawa, Akaba and Sato all took stage best titles, Akaba tying the 5 km Fourth Stage record of 15:34, but as a whole Japan fell 31 seconds short of breaking the mixed team-format course record set last year by a teenaged Ethiopian team.

Ueno was running 4th on the 5 km First Stage but with his last kick moved up to 2nd behind 2005 Helsinki World Championships 5000 m bronze medalist Craig Mottram of Australia who ran 13:23 in his first race back after a year of injury. Shortly afterwards Kobayashi overtook Australian Nikki Chapple, who herself turned in an outstanding performance over 30 seconds faster than her 5000 m PB and ran the second-best time on the stage. Japan's next three runners, Takezawa, Akaba and Sato, each widened the national team's lead, with Berlin World Championships marathon 6th place finisher Sato outrunning Kenyan gold medalist Abel Kirui by 13 seconds. Not until the anchor stage did another team make up any ground, in this case Bukkyo University sophomore Hikari Yoshimoto of the Japanese University Select Team.

The talented Yoshimoto outran national team anchor Yurika Nakamura by 27 seconds, passing the great Catherine Ndereba of Kenya to move the university team up from 3rd to 2nd. Ndereba, running just 8 days after her 3rd-place finish at the Yokohama International Women's Marathon, held off a charging Hitomi Niiya (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) of the Chiba Prefecture team to bring Kenya home in 3rd. Niiya nevertheless clocked a faster time to take 3rd on the stage behind Yoshimoto and Nakamura.

The Japanese University Select Team's 2nd place performance was one of the biggest results of this year's International Chiba Ekiden, particularly in light of disappointing runs by stars Ryuji Kashiwabara (Toyo Univ.) and Kazue Kojima (Ritsumeikan Univ.) and the absence of alternate Kasumi Nishihara (Bukkyo Univ.). Other highs and lows included:

-On the 5 km Second Stage, a surprisingly strong stage 5th run by Beijing Olympics women's marathon gold medalist Constantina Dita (Romania) , who like Ndereba ran the Yokohama International Women's Marathon just 8 days ago.
-A DNF by Sweden's Third Stage runner Joel Boden which knocked the team out of the official competition.
-A 30:28 from Athens Olympics men's marathon gold medalist Stefano Baldini (Italy) for the hilly 10 km Fifth Stage.
-Stage top-three runs from American men Ian Burrell and Andrew Carlson.

For further details, click here to read JRN's live commentary on the 2009 International Chiba Ekiden.

Click here for complete, detailed stage-by-stage results.

2009 International Chiba Ekiden - Team Results
1. Japan - 2:05:58
2. Japanese University Select Team - 2:07:47
3. Kenya - 2:08:34
4. Chiba Prefecture - 2:09:26
5. U.S.A. - 2:09:42
6. Russia - 2:11:19
7. Australia - 2:11:35
8. Canada - 2:12:24
9. Italy - 2:13:13
10. Romania - 2:14:28
11. China - 2:14:47
12. Belarus - 2:15:11
13. Poland - 2:16:08
14. Finland - 2:16:48
DNF - Sweden

Stage Best Performances
1st Leg (5 km) - Craig Mottram (Australia) - 13:23
2nd Leg (5 km) - Yuriko Kobayashi (Japan) - 15:09
3rd Leg (10 km) - Kensuke Takezawa (Japan) - 29:07
4th Leg (5 km) - Yukiko Akaba (Japan) - 15:34 - ties stage record
5th Leg (10 km) - Atsushi Sato (Japan) - 28:57
6th Leg (7.195 km) - Hikari Yoshimoto (Japan Univ. Select Team) - 23:12

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Int'l Chiba Ekiden English Commentary

JRN will be offering live English commentary on today's International Chiba Ekiden via Twitter. Click here to follow. If the feed maxes out again check this post for continued commentary.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Watch the International Chiba Ekiden Live Online

Fuji TV will broadcast the 2009 International Chiba Ekiden live from 1:00 p.m. to 3:25 p.m. Japan time on Monday, Nov. 23. International viewers should be able to watch online for free using the Keyhole TV software available here.

For JRN's Chiba Ekiden preview with links to team rosters and course maps click here. An updated start list with each team's running order is available here. JRN will provide live English commentary during the race. Check back just before the race for more info.

Horie Wins First National Half Marathon Title in Kobe (updated)

http://www.kobe-np.co.jp/news/sports/0002533364.shtml
http://www.47news.jp/CN/200911/CN2009112201000157.html
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/sports/other/091122/oth0911221928033-n1.htm
http://www.pjnews.net/news/291/20091122_10

translated and edited by Brett Larner

At the 2009 Kobe National Women's Half Marathon on Nov. 22, Misato Horie (Team Noritz) took her first win on the Rikuren-certified 21.0975 km course from Kobe's Nagisa Park to Kobe Harborland, running a time of 1:13:09.

Manami Takemori (Team Sysmex) was 2nd in 1:13:54, with Kaori Yoshida (Amino Vital AC) 3rd and Satoko Uetani (Kobe Gakuin Univ.) 4th. The four women set out together in a pack from the start and stayed together through 15 km. By 17 km Horie had pulled ahead and kept her lead all the way to the finish.

A native of Kobe, Horie attended Seiryo High School and Mukogawa Women's University before joining Team Noritz last spring. Along the course she saw many friends and former teachers who turned out to cheer her on. "Before the race I thought I had a chance to win, so I went for it," she told reporters afterwards with a big smile. Running the Kobe Women's Half Marathon for the fifth time since her second year of high school, Horie said, "It makes me really happy to have won this race."

Horie's teammate Mari Ozaki, who finished 5th in last week's Asian Championships 10000 m, withdrew from the race after coming down with influenza. Olympic marathon medalists Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) and Yuko Arimori were onhand to present the awards.

2009 Kobe National Women's Half Marathon - Top Finishers
1. Misato Horie (Team Noritz) - 1:13:09
2. Manami Takamori (Team Sysmex) - 1:13:54
3. Kaori Yoshida (Amino Vital AC) - 1:14:06
4. Satoko Uetani (Kobe Gakuin Univ.) - 1:14:41
5. Kaori Oyama (Team Noritz) - 1:15:57
6. Keiko Nakasu (Team Noritz) - 1:16:41
7. Hiromi Tani (Team Noritz) - 1:17:00
8. Tomoyo Dotani (Kobe Gakuin Univ.) - 1:17:13

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ritsumeikan Men Take Biwako University Ekiden

by Brett Larner

Picking up the pieces from its women's team's loss to crosstown rivals Bukkyo University at last month's Morinomiyako Ekiden, Ritsumeikan University's men followed through on their strong showing at the Izumo and National University Ekidens with a win at the 71st Biwako University Ekiden on Nov. 21. Western Japan's answer to the mighty Hakone Ekiden, Biwako is the season-ending championship event for university men outside the Kanto region.

19 times raced the eight-stage, 84.3 km event, one of Japan's oldest ekidens. Ritsumeikan, Kyoto Sangyo University and Daiichi Kogyo University were the heavy favorites going in to this year's Biwako, and the three followed expectations. Kyoto Sangyo's Kazuki Hayashi (3rd yr.) took the race out hard, clocking 32:55 for the 11.1 km First Stage. Ritsumeikan and Daiichi Kogyo sat in 4th and 5th behind Nara Sangyo University's Tadaharu Amano (2nd yr.) and Masashi Nakatsu (3rd yr.). Ritsumeikan's second and third runners, Toshiki Imazaki (1st yr.) and Yohei Fujiwara (4th yr.) both took stage bests but could not run down Kyoto Sangyo, whose Third Stage man Masahito Sumimoto (4th yr.) tied Fujiwara for the stage best at 32:49 for 11.0 km. Daiichi Kogyo likewise advanced but could not clear 3rd place despite Sixth Leg man Ryo Yamamoto (2nd yr.) tying for the stage best honors.

Not until the 9.6 km 4th stage, when rookie Fumihiko Ozaki (1st yr.) took another stage best for Ritsumeikan did the team move into the lead. From there until the finish they had a straight shot to the win, with stage best titles on the Fifth, Sixth and Eighth legs. Daiichi Kogyo's Kenyan star Kiragu Njuguna (2nd yr.) was the only one to break Ritsumeikan's control, clocking a 43.54 new stage record for the 15.1 km Seventh Leg to bump Ritsumeikan's Tomoya Nishino (4th yr.) into 2nd on the stage.

Njuguna also overtook Kyoto Sangyo's Hiroki Mitsuoka (3rd yr.) to put Daiichi Kogyo into 2nd, but the progress was shortlived as Kyoto Sangyo's anchor Shota Uno (1st yr.) outran Daiichi Kogyo's Daichi Shuto by a minute to retake the runner-up spot.

Ritsumeikan's winning time was three minutes off its course record from 2005, but the win was a welcome salve to the school's pride after the women's team's loss to Bukkyo. Njuguna continues to look like as though he is developing into the inheritor of the top Kenyan university runner in Japan.

2009 Biwako University Ekiden - Top Team Results
click here for complete results
1. Ritsumeikan Univ. - 4:12:42
2. Kyoto Sangyo Univ. - 4:15:06
3. Daiichi Kogyo Univ. - 4:15:46
4. Kansai Gakuin Univ. - 4:19.34
5. Nara Sangyo Univ. - 4:21:24
6. Osaka Keizai Univ. - 4:22:12
7. Kansai Univ. - 4:24:20
8. Chukyo Univ. - 4:24:22
9. Osaka Kyoiku Univ. - 4:24:24
10. Kobe Univ. - 4:24:55

Stage Best Performances
First Leg - 11.1 km - Kazuki Hayashi (3rd yr., Kyoto Sangyo Univ.) - 32:55
Second Leg - 7.3 km - Toshiki Imazaki (1st yr., Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 20:48
Third Leg - 11.0 km - Masahito Sumitomo (4th yr., Kyoto Sango Univ.) - 32:49
and Yohei Fujiwara (4th yr., Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 32:49
Fourth Leg - 9.6 km - Fumihiko Ozaki (1st yr., Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 28:49
Fifth Leg - 8.8 km - Hiroyuki Tanaka (2nd yr., Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 27:34
Sixth Leg - 12.8 km - Ryo Yamamoto (2nd yr., Daiichi Kogyo Univ.) - 39:31
and Hiroki Terasaki (4th yr., Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 39:31
7th Leg - 15.1 km - Kiragu Njuguna (2nd yr., Daiichi Kogyo Univ.) - 43:54 - new stage record
8th Leg - 7.7 km - Naoki Masuda (3rd yr., Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 24:05

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Team Nissin Shokuhin on the Track pt. II

by Brett Larner

Nov. 21 was a busy morning at Oda Field, central Tokyo's main public track. Alongside the high school and amateur clubs which had gathered for morning practice, 2009 double 1500 m and 5000 m Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B) ran a solo workout of 400 m repeats to tune up for Monday's International Chiba Ekiden with one of his coaches in attendance. As he ran, members of Team Nissin Shokuhin began to assemble for a group workout.

Nissin won the East Japan Corporate Ekiden Championships earlier this month. With a young roster including Gideon Ngatuny, Yuki Sato, Satoru Kitamura and Bene Zama they are the heavy favorites to win the 2010 New Year Ekiden national championships. Their full team including coaches was present at Oda Field, but several members were apparently injured. Ngatuny, originally slated for the International Chiba Ekiden but then left off the entry list, spent the entire workout sitting on the retaining wall and pouring drinks for the other team members. Hiroyuki Ono, the first-year rookie famous for repeatedly falling near the end of the 5th stage in the 2008 Hakone Ekiden while still a student at Juntendo University, jogged the warmup with the rest of the team but likewise sat out. 2004 Olympic marathoner Toshinari Suwa started the workout but dropped out during the second interval.

Except for Hiroki Matsumura, who did a set of 5000 m repeats alone, the remainder of the team ran a short menu: a fast 1000 m with 200 m recovery, 2000 m with 100 m recovery, 100 m with another 100 m recovery followed by a final 100 m. For the 1000 and 2000 m the ten men ran in single file behind Kosaku Hoshina, the team's anchor at the East Japan Corporate Ekiden. In both long intervals star Yuki Sato, who earlier this year ran 27:38 to become the all-time #3 on the Japanese 10000 m record list, started behind the rest of the group and gradually worked his way up to the pack.

In the 2000 m Sato started 5 seconds behind. As Hoshina led the group through 1000 m in 2:49 and 1600 m in 4:32 Sato drew closer, gaining contact around the 1500 m point. At 1600 m he went to the lead, covering the last lap in 61 seconds to finish in 5:29. The rest of the team with the exception of Suwa, who pulled out partway through the 2000 m, came through in 5:35 to 5:37 led by 2000 Olympian Julius Gitahi. With a quick 100 m recovery jog the team then went into 2 x 100 m individually and in pairs, then packed up and went home.

Sato's addition to Nissin's roster this year gives them the edge they need to take the prestigious New Year Ekiden title, but if Ngatuny is injured it will make a tremendous difference to their fortunes. Six weeks remain until the New Year Ekiden.

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Friday, November 20, 2009

Kebede to Face Cheruiyot and Mogusu in Fukuoka

http://mainichi.jp/enta/sports/general/track/news/20091120k0000m050095000c.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On Nov. 19 the organizing committee for the 63rd annual Fukuoka International Marathon, a domestic selection race for next November's Asian Games in China, announced the elite field for this year's Dec. 6 race. The seven overseas invited elites are led by last year's winner, Beijing Olympics bronze medalist Tsegaye Kebede (Ethiopia). In Fukuoka last year Kebede set the course and Japanese all-comers' record of 2:06:10. In April he went on to finish 2nd in the London Marathon in a PB of 2:05:20, ranking him at #9 on the all-time list.

Among those facing Kebede are 2008 Chicago Marathon winner Evans Cheruiyot (Kenya), 2005 Fukuoka winner Dmytro Baranovskyy (Ukraine) and top Eritrean runner Yonas Kifle. Japan-based Kenyan Mekubo Mogusu (Team Aidem), a popular Hakone Ekiden star while at Yamanashi Gakuin University, will be making his marathon debut off his 59:48 half marathon best.

Alongside Mogusu in the domestic category, 2005 Helsinki World Championships marathon bronze medalist, 2004 Fukuoka winner and Beijing Olympian Tsuyoshi Ogata (Team Chugoku Denryoku) and last year's 4th place finisher and 2007 Osaka World Champioinships marathon team member Tomoyuki Sato (Team Asahi Kasei). The general division also includes standout runners such as Takayuki Ota (Team Fujitsu) in his marathon debut and Hakone Ekiden downhill specialist Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't). A total of 767 runners are entered in this year's race.

TV Asahi will broadcast the Fukuoka International Marathon live from 12:00 to 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 6. Check their Fukuoka website for more details. Overseas viewers should be able to watch live online for free using the Keyhole TV software available here.

2009 Fukuoka International Marathon - Elite Field
click here for athlete photos and more detailed profiles
1. Tsegaye Kebede (Ethiopia) - 2:05:20 (London 2009)
2. Evans Cheruiyot (Kenya) - 2:06:25 (Chicago 2008)
3. Dmytro Baranovskyy (Ukraine) - 2:07:15 (Fukuoka 2006)
4. Yonas Kifle (Eritrea) - 2:07:34 (Amsterdam 2007)
21. Tsuyoshi Ogata (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:08:37 (Fukuoka 2003)
5. Jon Brown (Canada) - 2:09:31 (London 2005)
22. Tomoyuki Sato (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:09:43 (Tokyo Int'l 2004)
6. Kebede Tekeste (Ethiopia) - 2:09:49 (Boston 2009)
7. Oleg Kulkov (Russia) - 2:10:13 (Zurich 2009)
23. Mekubo Mogusu (Team Aidem) - debut - 59:48 (Marugame Half 2007)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Ageo City Half Marathon - An Almost Complete History

by Brett Larner

Click here for photos of the Ageo City Half Marathon course being measured and certified in 2000.

Since JRN introduced Japan's little-known Ageo City Half Marathon to the international community with its report on the 2007 race Ageo has become something of a legend, its relatively modest 1:01:26 course record made up for in the sheer depth and power of its field of mostly university runners who run Ageo to vie for a spot on their schools' teams for the prestigious Hakone Ekiden.

JRN has now tabulated and transliterated results from the last ten years, the complete lifespan of the race in its current form. Based on JRN's tabulation, next month the Association of Road Racing Statisticians will officially rank Ageo as the world's #1 half marathon held on a consistent course, beaten out for #1 overall only by the World Half Marathon Championships which take place in a different country each year.

A summary of the results is given below. Click for a full-sized version.



The 2006 results include only the university runners and are missing those for individual men and women finishers. These will be added when uncovered.

To read JRN's detailed reports on the Ageo City Half Marathon, click: 2009, 2008, and 2007.

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Loaded Dice - International Chiba Ekiden Preview

by Brett Larner

The 2009 International Chiba Ekiden takes place on Monday, Nov. 23. As economic times have continued to grow harder Japan's once-thriving international ekiden circuit has dwindled dramatically. When the Yokohama International Women's Ekiden took a bow in February this year it left Chiba as the lone representative of the format, and even it was scaled back in 2007 from separate men's and women's races to a single, six-stage 42.195 km race featuring mixed men's and women's teams. This wasn't necessarily a bad move, the mixed teams having proved to be popular and interesting.

Being the host country, Japan has tended to stack the deck in recent years. This year is no exception as the Japanese national team far outweighs any other in star power: men's half marathon national record holder Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) and women's 1500 m national record holder Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshoki), 2009 men's 1500 m and 5000 m national champion Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B), 2009 women's 10000 m national champion Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren), 2009 women's 5000 m national champion Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya), Olympian and, as a university runner, 13:19 5000 m man Kensuke Takezawa (Team S&B) and the lesser-known Yusei Nakao (Team Toyota Boshoku) and Yuko Shimizu (Team Sekisui Kagaku). With two official alternates in the lineup it has become traditional for the two senior members not to run, but even without Sato and Akaba the Japanese team will be tough to challenge.

It goes without saying that the Kenyan team should be their strongest competition, but the relatively junior squad features only two well-known runners: marathon legend Catherine Ndereba and 2009 World Championships men's marathon champion Abel Kirui. Ndereba is a perpetual presence in Chiba, but fresh from last Sunday's Yokohama International Women's Marathon she seems unlikely to run or to factor in the action if she does. Kirui, on the other hand, should be one of Kenya's biggest weapons. His presence in Japan for the race strongly suggests he will headline the as-yet unannounced Fukuoka International Marathon field on Dec. 6. Whether the pair can rally the Kenyans to stay ahead of the hosts is a good question: a similar team in 2007 could not top the all-star Japanese lineup.

The Russians are always a factor in Chiba, and their team this year features ekiden regulars and 2009 national champions Maria Konovalova and Evgeny Rybakov. Rybakov's identical twin Anatoly will also be a solid component. Canada, the United States and Australia also have excellent teams lined up, the latter headlined by the return of 12:55 5000 m man Craig Mottram.

The best contender for 3rd, however, may be the Japanese University Select Team. Like the national team, the select team is stacked with top talent: Hakone Ekiden star Ryuji Kashiwabara (Toyo Univ.), women's university 10000 m national champion and unbeaten ekiden ace Kazue Kojima (Ritsumeikan Univ.), and three members of #1-ranked women's team Bukkyo University including 2009 World University Games 10000 m gold medalist and 5000 m silver medalist Kasumi Nishihara.

Even the team representing hosts Chiba Prefecture is full of the first-rate, including 2009 and 2007 Tokyo Marathon winners Mizuho Nasukawa (Team Universal Entertainment) and Hitomi Niiya (Team Toyota Jidosoki) and Niiya's teammate on national champions Toyota Jidoshoki Aya Nagata.

Other notable individuals in the field include 2008 Beijing Olympics women's marathon gold medalist Constantina Dita (Romania), like Ndereba and Kirui likely on the airfare-economizing tip following her Yokohama International Women's Marathon run, and 2004 Athens Olympics men's marathon gold medalist Stefano Baldini (Italy).

The 2009 International Chiba Ekiden will be broadcast live on Fuji TV from 1:00 p.m. to 3:25 p.m. Japan time on Nov. 23. International viewers should be able to watch online for free using the Keyhole TV software available here. JRN will be offering live English commentary on the broadcast -- check back for more details. Click here for a complete entry list. For a course map click here.

2009 International Chiba Ekiden - Team Entries
Japan
Japanese University Select Team
Chiba Prefecture
Australia
Belarus
Canada
China
Finland
Italy
Kenya
Poland
Romania
Russia
Sweden
U.S.A.

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

'Japan's Marathon Queen Takahashi to Run Veggie Farm'

http://nz.entertainment.yahoo.com/091117/5/fq9q.html

Monday, November 16, 2009

'Korean Olympic Hero Championed Liberty'

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/15/sports/olympics/15korea.html?_r=2

The Japanese broadcast of the Beijing Olympic men's marathon included footage of Japan's Olympic marathon medalists at each commerical break. Sohn Kee-Chung and Nam Seung-Yong were included.

Hot Times at the Ageo City Half Marathon

by Brett Larner



Waseda University first-year Shota Hiraga, a star member of 2008 high school national champion Saku Chosei H.S.'s winning team, continued his excellent season with a 1:03:44 win at the Ageo City Half Marathon on Nov. 15. As the unofficial selection race in which Hakone Ekiden-qualified university teams' rank-and-file runners prove to their coaches that they are worthy of joining their squads' stars in the prestigious January Hakone race, Ageo consistently features the deepest, toughest field of any half marathon in the world. For proof, take a look at JRN's 2008 and 2007 Ageo reports.

This year a passing front brought cloudless skies and freak temperatures well over 20 degrees without any of the wind which both cooled and battered the women later in the day at the Yokohama International Women's Marathon. The unseasonal heat affected times across the board. Hiraga's strong 1:03:44 performance was the slowest winning time in Ageo history and only one other runner broke 1:04. In normal years between 150 and 200 men clear 66 minutes, but with this year's weather only 56 achieved the mark. The breakdown on this year's numbers shows how the heat and sun held things back relative to the last nine years (click for full-sized version):


Even though the top 25 were the slowest in the last ten years with the largest number of men were coming in around a minute behind usual, Ageo's now-famous depth was still there, if diminished, with 286 clearing the 70 minute mark. Former Butler University standout Thomas Frazer of Ireland was the top foreign finisher, starting out among the leaders but likewise fading in the heat to finish just under 71 minutes.

Hiraga's win was another mark in Waseda's favor as the Hakone schools enter their final period of preparation for the 2010 Hakone Ekiden. Along with fellow Saku Chosei alum and first-year Waseda recruit Hiroyuki Sasaki, Hiraga should be one of Waseda's biggest strengths in overcoming the deficit caused by star Kensuke Takezawa's graduation this past spring. Whether Hiraga and Sasaki can help bridge to gap to Toyo University or fend off Izumo and Nationals winner Nihon University this year remains to be seen on January 2-3.

2009 Ageo City Half Marathon - Top Finishers
click here for complete results
1. Shota Hiraga - 1:03:44
2. Yuki Munakata - 1:03:58
3. Yohei Yamamoto - 1:04:02
4. Yuki Marubayashi - 1:04:05
5. Naohiro Domoto - 1:04:26
6. Tomoya Mizukoshi - 1:04:28
7. Daichi Yamazaki - 1:04:31
8. Sho Matsueda - 1:04:36
9. Kohei Okamoto - 1:04:39
10. Daisuke Koyama - 1:04:41

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

'Another Strong Day For Japan as Asian Championships Conclude'

http://www.iaaf.org/news/kind=100/newsid=54901.html

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Abitova Takes Windy Yokohama Women's Marathon

video stills and text by Brett Larner
photos and video by Mika Tokairin



As a high-pressure front swept away a week of cold and rain with cloudless morning temperatures of 20 degrees and variable, gusting winds, 2006 European 10000 m champion Inga Abitova of Russia scored her first important marathon win with a 2:27:18 victory at the inaugural Yokohama International Women's Marathon on Nov. 15.

As predicted, the race was between Abitova and 2009 Hokkaido Marathon winner Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC), who ran down Beijing Olympics silver medalist and 2007 World Champion Catherine Ndereba of Kenya for 2nd place in 2:28:51. Beijing gold medalist Constantina Dita (Romania), who reported injury troubles shortly before the race, was a distant 11th in 2:36:04.

Unseasonably warm conditions at the start played into the hands of Shimahara, an athlete noted for her warm weather skills and her fast finish. Having rehearsed a new fast-starting strategy for winning earlier this season in setting the course record of 2:25:10 at August's Hokkaido Marathon Shimahara did everything she had to do for the win, taking the race out at a respectable pace and clocking 3:23 through the first kilometer covering most of a short loop through Yokohama's famous Chinatown.

Heading into the first iteration of the new course's innovative 13 km+ main loop, Shimahara maintained control and took the pack of around ten through 5 km in 17:11. Dita stayed up front next to Shimahara before dropping back as the second loop began, while Reiko Tosa lookalike Miki Ohira (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) kept perfectly even with Shimahara but aloof and alone far to the right of the main pack.

Ndereba ran her typical race strategy in recent years, sitting alone 10-15 seconds behind the lead group. As the first loop passed Yokohama Station to switch from northbound to southbound, the wind began to pick up and hopes of fast times began to fade. Shimahara continued to do all the work as the pack withered and the wind built through the second loop. Passing the starting point to begin the third loop and approaching 30 km there were five remaining up front, with Ndereba in contact a short distance behind.

As the leaders went by Yokohama's famous Akarenga red brick warehouses Abitova, a familiar face on Japan's international ekiden circuit, sprang into action, seizing the lead from Shimahara with a quick surge. The pack immediately strung out, with Ohira the initial closest trailer before Ndereba swiftly moved up to 2nd.

Shimahara remained calm, gradually upping her tempo over the last 10 km and picking off Ohira to move into 3rd. Down 80 m on Ndereba in the aftermath of Abitova's move, Shimahara began to inch back toward the Kenyan after the race again turned southward past Yokohama Station. As the winds built to a steady, furious blast over the final 5 km, Shimahara pulled even with Ndereba, then edged away even as the former world record holder tried to maintain contact for a sprint finish.

Abitova continued to accelerate as she handled the final kilometers with ease to take her first competitive marathon victory. With her last two marathons being her strongest performances to date Abitova is positioning herself near the top of the Russian marathon scene as she continues her transition from the track. Shimahara dispatched Ndereba over the final 2 km to take 2nd by 22 seconds, her second sub-2:30 in just over two months after not having cracked that barrier since 2006. She also picked up the first spot on the Japanese team for next year's Asian Games marathon where she will be the defending silver medalist. Shimahara will line up again in 4 weeks' time to defend her Honolulu Marathon title.

2004 Tokyo International Women's Marathon winner Bruna Genovese of Italy was a surprise 4th, overtaking Ohira shortly before the finish. Dita faded from her place in among the leaders, ending up nearly 10 minutes behind Abitova.

Yokohama's innovative criterion course, the first such for an elite marathon in Japan and the first race in Japan's international marathon circuit not to start and finish on a track, proved a success for the race up front and was popular with spectators who were able to walk between each side of the course to cheer in six or more spots.

Less happy with the course were the amateur women near the bottom of the field, those who barely made the 3:15 qualifying standard. To prevent logjams officials stopped those who were in danger of being overtaken by the leaders, meaning that with a main loop of just over 13 km 150 of the 400 or so in the amateur division were cut off. Nevertheless, with a potentially fast course in an interesting, scenic location and with impeccable organization the Yokohama International Women's Marathon could in time set the new standard for women's marathoning if organizers and sponsors have the desire and resources to make it competitive with the world's biggest, richest big city marathons.

2009 Yokohama International Women's Marathon - Top Finishers
click here for complete results
1. Inga Abitova (Russia) - 2:27:18
2. Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC) - 2:28:51
3. Catherine Ndereba (Kenya) - 2:29:13
4. Bruna Genovese (Italy) - 2:29:57
5. Miki Ohira (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 2:30:22
6. Robe Guta (Ethiopia) - 2:31:49
7. Zivile Balciunaite (Lithuania) - 2:32:09
8. Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 2:32:20 - debut
9. Hiromi Ominami (Team Toyota Shatai) - 2:33:16
10. Naoko Tsuchiya (Shizuoka T&F Assoc.) - 2:35:12
-----
11. Constantina Dita (Romania) - 2:36:06

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

'With Five Wins, Japan Halts Chinese Momentum in Guangzhou - Asian Champs, Day 4'

http://www.iaaf.org/news/kind=100/newsid=54887.html

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Watch the Yokohama International Women's Marathon Live Online

TV Asahi will broadcast the inaugural edition of the Yokohama International Women's Marathon live on Nov. 15 from 12:00 - 2:55 p.m. Japan time. International viewers should be able to watch online for free by clicking here. For a complete list of entrants including bib numbers click here. For an online time zone converter click here.

Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon Expecting Fast Times on New Course

http://mainichi.jp/area/oita/news/20091113ddlk44050489000c.html

translated by Mika Tokairin and Brett Larner

The office-opening ceremonies for the 59th Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon next Feb. 7 took place Nov. 12 at the Oita Civic Track and Field Grounds. Organizing committee assistant director Toshio Hamamoto, the head of the Oita Athletics Association, hung the race organization's sign on the entrance to the Oita Grounds' facilities to signify that next year's race is now open.

The first committee meeting came immediately after the opening ceremony. In his welcoming comments Hamamoto told committee members, "We are making the first major course change in 26 years. We hope the change will attract many talented runners and help them to set fast new times. Please give us your help and support to ensure the success of this event."

The new course starts in front of the Umitamago attraction in Oita and travels north along route 10 before turning back at Kamegawa Bypass in Beppu and heading to a finish at the Oita Civic Track and Field Grounds. Athletes can expect a tailwind for 60% of the course and will be running through the center of Oita city during the second of the race, meaning great crowd support along the roads. The nation's marathoners are eagerly anticipating the new course. For more information, contact the race office at 097-558-1999.

Translator's note: Click here for a map of the new course. The actual roads covered on the new course are almost identical to the old one, but rather than a single out-and-back the new version starts in the middle and breaks it into two sections. It pits runners against the area's famous winds in the first 10 km rather than near halfway as on the old course. The stadium finish has not changed.

Beppu-Oita is rumored to be bringing in a very special guest to help set a fast record on the new course.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Abel Kirui and Catherine Ndereba Lead Kenyan Team at International Chiba Ekiden

http://www.jiji.com/jc/c?g=spo_30&k=2009111101005

translated by Brett Larner

On Nov. 11 Rikuren announced that the Kenyan team at the six-stage, 42.195 km International Chiba Ekiden on Nov. 23 will include 2009 Berlin World Championships marathon gold medalist Abel Kirui and two-time Olympic silver medalist Catherine Ndereba.

Also in the field are Beijing Olympics women's marathon gold medalist Constantina Dita (Romania) and Athens Olympics marathon gold medalist Stefano Baldini (Italy). The Chiba Prefectural team will feature former marathon national record holder Atsushi Fujita (Team Fujitsu). Race-day lineups will include three men and three women on each team.

Translator's note: Ndereba and Dita are regulars at the International Chiba Ekiden, which will take place eight days after the pair's appearance at this Sunday's Yokohama International Women's Marathon. Abel Kirui's presence in Japan two weeks before the Fukuoka International Marathon all but guarantees that he will be lining up there as well.

The Yokohama International Women's Marathon - An Idea Whose Time Has Passed?

an editorial by Brett Larner

The first Yokohama International Women's Marathon takes place this Sunday, Nov. 15. With a small field limited to women under 3:15, an innovative circuit course designed for fast times, a live nationwide TV broadcast, the defending Olympic gold and silver medalists and one of the best-performing domestic women of the year on the starting line organizers and media have hailed Yokohama, the replacement for the Tokyo International Women's Marathon, as a continuation of a proud tradition. Amid the fanfare one question has gone unanswered. Simply, why?

When the Tokyo International Women's Marathon (TIWM) began in 1979 it was the world's first IAAF-sanctioned women-only marathon. Women lacked the same opportunities as men to race in large, competitive marathons, not least the Olympics, and Japanese women's marathoning was in a fledgling state. Following the model of the elite Japanese men's marathons such as Fukuoka International, Biwako Mainichi and Tokyo International, TIWM and later the Osaka International Ladies' Marathon (OILM) and Nagoya International Women's Marathon (NIWM) went a long way toward correcting these deficiencies.

Fast-forward thirty years and it's a different world. Competitive fields of women from around the world race for large prize purses at all the world's top marathons, often with a separate, early start to ensure the race is among women only. There have been seven Olympic gold medals earned by women. Japanese women are among the very best, with four straight Olympic medals, two of them gold, ten World Championships medals, again two gold, the world's first sub-2:20, and more sub-2:20 women than any other country. Where TIWM in its early days attracted the world's best and gave the developing domestic women something to aspire to, in later years it had difficulty competing with big city, big money races such as New York and Chicago to bring in the biggest names and became more of a showcase for the best Japanese women to beat one marquee foreigner, something good for the sponsors and for nationalism but not necessarily for the athletes. Lesser-known foreign runners who had a good day were virtually guaranteed an indefinite invitation in following years, giving the races something of a 'usual suspects' character. As in the big three men's marathons, it became somewhat unusual to see the top Japanese women race against their best overseas competitors outside the TIWM-OILM-NIWM circuit.

The big change came in 2007 with the dawn of the Tokyo Marathon. Tokyo was Japan's first big city marathon along the same lines as New York, London and Boston, a new event starting from scratch with a massive public field and a route which covered part of the historic out-and-back Tokyo International Marathon and TIWM course. The date chosen for the event was that of the men's Tokyo International Marathon and that event's organizers joined forces and incorporated their race into the new one, giving the Tokyo Marathon an elite men's field but no competitive women. The TIWM held on for a year but following the 2007 edition the Tokyo Police Department, which issues the road closure permits for races, threw its support behind the new Tokyo Marathon. After its 2008 edition and thirty years the TIWM no longer had a home.

And here is where the question of why came to the surface. The TIWM's sponsors announced after a time that they would stage a new women-only elite race in Yokohama in 2009. The race would follow the general format of the old TIWM, with a field of foreign and elite domestic women up front, a small class of competitive amateurs, the same race date, and the same secretive financial structure. The new event seemed geared more for speed than TIWM, with a relatively flat four-loop circuit course, the first in Japan's elite marathon world, and far tougher standards for the amateur women. Ironically, like TIWM losing its place to the Tokyo Marathon, the new Yokohama race meant the end of the classic Yokohama International Women's Ekiden.

Soon afterwards the Tokyo Marathon announced that in 2009 it would add its own world-class women's field, sharing the same course as the elite men and with a large, public prize purse. The pre-emptive move put Tokyo into line with modern international standards and the field they brought in, both in terms of foreign and domestic talent, surpassed that of the NIWM and was on par with the field at the OILM. Although Yokohama had the opportunity to do something special to truly celebrate its entry into women's marathoning the elite field it eventually announced barely lived up to Tokyo's. Despite the presence of the defending Olympic gold and silver medalists Constantina Dita and Catherine Ndereba, most of the foreign invitees including those two medalists were again the aging usual suspects and two of the five domestic women in the field were Tokyo repeats.

With Tokyo as a rival in many senses, the Yokohama International Women's Marathon's sponsors and some in the industry have represented it as the 'continuation' of the TIWM. Consider these facts, some of which have been already mentioned: The Tokyo International Marathon and TIWM shared the same course, an out-an-back with a famous hill. The Tokyo Marathon uses part of this course and is accepted as the 'continuation' of the Tokyo International Marathon. Tokyo's women's field uses the same course as the men. Yokohama, although sharing the same sponsors and some organizers with TIWM, is on a completely different type of course in a different city in a different prefecture (think 'state') under the jurisdiction of a different bureaucratic organization, the Kanagawa Athletics Federation. At last year's final TIWM a course marshall with the Tokyo Athletics Federation told JRN how sad he was that after years of helping out with the TIWM he would no longer be able to take part because of the jurisdictional change. If New York or Boston cut off their marathons for whatever reason and the sponsors relocated to Newark or Providence and those who have worked and volunteered for years were no longer a part, would they in any meaningful sense be the 'same' races? As the great jazz musician and composer Anthony Braxton once told me, "It's not what is, it's what is this isness?"

So the questions arise: what is the purpose of the Yokohama International Women's Marathon? What are the organizers' goals? Faced with the possibility of doing something innovative and exciting why try to sell a new race as the continuation of something which was replaced by an event more in keeping with modern developments in the sport? Yokohama seems to be intended as a fast, competitive event designed to bring domestic women's racing to a new level, but if organizers cannot compete financially with bigger, richer marathons including the Tokyo Marathon then can they achieve this end, particularly in times of economic trouble? Is the small, elite-only domestic race format serving the development of Japan's marathoners better than going overseas to swing with the big names? Is it serving them more than it is serving the race's sponsors? Is an elite women-only marathon even relevant in an era when the same opportunity is the norm in the world's largest marathons? Some of the same problems affect the elite men's race circuit as the Biwako Mainichi Marathon has struggled to remain viable in the era of the Tokyo Marathon, going so far as to make a sketchy claim to Japan's first IAAF gold label in an effort to attract a sponsor to keep it alive.

So, while it's certainly to be hoped that the Yokohama International Women's Marathon will be a success, providing an outstanding opportunity for women Japanese and foreign alike to excel and highlighting their achievements, the issues facing the event are manifold. Not least among them is that of its reason for being. JRN will be there to cover the event and cheer it on (go Kiyoko!), and overseas readers will have the chance to watch TV Asahi's live broadcast on Nov. 15 from 12:00 to 2:55 p.m. thanks to the Keyhole TV software available here. For more details on the Yokohama elite field click here. Here's to a great race, and to organizers building the Yokohama International Women's Marathon into something meaningful, viable, and lasting.

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ongori and Fukushi Rock 25th Fukui Ekiden

by Brett Larner

Kenyan star Philes Ongori (Team Hokuren) got the 25th anniversary Fukui Super Ladies' Ekiden started in style with a stage record performance on the 6 km 1st leg. After a conservative first kilometer in which she matched paces with fellow Kenyan Danielle Philomena Cheyech (Team Uniqlo) and top university woman Kazue Kojima (Ritsumeikan Univ.), Ongori sped away to clock 18:28, breaking the 12 year-old record by 7 seconds. Cheyech attempted to follow and initially opened a comfortable gap, but the gritty Kojima returned for a sprint finish in which Cheyech prevailed by only a stride, timed at 19:11 to Kojima's 19:12.

Hokuren's lead looked formidable as the team ran on course record pace through the end of the 4th stage, but despite a strong showing as anchor at last week's East Japan Jitsugyodan Women's Ekiden 5th leg runner Saori Nejo ran into trouble and lost ground to the chasers. Surprisingly, the team that was running her down was not 10-time champion Wacoal or another pro team but 2009 Morinomiyako Ekiden winner Bukkyo University.

While Ritsumeikan had chosen to run Fukui as an intramural competition with its squad split into three equal teams, Bukkyo put all its star power minus ailing ace Kasumi Nishihara into one A team. The A team's 4th and 5th leg runners Chinami Mori and Mai Ishibashi had particularly outstanding days, both outrunning Team Wacoal's pros by 4 seconds per kilometer to take large stage best titles. Anchor Hikari Yoshimoto caught Hokuren's Akane Sekino for the lead 2.5 km into the 8 km stage, but the celebrations were short-lived.

Behind her came Team Wacoal anchor Kayoko Fukushi, the 3000 m, 5000 m and half marathon national record holder. Fukushi ran like she hasn't since before her disastrous marathon debut in January 2008, going through 3 km in 9:02 before sailing past Bukkyo's Yoshimoto at 3.8 km. Fukushi continued on without slackening, opening 44 seconds on Yoshimoto and blasting a new stage record of 24:40 to give Team Wacoal its 11th Fukui win with a total time of 1:35:54 for the 30 km course. After the race an elated Fukushi told reporters, "I felt really light and fresh. It's been a long time since I felt so good."

Bukkyo University finished 2nd in 1:36:38. Had Nishihara, who suffered minor injury problems at last month's Morinomiyako Ekiden and is resting for December's Nationals, been on the team the finish would likely have been very close indeed.

Similarly, 3rd place finisher Team Hokuren, 38 seconds behind Bukkyo in 1:37:16, was missing its top Japanese runner Yukiko Akaba, who has also been having injury issues and is focusing on January's Osaka International Women's Marathon. A fit Akaba may have resulted in an entirely different outcome, but regardless Team Wacoal brought the strongest squad of the day.

2009 Fukui Super Ladies' Ekiden - Top Team Results
click here for complete team and individual results
1. Team Wacoal - 1:35:54
2. Bukkyo Univ. A - 1:36:38
3. Team Hokuren - 1:37:16
4. Team Denso - 1:38:51
5. Meijo Univ. A - 1:39:57
6. Ritsumeikan Univ. C - 1:40:53
7. Ritsumeikan Univ. A - 1:41:08
8. Kyoto Sangyo Univ. - 1:41:46
9. Fukui Pref. Select Team - 1:41:54
10. Bukkyo Univ. B - 1:42:24

Top Individual Stage Performances
1st Leg - 6.0 km
1. Philes Ongori (Team Hokuren) - 18:28 - new stage record
2. Danielle Philomena Cheyech (Team Uniqlo) - 19:11
3. Kazue Kojima (Ritsumeikan Univ. A) - 19:12

2nd Leg - 3.0 km
1. Betelhem Moges (Team Denso) - 9:07
2. Natsuko Honda (Ritsumeikan Univ. C) - 9:24
3. Kazumi Hashimoto (Team Hokuren) - 9:29

3rd Leg - 4.0 km
1. Kozue Matsumoto (Team Wacoal) - 12:44
2. Yuika Mori (Bukkyo Univ. A) - 12:45
3. Namiko Yamamoto (Ritsumeikan Univ. A) - 12:51

4th Leg - 4.0 km
1. Chinami Mori (Bukkyo Univ. A) - 12:37
2. Hiromi Chujo (Team Wacoal) - 12:52
2. Yuko Mizuguchi (Team Denso) - 12:52

5th Leg - 5.0 km
1. Mai Ishibashi (Bukkyo Univ. A) - 15:56
2. Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) - 16:15
3. Saori Nejo (Team Hokuren) - 16:21

6th Leg - 8.0 km
1. Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) - 24:40 - new stage record
2. Hikari Yoshimoto (Bukkyo Univ. A) - 25:56
3. Kayo Sugihara (Team Denso) - 26:19

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Watch the Fukui Ekiden Live Online

by Brett Larner

The 2009 Fukui Super Ladies' Ekiden took place Nov. 8. Despite going up against the East Japan Women's Ekiden the same day, Fukui featured 47 corporate and university teams in its field with star individual runners including Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal), Kazue Kojima (Ritsumeikan Univ.), Philes Ongori (Team Hokuren) and Danielle Philomena Cheyech (Team Uniqlo). Fuji TV will broadcast a one-hour highlight version of the six-stage, 30 km race from 2:38 a.m. to 3:38 a.m. on Nov. 12. International viewers should be able to watch online for free using the Keyhole TV software. Click here for more information on online viewing. JRN will publish results of the ekiden following the broadcast.

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

The Best of the Year is Still to Come

by Brett Larner

With the completion of the New York City Marathon earlier this month the worldwide road racing circuit has begun to wind down for the year. Everywhere, that is, except for Japan, where the best racing of the year still lies ahead.

November 15th features two major races in the greater Tokyo area, the Ageo City Half Marathon and the first edition of the Yokohama International Women's Marathon. The coaches of the 20 Tokyo-region university men's teams which have made January's Hakone Ekiden use Ageo as a selection race to pick which members of their squads will join the aces on their 10-man Hakone teams. The result is the deepest, most cutthroat half marathon in the world, with every man gunning strictly for himself and close to 200 men breaking 66 minutes each year. Yokohama replaces the now-defunct Tokyo International Women's Marathon and features the first certified loop course for an elite marathon in Japan. The organizers have brought aging Beijing Olympics medalists Constantina Dita and Catherine Ndereba in for the inaugural race, but the best competition may be between Russia's Inga Abitova and 2009 Hokkaido Marathon course record-setter Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC).

November 21 is the date of the 71st Biwako University Ekiden, the championship event for university men in western Japan who are outside the Tokyo-centric Kanto region and thus inelligible to run in the Hakone Ekiden. Daiichi Kogyo University, consistently the best non-Kanto school in the country thanks to its pair of Kenyans, will seek to defend last year's title. 2007 winner Ritsumeikan University, which beat Daiichi Kogyo at October's Izumo Ekiden, will be the main competition along with Kyoto Sangyo University.

November 22 sees the Kobe National Women's Half Marathon, one of the oldest and biggest all-women's half marathons in the world. This year's field is alarmingly second-tier and promises Mari Ozaki (Team Noritz) an easy victory. 2009 Copenhagen Marathon winner Chihiro Tanaka (Team Daitsu) is scheduled to run just a week after racing the Yokohama International Women's Marathon.

November 23, a public holiday in Japan, is the date of the International Chiba Ekiden, the last of the economic bubble-era international ekidens. As in its last victory in 2007 Japan has lined up an incredible team of the very best in the country, including Olympians Kensuke Takezawa (Team S&B), Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku), Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshoki), Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya) and Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren). Details on which international teams will face the all-star Japanese squad have not been released as of this writing, but a Kenyan contingent has been confirmed and is rumored to include the great Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin). Also on November 23 is the Nagoya Half Marathon, won last year by Ngatuny in his half marathon debut. Details on this year's elite field have not yet been released. The tiny but competitve Fuchu Tamagawa Half Marathon also takes place on the 23rd. Komazawa University, the most consistently dominating team in Japan, sends its best runners to Fuchu each year rather than to Ageo.

The month rounds out with the third-tier Kawaguchiko Marathon on November 29. Long one of Japan's most popular amateur-level races, this marathon near the base of Mt. Fuji has only recently began to draw reasonably competitive athletes. 2001 World Championships marathoner Takayuki Nishida will run this year's Kawaguchiko in his first marathon since retiring from the professional world in March.

December kicks off with the famous Fukuoka International Marathon on the 6th. The last three years have seen the likes of world record holder Haile Gebrselassie and Beijing Olympics top four Samuel Wanjiru, Jaouad Gharib, Tsegaye Kebede and Deriba Merga toe the line along with three of Japan's all-time four fastest men, Toshinari Takaoka, Atsushi Fujita and Atsushi Sato. This year features the highly-anticipated marathon debut of Mekubo Mogusu, the former Yamanashi Gakuin University ekiden star who clocked three sub-hour half marathons as a student. The rest of the field has not yet been announced but it is a sure bet that organizers will be looking at World Championships medalists Abel Kirui and Emmanuel Mutai of Kenya at the very least. Japan's men have this last chance to add to the year's dismal haul of sub-2:10 performances. Also on December 6th, the Kumamoto Kosa 10-Mile Road Race, the world's most competitive 10-miler, features a deep field of pro Japanese runners tuning up for the New Year Ekiden national championships.

December 13th hosts the National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships, a 6-stage, 42.195 km competition featuring every well-known Japanese woman fit enough to stand. The fading titan Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo lost its crown last year to the ascendant Team Toyota Jidoshoki, and after destroying Mitsui again last week at the East Japan Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships it looks likely that Toyota will be the best again this year.

The December 20th Hofu Yomiuri Marathon is the last elite marathon of the year. A second-tier race which typically features up-and-coming pros and first-timers, Hofu has at times seen very strong performances including its course record of 2:08:16 set in 2002 by Hailu Negussie of Ethiopia. In honor of its 40th anniversary Hofu this year will extend its field to allow amateurs up to four hours to run. The 20th also sees the National High School Boys' and Girls' Ekiden Championships, highly competitive and nationally-televised events. Last year's boys' winner Saku Chosei H.S., which covered the 7-stage, 42.195 km course in 2:02:18, lost over half its squad to graduation and will be hard-pressed to fend off rival Sendai Ikuei H.S. and others. The girls' race should be a three-way battle between last year's winner Toyokawa H.S. and 2nd and 3rd placers Kojokan H.S. and Ritsumeikan Uji H.S., both of whom finished within 12 seconds of Toyokawa last year.

December 23rd is the date of the National University Women's Invitational Ekiden Championships, a relatively young championship event in only its 7th edition. Ritsumeikan University has won all 6 national titles so far, but despite running better than ever earlier this season at the Morinomiyako Ekiden Ritsumeikan lost summarily to cross-town rival Bukkyo University. Bukkyo's attempt to break Ritsumeikan's dynasty could make this year's Nationals one of the best races of the season. Also on the 23rd is the Sanyo Women's Road Race, another elite women's half marathon which includes a competitive 10 km event.

Techinically falling in 2010, the 2009 season wraps up with two major men's ekidens. The New Year Ekiden takes place logically enough on January 1st. As the National Corporate Men's Ekiden Championships, the New Year Ekiden is one of the biggest events of the year with a 7-stage, 100 km course and all of the best Japanese and foreign corporate men in the country lining up. Last year's race featured a stunning 3-way sprint battle to the finish with Team Fujitsu unexpectedly coming out the winner. This year Team Nissin Shokuhin is set for the win with the addition of 27:38 10000 m runner Yuki Sato to its lineup.

Overshadowing the New Year Ekiden on January 2-3 is the Hakone Ekiden, the university men's championships for the Kanto region. Hakone is the heart and soul of Japanese distance running, one of the world's greatest races. It goes beyond being just a race and has become a cultural institution in Japan, with viewer ratings of over 30% for the two-day broadcast and millions lining the course of the epic 10-stage, 216.4 km event, a museum, two websites, several magazines, novels, commemorative beer cans, and, this fall, a mainstream movie about a school trying to make Hakone for the first time. More than the Olympics, more than the World Championships, more than winning a major marathon, Hakone is what Japan's young men dream about from the day they first lace on their shoes.

It's been argued in recent years that the Hakone Ekiden has thus become a major part of the problems with Japanese men's marathoning, but while such criticism may have some truth we're all better for Hakone's existence. It's one of the tragedies of our sport that Hakone has been all but invisible outside Japan, but 2009 was the first year the race could be readily viewed online overseas. Those who tuned in were treated to one of the greatest runnings in Hakone's 85 editions as first-year Ryuji Kashiwabara led Toyo University to its first-ever Hakone title with a record-setting run of towering inspiration on the nearly 1 km-climb uphill 5th stage. Toyo looks to be in position for a repeat win this year as it builds momentum over the last stretch of the season. If you've never seen the Hakone Ekiden you owe it to yourself to watch at least once.

Most of the races listed above will be broadcast live nationwide and available for viewing online internationally via Keyhole TV. JRN will be offering on-site coverage and live English commentary whenever possible. Check back frequently for more details on both broadcast times and live commentary.

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Nagano Unseats Tokyo in 25th East Japan Women's Ekiden

by Brett Larner

The Nagano Prefecture team staged a coup at Sunday's 25th anniversary East Japan Women's Ekiden in Fukushima, clocking 2:18:36 for the 9-stage, 42.195 km course to beat two-time defending champion Tokyo by over a minute and take its first-ever win at the regional championships.

Nagano's Yuko Shimizu, a member of the Japanese national team for the International Chiba Ekiden later this month, got her team off to a strong start with a 2nd-place finish on the 6 km first leg, one second behind Aomori Prefecture's Miho Notagashira in 19:08. Tokyo's Chisa Fujimoto languished far behind, finishing 13th out of 17 in 19:56. While Tokyo spent the rest of the ekiden trying to claw its way back to the front, Nagano's second leg runner Yuka Hakoyama overtook Aomori's Nao Sasaki to build a lead which Nagano never relinquished.

The biggest excitement of the day came on the anchor stage where Tokyo's Azusa Nojiri, a former pro XC skier who began running professionally just over a year ago and is now a teammate of 2009 World Championships marathon silver medalist Yoshimi Ozaki at Team Daiichi Seimei, ran a sizzling stage best 32:33 for the 10 km anchor leg to take Tokyo from 7th to 2nd. Nojiri outran her nearest competitor, 2009 Tokyo Marathon winner Mizuho Nasukawa of Iwate Prefecture, by over 30 seconds. Although she narrowed the gap to leaders Nagano by 55 seconds, Nojiri could not singlehandedly make up the remaining distance and finished 2nd in 2:19:53. Like Tokyo the Kanagawa Prefecture team worked its way up through the field and finished a close 3rd in 2:19:57.

Nagano's strong showing gives it a chance of joining the prefecture's winning men's team on the victory stand at January's National Interprefectural Ekiden Championships. To get there they will have to take down five-time defending champion Kyoto Prefecture along with western Japan powerhouses Okayama Prefecture and Hyogo Prefecture.

2009 East Japan Women's Ekiden - top team results
click here for complete team results
1. Nagano - 2:18:36
2. Tokyo - 2:19:53
3. Kanagawa - 2:19:57
4. Saitama - 2:20:29
5. Tochigi - 2:20:36
6. Ibaraki - 2:20:58
7. Fukushima - 2:21:07
8. Chiba - 2:21:08
9. Yamagata - 2:21:16
10. Gunma - 2:21:41

Stage Best Winners
1st Leg - 6.0 km - Miho Notagashira (Aomori) - 19:07
2nd Leg - 4.0 km - Hiroko Shoi (Miyagi) - 12:54
3rd Leg - 3.0 km - Naoko Koizumi (Niigata) - 9:53
4th Leg - 3.0 km - Yuka Kobayashi (Tochigi) - 9:32
5th Leg - 5.0875 km - Kiyomi Shibazaki (Saitama) - 16:48
6th Leg - 4.1075 km - Makiko Kuroda (Kanagawa) - 13:11
7th Leg - 4.0 km - Michiru Otsuki (Tokyo) - 13:00
8th Leg - 3.0 km - Ayaka Amaha (Saitama) - 9:21
9th Leg - 10.0 km - Azusa Nojiri (Tokyo) - 32:33

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Monday, November 9, 2009

'Ngetich, Ozaki Prevail in ‘Battle of Marathon’ – Athens Marathon Report'

http://www.iaaf.org/LRR09/news/newsid=54846.html

Note: Popular fan website letsrun.com mistakenly states that Athens winner Akemi Ozaki and Second Wind teammate Yuri Kano are coached by a woman. Both are coached by former Team Shiseido head coach Manabu Kawagoe, who is in fact a man. Ozaki's younger sister Yoshimi, the 2009 Berlin World Championships women's marathon silver medalist, is coached by Sachiko Yamashita, a woman and World Championships women's marathon silver medalist in her own right.

Men's race 7th place finisher Masaru Takamizawa is engaged to Akemi Ozaki and Yuri Kano's third teammate Kiyoko Shimahara who will run this week's first edition of the Yokohama International Women's Marathon.

Kawauchi Sets Course Record at Guam Half Marathon

Yuki Kawauchi wins the 2009 Guam Half Marathon in a course record 1:09:12.Kawauchi won a trip to the Guam Half Marathon by winning August's Fuji Yoshida Half Marathon in a course record 1:11:01.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Japan Announces A-List Team for International Chiba Ekiden

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/news/f-sp-tp0-20091105-563109.html
http://www.jiji.com/jc/c?g=spo_30&k=2009110500679

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On Nov. 5 at a press conference at its offices in Shibuya, Tokyo, Rikuren announced the lineup for the Japanese national team at the Nov. 23 International Chiba Ekiden. Including two alternates, the mixed men's and women's team features an all-star lineup including Berlin World Championships marathon 6th place finisher Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku), 1500 m and 5000 m national champion Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B), Beijing Olympics 5000 m and 10000 m runner Kensuke Takezawa (Team S&B), 2008 World Half Marathon 5th place finisher Yusei Nakao (Team Toyota Boshoku) on the men's side and Berlin World Championships 5000 m and 10000 m runner Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya), 1500 m national record holder Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Boshoku), Berlin World Championships marathoner Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren), and ekiden ace Yuko Shimizu (Team Sekisui Kagaku).

The 2009 International Chiba Ekiden features 15 teams from 13 countries including Kenya, Russia and the United States. A Japanese university select team and a Chiba prefectural team complete the field's lineup.

Nakamura and Masai's WC 10000 m Times Disallowed by IAAF

http://mainichi.jp/enta/sports/general/track/news/20091106k0000m050148000c.html

translated by Brett Larner

The IAAF announced on Nov. 5 that the PB time of 31.14.39 recorded by Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya) in finishing 7th in August's World Championships 10000 m would be disallowed from official records along with the times recorded by winner Linet Masai (Kenya), 20th place finisher Yukari Sahaku (Team Universal Entertainment) and six other athletes who started on the outer half of the track. This group of nine was to run a portion of a lap in the outer lanes before moving in to join the rest of the field, but due to organizers' failure to put down correct markings on the track the group cut in early. While their times will be disallowed, no change will be made to the official finishing order. Nakamura's official PB will be amended to her previous mark of 31:31.95.

Akaba to Run Osaka

http://www.jiji.com/jc/c?g=spo_30&k=2009110300258

translated by Brett Larner

Following her appearance at the Nov. 3 East Japan Jitsugyodan Women's Ekiden, distance runner Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) told reporters, "My first marathon was in Osaka. I think going back to where I started is the best way to get my running back," signalling that she intends to run in the Jan. 31 Osaka International Women's Marathon.

Akaba ran in this past August's World Championships marathon in Berlin, but injured her right foot and finished only 31st. In October she ran the World Half Marathon in Birmingham, England but was 26th after another injury to her left leg. Her injuries have most recovered, and Akaba said, "I'm about 90% OK right now. The World Championships marathon was a terrible experience. I want to have another race that I can look back on as one I enjoyed."