Monday, February 28, 2011

'Summary of Post-Race Press Conference at Tokyo Marathon'

Excellent quotes from 2011 Tokyo Marathon winners Hailu Mekonnen and Tatiana Aryasova along with top Japanese finishers Yuki Kawauchi and Noriko Higuchi, thanks to Ken Nakamura:

http://www.all-athletics.com/en-us/2011-02-28/summary-post-race-press-conference-tokyo-marathon

This translated article also has some good quotes from Kawauchi and one priceless piece of info about his World Championships plans:

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/sports/news/20110228p2a00m0na016000c.html

"The Rocky of the Marathon World" - Saitama Governor Praises Kawauchi (updated)

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/news/20110228-OYT1T00190.htm?from=y10
http://www.daily.co.jp/general/2011/02/28/0003832907.shtml
http://mytown.asahi.com/areanews/saitama/TKY201102270461.html
"Amateur Kawauchi 3rd" by Daisuke Yamaguchi, Nikkei Newspaper 2/28/11

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Update: Reader vilagoiberia sent me a link to this video of the last 6.5 km of Kawauchi's run.



Kawauchi with his bronze medal, after regaining consciousness. Click photo to enlarge.

He did it, he's on the national team. At the Feb. 27 Tokyo Marathon, Yuki Kawauchi, 23, an administrative worker at Saitama Prefectural Kasukabe High School, ran 2:08:37 to finish as the top Japanese man and 3rd overall. In so doing he secured a place on the Japanese national team for this summer's World Championships in Daegu, Korea, earning joyful respect and praise from those connected to him.

Kawauchi began working for the Saitama Prefectural Government in April, 2009, taking a job as an administrator at Kasukabe High School, a special government-run school for those wishing to complete a high school degree while working. On a normal day he works from lunchtime to 9 p.m., meaning that he does all of his training in a two-hour block in the morning before leaving for work. He runs 600 km a month, roughly half the workload of a corporate team runner. Due to the time and location restrictions his schedule imposes on him Kawauchi is unable to have regular training partners and does almost all his training alone, but, he adds, "I chose this lifestyle, and the discipline helps me keep focused. It suits me."

After finishing 4th at last year's Tokyo Marathon he was approached by a number of corporate teams with offers, but he turned them all down. He hasn't yet thought about the implications and logistics of having made the World Championships but says he has no intention of changing anything about his lifestyle. "Even in high school," he says, "I couldn't keep up with the workouts, so I dropped out of the Japanese system. I want to do things the way I like, and it works for me. I showed them that even as an amateur you can still get it done."

Of the pivotal moment in this year's Tokyo, just before the 39 km point when he caught up to national champion corporate team ace Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) and 2010 Hokkaido Marathon winner Cyrus Njui (Kenya/Team Hitachi Cable), Kawauchi says, "I didn't want to be sneaky and just ride along behind them when I caught them, so I told myself, 'If you've come this far you've got to keep going. There's no other choice.'" His stunning surge away from the better-credentialed pair, both sub-28 and sub-62 runners, drew gasps from the race announcers and a slow-motion replay. It also left him receiving medical attention after he crossed the finish line. "This was my sixth marathon, and the fifth time I've ended up in the medical area," he smiles. "Every time I run it's with the mindset that if I die at this race it's OK."

The students at Kasukabe High School call Kawauchi "clerk" like they would anyone else. Feb. 28 is entry application day, meaning that Kawauchi is due back at work 8:15 Monday morning to handle the applications. "I brought a suit with me so that I can go straight there. It's important work that only comes once a year."

Toshio Matsuda, 59, principal of the school, said that Kawauchi was very unhappy after running badly on the Saitama team at January's National Interprefectural Men's Ekiden. Despite being known as the guy who was "too good to be an amateur" thanks to an excellent university career and finishing 4th at last year's Tokyo Marathon, Matsuda said Kawauchi told him, "I'm not good enough to make the national team." When he heard the good news about Kawauchi's 3rd place finish, Matsuda said, "I was astounded. I'm so happy. I recorded the video and I can't wait to watch it when I get home," as happy as if it were his own accomplishment.

Kawauchi also earned high praise from Saitama Governor Kiyoshi Ueda, who commented, "He is improving through his own hard work, without the blessings of a corporate team or anyone else. Kawauchi is the Rocky of the marathon world."

During this year's Tokyo Kawauchi used a drink made for him by Kasukabe High School's cafeteria nutritionist, Koji Nakayama, 28. "I couldn't be happier," Nakayama said. "It's the deepest satisfaction I've ever had." At last December's Fukuoka International Marathon Kawauchi became fatigued partway through the race. "It's because you didn't have a special drink," Nakayama told him. "I'll make you one." In his New Year's card to Nakayama Kawauchi wrote, "I'd like to take you up on that." Nakayama began working on the drink, the final result of which made use of orange juice, honey and lemon juice. Kawauchi reacted positively to the drink, saying, "It's great. It goes down so easily that I never get thirsty." While Kawauchi was training for Tokyo Nakayama gave him the recipe so that he could make it himself whenever he needed it. "Every time I drank it during the race I got some life back," he said.

Kawauchi's younger brother Koki, a high school senior, came down to Tokyo with Yuki to watch the race. "I didn't think he could go this far," he said with excitement. "I want him to give it all at Worlds."

Japanese Federation and Corporate League Feel Stinging Impact of Kawauchi's Run

http://www.daily.co.jp/general/2011/02/28/0003832911.shtml

translated by Brett Larner

Saitama-based amateur runner Yuki Kawauchi, 23, finished 3rd at the Feb. 27 Tokyo Marathon in 2:08:37. The top Japanese finisher, he earned a guaranteed spot on the national team for August's World Championships marathon. As an ordinary amateur runner not belonging to a jitsugyodan corporate team, Kawauchi's titanic run has had a profound impact on Rikuren, the Japanese federation.

Rikuren director Keisuke Sawaki commented, "I think it is quite a major shock to all the established teams to see the limelight shining on a unique runner like Kawauchi."

Rikuren Long Distance and Road Racing Special Committee executive Toshio Kiuchi agreed that Kawauchi's result was a sharp sting to the corporate team system, saying, "This shows that our elite runners have to toughen up and get to work. Back in the day everyone had the kind of hunger Kawauchi showed today."

Team Chugoku Denryoku head coach and Rikuren Director of Men's Marathoning Yasushi Sakaguchi was more defensive, saying, "It's still clear that there are distinct advantages to the corporate team system," but admitted, "this was shock treatment."

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mekonnen Wins Tokyo Marathon, Amateur Kawauchi 3rd in 2:08:37 (updated)

by Brett Larner

Update: Reader vilagoiberia just sent me a link to this video of the last 6.5 km of Kawauchi's run.



Dreams come true - Yuki Kawauchi

Losing its biggest stories one by one with the withdrawal of world record holder Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopia), defending champion Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda), debuting Kenyan star Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin) and debuting former university Hakone Ekiden star Hideaki Date (Team Chugoku Denryoku), in its fifth edition the Tokyo Marathon got something else entirely.

With the day dawning with ideal conditions, 7 degrees, light partial cloud cover and gentle winds, everyone knew the race would be fast. 19 year old pacer Bitan Karoki (Kenya/Team S&B), who ran a course record 27:52 a day earlier in the senior men's 10k at the Fukuoka International XC Meet, took the race out slightly ahead of schedule, splitting 14:56 for the downhill first 5 km and 14:59 for the next. 15 km went by in 44:49, 20 km in 59:53 and halfway in 1:03:11. People began to fall off the pack soon after halfway, and following 25 km formerly Japan-based Ethiopian Hailu Mekonnen and Kenyan Paul Biwott notched up their speed along with pacer Henry Sugut, breaking up the pack and opening a gap that was never closed. Mekonnen in turn got away from Biwott with 9 km to go and ran alone unchallenged the rest of the way. With temperatures rising to the mid-teens he slowed roughly a minute off his projected low-2:06 finish, holding on for a two-second PB to win in 2:07:35 but missing the course record of 2:07:23. In his post-race interview Mekonnen expressed his happiness at winning his first marathon in a return to Japan and dedicated the joy to his wife. Biwott hung on to 2nd in 2:08:17, but the big story was happening further back.

As the two leaders pulled away after 25 km, Japan-based Kenyan Mekubo Mogusu (Team Aidem) led four others in a chase pack: second-time marathoners Cyrus Njui (Kenya/Team Hitachi Cable) and Takaaki Koda (Team Asahi Kasei), debutant Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) and 23 year old Saitama Prefectural Government worker and amateur runner Yuki Kawauchi. A surge by Oda after 30 km dropped Koda and Kawauchi, and the race broadcast became fixated upon Oda, well on track to break the debut marathon national record of 2:08:12. Mogusu soon faltered, leaving Oda and Njui to battle as they went on to the first of the five bridges in Tokyo's last 6 km. Oda's coach was elated at his runner's strong debut performance, a possible record on the way and a guaranteed spot on the World Championships team his if Oda held on to clear the 2:09:30 time requirement. Then, the cameras shifted to show Kawauchi coming up from behind.

Kawauchi was one of the big surprises of last year's Tokyo Marathon. In university he had opted to attend an academically-oriented school instead of a Hakone Ekiden powerhouse, taking satisfaction from beating runners who had chosen sports over academics. Making Hakone several times as a member of the select team and showing exceptional toughness on the downhill Sixth Stage he attracted offers from a variety of top corporate teams post-graduation but again chose to spurn the system. Saying that he wanted to show younger runners that they didn't have to join a corporate ekiden team to be successful he took a full-time office job with the Saitama Prefectural Government, fitting in his training schedule around his 9-hour workday. He ran several marathon PBs in a row, broke 14 for the first time over 5000 m, then in the freezing rain of last year's Tokyo Marathon took 5 minutes off his PB to finish 4th in 2:12:36, a major accomplishment. Following up with a low-29 10000 m PB, he struggled for much of the rest of the year, running only 2:17:54 at Fukuoka in December. Earlier this month he ran a surprising 1:02:40 half marathon PB at Marugame, suggesting that he might get down to 2:10 territory if all went well in Tokyo. It did.

As Oda and Njui began to show signs of strain they settled into a cruising mode, giving up on an ambitious time and working together to stay alive but oblivious to Kawauchi's approach. At 38 km just before Kawauchi made contact Oda's coach sounded the warning bell, but although Oda picked up the pace Kawauchi gritted his teeth, closed his eyes and surged past the surprised pair. Njui tried to follow but Oda could not keep up and let go. On the edge of his abilities, Kawauchi, wearing a singlet that said simply, "Saitama," continued to run with eyes closed, almost missing a right turn before 40 km and losing seconds to Njui and Oda who took the corner sharp. On the second to last hill at 40 km Kawauchi put his chin all the way down on his chest and attacked. Njui was broken.

Kawauchi ran away free into 3rd, surging again on the final uphill at 41 km as Biwott in 2nd place came into sight. Going all out, Kawauchi was barely staying on his feet and nearly fell rounding the final corner, but he kept going and even mustered up a kick to take 3rd in 2:08:37 with the fastest last 2.195 km in the field, a 4-minute PB, the fastest time by a Japanese man since 2008, the fastest ever by a Japanese man on the Tokyo course, picking up a guaranteed spot on the World Championships team, a BMW for being the first Japanese man, and a legend. He fainted a few steps across the line and was taken away to the medical area in a wheelchair, unavailable for a post-race interview.

Oda overtook Njui for 4th in an outstanding 2:09:03 debut and filled in for Kawauchi when the media came. It's very possible he will also make the World Championships team, and combined with Kawauchi Oda's run suggests that the glitch in Japanese men's marathoning over the last two years may after all be largely due to a generational gap. Or maybe it's just a lack of toughness. Unfortunately for Oda, his excellent run was completely overshadowed by Kawauchi's performance, a run so good it should have been fiction. A full-time worker with an old-school attitude and work ethic who trains alone in his spare time on a mission to show up the system in an era of hand-wringing by those who control it, and he did it. He's going to the World Championships. Maybe the Olympics. If Arata Fujiwara leaving the system last year was a body blow, this was a knockout punch.

In the women's race, most of the attention was focused on the return of former national record holder Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) to the marathon after an absence of almost two years. First-timer Misaki Katsumata (Team Daiichi Seimei), a training partner of Yokohama International Women's Marathon winner Yoshimi Ozaki, went out at 2:25 pace while Shibui, looking heavy and awkward, ran more conservatively behind. By 27 km Katsumata was slowing, only able to look over helplessly as Shibui picked it up and went into the lead. It looked as though Shibui would manage the win, but in the final kilometers she faltered and was overtaken first by Russian Tatiana Aryasova, then debutante Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal), then, in the final stretch, by Russian Tatiana Petrova. Aryasova took the win in 2:27:29, with Higuchi completing a solid 2:28:49 debut for 2nd, Petrova close behind in 3rd in 2:28:56. Shibui wound up 4th in 2:29:03 as Katsumata rounded out the top five over two minutes back.

2011 Tokyo Marathon
click division for top 500 results
Men
1. Hailu Mekonnen (Ethiopia) - 2:07:35 - PB
2. Paul Biwott (Kenya) - 2:08:17
3. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 2:08:37 - PB
4. Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) - 2:09:03 - debut
5. Cyrus Njui (Kenya/Team Hitachi Cable) - 2:09:10 - PB
6. Felix Limo (Kenya) - 2:10:50
7. Takaaki Koda (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:11:08 - PB
8. Salim Kipsang (Kenya) - 2:11:25
9. Yemane Tsegay (Ethiopia) - 2:11:49
10. Takashi Horiguchi (Team Honda) - 2:12:05 - PB
-----
11. Satoshi Irifune (Team Kanebo) - 2:12:34
12. Keita Akiba (Team Komori Corp.) - 2:13:29
13. Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:13:54 - PB
16. Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya/Team Aidem) - 2:14:44 - PB
19. Masaru Takamizawa (Saku Chosei H.S. AC) - 2:16:12
53. Takashi Ota (Team Konica Minolta) - 2:28:36
55. Erick Wainaina (Kenya/Lights AC) - 2:28:59
57. Arata Fujiwara (Remo System RC) - 2:29:21
101. Hiroshi Neko (Amino Vital AC) - 2:37:49 - PB

Women
1. Tatiana Aryasova (Russia) - 2:27:29
2. Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) - 2:28:49 - debut
3. Tatiana Petrova (Russia) - 2:28:56
4. Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 2:29:03
5. Misaki Katsumata (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 2:31:10 - debut
6. Sumiko Suzuki (Team Hokuren) - 2:32:02 - PB
7. Rina Yamazaki (Team Panasonic) - 2:32:51 - debut
8. Shoko Miyazaki (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) - 2:33:10 - PB
9. Yumi Hirata (Team Shiseido) - 2:33:14
10. Olena Burkovska (Ukraine) - 2:33:30
-----
11. Miki Ohira (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 2:34:46
13. Maki Inami (AC Kita) - 2:37:34 - PB
15. Nuta Olaru (Romania) - 2:41:42
16. Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC) - 2:42:19

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Karoki, Niiya, Suga Win Again at Fukuoka Int'l XC

by Brett Larner

The winners of three of the four main races at the Feb. 13 Chiba International Cross Country Meet repeated two weeks later at the 25th Fukuoka International Cross Country Meet of Feb. 27 with dominant performances under sunny skies. The final of the domestic selection races for next month's World Cross Country Championships in Spain, Fukuoka settled the list of contenders for the Japanese Worlds team.

In the senior men's 10 km, Bitan Karoki (Kenya/Team S&B) was in another league from the rest of the field, running a sensational course record 27:52 to win by 58 seconds over countryman Nicholas Makau (Kenya/Team Yachiyo Kogyo). Karoki became the first runner to clear 28 minutes on the Fukuoka course, clearing the old record by 26 seconds. Makau finished in the lead spot among a tight-knit pack of four followers, outkicking Jakob Wanjuki (Kenya/Team Aichi Seiko) for 2nd in 28:50. Tokai University sophomore Akinobu Murasawa, the top non-African at last year's World XC junior race at one of the two most dominant men on this winter's ekiden circuit, did most of the job leading the pack throughout the race but was ultimately 4th in 28:58, beating out the top-ranked pro ekiden runner Yusuke Takabayashi (Team Toyota), a late entry after the cancellation of last week's scheduled Asian XC Championships, by 2 seconds in something of a dream matchup. Karoki now owns the course records in both Chiba and Fukuoka thanks to his pair of performances this month; it's a pity he did not run last week's Kenyan XC Championships to challenge for a spot at next month's Worlds.

In the senior women's 6 km, Chiba course record-setter Hitomi Niiya (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) took the race out hard and had little challenge in taking the field down, winning in 19:09 on her 23rd birthday. Niiya was on course record pace through much of the race but faded on the final lap. Her margin of victory was 19 seconds over runner-up Yuko Shimizu (Team Sekisui Kagaku), less convincing than her Chiba blowout but enough to solidify her position as the top current woman in Japan.

Stealing significant thunder from Niiya's win was junior women's 6 km winner Katsuki Suga (Kojokan H.S.). On a streak with a stage record at last month's National Women's Ekiden and a win in the junior Chiba race, Suga started conservatively and gradually built up to take over from Kenyan Susan Wylim (Sera H.S.) on the last lap. Suga finished in 19:10, only one second slower than Niiya's winning time in the senior race and smashish the course record by 27 seconds. With Suga until the final lap of the course, runner-up Tomoka Kimura (Chikuyo Joshi H.S.) was 16 seconds under the old record, finishing in a 19:21 clocking that would have put her 7 seconds ahead of senior race runner-up Shimizu.

The only race to see a change in winner from Chiba was the junior men's 8km, where Kenyan Bernard Waweru (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) frontran his way to the win in 23:11 despite a wrong turn just before the finish. Chiba winner Genki Yagisawa (Nasu Takuyo H.S.) was the only runner to try to go with Waweru but dropped back and was overtaken by a chase pack late in the race. Kenyan Jeremiah Karemi (Toyokawa H.S.) emerged from the pack in the final stretch to take 2nd in 23:31, with Yuki Arimura of 2010 national high school champion Kagoshima Jitsugyo H.S., sub-29 high schooler Yuma Hattori (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) and Yagisawa clocking identical times of 23:33 to take the next five spots.

2011 Fukuoka International Cross Country Meet
click here for complete results - scroll to bottom
Senior Men's 10 km
1. Bitan Karoki (Kenya/Team S&B) - 27:52 - CR
2. Nicholas Makau (Kenya/Team Yachiyo Kogyo) - 28:50
3. Jakob Wanjuki (Kenya/Team Aichi Seiko) - 28:53
4. Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.) - 28:58
5. Yusuke Takabayashi (Team Toyota) - 29:00
6. Minoru Ikebe (Team Honda) - 29:07
7. Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.) - 29:07
8. Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota) - 29:09
9. Tsubasa Hayakawa (Tokai Univ.) - 29:12
10. Yuta Shitara (Toyo Univ.) - 29:20

Senior Women's 6 km
1. Hitomi Niiya (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) - 19:09
2. Yuko Shimizu (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 19:28
3. Ai Igarashi (Team Sysmex) - 19:36
4. Yuka Kakimi (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 19:40
5. Hiromi Koga (Team Denso) - 19:42
6. Machi Tanaka (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 19:45
7. Korei Omata (Team Sekisui Kagau) - 19:46
8. Kazue Kojima (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) - 19:47
9. Mariko Nakao (Team Shiseido) - 19:52
10. Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 19:56

Junior Men's 8 km
1. Bernard Waweru (Kenya/Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 23:11
2. Jeremiah Karemi (Kenya/Toyokawa H.S.) - 23:31
3. Yuki Arimura (Kagoshima Jitsugyo H.S.) - 23:33
4. Yuma Hattori (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 23:33
5. Genki Yagisawa (Nasu Takuyo H.S.) - 23:33

Junior Women's 6 km
1. Katsuki Suga (Kojokan H.S.) - 19:10 - CR
2. Tomoka Kimura (Chikuyo Joshi H.S.) - 19:21 (CR)
3. Yuriko Kosaki (Narita H.S.) - 19:38
4. Susan Wylim (Kenya/Sera H.S.) - 19:38
5. Natsumi Yoshida (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 19:47

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

'Everyone's An Athlete in Tokyo Marathon'

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/26/sports/26iht-JAPANRUN26.html?_r=2&ref=global

Christchurch Training Camp Marathon Women Comment on Their Experience of Earthquake

http://mainichi.jp/enta/sports/general/news/20110225k0000e040034000c.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

All nine athletes and six support staff from the federation-sponsored women's long distance training camp in Christchurch, New Zealand at the time of this week's major earthquake returned safely to Japan the morning of Feb. 25. Four of the athletes and five of the staff members arrived at Tokyo's Narita International Airport, with the remaining camp members flying in to Osaka's Kansai International Airport. The four athletes arriving in Tokyo shared comments on their experiences with members of the media.

Multiple national record holder Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) said, "I've never felt an earthquake that big before. It was too much to put into words."

Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren), winner of last month's Osaka International Women's Marathon, was blunt, saying only, "It was terrifying. We were lucky, period."

Azusa Nojiri (Team Daiichi Seimei), who hails from Toyama where the large group of still-missing Japanese students studying abroad in Christchurch are from, told reporters, "I hope that they can rescue even one more person. All I can do is run, so I will run and pray that they come back safely and recover quickly."

Beijing Olympian Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya), who lived through the Great Hanshin Earthquake in Hyogo prefecture's Kobe, said, "I hope that they're able to quickly help those who are still missing and that they overcome this tragedy."

Friday, February 25, 2011

'Fukuoka Cross Country - Preview' - Watch Online

The 25th Fukuoka International Cross Country Meet takes place this Saturday, Feb. 26.

Click here for the IAAF's preview of the event, Japan's final selection event for next month's World Cross Country Championships.

Click here for entry lists - scroll to bottom of page. Waseda University's Yo Yazawa reports that his teammate Suguru Osako, the Asian junior half marathon area record holder, is also scheduled to run in Fukuoka.

The races will be broadcast on TBS from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. Japan time on the 26th. Overseas viewers should be able to watch online via Keyhole TV. Click here for more information.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Robot Marathon Gets Underway in Osaka - Live Webcast

The world's first robot-only full marathon got underway Feb. 24 in Osaka. Click here for links to three different live streams of the four-day event, including one robot's-eye view of the race.

Haile Gebrselassie Out Of Tokyo Marathon

http://www.asahi.com/sports/update/0224/TKY201102240455.html

translated by Brett Larner

On Feb. 24 the Tokyo Marathon Foundation announced that men's marathon world record holder Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia has withdrawn from the Feb. 27 Tokyo Marathon after falling during training in Ethiopia and injuring both knees. Gebrselassie's agent informed race organizers of the development on the evening of Feb. 23.

In October Gebrselassie committed to running the Tokyo Marathon, but just weeks later he announced his retirement following a DNF at November's New York City Marathon. He later reversed his decision to retire.

Tokyo Marathon Men's Preview - Turning to the New (updated)

by Brett Larner

Update 2/26: Hideaki Date (Team Chugoku Denryoku) is also out. Quite a shame.

Update 2/25: Along with Gebrselassie, defending champion Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda) is out of Tokyo after coming down with a fever. 2007 Tokyo runner-up Tomoyuki Sato (Team Asahi Kasei) is injured and will also DNS.

It's Tokyo Marathon week. This is the second of JRN's two-part preview of this year's fifth edition, to be held this Sunday, Feb. 27. Click here for part one, our women's preview, and look for additional articles and info as the week goes along. This year's race will be broadcast live on Fuji TV beginning at 9 a.m. Japan time. Overseas viewers should be able to watch online via Keyhole TV. Some viewers experienced trouble with Keyhole for last week's Yokohama International Women's Marathon but it appears to be working fine as of this writing, so make sure you have downloaded the current version of the player to increase your chances. In any case, JRN will be doing live race commentary via Twitter. Click here to follow.

The withdrawal of world record holder Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia from this year's Tokyo Marathon after a fall injured both of his knees changes the storyline at this year's race. Envisioned as an all but guaranteed breaking of the 2:07:23 course record, the race is now open to at least four potential winners. With extremely bad weather in three of its four runnings to date Tokyo has not yet seen the kind of times promised by its fast course, but with ideal weather of 9 degrees and cloud cover forecast for Sunday the course record is still well within reach of all four.

The probable favorite is Ethiopian Yemane Tsegay, holder of a 2:06:30 PB from the 2009 Paris Marathon, 4th placer at the 2009 World Championships, winner of last March's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, and, two months later, clocking 2:07:11 at the Prague Marathon. After Prague Tsegay said he would not be satisfied until he ran 2:04, and this may be his chance for something approaching that quality of a performance.

Having definite potential to compete at that level is Tokyo-based sub-hour half marathoner Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin), making his marathon debut. There is great anticipation for Ngatuny's debut, a runner at his best on the roads, and it would not be a surprise if he had a 2:06 day. At the same time, Ngatuny, a former Kenyan national cross-country champion, had only a mediocre performance at last week's Kenyan XC championships. Was his weak run indicative of the extra mileage in his legs from marathon training and a focus on Tokyo or of poor condition? We'll find out on Sunday.

Another Ethiopian, formerly Japan-based Hailu Mekonnen, and Kenyan Paul Biwott both hold recent 2:07 best marks and should be running with Tsegay and Ngatuny at the head of the pack. Either could step up and be in contention for the win. Biwott's 2:07:02 PB from the 2009 Amsterdam Marathon means he is in range of Tsegay on a good day, while Mekonnen has continued to improve in each of his marathons to date and could step up with another leap in quality.

2009 Tokyo winner Salim Kipsang of Kenya also holds a 2:07 PB and will be looking for another win in his third time over the Tokyo course. Japan-based Cyrus Njui (Team Hitachi Cable), winner of last summer's hot and humid Hokkaido Marathon in his marathon debut, will be running his first cold-weather marathon. He recently told JRN that he hopes to run 2:06 for the win, something that would surprise many if it came to pass.

The former great Felix Limo of Kenya, struggling in recent years, sub-2:10 Eritrean Abraham Tadesse, and Japan-based sub-hour half marathon Kenyan Mekubo Mogusu (Team Aidem), unsuccessful thus far in converting to the marathon, round out the foreign field.

For the Japanese men in the field, up to two spots on the Japanese national marathon team for this summer's World Championships are at stake along with the prize money and the BMW on offer to the top Japanese male finisher. 2:09:30 is the mark the top Japanese man must clear to be guaranteed a place on the team, with anything slower or a finish as the second Japanese man relegating him to purgatory until the mid-March announcement of the team's lineup. That 2:09:30 should even be viewed as a major hurdle is a baffling issue for the Japanese industry; as recently as 2007 Japanese men were regularly breaking 2:08 and in 2008 there were ten sub-2:10 performances. No Japanese man has broken 2:09:30 since the 2:09:16 clocking by Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) at the 2009 London Marathon, the fastest time last year being the 2:09:34 course record set by Arata Fujiwara (Remo System) at the Ottawa Marathon. What has happened? Nobody is sure.

There is always some degree of ebb and flow as one generation transitions to the next and the current trough has been accentuated by the simultaneous jump in the quality and quantity of African performances since 2008, but the drop from ten sub-2:10's to one per year remains difficult to explain. Most of the main Japanese contenders are vowing to have at the 2:09:30 "barrier," but that could well mean that they end up ignoring the faster pack up front and run their own more modest domestic competition in the B-pack. Nobody wants to see that happen.

With the withdrawal of defending champion Masakazu Fujiwara due to a fever, the theme of this year's domestic race has shifted to the new, with three first or second-time marathoners having the potential to take a position on the World Championships team. The most talented Japanese runner in Tokyo is debuting. Sub-62 half marathoner Yoshinori Oda of 2011 New Year Ekiden winner Team Toyota broke 28 for the first time late last year at the head of his marathon training. With these credentials he is the best current Japanese runner in the field and if he handles the transition to the marathon well a sub-2:10 should be a virtual given.

Second-time marathoners Keita Akiba (Team Komori Corp.) and Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) look more promising. Akiba, who broke 2:11 in his debut at the 2009 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, won his stage at January's New Year Ekiden and has the potential to be much faster this time out. Okamoto, a teammate of Date, has been outstanding in his first two years of pro running but had a failed debut at last year's Tokyo after injuring his right Achilles in the lead-up to the race. Look for a significant improvement this time.

Prior to the withdrawal of defending champion Masakazu Fujiwara all of last year's top four were scheduled to return except Sato, who has disappeared from racing since finishing 3rd in the freezing hell of Tokyo 2010. 2010 runner-up Arata Fujiwara, no relation, is the top domestic seed. He earned great attention immediately after last year's race when he announced he was leaving the JR Higashi Nihon corporate team to go independent, and even more when he followed up with a course record 2:09:34 win at May's Ottawa Marathon and a joint press conference with Gebrselassie in New York to announce the pair's participation in the 2010 New York City Marathon. Like Gebrselassie, he dropped out partway through the race. Tokyo will be Fujiwara's ninth marathon. In his four good marathons he has not finished outside the top 3. The other four were disasters. Despite his pre-race press conference talk of a 2:07, with New York as his only serious race since his Ottawa win it's impossible to know which persona Fujiwara will bring to his third Tokyo.

Like Arata Fujiwara, last year's 4th placer Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) is trying to do things his own way. Eschewing both the elite Hakone Ekiden universities and the jitsugyodan corporate team system Kawauchi took a job as a civil servant after graduating in 2009 and fits his training around his working schedule. His 4th place finish just two seconds behind runner-up Arata Fujiwara and one second behind half marathon national record holder Atsushi Sato was the biggest shock of last year's Tokyo. Since then he has worked on improving his PBs, breaking 63 for the first time with a 1:02:40 clocking earlier this month at the Marugame Half Marathon. It's questionable whether that time puts 2:09:30 in range, but Kawauchi has proven himself to bring an iron will and guts to his running and it would not be a surprise to see him in serious contention for a World Championships spot.

Veteran Satoshi Irifune (Team Kanebo) a reliable sub-2:10 man at his peak, faltered in 2010. He has run well in Tokyo but comes to this year's race without good tune-up results indicative of current fitness. Takaaki Koda (Team Asahi Kasei), last year's 8th-place finisher, returns to round out the invited field. At the top of the general division is 2008 Hokkaido Marathon winner Masaru Takamizawa, the new head coach of 2009 national champion Saku Chosei High School, is also among the best of the Japanese men in Tokyo, but as a new crop of top men get their marathon careers underway it is unlikely any of these three will factor among those competing for a World Championships placement.

2011 Tokyo Marathon Elite Field
click here for complete elite field listing
Men
2. Felix Limo (Kenya) - 2:06:14 (Rotterdam 2004)
3. Yemane Tsegay (Ethiopia) - 2:06:30 (Paris 2009)
4. Paul Biwott (Kenya) - 2:07:02 (Amsterdam 2009)
5. Salim Kipsang (Kenya) - 2:07:29 (Berlin 2007)
6. Hailu Mekonnen (Ethiopia) - 2:07:37 (Amsterdam 2010)
7. Abraham Tadesse (Eritrea) - 2:09:24 (Berlin 2010)
8. Cyrus Njui (Kenya/Team Hitachi Cable) - 2:11:22 (Hokkaido 2010)
9. Gideon Ngatuny (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) - debut - 59:50 (Nagoya Half 2009)
12. Arata Fujiwara (Remo System RC) - 2:08:40 (Tokyo 2008)
13. Satoshi Irifune (Team Kanebo) - 2:09:23 (Fukuoka 2008)
15. Keita Akiba (Team Komori Corp.) - 2:10:53 (Beppu-Oita 2009)
16. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 2:12:35 (Tokyo 2010)
17. Takaaki Koda (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:13:04 (Tokyo 2010)
18. Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:23:06 (Tokyo 2010)
19. Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) - debut - 1:01:41 (Jitsugyodan Half 2009)

101. Masaru Takamizawa (Saku Chosei H.S.) - 2:12:10 (Hokkaido 2008)
106. Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya/Team Aidem) - 2:16:38 (Hokkaido 2010)

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Christchurch Marathon Camp Athletes Due Back in Japan on Friday

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/news/20110223-OYT1T00809.htm

translated by Brett Larner

On Feb. 23 Rikuren announced that the nine athletes and six support staff members training in Christchurch, New Zealand at the time of the major Feb. 22 earthquake will leave New Zealand the evening of Feb. 24 and arrive back in Japan the morning of Feb. 25.

Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya), Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren), Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal), Azusa Nojiri (Team Daiichi Seimei) and five staff members will fly to Sydney before transferring to a Narita-bound flight. The other five athletes and remaining staff member will fly to Auckland and continue on to Kansai International Airport.

The Rikuren-sponsored training camp was scheduled to run from Feb. 7 through the 27th, but to ensure the safety of all participants in the wake of the earthquake the decision was made to cut it short. The extensive damage to the roads and surrounding area make running outside impossible, and the hotel to which the camp members moved following the earthquake does not have sufficient running water, leading Rikuren staff to opt for the earlier-than-planned return.

Shibui Returns - Tokyo Marathon Women's Preview

by Brett Larner

It's Tokyo Marathon week. This is the first of JRN's two-part preview of this year's fifth edition, to be held this Sunday, Feb. 27. Click here for part two, our men's preview. Look for additional articles and info as the week goes along. This year's race will be broadcast live on Fuji TV beginning at 9 a.m. Japan time. Overseas viewers should be able to watch online via Keyhole TV. Some viewers experienced trouble with Keyhole for last week's Yokohama International Women's Marathon but it appears to be working fine as of this writing, so make sure you have downloaded the current version of the player to increase your chances. In any case, JRN will be doing live race commentary via Twitter. Click here to follow.

The Tokyo Marathon's elite women's race occupies a peculiar position in its third edition, with world-class prize money at stake and quality overseas competition but excluded from the selection races for this year's World Championships women's marathon team. Although the former men's and women's elite-only Tokyo International Marathons shared the same course, they had different fates with the advent of the new mass-participation Tokyo Marathon in 2007-2008. The men's race was incorporated into the new event, or rather grafted onto it, as the organizers and application process remained separate from the mass-participation race, sharing only the same name, start, start time and course. The men's race in its new format maintained its status as a primary selection race for World Championships and Olympic marathon teams and has pulled in the best domestic men's fields each year.

The organizers of the women's Tokyo International, a separate group from the men's race, relocated their efforts to Yokohama. As a consequence, for its first two years Tokyo had no elite women's field, but in order to bring the race up to standard for an IAAF gold label elite women were added in 2009. Yokohama remained in place and continued to fulfill the selection race role. This has led to the current situation in which the new Tokyo Marathon's efforts to become a first-rate, world-class event are seemingly hamstrung by the requirement that the best Japanese women must run elsewhere if they want to make a national team. This is particularly true this year as last fall's APEC conference in Yokohama bumped that race from the traditional Nov. 23 date to one week before Tokyo.

That being the case, the Japanese women's field is thin considering the money and prestige on the line. The lion's share of the domestic interest will go to the return of former marathon national record holder Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) to the distance. Shibui won the 2009 Osaka International Women's Marathon to earn a spot as the leader of that year's World Championships marathon team. Injury troubles hampered her throughout that spring, and following a training run-effort win at the San Francisco Marathon she suffered a stress fracture which knocked her out of the World Championships. Since then she has been all but invisible, but late last year she returned to the ekiden circuit and has worked her way back into fitness, winning her stage at last month's Kita-Kyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden. Shibui has downplayed her Tokyo run, saying she only entered to accompany teammate Reiko Tosa in her return from childbirth, but with Tosa out with injury Shibui should be in for the win.

Her main domestic competition comes from Hokkaido Marathon course record holder Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC). After breaking 2:30 three times in the fall of 2009 Shimahara was not in peak form throughout 2010, her year culminating in a 2:32:11 5th-place finish at November's Asian Games marathon. If she is back together and the race plays out in the 2:26-2:27 range she may factor among the leaders. Her former teammate Yumi Hirata (Team Shiseido) is the only other Japanese elite in the field with marathon experience, holding a 2:29:23 PB from the 2008 Nagoya International Women's Marathon. Hirata had a good win at January's Chiba Marine Half Marathon and looks fit.

The other two invited Japanese athletes suggest a niche Tokyo could exploit to expand its domestic women's field. Sub-71 half marathoners Misaki Katsumata (Team Daiichi Seimei), a teammate of 2011 Yokohama winner Yoshimi Ozaki and coached by 1991 World Championships marathon silver medalist Sachiko Yamashita, and Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal), a teammate of multiple national record holder Kayoko Fukushi, will both run Tokyo as their marathon debuts. It seems an ideal environment in which for both talented athletes to get their first marathon experience. If it became the norm for top domestic talent to debut at Tokyo and gain experience in a fast, competitive race before going on to compete for national team selection it could help to bolster the strength of Japanese women's marathoning, which has struggled since 2008.

The domestic field is evenly matched by an overseas field of five. Next to Shibui, Romania's Nuta Olaru holds the fastest PB in the field. At age 39 Olaru was 3rd in the misery that was last year's race. Now 40, it remains to be seen whether she can still be competitive if the race is at the 2:25-2:26 level suggested by many of the athletes' PBs. Russians Tatiana Petrova and Tatiana Aryasova both bring recent wins to the table, Petrova with the 2009 Los Angeles title and Aryasova with last year's Dublin Marathon. In their prime, each is likely to be among those pushing the pace should Shibui not opt for the kind of fast race promised by Tokyo's excellent course.

Moroccan Asmae Leghzaoui, holder of the course records at both 10 km and marathon in Ottawa, will be making her Tokyo debut, meaning that along with men's entrant Arata Fujiwara (Remo System) this year's Tokyo features both the men's and women's Ottawa course record holders. The Ukraine's Olena Burkovska, 2nd at last year's Nagano Marathon, rounds out the foreign elites.

With exactly ten invited elites competing for the ten-deep prize purse it is entirely likely that someone from the general division will break into the money. Shibui's teammate Miki Ohira (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) is on the entry list, but having run the Osaka International Women's Marathon just four weeks ago it does not seem likely that she would start. Last year's 4th place finisher and top Japanese woman Maki Inami (AC Kita) is scheduled to return and with a good run could once again place. Four other women hold recent PBs under 2:35, the best of them 2010 Hofu Yomiuri Marathon winner Hiroko Yoshitomi (Saga T&F Assoc.), and on a good day any of them could also surprise.

2011 Tokyo Marathon Elite Field
click here for complete elite field listing
Women
21. Nuta Olaru (Romania) - 2:24:33 (Chicago 2004)
22. Tatiana Petrova (Russia) - 2:25:53 (Dubai 2009)
23. Tatiana Aryasova (Russia) - 2:26:13 (Dublin 2010)
24. Asmae Leghzaoui (Morocco) - 2:27:41 (Ottawa 2009)
25. Olena Burkovska (Ukraine) - 2:28:31 (Berlin 2010)
31. Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 2:19:41 (Berlin 2004)
32. Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC) - 2:25:41 (Hokkaido 2009)
33. Yumi Hirata (Team Shiseido) - 2:29:23 (Nagoya Int'l 2008)
34. Misaki Katsumata (Team Daiichi Seimei) - debut - 1:10:27 (Miyaki Women's Half 2010)
35. Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) - debut - 1:10:57 (Marugame Half 2010)

202. Miki Ohira (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 2:26:09 (Osaka 2008)
203. Aya Manome (Yushikai AC) - 2:33:18 (Nagoya 2009)
204. Satoko Uetani (Kobe Gakuin AC) - 2:33:55 (Hokkaido 2009)
205. Shoko Miyazaki (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) - 2:34:34 (Nagoya 2010)
206. Sumiko Suzuki (Team Hokuren) - 2:35:51 (Nagoya 2009)
207. Hiroko Yoshitomi (Saga T&F Assoc.) - 2:33:01 (Hofu Yomiuri 2010)
208. Maki Inami (AC Kita) - 2:38:51 (Nagoya 2008)

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Okamoto and Date Look to Carry on Team Chugoku Denryoku Legacy at Tokyo Marathon

http://www.chugoku-np.co.jp/sports/Sp201102220241.html

translated by Brett Larner

Making a bid for places on the national team for this summer's World Championships in Daegu, Korea, two members of Team Chugoku Denryoku, Naoki Okamoto and Hideaki Date, will be on the starting line of this Sunday's Tokyo Marathon. For Okamoto, 26, it will be his second marathon. The 25 year old Date will be making his debut. Since 2001 every World Championships and Olympics men's marathon team has featured members of the Chugoku Denryoku team, and these two young athletes are now charged with carrying on the team's legacy.

"It wasn't sweet." That is how Okamoto looks back on his debut at last year's Tokyo Marathon, where he finished 23rd in 2:23:06. Coming to the race with problems with his right Achilles, Okamoto was in questionable condition to run a marathon and, combined with the freezing cold rain at last year's Tokyo, fell off the lead pack just before 30 km. He felt the fear of the marathon, but it did not break his spirit. "I don't run away from failure," he says, explaining his decision to return to Tokyo for his second marathon. Since January he has done five 40 km runs, eliminating any uncertainty about being able to handle the distance. Poised to become the team's next-generation ace, Okamoto says, "I want to be the one to carry on the Chugoku Denryoku tradition on the national team."

Date is also focused on making the team. In his days at Tokai University Date was a major star of the university ekiden circuit. Upon announcing his signing to the Chugoku Denryoku team he declared, "I want to find success in the marathon," but until last year he was beset by back problems and other injuries. Unable to compete, Date had to watch from the sidelines as other runners who graduated the same year, such as Satoru Kitamura (Team Nissin Shokuhin) and Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B), went on to make the national team for the World Championships and Asian Games. "That was hard to take," he says. Now three years later he is ready to face his first marathon. "I'm feeling about 50-50 fear and excitement, but either way with this one race I'm going to bring back the old me. My goal is to break 2:09:30 and be the top Japanese man." If he succeeds, Date will find himself on Chugoku Denryoku's eighth-straight national team.

Translator's note: Okamoto and Date's coach Yasushi Sakaguchi is also the federation's director of men's marathoning. Until this past November Date was the half marathon junior national record holder.

Chugoku Denryoku Marathon National Team Members
2009 Berlin World Championships - Atsushi Sato - 6th
2008 Beijing Olympics - Tsuyoshi Ogata - 13th, Atsushi Sato - 76th
2007 Osaka World Championships - Tsuyoshi Ogata - 5th
2005 Helsinki World Championships - Tsuyoshi Ogata - bronze medal
2004 Athens Olympics - Shigeru Aburuya - 5th
2003 Paris World Championships - Shigeru Aburuya - 5th, Atsushi Sato - 10th, Tsuyoshi Ogata - 12th
2001 Edmonton World Championships - Shigeru Aburuya - 5th

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Akaba Reports All Members of Japanese Women's Christchurch Marathon Training Camp Safe and Unharmed

http://ameblo.jp/redwing36/

translated by Brett Larner and Mika Tokairin

Shuhei Akaba, coach and husband of 2011 Osaka International Women's Marathon winner Yukiko Akaba, is in Christchurch, New Zealand with Akaba and eight other top Japanese women distance runners on a Rikuren-sponsored training camp. He just posted the following report on today's earthquake a few minutes ago on his blog. Runners at the camp include Akaba, Kayoko Fukushi, Mai Ito, Yuko Machida, Yoko Miyauchi, Yurika Nakamura, Azusa Nojiri, Risa Shigetomo and Kaori Urata.

Today there was a magnitude 6.3 earthquake here in Christchurch, New Zealand. It hit after lunch just as we were getting ready for afternoon practice. The shaking was so strong that we couldn't stand up in our rooms, and the ground outside was like a liquid. There was a big crack in the road surface just outside our hotel, too. In the hotel rooms the dishes and glass were all broken, and the electricity and water stopped. The main roads are flooded and full of muddy water and there are big traffic jams everywhere.

There have been a lot of aftershocks, two or three of them almost as big as the first one. Another one just hit right now.

It's been seven hours since the earthquake hit but the staff at the hotel where we've all been staying didn't know when the electricity was going to be back on. We were nervous about our security there, so we've moved to a part of town that was relatively less damaged and where the power is back on.

Thank you for all of your concern, but the athletes and staff on the training camp are all safe and unharmed. But, the damage in town is massive and I heard that there are still people trapped in buildings and vehicles. Safety is our number one concern so we're going replan our schedule. I hope that there won't be any more big aftershocks.

To repeat, all of us, athletes and staff, are safe and sound. The phone lines here are really overloaded so please don't try to call us or anyone else in Christchurch. Thank you all for your concern.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

WC Silver Medalist Yoshimi Ozaki 2:23:56 Yokohama Win

by Brett Larner
photos by Mika Tokairin


Running in near-perfect conditions on a flatter new course, 2009 World Championships marathon silver medalist Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei) ran a race record 2:23:56 to win the 2011 Yokohama International Women's Marathon and become the first Japanese woman to secure a guaranteed spot on the team for this summer's World Championships. Ozaki said before the race that her goal was only to win, not to run a fast time, but her mark was the fastest by a Japanese woman in over 2 years and close to her PB.

Top two Nakazato and Ozaki.

Pacemaker Shoko Mori (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) took the race out faster than planned with a 3:19 first km, but things soon settled down to 16:59 for the first 5 km. Despite being right on target pace the pack began to fracture, with debutante Yuka Izumi (Team Tenmaya) then 2:29 women Mayumi Fujita (Team Juhachi Ginko) and Kaori Yoshida (Amino Vital AC) losing touch. The pack continued to splinter as the pace accelerated again, 2009 New York City Marathon winner Derartu Tulu (Ethiopia) falling off after only 9 km. Halfway passed in 1:11:36.

Barros and Ozaki head to head.

Following the last pacemaker's departure at 30 km Ozaki ran on the shoulder of Marisa Barros (Portugal), with 22 year old Remi Nakazato (Team Daihatsu) and 21 year old first-timer Kaoru Nagao (Team Univ. Ent.) close behind. Barros pressed the pace, whittling the pack down to three as Nagao dropped behind. With exactly 10 km to go Ozaki stepped to the front for the first time, but both Barros and Nakazato remained in contention as they took turns surging into the lead. Ozaki then abruptly hit the gas, splitting 9:52 for the final 3 km as she unleashed the same finishing speed that gave her the win at the 2008 Tokyo International Women's Marathon and her World Championships medal. It was a dominant victory that confirmed Ozaki's position as Japan's current #1 woman.

Nakazato with 1 km to go in custom handmade Adidas.

Runner-up Nakazato was almost a bigger story, staying with Ozaki until late in the race and taking 10 minutes off her PB to finish in a strong 2:24:29 in just her second marathon. Her run also marked the 100th sub-2:26:30 by a Japanese woman. Like Ozaki having cleared the federation's sub-2:26 World Championships standard, Nakazato now stands ahead of Osaka International Women's Marathon runner-up Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) in line for a national team spot but must wait until the outcome of next month's Nagoya International Women's Marathon to find out her fate.

Jarzynska looking strong on the way to London.

Third placer Barros finished in a PB of 2:25:04 after having also PB'd at last year's Osaka. Her time made her the all-time 2nd-fastest Portuguese marathoner. Fourth placer Nagao had a strong debut in 2:26:58, with Poland's Karolina Jarzynska, who set a national record at the Marugame Half Marathon two weeks ago, running a PB of 2:27:16 for 5th to earn a spot at the London Olympics.

2011 Yokohama International Women's Marathon
click here for complete results
1. Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 2:23:56 - CR
2. Remi Nakazato (Team Daihatsu) - 2:24:29 - PB
3. Marisa Barros (Portugal) - 2:25:04 - PB
4. Kaoru Nagao (Team Univ. Ent.) - 2:26:58 - debut
5. Karolina Jarzynska (Poland) - 2:27:16 - PB
6. Alevtina Ivanova (Russia) - 2:29:00
7. Mayumi Fujita (Team Juhachi Ginko) - 2:30:42
8. Yuka Izumi (Team Tenmaya) - 2:33:05 - debut
9. Kaori Yoshida (Amino Vital AC) - 2:33:57
10. Naoko Sakamoto (Team Tenmaya) - 2:35:17
-----
11. Derartu Tulu (Ethiopia) - 2:35:58
14. Azalech Masresha (Ethiopia) - 2:37:00

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved
photos (c) and (p) 2011 Mika Tokairin
all rights reserved

Jason Lehmkuhle Wins Ome 30 km Road Race - First American Win Since 1983

by Brett Larner

American Jason Lehmkuhle in a sprint finish against Toyoyuki Abe meters before winning the 2011 Ome 30 km.

Jason Lehmkuhle won a tight sprint finish over Team NTT Nishi Nihon's Toyoyuki Abe at the 2011 Ome 30 km Road Race to become the first American to win the prestigious race since Greg Meyer's 1983 victory. Lehmkuhle was aggressive throughout the race, leading the field of over 15000 through the early kilometers and remaining at the head of the pack over the difficult ups and downs through the middle 20 km.

The pack, initially nine-strong, whittled down to a core of five by halfway. With roughly 5 km to go Lehmkuhle surged, first dropping eventual 4th-placer Atsushi Ikawa (Team Otsuka Seiyaku), then frequent leader Ryotaro Nitta (Team Konica Minolta). Local boy Daisuke Shimizu (Team Kanebo) was the next to fall, leaving only Abe at Lehmkuhle's side. The pair rounded the final righthand corner together with Lehmkuhle on the inside, and in the last sprint to the finish Lehmuhle emerged a step ahead in 1:32:08 to take the win over Abe's 1:32:09. Shimizu hung on to 3rd in 1:33:15 with Ikawa just behind after having overtaken a fading Nitta.

Marathon great Hiromi Ominami (Yutic AC), running Ome as a tuneup for next month's Nagoya International Women's Marathon, won the women's race unchallenged in 1:46:27. Saori Makishima (Canon AC Kyushu), paced by her coach, 2:09:11 marathoner Akira Shimizu, was 2nd, with veteran Yoshimi Hoshino (eAthletes Shizuoka AC) 3rd.

In the 10 km division, high schooler Yusuke Uchikoshi (Kokugakuin Kugayama H.S.), the son of 1993 World Championships marathon 5th placer Tadao Uchikoshi, won the men's race in 30:29, just 9 seconds off the course record. Hiroko Shoi (Team Nihon ChemiCon) took the women's race, a virtual matchrace between Nihon ChemiCon and Team Hokuren, in 33:02, the fastest time ever by a Japanese woman on the Ome course.

2011 Ome 30 km Road Race
click here for complete results
Men
1. Jason Lehmkuhle (U.S.A.) - 1:32:08
2. Toyoyuki Abe (Team NTT Nishi Nihon) - 1:32:09
3. Daisuke Shimizu (Team Kanebo) - 1:33:15
4. Atsushi Ikawa (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:33:30
5. Ryotaro Nitta (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:34:05

Women
1. Hiromi Ominami (Yutic AC) - 1:46:27
2. Saori Makishima (Canon AC Kyushu) - 1:48:20
3. Yoshimi Hoshino (eAthletes Shizuoka AC) - 1:53:29

10 km Division
click here for complete results
High School Boys
1. Yusuke Uchikoshi (Kokugakuin Kugayama H.S.) - 30:29
2. Kajima Nakamura (Takushoku Prep H.S.) - 30:31
3. Yuichi Mihiro (Takushoku Prep H.S.) - 30:42

Women
1. Hiroko Shoi (Team Nihon ChemiCon) - 33:02
2. Kazumi Hashimoto (Team Hokuren) - 33:28
3. Tomoyo Izumi (Team Hokuren) - 33:38

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sendai to Expand International Half Marathon to Field of 10000

http://www.kahoku.co.jp/news/2011/02/20110218t11036.htm

translated by Brett Larner

In an effort to make the elite Sendai International Half Marathon into one of the leading races in the country, Sendai municipal officials have announced that in 2012 they will expand the event's scope to include amateur hobby runners while maintaining the overall high level of the existing competition by combining the Sendai International Half Marathon and local Sendai Road Race events. Organizers plan to set a field limit of 10000 for the new race.

The Sendai International Half Marathon office opened Dec. 5. Along with the exisiting federation-registered and wheelchair divisions, a new amateur division will be added along with a children's event to introduce them to running long distances. The new course will be different from the current ones, beginning and ending at the Miyaginoku Municipal Track and Field Grounds and passing by many of Sendai's popular sightseeing spots. With a boom of races like the 35000-runner Tokyo Marathon and 23000-strong Naha Marathon sweeping the country, organizers hope that combining the two events into one will help to attract more people from outside Sendai and that the larger scale of the event will help increase interest participating in sports.

The Sendai International Half Marathon began in 1991. With high-level athletes both domestic and foreign, including Athens Olympics marathon gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi having recorded Sendai wins the event has long been one of Japan's most competitive. Last year's running on May 20 saw its largest-ever field, with 1168 finishers. The Sendai Road Race, a 10 km event, takes place each fall. Last year's running on Oct. 31 had a field of 3536.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Yokohama International Women's Marathon Preview - Watch Online

by Brett Larner

The second running of the elite Yokohama International Women's Marathon takes place this Sunday, Feb. 20. Intended as a continuation of the legacy of the Tokyo International Women's Marathon, which fell under the wheels of the mixed elite and mass-participation Tokyo Marathon in 2008. Conceived of as a speed race with a spectator-friendly circuit course designed to help athletes qualify and prepare for world-level championship marathons held on similar loops, Yokohama has struggled to get off the ground thus far. It was bumped from its original Nov. 23 date last year by the APEC conference held in Yokohama, its hillier-than-promised course changed from a three-circuit loop through downtown Yokohama to a two-circuit loop this year with much of the race taking place on an out-and-back along the industrial waterfront south of the city, and relatively weak fields compared to those pulled in by Tokyo. This year will see two Yokohamas as it is scheduled to return to its Nov. 23 date for its London Olympics selection edition, but with the first runnings of the mass-participation Osaka and Kobe Marathons taking place in the three weeks beforehand Yokohama's position looks to remain precarious.

As a selection race for this summer's World Championships, Sunday's Yokohama is likely to be a virtual time trial for 2009 World Championships silver medalist Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei). The winner of the final Tokyo International Women's Marathon, Ozaki has not been in peak form since a fall last autumn hurt her right knee but holds such superior credentials to her domestic competition that barring a major breakdown her place is all but assured if she can break the 2:26 federation-mandated qualifying time.

Her nearest domestic competitors are two women with 2:29 PBs from 2010, Mayumi Fujita (Team Juhachi Ginko) and Kaori Yoshida (Amino Vital AC). Fujita has broken 2:30 in both of her marathons to date while Yoshida labored for years in the 2:30-2:32 range before finally doing it at last year's Chicago Marathon. Either could show an improvement in Yokohama, with Fujita young enough to still have room for growth and Yoshida coming in with an excellent half marathon win in January, but there seems little reason to think sub-2:26 would be in range of either. Five or six other women will be debuting or running their second marathons, but it would take a breakthrough for any to challenge Ozaki for a World Championships spot. Of these the ones most to watch are first-timers Yoshio Koide-coached Kaoru Nagao (Team Univ. Ent.) and Yuka Izumi of 2010 national champion Team Tenmaya, a team with a legacy of fast debuts. Veteran former elites Megumi Oshima (Tokyo T&F Assoc.) and Naoko Sakamoto (Team Tenmaya), Izumi's teammate and the marathon debut national record holder, are entered in the general division.

If Ozaki is in peak fitness she is likely to have company up front from at least two women, Ethiopian Azalech Masresha, who ran her 2:25:34 PB at last year's Paris Marathon, and Portuguese Marisa Barros who came close to winning last year's Osaka International Women's Marathon but ultimately settled for 2nd in a PB of 2:25:44. 20 years almost to the day since her win at the Chiba International XC Meet, 2009 New York City Marathon winner Derartu Tulu (Ethiopia) holds a PB identical to Ozaki's, but if the race is fast it doesn't seem likely she will be in contention against a younger field. One little-known foreign entrant to watch is Karolina Jarzynska (Poland). Her PB of 2:29:10 from the 2009 Frankfurt Marathon is the weakest in the overseas field, but since setting it she has recorded PBs at every distance from 3000 m to half marathon, the latter just two weeks ago at the Marugame International Half Marathon.

The Yokohama International Women's Marathon will be broadcast live on Nihon TV beginning at 12:00 p.m. on Feb. 20. Click here to visit NTV's race website, somewhat more informative than the official site linked above. Overseas viewers should be able to watch live online for free via Keyhole TV, available here.

2011 Yokohama International Women's Marathon Elite Field
click here for complete field listing
1. Derartu Tulu (Ethiopia) - 2:23:30 (Helsinki WC '05)
2. Azalech Masresha (Ethiopia) - 2:25:34 (Paris '10)
3. Marisa Barros (Portugal) - 2:25:44 (Osaka '10)
4. Alevtina Ivanonva (Russia) - 2:26:38 (Nagano '08)
5. Karolina Jarzynska (Poland) - 2:29:10 (Frankfurt '09)
11. Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 2:23:30 (Tokyo Int'l '08)
12. Mayumi Fujita (Team Juhachi Ginko) - 2:29:36 (Nagoya '10)
13. Kaori Yoshida (Amino Vital AC) - 2:29:45 (Chicago '10)
14. Remi Nakazato (Team Daihatsu) - 2:34:29 (Nagoya '10)
15. Kaoru Nagao (Team Universal Ent.) - debut - 1:10:45
16. Yuka Izumi (Team Tenmaya) - debut - 1:10:58
51. Saori Nejo (Team Hokuren) - 2:33:54 (Osaka '10)
52. Naoko Sakamoto (Team Tenmaya) - 2:21:51 (Osaka '03)
53. Nicky Archer (U.K.) - 2:42:22 (London '10)
58. Megumi Oshima (Tokyo T&F Assoc.) - 2:24:25 (Nagoya '05)
59. Miyuki Ando (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 2:29:07 (Osaka '08)
60. Risa Hagiwara (Second Wind AC) - 2:28:14 (Nagoya '03)
61. Hitomi Nakamura (Team Panasonic) - debut - 1:13:58


(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Thursday, February 17, 2011

48 Years Ago Today Terasawa Set Marathon World Record at Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon

http://news.searchina.ne.jp/disp.cgi?y=2011&d=0217&f=national_0217_030.shtml

translated by Brett Larner

On Feb. 17, 1963, Toru Terasawa set a marathon world record of 2:15:15.8 at the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon. Terasawa's time eclipsed the previous record set at the Rome Olympics by Abebe Bikila by 4 seconds. The following year Terasawa ran the marathon at the Tokyo Olympics along with Kokichi Tsuburaya and Kenji Kimihara but despite having the best PB in the field finished only 15th.

Reiko Tosa Out of Tokyo Marathon Comeback With Injury

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/news/20110216-OYT1T00858.htm

translated by Brett Larner

On Feb. 16, double World Championships marathon medalist and two-time Olympian Reiko Tosa (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) announced that she has withdrawn from her planned comeback run at the Feb. 27 Tokyo Marathon due to an injury to her right leg. According to Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo head coach Shigeharu Watanabe, Tosa has been experiencing discomfort since her return to racing at the Jan. 30 Osaka Half Marathon. Tosa gave birth to her first child, a daughter, last April. The Tokyo Marathon was to be her return to the full marathon distance after an absence of two years.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

World's First Two-Legged Robot-Only Marathon Set for Feb. 24 (updated with video)

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/science/news/110216/scn11021612430002-n1.htm

translated by Brett Larner

Click photo for a slideshow of the robot marathoners in action.

The world's first full marathon exclusively for two-legged robots is scheduled to begin Feb. 24 in Osaka. Aiming both to raise the science behind bipedal robotics to the point that one is capable of completing 42.195 km and to help generate popular support for October's first running of the Osaka Marathon, the Osaka Metropolitan Government-sponsored race unveiled its upcoming participants at a special event at Osaka's Asia Pacific Trade Center on Feb. 16. Five teams from local companies and universities have submitted robots to the competition.



The Robot Marathon will begin at 10:00 a.m. on Feb. 24. Robots must cover 422 laps of a 100 m loop course inside the Trade Center within a time limit of four days and, apart from time off for battery changes and on-the-fly maintenance, will run nonstop. In a special demonstration at the unveiling event on Feb. 16 a lead camera showed the robots in action, some running lightly and easily and others laboring with heavy, unsteady legs. A representative of the Metropolitan Government commented, "We hope this helps to stimulate interest in Osaka-based manufacturing."

Monday, February 14, 2011

2:04 Man Wilson Kipsang & Deriba Merga Headline Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon

by Brett Larner

The organizers of the 2011 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon announced their elite field today for this year's 66th running on Mar. 6, and they have done an outstanding job of assembling a world-class overseas field. All six foreign elites hold sub-2:09 PBs, four set last year and none older than 2008. Wearing bib #1 will be Kenyan Wilson Kipsang, who ran a stunning 2:04:57 to win last fall's Frankfurt Marathon. With the trend in Japan moving away from small, elite-only marathons and toward the big city marathon format there is no doubt that Biwako, as the race is universally called within in Japan, is bringing Kipsang in hopes of a 2:04 clocking to stay competitive in the arms race with Fukuoka, with a 2:05:17 course record courtesy of Beijing Olympics and Berlin WC bronze medalist Tsegaye Kebede (Ethiopia), and Tokyo, which has called upon world record holder Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopia) to summon up a course-record run later this month. Kipsang should have a sparring partner in the form of the aggressive and, lately, perpetually-DNF'ing Deriba Merga (Ethiopia). Mohamed El Hachimi (Morocco), Iaroslav Musinchi (Moldova), Yased Asmerom (Eritrea) and Moses Kangogo (Kenya) round out the overseas field, all with fresh 2:08 PBs.

For all the strength of the overseas field, the domestic field highlights the ailing situation of contemporary Japanese marathoning. The final selection race for this summer's World Championships team, the elite Japanese field features four men with 2:11 PBs and two with 2:12's, with five of the six marks set last year and the sixth in 2009. It's an excellent field of many of the best and freshest Japanese men, but their overall level stands in sharp contrast to that of the overseas field. Veteran Masahi Hayashi (Team Yakult) leads the way along with younger runners Kensuke Takahashi (Team Toyota) and Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki). Any of the four could take the top Japanese spot but all will need to significantly step up their game to have a chance of meeting the 2:09:30 time requirement for an automatic WC spot let alone to compete against the excellent foreign elites. It's a tough time for the Japanese men and the outcome will be indicative of the current direction of the sport domestically, a continuation of last year's slight turnaround or a further slide from past achievement levels.

The general division actually contains a larger than usual number of quality men hoping to pick up one or two of the national team spots on the line. Some of the best include former Hakone Ekiden star Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) doubling up after an aggressive but ultimately failed bid at December's Fukuoka International Marathon, 2009 World Championships team alternate Seiji Kobayashi (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki), ekiden ace Makoto Tobimatsu (Team Yasukawa Denki) and 28:07 track runner Suehiro Ishikawa (Team Honda) in their marathon debuts, 2008 Gold Coast Marathon winner Kazuo Ietani (Team Sanyo Tokushu Seiko) and, holder of the fastest PB in the domestic field, veteran Takeshi Hamano (Team Toyota). Any of these men or another of the seemingly countless 2:11-2:13 runners in the field could step up with a good run to take a place on the Daegu team.

2011 Biwako Mainichi Marathon Elite Field
click here for complete field listing
1. Wilson Kipsang (Kenya) - 2:04:57 (Frankfurt '10)
2. Deriba Merga (Ethiopia) - 2:06:38 (London '08)
3. Mohamed El Hachimi (Morocco) - 2:08:17 (Seoul '10)
4. Iaroslav Musinchi (Moldova) - 2:08:32 (Dusseldorf '10)
5. Yared Asmerom (Eritrea) - 2:08:34 (Biwako '08)
6. Moses Kangogo (Kenya) - 2:08:58 (Dublin '10)
32. Masashi Hayashi (Team Yakult) - 2:11:17 (Beppu-Oita '10)
33. Kensuke Takahashi (Team Toyota) - 2:11:25 (Tokyo '09)
34. Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 2:11:42 (Beppu-Oita '10)
35. Satoshi Yoshii (Team Sumco) - 2:12:24 (Biwako '10)
101. Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 2:13:23 (Fukuoka '10)
102. Seiji Kobayashi (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) - 2:10:38 (Beppu-Oita '09)

103. Keisuke Wakui (Team Yakult) - 2:13:43 (Beppu-Oita '10)
109. Tomohiro Seto (Team Kanebo) - 2:12:21 (Berlin '07)
115. Hiroyuki Horibata (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:11:47 (Tokyo '08)
121. Yusuke Kataoka (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:12:28 (Beijing '07)
127. Takeshi Hamano (Team Toyota) - 2:09:18 (Biwako '02)
142. Kazushi Hara (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) - 2:12:11 (Biwako '04)
231. Suehiro Ishikawa (Team Honda) - debut - 1:02:23 (Kyoto Half '03)
234. Kazuo Ietani (Team Sanyo Tokushu Seiko) - 2:12:37 (Tokyo Int'l '01)
304. Makoto Tobimatsu (Team Yasukawa Denki) - debut - 1:02:26 (Marugame Half '09)

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Yoshimoto Leads Bukkyo Univ. to Chugoku Women's Ekiden CR

by Brett Larner

2010 National University Women's Ekiden champions Bukkyo University rounded out their season by knocking nearly a minute and a half off course record at the five-stage, half marathon-distance 25th anniversary Chugoku Women's Ekiden, Feb. 13 in Hiroshima. 10000 m national collegiate record holder Hikari Yoshimoto led Bukkyo off with a stage record of 18:58 for the 5.83 km First Stage, and Bukkyo runners took stage best on three of the four remaining legs including an anchor stage record by Shiho Takechi. Only the professional Team Deodeo's Fourth Stage runner Ruriko Kubo broke Bukkyo's domination, running a stage record 7:33 for the 2.4 km Fourth Stage, but even there Bukkyo's Sairi Maeda took second-best. Deodeo took 2nd in 1:09:29, only four seconds off the course record, but Bukkyo was so strong that they were nearly a minute and a half ahead in 1:08:08. Bukkyo's perennial rivals Ritsumeikan University were a distant 3rd in 1:10:11.

2011 Chugoku Women's Ekiden
click here for complete results
Stage Best Performances
First Stage (5.83 km) - Hikari Yoshimoto (Bukkyo Univ.) - 18:58 - CR
Second Stage (5.0 km) - Chinami Mori (Bukkyo Univ.) - 16:07
Third Stage (3.0 km) - Hitomi Tamura (Bukkyo Univ.) - 9:45
Fourth Stage (2.4 km) - Ruriko Kubo (Team Deodeo) - 7:33 - CR
Fifth Stage (4.8675 km) - Shiho Takechi (Bukkyo Univ.) - 15:41 - CR


Top Team Results - 21.0975 km, 52 teams
1. Bukkyo Univ. - 1:08:08 - CR
2. Team Deodeo - 1:09:29
3. Ritsumeikan Univ. - 1:10:11
4. Tamagawa Univ. - 1:11:29
5. Suzugamine Gakuen AC - 1:11:42


(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Niiya by 40 Seconds and Sub-26, Karoki Sub-34 CR Win Over Mathathi at Chiba Int'l XC Meet

by Brett Larner

After two days of snow and rain the day dawned with perfect weather conditions for the 2011 Chiba International XC Meet, Feb. 13 in Chiba. For domestic Japanese runner spots on the Japanese national team for next month's World XC Championships in Spain were at stake. The times were accordingly fast on the hilly and muddier than optimal Chiba course.

One of the two big runs of the day came from 2007 Tokyo Marathon women's winner Hitomi Niiya (Team Toyota Jidoshoki). In Chiba's first edition since 2003 as an 8000 m race for senior women rather than 6000 m Niiya blew the field apart, running 25:53 to win by a margin of 40 seconds over Hanae Tanaka (Ritsumeikan Univ.), who won the first stage at last month's National Women's Interprefectural Ekiden. Nanae Kuwashiro (Team Sysmex), a teammate of marathon national record holder Mizuki Noguchi, was 3rd in 26:41. Niiya's time was the second-best ever run at Chiba, just 10 seconds off Australian Benita Johnson's course record of 25:43. Although the course at last week's U.S. national XC championships was said to be 150 m long, considering the more difficult course in Chiba Niiya's run compares very favorably with that of 2008 Beijing Olympics 10000 m bronze medalist Shalane Flanagan, who won the U.S. XC championships in 25:47 by a margin of 44 seconds. Niiya and Tanaka are likely to be named to the Japanese squad for World XC, and Kuwashiro stands a good chance of joining them.

In the senior men's 12000 m two-time defending champion Bitan Karoki (Kenya/Team S&B) delivered an even bigger run than Niiya, breaking the 21 year-old course record by 6 seconds to clock a 33:58 win and outrunning 2007 World Championships 10000 m and 2006 World XC Championships bronze medalist Martin Mathathi by 24 seconds. Karoki's successor at Sera H.S., Charles Ndirangu, was right behind Mathathi in 3rd with a 34:29. In 4th was Meiji University ace Tetsuya Yoroizaka, whose clocking of 35:23 would have been good enough to win last week's U.S. national XC championships despite the purportedly long San Diego course. Yoroizaka outkicked Kenyan Jakob Wanjuki (Team Aichi Seiko) and had little trouble beating Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) and Tsubasa Hayakawa (Tokai Univ.) to take the top domestic spot. Yoroizaka and Sato should be named to the Japanese team for the World XC Championships with Hayakawa a probable addition following the Fukuoka International XC Meet in two weeks.

The junior races, also selection events for the World XC team, were both won by stage winners at last month's National Interprefectural Ekidens. Genki Yagisawa (Nasu Takuyo H.S.), who ran a smart race to win the First Stage at the men's ekiden, was again tactically sharp as he won the Junior Men's 8000 m in 23:59 by two seconds over sub-29 10000 m man Yuma Hattori (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) and two members of 2010 National High School Ekiden champion Kagoshima Jitsugyo H.S., Takashi Ichida and Yuki Arimura. Women's ekiden stage record-setter Katsuki Suga of 2010 national champion Kojokan H.S. had no serious challenge in the Junior Women's 5000 m, running 16:08 to win by 15 seconds over local Yuriko Kosai (Narita H.S.). Tomoko Kimura (Chikushi Jogakuen H.S.) was 3rd in 16:27. As with the senior races, the top two in each junior race will pick up spots on the Worlds team with the 3rd-placers in contention contingent upon results from the other selection events. Their chances are buoyed by the indefinite postponement of next weekend's Asian XC Championships in Kathmandu, Nepal.

2011 Chiba International XC Meet
click event for complete results
Senior Men's 12000 m
1. Bitan Karoki (Kenya/Team S&B) - 33:58 - CR
2. Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 34:22
3. Charles Ndirangu (Kenya/Sera H.S.) - 34:29
4. Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Meiji Univ.) - 35:23
5. Jakob Wanjuki (Kenya/Team Aichi Seiko) - 35:24
6. Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 35:38
7. Tsubasa Hayakawa (Tokai Univ.) - 35:39
8. Hiroyoshi Umegae (Team NTN) - 35:40
9. Hirotaka Tamura (Nihon Univ.) - 35:43
10. Yuki Munakata (Chuo Univ.) - 35:47

Senior Women's 8000 m
1. Hitomi Niiya (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) - 25:53
2. Hanae Tanaka (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 26:33
3. Nanae Kuwashiro (Team Sysmex) - 26:41
4. Akane Yabushita (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 26:48
5. Korei Omata (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 26:55
6. Ayaka Mori (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) - 26:57
7. Asami Kato (Team Panasonic) - 27:03
8. Ai Igarashi (Team Sysmex) - 27:12
9. Hiromi Koga (Team Denso) - 27:19
10. Rui Aoyama (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) - 27:24

Junior Men's 8000 m
1. Genki Yagisawa (Nasu Takuyo H.S.) - 23:59
2. Yuma Hattori (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 24:01
3. Takashi Ichida (Kagoshima Jitsugyo H.S.) - 24:05
4. Yuki Arimura (Kagoshima Jitsugyo H.S.) - 24:05
5. Kazuma Kubota (Kyushu Gakuin H.S.) - 24:07

Junior Women's 5000 m
1. Katsuki Suga (Kojokan H.S.) - 16:08
2. Yuriko Kosaki (Narita H.S.) - 16:23
3. Tomoka Kimura (Chikushi Jogakuen H.S.) - 16:27
4. Risa Shibuya (Hanawa H.S.) - 16:40
5. Minori Suzuki (Toyokawa H.S.) - 16:44

Senior Men's 4000 m
1. Takahiko Onishi (Team NTN) - 11:32
2. Aoi Matsumoto (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 11:34
3. Masahiro Takaya (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 11:41
4. Kohei Kudo (Waseda Univ.) - 11:42
5. Shunta Kubo (Team Fujitsu) - 11:44

Junior Men's 4000 m
1. Takumi Kobayashi (Shimo Suwa Koyo H.S.) - 12:26
2. Fusanosuke Araya (Muroran Otani H.S.) - 12:27
3. Nanami Arai (Yachiyo Shoin H.S.) - 12:31

Chiba Pref. H.S. Men's 3000 m
1. Shoichi Omomo (Matsudo Municipal H.S.) - 9:33
2. Wataru Sakuma (Tokai Prep. H.S.) - 9:34
3. Masaki Totsuka (Matsudo Municipal H.S.) - 9:38

J.H.S. Men's 3000 m
1. Kengo Takamori (Abiko J.H.S.) - 9:06
2. Reon Suzuki (Takada J.H.S.) - 9:09
3. Kazuhiro Yoneda (Koto J.H.S.) - 9:10

J.H.S. Women's 3000 m
1. Ayaka Nakagawa (Asaka #3 J.H.S.) - 9:49
2. Yui Fukuda (Inami Kita J.H.S.) - 9:59
3. Nozomi Musenbi Takamatsu (Kunei Jogakuin J.H.S.) - 10:00

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Iwamoto, Hashimoto Win Karatsu 10-Miler (updated)

http://www.47news.jp/CN/201102/CN2011021301000297.html
http://www.saga-s.co.jp/news/saga.0.1825468.article.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

At the 51st Karatsu 10 Mile Road Race, Feb. 13 in Karatsu, Saga, Yuki Iwamoto (Team Mazda) ran 47:20 to take his first win at the race. Known as the "God of the Mountain" during his Hakone Ekiden days at Juntendo University, Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) was 3rd, while 2004 Athens Olympics 10000 m runner and 2008 Karatsu winner Ryuji Ono (Team Asahi Kasei) finished only 26th.

In the women's 10 km, Fumiko Hashimoto (Team Shimamura) won in 33:18, while Athens Olympics marathon 7th placer Naoko Sakamoto (Team Tenmaya) finished 18th. Akira Iwasaki (Tosu Kogyo H.S.) won the high school boys' 10 km in a PB of 30:04, while Sayaka Nishimura (Kawatana H.S.) won the high school girls' 5 km in 17:18.

2011 Karatsu 10-Mile Road Race
click here for complete results
Men's 10 Miles
1. Yuki Iwamoto (Team Mazda) - 47:20
2. Yuki Oshikawa (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 47:21
3. Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 47:25
4. Yukinobu Nakazaki (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 47:26
5. Takamasa Uchida (Team Toyota) - 47:29
6. Yuki Yagi (Waseda Univ.) - 47:30
7. Yuya Ito (Team Toyota) - 47:33
8. Kyohei Nishi (Team Kyudenko) - 47:34
9. Shunji Tsukamoto (Team Kurosaki Harima) - 47:36
10. Hidehito Takamine (Team Fujitsu) - 47:38

Women's 10 km
1. Fumiko Hashimoto (Team Shimamura) - 33:18
2. Shoko Mori (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 33:20
3. Madoka Ouchi (Team Juhachi Ginko) - 33:20
4. Yoko Nishimi (Team Juhachi Ginko) - 33:27
5. Akane Sueyoshi (Team Kyocera) - 33:28
6. Rina Nomura (Team Uniqlo) - 33:33
7. Misaki Kato (Team Kyudenko) - 33:36
8. Chieko Kido (Canon AC Kyushu) - 33:37
9. Saki Tabata (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 33:40
10. Shizuka Marumo (Team Denso) - 33:53

H.S. Boys' 10 km
1. Akira Iwasaki (Tosu Kogyo H.S.) - 30:04
2. Shohei Otsuka (Oita Tomei H.S.) - 30:06
3. Ryota Kishima (Omuta H.S.) - 30:15

H.S. Girls' 5 km
1. Sayaka Nishimura (Kawatana H.S.) - 17:18
2. Ayaka Yuki (Jiyugaoka H.S.) - 17:30
3. Miki Takemoto (Taku H.S.) - 17:37

Takeuchi Wins Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon

by Brett Larner

Despite heavy snow throughout much of western Japan and a nearby volcanic eruption which has continued through recent weeks, times were quick at the 49th Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon with four of the top ten recording PBs and the remaining six marking their debuts. Winner Kenji Takeuchi (Team Toyota Kyushu), a former teammate of Beijing Olympics marathon gold medalist Samuel Wanjiru (Kenya) and coached by Barcelona Olympics marathon silver medalist Koichi Morishita, clocked a ten-minute PB to win in 2:12:44, putting him inside the five fastest winning times in Nobeoka. Runner-up Takumi Owada (Team Hitachi Cable) broke his own PB by nine minutes to finish 40 seconds back from Takeuchi in 2:13:24. Takuro Yamashita (Team Fujitsu), instrumental in Asia University's 2006 Hakone Ekiden win, took four minutes off his PB to round out the top three in 2:13:33.

Little changed for the first part of the race as pacer Yoshikazu Kawazoe (Team Asahi Kasei) took a large pack through 30 km on pace for 2:12 flat. Following his departure Takeuchi and first-timer Bunta Kuroki (Team Yasukawa Denki) opened a gap on the rest of the field, with Yamashita one of three running 10 seconds back at 35 km and Owada another 20 seconds back in 7th. By 40 km Takeuchi had a 29 second lead over Yamashita, Kuroki having fallen to 6th. Owada was another 16 seconds behind Yamashita in 4th but closed hard to move up to second and narrow Takeuchi's lead.

2011 Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon
click here for results and splits
1. Kenji Takeuchi (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 2:12:44 - PB
2. Takumi Owada (Team Hitachi Cable) - 2:13:24 - PB
3. Takuro Yamashita (Team Fujitsu) - 2:13:33 - PB
4. Shingo Igarashi (Team Subaru) - 2:13:46 - debut
5. Masanori Ishida (Team Sagawa Express) - 2:13:54 - debut
6. Kota Noguchi (Team Toyota) - 2:14:31 - debut
7. Bunta Kuroki (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 2:14:27 - debut
8. Naoki Yamashita (Team NTN) - 2:16:35 - PB
9. Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:17:40 - debut
10. Seigo Ikegami (Team Honda) - 2:17:56 - debut

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved