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Teaching the Masters

Spring is here. With it comes the April issue of our new subscription series JRNPremium. This month's issues features an interview with Kiyoko Shimahara, the 2009 Hokkaido Marathon winner who broke 2:30 three times in just over 100 days last fall. Shimahara is running Sunday's Nagano Marathon and was just named to the Japanese national team for November's Asian Games. We talked to her about what happened last fall, her training this spring, and her views on national teams, racing overseas, and what's wrong with the corporate team system. Look for Shimahara's interview tomorrow.

Also out now, as a companion piece to editor-in-chief Jonathan Beverley's interview with Kenya's Samuel Wanjiru, the May, 2010 issue of Running Times magazine includes my article "Teaching the Masters" which looks at the history of African distance runners in Japan. For the article I interviewed Tsutomu Akiyama, one of the men responsible for bringing Samuel Wanjiru to the world, Stephen Mayaka, the first Kenyan high school runner in Japan, and Biruk Bekele, an agent who in his running days was one of the first Ethiopians to be hired by a Japanese corporate team.

The complete interviews with Mayaka and Akiyama, both solid gold, will be published in the May and June issues of JRNPremium. The July issue of Running Times will also include an article of mine looking at the development of the Japanese running system from a historical perspective.

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One Month Until the Japanese Olympic Marathon Trials

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People had a nearly two-year window from August, 2017 to April this year to hit tough standards to qualify. Only 34 men and 15 women made it, and after withdrawals for the Doha World Championships the MGC Race's final entry list is just 31 men and 12 women. Swedish Athletics Federation official Lorenzo Nesicalled it "the most difficult marathon race ever to quali…

MGC Race Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier - Naoki Okamoto

Naoki Okamotoage: 35
sponsor: Chugoku Denryoku
graduated from: Tottori Chuo Ikuei H.S., Meiji University

best time inside MGC window:
2:11:29, 1st, 2018 Hokkaido Marathon

PB: 2:11:29, 1st, 2018 Hokkaido Marathon

other PBs:
5000 m: 13:37.71 (2009) 10000 m: 28:05.84 (2011) half marathon: 1:02:16 (2009)

marathons inside MGC window (Aug. 1 2017 – April 30 2019)
DNF, 2019 Beppu-Oita Marathon
1st, 2018 Hokkaido Marathon, 2:11:29 – PB
DNF, 2018 Boston Marathon

other major results:
4th, 2019 Shibetsu Half Marathon, 1:03:53
2nd, 2019 New Year Ekiden Fourth Stage (22.4 km), 1:05:13
1st, 2018 Chugoku Corporate Ekiden Sixth Stage (19.0 km), 56:25 – CR
1st, 2018 Ome 30 km Road Race, 1:33:09
21st, 2017 Tokyo Marathon, 2:13:53

We’re picking Okamoto as our official dark horse of the men’s race. The second-oldest man in a field, Okamoto is a journeyman corporate leaguer who never broke 2:12 and whose PBs all came a decade ago. But, nearing the end of his career, over the last two years he has really come on…

Running the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Marathon Course Part Three - Men's Marathon and Overall Summary

Today marks one year until the men's marathon at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. For the third time in the last week, once last Friday with one year to go to the Olympic women's marathon, once on Monday with a likely competitor in the men's marathon, and again today, I ran most of the Olympic marathon course taking temperature and humidity readings every half an hour to get a handle on what kind of conditions athletes in each race can expect to be facing. Between the three runs I covered about 80 km, and including the two times I did it last summer two years out from the women's marathon and men's marathon about 135 km, on the Olympic course. To get it out of the way off the bat, a couple of days ago a few readers told me that the Buy Me A Coffee button wasn't working. I think the problem has been fixed, so if you're so inclined please feel free to use it. Your support for JRN is always really appreciated.

And now on to the run.


This time out I went to the start …