Sunday, May 30, 2010

Arata Fujiwara Sets Ottawa Marathon Course Record

by Brett Larner

photos by Brett Larner except Deriba Merga and Arata Fujiwara by Yasunori Sakamaki



In his first race since his unprecedented departure from Team JR Higashi Nihon at the end of March, Arata Fujiwara won the 2010 Ottawa Marathon on May 30. Fujiwara broke the existing course record by one minute two seconds, outkicking Kenyan Laban Moiben and junior world record holder Bazu Worku of Ethiopia to win in 2:09:33.4. His time on the difficult course was the fastest of the year by a Japanese man and came three months after his 2nd place finish in sleet and wind at February's Tokyo Marathon.



A slower than expected first 10 km over challenging hills through Quebec scuttled the expected attack on the Canadian all-comers record on 2:08:32 from last fall's Toronto Waterfront Marathon, but the top four men all broke the previous course record of 2:10:35. Two of the three pacemakers dropped off far earlier than planned, leaving Kenyan Festus Langat to do the rest of the work through 30 km. Langat struggled after 27 km, dropping as slow as 3:10/km before dropping out. Moiben immediately attacked, putting in a 2:55 km and cutting the lead pack down to five. He attacked again at 37 km, and this time Fujiwara was the only athlete to follow. Worku regained contact, but with one km to go Fujiwara applied pressure which dropped the Ethiopian and left the Kenyan dangling. With 500 m to go Fujiwara was free and clear and sailed in to claim his first marathon victory in his first-ever successful overseas run.


"The course was very tough with the hills in the first 10 km," Fujiwara told reporters after the race. "I felt terrible for the first 20 km, but then everything clicked into place. The whole last 500 m I was thinking about the beer that was waiting for me at the finish. This win is a big step forward for me, but more than what it means for me I hope it shows other Japanese runners that there are different ways to have a career and that the corporate team system needs to become more flexible." Fujiwara plans to run July's Sapporo International Half Marathon before heading to Ethiopia for high-altitude training.


In the women's race, Ethiopian Merima Mohammed ran unchallenged to win in 2:28:19 with a margin of nearly seven minutes over runner-up compatriot Radiya Adlo. Canadian Rick Ball also set a world record of 2:57:48 for an amputee marathon, the first one-legged marathoner to break three hours.


2010 Ottawa Marathon - Top Finishers
click here for complete results
Men
1. Arata Fujiwara (Japan) - 2:09:33 - CR
2. Laban Moiben (Kenya) - 2:09:43 (CR)
3. Bazu Worku (Ethiopia) - 2:09:53 (CR)
4. Hillary Kimaiyo (Kenya) - 2:10:20 (CR)
5. Wegayehu Girma Tefera (Ethiopia) - 2:11:27

Women
1. Merima Mohammed (Ethiopia) - 2:28:19
2. Radiya Adlo (Ethiopia) - 2:35:04
3. Samira Raif (Morocco) - 2:36:46

Update: Among the articles covering Fujiwara's win, the Ottawa Citizen had a long article on Fujiwara's win and what it means for him. Global TV's piece was also good. This French-language article is in-depth and interesting. Lastly, a shoutout to the Metro's Tracey Tong for her pre-race and post-win coverage.

(c) 2010 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Kinukawa Takes a Small Step Forward With Nittai Win

by Brett Larner

Chronically injured women's 10000 m junior national record holder Megumi Kinukawa (Team Mizuno) took a small step toward making another comeback at the May 29 Nittai University Time Trials. Just a week before the National Championships Kinukawa won the A-heat of the women's 3000 m, running 9:23.12 to win by a margin of over two and a half seconds over Shino Saito (Team Shimamura). Her time was not especially remarkable but the win itself was her first at any distance in several years and is a hopeful sign for one of Japan's most talented young runners.

Nittai University Time Trials Women's 3000 m A-Heat
1. Megumi Kinukawa (Team Mizuno) - 9:23.12
2. Shino Saito (Team Shimamura) - 9:25.71
3. Fumiko Hashimoto (Team Shimamura) - 9:28.89
4. Yuki Numata (Team Shimamura) - 9:29.57
5. Yume Tanaka (Yamanashi Gakuin Prep H.S.) - 9:32.86

(c) 2010 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Friday, May 28, 2010

'Canadian Record in Runner's Sights' - Arata Fujiwara at the 2010 Ottawa Marathon

http://www.metronews.ca/ottawa/local/article/536794--canadian-record-in-runner-s-sights



2010 Ottawa Marathon top four invited men, L-R: Marathon junior world record holder Bazu Worku (Ethiopia), 4-time Ottawa Marathon champion David Cheruiyot (Kenya), 2009 World Championships marathoner Arata Fujiwara (Japan), and 2006 Cologne Marathon winner Teferi Wodajo (Ethiopia). Photo by Yasunori Sakamaki.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

JRN On Location: Ottawa Marathon

JRN will be on location at the 2010 Ottawa Marathon for the next week. Apologies for any interruptions to regularly scheduled service during this time, but we will be bringing you exclusive coverage throughout race weekend.

This year's outstanding men's field includes world junior record holder Bazu Worku (Ethiopia), 2:07 men Philip Manyim (Kenya) and Teferi Wodajo (Ethiopia), 2:08 runner Arata Fujiwara (Japan) and defending champion David Cheruiyot (Kenya). The 10 km features luminaries Deriba Merga (Ethiopia) and Dire Tune (Ethiopia).

For complete elite field listings, click here for the marathon or here for the 10 km.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Iizuka Redux: The Future King of Japanese Sprinting?

I don't particularly care about sprinting but I can't stop watching this video, so here it is again. Ladies and gentlemen, freshman anchor Shota Iizuka singlehandedly gives Chuo University a 1-second margin of victory over Waseda University and the Japanese national university record of 38.54 in the men's 4 x 100 m relay at the Kanto Regional University T&F Championships in Tokyo's National Stadium on May 22, 2010.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hakone's New Star Takes First 5000 m Win - Taku Fujimoto

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/news/p-sp-tp0-20100524-633277.html

translated by Brett Larner

Taku Fujimoto (3rd yr., Kokushikan Univ.) took down Toyo University's "God of the Mountains" Ryuji Kashiwabara and other top Hakone runners to win his first Kanto Regional University Track & Field Championships 5000 m. Battling rain, Fujimoto ran with self-possession among the leaders for the entire race until with one lap to go he shot away to return holding a nearly 20-second PB of 13:38.68.* With no really noteworthy results in high school and constant injury problems since entering university Fujimoto's talent has finally blossomed. He now stands to become the newest star of next year's Hakone Ekiden.

Only four days before the Kanto 5000 m he was suffering from back trouble serious enough that he thought about pulling out, but with treatment from his team's trainer Coach Ogawa, the 1999 Kanto Regionals 5000 m winner, he recovered sufficiently to decide to give it a go.

Lined up ahead of Fujimoto at the head of the pack were nothing but stars. The "God of the Mountains" Kashiwabara, this year's Kanto Regionals 10000 m champ Benjamin Gando (Kenya/Nihon Univ.), the top non-African at this year's World XC junior race, Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.) and others were all battling, but the one who came out on top was the no-name Fujimoto. Tailing the aggressive and talented Murasawa over the final kilometer, Fujimoto lengthened his stride with exactly one lap to go and effortlessly pulled away to the win. "I feel like I woke up in someone else's life," he said, wide-eyed in shock. After the race Murasawa told him, "I'm not going to lose to you at 10000 m after this." Feeling intimidated at the prospect of what the rest of the year holds for him, Fujimoto told reporters, "That was a bit scary, and Kashiwabara? He's from another world."

Fujimoto himself picked up some power from the mountain gods. A week before the race he went to western Tokyo's Mt. Takao with his teammate Nishio, "because it's a power spot." Nishio ran a PB in the Kanto Regionals half marathon earlier the same day that Fujimoto won the 5000 m and beat Kashiwabara. Does that prove Mt. Takao's power? "Definitely."

With no other significant results from high school or university Fujimoto feels there are no self-imposed limits upon him. He is now Kokushikan University's key man in its bid to qualify for the Hakone Ekiden after missing out the last two years. "I want all of us to go together," he said, "but, well, right now I've never felt so alive." With plenty of time to develop even further Fujimoto may be one of the biggest surprise breakthroughs of the year.

*Translator's note: Fujimoto's time exactly ties Akinobu Murasawa's PB of 13:38.68 from last month.

Taku Fujimoto: 3rd yr., Kokushikan Univ. 166 cm, 53 kg. Born Sept. 11, 1989 in Tokuyama, Yamaguchi prefecture. Joined the track team in 6th grade after a friend talked him into it. As a 2nd-yr. at Takamizu Gakuen H.S. he won the junior 4 km race at the Fukuoka Int'l XC Meet but apart from team qualification never made it to the National High School Championships. 10000 m PB of 28:44.88. Has never run 20 km even in training. Family includes his parents and two brothers. Nickname: "Fujimon."

2010 Kanto Regional University T&F Championships - Top Results
click here or on event header for complete results

Men's 5000 m A-Heat
1. Taku Fujimoto (3rd yr., Kokushikan Univ.) - 13:38.68 - PB
2. Tetsuya Yoroizaka (3rd yr., Meiji Univ.) - 13:39.31 - PB
3. Akinobu Murasawa (2nd yr., Tokai Univ.) - 13:39.65
4. Yusuke Hasegawa (4th yr., Jobu Univ.) - 13:43.31
5. Yo Yazawa (3rd yr., Waseda Univ.) - 13:44.10
6. Ryohei Kawakami (3rd yr., Toyo Univ.) - 13:46.55 - PB
7. Hideyuki Tanaka (2nd yr., Juntendo Univ.) - 13:47.12 - PB
8. Dai Nakahara (2nd yr., Josai Univ.) - 13:47.89 - PB
9. Tsubasa Hayakawa (2nd yr., Tokai Univ.) - 13:48.87 - PB
10. Keisuke Tanaka (4th yr., Josai Univ.) - 13:50.15 - PB
11. Benjamin Gando (2nd yr., Nihon Univ.) - 13:51.19 - PB
12. Ryuji Kashiwabara (3rd yr., Toyo Univ.) - 13:51.21
13. Masaki Ito (3rd yr., Kokushikan Univ.) - 13:51.30 - PB
14. Yusuke Sato (2nd yr., Nihon Univ.) - 13:57.01 - PB
15. Kentaro Tone (3rd yr., Tokai Univ.) - 13:58.63
16. Naohiro Domoto (3rd yr., Nihon Univ.) - 13:58.71 - PB
17. Keita Shitara (1st yr., Toyo Univ.) - 13:59.09 - PB

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Fujimoto Comes From Nowhere to Win Kanto Regionals 5000 m - 26 Under 14 Min.

by Brett Larner

Men's 5000 m A-Heat


Steadily worsening rain and winds on the last day of the 2010 Kanto Regional University T&F Championships didn't slow things down as the men's 5000 m A-heat saw one of the best overall university men's 5000 m in Japanese history. Hakone Ekiden star Ryuji Kashiwabara (Toyo Univ.) and the relentlessly improving Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Meiji Univ.) took the pack of 29 through 1 km in 2:39, almost dead-on Japanese national record pace. Surprisingly, everyone went with them and few fell apart. Kashiwabara, Yoroizaka and 10000 m A-heat winner Benjamin Gando (Kenya/Nihon Univ.) took turns leading as the fastest man in the field, 19 year-old Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.) patiently worked his way forward. When Murasawa finally made his move, his surprise company came from Taku Fujimoto (Kokushikan Univ.), a runner with a PB of only 13:57.57. A bigger surprise came when Fujimoto blasted away over the last lap to knock nearly 20 seconds off his PB with a 13:38.68 win. Yoroizaka and Murasawa also broke 13:40, and altogether 17 men out of the 29 starters broke 14 minutes, 12 of them in PBs and none of the remaining 5 more than 3 seconds off his PB. Yoroizaka deserves extra praise, running PBs to finish 2nd in both the 5000 m and 10000 m and in each race outkicking the fastest man in the field.

Men's 5000 m B-Heat


The 5000 m B-heat, more akin to NCAA Div. II than to a JV race, was also quick. 10000 m B-heat winner Duncan Mozay (Kenya/Takushoku Univ.) did it again, just clipped teammate John Maina (Kenya/Takushoku Univ.) for the win in 13:41.08. The top 4 finishers, the two Kenyans plus Kazuya Deguchi (Nittai Univ.) and Hiromitsu Kakuage (Komazawa Univ.) broke the former Kanto Regionals B-heat record, and 9 men broke 14 minutes with 5 of these clocking PBs. Between the two heats 26 men broke 14 minutes, significantly more than in past years and a result which suggests Kanto's coaches are giving more attention to the speed component of their students' training, the missing ingredient in modern Japanese distance training.

The men's half marathon was nevertheless strong. Cosmas Ondiba (Kenya/Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) repeated his win from last year with teammate Muryo Takase (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) a second behind. Although Ondiba ran only 1:03:30 on the difficult 10-loop course, for the first time 5 men went under 64 minutes including 2009 Ageo City Half Marathon winner Shota Hiraga (Waseda Univ.). Kenta Chiba (Komazawa Univ.) won the B-heat in 1:04:42.

Women's 5000 m


Held on Saturday afternoon, the women's 5000 m suffered from the hottest temperatures so far this year ahead of the rain that cooled Sunday's events. It also suffered from a shortage of competition following the graduation last month of many of the Kanto region's best women. After a leisurely first 2 km, frosh Nanaka Izawa (Juntendo Univ.) grew impatient and abruptly dropped the rest of the field, streaking away to run the rest of the race unchallenged for the win in a moderate 16:26.36 which did not give proper credit to the quality of her running due to the slow opening section. Runner-up Yurie Doi (Tokyo Gakugei Daigaku) was over 5 seconds behind.

2010 Kanto Regional University T&F Championships - Top Results
click here or on event headers for complete results

Men's 5000 m A-Heat
1. Taku Fujimoto (3rd yr., Kokushikan Univ.) - 13:38.68 - PB
2. Tetsuya Yoroizaka (3rd yr., Meiji Univ.) - 13:39.31 - PB
3. Akinobu Murasawa (2nd yr., Tokai Univ.) - 13:39.65
4. Yusuke Hasegawa (4th yr., Jobu Univ.) - 13:43.31
5. Yo Yazawa (3rd yr., Waseda Univ.) - 13:44.10
6. Ryohei Kawakami (3rd yr., Toyo Univ.) - 13:46.55 - PB
7. Hideyuki Tanaka (2nd yr., Juntendo Univ.) - 13:47.12 - PB
8. Dai Nakahara (2nd yr., Josai Univ.) - 13:47.89 - PB
9. Tsubasa Hayakawa (2nd yr., Tokai Univ.) - 13:48.87 - PB
10. Keisuke Tanaka (4th yr., Josai Univ.) - 13:50.15 - PB
11. Benjamin Gando (2nd yr., Nihon Univ.) - 13:51.19 - PB
12. Ryuji Kashiwabara (3rd yr., Toyo Univ.) - 13:51.21
13. Masaki Ito (3rd yr., Kokushikan Univ.) - 13:51.30 - PB
14. Yusuke Sato (2nd yr., Nihon Univ.) - 13:57.01 - PB
15. Kentaro Tone (3rd yr., Tokai Univ.) - 13:58.63
16. Naohiro Domoto (3rd yr., Nihon Univ.) - 13:58.71 - PB
17. Keita Shitara (1st yr., Toyo Univ.) - 13:59.09 - PB

Men's 5000 m B-Heat
1. Duncan Mozay (Kenya/1st yr., Takushoku Univ.) - 13:41.08 - PB, MR
2. John Maina (Kenya/ 1st yr., Takushoku Univ.) - 13:41.17 - PB, (MR)
3. Kazuya Deguchi (4th yr., Nittai Univ.) - 13:49.84 (MR)
4. Hiromitsu Kakuage (2nd yr., Komazawa Univ.) - 13:52.57 (MR)
5. Ikki Takeuchi (1st yr., Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 13:53.39 - PB
6. Kenta Matsubara (3rd yr., Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) - 13:53.41 - PB
7. Shinji Ando (4th yr., Teikkyo Univ.) - 13:55.47 - PB
8. Ikuto Yufu (1st yr., Komazawa Univ.) - 13:56.17
9. Takumi Honda (1st yr., Nittai Univ.) - 13:56.70
10. Takuya Noguchi (4th yr., Nittai Univ.) - 14:04.12

Women's 5000 m
1. Nanaka Izawa (1st yr., Juntendo Univ.) - 16:26.36
2. Yurie Doi (4th yr., Tokyo Gakugei Daigaku) - 16:31.81
3. Natsumi Suguro (4th yr., Nittai Univ.) - 16:32.13

Men's Half Marathon A-Heat
1. Cosmas Ondiba (Kenya/3rd yr., Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 1:03:30
2. Muryo Takase (4th yr., Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 1:03:31
3. Shogo Otsu (4th yr., Toyo Univ.) - 1:03:32 - PB
4. Shota Hiraga (2nd yr., Waseda Univ.) - 1:03:40 - PB
5. Junichi Shioya (2nd yr., Chuo Univ.) - 1:03:52 - PB

Men's Half Marathon B-Heat
1. Kenta Chiba (2nd yr., Komazawa Univ.) - 1:04:42 - debut
2. Junya Kinoshita (3rd yr., Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) - 1:04:51 - PB
3. Koji Kobayashi (4th yr., Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 1:05:10

(c) 2010 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Japan's Bolt? Frosh Leads Chuo to 4x100m National University Record 38.54 at Kanto Regionals

by Brett Larner

Watch this video and say that you are not impressed:


Chuo Univ., lane 5, wins the men's 4x100m over Waseda Univ., lane 4.

Japanese sprinting keeps moving forward. On the second to last day of the 2010 Kanto Regional University Track and Field Championships, May 22 in Tokyo's National Stadium, Chuo University's men's 4x100 m pulled off the biggest upset of the meet so far with a 38.54 national university record win over titan Waseda University thanks to a stunning performance by freshman anchor Shota Iizuka. The unheralded Chuo team's time was not only a record and not only beat Waseda, which features 2009 national champion and World Championships team member Masashi Eriguchi, by exactly one second but would have won last year's American NCAA Div. I National Championships, placed the team 5th in the Beijing Olympics final and 6th in the final of last summer's World Championships.

With Eriguchi on 2nd Waseda had a strong first half, but a great run from Chuo's 3rd runner, junior Hiroyuki Kubota, brought frosh anchor Iizuka into position for the record. The surprisingly tall Iizuka started the anchor leg just a step ahead of Waseda but blazed away to open Chuo's one second margin almost singlehandly. Official splits are unavailable, but in the video above Iizuka appears to clock 9.25 from handoff to crossing the finish line. For a frosh it was a sensational performance and one which makes the first sub-10 by a Japanese runner a strong possibility this season. For complete results click here.

Iizuka finished 2nd to Eriguchi in the 100 m, 10.58 to 10.38, but returned on May 23 to win the 200 m with an impressive final 50 m in which he pulled away with ease to finish in 20.76 to Eriguchi's 21.06.

(c) 2010 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Saturday, May 22, 2010

'New Faces in Line-up With Seasoned Racers at 2010 Ottawa Marathon'

http://runottawa.ca/index.php/en/media/media-centre/2010/05/19/550

Arata Fujiwara (Proposer Japan) makes his racing debut since going independent last month at the May 30 Ottawa Marathon.

2010 Ottawa Marathon Elite Field - Top Entrants
click here for complete elite field listing
Men
Bazu Worku (Ethiopia) - 2:06:15 (2009)
Philip Manyim (Kenya) - 2:07:41 (2005)
Teferi Wodajo (Ethiopia) - 2:07:45 (2009)
Arata Fujiwara (Japan) - 2:08:40 (2008)
Hussan Adelo (Ethiopia) - 2:09:09 (2010)
Hillary Kimaiyo (Kenya) - 2:09:54 (2008)
John Njoroge (Kenya) - 2:10:00 (2006)
Wegayehu Girma Tefera (Ethiopia) - 2:10:09 (2010)
Gebo Burka Gameda (Ethiopia) - 2:10:18 (2009)
David Cheruiyot (Kenya) - 2:10:36 (2007)

Women
Rose Kerubo (Kenya) - 2:29:22 (2007)
Lioudmila Kortchaguila (Canada) - 2:29:42 (2007)
Alemitu Abera (Ethiopia) - 2:31:01 (2010)
Merima Mohammed (Ethiopia) - 2:33:56 (2009)
Radiya Adlo (Ethiopia) - 2:35:00 (2009)

10 km
Men
Deriba Merga (Ethiopia) - 27:24 (2009)
Robert Letting (Kenya) - 27:45 (2008)
Martin Mukule (Kenya) - 27:47 (2009)
Eric Gillis (Canada) - 28:07 (2008)
Hosea Rutto (Kenya) - 28:20 (2009)
Richard Bartale (Kenya) - 28:23 (2009)
Mohamed El Hachimi (Morocco) - 28:26 (2008)
Lelisa Desisa (Ethiopia) - 28:35 (2009)
Stephen Chemlany (Kenya) - 28:41 (2009)
Willy Kimosop (Kenya) - 28:54 (2010)

Women
Dire Tune (Ethiopia) - 31:40 (2010)
Genoveva Kigen (Kenya) - 32:11 (2008)
Emebet Lencho (Ethiopia) - 32:28 (2009)
Lucy Njeri (Kenya) - 32:36 (2007)
Hyvon Ngetich (Kenya) - 32:47 (2008)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Yoshimoto Over Nishihara at Kansai Regionals

by Brett Larner

On the first genuinely hot day of the year, 10000 m university national record holder Hikari Yoshimoto (Bukkyo Univ.) took the win in the women's 5000 m at the 2010 Kansai Regional University Track and Field Championships on May 21. Yoshimoto led start to finish with a quick 3:03 first kilometer before settling into a more moderate pace. She finished in only 15:44.57, an indication perhaps of the high temperatures, but still had a lead of over 23 seconds on runner-up Risa Takenaka (Ritsumeikan Univ.). Defending champion Kasumi Nishihara (Bukkyo Univ.), who set the meet record of 15:32.89 at last year's Kansai Regionals, was clearly not on form as she was 6th in only 16:44.46. Both Yoshimoto and Nishihara are scheduled to race the 5000 m and 10000 m at next month's National Track and Field Championships.

In the men's 10000 m, Hiroki Mitsuoka (Kyoto Sangyo Univ.), the only man in the field with a PB under 29:30, won in a leisurely 30:07.82.

2010 Kansai Regional University Track and Field Championships - Top Finishers
Women's 5000 m - click for complete results
1. Hikari Yoshimoto (Bukkyo Univ.) - 15:44.57
2. Risa Takenaka (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 16:07.65
3. Chinami Mori (Bukkyo Univ.) - 16:15.69
4. Michi Numata (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 16:37.94
5. Yoko Miki (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) - 16:39.47
6. Kasumi Nishihara (Bukkyo Univ.) - 16:44.46

Men's 10000 m - click for complete results
1. Hiroki Mitsuoka (Kyoto Sangyo Univ.) - 30:07.82
2. Kazuki Hayashi (Kyoto Sangyo Univ.) - 30:45.41
3. Eiji Teramoto (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 30:49.25

(c) 2010 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Entry Lists Up for National T&F Championships

by Brett Larner

On May 19 Rikuren published the entry lists for this year's National Track and Field Championships, to be held June 4-6 in Marugame, Kagawa prefecture. With the cancellation of this weekend's Golden Games in Nobeoka most of the top Japanese distance athletes will shift focus to Nationals, making for a potentially thrilling championship meet. Entry lists for the distance events are reproduced below.

The men's events are notable for the absence of veterans like 5000 m national record holder Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica-Minolta) and half marathon national record holder Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku), the preponderance of the field instead made up of some of the best young runners Japan has these days. Kensuke Takezawa (Team S&B) and Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) will square off in both the 5000 m and 10000 m, their scheduled duel at the Golden Games forcibly postponed by two weeks. The Japanese man with the fastest PB in the 5000 m field, Yu Mitsuya (Team Toyota Kyushu), will join the fray fresh from setting a 1500 m PB at last weekend's Kyushu Jitsugyodan T&F Championships. Last year's 1500 m and 5000 m double national champion Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B) will again attempt the double, and 10000 m national champion Yuki Iwai (Team Asahi Kasei) likewise returns. Top-ranked university runners Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.) and Ryuji Kashiwabara (Toyo Univ.) will also be in contention in the 5000 m and 10000 m respectively.

The defending national champions in the women's 5000 m and 10000 m, Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya) and Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren), will be back to claim a second title. Each of them will face multiple national record holder Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal), who appears to be back in top form after an injury-prone 2008-09 season. 1500 m national record holder Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) will double in 1500 m and 5000 m, while university sensation Hikari Yoshimoto (Bukkyo Univ.) and her teammate Kasumi Nishihara (Bukkyo Univ.) will do the 5 and 10 double. A notable and regrettable absence is 10000 m national record holder Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo), who has had recurring injury problems since running two hard marathons in the span of two months during the winter of 2008-09.

2010 National Track and Field Championships - Entry List Top 20
click here for complete entry lists
Men's 5000 m
Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 13:03.84
Yu Mitsuya (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 13:18.32
Kensuke Takezawa (Team S&B) - 13:19.00
Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B) - 13:21.49
Satoshi Irifune (Team Kanebo) - 13:22.12
Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 13:23.57
Yusei Nakao (Team Toyota Boshoku) - 13:28.16
Yuta Takahashi (Team S&B) - 13:31.31
Bitan Karoki (Kenya/Team S&B) - 13:32.79
Yuki Matsuoka (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 13:35.37
Satoru Kitamura (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 13:36.56
Naoki Okamoto (Team Choguku Denryoku) - 13:37.71
Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.) - 13:38.68
Takeshi Makabe (Team Kanebo) - 13:40.04
Tomoaki Bungo (Team Asahi Kasei) - 13:40.11
Yusuke Hasegawa (Jobu Univ.) - 13:40.83
Shinji Kanagawa (Team Yachiyo Kogyo) - 13:42.57
Takuya Fukatsu (Team Asahi Kasei) - 13:43.06
Tomoya Onishi (Team Asahi Kasei) - 13:43.06
Yuki Yagi (Waseda Univ.) - 13:43.49

Women's 5000 m
Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) - 14:53.22
Doricah Obare (Kenya/Team Hitachi) - 15:04.87
Ann Karindi (Kenya/Team Toyota Jidoshoki) - 15:05.34
Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) - 15:05.37
Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) - 15:11.17
Mari Ozaki (Team Noritz) - 15:12.76
Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya) - 15:13.01
Hitomi Niiya (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) - 15:23.27
Felista Wanjugu (Kenya/Team Universal Ent.) - 15:23.69
Hikari Yoshimoto (Bukkyo Univ.) - 15:26.72
Noriko Matsuoka (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 15:29.38
Yuko Shimizu (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 15:30.29
Miho Notagashira (Team Wacoal) - 15:31.27
Kasumi Nishihara (Bukkyo Univ.) - 15:32.89
Misaki Katsumata (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 15:34.13
Ai Igarashi (Team Sysmex) - 15:34.60
Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) - 15:35.12
Shoko Mori (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 15:35.12
Kazue Kojima (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) - 15:35.87
Seika Nishikawa (Team Sysmex) - 15:38.22

Men's 10000 m
Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 27:38.25
Kensuke Takezawa (Team S&B) - 27:45.59
Yusei Nakao (Team Toyota Boshoku) - 27:48.71
Takeshi Makabe (Team Kanebo) - 27:53.78
Yuki Iwai (Team Asahi Kasei) - 27:58.03
Satoru Kitamura (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 28:00.22
Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) - 28:03.92
Masato Kihara (Team Kanebo) - 28:06.48
Suehiro Ishikawa (Team Honda) - 28:07.04
Daisuke Shimizu (Team Kanebo) - 28:10.68
Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 28:11.99
Kazuyoshi Tokumoto (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 28:13.23
Atsushi Ikawa (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 28:14.75
Seigo Ikegami (Team Honda) - 28:16.12
Ryuji Kashiwabara (Toyo Univ.) - 28:20.99
Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta) - 28:21.58
Tomoyuki Morita (Team Kanebo) - 28:21.85
Kenichiro Setoguchi (Team Asahi Kasei) - 28:23.05
Bene Zama (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 28:27.61
Tomoya Onishi (Team Asahi Kasei) - 28:28.74

Women's 10000 m
Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) - 30:51.81
Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) - 31:15.34
Hikari Yoshimoto (Bukkyo Univ.) - 31:30.92
Noriko Matsuoka (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 31:31.45
Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya) - 31:31.95
Mari Ozaki (Team Noritz) - 31:34.15
Hiromi Ominami (Fukui T&F Assoc.) - 31:35.18
Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 31:42.86
Yoshiko Fujinaga (Team Shiseido) - 31:47.82
Yukari Sahaku (Team Universal Ent.) - 32:01.80
Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) - 32:12.92
Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 32:15.91
Kasumi Nishihara (Bukkyo Univ.) - 32:29.59
Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) - 32:37.72
Yuko Machida (Team Nihon ChemiCon) - 32:45.55
Yumi Hirata (Team Shiseido) - 32:50.03

(c) 2010 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Golden Games in Nobeoka Meet Cancelled Due to Outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease

http://www.jiji.com/jc/c?g=spo_30&k=2010051900600
http://www.docomoasahi.gr.jp/ggn/2010/10ggn/caution/apology.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On May 19 the organizers of the 21st Golden Games in Nobeoka track and field meet scheduled for May 22 in Nobeoka, Miyazaki prefecture, announced that the event would be cancelled due to an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Miyazaki. On May 18 Miyazaki Prefectural Government officials asked organizers of upcoming events within the prefecture to postpone their events, but with the difficulties of rescheduling a major track meet in mind, Golden Games organizers opted to cancel this year's competition.

A notice posted on the Golden Games in Nobeoka website on May 19 explained that while foot and mouth disease only affects cattle, pigs and water buffalo, not humans, no cases had been detected within the Nobeoka area, and meet organizers had contingency plans in place to minimize the risk of spreading the disease through dirt contaminating meet participants' shoes, Nobeoka officials nevertheless asked them to indefinitely posting the meet. With no end date for the quarantine in sight and full racing schedules already in place throughout June, meet organizers opted to cancel this year's Games, one of the major events on the spring calendar. They apologized to all the athletes who had trained to peak for the Games and to the fans who had looked forward to seeing the meet's high-level competition.

Translator's note: A pity. The highlight of this year's Golden Games was to be a men's 5000 m heat featuring most of the top Africans in Japan, among them Paul Tanui, Gideon Ngatuny and Jonathan Ndiku, along with the two most talented Japanese men in competition today, Kensuke Takezawa and Yuki Sato.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Eight Meets in Two Days: 19 yr-old Karoki 27:23 Debut, Fukushi Double 5k/10k Win, Mitsuya PB and More

by Brett Larner

This weekend saw eight major meets across Japan, two university regionals and six corporate team regionals. With too many results to list in detail JRN gives you a quick review of the major performances starting with the university meets. Click each meet or event for complete results.

  • Kanto Regional University Championships, Tokyo: Detailed in a separate article with video links, Kenyans Benjamin Gando (Nihon Univ.) and Duncan Mozay (Takushoku Univ.) took both windy men's 10000 m heats, Gando in 28:27.18 and Mozay in 29:15.43. The top seven in the A-heat broke 29 minutes, including two Waseda University frosh, Suguru Osako and Fuminori Shikata. Both 18 year-olds now have PBs in the 28:30's, boding well for Waseda's chances this year. Osako lost out in a three-way sprint finish against Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Meiji Univ.) and Ryuji Kashiwabara (Toyo Univ.) who finished 2-3 with Yoroizaka taking 21 seconds off his PB to clock 28:34.12. The women's 10000 m was relatively calm until another three-way sprint finish, with Chisato Saito (Josai Univ.) coming out on top in 33:57.12 just a stride ahead of teammate Miki Yamada.
  • Kansai Regional University Championships, Osaka: 2008 national university women's 10000 m champion Michi Numata (Ritsumeikan Univ.) was the favorite for the win but was outkicked in a surprise win for teammate Machiko Ichikawa who ran 33:07.32. In the men's 5000 m the top two broke the standing meet record, with Toshiki Imazaki (Ritsumeikan Univ.) winning in 14:04.83 and Hiroki Mitsuoka (Kyoto Sango Univ.) 2nd in 14:06.00.

Turning to corporate results:
  • Higashi Nihon Jitsugyodan Championships, Tokyo: The fastest times of the weekend in both men's and women's distance events came at the Higashi Nihon meet. On the men's side, Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin) won yet another three-way sprint finish against sub-27 man Josephat Ndambiri (Team Komori Corp.) and, in his 10000 m debut, 19 year-old Bitan Karoki (Team S&B). Ngatuny ran 27:22.46, with Ndambiri next in 27:23.46 and Karoki 3rd in 27:23.62. Both Ngatuny and Ndambiri lost out to Jonathan Ndiku (Team Hitachi Cable) and Daniel Gitau (Team Fujitsu) in the 5000 m, with Ndiku emerging with the win in 13:27.54 after losing to Gitau in the 1500 m. Kenyans also took the top positions in all the women's races from 800 m to 10000 m.
  • Chubu Jitsugyodan Championships, Gifu: Outside Tokyo the best result of the weekend came from Kenyan John Thuo (Team Toyota), who won the men's 10000 m in 27:31.95 by a margin of nearly 40 seconds to continue his strong spring season.
  • Kyushu Jitsugyodan Championships, Kita-Kyushu: 2010 Kenyan XC champion Paul Tanui (Team Kyudenko) ran 28:16.49 to win the men's 10000 m by a slim 3-second margin over 2009 World Championships 10000 m last-place finisher Yuki Iwai (Team Asahi Kasei). Former Toyo University captain Tomoya Onishi (Team Asahi Kasei) was 3rd in a PB of 28:28.74. Recent Komazawa University graduate Takuya Fukatsu (Team Asahi Kasei) won the men's 10000 m B-heat in 28:52.29 over Hakone Ekiden legend Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu). Imai's teammate and 13:18/27:41 man Yu Mitsuya showed that he is on the way back from his failed marathon debut at February's Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon with a 3:46.32 PB to win the men's 1500 m.
  • Chugoku Jitsugyodan Championships, Hiroshima: Kenyans Danielle Filomena Cheyech (Team Uniqlo) and Joseph Gitau (Team JFE Steel) both took double 5000 m and 10000 m wins. Recent Meiji University graduate Takuya Ishikawa (Team Chugoku Denryoku) had impressive runs to finish 2nd behind Gitau at both distances.
  • Hokuriku Jitsugyodan Championships, Niigata: The most minor of the corporate regionals, Hokuriku's only noteworthy result came in the men's 10000 m where Kenyan John Wainaina (Team Omokawa) won in a comfortable 29:27.77.
  • Kansai Jitsugyodan Championships, Marugame: The only corporate circuit meet of the weekend without a single Kenyan winner was in Osaka-centric Kansai, the only district which does not allow teams to hire foreign-born runners. The lack of suitable competition meant easy wins for multiple national record holder Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) in the women's 5000 m and 10000 m, where she ran minimal-effort performances of 15:41.32 and 32:30.42. Atsushi Ikawa (Team Otsuka Seiyaku), who had a memorable marathon debut at Beppu-Oita in February, was the only man to break 29 minutes in the 10000 m, clocking 28:57.69.

Both the Kanto and Kansai Regionals continue next weekend. The highlight of the Kansai meet will be a 5000 m matchup between teammates Hikari Yoshimoto, the newly-minted 10000 m university national record holder, and Kasumi Nishihara, the 2009 World University Games 10000 m gold medalist, both of 2009 national champions Bukkyo University. Kanto features both the men's and women's 5000 m as well as the men's half marathon.

Most of the top corporate runners will be in Kyushu next weekend for the Golden Games in Nobeoka meet. The men's 5000 m looks exceptional, with 13:19.00 runner Kensuke Takezawa (Team S&B) and 27:38.25 man Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) lining up in the Kenyan heat with the likes of Ngatuny, Tanui, Ndiku and more. Takezawa has said his goal this season is to break his 5000 and 10000 m PBs, either of which would put him close to the national record. Sato is likewise on the cusp of a national record at 10000 m, so he may also be in it for something big. It could be an historic race.

(c) 2010 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Gando Takes Kanto Regionals 10000 m

by Brett Larner



Picking up where the recently-graduated Daniel Gitau left off, Kenyan Benjamin Gando (Nihon Univ.) stepped up to take the win in the men's 10000 m A-heat at the 2010 Kanto Regional University Track and Field Championships, May 16 at Tokyo's National Stadium. With a 3rd-place finish as a frosh and a 2nd-place finish last year, star junior Ryuji Kashiwabara (Toyo Univ.) took the race out hard with a 2:42 first km in search of his first Kanto win but was unable to keep with up with Gando's surge over the final three kilometers. Gando fell just short of a new PB but took his first major win in 28:27.16.

Behind him, Kashiwabara battled with two Japanese runners over the last lap for the runner-up spot. 18 year old Saku Chosei H.S. grad Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.), one of four frosh on the entry list with PBs under 29 minutes, tried to drop Kashiwabara and solid junior Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Meiji Univ.) but was unable to match their closing speed. Edging Kashiwabara into 3rd, Yoroizaka took 2nd in a 21-second PB of 28:34.12. Kashiwabara missed setting a new PB but was 10 seconds faster than his time and 5 seconds faster than Gitau's winning time at last year's Kanto Regionals, a positive sign particularly in light of recent knee troubles. Osako took 22 seconds off his PB to finish in 28:35.75 but was unhappy with being outkicked for 4th, holding his head in his hands in disappointment immediately after finishing.

All told, despite strong winds seven men broke 29 minutes, four of them in PBs and two of them frosh. Cosmas Ondiba (Kenya/Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) was one of the few casualties, 16th in 29:35.98 after leading next to Kashiwabara through much of the early part of the race.



In the 10000 m B-Heat, Kenyan newcomer Duncan Mozay (Takushoku Univ.) had little trouble employing the same race strategy as Gando, pulling away with a strong surge with 3000 m to go. Kazuya Deguchi (Nittai Univ.) and Kazuhiro Kuga (Komazawa Univ.) worked together to reel him back in but ran out of ground and finished just a second behind. Along with fellow new Takushoku recruit John Maina, one of Mozay's tasks this year will be to work as training partner for Takushoku's most well-known alumnus, 2:08 marathoner Arata Fujiwara (Proposer Japan).

2010 Kanto Regional University Track and Field Championships - Top Finishers
click event header for complete video

Men's 10000 m A-Heat
click here for complete results
1. Benjamin Gando (2nd yr., Kenya/Nihon Univ.) - 28:27.18
2. Tetsuya Yoroizaka (3rd yr., Meiji Univ.) - 28:34.12 - PB
3. Ryuji Kashiwabara (3rd yr., Toyo Univ.) - 28:35.14
4. Suguru Osako (1st yr., Waseda Univ.) - 28:35.75 - PB
5. Masaki Ito (3rd yr., Kokushikan Univ.) - 28:38.69 - PB
6. Tsubasa Hayakawa (2nd yr., Tokai Univ.) - 28:47.37 - PB
7. Fuminori Shikata (1st yr., Waseda Univ.) - 28:56.89
8. Kentaro Tone (3rd yr., Tokai Univ.) - 29:01.42 - PB
9. Yo Yazawa (3rd yr., Waseda Univ.) - 29:03.75
10. Keita Shitara (1st yr., Toyo Univ.) - 29:16.11

Men's 10000 m B-Heat
click here for complete results
1. Duncan Mozay (1st yr., Kenya/Takushoku Univ.) - 29:15.43
2. Kazuya Deguchi (4th yr., Nittai Univ.) - 29:16.45
3. Kazuhiro Kuga (2nd yr., Komazawa Univ.) - 29:17.13

Men's 3000 m SC Semifinal A-Heat
click here for complete results
1. Kohei Kudo (1st yr., Waseda Univ.) - 9:05.37
2. Hiroaki Koike (1st yr., Toyo Univ.) - 9:06.95
3. Tomoyuki Wada (4th yr., Nihon Univ.) - 9:07.21

Men's 3000 m SC Semifinal B-Heat
click here for complete results
1. Daichi Motomura (1st yr., Tokai Univ.) - 8:59.95
2. Kosei Yamaguchi (1st yr., Josai Univ.) - 9:00.19
3. Yuji Yamada (4th yr., Chuo Univ.) - 9:00.35

(c) 2010 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Japanese Men Take Individual and Team Golds at 24 Hour World Championships

by Brett Larner

For the sixth year in a row, the Japanese men's team came out on top of the IAU 24 World Championships with a team gold medal at this year's event in Brive, France. Despite only fielding two members of last year's winning squad the team won by a wide margin over runner-up Italy thanks to member Shingo Inoue's individual gold medal-winning run of 273.708 km. Two-time bronze medalist Yuji Sakai fell just short of making it a third medal as he finished 4th with 258.907 km. Masahiko Honda rounded out the scoring positions in 15th with a total of 246.063 km.

The Japanese women team finished 6th out of 16 teams led by Kiyoko Shirakawa, 7th with 220.986 km.

2010 IAU 24 Hour World Championships - Top Finishers
Men - Individual
click here for complete results
1. Shingo Inoue (Japan) - 273.708 km
2. Scott Jurek (U.S.A.) - 266.677 km
3. Ivan Cudin (Italy) - 263.841 km
-----
4. Yuji Sakai (Japan) - 258.907 km
15. Masahiko Honda (Japan) - 246.063 km
20. Ryo Abiko (Japan) - 242.661 km
37. Kenji Takeda (Japan) - 225.885 km
51. Kazuhiko Ozawa (Japan) - 220.187 km

Women - Individual
1. Anne Cecila Fontaine (France) - 239.797 km
2. Monica Casiraghi (Italy) - 231.390 km
3. Julia Alter (Germany) - 230.258 km
-----
7. Kiyoko Shirakawa (Japan) - 220.986 km
25. Masae Kamura (Japan) - 194.656 km
42. Yasuko Kanehira (Japan) - 178.251 km
60. Yoko Nagase (Japan) - 155.555 km

Men - Team
click here for complete results
1. Japan - 778.678 km
2. Italy - 758.932 km
3. U.S.A. - 757.468 km

Women - Team
1. France - 685.800 km
2. Italy - 658.112 km
3. Australia - 654.863 km
-----
6. Japan - 593.893 km

(c) 2010 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Friday, May 14, 2010

Kanto Regionals Top Major Weekend of Track Meets

by Brett Larner

This weekend is one of the biggest of the year for Japanese distance runners, with no less than eight major track meets across the country. Six of the meets are regional championships for Japan's corporate teams and will feature many of the best Japanese and African athletes including Josephat Ndambiri (Kenya/Team Komori Corp.), Gideon Ngatuny (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin), Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren), Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal), Mari Ozaki (Team Noritz), Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) and Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B). Check the sidebar to the right for more information on these meets.

The Kansai Regional University Track and Field Championships offer an early-season look at the schools in Western central Japan, the site of the best university women's teams. The women's 5000 m in particular has a great matchup between 10000 m university national record holder Hikari Yoshimoto and 2009 World University Games 10000 m gold medalist Kasumi Nishihara, teammates at Bukkyo University. Nishihara spent most of last year overtaking rival Kazue Kojima, then of Ritsumeikan, to become the number one university woman in Japan. A month ago at the Kyoto University Track and Field Championships Yoshimoto broke Nishihara's 5000 m meet record from last spring by more than 20 seconds. 2008 university women's 10000 m national champion Michi Numata (Ritsumeikan Univ.) should be unchallenged for the win in the longer event.

But there's no escaping that the biggest meet of the weekend is the Kanto Regional University Track and Field Championships. In the absence of an established university system in Ethiopia or Kenya, the Tokyo-area Kanto Region, home of the Hakone Ekiden, is the world's most competitive university men's distance running circuit. Last year's results, reproduced below with the top 25 finishers in the 5000 m, 10000 m and half marathon, compared very favorably with those of the American NCAA Division I National Championships held a few weeks later. The Kanto results over 5000 m and 10000 m are particularly impressive compared to the NCAA results in light of the fact that the Kanto Regionals meet dilutes its talent pool by including a half marathon while the NCAA National meet does not.

Click for full-sized image.

Last year's runner-up in the 5000 m and 10000 m, Ryuji Kashiwabara (Toyo Univ.) comes to this year's Kanto Regionals with the fastest PB in the 10000 m A-heat, 28:20.99. He suffered some injury problems following his record-setting run in January's Hakone Ekiden, but if he is healthy look for Kashiwabara to set a new PB. His toughest challengers will be Kenyans Benjamin Gando (Nihon Univ.) and Cosmas Ondiba (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.), but also look out for exceptional Waseda University first-year Fuminori Shikata, who started university last month with a PB of 28:38.46. Other men in the field with PBs under 29 minutes include Asuka Tanaka (Tokai Univ.), Yo Yazawa (Waseda Univ.), Masato Kikuchi (Meiji Univ.), Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Meiji Univ.), Masaki Ito (Kokushikan Univ.), Hirotaka Tamura (Nihon Univ.) and recent Saku Chosei H.S. graduate Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.). The B-heat, made up of schools equivalent to those in the NCAA Div. II, also features six men with PBs under 29 minutes, led by one of Takushoku University's two new Kenyan recruits, Duncan Moze.

Click for full-sized image.

Kashiwabara is also lining up in the 5000 m A-heat, but his PB of 13:48.54 is only the sixth-fastest in the field. The favorite is easily Tokai University sophomore Akinobu Murasawa, who recently set a new PB of 13:38.68 just after his 19th birthday. Murasawa's main competition will come from Jobu University senior Yusuke Hasegawa, who returns from racing in California through April with a new PB of 13:40.83. Three men in the 5000 m B-heat also have PBs under Kashiwabara's best, with Takushoku University's other Kenyan first-year John Maina narrowly edging out Komazawa University first-year Ikuto Yufu for the fastest PB, 13:45.00 to 13:45.42.

Click for full-sized image.

The half marathon is held on a challenging, hilly 10-loop course on a winding through Tokyo's National Stadium and around the surrounding neighborhood. Times are usually two to three minutes slower than most runners' PBs, so expect a strategic race over a fast one. Last year's winner Cosmas Ondiba (Kenya/Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) ran the second-fastest time ever on the course, 1:02:29. Look for him to win easily again. His biggest challenger is likely to be 2009 Ageo City Half Marathon winner Shota Hiraga (Waseda Univ.).

JRN will bring you video coverage of the Kanto Regional University Track and Field Championships as welll as results from all five meets over the course of the weekend. Check back often for updates.

(c) 2010 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

"Not an International Way of Thinking" - Stephen Mayaka on Fitting Into Japan's Corporate Team World as a Foreigner

JRN interviewed Stephen Mayaka, the first Kenyan high school runner in Japanese history, for an article in the May issue of Running Times magazine. This month we present the complete interview in serialized form in our subscription series JRNPremium. In part one of the interview Mayaka talked about being recruited and his experience as a student runner. In part two he talks about life on Japan's corporate teams and the difficulties Kenyans and other foreign runners face in fitting into the shifting demands of the system. Highlights from part two are included below. To read the full interview along with others in the JRNPremium series, click here to subscribe.

Part Two: The Corporate Life, Pros and Cons
We had some South Africans, Kalamori, I know him, we raced together, from Burundi, and Morocco. Some Ethiopians are coming but they are difficult because of the Ethiopian language and their culture. But it became to happen that the companies mostly prefer the Kenyans very much because of the ability to speak in English. South Africans were difficult because of the training and they were far from home, and I think there was a misunderstanding of the communication. They wanted to do their own training and didn’t want to run with Japanese. And Moroccans, I think it was tough. I don’t know if they had trouble because they were Muslims or such conditions. I think most of the companies stick with the Kenyans because of the communication, and because there are other Kenyans around so that they can communicate with each other so that they cannot feel so homesick. That’s way better. They know the system. Whereas you put in an Ethiopian, and then they say, “The Kenyan was better because he could understand.”

In my case, because I speak Japanese, I used to go to the company office during the week. Most of those ones who have studied in Japan, they usually go to the office. But you can’t bring somebody from Kenya straight and go to the office right away! (laughs) Because they are going and sitting there, seeing the Internet. (laughs) I think there are those who are going to come and they’re going to finish one year and then go without even saying, “I’m going to come back.” There are some problems arising now, like, you know someone comes for the first time and he doesn’t have someone to assist him, he feels homesick, he goes to Kenya. He doesn’t come back because of the language, and he says, “I’m not eating this food,” something like that.

That’s a small thing, what somebody is used to eating, but it’s going to get worse if he doesn’t get assistance and doesn’t communicate. In Japan you’ve got to get somebody to support him. If he doesn’t get help with it, somebody gets heartbroken and goes back, saying, “Let me go, stop my contract.” Most of them, they’re going back because of the language, and some of them are bad behaviors. They don’t do what they are being told. “Now we are going to start our training by 6:30,” but somebody comes around 9 o’clock. Why? “Because it’s cold.” But this is too much, so bad behavior and the language have made some of the people go back home.

Some of those who have come straight, they have misunderstanding, they don’t follow the regulations of the country and the system. They have no plan to know about the Japanese system and how to get around. When someone has stayed for five years he thinks now he knows everything better than the others. But he’s wrong. (laughs resignedly) You have to follow Japanese regulations. Sometimes the Kenyan Federation Rules are breaked. They have to be told that Japan has its own rules. You are not going to stay in Japan like that, acting like when you are still in Kenya. So, they must be educated first before being released from Kenya. I say that if we are bringing an athlete I have to tell him, “If you are going to Japan, this is the rules. It is very strict. One simple mistake, you are back to Kenya.” And someone says, “I’ll do that, yes,” and there are those who say, “No, no, this one is difficult.” That is okay. You get someone who is interested.

But I think that new rule [restricting foreign runners to the shortest stages in ekidens] is very bad. It is not an international way of thinking. Those who made that rule, they were thinking about themselves. It’s not good to say that this is the section for only the Africans. I don’t agree with their thinking because Japanese aren’t going to America and are told that you have to run only this. That experience is so often practiced in Japan. And it is very bad, to my sight, because if you go to Olympics, you don’t select people you fight together. And in Japan there are different companies. These different companies are going against each other. A competition is a competition. And then to shorten the distance, I think it is very bad. There are some individuals who don’t want foreigners, and there are those who want foreigners to run. For ladies you know it is 3.3 km. I see some companies are closing the market. They don’t need Kenyans, because 3 km, you can only make a difference of 10 seconds, which the Japanese can cover for the 3 km. So their number is going to reduce.

Click here to subscribe and read the complete interview. Part three will be available next week.

(c) 2010 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Thursday, May 13, 2010

'Teaching the Masters'

http://www.runningtimes.com/Article.aspx?ArticleID=19571

photo: Kenyan Mekubo Mogusu of Yamanashi Gakuin Univ. on the way to a 57:01 course record at the 2007 Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai 20 km.

An article I wrote for the May issue of Running Times magazine looking at the role of African runners in Japan is now available online. The article includes quotes and material from interviews with Stephen Mayaka, the first Kenyan high school runner in Japan, Tsutomu Akiyama, one of the people responsible for beginning the recruitment of Kenyan student runners including Samuel Wanjiru, and Ethiopian Biruk Bekele, winner of the 1996 Hokkaido Marathon and now an agent for other Ethiopians within the Japanese system. The complete interview with Mayaka appears in serialized form in this month's issue of JRNPremium, and next month's issue will feature the complete Akiyama interview. To read these and other JRNPremium interviews, click here to subscribe.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Central Japan Corporate T&F Meet - Results

by Brett Larner

The spring regional corporate track and field championship season began May 8 with the first day of the Chugoku Jitsugyodan Track and Field Championships, the regional meet for central Japan. Each of the regional meets throughout the country is spread over two consecutive weekends, with the Chugoku region's men's and women's 5000 m the first events to take place. Many of the biggest names sat the races out in favor of the May 9 Sendai International Half Marathon and next weekend's 10000 m, leaving easy wins for Kenyans Joseph Gitau (Team JFE Steel) and Danielle Filomena Cheyech (Team Uniqlo).

2010 Chugoku Jitsugyodan T&F Championships - Top Finishers
click here for complete results
Men's 5000 m
1. Joseph Gitau (Kenya/Team JFE Steel) - 13:49.85
2. Takuya Ishikawa (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 13:50.70
3. Akihiko Tsumurai (Team Mazda) - 13:50.94
4. Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 13:52.30
5. Tetsuya Sasaki (Team Chudenko) - 14:04.15

Women's 5000 m
1. Danielle Filomena Cheyech (Kenya/Team Uniqlo) - 15:43.32
2. Kaori Urata (Team Tenmaya) - 16:12.25
3. Yoshie Kurisu (Team Tenmaya) - 16:31.78
4. Miku Kugio (Team Tenmaya) - 16:40.47
5. Rina Nomura (Team Uniqlo) - 16:47.14

(c) 2010 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mathathi Breaks One Hour in Half Marathon Debut

by Brett Larner

On a warm and windy day, 2007 World Championships 10000 m bronze medalist and 10 mile junior world record holder Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) performed up to expectations in his half marathon debut at the May 9 Sendai International Half Marathon. Already on his own after a quick 14:03 first 5 km, Mathathi ran a solo race. He was consistent through 15 km, clocking 14:04 from 5 to 10 km and 14:07 from 10 to 15 km, on pace at that stage to run 59:24. Only after 15 km did he slow, dropping to a 14:30 split from 15 to 20 km. Mathathi finished in 59:48, just 5 seconds off Samuel Wanjiru's 5 year-old course and Japanese all-comers record. His outstanding debut was a prelude to a planned marathon debut in the upcoming winter season.

Still yet to regain his university form, runner-up Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya/Team Aidem) was nearly 2 minutes behind in 1:01:34. The top Japanese runner, Osamu Ibata (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) was another 2 minutes back in 1:03:39, finishing 5th overall.

The women's race was more of a tactical affair, with 5 runners still together at 20 km. Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) won out in the sprint finish to take the race in 1:12:51, 2 seconds ahead of runner-up Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera). Both Higuchi and Ibata are likely to be named to the Japanese team for this year's World Half Marathon Championships on the strength of their performances in Sendai.

2010 Sendai International Half Marathon - Top Finishers
Men
1. Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 59:48 - debut
2. Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya/Team Aidem) - 1:01:34
3. Silas Njui (Kenya/Team Hitachi Cable) - 1:01:46
4. James Mwangi (Kenya/Team NTN) - 1:02:40
5. Osamu Ibata (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:03:39
6. Harun Njoroge (Kenya/Team Komori Corp.) - 1:03:40
7. Takashi Horiguchi (Team Honda) - 1:03:48
8. Shingo Mishima (Team Toyota) - 1:03:52
9. Minoru Okuda (Team Honda) - 1:04:00
10. Dishawn Karukuwa (Kenya/Team Aisan Kogyo) - 1:04:09

Women
1. Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) - 1:12:51
2. Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 1:12:53
3. Miho Notagashira (Team Wacoal) - 1:12:54
4. Chika Horie (Team Universal Entertainment) - 1:13:00
5. Ayumi Nakayama (Team Yamada Denki) - 1:13:02
6. Yuko Machida (Team Nihon ChemiCon) - 1:13:09
7. Manami Takemori (Team Sysmex) - 1:13:14
8. Misato Horie (Team Noritz) - 1:13:22
9. Ayu Sakaida (Team Daihatsu) - 1:13:23
10. Yoshiko Fujinaga (Team Shiseido) - 1:13:32

(c) 2010 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Saturday, May 8, 2010

'Campbell-Brown, Cantwell, and Samuels Triumph in Osaka - IAAF World Challenge' (updated)

http://www.iaaf.org/IWC10/news/kind=100/newsid=56666.html

2010 Osaka International Grand Prix T&F Meet - Top Finishers
click here for complete results
Women's 5000 m
1. Ann Karindi (Kenya/Team Toyota Jidoshoki) - 15:15.19
2. Eloise Wellings (Australia) - 15:16.87
3. Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) - 15:17.86
4. Doricah Obare (Kenya/Team Hitachi) - 15:26.07
5. Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) - 15:31.72
6. Yuko Shimizu (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 15:45.81
7. Noriko Matsuoka (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 15:54.83

Men's 1500 m
1. Caleb Ndiku (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 3:39.53
2. James Kaan (Australia) - 3:40.80
3. Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B) - 3:40.83 - PB
4. Yasunori Murakami (Team Fujitsu) - 3:42.74
5. Masahiro Takaya (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 3:44.32
6. Yasuhiro Tago (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 3:47.64
7. Fumikazu Kobayashi (Team NTN) - 3:51.33
8. Michael Githinji (Kenya/Aomori Yamada H.S.) - 3:55.78
9. Barnabas Bene (Hungary) - 4:16.04

Watch the Osaka Int'l Grand Prix T&F Meet Online for Free

NHK will broadcast the May 8 Osaka International Grand Prix Track & Field Meet live from 3:05 to 5:00 p.m. Japan time. The meet features a range of international talent alongside a large number of Japanese national champions, national record holders, and Olympic medalists. Click here for complete start lists. International viewers should be able to watch the meet online for free via Keyhole TV. Click here for more details. You'll have to scroll through the channels to find the correct one, which has its name listed all in kanji and requires a password. The password is NHK.

It appears that the broadcast will begin immediately after the men's 1500 m and end just before the women's 5000 m, unfortunately.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Sendai International Half Marathon, Osaka Grand Prix and More

by Brett Larner

It's a big weekend in Japan with three major events across the country. The biggest is no doubt the Osaka Grand Prix Meet on May 8. Most events feature the standing Japanese national champion or national record holder along with international competition including Veronica Campbell-Brown (Jamaica, 100 m), Andrew Hinds (Barbados, 100 m), Monzavous Edwards (U.S.A., 200 m), Mounir Yemmouni (France, 1500 m), Doricah Obare (Kenya, 5000 m), Perdita Felicien (Canada, 100 mH), Bershawn Jackson (U.S.A., 400 mH), Christian Cantwell (U.S.A., SP), and Becky Breisch (U.S.A., DT). A complete entry list is available here. One notable withdrawal is the meet's biggest star, Chinese hurdler Xiang Liu.

Also on May 8 is the first of the regional spring corporate track meets, the Central Japan Corporate Track and Field Championships. This weekend's events include the men's and women's 5000 m, with the 10000 m scheduled for next weekend. Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) headlines the men's race, facing Kenyans Joseph Gitau (Team JFE Steel) and Samuel Ganga (Team Mazda) as well as his young teammates Hideaki Date, Takuya Ishikawa and Naoki Okamoto. Kenyan Danielle Filomena Cheyech (Team Uniqlo) should have no trouble in the women's 5000 m, where her toughest competition comes from Team Tenmaya's Rei Obara and Kaori Urata.

Sunday, May 9 sees the Sendai International Half Marathon. The race has been billed as the highly-anticipated debut of 10 mile junior world record holder Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), but although he is listed as an entrant his name appears on neither the start list nor the list of withdrawals. If he starts, look for a threat to Samuel Wanjiru's Japanese all-comers record. If not, it is up to ailing Kenyan Mekubo Mogusu (Team Aidem) to turn in his first good performance of the year and get back under the hour mark. The Japanese contingent is led by Yukihiro Kitaoka (Team NTN), the top Japanese man at last year's World Half Marathon and a member of November's Asian Games marathon squad.

2009 World Championships marathoner Yoshiko Fujinaga (Team Shiseido) is the top runner in the women's race in Sendai. With the withdrawal of Kenyan Julia Mumbi (Team Universal Entertainment) and the strong Megumi Seike (Team Sysmex), Fujinaga's toughest competition may come from identical twins Yoko and Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) or Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo's Miki Ohira and Chisato Osaki.

(c) 2010 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Shimahara Relocates to Saku, Nagano

http://www.jiji.com/jc/c?g=spo_30&k=2010050600753

translated by Brett Larner

2011 Asian Games women's marathon team member Kiyoko Shimahara (33, Second Wind AC) announced on May 6 that she is relocating her training base from Tokyo to the town of Saku in Nagano Prefecture. Last month Shimahara got engaged to Saku Chosei High School ekiden team coach Masaru Takamizawa (28). "I'm looking forward to training on the cross-country course the high school team uses and in all the great locations around Sugadaira," Shimahara said, promising that the new environment would be an excellent jumping-off point for the next stage of her career.

With regard to her training, Shimahara will continue to be guided by Second Wind head coach Manabu Kawagoe. Apart from training in Nagano Shimahara will be going on the Rikuren-sponsored women's training camp in Boulder, Colorado in June. In July she plans to run the Sapporo International Half Marathon. "I'm not young anymore," she told reporters, "but I can still improve my PBs. At the Asian Games [my teammate Yuri] Kano and I want to go 1-2, so all my best training will be geared toward that."

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

"I Came Here to Test Myself" - Stephen Mayaka on the Kenyan Student Runner's Life

interviewed and edited by Brett Larner
photo courtesy of Stephen Mayaka

Stephen Mayaka was the first Kenyan high school runner in Japan and the first to go the complete route from high school to university and on into the corporate running world. Now a Japanese citizen, married to a former World Championships-level Japanese marathoner and head coach of Sozo Gakuen University’s track and field team, Mayaka is a mentor to Kenyan athletes both across Japan and back in Kenya. He was the man who guided Samuel Wanjiru through his time in Japan and who currently manages Kenyan XC champion Paul Tanui (Team Kyudenko), World Championships 10000 m bronze medalist Martin Mathathi (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and other notables including Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin) and Philes Ongori (Team Hokuren).

JRN interviewed Mayaka just before New Year, 2010 for an article in this month's issue of Running Times magazine. In the wide-ranging, in-depth three hour interview Mayaka talked about everything from his life and experiences to those of the runners he now cares for to discrimination to predictions for the future of both Kenyan and Japanese distance running. This month we present the complete interview as a series of articles on our subscription site JRNPremium. It's the definitive interview with one of the key figures in the modern Japanese distance running world. Below are some highlights from the first part of the interview. Click here to subscribe and read the full interview along with previous issues featuring Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC) and Arata Fujiwara (Proposer Japan), and upcoming issues including interviews with Tsutomu Akiyama, Eiji Kobayashi and Takeyuki Nakayama.


Part One: Discovery, High School and University
I first came to Japan in 1990, in December. I came here to test myself. When I was in Kenya I ran in the Kenyan Secondary School Championships. I was the top at cross-country. There was a Japanese there, the one who introduced Wanjiru to Sendai Ikuei [High School], Mr. Kobayashi. He had spotted me, and told me, “You come and see how Japan is. You can train for two months and then come back.” But I came and then stayed forever. (laughs)

At first, in Japan in 1990 there were not many Africans. I had a problem when I came at first, you know, I was staying in Yamanashi. Most of the people, they didn’t care to see a black man walking around because it was a rural area. Some of them, sometimes, some of the kids, they were running away! (laughs) It was because they were not used to Africans too much, but once they started to see me in magazines and on television they went, “Oh, this is the person we see,” and they got used to me. Even myself, also, I was afraid to talk with them because I didn’t know Japanese. Some of them when I would go into a shop they would panic and say, “Oh no no no no no!” And I’m, “But I want to buy something!” (laughs) It was because of the communication.

When I was in high school, at the time I came to Yamanashi at the high school there was no club, there weren’t any runners there, even Japanese, so I was in high school training with the university students. I could train by myself in the morning or train with the university students. And meanwhile they had to teach me the Japanese language. They had a Japanese teacher for me learning Japanese when I was in the class, because I did not understand. I was going regularly as a normal student until maybe 3 or 4, then I would go with many university students and we would train together so that I could get used to it.

In that situation I felt very homesick for a time because there was no one I could consult about something, and the language was making things very difficult. That led me to study Japanese more and more, and so in university I went to Japanese language school. I’d train by myself in the morning, eat breakfast, go to language school, from there I’d go to university, from university I’d go another 8 km, train there and then take my bike home because we were cooking for ourselves. This was regular, but it was difficult day to day because we’d become very tired. It was very difficult times when I was in Yamanashi, but I see now, that’s life. I did meet some foreign students at Japanese language school and then we could talk. Black men? It was only me. I was the only black man there. There were some students from Finland, France, some Indians.

Those ones who come now, they’re enjoying it, but those who came first, we suffered a lot, but we suffered for them because we opened the way for them. Now what they’re earning is because of us. If we couldn’t stick it out, if we left and said, “No, Japan is bad,” most of the Japanese, they would say, “Ah, no, Africans, they cannot stay in Japan.” We sacrificed ourselves. But there are those ones who are coming now, I try to tell them that they should study Japanese, but they say, “No, there’s no use for studying Japanese because I don’t want to stay. There’s no way. My home is in Kenya.” But that doesn’t make sense because you are staying with these people and you have to study and communicate yourself with them, your masters who are employing you.

The main issue of coming to Japan in high school is that you come, you train with these people so that they can make times, they can be strong, not that you yourself want to be strong. You have to make Kenyans understand that they’re running in this way, for these athletes whose schools are paying for it. Some of those ones who are coming to high school, they are not very competitive. They are not very fast, so they come and they start the system and train very hard and become someone later. Like Wanjiru, when he came he was not strong. He was doing it three years, four years, and then he came to be strong. And like myself also, I was only running 29 or something like that when I came to Japan.

I think the change of going to high school and then the company, that thing has started recently. I think it’s no good, and I can say, “Study first, then go to companies.” Those ones who are going through university, they are better off than those ones who are going to a company direct. I see that it is very difficult, I see that it is very important they go to school somewhere first, and then to learn the system, better than somebody who comes direct. You spend a lot of time learning to speak and to read for four years, to understand, to communicate with your teammates.

Click here to read the full interview. Part two of the interview will be available over the weekend.

(c) 2010 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Ndambiri 5000 m World Leader at Shizuoka International Meet

by Brett Larner

Alongside sprinter Chisato Fukushima's new women's 200 m national record at the May 3 Shizuoka International Track and Field Meet, Josephat Ndambiri (Kenya/Team Komori Corp.) was in a familiar position in the men's 5000 m, one step ahead of countryman Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) with a meet record and world-leading 13:09.19 win. Mathathi, just six days from his half-marathon debut at Sunday's Sendai International Half Marathon, was also under the old meet record as he finished 2nd in 13:10.94. 3rd placer Jonathan Ndiku (Kenya/Team Hitachi Cable) set the 3rd-fastest time so far this year, 13:19.84, while 4th place John Thuo set a slim PB of 13:21.02. 5000 m Japanese national champion Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B) had a surprise win over Saku Chosei high school teammate Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) with the fastest time this year by a Japanese man, 13:24.75. The next five Japanese after Sato all set PBs, among them Tokai University ace Akinobu Murasawa who took 10 seconds off his best with a 13:38.68 which cleared the mark set by Jobu University's Yusuke Hasegawa two days ago at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational.

The women's 3000 m was relatively mild by comparison, as Tomoka Inadomi (Team Wacoal) took an easy victory over teammate Yuko Hakoyama in 9:09.55, a PB by 8 seconds.

2010 Shizuoka International Track and Field Meet - Top Finishers
click here for complete results
Men's 5000 m
1. Josephat Ndambiri (Kenya/Team Komori Corp.) - 13:09.19 - MR
2. Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 13:10.94 - (MR)
3. Jonathan Ndiku (Kenya/Team Hitachi Cable) - 13:19.84
4. John Thuo (Kenya/Team Toyota) - 13:21.02 - PB
5. Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B) - 13:24.75
6. Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 13:35.09
7. Yuki Matsuoka (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 13:35.37 - PB
8. Yuki Iwai (Team Asahi Kasei) - 13:35.67 - PB
9. Micah Njeru (Kenya/Team Toyota Boshoku) - 13:37.61
10. Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.) - 13:38.68 - PB
11. Tomoya Onishi (Team Asahi Kasei) - 13:43.06 - PB
12. Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Meiji Univ.) - 13:46.53 - PB
13. Yu Mitsuya (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 13:52.36
14. Takuya Ishikawa (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 13:57.05

Women's 3000 m
1. Tomoka Inadomi (Team Wacoal) - 9:09.55 - PB
2. Yuka Hakoyama (Team Wacoal) - 9:20.58
3. Nami Tani (Team Universal Entertainment) - 9:21.64
4. Kozue Matsumoto (Team Wacoal) - 9:26.74
5. Saki Watanabe (Team Wacoal) - 9:29.54

(c) 2010 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Monday, May 3, 2010

Fukushima Scores Second National Record in Five Days

http://www.47news.jp/CN/201005/CN2010050301000339.html

translated by Brett Larner

At the May 3 Shizuoka International Track and Field Meet, a selection race for the Japanese national team for November's Asian Games, 200 m national record holder (Hokkaido Hi-Tec AC) won in a time of 22.89, breaking her own national record. It was the first time a Japanese woman has run 22. Fukushima's previous national record was 23.00, dating back to last June's National Track and Field Championships.

Five days ago the 21 year old Fukushima broke her own national record in the 100 m, clocking 11.21 at the Apr. 29 Oda Memorial Track and Field Meet with one of the best starts of her career.

Kido Breaks Oita Prefectural 5000 m and 10000 m Records (updated)

http://www.oita-press.co.jp/localSports/120731038207/2010_127276116467.html

translated by Brett Larner

At the 64th Oita Prefectural Track & Field Championships at the Oita Civic Grounds on May 1, Chieko Kido (Canon Oita AC) ran a new Oita prefectural women's record of 15:55.45, breaking the old mark by 3.87 seconds. Throughout her training for this month's track season Kido has had pacemaking and guidance from male coach Aki Shimizu. Shimizu was onhand for the record attempt, calling out, "Stick to it!" and "Go for the time!" as she ran. Kido said Shimizu's words helped spur her on. "I got into a really comfortable rhythm," she smiled afterwards. Shimizu told reporters, "I'm as happy as if I had set a new PB myself. She did a great job." Canon Oita AC head coach Michio Ito commented, "This will be a big boost for her self-confidence. I'm looking forward to seeing how she does in the 10000 m tomorrow."

Translator's note: Kido came back the next day to set a new Oita prefectural record of 33:17.81 in the women's 10000 m.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational - Results

by Brett Larner

Always a staple on the Japanese spring track calendar, this year's Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational saw several strong performances from Japanese men.



With early pacing by former Nihon University ace Simon Ndirangu (Kenya), the historic men's Kim McDonald 10000 m saw the first-ever sub-27 minute clocking by a white runner. American Chris Solinsky (Nike) unexpectedly beat star Galen Rupp (Nike) to set a new American national record of 26:59.60. Unknown Daniel Salel (Kenya) finished runner-up in a sizzling 27:07.85 PB and 3rd place finisher Samuel Chelanga (Kenya/Liberty Univ.) set a new American university record of 27:08.39. Rupp was 4th overall but also broke the former national record, while 5th place finisher Simon Bairu (Canada/Nike) set a new Canadian national record of 27:23.63. The top eight men all clocked PBs, leaving 9th place finisher Kensuke Takezawa (Team S&B) to be the top-placing man not to run a PB. As expected in his first 10000 m since the Beijing Olympics, Takezawa focused only on breaking 28 rather than his PB of 27:45.59, running 10 seconds off that mark in 27:55.02. Takeshi Makabe (Team Kanebo) coached by national record holder Toshinari Takaoka, was only 4 seconds off his PB, likewise going under 28 minutes as he finished 11th in 27:57.53.



In the men's 5000 m A-heat, all three Japanese runners clocked new PBs. Team Kanebo's Masato Kihara had the most impressive race of the three. Kihara, who ran a 1:01:50 half marathon at age 20 and is now coached by 3000 m, 10000 m and marathon national record holder Toshinari Takaoka, was nowhere to be seen through most of the race as he sat back at the rear of the field. In the final 2 km he began to appear, advancing bit by bit on the outside. Over the final lap he attacked leader Tiidrek Nurme of Estonia and the pair pulled away from the rest of the field. Kihara was unable to move into the lead and, tying up in the home stretch, was caught by 13:20 man Ed Moran of the U.S.. Nevertheless, he took nearly 17 seconds off his PB as he finished 3rd in 13:34.21.

Komazawa University's star first-year Ikuto Yufu, just a month into his university career, was aggressive in the early stages as he ran as high as 2nd in the middle section of the race. He was unable to keep up with the leaders when the race got going but still knocked 8 seconds off his PB to finish in 13:45.42. With the domestic track season still ahead of him this time alone is good enough to put him #1 among this year's incoming Hakone class. Jobu University's Yusuke Hasegawa was calmer in the first half of the race, not moving into the lead pack until after halfway. He likewise lost touch in the final rush but his time of 13:40.83 was good enough to make him the top university runner in the race and should rank him #1 among Japanese university men this season.

2010 Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational - Top Finishers
click here for complete results
Men's 10000 m
1. Chris Solinsky (Nike) - 26:59.60 - NR
2. Daniel Salel (Kenya) - 27:07.85 - PB
3. Sam Chelanga (Kenya/Liberty Univ.) - 27:08.39 - NUR
4. Galen Rupp (Nike) - 27:10.74 - (NR)
5. Simon Bairu (Canada/Nike) - 27:23.63 - NR
6. Chris Thompson (U.K./OTC) - 27:29.61 - PB
7. Tim Nelson (Nike) - 27:31.56 - PB
8. Robert Curtis (Melbourne TC) - 27:33.38 - PB
9. Kensuke Takezawa (Team S&B) - 27:55.02
10. Juan Carlos Romero (Mexico) - 27:57.52
11. Takeshi Makabe (Team Kanebo) - 27:57.53

Men's 5000 m
1. Tiidrek Nurme (Estonia) - 13:32.74
2. Ed Moran (Nike) - 13:33.85
3. Masato Kihara (Team Kanebo) - 13:34.21 - PB
-----
10. Yusuke Hasegawa (Jobu Univ.) - 13:40.83 - PB
15. Ikuto Yufu (Komazawa Univ.) - 13:45.42 - PB

Men's 3000 m SC

1. Kyle Alcorn (Nike) - 8:27.95
2. Brian Olinger (Reebok) - 8:28.27
3. Ben Bruce (OTC) - 8:28.76
-----
9. Hiroyoshi Umegae (Team NTN) - 8:39.02

Men's 1500 m

1. Dylan Ferris (Stanford Univ.) - 3:40.07
2. Elliott Heath (Stanford Univ.) - 3:41.27
3. Craig Miller (Univ. of Wisconsin) - 3:41.42
-----
9. Yasunori Murakami (Team Fujitsu) - 3:43.15

(c) 2010 Brett Larner
all rights reserved