Thursday, March 31, 2011

"Absolutely Never Give Up"

A couple of days ago the Japanese national soccer team played a charity match against a select team of players from J-League pro teams to raise funds for relief efforts for the disasters in the northeastern part of the country. The national team scored two goals and looked as though they would have a clean sweep. Then, in the second half, 44 year old veteran Kazu Miura, revered for hanging on to a pro career for the love of the sport, came on for the J-League team amidst players his children's age.



As the overlayed text says, "Absolutely never give up. All our strength together as one."

Federation Announces Men's World Championships Marathon Team

by Brett Larner

On Mar. 31 after a delay following the Mar. 11 disasters, Rikuren, the Japanese athletics federation, announced the lineup for the men's marathon team for August's World Championships in Daegu, Korea. The team is a strong one, inexperienced but fresh, with 2010 Asian Games silver medalist Yukihiro Kitaoka (Team NTN) and the 3rd and 4th place finishers from both the 2011 Tokyo Marathon and 2011 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama T&F Assoc.), Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota), Hiroyuki Horibata (Team Asahi Kasei) and Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki). All but Kitaoka hold PBs under 2:10 set this year. No alternate was officially named.

Also formally confirmed for the women's team was defending World Championships silver medalist Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei) who secured a place by winning the 2011 Yokohama International Women's Marathon in a course record 2:23:56. The remaining four women will be named following next month's Boston Marathon, with the leading current contenders being, in order, 2011 Osaka International Women's Marathon winner Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren), 2011 Yokohama runner-up Remi Nakazato (Team Daihatsu) and 2011 Osaka runner-up Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku).

2011 World Championships Men's Marathon Team

Hiroyuki Horibata (Team Asahi Kasei)
Born: Oct. 28, 1986 (24 yrs.)
PB: 2:09:25 - 2011 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, 3rd
Other main results:
2:11:47 - 2008 Tokyo Marathon, 9th


Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama T&F Assoc.)
Born: Mar. 5, 1987 (24 yrs.)
PB: 2:08:37 - 2011 Tokyo Marathon, 3rd
Other main results:
2:12:36 - 2010 Tokyo Marathon, 4th



Yukihiro Kitaoka (Team NTN)
Born: Nov. 2, 1982 (28 yrs.)
PB: 2:10:51 - 2010 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, 4th
Other main results:
2:12:46 - 2010 Asian Games Marathon, 2nd
2009 World Half Marathon Championships - 21st
2008 World Half Marathon Championships - 32nd

Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki)
Born: Dec. 7, 1982 (28 yrs.)
PB: 2:09:31 - 2011 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, 4th
Other main results:
2:11:42 - 2010 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, 8th
2:13:53 - 2009 Tokyo Marathon, 9th
2:13:54 - 2008 Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon, 3rd
2:15:21 - 2008 Hokkaido Marathon, 2nd

Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota)
Born: Dec. 5, 1980 (30 yrs.)
PB: 2:09:03 - 2011 Tokyo Marathon, 4th (Japanese debut marathon all-time #3)
Other main results:
2009 World Half Marathon Championships - 28th
2004 World Half Marathon Championships - 16th

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Kawauchi Joins Federation-Supported Ranks, Noguchi and Shibui Downgraded

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2011/03/31/kiji/K20110331000537600.html

translated by Brett Larner

Rikuren announced its list of athletes receiving special financial support in the 2011-2012 season on Mar. 31. Joining the ranks of the country's federation-supported athletes for the first time, Tokyo Marathon 3rd place finisher and amateur runner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama T&F Assoc.) was officially granted B-class support.*

Female marathoners Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) and Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) and male sprinters Shinji Takahira (Team Fujitsu) and Naoki Tsukahara (Team Fujitsu) were downgraded from A-class to B-class. Only three athletes were categorized at the highest level, S-class; field athletes Koji Murofushi (Team Mizuno) and Yukifumi Murakami (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and marathoner Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei).

*Translator's note: B-class athletes receive an annual stipend of 1,500,000 yen, roughly $18,000 USD at current exchange rates.

Sendai Ikuei Grad Kinukawa on Latest Comeback Trail

by Brett Larner

Ill or injured for almost the entire three years since her graduation from Sendai Ikuei High School, 10000 m junior national record holder Megumi Kinukawa (21, Team Mizuno), got her latest attempt at a comeback to the level that as a high school student made her the next big hope of Japanese women's distance running off the ground on Mar. 30 at the Kokushikan University Time Trials. In a tuneup for next week's Kanaguri Memorial Track and Field Meet Kinukawa ran in a men's 5000 m heat, clocking a solid 15:46.58. Her best performance since running 31:23.21 to break her own 10000 m junior national record in 2008, the result suggests that Kinukawa may reemerge this season in time to make the World Championships team on the track if she can stay in one piece.

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Sendai International Half Marathon Cancelled Due to Disasters

http://www.kahoku.co.jp/news/2011/03/20110331t14034.htm

translated by Brett Larner

On Mar. 30 the organizers of the 21st Sendai International Half Marathon, scheduled to be held May 8 in Sendai, Miyagi, announced that the race has been cancelled due to the massive earthquake and tsunami which hit the Sendai area on Mar. 11. In explaining the cancellation spokespeople for the organizers cited the difficulty in travel to the area, the limited availability of accomodations for visitors, the involvement of local police and other support personnel in relief operations, and extensive damage to the course from the tsunami. They also expressed a desire to be respectful of the feelings of the tens of thousands of local survivors who have been reduced to a homeless, jobless state by the tsunami.

The 33 members of the organizing committee met on Mar. 28 to discuss whether to cancel the race, arriving at an agreement by Mar. 30. At the time of the application deadline on Feb. 28, 1356 runners had applied to run the elite-level race.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fukushima Native Kashiwabara Ahead of Senior Year Debut: "Let's Show Everyone What We in the Northeast Are Really Made Of"

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20110329-OHT1T00313.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Determination: Iwaki, Fukushima native Ryuji Kashiwabara. Click here to enlarge photo.

Having defined the last three years of Japanese university men's distance running with three straight wins on the Hakone Ekiden's legendary uphill Fifth Stage, Toyo University's Ryuji Kashiwabara, 21, will start his senior year off in the 5000 m at the April 9 Kanaguri Memorial Track and Field Meet in Kumamoto with the thought of his native Fukushima Prefecture held close to his heart. His house seriously damaged in the Mar. 11 earthquake and part of his home city of Iwaki falling within the 30 km emergency zone around the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor, the disaster has struck the "Mountain God" especially hard, but in announcing that he will run the Kanaguri Memorial Meet Kashiwabara has vowed to run a race that will help give courage to those still suffering back home in Japan's Northeast. For Iwaki, for Fukushima, for everyone in the Northeast, the Mountain God will run.

Kashiwabara's family survived unharmed, but their house was nearly destroyed. "When I look at the conditions these disasters have reduced everyone back home to," Kashiwabara says, "I'm overcome with grief. Right now, as we speak, all across the Northeast victims of the disasters are struggling just to survive. What I can do to help might be trivial in the overall scheme of things, but I want to give everyone at home and everyone in the Northeast at least one thing to be happy about, one thing to be proud of and take courage from. All I can give them is my running." Always plain-spoken, now more than ever Kashiwabara has shown his true heart.

Toyo University's head coach Toshiyuki Sakai, 34, also hails from Fukushima, and besides Kashiwabara many of the team's other runners come from the Northeast as well, meaning the disasters have shaken the entire team. With Toyo's training facilities in Kawagoe, Saitama having been rededicated to providing free meals for those afflicted by hardship in the wake of the disasters, the team has temporarily disbanded as Toyo athletes from prefectures west of Saitama have returned home. The current plan is for everyone to return at the end of next week and restart training.

With the whole country facing grave hardship, Kashiwabara, a nationally-known figure for the fortitude of spirit and fearless determination he has shown in conquering the mountains of Hakone, has decided to begin his senior season on the track amid circumstances that would perfectly understandably be too much for anyone. Also in the Kanaguri Memorial Meet 5000 m are World Championships marathon team member Hiroyuki Horibata (24, Team Asahi Kasei) and Japan's #1-ranked track runner, Yuki Sato (24, Team Nissin Shokuhin). Aiming for the 10000 m at the World Championships, it will be a critical race for Kashiwabara.

Entering his final year of university, Kashiwabara has been named captain of Toyo's ekiden team. Having already committed to the powerful Team Fujitsu following his graduation next year, he has set his goals high. Despite experiencing the hardships of the disasters firsthand, Kashiwabara refuses to let it bring him to a stop. Running from the spirit lending his body grace, Kashiwabara calls out to all survivors: "Let's show everyone what Northeastern soul really is, what we in the Northeast are really made of!"

Ryuji Kashiwabara: Born July 13, 1989 in Iwaki, Fukushima. 21 years old. 173 cm, 54 kg. As a student at Iwaki Sogo H.S. he failed to make any national-level championships, but he experienced a major breakthrough after entering Toyo University in April, 2008. At the 2009 Hakone Ekiden he smashed the stage record on Hakone's brutal uphill Fifth Stage and was instrumental in giving Toyo its first-ever Hakone win. In 2010 he again broke the Fifth Stage record and led Toyo to the win and followed up with another Fifth Stage win at this year's Hakone, leading to the nickname "Mountain God." Named captain of Toyo's 2011-12 ekiden team.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Kanaguri Memorial Meet Entry Lists Published

by Brett Larner

After most of its spring road season was cancelled in the wake of the Mar. 11 disasters to strike its northeastern region, a sign came that Japan's running community has started to get back on its feet in the form of the release of the entry lists for the first major domestic track meet of the season, the Apr. 9 Kanaguri Memorial Meet in Kumamoto on Japan's southernmost main island of Kyushu.

The A-heats of the men's and women's 5000 m promise much of the best action. In the men's 5000 m, along with Josephat Ndambiri (Kenya/Team Komori Corp.), Ibrahim Jeilan (Ethiopia/Team Honda) and a host of other top Japan-based African talent, two runners will receive special focus. Hakone Ekiden star Ryuji Kashiwabara (Toyo Univ.) kicks off his senior year with the stress of his home prefecture Fukushima being the site of Japan's ongoing nuclear troubles. Having run 28:23 for 10000 m last fall as a high school student in earthquake and tsunami-hit Sendai, Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.) will begin his university career at the meet after having lived through the disasters.

Also in the men's 5000 m is 2011 World Championships men's marathon team member Hiroyuki Horibata (Team Konica Minolta) in his first appearance since his 2:09:25 PB at the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon in early March. Two other contenders for the World Championships marathon squad, Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) and 5000 m national record holder Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) are also on the entry list.

The women's 5000 m includes a number of athletes who were to run the cancelled Mar. 20 National Jitsugyodan Half Marathon Championships along with a number of more track-focused runners. 1500 m national record holder Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) has the fastest PB in the field and is scheduled to double at both 1500 m and 5000 m. Her best competition in the 5000 m comes from Ethiopian Betelhem Moges (Team Denso) and Kenyan Sally Chepyego (Team Kyudenko). Also noteworthy is 10000 m junior national record holder Megumi Kinukawa (Team Mizuno), still struggling to make a comeback after years lost to injury and illness. Other top contenders include Kobayashi's teammate Kazue Kojima (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) and her former university teammate Michi Numata (Ritsumeikan Univ.)

2011 Kanaguri Memorial Track & Field Meet
Entry List Highlights

Men's 5000 m A-Heat Highlights
Taku Fujimoto (Kokushikan Univ.)
Daniel Gitau (Kenya/Team Fujitsu)
Hiroyuki Horibata (Team Konica Minolta)
Ibrahim Jeilan (Ethiopia/Team Honda)
Ryuji Kashiwabara (Toyo Univ.)
John Maina (Kenya/Takushoku Univ.)
Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta)
Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.)
Duncan Muthee (Kenya/Takushoku Univ.)
Patrick Mwaka (Kenya/Team Aisan Kogyo)
Alex Mwangi (Kenya/Team YKK)
Josephat Ndambiri (Kenya/Team Komori Corp.)
Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota)
Cosmas Ondiba (Kenya/Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.)
Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.)
Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin)
Yusuke Takabayashi (Team Toyota)
Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta)
Titus Waroru (Kenya/Chinzai H.S.)
Edward Waweru (Kenya/Team NTN)
Ikuto Yufu (Komazawa Univ.)

Women's 5000 m A-Heat Highlights
Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko)
Mayumi Fujita (Team Juhachi Ginko)
Ai Igarashi (Team Sysmex)
Ann Karindi (Kenya/Team Toyota Jidoshoki)
Megumi Kinukawa (Team Mizuno)
Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshoki)
Kazue Kojima (Team Toyota Jidoshoki)
Nanae Kuwashiro (Team Toto)
Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera)
Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera)
Betelhem Moges (Ethiopia/Team Denso)
Seika Nishikawa (Team Sysmex)
Michi Numata (Ritsumeikan Univ.)
Mika Okunaga (Team Kyudenko)

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Monday, March 28, 2011

Wanjiru Pulls Out of London Marathon

http://www.jiji.com/jc/c?g=spo_30&k=2011032800938

translated by Brett Larner

On Mar. 28, Beijing Olympics men's marathon gold medalist and 2009 London Marathon winner Samuel Wanjiru (Kenya) withdrew from this year's London Marathon to be held on Apr. 17. Wanjiru cited an injury to his right knee in announcing his withdrawal. He has not run a major race since winning last October's Chicago Marathon.

In his place, three-time London Marathon champion Martin Lel (Kenya) was added to this year's London field.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

'Japan Dominates 2nd Edition of IAU 100 km Asian Championship'

http://www.iaaf.org/news/kind=100/newsid=59666.html

Mizuki Noguchi Donates 500,000 Yen to Disaster Relief

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/p-sp-tp0-20110325-752610.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

2004 Athens Olympics women's marathon gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi (32, Team Sysmex) has donated 500,000 yen [~$6,125 USD] to disaster relief efforts following the Mar. 11 disasters in northeastern Japan. As a contracted employee of Sysmex, Noguchi's annual salary is quite different from what pro athletes of comparable ability receive, meaning the donation is a considerable one for her. The Sysmex women's distance running team also contributed 1,000,000 yen [~$12,250 USD] as a group.

Noguchi's coach Nobuyuki Fujita commented, "We're doing this because she herself said she wanted to do something to help the situation. It hurt her deeply to see the disasters happening on television.*" Noguchi agreed, saying, "There are a lot of people in northeastern Japan in very difficult circumstances right now. Even if it's only a tiny part of what's needed, I want to help with their recovery."

*Translator's note: Noguchi is a two-time winner of the Sendai International Half Marathon, located in one of the areas worst hit by the earthquake and tsunami.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Friday, March 25, 2011

2008 National Champions Team Toyota Jidoshokki Leave Chiba for Aichi

http://www.toyota-shokki.co.jp/news/2011/110323athletics/

translated by Brett Larner

The Toyota Jidoshokki Women's Track and Field Team hereby announces that effective April 1, 2011, it will relocate its training base to Kariya, Aichi. On March 23 the team registered its membership with the central Japan Chubu Corporate Track and Field Association.

As a company-sponsored team, the Toyota Jidoshokki team management wished to be closer to the parent company's headquarters and through sports to help make a positive contribution to the company's workers. The women's track and field team has been based in Sakura, Chiba since 2001, but by relocating to the company's headquarters in Kariya, Aichi they hope to help foster a stronger community feeling among the general workforce.

In addition, Shigeo Hasegawa, head coach of 2010 National High School Ekiden champions Kojokan H.S., will take over as Toyota Jidoshokki head coach. The team's athletes have left the Sakura Athlete Club which has guided them for the last ten years. Under Hasegawa's leadership Toyota Jidoshokki's runners will begin working out at the Toyota Jidoshokki headquarters training grounds in April and aim to arrive at a new level of strength as a team.

Translator's note: The Sakura Athlete Club in earthquake and tsunami-hit Chiba is led by Yoshio Koide, who coached Naoko Takahashi to Olympic gold and the world's first women's sub-2:20 marathon.

104 Year Old Masters World Record Holder Killed in Tsunami

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/news/20110323-OYT1T00802.htm?from=navr

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The Iwate Prefectural Masters Track and Field Association announced Mar. 22 that Kamaishi, Iwate resident Takashi Shimokawara, 104, holder of three track and field world records in the 100+ masters' category, was killed by the tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan following the major earthquake on Mar. 11. According to Iwate Prefectural Masters Track and Field Association director Teruo Yaegashi, 71, a neighbor said that he had seen Shimokawara evacuating with his son and daughter-in-law, but his whereabouts afterwards were unknown. His body was later identified among those at a site where rescuers were gathering the bodies of area tsunami victims.

Shimokawara was born in 1906. A physical education teacher for elementary and high school students, he became involved with track and field in his 50's. At age 98 he qualified for the National Masters Track and Field Championships in three different throwing events. At age 100 he set world records of 10 m 72 cm in the discus and 12 m 42 cm in the javelin, followed by another world record of 5 m 11 cm in the shot put at age 102.

Shimokawara was to turn 105 in July and planned to compete at this year's Nationals. With very few athletes in the 100+ category, Yaegashi said that Shimokawara wanted to be the one to create a new 105+ age group this season and was doing sets of 100 sit-ups and push-ups every day in training. "He was a gentle, cheerful and straightforward man," said Yaegashi. "He was very motivated before big meets to train to the point of being sore. If you told him that he was training too much he would laugh, 'Seems like I'm always ticking you off.' There is nothing I can say but that his death is a terrible pity. I'll never forget his smiling face."

Having anticipated a special victory award for Shimokawara at this year's Nationals, National Masters Track and Field Association director Kiyoshi Konoike, 73, said, "It is a shock. He was a national treasure for all masters athletes."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

London, Boston, Daegu International Named as Women's WC Selection Race Replacements

http://www.jiji.com/jc/c?g=spo_30&rel=j7&k=2011032300862&m=rss

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On Mar. 23, Rikuren announced that three overseas races, the April 10 Daegu International Marathon, the April 17 London Marathon, and the April 18 Boston Marathon have been designated as the official replacement selection races for this summer's Daegu World Championships women's marathon team. Due to the earthquake and tsunami disasters in northeastern Japan, both the final domestic selection race, the Nagoya International Women's Marathon, and its replacement, the Nagano Marathon, were cancelled, leading to the necessity of designating overseas events as the selection race. Only women who were entered in Nagoya are elligible for a World Championships team berth.

Following the preemptive withdrawal of 2010 Nagoya winner Yuri Kano (Second Wind AC), Beijing Olympian Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya) leads eight Japanese women in London. 2011 Osaka International Women's Marathon winner Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) was already entered in London and her performance there will not count in the national team selection process. 2011 Ome 30 km winner Hiromi Ominami (Yutic AC) is the lone Japanese woman in Boston, while Yuko Machida (Team Nihon ChemiCon) and four others will run Daegu International.

Rikuren's criteria for World Championships consideration on the strength of results from the three races remain unchanged, "Sub-2:26 and top Japanese woman." At the press conference announcing the races, Rikuren director Keisuke Sawaki commented, "We originally planned to use the April 17 Nagano Marathon as the replacement selection race, but since it isn't possible for that race to take place we want to pick up Japanese athletes from London."

The World Championships marathon team will be made up of five athletes. Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei), winner of February's Yokohama International Women's Marathon in 2:23:56, is the only woman to have secured a guaranteed spot on the team. The remaining four places will be decided following the three races in April.

'IAU 100Km Asian Titles Up for Grabs on Jeju Island'

http://www.iaaf.org/news/kind=100/newsid=59612.html

Yuri Kano Withdraws From London Marathon

http://www.plus-blog.sportsnavi.com/kmanabu/article/449

translated by Brett Larner

2010 Nagoya International Women's Marathon winner Yuri Kano's coach Manabu Kawagoe (Second Wind AC) posted this notice of Kano's withdrawal from the Apr. 17 London Marathon this morning, just hours after the official announcement that the nine domestic elite women originally scheduled to run Nagoya have been added to the London Marathon field following the cancellation of both Nagoya and its domestic replacement as a World Championships selection race, the Nagano Marathon, in the wake of the series of disasters to hit Japan in the last two weeks.

The Nagano Marathon World Championships selection race, a replacement for the cancelled Nagoya International Women's Marathon selection race, has now also been cancelled. Yuri Kano has been targeting the World Championships and planned to run the overseas selection race subsequently designated by the Japanese federation Rikuren, but after considering the overall situation we have decided that it would be too difficult to make the adjustments to her training that would allow her to be ready for an overseas race a month from now and have withdrawn from the selection race.

I'd like to deeply apologize first of all to all of the amateur runner members of Second Wind who have given Kano their support, and also to our sponsors and associated partners because this decision means that she will not be able to run in this summer's World Championships in Daegu, Korea. In talking with Kano, she told me that after this she wants to take her time with training and concentrate on being ready to run one Olympic selection race next season.

I thank you all for your understanding and ask for your continued support in the future.

Manabu Kawagoe
head coach, Second Wind AC

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

'Japanese Women Added to London Marathon Field'

http://www.iaaf.org/LRR11/news/newsid=59611.html

Along with the nine women added to London from the Nagoya field, 2011 Osaka International Women's Marathon winner Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) is already entered in London's elite field.

University Federation Announces New Selection Criteria for World University Games Half Marathon

http://www.iuau.jp/ev2011/11univer/26univ110322.pdf

translated by Brett Larner

Due to the major earthquake disaster to strike northeastern Japan this year, the selection races for the 2011 World University Games men's and women's half marathon national teams were cancelled*. The following is an amendment to the information for selection published on the Inter-University Athletic Union of Japan website on Jan. 21, 2011 specifying the new selection criteria.

The IUAU will consider the following in selection the World University Games team:

1. Those who have already broken the time standards established by the IUAU.
2. Apart from the men's and women's 5000 m and 10000 m, there are no specific selection races. Athletes' performances will be evaluated based on their times and marks. Athletes in the 5000 m and 10000 m must run in the meets specified below.
3. For the half marathon, the top two men and women in the 10000 m at the selection meet specified below will be named to the half marathon team. Those finishing 3rd or lower, those with elligible times from other races, and even past performances at the half marathon will be considered in naming others to this year's team.
4. Athletes who have broken the established qualifying times on multiple past occasions will also be considered.

Selection Events

1. Half Marathon: 59th Hyogo Relay Carnival 10000 m, Apr. 23, 2011
Also eligible for consideration:
-2011 regional university championships
-95th National Track and Field Championships, June 10-12, 2011
-2011 National University Individual Track and Field Championships, June 17-19

2. 10000 m: 59th Hyogo Relay Carnival Asics Challenge 10000 m, Apr. 23 or 24, 2011

3. 5000 m: 45th Oda Memorial Track and Field Meet, Apr. 29, 2011

*The cancelled selection races were the Mar. 13 Tachikawa Akishima Half Marathon (men) and the Mar. 20 Matsue Ladies' Half Marathon (women).

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Nagano Marathon Joins Cancellation List

http://twitter.com/#!/RunningM_Courir

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The Nagano Marathon has officially cancelled its 2011 running, scheduled for April 17. Due to the major earthquake and tsunami disasters which hit northeastern Japan on March 11, a large number of police, medical and other emergency personnel have left Nagano to take part in relief operations in the affected area. As a result, the race's organizers do not feel they are in a position to offer adequate security and support to runners on the course and thus have no option but to cancel the race.

Translator's note: Nagano was to be the replacement for the previously cancelled Nagoya International Women's Marathon as the final selection race for this summer's World Championships Japanese women's marathon team. According to previous announcements it is likely that London will now be used as the selection race. Click here for more on other races to have been cancelled since the March 11 disasters.

26,000+ Kasumigaura Marathon Cancelled Due to Course Damage

http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/110322/spg1103221229000-n1.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The organizers of the Kasumigaura Marathon and 10-Miler, scheduled for April 17 in Tsuchiura, Ibaraki, announced on Mar. 22 that this year's race has been cancelled. Officials cited extensive damage to the marathon's course from the recent major earthquake and tsunami which hit northeastern Japan on Mar. 11.

With 26,555 entries this year Kasumigaura was set to become Japan's second-largest marathon, following only the Tokyo Marathon. Organizers stated that after deducting necessary expenses they will donate runners' entry fees to relief funds for disaster-stricken areas.

Translator's note: Kasumigaura joins a long list of March and April races to be cancelled in the wake of Japan's recent disasters. A decision on whether or not the Nagano Marathon, also scheduled for April 17, will be held is expected later today.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Kano and Okubo Struggle in Nagoya Replacement Races

2011 New York City Half Marathon - Women
1. Caroline Rotich (Kenya) - 1:08:52
2. Edna Kiplagat (Kenya) - 1:09:00
3. Kara Goucher (U.S.A.) - 1:09:03
-----
21. Yuri Kano (Second Wind AC) - 1:14:59

2011 Los Angeles Marathon - Women
1. Buzunesh Deba (Ethiopia) - 2:26:34
2. Amy Hastings (U.S.A.) - 2:27:03
3. Mare Dibaba (Ethiopia) - 2:30:25
-----
9. Eri Okubo (Second Wind AC) - 2:42:48

World Cross-Country Championships - Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

Despite nearly half its team hailing from earthquake and tsunami-hit areas, the Japanese squad was missing only two members of its senior men's team at the 2011 World Cross-Country Championships in Punta Umbria, Spain. The junior women were the stars of the day, taking a team bronze medal thanks in part to 12th and 13th place finishes from ace Katsuki Suga (Kojokan H.S.) and Tomoka Kimura (Chikuyo Joshi Gakuen H.S.). Hailing from the hard-hit city of Sendai, Natsuki Yoshida (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) was last on the team but still turned in a credible performance all things considered, 34th in 21:00. Her team medal will no doubt be a boost to the spirits of those back in Sendai dealing with the post-tsunami devastation.

The senior women's and junior men's teams both placed 7th, the top individual performance on either team being a 26th-place run by women's team leader Hitomi Niiya (Team Toyota Jidoshoki), whose home base of Sakura, Chiba was badly shaken in last week's earthquake. Junior men's ace Yuma Hattori (Sendai Ikuei H.S.), also coming to the race from Sendai, was unable to run up to his potential but still placed as the team's fourth scorer, 42nd in 24:38 in a tight pack race which saw all six junior Japanese men finish within 23 seconds of each other.

Missing its two best runners, Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.) and Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin), the senior men's team finished only 14th, led by relatively unknown first-year Hirotaka Tamura (Nihon Univ.)'s 46th-place finish in 36:12. Kyushu-based Paul Tanui (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) had a strong race, coming back to finish 2nd overall after falling off the pack with 2 km to go.

2011 World Cross-Country Championships

Senior Women - 8 km
1. Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot (Kenya) - 24:58
2. Linet Chepkwemoi Masai (Kenya) - 25:07
3. Shalane Flanagan (U.S.A.) - 25:10
-----
26. Hitomi Niiya (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) - 26:43
33. Hanae Tanaka (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 27:03
48. Yuko Shimizu (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 27:27
53. Korei Omata (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 27:31
76. Nanae Kuwashiro (Team Sysmex) - 28:16
85. Ai Igarashi (Team Sysmex) - 28:37

Team Medals
1. Kenya - 15
2. Ethiopia - 29
3. U.S.A. - 57
-----
7. Japan - 160

Senior Men - 12 km
1. Imane Merga (Ethiopia) - 33:50
2. Paul Kipngetich Tanui (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) - 33:52
3. Vincent Kiprop Chepkok (Kenya) - 33:53
-----
46. Hirotaka Tamura (Nihon Univ.) - 36:12
50. Yusuke Takabayashi (Team Toyota) - 36:26
84. Tsubasa Hayakawa (Tokai Univ.) - 37:37
86. Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Meiji Univ.) - 37:40

Team Results
1. Kenya - 14
2. Ethiopia - 38
3. Uganda - 49
-----
14. Japan - 266

Junior Women - 6 km
1. Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon (Kenya) - 18:53
2. Genet Yalew (Ethiopia) - 18:54
3. Azemra Gebru (Ethiopia) - 18:54
-----
12. Katsuki Suga (Kojokan H.S.) - 19:49
13. Tomoka Kimura (Chikuyo Joshi Gakuen H.S.) - 19:56
23. Yuriko Kosaki (Narita H.S.) - 20:23
27. Risa Yokoe (Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 20:31
30. Risa Shibuya (Hanawa H.S.) - 20:48
34. Natsumi Yoshida (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 21:00

Team Medals
1. Ethiopia - 17
2. Kenya - 19
3. Japan - 75

Junior Men - 8 km
1. Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor (Kenya) - 22:21
2. Thomas Ayeko (Uganda) - 22:27
3. Patrick Mutunga Mwikya (Kenya) - 22:32
-----
33. Kazuma Kubota (Kyushu Gakuin H.S.) - 24:22
36. Takashi Ichida (Kagoshima Jitsugyo H.S.) - 24:25
37. Genki Yagisawa (Nasu Takuyo H.S.) - 24:34
42. Yuma Hattori (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 24:38
43. Yuki Arimura (Kagoshima Jitsugyo H.S.) - 24:40
46. Ken Yokote (Sakushin Gakuin H.S.) - 24:45

Team Results
1. Kenya - 20
2. Ethiopia - 24
3. Uganda - 50
-----
7. Japan - 148

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Tokyo's Namban Rengo International Running Club Raises 600,000 yen in Tohoku Disaster Relief Run

http://www.namban.org/index.php/reports/more/tohoku_disaster_fundraiser

JRN associate editor Mika Tokairin was one of the Mar. 19 Tohoku Disaster Fundraiser Run's co-organizers. JRN editor Brett Larner covered the longest distance among the participants, 16 laps of Tokyo's historic Kaigakan running loop in Jingu Gaien.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

170,000 Apply for Osaka Marathon's First Running

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/osaka/sports/article/news/20110318-OHO1T00086.htm

translated by Brett Larner

On Mar. 17 the organizers of the first running of the Osaka Marathon, scheduled for Oct. 30, announced that 171,744 people applied for the new race by the Mar. 15 application deadline, 5.7 times the number of available spots. 154,822 people applied for the 28,000 places in the full marathon, while 16,922 people applied for the 2000 places in the 8.8 km challenge run.

Among areas affected by last week's earthquake and tsunami disasters, 440 people from Miyagi prefecture, 144 from Iwate, 290 from Fukushima and 977 from Ibaraki applied for the race. Results of the lottery for entries are scheduled to be sent out in mid-April to the email address applicants registered at the time of entry, but organizers expect many people affected by the disasters to be unable to confirm their entries. A spokesperson for the organizers commented, "We are looking at the options for how to deal with people from the affected areas who are selected in the lottery, including how to accommodate payment of their entry fees."

Friday, March 18, 2011

Three Ways for Runners to Support Japanese Relief Efforts

Along with the first-round efforts from the Red Cross, Salvation Army and other major relief organization, several ways have emerged for runners to help the 370,000 displaced and homeless in Japan's tsunami-stricken northeastern region. As temperatures in the area have fallen below zero their circumstances have drastically worsened. Baseball's Ichiro Suzuki has donated 100 million yen, roughly $1,235,000 USD at current exchange rates, to the Japanese Red Cross, but we can all still do our parts. Please take a moment to do something to help.

Two-time World Championships 400 m hurdles bronze medalist Dai Tamesue is fundraising on behalf of Civic Force, an emergency response team operating in the tsunami-affected area. Click here to support his efforts.

Marathon Talk has organized Run for Japan, a worldwide effort for people to dedicate one of their runs to supporting Japan via the British Red Cross. Click here to visit their site.

Namban Rengo, a Tokyo-based international running club, is organizing the Tohoku Disaster Relief Fund Run/Walk on Mar. 19 at 3:00 p.m. at Tokyo's Jingu Gaien running oval near the National Stadium. Click here to sign up and to get more info.

Lastly, while not directly running-related, the Second Harvest food bank is a worthy cause collecting imperishable food and day-to-day necessities to provide to victims. Click here for more information.

Thank you.

Brett & Mika
Japan Running News

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fukushima Explained in Animation for Children and Like-Minded Adults

Here is the clearest, most succinct summary of the situation in Fukushima we have come across. Click the widescreen or YouTube options to make sure the subtitles don't get cut off. If you haven't done so already, please click here to donate to ongoing relief efforts through a fund set up by two-time World Championships 400 mH medalist Dai Tamesue. Thank you.

Brett & Mika
Japan Running News

'Lamine Diack Offers IAAF Sympathy to Japanese People'

http://www.iaaf.org/aboutiaaf/news/newsid=59533.html

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

About World XC - Yuki Sato (updated)

http://ameblo.jp/gogoyuki1126/

translated by Brett Larner

This is a post Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) made on his blog on Mar. 15.

Because of the recent major earthquake in northeastern Japan I've decided not to run in the World Cross Country Championships in Spain.

Japan will be sending a team to the championships but they've left it up to us to decide individually whether or not we run. I just don't feel like I want to, and my legs are not 100%, so taking it all into account I've decided to scrap the idea of going.

I wanted to go and run a race that would give the people back home at least a little good news, but in my current condition I don't think that's the kind of race it would end up as.

My goal now is to do the work I can to heal my spirit so that in my next race I can give everyone my share of the good news they need.

Translator's note: Junior team members Yuma Hattori and Natsumi Yoshida are both students at Sendai Ikuei H.S. in one of the area hardest-hit by last week's earthquake and tsunami, and their participation at this point looks unlikely. Senior women's team leader Hitomi Niiya (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) is based in Sakura, Chiba, another area badly damaged by the disasters, and it would be surprising if she joined the team in Spain. Senior women Yuko Shimizu and Korei Omata (both Team Sekisui Kagaku) and junior woman Yuriko Kosaki (Narita H.S.) are also based in Chiba. Junior women's team leader Katsuki Suga (Kojokan H.S.) is confirmed to be running.

Update: Yusuke Takabayashi (Team Toyota) has confirmed to JRN that he is running despite injury troubles.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

'Japan Quake: "How Can I Help Japan?"'

JRN regular readers please consider making a donation to one of the organizations below to help with relief efforts. Please also link this story or copy the embeddable code to your own site or blog.

Our thanks for all of your support over the last four years.

Brett & Mika
Japan Running News

Update: Click here to donate to 400 m hurdles double World Championships bronze medalist Dai Tamesue's charity Team Japan.


Japan's Spring Race Season Shutting Down (updated)

by Brett Larner

Along with the cancellation of the elite Nagoya International Women's Marathon and National University Men's Half Marathon Championships (Tachikawa Akishima Half Marathon) last weekend and the National Corporate Half Marathon Championships and National University Women's Half Marathon Championships (Matsue Ladies Half Marathon) this coming weekend following the string of disasters to strike northeastern Japan, several major amateur-level races in eastern Japan have also announced they will cancel this spring's editions. One of Japan's largest marathons, the Itabashi City Marathon (known until this year as the Tokyo Arakawa Shimin Marathon) has cancelled its planned Mar. 20 running, along with the Tamako Ekiden the next day. On Mar. 27 the Sakura Asahi Marathon in Chiba Prefecture and the Kumagaya Sakura Half Marathon in Saitama Prefecture have also announced their cancellations. Yet another is Shizuoka's Yaizu Minato Half Marathon, scheduled for Apr. 10.

Seemingly the only bright spot among all the announcements is that organizers of the Mar. 20 Tottori Marathon have decided to go ahead and run to "help give courage and spirit" to Japan's people and to "support and encourage victims of the earthquake and tsunami." The Tokushima Marathon, also on Mar. 20, has postponed this year's race until an unspecified later date.

The Apr. 17 Nagano Marathon, the race mentioned as the likely replacement for Nagoya as the final selection race for the Japanese women's World Championships marathon team, is discussing whether or not to cancel the race, while Japan's second-largest marathon, the Kasumigaura Marathon in hard-hit Ibaraki Prefecture, also on Apr. 17, is virtually certain to cancel. The cancellation of the May 8 Sendai International Half Marathon is likewise highly likely. JRN will try to keep you up to date as events within Japan continue to unfold.

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Monday, March 14, 2011

National Corporate Half Marathon and Road 10 km Championships Cancelled Due to Earthquake

http://www.enjoy.ne.jp/~chujitsu/31oshirase/11-3-20halfyoukou.pdf

translated by Mika Tokairin

Due to the major earthquake in northeastern Japan, members of Yamaguchi Police Headquarters and the Yamaguchi SDF base will be sent to take part in relief efforts. Therefore, we cannot proprely execute proper safety protocols for road closure during the race. Also considering the massive extent of damage to the afflicted areas in northeastern Japan, we have decided it is unfortunately necessary to cancel the 39th National Jitsugyodan Half Marathon and Road 10 km Championships scheduled for Mar. 20.

We understand this was an important target race for all athletes who entered and trained for it, but we ask you to understand the overall situation and request your cooperation. Thank you. We do not plan to reschedule the event, so we ask for your additional understanding in this respect. For any further questions, please contact the race office.

Translator's note: The National Jitsugyodan Half Marathon was to be the first selection race for Japan's team for this year's World Half Marathon Championships.

World Championships Marathon Team Announcement Postponed

http://www.jiji.com/jc/c?g=spo_30&k=2011031400664

translated by Brett Larner

Rikuren, the Japanese athletics federation, announced on Mar. 14 that its decision on the final lineup for the men's and women's marathon teams for this summer's World Championships in Daegu, Korea, will be postponed. The naming of the team was scheduled to take place during Rikuren's general and committee meetings on Mar. 15, but due to the major earthquake in northeastern Japan it was not possible for the meetings to be held.

Video of Explosion at Fukushima Reactor #3

Sunday, March 13, 2011

2010 New Year Ekiden Winner Nissin Shokuhin Donates 1,000,000 Cup Noodle Instant Ramen for Disaster Relief

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20110313-00000553-san-bus_all

translated by Brett Larner

If you haven't done so already, please click here to donate to ongoing relief efforts through a fund set up by two-time World Championships 400 mH medalist Dai Tamesue. Thank you.

Brett & Mika
Japan Running News

Nissin Shokuhin Holdings subsidiary Nissin Shokuhin announced on Mar. 13 that in response to the major earthquake disaster in northeastern Japan, it will donate 1,000,000 containers of its "Cup Noodle" brand instant ramen to the relief effort. The company's Tohoku branch in Sendai will serve as the base for Nissin Shokuhin's relief work.

Because the Mar. 11 earthquake knocked out water and gas in many stricken areas, the company will also supply seven kitchen cars used to prepare Cup Noodle at sports games and other public events. A company spokesperson commented, "Even in areas hit hard by the earthquake we will be able to provide victims with hot Cup Noodle." One kitchen car is equipped to provide 1000-1800 hot servings of Cup Noodle per day.

Also on Mar. 13, the World Ramen Association, headed by Nissin Shokuhin Holidngs president Hiroki Ando, announced that it would donate another 200,000 servings of instant ramen.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Nagano Marathon Likely to Serve as Replacement Selection Race for Cancelled Nagoya

http://www.47news.jp/CN/201103/CN2011031201000773.html

translated by Mika Tokairin

Due to the major earthquake in northeast Japan, on Mar. 12 the organizers of the Nagoya International Women's Marathon, scheduled for Mar. 13, announced the official cancellation of the race. Nagoya was to be the final selection race for the national women's marathon team for this summer's World Championships in Daegu, Korea. There was no postponement of the race. In making the decision to cancel the race organizers took into account the continuous aftershocks, the prediction of more extensive damage than initial estimates, and the state of confusion in road traffic. The cancellation is the first in Nagoya's history since it was founded in 1980 as a 20 km women's road race.

In response to the cancellation, Rikuren has announced that by the time of its board meeting on Mar. 15 it will select a domestic or overseas race in April to serve as a replacement selection race. Only athletes who were entered to compete in Nagoya will be eligible to earn a place on the Daegu team if they run the replacement race. The April 17 Nagano Marathon is the most likely candidate.

Rikuren director Keisuke Sawaki commented, "We are going to choose athletes from that [selection race]. The criteria of being the top Japanese finisher and sub-2:26 remain unchanged."

Video of Explosion at Fukushima Reactor and Analysis



Recommended read on the situation at the stricken nuclear plants:

Nagoya International Women's Marathon Cancelled Due to Earthquake

http://www.chunichi.co.jp/niwm/chuushi.pdf

translated by Brett Larner

Due to the major earthquake in northern Japan on Mar. 11, in consideration of the continuous aftershocks and confusion in road traffic and public transportation, we have decided to cancel the 2011 Nagoya International Women's Marathon scheduled for Mar. 13.

Translator's note: This was to be the last selection race for Japan's women's marathon team for the World Championships. Four of the domestic women in the Nagoya field were training in Christchurch, New Zealand at the time of last month's earthquake there.

National University Men's Half Marathon Championships Cancelled After Earthquake

http://teema.jp/marathon/information.html

translated by Brett Larner

Following the major earthquake in northern Japan on Mar. 11, aftershocks have continued to occur. We can also expect continued disruption to public transportation. The course of the Tachikawa Akishima Half Marathon scheduled for Mar. 13 (the 14th National University Men's Half Marathon Championships and the selection race for the national team for the 26th World University Games) takes place partly on the Tachikawa Self Defense Force base, a designated disaster relief facility, and the neighboring Showa Kinen Park where the course ends is a designated evacuation area. Given the current state of emergency activity we have decided to cancel the race.

We will send the race program and planned premium entry goods to all entrants by mail, apologize for any inconvenience, and appreciate your understanding.

No Official Decision Yet on Whether to Go Ahead With Nagoya Int'l Women's Marathon

http://s.nikkei.com/fbTtIF

translated by Brett Larner

In response to the major earthquake in northern Japan, one of the federation officials in charge of the Nagoya International Women's Marathon scheduled for Mar. 13 told to the media on Mar. 11, "We haven't come to a definitive decision yet. We will consider whether or not to go through with the race once we examine the situation throughout Japan."

A race organizer stated, "We are still watching how the situation unfolds. We are undertaking preparations for the event, but the final decision will depend on the federation's determinations." Nagoya is the final domestic women's selection race for this summer's World Championships in Daegu, Korea.

Translator's note: Four of the elite Japanese women scheduled to run Nagoya were caught in Christchurch, New Zealand during that recent earthquake.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Major Earthquake and Tsunami Hit Sendai and East Coast of Japan (updated)



http://edition.cnn.com/
http://www.boingboing.net/2011/03/11/japan-sendai-quake-a.html

Update 3/12/11 a.m.:
More pics:
http://www.boingboing.net/2011/03/11/from-the-sky-aerial.html
The train we were stuck on was on the tracks to the right in the last picture in the above sequence immediately below that scene of the people evacuating.

Update: Shocking gallery of photos here. The pictures from the tsunami hitting Hitachinaka are of Mika's hometown where her parents still live.

Update:
Use Keyhole TV to follow live Japanese coverage of the Sendai earthquake, now being called the worst to ever hit Japan, and tsunami. Use password NHK to follow NHK's coverage.


Mika and I just got home after walking 15 km across Tokyo after being stuck on a train down by the waterfront for an hour. Part of a building next to our train came down right at the beginning of the earthquake and shortly after we were evacuated an oil refinery across the bay exploded big enough to see the flash. We haven't been able to get in touch yet with Mika's parents who live near the coast further up north. Our thoughts go out to all our friends in Sendai and the surrounding area.

Tokyo Marathon 3rd Placer Yuki Kawauchi Gives $72,000 BMW Prize to Mother

http://www.news-postseven.com/archives/20110310_14578.html

translated by Brett Larner

The top Japanese and 3rd place overall finisher at the 30,000+ runner Tokyo Marathon on Feb. 27 was "Public Servant Runner" Yuki Kawauchi, 24, an administrative assistant in a Saitama high school. Four days before the race was the seventh anniversary of the death of Kawauchi's father Akio, the director of scouting for a major talent agency. On the Tuesday morning after the marathon Kawauchi told his mother Mika, 46, "I have to tell dad about the race, so I'm going out for a jog," before running to his father's grave.

"I wish my husband could have seen Yuki now," said Mrs. Kawauchi. "He passed away when things were not going well and never got to see any of the improvement Yuki made in university and afterward. But I can feel that he is reaching down from heaven to give Yuki a supportive push from behind."

As the top Japanese man at the Tokyo Marathon, Kawauchi won a top of the line hybrid car from race sponsor BMW worth 6,000,000 yen [~$72,000 U.S.]. After the race he sent an email to his mother, who drives a domestically-manufactured compact car, saying, "I'm giving you the car. From now on you're going to work in a BMW."

His mother was humbled and perplexed by the gift. "I don't know what to do. At our house we only have a parking space for one car, and it would be too big a waste to get rid of the car I always drive. As a parent I'd much rather see him keep it and use it for his own transportation."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fully Recovered From Serious Accident, Noriko Matsuoka Nervous but Ready for Nagoya International Women's Marathon Debut

http://www.shizushin.com/sports_news/shizuoka/20110308000000000018.htm

translated by Brett Larner

At the final domestic selection race for the 2011 World Championships women's marathon team, the Mar. 13 Nagoya International Women's Marathon, track ace Noriko Matsuoka (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) will take on her marathon debut. "I wouldn't exactly say that I have no chance [to make the World Championships team]," she says. Matsuoka has always kept the hope of making a strong marathon debut hidden away inside, and now at age 31 having risen above hardship and setbacks she is ready to take hold of the opportunity.

With no significant injuries since last summer Matsuoka completed the entire training menu she was given and is in a state of excellent preparation. But, she says, "I've practiced and practiced, but for some reason I just can't shake my self-doubt. 42.195 km is a long way. But, I think that when we get down to the day before the race I'll cut through all of that and be ready." Overcoming the fear of an unknown distance is the mark of a true veteran.

Since she was in her early teens Matsuoka has always had hopes and dreams for the future. Those around her also hoped to see her make an early debut at the marathon, but the chain slipped off the gears in 2001. Matsuoka was struck by a cyclist while running and was seriously injured, with broken bones all over her body. After recovering she fell into a long slump, suffering from chronic lower back trouble. "For a long time I was only able to deal with what was right in front of me, the here and now," she says. "But I've slowly been able to build things back up to the point where I'm ready for the marathon. I'm glad that I've kept with it for so long." Now ready to stand on the starting line, she faces the race with a mix of apprehension and happiness.

Matsuoka had a decisive victory at last November's Nagoya Half Marathon, winning in 1:11:13. She takes reassurance from knowing the Nagoya course. Even in the midst of a strong field she must be counted among the candidates for a place on the national team. "It's OK if I fail," she says. "I just want to take that first step. After that it's just a question of how far I can go. I know it'll be tough, but if there's even the slightest crack in the wall [of making the national team] then I want to go for it." Matsuoka's gentle demeanor and kind smile at these words mask the tiger hidden within waiting to spring.

Noriko Matsuoka
Born May 2, 1979 in Fuji, Shizuoka
5000 m: 15:29.38 (Hiroshima '09)
10000 m: 31:31.45 (Niigata '08)
half marathon: 1:11:13 (Nagoya '10)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Daegu Reveals World Championships Marathon Course

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2011/03/07/kiji/K20110307000385770.html

translated by Brett Larner

At a press conference in Nagoya on Mar. 7, organizers of the 2011 World Championships set to take place this August and September in Daegu, South Korea announced the course for the men's and women's marathons. The women's marathon will take place on the first day of competition, Aug. 27, with the men's race set for the the final day, Sept. 4. Both races will begin at 9 a.m.

From a start point in the city center the marathon course will cover two circuits of a 15 km loop before finishing on a 12.195 km loop. Organizing committee director Zo He Nyon commented, "The course is very flat, meaning we can look forward to excellent performances."

The organizers also announced that the men's 100 m final will take place on the second day of competition, Aug. 28, at 8:45 p.m.

Two Pro Runners Hit By Truck During Half Marathon

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2011/03/08/kiji/K20110308000390760.html

translated by Brett Larner

Tamana city officials announced on Mar. 8 that two corporate runners at this year's 62nd edition of the Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, held Mar. 6, were hit from behind by a small truck during the race. The city's spokesperson said, "We have been late in issuing reports on the accident to the local athletics federation and media. We deeply apologize."

According to city officials, the athletes injured in the accident, both belonging to the Kurosaki Harima corporate team, were team captain Mamoru Iwaida, 28, and Shuzaburo Kubo, 20. Iwaida suffered only minor injuries, but Kubo's left ankle was broken and he will be out of training for at least six weeks as a result. Both runners dropped out of the race after being hit.

At the time of the accident the two runners were roughly 16 km from the start running southbound on the prefectural highway when a small truck driven by a locally-residing 84 year-old man struck them from behind. The driver said he did not notice the two athletes until it was too late to avoid them. Investigators said the road at the site of the accident was a single lane in each direction and that the city had not properly closed it to traffic.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

National Corporate Half Marathon and Road 10 km Championships Entry Lists Released

by Brett Larner

The national corporate federation has released the entry lists for this year's National Corporate Half Marathon Championships, to be held Mar. 20 in Yamaguchi, this year with the addition of a women's road 10 km.

Notable names include men's half marathon national record holder Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) who has been out of competition since finishing 3rd at the 2010 Tokyo Marathon, 2011 World Championships team member Yukihiro Kitaoka (Team NTN), 2010 Nagoya Half Marathon winner Jacob Wanjuki (Kenya/Team Aichi Seiko), 2010 Marugame Half Marathon winner Daniel Gitau (Kenya/Team Fujitsu), 2011 Tamana Half Marathon winner Dishon Karukuwa (Kenya/Team Aisan Kogyo), former university star Masato Kihara (Team Kanebo), sub-28 track ace Ryuji Ono (Team Asahi Kasei), and, continuing his comeback from the injuries that knocked him out of the 2008 Beijing Olympics marathon, Satoshi Osaki (Team NTT Nishi Nihon).

The women's half marathon features the top two women from January's Osaka International Women's Marathon, Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) and Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku), the top two Japanese half marathoners of 2010 and identical twins Yoko and Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera), 2010 Sanyo Women's Half Marathon winner Shoko Mori (Team Otsuka Seiyaku), 2009 Miyazaki Women's Half Marathon winner Maki Suzawa (Team Yamada Denki), and the debut of top-level Kenyan Sally Kaptich Chepyego (Team Kyudenko).

Five women in the 10 km hold recent 10000 m PBs under 33 minutes, the fastest of them Seika Nishikawa (Team Sysmex) with a mark of 32:38.94. Defending 1500 m national champion Mika Yoshikawa (Team Panasonic) is also on the list.

2011 National Jitsugyodan Half Marathon Championships Entry List Highlights
Men's Half Marathon
Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 1:00:25 (Udine '07) - NR
Jacob Wanjuki (Kenya/Team Aichi Seiko) - 1:00:32 (Nagoya '10)
James Mwangi (Kenya/Team NTN) - 1:00:34
Daniel Gitau (Kenya/Team Fujitsu) - 1:01:08 (Marugame '10)
Joseph Gitau (Kenya/Team JFE Steel) - 1:01:19 (Sapporo Int'l '08)
Masato Kihara (Team Kanebo) - 1:01:50 (Ageo '06)
Yuko Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:01:53 (Jitsugyodan '00)
Soji Ikeda (Team Yakult) - 1:02:10 (Kyoto '08)
Atsushi Fujita (Team Fujitsu) - 1:02:12 (Sapporo Int'l '04)
Tomoaki Bungo (Team Asahi Kasei) - 1:02:15 (Marugame '10)
Yukihiro Kitaoka (Team NTN) - 1:02:17 (Jitsugyodan '09)
Dishon Karukuwa (Kenya/Team Aisan Kogyo) - 1:02:20 (Tamana '11)
Satoshi Osaki (Team NTT Nishi Nihon) - 1:02:24 (Jitsugyodan '07)
Tomoya Shimizu (Team Sagawa Express) - 1:02:28 (Marugame '06)
Takeshi Kumamoto (Team Toyota) - 1:02:29 (Jitsugyodan '07)
Sota Hoshi (Team Fujitsu) - 1:02:30 (Marugame '09)
Ryuji Ono (Team Asahi Kasei) - debut - 27:53.19 (10000 m, Niigata '08)

Women's Half Marathon
Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) - 1:08:11 (Jitsugyodan '08)
Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 1:09:51 (Marugame '10)
Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 1:09:54 (Miyazaki '08)
Mika Okunaga (Team Kyudenko) - 1:09:57 (Miyazaki '06)
Megumi Seike (Team Sysmex) - 1:10:08 (Jitsugyodan '09)
Maki Suzawa (Team Yamada Denki) - 1:10:23 (Jitsugyodan '09)
Miho Notagashira (Team Wacoal) - 1:10:25 (Marugame '05)
Hiroki Shoi (Team Nihon ChemiCon) - 1:10:48 (Jitsugyodan '10)
Ikuyo Yamashita (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 1:10:53 (Matsue '07)
Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:11:11 (Kyoto '06)
Kaori Urata (Team Tenmaya) - 1:11:35 (Marugame '09)
Shoko Mori (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:11:41 (Sanyo '10)
Sally Kaptich Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) - debut - 31:39.84 (10000 m, Kobe '07)

Women's 10 km
Seika Nishikawa (Team Sysmex) - 32:38.94 (Fukuroi '09)
Tomoka Inadomi (Team Wacoal) - 32:41.57
Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya) - 32:46 (Sanyo '09)
Misato Tanaka (Team Sysmex) - 32:51 (Sanyo '09)
Ai Igarashi (Team Sysmex) - 32:56
Mika Yoshikawa (Team Panasonic) - 33:07

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Federation Tells World Championships Marathoner Horibata To Go On Diet

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20110307-OHT1T00258.htm

translated by Brett Larner

Having made the 2011 World Championships marathon team by running a PB of 2:09:25 to come in 3rd overall and as the top Japanese finisher at the Mar. 6 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, Hiroyuki Horibata (24, Team Asahi Kasei), talked to the media at Osaka Airport on Mar. 7. Following Sunday's race Rikuren director Keisuke Sawaki, 67, told Horibata, "Let's cut things down a bit until the World Championships," directing him to go on a diet.

The 189 cm Horibata weighs 72 kg [~6'3", 160 lbs]. When he joined Team Asahi Kasei in 2005 at age 18 he weighed 65 kg, and this weight is still generally listed on his profile at races and in the media. "For some reason it never changes," he said with a grin. His coach Takeshi Soh, 58, commented, "If he was hungrier for glory his world would change completely," slapping the 'heavyweight division runner' on the back. "I'll do my best to get back down [to 65 kg]," Horibata promised.

Severely fatigued from his outstanding performance, Horibata was too tired to eat at the Lake Biwa post-race banquet and barely touched the food laid out for him. Has his diet already begun?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Kano Wins First Omotesando Women's 10 km

by Brett Larner
photo by Mika Tokairin



In her final tuneup before defending her Nagoya International Women's Marathon title on Mar. 14, Yuri Kano (Second Wind AC) won the first running of the Mar. 7 Shibuya Omotesando Women's 10 km in 35:45. A hilly course through the heart of Tokyo's fashion district, the Omotesando race attracted roughly 4000 women.

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

Ndereba to Run First Naoko Takahashi Cup Gifu Half Marathon

http://www.asahi.com/sports/spo/NGY201103070002.html

translated by Brett Larner

Organizers of the first running of the Naoko Takahashi Cup Gifu Half Marathon, scheduled for May 15, announced on Mar. 7 that two-time Olympic marathon medalist and former world record holder Catherine Ndereba (Kenya) will run this year's race. Takahashi is also scheduled to take part. Ndereba commented, "I'm looking forward to running together with all of you."

Kenyans Karukuwa, Waroru Take Course Records at Tamana Half Marathon

by Brett Larner

click here for photos of the race

With ideal weather across most of the country, Kenyans Dishon Karukuwa (Team Aisan Kogyo) and Titus Waroru (Chinzei Gakuin H.S.) ran through light rain to take down the course records in the men's half marathon and high school boys' 10 km divisions at the 62nd running of the Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon Mar. 6 in Tamana, Kumamoto. Back on the roads after running January's Osaka International Women's Marathon, last year's runner-up Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera), one of the nine Japanese women training in Christchurch, New Zealand at the time of the recent major earthquake, took the women's 10 km by a wide margin.

The 19 year-old Karukuwa ran 1:02:20 to break the standing half marathon course record by 18 seconds. He was the first Kenyan winner in Tamana history and only the third non-Japanese to ever take the title. Runner-up Yukinobu Nakazaki (Team Toyota Kyushu) ran a strong 1:03:09, fast enough to have won all but three Tamana runnings but nearly a minute behind Karukuwa. Karukuwa reports having returned from altitude training in Kenya last week and plans to run next week's Jitsugyodan Half Marathon Championships as well as to debut at the marathon later this year.

Waroru, last year's high school 10 km runner-up and Karukuwa's successor at Chinzei, posted even bigger gains with an outstanding 28:07 mark, taking 44 seconds off the course record set last year by Steven Njeri (Kenya) to make it three three straight years of Kenyan victory. Local runner-up Kazuma Kubota (Kyushu Gakuin H.S.) was a distant 29:41 but led teammates Kyosuke Yoshida and Kazuma Watanabe under 30 minutes along with rival Shohei Otsuka (Oita Tomei H.S.).

Miyauchi, who won in 2009 in 32:33 and finished 2nd behind multiple national record holder Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) last year in 32:43, became the first woman to win Tamana three times, clocking 32:53. Fukushi, scheduled to defend the title, sat out as she deals with post-traumatic stress from being caught in the Christchurch earthquake. Kamimura Gakuen H.S. teammates Misuzu Nakahara and Nozomi Nishiyama were a distant 2-3 in 33:38 and 33:44.

2011 Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon
click division header for complete results
1. Dishon Karukuwa (Kenya/Team Aisan Kogyo) - 1:02:20 - CR
2. Yukinobu Nakazaki (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 1:03:09
3. Takehiro Arakawa (Team Asahi Kasei) - 1:03:17
4. Takahiro Gunji (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:04:33
5. Koji Inagaki (Team Sanyo Tokushu Seiko) - 1:04:41

1. Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 32:53
2. Misuzu Nakahara (Kamimura Gakuen H.S.) - 33:38
3. Nozomi Nishiyama (Kamimura Gakuen H.S.) - 33:44
4. Rina Hidaki (Fukuoka Univ.) - 33:45
5. Akane Sueyoshi (Team Kyocera) - 33:46

1. Titus Waroru (Chinzei Gakuin H.S.) - 28:07 - CR
2. Kazuma Kubota (Kyushu Gakuin H.S.) - 29:41
3. Kyosuke Yoshida (Kyushu Gakuin H.S.) - 29:42
4. Kazuma Watanabe (Kyushu Gakuin H.S.) - 29:43
5. Shohei Otsuka (Oita Tomei H.S.) - 29:50

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Wilson Kipsang Wins Lake Biwa With World-Leading 2:06:13 CR - Video Highlights

by Brett Larner

Wilson Kipsang wins in a CR 2:06:13. Click here for video highlights courtesy of NHK.

Like last weekend's Tokyo Marathon, the 2011 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, Biwako for short, was blessed with excellent conditions. The final domestic selection race for this summer's World Championships, Biwako played out as largely according to script as Kenyan Wilson Kipsang broke aggressive Ethiopian rival Deriba Merga over the final kilometers to win in a world-leading course-record 2:06:13, while a young Japanese marathoner, 24 year-old Hiroyuki Horibata (Team Asahi Kasei), stepped up with a PB of nearly 2 1/2 minutes to crack the 2:09:30 time requirement for a guaranteed spot on the Worlds team, finishing 3rd in 2:09:25. Despite none of them having a PB under 2:11 versus all six invited foreign elites having PBs under 2:09, the top contingent of Japanese athletes brought A-game, taking seven of the top ten spots, four under 2:11, five with PBs, one in a debut, and one just 2 seconds off his PB.

Somewhat erratic pacing took the pack through halfway just under the targeted 3:00/km pace, splitting 1:03:29. It was too quick for two of the 2:08 foreign elites, with Iaroslav Musinchi (Moldova) dropping off the pack before 5 km and Mohamed El Hachimi (Morocco) losing touch just after 15 km. Ethiopians Merga and Yohannes Abera and Eritrean Yared Asmerom ran up front behind the pacers along with Horibata, coached by the great Takeshi Soh, and pre-race domestic favorite Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu), coached by Barcelona Olympics silver medalist Koichi Morishita, while Kenyans Kipsang and Moses Kangogo hung further back, Kipsang at times dropping to the very rear of the large pack and looking in danger of breaking contact. The 189 cm tall Horibata, who fell during the 2009 Tokyo Marathon and had numerous accidents at water stations in last summer's Hokkaido Marathon, survived several collisions around 15 km and near the turnaround at halfway, only to tangle up with Asmerom twice at key mid-race special fluid stations and miss his drinks.

Around halfway Merga and Asmerom threw in the first surge of the race, and while Abera vanished Kipsang and Kangogo seemed to appear at their side out of nowhere. At 24 km Merga made another surge, leading away a pack with Kipsang, Kangogo, Asmerom and one pacer, while a pack of seven Japanese runners held steady at 3:00-3:01 pace with another pacer. The lead quintet opened a margin of around 5 seconds, but by 26 km the Japanese pack had rejoined them to form a lead group of eleven with two pacers.

Shortly afterward Merga surged for real, and only Kipsang was able to go with him. Kangogo and Asmerom tried to follow but trailed off, Asmerom soon swallowed up by the Japanese pack which was now down to four. Merga and Kipsang traded blows, clocking 2:57-2:56-2:56 for the 3 km leading into 30 km, which they passed in 1:29:51 with the chase pack 27 seconds back in 1:30:18. Horibata, looking dead on his feet, took charge at 30 km following the departure of the chase group's pacer, pulling away from the group with Imai in tow on 2:07:00 pace.

With 10 km to go Merga threw in his hardest surge yet, clocking a 2:51 km. Horibata and Imai were making progress on 3rd placer Kangogo as Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) began his own surge and began to inch up on them. Suddenly, the remarkably unlucky Horibata staggered, twisting and grimacing after being clipped hard in the right leg by Imai. It looked for a second as though he might stop, but although Imai waved an apology he took advantage of the break to throw in a surge and gap poor Horibata. Limping and grimacing Horibata fell back and looked in danger of being overtaken by Nakamoto.

Merga and Kipsang settled into a fast cruise, going through 35 km in 1:44:50. Further back, Horibata recovered and, holding off Nakamoto, began to retake Imai who in turn was starting to fade. Horibata and Imai went through 35 km together in 1:46:03 with Nakamoto 5 seconds back. By 37 km Kipsang had a slight gap on Merga, while Horibata likewise began to pull away from Imai. By 38 km both Kipsang and Horibata were on their own, Kipsang splitting 2:48 for the 39th km, Horibata overtaking Kangogo for 3rd, and Nakamoto gong past Imai for 5th.

From there on out it was smooth sailing for Kipsang, who easily broke the course record by 1 1/2 minutes with a world-leading 2:06:13. The two questions for Horibata were whether he could hold on to go under the 2:09:30 Worlds standard and whether he would hold off Nakamoto who had overtaken Kangogo for 4th. Both answers were yes, as he nearly caught Merga, who lost 3 minutes on Kipsang over the last 4 km, for 2nd and cleared the standard by 5 seconds. Nakamoto came a hairsbreadth from also clearing the standard, 4th in a PB of 2:09:31. Imai, in his second bid for the World Championships team, ran a nearly 3-minute PB of 2:10:41 but could not put himself into the bracket for Worlds consideration.

Kipsang said afterwards that he knew the pace was getting too slow for his targeted 2:05 in the third quarter of the race but was delighted with his new record nonetheless. Horibata, gasping and looking pale and dizzy, was ecstatic at securing a spot on the Worlds team and said he was very, very satsified with beating Imai after being tripped. Overall it was an outstanding day for the home team, with two more men breaking 2:10 to bring the number up to four for the year to date, suggesting that the post-Beijing malaise that has gripped Japanese marathoning for the last two years is finally over as a younger generation moves up. Now confirmed for the World team are Asian Games silver medalist Yukihiro Kitaoka (Team NTN), 2:08:37 amateur Yuki Kawauchi, and Horibata. In contention for the remaining two spots and alternate slot are Tokyo runner-up Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota), 4th in 2:09:03 in his marathon debut, Nakamoto, Beppu-Oita 3rd placer Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) with a 2:10:29 clocking, and Fukuoka 3rd placer Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta), who ran 2:10:54. The team lineup will be announced following next weekend's Nagoya International Women's Marathon, the final women's selection race.

2011 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon
1. Wilson Kipsang (Kenya) - 2:06:13 - CR
2. Deriba Merga (Ethiopia) - 2:09:13
3. Hiroyuki Horibata (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:09:25 - PB
4. Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 2:09:31 - PB
5. Moses Kangogo (Kenya) - 2:09:48
6. Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 2:10:41 - PB
7. Satoshi Yoshii (Team Sumco) - 2:10:44 - PB
8. Satoru Kasuya (Team Toyota Boshoku) - 2:11:17 - PB
9. Masashi Hayashi (Team Yakult) - 2:11:19
10. Koji Gokaya (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:12:07 - debut
-----
13. Mohamed El Hachimi (Morocco) - 2:12:36
15. Yohannes Abera (Ethiopia) - 2:12:44 - PB
22. Iaroslav Musinchi (Moldova) - 2:14:20
35. Dan Hornery (Australia) - 2:19:40
90. Yuya Fukaura (Harriers AC) - 2:27:02 - PB (nat'l duathlon champion)
DNF - Yared Asmerom (Eritera)
DNF - Jason Woolhouse (New Zealand)

Quotes From the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon Pre-Race Press Conference

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20110305-744913.html

translated by Mika Tokairin and Brett Larner

Wilson Kipsang (Kenya): "It's going to be a tough race but I'll do my best. I'm going for the course record [2:07:34]. 2:05 is my target."

Deriba Merga (Ethiopia): "[Kipsang] is definitely strong, but the marathon is not the same every time."

Satoshi Yoshii (Team Sumco): "I also have a chance [to run a fast time like Kawauchi at last week's Tokyo Marathon]. I want to take it."

Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki): "[Although I only have a 29 minute 10000 m best like Kawauchi,] I do better in big races over longer distances."

Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu): "I'm running Biwako, not Tokyo [against Kawauchi]. I don't have to be so tense."

Kensuke Takahashi (Team Toyota): "When I was [at the Berlin World Champs as the alternate], I really wanted to run. Everyone wants to make the national team."

Masashi Hayashi (Team Yakult): "I can finally say that I'm ready to target wearing the national colors. I want to make that dream come true."

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Federation to Disband Long Distance and Road Racing Special Committee

http://www.jiji.com/jc/c?g=spo_30&k=2011030500040

translated by Brett Larner

Rikuren, the Japanese athletics federation, announced on Mar. 4 that it will disband its Long Distance and Road Racing Special Committee at the end of this month. The committee was established following the 2008 Beijing Olympics and tasked with strengthening the state of Japanese marathoning, but with no improvement in results it has been deemed ineffective. From April, long distance and marathoning will be grouped together with the overall track and field strengthening program headed by Susumu Takano in the leadup to the London Olympics. The budget for marathoning and distance running will also be bundled together with the overall track and field budget, allowing greater flexibility in allocating resources.

The Long Distance and Road Racing Special Committee was headed by director Keisuke Sawaki, but apart from the silver medal won by Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei) in the women's marathon at the 2009 World Championships it produced insufficient results. The consensus opinion from within Rikuren was that the organization should return to its pre-Beijing form and focus upon improving training methods rather than upon organizational hierarchies.

Happy Birthday Yuki Kawauchi

Click here to enlarge photo.

Today is Yuki Kawauchi's 24th birthday. お誕生日おめでとうございます。

Friday, March 4, 2011

Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon Preview - Will We See the Kawauchi Effect? Watch Online

by Brett Larner

The 66th running of the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, known throughout Japan simply as Biwako, takes place this Sunday, Mar. 6. The final selection race for the Japanese men's marathon team for this summer's World Championships, Biwako's elite field this year highlights the disparity in elite Japan's men's marathoning over the last two years.

On the one side is the overseas field of six, without a doubt the best Biwako's organizers have assembled to date. All six have PBs under 2:09, four of them set last year and none older than 2008. Kenyan Wilson Kipsang leads the way with a stellar 2:04:57 mark set at last fall's Frankfurt Marathon. Kipsang is here for one purpose: to do what Ethiopian Olympic medalist Tsegaye Kebede did for the Fukuoka International Marathon in 2009 and give the race a course record on par with the world's best. Kipsang is the heavy favorite, but he faces tough competition from Ethiopia's Deriba Merga, fresh from a dominating win at the Ras al Khaimah Half Marathon last month. Merga races hard and often crashes and burns, but he could be the catalyst Kipsang needs to run a historic mark. The winner will almost certainly be one of these two, the remainder of the overseas field having marks in the 2:08 range.

On the other side of the divide, none of the Japanese invited elites has a PB under 2:11. Top-seeded domestic man Naoto Yoneda (Team Konica Minolta) is out with shin splints, leaving veteran Masashi Hayashi (Team Yakult) as the top-ranked Japanese runner, with a 2:11:17 PB from last year's Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon. Two other veterans in the general division, Takeshi Hamano (Team Toyota) and Seiji Kobayashi (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) hold sub-2:11 marks, Hamano's a 2:09:18 from 2002, and the talented Suehiro Ishikawa (Team Honda) and Makoto Tobimatsu (Team Yasukawa Denki) will both be debuting, but on paper it looks as though the sub-2:09:30 time requirement for a guaranteed World Championships spot, let alone competing with even a single one of the overseas elites, would require an exceptional performance from any of the Japanese men. Even the minimum goal, beating the 2:10:54 run at Fukuoka by the man currently ranked as the fifth man on the Worlds team, Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta), is likely to be a challenge.

The question being discussed all week in Japan is: will we see the Kawauchi effect? Yuki Kawauchi, a self-trained amateur, ran 2:08:37 at last weekend's Tokyo Marathon off a 2:12:36 PB to pick up one of the five spots on the team for Worlds and shock the industry. Virtually every one of the corporate runners in the Biwako elite field has better credentials than Kawauchi over every distance. Will Kawauchi serve as a wakeup call, a target for the paid professionals making up the domestic field to step up their game? Will we see the Japanese runners ignore the foreigners and run another conservative intramural race to get a ticket to Korea or will we see them inspired to run without fear in pursuit of something higher?

If the latter, it's clear that the country's distance running fans virtually unanimously hope it will be by Hakone Ekiden Fifth Stage legend Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu), doubling in his third marathon after an aggressive and ambitious but ultimately failed bid for the national team at last December's Fukuoka. In university Imai had the kind of fire Kawauchi held so ably last week, and many will be watching in hopes of seeing it once more.

The Biwako Mainichi Marathon will be broadcast live and commercial-free on NHK beginning at 12:15 p.m. Japan time on Mar. 6th. Overseas viewers should be able to watch online for free via Keyhole TV using the password NHK. Click here to visit NHK's secondary race site, which will feature video highlights post race. JRN will again be doing live commentary via Twitter @JRNLive.

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)
104. Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:14:00 (Biwako '09)
105. Koichi Sakai (Team Fujitsu) - 2:14:29 (Beijing '09)
106. Shingo Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 2:14:03 (Tokyo '08)
107. Norihiro Nomiya (Team Toyota) - 2:14:36 (Nobeoka '10)
109. Tomohiro Seto (Team Kanebo) - 2:12:21 (Berlin '07)
111. Yohannes Abera (Ethiopia) - 2:16:14 (Moha '10)
112. Masatoshi Ibata (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 2:13:26 (Biwako '01)
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)
169. Masahiko Takeyasu (Team Chudenko) - 2:14:18 (Beppu-Oita '08)
227. Koji Gokaya (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - debut - 1:02:52 (Tachikawa Akishima '09)
228. Hironori Arai (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:13:04 (Biwako '08)
230. Shingo Mishima (Team Toyota) - debut - 1:02:58 (Jitsugyodan '10)
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)
236. Yoshihiro Yamamoto (Team Toyota Boshoku) - 1:02:03 (Jitsugyodan '04)
304. Makoto Tobimatsu (Team Yasukawa Denki) - debut - 1:02:26 (Marugame Half '09)


(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved