Friday, April 29, 2011

Niiya 15:17.84 PB After Being Fired From Toyota Jidoshokki Corporate Team

by Brett Larner

As track season rolled on with the Oda Memorial Meet in Hiroshima and the Nobeoka Spring Time Trials Meet in Nobeoka on April 29, the biggest news came in the Oda women's 5000 m. Kenyan ace Sally Chepyego (Team Kyudenko), the 2001 World Junior Championships gold medalist over 3000 m, set her third PB of the month with a new clocking of 15:13.09, a meet record. Just behind her and also under the hold meet record, Hitomi Niiya, the 2007 Tokyo Marathon winner at age 18, came in with a 6-second PB of 15:17.84, 0.02 seconds faster than national record holder Kayoko Fukushi's best time of 2010 and the leading time by a Japanese woman thus far in the build-up to August's World Championships. What made Niiya's run big news was that she appeared running for Chiba Prefecture rather than for her sponsor since graduating from high school, 2008 national champion Team Toyota Jidoshokki.

Late last month Toyota Jidoshokki announced that it was leaving its base in Chiba and head coach Yoshio Koide, who coached Naoko Takahashi to an Olympic marathon gold medal and the first-ever sub-2:20 marathon by a woman, to relocate westward to Aichi Prefecture. Although the team website still lists Niiya on its roster as of this writing, she raised eyebrows by appearing at the meet registered with the Chiba Prefectural T&F Assoc. and running wearing a Chiba singlet. Following her outstanding run Niiya, who earlier this season won both the Chiba and Fukuoka XC meets and was the top Japanese woman at the World XC Championships a week after living firsthand through the Tohoku earthquake, confirmed that she is no longer running for the team. She told the Asahi newspaper, "I wanted to follow my own direction, so they fired me." Whether she moves over to the Chiba-based and Koide-coached Team Universal Entertainment remains to be seen, but for the time being at least Niiya joins the likes of Yuki Kawauchi and Arata Fujiwara as top-ranked runners going their own way outside the corporate team system.

In high school Niiya was the star runner for Kojokan H.S. Since then Kojokan produced Mahiro Akamatsu, who looks poised to become one of the big names on the university scene. Kojokan's latest prodigy, Katsuki Suga, dominated yet another race with a 9:16.54 meet record in the junior women's 3000 m. In the men's 5000 m at the Oda Memorial Meet, Kenyan high schooler Charles Ndirangu (Sera H.S.) dispatched all comers to win in 13:31.21. Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) beat Nicholas Makau (Kenya/Team Yachiyo Kogyo) by a step for 2nd in 13:40.24, while sophomore Ikuto Yufu (Komazawa Univ.) ran his second 5000 m PB of the month with a 13:42.09 clocking to take 4th and a likely spot on the Japanese team for this summer's World University Games. Teammate Wataru Ueno (Komazawa Univ.) was not far behind in a PB of 13:47.04. Shiho Takechi (Meijo Univ.) ran 15:56.16 to win the women's World University Games 5000 m selection race over Mai Ishibashi (Bukkyo Univ.).

Further south in Nobeoka, the A-heat of the Nobeoka Spring Time Trials meet men's 5000 m was unexpectedly fast as Kazuya Deguchi (Team Asahi Kasei), sophomore Keita Shitara (Toyo Univ.) and little-known Ryo Kiname (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) battled it out for the top spot with all three rewarded with PBs. Deguchi came out ahead in 13:42.23 with Shitara running 13:44.31, 3 seconds faster than the 2nd university finisher at the Oda Memorial Meet. Kiname was 3rd in 13:44.70, a 10-second PB.

2011 Oda Memorial Meet
Women's Grand Prix 5000 m
1. Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) - 15:13.09 - PB, MR
2. Hitomi Niiya (Chiba Pref.) - 15:17.84 - PB (MR)
3. Susan Wylim (Kenya/Sera H.S.) - 15:40.30 - PB
4. Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya) - 15:41.44 - PB
5. Ai Igarashi (Team Sysmex) - 15:47.62
6. Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 15:55.64
7. Hikari Yoshimoto (Bukkyo Univ.) - 16:00.79
8. Yuko Watanabe (Team Edion) - 16:07.12
9. Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 16:10.43
10. Yoko Aizu (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 16:16.67

Men's World University Games Selection 5000 m
1. Charles Ndirangu (Kenya/Sera H.S.) - 13:31.21 - PB
2. Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 13:40.24 - PB
3. Nicholas Makau (Kenya/Team Yachiyo Kogyo) - 13:40.32
4. Ikuto Yufu (Komazawa Univ.) - 13:42.09 - PB
5. Joseph Gitau (Kenya/Team JFE Steel) - 13:43.87 - PB
6. Wataru Ueno (Komazawa Univ.) - 13:47.04 - PB
7. Masato Kikuchi (Meiji Univ.) - 13:50.57
8. Yasuhito Ikeda (Team NTT Nishi Nihon) - 13:52.56 - PB
9. Yo Yazawa (Waseda Univ.) - 13:54.42
10. Hironori Arai (Team Chudenko) - 13:56.70

Women's World University Games Selection 5000 m
1. Shiho Takechi (Bukkyo Univ.) - 15:56.16 - PB
2. Mai Ishibashi (Bukkyo Univ.) - 15:58.11
3. Sayo Nomura (Meijo Univ.) - 16:05.68
4. Chinami Mori (Bukkyo Univ.) - 16:09.77
5. Hanae Tanaka (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 16:16.02

Junior Women's 3000 m
1. Katsuki Suga (Kojokan H.S.) - 9:16.54 - MR
2. Nanako Kanno (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 9:19.96 - PB
3. Miyuki Oka (Kojokan H.S.) - 9:20.28
4. Yuki Maekawa (Tottori Chuo H.S.) - 9:29.04
5. Ayana Takeuchi (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 9:30.47

Nobeoka Spring Time Trials
Men's 5000 m - Heat 4
1. Kazuya Deguchi (Team Asahi Kasei) - 13:42.23 - PB
2. Keita Shitara (Toyo Univ.) - 13:44.31 - PB
3. Ryo Kiname (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) - 13:44.70 - PB
4. Tomoaki Bungo (Team Asahi Kasei) - 13:56.00
5. Yu Mitsuya (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 13:57.24

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tokyo Marathon Considers Eliminating 10 km Division

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/sports/news/110422/oth11042219580013-n1.htm

translated by Brett Larner

The Tokyo Marathon Foundation has announced a plan to eliminate its 10 km road race, held alongside the 30,000+ runner marathon, beginning with next year's race to be held in February. The move would allow them to increase the field size to 36,000 including charity entry spots. The proposal will be officially decided upon at June's general meeting, but sources connected with the Foundation said it is likely to be ratified.

According to the race office, major overseas marathons typically do not hold simultaneous races such as the 10 km, and elimination of the 10 km would allow them to focus on improving the experience of the marathon event as a whole. However, because the 10 km allows the handicapped and others to participate in the event, news of the possible closure of the event has drawn protest from handicapped groups who say, "This decision needs more careful thought."

Former Mitsui Sumitomo Head Coach Suzuki Takes Over at Uniqlo

http://www.jiji.com/jc/c?g=spo_30&k=2011042100608

translated by Brett Larner

Team Uniqlo announced this week that longtime Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo head coach Hideo Suzuki, 59, would be taking over as head coach at Uniqlo effective May 1. Suzuki led Chiba's Funabashi H.S. girls' ekiden team to two national championships before becoming head coach at Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo, which he led until 2009. Under his leadership Mitsui became the best team in the country, winning countless National Corporate Women's Ekiden titles. Individual team members also became among Japan's best, including two-time Olympian and double World Championships marathon medalist Reiko Tosa and 10000 m national record holder and former marathon national record holder Yoko Shibui.

Speaking of his goals for the Uniqlo team, Suzuki commented, "I want to help the team members move even one step closer toward becoming athletes competitve at the global level. I want to help them build on their strengths bit by bit."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

2011 Japanese Distance Rankings

JRN's 2011 Japanese track and road distance running rankings. Overall rankings are calculated using runner's times and placings in races over 5000 m, 10000 m, half-marathon and marathon and the strength of these performances relative to others in the top ten in each category. Click any image to enlarge.

Updated: 12/26/11 - final rankings

Overall


5000 m

10000 m

Half-Marathon

Marathon

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mathathi 10000 m World Leader, Murasawa 28:00.78 at 2011 Hyogo Relay Carnival (updated with video)

by Brett Larner

Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) takes the men's Grand Prix 10000 m in a world-leading 27:23.85. Click event headers in results below for complete video of other events.

In the wake of a spate of road race cancellations following last month's disasters, the 10000 m was the focus of this year's Hyogo Relay Carnival, Apr. 23-24 at Kobe's Universiade Memorial Stadium. In addition to the regularly-programmed men's and women's Grand Prix 10000 m and the men's Asics Challenge 10000 m, effectively the meet's B-heat, this year's race featured an additional 10000 m for university men looking to qualify for the 10000 m at this summer's World University Games and a separate men's and women's 10000 m qualifier for the World University Games half marathon.

With a shortage of quality 10000 m races worldwide the focus in the Grand Prix and Asics Challenge 10000 m events for both Japanese runners and Japan-resident Africans was on hitting the tougher new World Championships qualifying standards, 27:40 and 28:00 for men, 31:45 and 32:00 for women. On the men's side, Jacob Wanjuki (Kenya/Team Aichi Seiko) set a world-leading PB of 27:48.74 to win Saturday's Asics Challenge 10000 m, only to see his mark fall a day later as 2007 World Championships bronze medalist Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) took the Grand Prix event in a new world leader of 27:23.85. The top four men in the Grand Prix 10000 m, all Kenyan, cleared the 27:40.00 A-standard. Just past his 20th birthday, top-ranked university man Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.) ran an evenly-paced 44-second PB in the Grand Prix 10000 m but came up agonizingly short of the 28:00.00 B-standard as he clocked a new best of 28:00.78, the fastest so far this year by a Japanese man. Both Mathathi and Murasawa's leading marks are likely to fall May 1 at the Cardinal Invitational in Stanford, California thanks to the presence of sub-27 man Chris Solinsky (U.S.A.) and at least a half-dozen Japanese men with recent times under the 28 minute mark.

Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) paced collegiate national record holder Hikari Yoshimoto (Bukkyo Univ.) to aim for the 31:45.00 A-standard in the Grand Prix women's 10000 m, pulling away on the last lap to win in a PB of 31:38.70. Yoshimoto, struggling over the last two kilometers, just missed the mark as she finished in 31:45.82. She was the only Japanese woman in the field to break the 32:00.00 B-standard. Despite missing the A-standard, Yoshimoto holds a valid A-standard qualifying time from 2010 and stands in good stead to be picked for the World Championships team. Junior national record holder Megumi Kinukawa (Team Mizuno), staging the latest comeback from three years of setbacks, dropped out after 6000 m. Kenyan Ann Karindi (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) also had a good day in the women's 1500 m, breaking the meet record held by her teammate Yuriko Kobayashi to win in 4:12.60.

In the World University Games 10000 m qualifier, Meiji University ace Tetsuya Yoroizaka just outlasted Asian half marathon junior area record holder Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.) for the win in 28:42.72 to Osako's 28:43.07. Both are likely to be named to the team on the strength of their performances. In the half marathon-qualifying 10000 m, Takashimadaira 20 km course record holder Takehiro Deki (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) ran a 12-second PB in a slow, tactical race to take down Waseda star Yo Yazawa for the win in 29:04.16, opening 5 seconds on Yazawa over the last lap. Pre-race favorite Shota Hiraga (Waseda Univ.) was tripped from behind partway through the race and fell hard enough to knock him out of contention. Like Deki against Yazawa, Machiko Iwakawa (Ritsumeikan Univ.) took down the better-credentialed Aki Odagiri (Meijo Univ.) to take the top spot in the women's half marathon qualifier, running 33:32.89.

2011 Hyogo Relay Carnival
April 23-24, Universiade Memorial Stadium, Kobe
click section headers for complete video

1. Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 27:23.85
2. John Thuo (Kenya/Team Toyota) - 27:23.99
3. Paul Tanui (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) - 27:32.71
4. Josephat Ndambiri (Kenya/Team Komori Corp.) - 27:39.81
5. Ibrahim Jeilan (Ethiopia/Team Honda) - 27:41.67
6. Edward Waweru (Kenya/Team NTN) - 27:43.06
7. Daniel Gitau (Kenya/Team Fujitsu) - 27:57.63
8. Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.) - 28:00.78 - PB
9. Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 28:05.84 - PB
10. Takuya Ishikawa (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 28:14.44 - PB

1. Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) - 31:38.70 - PB
2. Hikari Yoshimoto (Bukkyo Univ.) - 31:45.82
3. Kaoru Nagao (Team Univ. Ent.) - 32:10.46 - PB
4. Tomoka Inadomi (Team Wacoal) - 32:26.46 - PB
5. Hanae Tanaka (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 32:27.56 - PB
6. Mai Ishibashi (Bukkyo Univ.) - 32:37.25 - PB
7. Chinami Mori (Bukkyo Univ.) - 32:40.39 - PB
8. Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 32:54.15
9. Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 32:56.36
10. Sayo Nomura (Meijo Univ.) - 32:57.69
DNF - Megumi Kinukawa (Team Mizuno)

1. Jacob Wanjuki (Kenya/Team Aichi Seiko) - 27:48.74 - PB
2. Gideon Ngatuny (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 27:49.26
3. Patrick Mwaka (Kenya/Team Aisan Kogyo) - 27:49.93 - PB
4. Paul Kuira (Kenya/Team Konica Minolta) - 27:50.26 - PB
5. Samuel Ndungu (Kenya/Team Aichi Seiko) - 28:22.55

1. Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Meiji Univ.) - 28:42.72
2. Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.) - 28:43.07
3. Hiromitsu Kakuage (Komazawa Univ.) - 28:43.28 - PB
4. Tsubasa Hayakawa (Tokai Univ.) - 28:44.34 - PB
5. Takumi Honda (Nittai Univ.) - 28:56.93 - PB

1. Takehiro Deki (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 29:04.16 - PB
2. Yo Yazawa (Waseda Univ.) - 29:09.06
3. Masato Kikuchi (Meiji Univ.) - 29:19.69

1. Machiko Iwakawa (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 33:32.89
2. Aki Odagiri (Meijo Univ.) - 33:41.92
3. Namiko Yamamoto (Team Daihatsu) - 33:46.59 - PB

1. Hiroko Shoi (Team Nihon ChemiCon) - 16:01.81
2. Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 16:03.00
3. Misaki Onishi (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 16:03.17

1. Aoi Matsumoto (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 8:40.08
2. Masatoshi Kikuchi (Team Fujitsu) - 8:45.49
3. Tsuyoshi Takeda (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 8:47.59

1. Yasuhiro Tago (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 3:43.05
2. Hiroshi Ino (Team Fujitsu) - 3:43.39
3. Tatsuro Okazaki (Waseda Univ.) - 3:43.56

1. Ann Karindi (Kenya/Team Toyota Jidoshoki) - 4:12.60 - MR
2. Yukari Soh (Team Asahi Kasei) - 4:22.62
3. Shiho Takeda (Tokiwa H.S.) - 4:22.68 - PB

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Saturday, April 23, 2011

2011 Oregon Relays - Top Results

Apr. 22, Hayward Field, Oregon
click event header for complete video

1. Bitan Karoki (Kenya/Team S&B) - 13:38.57
2. Dylan Wykes (Canada/P.I.H.) - 13:43.43
3. Yusuke Hasegawa (Team S&B) - 13:45.97
4. Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 13:46.76
5. Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta) - 13:47.29
6. Tomoyuki Morita (Team Kanebo) - 13:53.75
7. Yusuke Takabayashi (Team Toyota) - 13:54.52
8. Daisuke Shimizu (Team Kanebo) - 13:55.54
9. Seth Summerside (U.S.A./OTC Elite) - 13:57.59
10. Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) - 14:01.21
11. Ryohei Kawakami (Team Kanebo) - 14:06.27
12. Ryo Matsumoto (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 14:08.37
13. Takaya Iwasaki (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 14:22.49
14. Takayuki Hamaguchi (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 14:30.88

1. Brie Felnagle (U.S.A./Adidas) - 15:43.87
2. Bridget Franek (U.S.A./OTC Elite) - 15:52.81
3. Miho Ihara (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 16:06.86
4. Kumi Ogura (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 16:13.08
5. Bronwyn Crossman (U.S.A./Univ. of Oregon) - 16:43.00

1. Matt Centrowitz (U.S.A./Univ. of Oregon) - 3:42.49
2. Jordan McNamara (U.S.A./OTC Elite) - 3:45.77
3. Patrick Casey (U.S.A./Montana State) - 3:46.43
4. Elijah Greer (U.S.A./Univ. of Oregon) - 3:48.98
5. Colton Tully-Doyle (U.S.A./Univ. of Washington) - 3:49.63
-----
8. Kazuya Watanabe (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 3:52.28

Friday, April 22, 2011

Oda Memorial Meet Entry Lists

by Brett Larner

Entry lists are up for the 2011 Oda Memorial Track and Field Meet on Apr. 29 in Hiroshima, one of the big meets on the spring Japanese calendar. This year's meet features an extra round of distance events with separate 5000 m qualifier heats for the World University Games 5000 m teams alongside the regular open 5000 m heats.

The university men's 5000 m may be the most exciting race of the day, with 2011 Hakone Ekiden champion Waseda University fielding big guns Shota Hiraga, Suguru Osako, Yuki Yagi and Yo Yazawa and rival Meiji University its ace Tetsuya Yoroizaka along with star first-year recruits Yuki Arimura and Genki Yagisawa. #1-ranked first-year Kazuto Nishiike will be debuting for Hosei University, while 2010 Kanto Regional 5000 m champion Taku Fujimoto (Kokushikan Univ.) will tune up to defend his title at May's Kanto Regionals.

Like Waseda, Ritsumeikan University will be putting all its best people into the university women's 5000 m, including seniors Michi Numata, Risa Takenaka and Hanae Tanaka along with outstanding sophomore Akane Yabushita. 2010 national champion Bukkyo University has star Hikari Yoshimoto in the open women's 5000 m and will instead field senior Mai Ishibashi, junior Shiho Takechi and first-year Risa Shibuya.

The open men's 5000 m features a number of Japan-based Kenyan pros as well as high school sensation Charles Ndirangu (Sera H.S.). 2009 national 5000 m champion Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B) leads the domestic men. The open women's 5000 m looks to be more competitive, with top Japan-based Africans Sally Chepyego (Team Kyudenko), Betelhem Moges (Team Denso) and Felista Wanjugu (Team Univ. Ent.) lining up against 10000 m junior national record holder Megumi Kinukawa (Team Mizuno), 10000 m collegiate national record holder Hikari Yoshimoto (Bukkyo Univ.), road 10 km collegiate national record holder and 2010 university 5000 m national champion Kasumi Nishihara (Bukkyo Univ.), and 2011 World Championships marathon team member Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku).

2011 Oda Memorial Meet Entry List Highlights
Big Arch Stadium, Hiroshima, April 29, 2011

University Men's 5000 m
Yuki Arimura (Meiji Univ.)
Taku Fujimoto (Kokushikan Univ.)
Shota Hattori (Nittai Univ.)
Shota Hiraga (Waseda Univ.)
Kazuto Nishiike (Hosei Univ.)
Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.)
Wataru Ueno (Komazawa Univ.)
Yuki Yagi (Waseda Univ.)
Genki Yagisawa (Meiji Univ.)
Yo Yazawa (Waseda Univ.)
Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Meiji Univ.)
Ikuto Yufu (Komazawa Univ.)

University Women's 5000 m
Mai Ishibashi (Bukkyo Univ.)
Sayo Nomura (Meijo Univ.)
Michi Numata (Ritsumeikan Univ.)
Risa Shibuya (Bukkyo Univ.)
Ayuko Suzuki (Nagoya Univ.)
Shiho Takechi (Bukkyo Univ.)
Risa Takenaka (Ritsumeikan Univ.)
Toshika Tamura (Matsuyama Univ.)
Hanae Tanaka (Ritsumeikan Univ.)
Akane Yabushita (Ritsumeikan Univ.)

Open Women's 5000 m
Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko)
Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku)
Megumi Kinukawa (Team Mizuno)
Kazue Kojima (Team Unv. Ent.)
Betelhem Moges (Ethiopia/Team Denso)
Shoko Mori (Team Otsuka Seiyaku)
Hitomi Niiya (Team Toyota Jidoshokki)
Kasumi Nishihara (Team Yamada Denki)
Felista Wanjugu (Kenya/Team Univ. Ent.)
Hikari Yoshimoto (Bukkyo Univ.)

Open Men's 5000 m
Joseph Gitau (Kenya/Team JFE Steel)
Kazuo Ietani (Team Sanyo Tokushu Seiko)
Soji Ikeda (Team NTT Nishi Nihon)
Peter Kariuki (Kenya/Team Mazda)
Nicholas Makau (Kenya/Team Yachiyo Kogyo)
Kota Murayama (Josai Univ.)
Charles Ndirangu (Kenya/Sera H.S.)
Tsuyoshi Ogata (Team Chugoku Denryoku)
Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku)
Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B)

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Kawauchi to Run 50 km Ultra as Part of World Championships Preparation

by Brett Larner

Along with the announcement and presentation of the women's marathon team for August's World Championships, the previously-announced men's marathon team was presented at the Apr. 21 Rikuren press conference. Each athlete gave a brief statement and answered direct questions.

Yukihiro Kitaoka (Team NTN): I ran the Asian Games Marathon in November to qualify, so I have more recovery time than the others. I think the black athletes will be dominating the race, but it's going to be hot and that will improve my chances. I'm going to running the Gifu Half Marathon on May 15, then in July either the Sapporo International Half Marathon or the Gold Coast Marathon.

Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.): [visibly nervous] Having made the national team I feel very strongly that I've got to give it my absolute best. I want to show Japan, the world, that even as an amateur, even working full time, you can still be world-class. I'm also running the Gifu Half on May 15 and Sapporo in July, plus some track time trials. I'm also going to do a 50 km ultra in June.

Hiroyuki Horibata (Team Asahi Kasei): I wasn't really that focused or ready for Lake Biwa [where he qualified for the WC team] so I didn't really understand what my run meant afterwards. Only when I started hearing the excitement from other people did I start to get how important it is. I'm running the 10000 m at the Hyogo Relay Carnival on Apr. 24 and some time trials and other track races in May. In June I'll be racing on the track at the National Championships.

Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota): At the world level the marathon is now basically a speed race, so I want to be ready for that. On May 1 I'm running the 10000 m at the Cardinal Invitational, then the 10000 m at Nationals, then a half marathon in July.

Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki): [visibly nervous] I was one second short of the 2:09:30 standard to make the team, so while I'm happy to get picked I know I still have work to do to make up for that. Japanese runners are strong in the heat, so we have some advantage there. I plan to do some track trials before the Kyushu Corporate Track Championships on May 14, then to run the Sapporo half in July.

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Rikuren Announces Japanese Women's WC Marathon Team

by Brett Larner

The Japanese federation Rikuren held a press conference Apr. 21 to announce the lineup of the Japanese women's marathon team for August's Daegu World Championships and to present the ten athletes on the men's and women's teams to the media. The men's team was announced late last month, but the women's team decision was delayed until this week following the cancellation of the Nagoya International Women's Marathon after the Mar. 11 disasters.

2009 World Championships marathon silver medalist Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei) returns to lead the team on the strength of her 2:23:56 win at February's Yokohama International Women's Marathon, accompanied by Daiichi Seimei teammate and former XC skiing national team member Azusa Nojiri who ran a PB of 2:25:29 at last weekend's London Marathon to finish as the top Japanese woman among those relocated to London following Nagoya's cancellation. Both Ozaki and Nojiri are coached by 1991 World Championships women's marathon silver medalist Sachiko Yamashita.

As expected, 2011 Osaka International Women's Marathon winner Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren), fresh from a 2:24:09 PB at the London Marathon, was named to the team along with Yokohama runner-up Remi Nakazato (Team Daihatsu). The surprise came with the final member of the team, as Osaka runner-up Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) was named over Yoshiko Fujinaga (Team Shiseido), who ran a PB of 2:25:40 in London to finish as the second Nagoya relocatee. While Fujinaga cleared Rikuren's stated criterion of a sub-2:26 clocking in difficult circumstances following Nagoya's cancellation and the disasters in Japan and finished only 11 seconds behind Nojiri, Ito, coached by Rikuren's director of road racing Tadasu Kawano, ran 2:26:55 in Osaka in very windy conditions and was 26 seconds behind Akaba. The selection of Ito over Fujinaga elicited surprise and a series of questions from journalists as to the decision's rationale. Officials said that it was a difficult decision, and that while Ito was impressively aggressive throughout the race, Fujinaga had faded in the final stages of London and was passed by Nojiri in the final km. Regardless of the reasoning, it remains a controversial decision.

Rikuren officials also announced that all ten members of the men's and women's teams would be dedicated their World Championships runs to the Run for Japan charity initiative. Ozaki and Nojiri indicated that they would do the bulk of their training in Boulder, Colorado, while Nakazato said she plans to train in Flagstaff, Arizona. Akaba and Ito said they are still considering their plans. In individual comments, all five runners said they expected heat and humidity to be a major factor in the World Championships race and would be taking that into account in their preparations. "It'll be hot and humid. I don't think it'll be a fast race," said Akaba. "Kenyans and Africans may be faster," added Nakazato, "but we Japanese are tougher. In a difficult, hot race we can hang on until the end." "I'm good in the heat and am confident of my chances," said Ozaki. "In Berlin I won a silver medal, but this time I want gold."

2011 World Championships Japanese Women's Marathon Team

Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei)
Born: July 1, 1981 (30 yrs.)
PB: 2:23:30 - 2008 Tokyo International Women's Marathon, 1st
Other main results:
2:23:56 - 1st, 2011 Yokohama International Women's Marathon
2:25:25 - 2nd, 2009 Berlin World Championships Marathon
2:26:19 - 2nd, 2008 Nagoya International Women's Marathon

Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren)
Born: Oct. 18, 1979 (31 yrs.)
PB: 2:24:09 - 2011 London Marathon, 6th
Other main results:
2:26:29 - 2011 Osaka International Women's Marathon, 1st
2:24:55 - 2010 London Marathon, 6th
2:25:40 - 2009 Osaka International Women's Marathon, 2nd

Remi Nakazato (Team Daihatsu)
Born: June 24, 1988 (23 yrs.)
PB: 2:24:29 - 2011 Yokohama International Women's Marathon, 2nd
Other main results:
2:34:29 - 2010 Nagoya International Women's Marathon, 12th
2009 World Half Marathon Championships - 16th
2009 National Corporate Half Marathon Championships - 4th

Azusa Nojiri (Team Daiichi Seimei)
Born: June 6, 1982 (29 yrs.)
PB: 2:25:29 - 2011 London Marathon, 12th
Other main results:
2:29:12 - 2010 Osaka International Women's Marathon, 8th
2010 World Half Marathon Championships - 13th
former XC ski national team member

Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku)
Born: May 23, 1984 (27 yrs.)
PB: 2:26:55 - 2011 Osaka International Women's Marathon, 2nd
Other main results:
2:29:13 - 2010 Nagoya International Women's Marathon, 4th
2006 Kyoto City Half Marathon - 1st


(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Fukushi Likely to Target Marathon at London Olympics

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20110420-764021.html

translated by Brett Larner

According to a statement by Rikuren director of women's marathoning Yutaka Taketomi on Apr. 20, Japan's #1 long distance woman Kayoko Fukushi (29, Team Wacoal) is likely to aim for the marathon at next year's London Olympics. According to Taketomi, Fukushi, who was training in Christchurch, New Zealand at the time of February's earthquake, said, "If I run [a marathon] I think it'll be at one of the Olympic selection races."

At this summer's National Track and Field Championships Fukushi will be focusing on qualifying for the Daegu World Championships on the track. Fukushi's marathon debut came at the 2008 Osaka International Women's Marathon, a selection race for the Beijing Olympics, but she faded badly over the later stages of the race and finished 19th.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

TBS to Hold Live Webcast of Women's World Championships Team Lineup Announcement

http://www.asahi.com/business/pressrelease/PRT201104190036.html

translated by Brett Larner

TBS, the official broadcaster of this summer's Daegu World Track and Field Championships, will broadcast Rikuren's announcement of the Japanese women's marathon team lineup live on the internet. On April 21 it's your chance to share the ecstasy of those who have emerged triumphant from the heat of the selection races to make the national team!

When: Thursday, April 21, 1:00 p.m. Japan time
Where: Go to the TBS homepage (http://www.tbs.co.jp/) and click on the [Ustream] link to go to TBS' online channel.

Translator's note: The men's team lineup has already been announced. Looking at the contenders for the women's team, thus far only defending World Championships silver medalist Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei) has secured a guaranteed spot on the Daegu team on the strength of her 2:23:56 win at February's Yokohama International Women's Marathon. Her teammate Azusa Nojiri (Team Daiichi Seimei) was the top Japanese woman in contention for a World Championships team spot at Sunday's London Marathon, where she ran 2:25:29 to clear the federation's requirement of a sub-2:26, and must be considered a lock for a spot. Likewise for Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren), who won January's Osaka International Women's Marathon in 2:26:29 with very strong headwinds over the final 10 km. Akaba also finished ahead of Nojiri in London in a PB of 2:24:09 but that result will not officially count toward her chances for a World Championships spot because she was not one of the women running London as a consequence of the cancellation of March's Nagoya International Women's Marathon. Yokohama runner-up Remi Nakazato (Team Daihatsu) clocked 2:24:29 there and is all but certain to pick up the fourth spot on the Daegu team.

The final spot on the team will most likely come down to a toss-up between Yoshiko Fujinaga (Team Shiseido) and Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku). Fujinaga was only 11 seconds behind Nojiri in London, running a 3-minute PB of 2:25:40 and clearing the sub-2:26 goalpost despite the difficult circumstances of running London after training for Nagoya and going through the stress of Japan's disasters. She finished only 13th in London but was 2nd among the women who had entered Nagoya. Ito was impressively aggressive in Osaka in January and finished 2nd behind Akaba in 2:26:55 after leading much of the race, missing a sub-2:26 thanks to the tough headwinds over the final part of the course. Comparing the two, Fujinaga's experience at two past World Championships will also work to her advantage. Ito's case is hurt by the fact that the next Japanese woman in London after Fujinaga, debutante Noriko Matsuoka (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), ran 2:26:54, but she gains points from her coach Tadasu Kawano being the federation's director of road racing. All things considered, the scales appear to tip in Fujinaga's favor.

Kawauchi, Kitaoka to Run First Naoko Takahashi Half Marathon

http://sportsnavi.yahoo.co.jp/other/athletic/headlines/20110418-00000036-kyodo_sp-spo.html

translated by Brett Larner

The organizers of the Naoko Takahashi Cup Gifu Half Marathon announced on April 18 that 2011 World Championships marathon team members Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama T&F Assoc.) and Yukihiro Kitaoka (Team NTN) will compete in this year's first running, scheduled for May 15. The amateur Kawauchi was the top Japanese finisher and 3rd overall at February's Tokyo Marathon, while Kitaoka won the silver medal at last fall's Asian Games marathon, both earning guaranteed spots on the World Championships team.

In its first edition the Naoko Takahashi Cup Gifu Half Marathon will feature both men's and women's races along with a 3 km race.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Abe Marks Strong Debut at Boston Marathon

http://www.jiji.com/jc/c?g=spo_30&k=2011041900324

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Hanamaki, Iwate native Toyoyuki Abe (Team NTT Nishi Nihon) placed 15th in his marathon debut at the Apr. 18 Boston Marathon thanks to the support of his parents and friends back home, all of them in very difficult circumstances following the devastation of last month's earthquake and tsunami. "Despite their tough situation everyone cheered me on," Abe said. "It helped me push harder than ever."

Abe has been successful as an ekiden runner, but beginning this year he has turned his focus to the marathon. He earned an invitation to Boston after finishing 2nd at February's Ome 30 km Road Race behind American Jason Lehmkuhle. Meeting his pre-race goal of a 2:15 finish as he clocked 2:15:48, Abe said of his future plans, "The next step is to work on my speed endurance and then see where that gets me."

Translator's note: Ome women's winner Hiromi Ominami (Yutic AC) and her twin sister Takami Ominami (Yutic AC), both past Rotterdam Marathon winners, also ran Boston. Both injured but running to show support for those in disaster-affected areas, Hiromi ran 2:58:31 and Takami 3:24:11.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

London Marathon - Japanese Women's Results

by Brett Larner

Yoshiko Fujinaga (l) and Azusa Nojiri (r). Click here to enlarge photo.

In spite of the stress of living through both the Christchurch and Tohoku disasters and the difficulties caused by trying to maintain a peak for a month after their target race, the Nagoya International Women's Marathon, was cancelled, the majority of the Japanese women at the Apr. 17 London Marathon ran well. The first three across the line recorded PBs, the next a strong debut, and the first five broke 2:30. Former pro XC skier Azusa Nojiri (Team Daiichi Seimei) cleared the federation's World Championships qualifying standard and, pending formal confirmation, will join her teammate Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei) on the women's team for this summer's championships. 2009 Nagoya winner Yoshiko Fujinaga (Team Shiseido) also cleared the 2:26 standard but must wait for the official decision following tomorrow's Boston Marathon on whether she will be picked over Osaka runner-up Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) for the final spot on the team.

While the lead pack led by defending London champion Liliya Shobukova (Russia) and half marathon world record holder Mary Keitany (Kenya) set off on 2:18 pace, 2011 Osaka winner Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren), the only Japanese woman who had planned to run London, went out at a more conservative but still ambitious 2:21 pace. All seven Nagoya entrants went with her along with a small number of international competitors including 2009 Yokohama winner Inga Abitova (Russia). The pair of runners from the Tenmaya team were the first to falter and lose contact, with first-timer Risa Shigetomo ending up 24th in 2:31:28 and 2008 Nagoya winner Yurika Nakamura ultimately finishing 31st in a dismal 2:41:22, continuing the unfortunate decline in her performances in every marathon since her Nagoya debut win.

The rest of the second pack stayed together longer as the pace relaxed somewhat through the middle of the race, but when Portuguese steeplechase national record holder Jessica Augusto overtook them and tried to go ahead Akaba went with her, causing the rest of the pack to splinter. Akaba came out ahead of Augusto, 6th for the second year in a row in a PB of 2:24:09 as she overtook many of the casualties from the first pack, just seconds from overtaking 4th and 5th as well. Nojiri, the first of the seven women in contention for the World Championships spot, was next, 12th in a sizeable PB of 2:25:29. Along with 2011 Yokohama winner Ozaki, Nojiri's result confirms Team Daiichi Seimei, coached by 1991 World Championships women's marathon silver medalist Sachiko Yamashita, as the best current women's marathon team in Japan.

Fujinaga and Nojiri. Click here to enlarge photo.

2009 Nagoya winner Fujinaga had trouble staying with the second pack but came through with a strong final 10 km. Clearing 2:26, she is a likely pick for the World Championships team as well. Having returned to peak fitness from a nearly career-ending collision with a cyclist only to see her planned marathon debut in Nagoya cancelled, Noriko Matsuoka (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) delivered a strong 2:26:54 performance. Madoka Ogi (Team Juhachi Ginko) also cleared 2:30, with Tokyo Marathon course record holder Mizuho Nasukawa (Team Universal Entertainment) just missing the mark as she clocked 2:30:00.

The Japanese women's team for the Daegu World Championships marathon now includes teammates Ozaki and Nojiri. Akaba is a certainty for her Osaka win along with Yokohama runner-up Remi Nakazato (Team Daihatsu). Barring a surprise performance from injured Hiromi Ominami (Yutic AC) in Boston, the decision between Fujinaga and Osaka runner-up Ito will be difficult to call, not least because Ito's coach Tadasu Kawano is also the federation's director of road racing. The official decision is expected to be announced this week.

2011 London Marathon Women's Results
1. Mary Keitany (Kenya) - 2:19:19 - PB
2. Liliya Shobukhova (Russia) - 2:20:15 - PB
3. Edna Kiplagat (Kenya) - 2:20:46 - PB
4. Bezunesh Bekele (Ethiopia) - 2:23:42
5. Atsede Baysa (Ethiopia) - 2:23:50
6. Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) - 2:24:09 - PB
7. Irina Mikitenko (Germany) - 2:24:24
8. Jessica Augusto (Portugal) - 2:24:33 - debut
9. Aberu Kebede (Ethiopia) - 2:24:34
10. Mariya Konovalova (Russia) - 2:25:18
-----
12. Azusa Nojiri (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 2:25:29 - PB
13. Yoshiko Fujinaga (Team Shiseido) - 2:25:40 - PB
16. Noriko Matsuoka (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:26:54 - debut
20. Madoka Ogi (Team Juhachi Ginko) - 2:29:52
21. Mizuho Nasukawa (Team Universal Entertainment) - 2:30:00
24. Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) - 2:31:28
31. Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya) - 2:41:22

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Kawauchi Back on Track - Nittai Time Trials 5000 m Results

Nittai University Time Trials Top Results
Nittai University, Yokohama, Apr. 17, 2011

Men's 5000 m Heat 24
1. Joseph Onsarigo (Kenya/Sozo Gakuen Univ.) - 13:36.88
2. Daniel Gitau (Kenya/Team Fujitsu) - 13:37.05
3. Kazuya Watanabe (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 13:39.31
4. Benjamin Gandu (Kenya/Nihon Univ.) - 13:41.99
5. Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota) - 13:46.73
6. Kota Murayama (Josai Univ.) - 13:57.90
7. Hirotaka Tamura (Nihon Univ.) - 13:58.40
8. Yuki Yagi (Waseda Univ.) - 14:00.17
9. Atsushi Yamazaki (Team Subaru) - 14:00.34
10. Ibrahim Mukunga (Team Fujitsu) - 14:00.63
-----
11. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama T&F Assoc.) - 14:02.49
14. Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda) - 14:04.67
16. Shota Hiraga (Waseda Univ.) - 14:06.49
23. Cosmas Ondiba (Kenya/Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 14:19.63

Women's 5000 m Heat 16
1. Miho Ihara (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 15:57.27
2. Chisa Fujimoto (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 16:02.74
3. Mai Shoji (Okazaki Gakuen H.S.) - 16:07.92
4. Ikuyo Yamashita (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 16:10.70
5. Kumi Ogura (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 16:11.09
6. Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 16:16.88
7. Sayuri Baba (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 16:25.80
8. Nozomi Iijima (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 16:27.77
9. Risa Nakamura (Team Hitachi) - 16:30.61
10. Sakiko Matsumi (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 16:30.86

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Nittai Time Trials and Mt. SAC Results

by Brett Larner

On day one of the first Nittai Univ. Time Trials meet of the season, marathoner Satoshi Osaki (Team NTT Nishi Nihon) continued the comeback from the injury that knocked him out of the Beijing Olympics, finishing 3rd in 29:19.31. The biggest results of the day, however came in the women's 800 m and 3000 m. Running against a field of pro, university and high school competitors, unior high school student Ayaka Nakagawa (Asaka Daisan J.H.S.) started the day off with a win in the 800 m A-heat in 2:10.61, nearly 1 1/2 seconds ahead of her closest rival. 2 1/2 hours later Nakagawa returned to take 6th in the 3000 m A-heat, clocking 9:31.18.

Nittai Univ. Time Trials Top Results
Nittai Univ., Yokohama, 4/16/11

Men's 10000 m Heat 5
1. Yuki Takamiya (Team Yakult) - 29:17.67
2. Yuta Shitara (Toyo Univ.) - 29:19.00
3. Satoshi Osaki (Team NTT Nishi Nihon) - 29:19.31
4. Sho Matsueda (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 29:23.77
5. Tomohiro Hayakawa (Nittai Univ.) - 29:24.60
6. Kenji Yamamoto (Toyo Univ.) - 29:29.56
7. Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 29:32.99
8. Naoya Kojima (Kanagawa Univ.) - 29:36.16
9. Shungo Kawamura (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 29:36.37
10. Kento Otsu (Toyo Univ.) - 29:36.90

Women's 3000 m Heat 3
1. Wainaina Murgi (Kenya/Toyokawa H.S.) - 9:06.73
2. Ai Igarashi (Team Sysmex) - 9:16.54
3. Machi Tanaka (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 9:19.94
4. Saria Kurokawa (Toyokawa H.S.) - 9:29.38
5. Fumiko Hashimoto (Team Shimamura) - 9:30.74
6. Ayaka Nakagawa (Asaka Daisan J.H.S.) - 9:31.18
7. Misaki Onishi (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 9:31.51
8. Yuka Ando (Toyokawa H.S.) - 9:37.23
9. Ayumi Hagiwara (Team Uniqlo) - 9:40.94
10. Mizuki Ito (Team Shimamura) - 9:44.95

2011 Mt. SAC Relays Top Results
Walnut, CA 4/15/11

Men's 5000 m Inv. Elite
1. Aaron Braun (Adidas) - 13:27.01
2. Jorge Torres (Reebok) - 13:27.58
3. Andy Vernon (U.S.A.) - 13:27.85
-----
22. Daisuke Shimizu (Team Kanebo) - 13:54.91
28. Tomoyuki Morita (Team Kanebo) - 14:17.46

Men's 5000 m Olympic Dev. Elite
1. Lawi Lalang (Arizona) - 13:34.62
2. Chris Rombough (Team U.S.A. MN) - 13:42.05
3. Michael Kilburg (Bowerman AC) - 13:43.37
-----
21. Ryohei Kawakami (Team Kanebo) - 14:04.92

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Japanese Women's London Marathon Preview

by Brett Larner


L-R: Ogi, Matsuoka, Nojiri, Shigetomo, Nasukawa and Nakamura.

Eight top Japanese women will race this Sunday's London Marathon, an unusual sight in a race outside Japan. Following last month's earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan, the Nagoya International Women's Marathon scheduled just two days later was cancelled. The last of the three domestic selection races for the Japanese women's marathon team for this summer's World Championships team, Nagoya's cancellation meant that the entire domestic elite field would have to race somewhere else. The likely domestic replacement, the Apr. 17 Nagano Marathon, was cancelled along with dozens of other races across the country. The Japanese federation was quick to name overseas options: the Apr. 10 Daegu International Marathon, London, and the Boston Marathon a day later. Any woman who broke 2:26 at any of the races would stand an excellent chance of making the team.

The stress and uncertainty surrounding the disasters and the month delay in racing have made it difficult for the athletes to maintain their focus and the peak they had planned for the Mar. 13 Nagoya. Daegu runner Yuko Machida (Team ChemiCon) and London entrants Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren), Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya), Azusa Nojiri (Team Daiichi Seimei) and Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) were training for Nagoya in Christchurch, New Zealand at the time of February's earthquake, returning to Japan not long before for the Mar. 11 disasters. London entrant and 2009 Tokyo Marathon winner and course record holder Mizuho Nasukawa (Team Universal) is a native of Iwate prefecture, one of the most devastated areas of the northeast; while she was not there at the time of the earthquake several of her teammates from the Iwate team at the National Interprefectural Women's Ekiden Championships were swept away in the tsunami. 2010 Nagoya winner Yuri Kano (Second Wind AC) and 2008 Hokkaido Marathon winner Yukari Sahaku (Team Universal Entertainment) have withdrawn from London with difficulties in maintaining their fitness for an extra month, Boston entrant Hiromi Ominami (Yutic AC) has injured her left leg trying to do the same, and Machida, the top Japanese woman at last Sunday's Daegu and a native of hard-hit Miyagi prefecture, could manage no better than 2:32:39 after her apartment and hometown were seriously damaged.

All told, the circumstances do not look conducive to seeing first-rate performances from the London women despite the extra motivation they have to bring back some good news to their stuggling country. Akaba, the fastest of the eight, is in a separate class from the others as she was already entered to run London and her result will not count toward World Championships selection. Akaba won January's windy, frigid Osaka in 2:26:29 and was 6th at last year's London where she set her PB of 2:24:55. Her background suggests she is capable of 2:20-2:22 and she has said she is doing London to get a fast time ahead of the World Championships, but having had her training cycle interrupted by two major disasters it's a question mark whether everything is in place for her this time.

For the other seven women, all originally entered in Nagoya, the goal for London is clear: get as far under 2:26 as possible. Only one of the five spots on the World Championships team is taken, by 2011 Yokohama International Women's Marathon winner Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei), but Osaka winner Akaba and Yokohama runner-up Remi Nakazato (Team Daihatsu), who clocked a strong 2:24:29, are virtual locks for spots on the team. Osaka runner-up Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) was 26 seconds behind Akaba in 2:26:55 and is a possibility for the fourth spot on the team. With Machida only running 2:32:39 in Daegu and Ominami injured for Boston we can expect to see the top Japanese woman in London other than Akaba to pick up the fifth spot. The question mark comes after that: if the next Japanese woman after her can break the federation's stated time requirement of sub-2:26 she may be able to bump Ito from the lineup.

Only Tokyo course record holder Nasukawa and 2008 Nagoya winner Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya) have broken 2:26 before and by that criterion alone would be the favorites, but Nasukawa has only run as fast as 2:29 since then while Nakamura has gotten progressively slower in each of her marathons since her 2:25:51 debut and has not broken 2:30 again. Of the three other experienced marathoners in the field, former pro XC skiier Azusa Nojiri (Team Daiichi Seimei), a teammate of Yokohama winner Ozaki, is the best bet for a large improvement over her 2:29:12 debut last year, but both Madoka Ogi (Team Juhachi Ginko) and 2009 Nagoya winner Yoshiko Fujinaga (Team Shiseido) are also in range of a sub-2:26 PB. The two debutantes in the group, track runner Noriko Matsuoka (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) who recovered from a serious collision with a cyclist to regain world-level fitness, and Nakamura's teammate Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) who had an outstanding run at December's National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships to put Tenmaya into the lead late in the race for its first-ever win, both hold excellent potential and could make the Japanese women's sub-plot at this year's London Marathon women's race an engrossing part of the overall picture.

Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren)
PB: 2:24:55 - 6th, 2010 London Marathon
Other major performances:
1st, 2011 Osaka International Women's Marathon - 2:26:29
2009 National Champion, 10000 m - 31:57.44
1st, 2008 National Corporate Half Marathon Championships - 1:08:11 - CR

Mizuho Nasukawa (Team Universal Entertainment)
PB: 2:25:38 - 1st, 2009 Tokyo Marathon - CR
Other major performances:
1st, 2011 Akabane Half Marathon - 1:14:12
7th, 2009 Chicago Marathon - 2:29:22
4th, 2004 Osaka International Women's Marathon - 2:29:49

Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya)
PB: 2:25:51 - 1st, 2008 Nagoya International Women's Marathon
Other major performances:
7th, 2010 Boston Marathon - 2:30:40
2009 National Champion, 5000 m - 15:25.31
13th, 2008 Beijing Olympics Marathon - 2:30:19

Madoka Ogi (Team Juhachi Ginko)
PB: 2:26:55 - 5th, 2008 Osaka International Women's Marathon
Other major performances:
1st, 2010 Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon - 1:14:17
8th, 2009 Osaka International Women's Marathon - 2:27:56
2nd, 2009 Miyazaki Women's Half Marathon -1:11:24

Yoshiko Fujinaga (Team Shiseido)
PB: 2:28:13 - 1st, 2009 Nagoya International Women's Marathon
Other major performances:
14th, 2009 World Championships Marathon - 2:29:53
2000 National Champion, 5000 m
1999 World Championships 5000 m

Azusa Nojiri (Team Daiichi Seimei)
PB: 2:29:12 - 8th, 2010 Osaka International Women's Marathon
Other major performances:
13th, 2010 World Half Marathon Championships - 1:11:35
3-time winner, Mt. Fuji Mountain Race
former pro cross-country skiier until 2008

Noriko Matsuoka (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC)
Debut
Major performances:
1st, 2010 Nagoya Half Marathon - 1:11:13 - PB
4th, 2009 National Championships 5000 m - 15:29.38 - PB
1st, 2008 Niigata Time Trials 10000 m - 31:31.45 - PB


Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya)
Debut
Major performances:
Half marathon PB: 1:13:28
5th, 2010 Sanyo Women's 10 km - 32:38
1st, National Corporate Women's Ekiden Fifth Stage (11.6 km) - 37:36

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

His Hometown Inside the Fukushima Exclusion Zone, Hakone Ekiden Great Masato Imai Talks Candidly About the Disasters and the Future

http://www.nishinippon.co.jp/nnp/item/236545

translated by Brett Larner

Now based in Fukuoka, marathoner and Hakone Ekiden great Masato Imai (27, Team Toyota Kyushu), one of the most nationally-respected runners of his generation, was born in Minamisoma, Fukushima, a city severely damaged by the disasters which have befallen northeastern Japan. His parents' house located within the 20 km exclusion zone around the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor, one month on from the earthquake and tsunami Imai and his family are unable to return home. Running in Kyushu in pursuit of his goal of the London Olympics, Imai spoke candidly about the disasters and the situation in his hometown.

"On the evening of Mar. 11 I was watching TV after practice when they said, 'There has been a 10 m tsunami in Minamisoma.' I got goosebumps all over. I tried to call home to see if everyone was safe but couldn't get through. It took me until after sunset to finally hear something. My dad was safe because he was at work and his office is a long way from the ocean, but he said he didn't know where my mom was. That night I was finally able to get a ring on her cell phone, but she didn't answer it.

In the afternoon the next day one of my relatives called and said, 'Hey, your mom's on TV.' I turned on the TV and there she was being helped by a group of rescuers. She had gone to a friend's house to escape from the tsunami together but they had gotten trapped and were being rescued from there. My family were all OK, but some of my teammates from my elementary school baseball team and a girl I used to run with in a running club were swept away by the tsunami. It sounds like some of my neighbors died too.

Our house is 2 km from the ocean. The second floor is still there but the whole first floor was stripped out and washed away by the tsunami. My parents can't go home and are still in an evacuation center in Tochigi, but my brother and his wife, who lived with them and have a young baby, have come down here to Fukuoka. Our town had the ocean, mountains, neighbors who cared about each other like family. My dad also grew rice, and when it was time for the harvest we'd all help him. Now because of the accident at the nuclear reactor there has been radiation released, and it has been really hard to hear my dad on the phone saying, 'I don't think we're going to be able to go back any more.'

I talked to my high school track coach on the phone too. He's always been there for me and supported me, even long after my graduation. I value what he says, and he told me, 'Don't lose sight of your goals. Everybody here still wants to see you run something big.' In spite of everything he's had to go through in Minamisoma, he was the one encouraging me instead of the other way around.

I can't do anything but run. The people I know from back home who escaped are all in different places now, but they can still watch races on TV. This winter there'll be the selection races for the London Olympics. If I succeed I hope all the people from home and all those who are somewhere else now are able to feel something from it.

If you run there are endless times when it's hard, but even when it hurts there are times when you finish and think, 'That was easy.' If you can take hold of that hardship and transcend it I feel like there will be something waiting for you there. I want to take hold of this disaster, rise above it and show everyone back home that there is something there for them too. Someday I want to see them all smiling together again."

Cancelled Nagano Marathon Donates Over $900,000 in Entry Fees to Disaster Relief

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/sports/news/110412/oth11041218250010-n1.htm

translated by Brett Larner

On Apr. 12 the organizing committee of the Nagano Marathon, cancelled in the wake of Japan's ongoing disasters, announced that it has donated 76,270,500 yen [~$906,500 USD at current exchange rates] to the Japanese Red Cross' relief efforts in northeastern Japan. The donated funds came from the entry fees of the 8,973 runners who had registered for the race which was to be held this Sunday, Apr. 17. A spokesperson for the organizers said that entry money was slated to be used for the operating costs of this year's race but that they were able to cover these expenses using savings from past editions of the Nagano Marathon and were thus able to donate almost all this year's entry fees to relief efforts.

Translator's note: Japan's second-largest marathon, the Kasumigaura Marathon, also scheduled for Apr. 17 but cancelled following the Mar. 11 disasters, preceded Nagano in announcing that it would donate runners' entry fees to relief efforts.

TEPCO Suspends Men's Ekiden Team Activities, Members Sent to Work on Recovery in Fukushima

http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/110411/spg1104111817001-n1.htm

translated by Brett Larner

Team Tepco during a group tempo run at 5:45 a.m. in Tokyo's Yoyogi Park in spring, 2010.

Due to the ongoing situation at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Tokyo Denryoku, or TEPCO as the company is known in English, announced on April 11 that it is suspending its men's ekiden team. The team did management did not renew its jitsugyodan corporate league registration this season, meaning that the team is not elligible to take part in the New Year Ekiden or other jitsugyodan league competitions. Team members are, however, not restricted from competing independently in other races.

The team's athletes and staff have all been sent to work at locations in Fukushima and surrounding areas. Head coach Shigeo Daigo, 43, commented, "These are emergency circumstances, and our top priority right now is to help get control of the situation. Our athletes will be working alongside the other employees as one company." There are no current plans for when the ekiden team will resume activity.

The Tokyo Denryoku team has competed in the last three straight New Year Ekiden national championships. From 2008 until last year it was coached by 1991 World Championships marathon gold medalist Hiromi Taniguchi.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Machida Top Japanese at 7th in Daegu International Marathon

http://www.chunichi.co.jp/s/article/2011041001000311.html
http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/110410/spg1104101719004-n1.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

At the Apr. 10 Daegu International Marathon, a selection race for the Japanese women's marathon team for this summer's Daegu World Championships, Yuko Machida (Team Nihon ChemiCon) was the top Japanese woman. Finishing 7th in a time of 2:32:39, her chances of making the team are very slim. Among other contenders for the World Championships team, Tomomi Higuchi (Team Daihatsu) was 8th in 2:33:48, while Seika Iwamura (Team Daihatsu) was 12th in 2:36:33. Atsede Besuye (Ethiopia) won in 2:25:12. Veteran Takeshi Hamano (Team Toyota) was the top Japanese man, 14th in 2:16:49.

With the cancellation of March's Nagoya International Women's Marathon selection race and its designated replacement, April's Nagano Marathon, following the March 11 disasters in northeastern Japan, the Japanese federation Rikuren named Daegu as a substitute selection race along with the April 17 London Marathon and the April 18 Boston Marathon.

Machida, 30, was caught in both February's Christchurch earthquake and the March 11 Miyagi earthquake. Likely having missed out on qualifying for the World Championships due to falling short of the sub-2:26 time requirement set by Rikuren, Daegu is set to have become Machida's retirement race. "I have a lot to be grateful for," she says in looking back at her career.

Machida was in Shizuoka prefecture at the time of the earthquake and did not experience the worst of the disasters firsthand, but the Nihon ChemiCon team's training grounds in Osaki, Miyagi were extensively damaged and in her room in the team dormitory Machida's personal belongings were strewn about by the force of the earthquake, many of them damaged and broken. First Nagoya, then Nagano were cancelled. Daegu was quickly named as a substitute selection race, but surrounded by destruction Machida wondered, "Is it really OK to be running at a time like this?" as she faced the impossibility of concentrating on training in her day to day life in the month following the disasters.

Machida came to the conclusion that even in such conditions, "It's important to at least try to look strong," settling her appearance in Daegu. Midway through the marathon she fell off pace, finishing roughly 3 minutes off her PB. But, she said afterwards, "Even though it was tough out there I never gave up," finishing with a smile at her accomplishment against tough odds. Her parents, who accompanied Machida to Korea from their home in ravaged Shiogama, Miyagi, presented her with a handmade gold medal after she crossed the finish line.

2:46 p.m.

One month.

Weekend Track Roundup

by Brett Larner

Four significant men's track meets took place around Tokyo over the weekend.



At the Apr. 9 Setagaya Time Trials meet, Team Kanebo's new Ethiopian ringer Asefa Fekele had a good debut with an 8:05.37 win in the 3000 m just steps ahead of Komazawa University's Wataru Ueno who clocked 8:05.96. 3rd placer Daisuke Shimizu (Team Kanebo) was far back of the pair in 8:09.67.



Nihon University's Shuto Kojima likewise had a narrow win over distance specialist Takehiro Deki (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) in the Setagaya Time Trials 5000 m, 14:05.28 to Deki's 14:05.56.



At the largest of the four meets, the Five University Meet held Apr. 10 at Heisei Kokusai University, the performance of the day came in the open Premium 3000 m, where Kenyan Bitan Karoki (Team S&B) ran 7:49.43 for the win over teammate Yusuke Hasegawa (Team S&B), who ran 8:05.36 in his pro debut. Senior Takamitsu Hashimoto (Josai Univ.) was the top university runner, 3rd in 8:09.62. Racing again just a day after making his university debut at the Kanaguri Memorial meet, first-year Takashi Ichida (Daito Bunka Univ.) was 4th in 8:12.32.



Sophomore Yuta Shitara (Toyo Univ.) won the 5000 m in 14:18.32 in a close match over senior Hayato Sonoda (Jobu Univ.).

At the Nittai-Chuo Dual Meet at Nittai University on Apr. 10, Nittai athletes won the men's 5000 m and the 3000 mSC. Junior Yutaro Fukushi took the men's 5000 m in 14:15.98 and Shunsuke Numai the steeple in 9:10.85. Mai Shinozuka (Chuo Univ.) won the women's 5000 m in 16:33.60.

The Waseda Invitational. Click here for more photos courtesy of WESC.

The 3000 mSC was the main distance event at the Apr. 10 Waseda Invitational. Takashi Sasazaki (Meiji Univ.) battled Takaaki Osako (Teikyo Univ.) for the win in 9:11.45, Osako winding up 2nd in 9:12.89. The top runner from the hosts was Masahito Aihara, 3rd in 9:15.77.

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Women's 5000 m World Leader for Chepyego at Kanaguri Memorial

by Brett Larner

The Japanese outdoor track season began in earnest Apr. 9 with the first of the season's major meets, the Kanaguri Memorial Track Meet in Kumamoto. Locally-based Kenyan Sally Chepyego (Team Kyudenko) had the biggest result of the day with a world-leading 15:18.70 to win the women's 5000 m after dueling with fellow Kenyan Ann Karindi (Team Toyota Jidoshoki). 10000 m junior national record holder Megumi Kinukawa (Team Mizuno) was 3rd in 15:51.33, holding off former Tamagawa University ace Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) in Tanaka's pro debut. Tanaka's teammate, the unknown Kaho Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei), was almost as strong in the 5000 m B-heat, running 15:56.03 for the win.

Titus Waroru, Takuya Ishikawa and Daniel Gitau in the men's 5000 m. Click here to enlarge photo.

In the men's 5000 m, Kenyans took the top five spots with Edward Waweru (Team NTN) coming in a step ahead of 10000 m Japanese all-comers' record holder Josephat Ndambiri (Team Komori Corp.) in 13:21.37. Former Meiji University captain Takuya Ishikawa (Team Chugoku Denryoku) was the top Japanese finisher, 6th overall in a solid PB of 13:35.38. High school sensation Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.) had a credible university debut, two seconds off his PB in 13:51.62, while 2011 World Championships marathon team members Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) and Hiroyuki Horibata (Team Asahi Kasei) both went under 14 minutes.

2011 Kanaguri Memorial Track Meet Top Results
Women's 5000 m Heat Two
1. Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) - 15:18.70
2. Ann Karindi (Kenya/Toyota Jidoshoki) - 15:41.35
3. Megumi Kinukawa (Team Mizuno) - 15:51.33
4. Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 15:52.77
5. Seika Nishikawa (Team Sysmex) - 16:00.24
6. Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 16:00.51
7. Nanae Kuwashiro (Team Sysmex) - 16:03.39
8. Yukie Nagata (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) - 16:16.43
9. Chieko Kido (Canon AC Kyushu) - 16:19.06
10. Misaki Kato (Team Kyudenko) - 16:19.48

Women's 5000 m Heat One
1. Kaho Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 15:56.03
2. Misato Tanaka (Team Sysmex) - 16:04.11
3. Maki Suzawa (Team Yamada Denki) - 16:12.02
4. Megumi Seike (Team Sysmex) - 16:13.25
5. Rina Hidaki (Fukuoka Univ.) - 16:15.88

Men's 5000 m Heat Three
1. Edward Waweru (Kenya/Team NTN) - 13:21.37
2. Josephat Ndambiri (Kenya/Team Komori Corp.) - 13:21.76
3. Patrick Mwaka (Kenya/Team Aisan Kogyo) - 13:26.29
4. Daniel Gitau (Kenya/Team Fujitsu) - 13:34.12
5. Titus Waroru (Kenya/Chinzai H.S.) - 13:34.89
6. Takuya Ishikawa (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 13:35.38
7. John Maina (Kenya/Takushoku Univ.) - 13:37.09
8. Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta) - 13:43.10
9. Ikuto Yufu (Komazawa Univ.) - 13:44.60
10. Kenta Murotsuka (SDF Academy) - 13:45.72
11. Alex Mwangi (Kenya/Team YKK) - 13:45.81
12. Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) - 13:51.08
13. Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.) - 13:51.62
14. Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.) - 13:54.64
15. Yoshikazu Kawazoe (Team Asahi Kasei) - 13:56.71
16. Ryuji Kashiwabara (Toyo Univ.) - 13:58.00
17. Hiroyuki Horibata (Team Asahi Kasei) - 13:59.76
18. Duncan Muthee (Kenya/Takushoku Univ.) - 14:08.95
19. Taku Fujimoto (Kokushikan Univ.) - 14:09.46

Men's 5000 m Heat Two
1. Hiroyuki Ogawa (Team Yachiyo Kogyo) - 13:56.03
2. Yasuhiro Tago (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 13:59.78
3. Satoshi Kubooka (Team JFE Steel) - 13:59.93
4. Tomoaki Bungo (Team Asahi Kasei) - 14:01.71
5. Takasi Ichida (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 14:02.37

Men's 5000 m Heat One
1. Takuji Morimoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 14:04.31
2. Shinji Ando (Team Togami Denki) - 14:05.56
3. Ryosuke Maki (Team Osaka Gas) - 14:05.85
4. Satoshi Osaki (Team NTT Nishi Nihon) - 14:06.38
5. Naohiro Yamada (Team YKK) - 14:07.56

High School Girls' 3000 m Heat Four
1. Misuzu Nakahara (Kamimura Gakuen H.S.) - 9:21.68
2. Shoko Sonoda (Chikushi Joshi Gakuen H.S.) - 9:22.22
3. Ayano Ikeuchi (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 9:22.45
4. Nanako Kanno (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 9:24.01
5. Mio Chijiiwa (Chiharadai H.S.) - 9:26.92

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Kawauchi Returns to Action - Nittaidai Time Trials Entry Lists

by Brett Larner

The 2011 Nittai University Time Trials series gets underway next weekend in Yokohama. A tuneup event for other track meets on Japan's spring calendar, the 214th edition of Nittai sees the return to action of Japan's current #1 marathoner, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama T&F Assoc.). The amateur who made worldwide news with a moving 2:08:37 3rd-place finish at February's Tokyo Marathon, Kawauchi comes to Nittai fresh from having been named to Japan's 2011 World Championships marathon team as its #1 man. Entered in both Saturday's 10000 m A-heat and Sunday's 5000 m A-heat it's unlikely he will run both, but whichever distance he chooses it is safe to say that everyone will be watching Kawauchi.

This early in the season most distance men are focusing on 5000 m, and as a result the 5000 m A-heat features a larger number of noteworthy names. Among them are Japan's top man at last month's World XC Championships, Hirotaka Tamura (Nihon Univ.), 2010 Tokyo Marathon winner Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda), Kenyans Daniel Gitau (Team Fujitsu), Cosmas Ondiba (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.), Ibrahim Mukunga (Team Fujitsu) and Joseph Onsarigo (Sozo Gakuen Univ.), the latter two in their Japanese debuts, and three members of 2011 Hakone Ekiden winners Waseda University, Shota Hiraga, Fuminori Shikata and Yuki Yagi.

Leading the 10000 m A-heat is 2010 Kanto Regional University 10000 m champion Benjamin Gandu (Nihon Univ.). The women's fields are relatively weaker than the men's and are split between 3000 m, 5000 m and 10000 m. Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo has most of its lineup entered in the 5000 m A-heat, led by 10000 m national record holder Yoko Shibui.

214th Nittai University Time Trials Entry List Highlights

Men's 5000 m Heat 24
Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda)
Daniel Gitau (Kenya/Team Fujitsu)
Shota Hiraga (Waseda Univ.)
Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama T&F Assoc.)
Ibrahim Mukunga (Kenya/Team Fujitsu)
Kota Murayama (Josai Univ.)
Cosmas Ondiba (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.)
Joseph Onsarigo (Kenya/Sozo Gakuen Univ.)
Fuminori Shikata (Waseda Univ.)
Yuta Takahashi (Team S&B)
Hirotaka Tamura (Nihon Univ.)
Yuki Yagi (Waseda Univ.)

Men's 5000 m Heat 23
Asefa Fekele (Ethiopia/Team Kanebo)
Takeshi Horiguchi (Team Honda)
Satoshi Irifune (Team Kanebo)
Takeshi Makabe (Team Kanebo)
Yusei Nakao (Team Toyota Boshoku)
Keita Shitara (Toyo Univ.)
Kensuke Takahashi (Team Toyota)
Kazuki Tomaru (Team Toyota)

Women's 5000 m Heat 16
Risa Nakamura (Team Hitachi)
Chisato Osaki (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo)
Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo)
Ikuyo Yamashita (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo)

Women's 3000 m Heat 3
Ai Igarashi (Team Sysmex)
Misaki Onishi (Team Sekisui Kagaku)
Yukina Saijo (Team Sekisui Kagaku)
Murugi Wainaina (Kenya/Toyokawa H.S.)

Men's 10000 m Heat 5
Benjamin Gandu (Kenya/Nihon Univ.)
Soji Ikeda (Team Yakult)
Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama T&F Assoc.)

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Friday, April 8, 2011

Machida Leaves to Shoot for World Champs Spot at Daegu Int'l Marathon

http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/110406/spg1104061710002-n1.htm

translated by Brett Larner

With last month's Nagoya International Women's Marathon having been cancelled in the wake of the disasters to hit northeastern Japan, marathoner Yuko Machida (Team Nihon ChemiCon) left Japan's Kansai International Airport on Apr. 6 to try for a spot on this summer's World Championships marathon squad at one of the designated substitute races for Nagoya, this Sunday's Daegu International Marathon.

Machida was caught in February's major earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand while there on a federation-sponsored training junket, returning to Japan only to have her team's base in Osaki, Miyagi be heavily hit by the Mar. 11 earthquake. "I want to run fast so I can send back some good news," she said. If she fails to make the World Championships team, Machida plans to retire following this weekend's marathon. The 30 year-old Machida, a native of Saitama, joined Team Nihon ChemiCon in 1999. She finished 3rd at the 2009 Nagoya International Women's Marathon.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hyogo Relay Carnival Entry Lists

by Brett Larner

Entry lists are up for one of Japan's biggest spring meets, the Apr. 23-24 Hyogo Relay Carnival. With the cancellation of many of the spring's half marathons after last month's disasters, this year's meet features an exceptionally deep level of talent, particularly at the university level where the men's and women's 10000 m will serve as selection races for the half marathon team for this year's World University Games.

The men's Grand Prix 10000 m has an all-star lineup led by two sub-27 men, Japanese all-comers record holder Josephat Ndambiri (Kenya/Team Komori Corp.) and '07 World Championships 10000 m bronze medalist and 10 mile junior world record holder Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC). Lining up against them are '08 World XC Jr. champion Ibrahim Jeilan (Ethiopia/Team Honda), '11 World XC runner-up Paul Tanui (Kenya/Team Kyudenko), sub-28 men Masato Kihara (Team Kanebo), Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko), Yusei Nakao, (Team Toyota Boshoku) and Yusuke Takabayashi (Team Toyota), '11 World Championships marathoners Hiroyuki Horibata (Team Asahi Kasei) and Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota), '10 Tokyo Marathon winner Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda), #1-ranked university runner Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.), '10 Kanto Regional University 5000 m champion Taku Fujimoto (Kokushikan Univ.), the university debut of 28:23 high schooler Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.) and many more.

Most of the best university talent will be running in the B-heat, led by Fukushima native Ryuji Kashiwabara (Toyo Univ.) and Asian half marathon junior area record holder Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.). Those who were planning to run last month's Tachikawa Akishima Half Marathon to qualify for the World University Games half marathon will be lining up in a separate 10000 m selection race and include '10 national university 5000 m champion Hiroki Mitsuoka (Kyoto Sangyo Univ./Team Otsuka Seiyaku), Takashimadaira 20 km Road Race course record holder Takehiro Deki (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.), and three star members of '11 Hakone Ekiden champions Waseda University, Shota Hiraga, Yusuke Mita and Yo Yazawa.

Women's collegiate 10000 m national record holder Hikari Yoshimoto (Bukkyo Univ.) leads the university runners in the women's Grand Prix 10000 m, where she will face 10000 m junior national record holder Megumi Kinukawa (Team Mizuno), the pro debut of 10 km road collegiate national record holder and former teammate Kasumi Nishihara (Team Yamada Denki), top-ranked Kenyan Sally Chepyego (Team Kyudenko), the top two female Japanese half marathoners of '10, twin sisters Hiroko and Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera), and '11 Osaka and Tokyo Marathon runners-up Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) and Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal). A notable absence is defending 10000 m national champion Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal), out of competition since being caught in the Christchurch earthquake earlier this year. The World University Games selection 10000 m is relatively weak with no entrants from national champion Bukkyo Univ. but should feature a good matchup between Ritsumeikan's Machiko Iwakawa and Meijo's Aki Odagiri.

2011 Hyogo Relay Carnival Entry List Highlights
Men's Grand Prix 10000 m
Taku Fujimoto (Kokushikan Univ.)
Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda)
Hiroyuki Horibata (Team Asahi Kasei)
Atsushi Ikawa (Team Otsuka Seiyaku)
Ibrahim Jeilan (Ethiopia/Team Honda)
Masato Kihara (Team Kanebo)
Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko)
Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC)
Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.)
Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.)
Yusei Nakao (Team Toyota Boshoku)
Josephat Ndambiri (Kenya/Team Komori Corp.)
Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota)
Yusuke Takabayashi (Team Toyota)
Yuta Takahashi (Team S&B)
Paul Tanui (Kenya/Team Kyudenko)

Women's Grand Prix 10000 m
Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko)
Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal)
Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku)
Megumi Kinukawa (Team Mizuno)
Kazue Kojima (Team Toyota Jidoshoki)
Noriko Matsuoka (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC)
Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera)
Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera)
Shoko Mori (Team Otsuka Seiyaku)
Kasumi Nishihara (Team Yamada Denki)
Michi Numata (Ritsumeikan Univ.)
Doricah Obare (Kenya/Team Hitachi)
Megumi Seike (Team Sysmex)
Hanae Tanaka (Ritsumeikan Univ.)
Hikari Yoshimoto (Bukkyo Univ.)

Men's Asics Challenge 10000 m Heat One
Kenta Chiba (Komazawa Univ.)
Taku Fujimoto (Kokushikan Univ.)
Tsubasa Hayakawa (Tokai Univ.)
Masaki Ito (Kokushikan Univ.)
Hiromitsu Kakuage (Komazawa Univ.)
Ryuji Kashiwabara (Toyo Univ.)
Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.)
Fuminori Shikata (Waseda Univ.)
Yuki Yagi (Waseda Univ.)
Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Meiji Univ.)

Men's Asics Challenge 10000 m Heat Two
Keita Akiba (Team Komori Corp.)
Sota Hoshi (Team Fujitsu)
Dishon Karukuwa (Kenya/Team Aisan Kogyo)
Yuko Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta)
Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya/Team Aidem)
Gideon Ngatuny (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin)
Micah Njeru (Kenya/Team Toyota Boshoku)
Minoru Okuda (Team Honda)
Cosmas Ondiba (Kenya/Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.)
Shogo Otsu (Team JR Higashi Nihon)

Men's World University Games Half Marathon Trials 10000 m
Takehiro Deki (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.)
Naohiro Domoto (Nihon Univ.)
Shota Hiraga (Waseda Univ.)
Yusuke Mita (Waseda Univ.)
Hiroki Mitsuoka (Team Otsuka Seiyaku)
Yo Yazawa (Waseda Univ.)

Women's World University Games Half Marathon Trials 10000 m
Machiko Iwakawa (Ritsumeikan Univ.)
Aki Odagiri (Meijo Univ.)
Yurina Uragawa (Meijo Univ.)
Miki Yamada (Josai Univ.)

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved