Thursday, June 30, 2011

World Champion Florence Kiplagat vs. Kinukawa and Chepyego, Past Winners Njui and Ngatuny Lead Sapporo International Half Marathon - Preview (updated)

by Brett Larner

Update 7/2: Defending women's champion Yuri Kano (Second Wind AC) has withdrawn from tomorrow's Sapporo International Half Marathon with an unspecified leg injury according to a tweet by her coach Manabu Kawagoe. 2010 Tokyo Marathon winner Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda) and 10000 m national record holder Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) have also withdrawn.

With most of the spring half marathon season cancelled in the wake of the Mar. 11 disasters, this year's Sapporo International Half Marathon will mark a return to the distance for many of Japan's top athletes. Scheduled to be run again with the 1:30 p.m. start time put in place last year times are unlikely to be fast in the peak of the summer heat, but both the women's and men's races should be thickly competitive. Sapporo will be broadcast live by Nihon TV on July 3. Overseas viewers should be able to watch online via Keyhole TV. JRN will be doing live English commentary via Twitter @JRNLive.

2010 World Half Marathon and 2009 World Cross-Country champion Florence Kiplagat (Kenya) leads the way in the women's race, her 1:07:40 PB more than a minute faster than the next best runner in the field, defending champion Yuri Kano (Second Wind AC). With Kano out of form for most of the last year and sub-70 women Yumiko Hara (Team Univ. Ent.) and Mika Okunaga (Team Kyudenko) likewise off their best of late, the biggest challenge to Kiplagat should come from a pair of talented debutantes, Megumi Kinukawa (Team Mizuno) and Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko). Neither Kinukawa nor Chepyego are on the invited athlete list, but a source connected with Kinukawa confirmed to JRN that she is running in the general division and Chepyego's team page also lists her as running. Both women are fresh off World Championships A-standard 10000 m PBs, 31:10.12 for Kinukawa and 31:27.98 for Chepyego, and with similar performances should be key players in Sapporo. All Japanese eyes will be on Kinukawa, who made the all-time Japanese top four at 10000 m and top six at 5000 m in June. A 1:08:56 would be enough for her to make the all-time Japanese top ten, but whether that would be feasible in the predicted heat or enough to beat Kiplagat or Chepyego remains to be seen.

The last two Sapporo men's winners, Cyrus Njui (Kenya/Team Hitachi Cable) and Gideon Ngatuny (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) return to face 2:07 marathoner Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda), 2010 Asian Games marathon gold medalist Youngjun Ji (Korea) and invited elite Andrew Lemoncello (U.K.). Three of Japan's World Championships marathoners are entered, Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) leading Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) and Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) with a 1:01:41 PB. Also on the list are a number of top domestic men who have been out of competition with injury over the last year and are looking to make strong comebacks, among them national record holder Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku), half marathon ace Masato Kihara (Team Kanebo), Ottawa Marathon course record holder Arata Fujiwara (Remo System AC), Hakone Ekiden legend Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) and track star Yu Mitsuya (Team Toyota Kyushu). With at least 20 Japanese men in the field holding PBs under dozens more at the next tier it is tough to predict who will hold up in the heat, but Sapporo will serve as a good preview of who is on top for the upcoming fall road season.

2011 Sapporo International Half Marathon Elite Field Highlights
Women
Megumi Kinukawa (Mizuno) - debut - 10000 m: 31:10.12
Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) - debut - 10000 m: 31:27.98
Misaki Kato (Team Kyudenko) - debut - 5000 m: 15:50.11
Florence Kiplagat (Kenya) - 1:07:40
Yumiko Hara (Team Univ. Ent.) - 1:09:28
Mika Okunaga (Team Kyudenko) - 1:09:57
Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC) - 1:10:16
Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) - 1:10:51
Chika Horie (Team Univ. Ent.) - 1:11:29
Aki Odagiri (Meijo Univ.) - 1:11:43

Men
Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda) - debut - 10000 m: 27:58.03
Akiyuki Iwanaga (Team Kyudenko) - debut - 10000 m: 28:41.36
Youngjun Ji (Korea) - debut - 10000 m: 29:42.38
Gideon Ngatuny (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 59:50
Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 1:00:25
Cyrus Njui (Kenya/Team Hitachi Cable) - 1:01:03
Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) - 1:01:41
Masato Kihara (Team Kanebo) - 1:01:50
Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) - 1:02:08
Kenichiro Setoguchi (Team Asahi Kasei) - 1:02:13
Naoto Yoneda (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:02:14
Arata Fujiwara (Remo System AC) - 1:02:17
Yu Mitsuya (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 1:02:26
Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 1:02:29
Hiroshi Yamada (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:02:31
Kazuki Ikenaga (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:02:33
Masaki Shimoju (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:02:35
Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 1:02:37
Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) - 1:02:40
Shuji Yoshikawa (Team Kyudenko) - 1:02:42
Akira Okada (Team Hitachi Cable) - 1:02:52
Masayuko Obata (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 1:02:53
Tomoyuki Sato (Team Asahi Kasei) - 1:02:53
Takeshi Makabe (Team Kanebo) - 1:02:58
Andrew Lemoncello (U.K.) - 1:03:00
Yuichi Shinoda (Team Hitachi Cable) - 1:03:05
Mamoru Hirano (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 1:03:12
Hirokatsu Kurosaki (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:03:41
Kenta Chiba (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:04:42
Hiroki Kubota (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 1:04:47
Daichi Motomura (Tokai Univ.) - 1:05:36
Daiki Nomoto (Takushoku Univ.) - 1:06:14

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Niiya Hits World Champs 5000 m A-Standard, Watanabe Again With Japanese All-Time #2 1500 m at Hokuren Distance Challenge

by Brett Larner

The 2011 Hokuren Distance Challenge series wrapped up June 29 with its fourth and final event, the Shibetsu Meet. Despite warm and humid conditions, significant marks came in the women's 5000 m and men's 1500 m.

In the women's 5000 m, Kenyan Sally Chepyego (Team Kyudenko) marked her latest PB of the season, 15:10.53, to take the win. Just behind her, National Championships 5000 m runner-up Hitomi Niiya, sporting her new Team Universal Entertainment jersey for the first time after a few months as an independent following being fired from Team Toyota Jidoshokki, just cleared the World Championships A-standard with a new PB of 15:13.12. Niiya's mark all but assures she will join national champion Megumi Kinukawa (Team Mizuno) in Daegu and secures her as the all-time Japanese #10 over 5000 m. Her former teammate, 1500 m national record holder Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshokki), was a regrettable DNF after a long period lost to injury.

In the men's 1500 m, 5000 m national champion Kazuya Watanabe (Team Shikoku Denryoku) had a big run, exactly tying his PB of 3:38.11 to reconfirm his place as all-time Japanese #2 over 1500 m just four days after running a nearly 45-second 10000 m PB of 27:47.79. The 23-year-old Watanabe has had an incredible season, running a year-leading 5000 m PB of 13:23.15 on May 28 to become Japanese all-time #8, winning the 5000 m national title two weeks later, followed by his sub-28 10000 m less than two weeks later, and then today's 3:38.11 PB tie. Look for him in the 5000 m at the Daegu World Championships and beyond.

2011 Hokuren Distance Challenge Shibetsu Meet
Shibetsu, Hokkaido, 6/29/11
complete results coming shortly
Men's 10000 m
1. Michael Githinji (Kenya/Team Toho Refine) - 28:42.24
2. Keita Shitara (Toyo Univ.) - 28:46.80 - PB
3. Hirotaka Tamura (Nihon Univ.) - 29:01.51
4. Aritaka Kajiwara (Reitaku Univ.) - 29:33.05
5. Masanori Sakai (Team Kyudenko) - 29:37.41

Women's 5000 m A-Heat
1. Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) - 15:10.53 - PB
2. Hitomi Niiya (Team Univ. Ent.) - 15:13.12 - PB
3. Grace Kimanzi (Kenya/Team Starts) - 15:38.80 - PB
4. Seika Nishikawa (Team Sysmex) - 15:49.22
5. Eriko Kushima (Kyoto Sangyo Univ.) - 15:57.13
DNF - Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshoki)

Men's 5000 m A-Heat
1. Micah Njeru (Kenya/Tea Toyota Boshoku) - 13:40.36
2. Daisuke Shimizu (Team Kanebo) - 13:43.51
3. Hiroyoshi Umegae (Team NTN) - 13:45.40
4. Kazuki Onishi (Team Kanebo) - 13:59.57
5. Tomoya Shirayanagi (Team Toyota Boshoku) - 13:59.83

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Korean Police Clear Marathon Coach, Athletes After Finding No Evidence of Doping

http://www.chosunonline.com/news/20110624000017

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Having caused an uproar when the story became public news, police have closed their investigation of allegations of doping among some of Korea's top marathon runners after finding no evidence to support the claims.

On June 23 Kangwon District Police Headquarters' Drug Investigation Unit issued its report on the case, stating, "We investigated the distance running coach of a high school in Kangwon-do, Wonju and several national team-level marathon runners after receiving allegations that they were engaged in the use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs but found nothing to confirm the truth of these charges."

In April police launched an official investigation after receiving information that athletes coached by Shinshu Girls' H.S. track coach Man Hwa Jeong, 51, including Korea's number one marathoner, 2010 Asian Games gold medalist Youngjun Ji, (30, Kolon Co.), had used illegal performance enhancing drugs during training for domestic and overseas races in which they finished on the podium. A police representative said, "The athletes told us, 'We take iron supplements when directed to after regular medical checkups, but that isn't doping.' We seized samples of the iron supplements they received from the hospital and subjected them to scientific analysis but found no traces of any illegal substances. We found no evidence of any criminal activity."

Coming just two months before Korea is set to host the World Championships in Athletics in the city of Daegu, the purported doping scandal has received intense public scrutiny, but with those alleged to have been involved being declared completely innocent, those in the Korean track and field industry are relieved and supportive. Korean federation director Don Jin Oh commented, "We have always been active in taking precautions against our athletes and their support and management personnel using banned substances, whether accidentally or deliberately. With precious time lost due to these baseless allegations we want the athletes to focus a whole year's worth of training energy into these final two months and will do everything we can to support and assist them." Despite this support, the man caught in the middle of the scandal, coach Jeong, has suffered from being publicly viewed as a criminal for the last two months. "The damage to my reputation and the opportunities I've lost have been tremendous," he said. "I can never get that back."

In a telephone interview coach Jeong said, "The spirits of Ji, Son Yon Lee and the other athletes on the national team have been deeply damaged by the unjustified public distrust thrown upon them by this investigation. Lee is considering quitting the sport." The Korean national marathon team had planned to travel to Japan on June 20 to begin a training camp ahead of the World Championships, but due to the problems have moved the departure date back to the 27th. With obvious displeasure Jeong continued, "In order to be well-prepared for the difficulties the athletes will face running in the heat at Worlds I planned to have them undertake their base training in May and June. However, due to all of these problems we've had it was impossible and their training has been completely screwed up. Neither Ji nor Lee have been able to train seriously for the last two months, and as a result they are both in terrible condition."

Coach Jeong believes the situation was caused by a rival group within the Korean athletics industry who sought to discredit and remove him from his position as national marathon coach in order to further themselves, contacting the police with false information and baseless allegations. "This is far more serious than a simple plot," he raged. "It has affected not just the Korean athletics world, but has been a disgrace to Korean society as a whole."

According to Jeong, after initial drug tests by the police to determine whether the athletes were taking banned substances turned up negative, the police shifted their attention to the hospital where the doping was alleged to have occurred and to the blood work done there. When nothing came to light there, they then investigated the iron supplements the athletes were taking. "The athletes receive iron supplements as their bodies require," said Jeong, "but the investigation confirmed that this was not doping and there was nothing suspicious going on. No tests came back positive. I can't understand why people would continue to insist that this completely ordinary treatment is some kind of doping."

Looking at his options for final preparations, Jeong said, "The only thing we can do now is to do what we can to get to the World Championships in good condition. We can only try to do our best." Ji himself remains determined, adding, "I want to prove myself by running the best I can at the World Championships, getting the best place I can with the fastest time I can run.."

Translator's note: Youngjun Ji is scheduled to run this Sunday's Sapporo International Half Marathon.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hasegawa Over Wainaina and Nakadai at Saromako 100 km, Kaburaki 5th at Western States 100

http://www.jiji.com/jc/c?g=spo_30&k=2011062600197

translated and edited by Brett Larner
complete results coming soon

Corporate team runner Kiyokatsu Hasegawa (Team JR Higashi Nihon) took his first win at Japan's premier ultra, the June 26 Saromako 100 km, running 6:31:06 to beat defending champion, Kenyan national record holder and double Olympic marathon medalist Erick Wainaina (Lights AC) and defending 100 km world champion Shinji Nakadai (Harriers AC). "It was pretty close," Hasegawa said after the race, "but I managed to win. This will help me as I get ready for a good run at the Hokkaido Marathon." Wainaina finished 3rd, with Nakadai 6th. Naomi Ochiai (Tokyo T&F Assoc.) won the women's race in 7:54:08.

Across the Pacific, top-ranked trail runner Tsuyoshi Kaburaki, 42, ran a patient race at the Western States 100, advancing through the field late in the race to take 5th overall.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Watanabe Just Misses 10000 m A-Standard, Sophomore Yufu 28:02.46 to Lead Five Komazawa Univ. Men Under 29 in Fukagawa

by Brett Larner


With unseasonably cool temperatures ahead of an approaching typhoon the Hokuren Distance Challenge Fukagawa Meet on June 25 saw a raft of significant PB performances. Gideon Ngatuny (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) led three Japan-resident Kenyans to the top of the men's 10000 m A-heat with a win in 27:43.82, but the trio had company from 5000 m national champion Kazuya Watanabe (Team Shikoku Denryoku) who was shooting for the Daegu World Championships A-standard of sub-27:40 but came up just short in a large PB of 27:47.79 In so doing Watanabe, the all-time #2 Japanese man over 1500 m best-known for blacking out meters before the finish while leading the 2008 National Championships 1500 m, became the first Japanese man to break both 3:40 and 28:00. Missing the A-standard means that Watanabe will run only the 5000 m in Daegu.

More of a shock than Watanabe were the next two runners after him, Komazawa University sophomore Ikuto Yufu and junior Hiromitsu Kakuage, who ran PBs of 28:02.46 and 28:03.27 to beat Kenyans Benjamin Gandu (Nihon Univ.) and Micah Njeru (Team Toyota Boshoku). It's rare to see collegiate times this fast, particularly two teammated doing it in one race, and what's more three other Komazawa runners set new PBs under 29 minutes. 2011 Hakone Ekiden top two Waseda University and Toyo University are hovering aroung ten sub-29 minute men apiece, but with Komazawa up to six men that level now including star first-year Kenta Murayama, Yufu and Kakuage could lead Komazawa in a legitimate shot at challenging Waseda and Toyo for dominance in the upcoming ekiden season.

The women's 10000 m was also fast, with nine of the top ten recording new PBs led by Kenyan Sally Chepyego (Team Kyudenko) going under the World Championships A-standard with a 31:27.98. Seika Nishikawa (Team Sysmex), a teammate of marathon national record holder Mizuki Noguchi, was 2nd in a quick 32:12.64.

The final meet in this year's Hokuren Distance Challenge series takes place this Wednesday in Shibetsu and will focus on the 5000 m with Hitomi Niiya (Chiba Pref.) and Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta) among others going for World Championships A-standard marks.

2011 Hokuren Distance Challenge Fukagawa Meet
Fukagawa, Hokkaido, 6/25/11
Men's 10000 m A-Heat
1. Gideon Ngatuny (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 27:43.82
2. James Rungar (Kenya/Team Toyota) - 27:44.86 - PB
3. Alex Mwangi (Kenya/Team YKK) - 27:47.51
4. Kazuya Watanabe (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 27:47.79 - PB
5. Ikuto Yufu (Komazawa Univ.) - 28:02.46 - PB
6. Hiromitsu Kakuage (Komazawa Univ.) - 28:03.27 - PB
7. Benjamin Gandu (Kenya/Nihon Univ.) - 28:03.43 - PB
8. Micah Njeru (Kenya/Team Toyota Boshoku) - 28:03.48
9. Hiroyuki Ono (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 28:06.35 - PB
10. Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota) - 28:12.02 - PB
-----
15. Shinobu Kubota (Komazawa Univ.) - 28:23.61 - PB

Women's 10000 m
1. Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) - 31:27.98 - PB
2. Seika Nishikawa (Team Sysmex) - 32:12.64 - PB
3. Eriko Kushima (Kyoto Sangyo Univ.) - 32:16.84 - PB
4. Miho Ihara (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 32:18.00 - PB
5. Yuko Watanabe (Team Edion) - 32:27.89 - PB
6. Korei Omata (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 32:37.89 - PB
7. Misato Horie (Team Noritz) - 32:44.00 - PB
8. Yoshiko Fujinaga (Team Shiseido) - 32:44.60
9. Kumi Ogura (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 32:50.36 - PB
10. Akane Sekino (Team Hokuren) - 32:53.44 - PB

Men's 10000 m B-Heat
1. Kazuhiro Kuga (Komazawa Univ.) - 28:32.32 - PB
2. Minato Oishi (Team Toyota) - 28:42.29
3. Wataru Ueno (Komazawa Univ.) - 28:42.89 - PB
4. Kohei Matsumura (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) - 28:44.18
5. Shunsuke Nomura (Team Osaka Gas) - 28:47.04

Men's 5000 m A-Heat
1. Joseph Onsarigo (Kenya/Sozo Gakuen Univ.) - 13:46.85
2. Tomoya Shirayanagi (Team Toyota Boshoku) - 13:49.67
3. Yasuhiro Tago (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 13:51.98
4. Masato Kikuchi (Meiji Univ.) - 13:54.16
5. Yuki Arimura (Meiji Univ.) - 13:55.01

Women's 3000 m A-Heat
1. Ayaka Mori (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 9:17.68
2. Riko Matsuzaki (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 9:18.82
3. Natsuki Morita (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 9:19.32
4. Arina Urakawa (Meijo Univ.) - 9:20.15
5. Sayuri Sendo (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 9:20.42

(c) 2011 Brett Larner

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Deki Leads Aoyama Gakuin to National University Ekiden Kanto Qualifier Win

by Brett Larner



Aoyama Gakuin University cleaned up at the June 25 National University Ekiden Kanto Regional Qualifier meet, its runners taking three of the four 10000 m heats to put the school into the winner's circle for Aoyama Gakuin's first-ever Nationals appearance. Combined with Aoyama Gakuin's seeded finish at January's Hakone Ekiden to qualify for both the 2011 Izumo Ekiden and the 2012 Hakone Ekiden, this season will be the school's first time making all three major university men's ekidens.

With four heats of 10000 m and twenty schools fielding two runners apiece in each heat, the final team standings at the meet are determined by the combined times of all eight runners from each school, an unusual format in the Japanese distance running world. Aoyama Gakuin was already in the lead after a win by junior Takuya Yokoyama in heat two, and junior Ryotaro Otani's breakaway win in heat three helped to extend the school's slim lead over rival Teikyo University.

Most assumed that Takushoku University sophomore Duncan Muthee, one of only two men in the Kanto university region with a 10000 m PB under 28 minutes, would run away with the race, and with a 2:46 first kilometer it certainly looked that way. Aoyama Gakuin's star runner, junior Takehiro Deki, started more conservatively in the chase pack but very shortly took off in pursuit of Muthee and Chuo Gakuin University junior Keisuke Fujii, the only runner to try to stay with Muthee. When Deki made contact the pace slowed, allowing other to catch up and changing the race into something more tactical.

Fast-forward to 9000 m, when Deki surged to try to break Muthee and the other competition with a long push to the finish. The pair dropped all rivals and it looked like a predictable outcome, one where Muthee with his sub-28 speed would tail 29:04 man Deki until the final 200 m before dropping him with ease, but the pair was not expecting company. Up from nowhere came Josai University first-year Kota Murayama, the identical twin of the far more well-known Komazawa University first-year Kenta Murayama. Kota was never in the race but dropped a 57-second last lap to overtake Muthee and Deki going around the last curve just as Muthee was moving away from Deki. It must have been a shock. Muthee couldn't answer Murayama's finishing speed, but an even bigger shock came when Deki could. Summoning up a last kick from nowhere, Deki retook the lead from Murayama and crossed the line in first with a slim new PB of 29:02.10.

The team results contained quite a few surprises, with Aoyama Gakuin qualifying for the first time and relatively young schools Teikyo, Josai and Jobu all making the cut while powerhouse Yamanashi Gakuin University's 25-year streak of qualifying for Nationals was broken, the first time it has not qualified since it became the first university to recruit Kenyans. Other traditional top distance schools Chuo University and Nittai University barely limped into the qualifying bracket, while multiple past national champion Juntendo University and several other older schools joined Yamanashi Gakuin on the bench. Taken all together it's more evidence of a shift in the power balance in Kanto, a move among second-tier high school talent away from older, more established schools toward smaller, newer schools with young coaches willing to try new approaches.



2011 National University Ekiden Kanto Regional Qualifier
National Stadium, Tokyo, 6/25/11
Team Results
top six teams qualify for the National University Ekiden
1. Aoyama Gakuin Univ. - 3:58:24.19
2. Teikyo Univ. - 3:58:29.85
3. Josai Univ. - 3:58:59.11
4. Chuo Univ. - 3:59:05.72
5. Nittai Univ. - 3:59:48.92
6. Jobu Univ. - 3:59:49.52
-----
7. Koku Gakuin Univ. - 3:59:54.28

Men's 10000 m Heat 4
1. Takehiro Deki (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 29:02.10 - PB
2. Kota Murayama (Josai Univ.) - 29:03.22
3. Duncan Muthee (Kenya/Takushoku Univ.) - 29:06.62
4. Ryota Matoba (Juntendo Univ.) - 29:08.51
5. Shota Shinjo (Chuo Univ.) - 29:09.38
6. Shun Sato (Jobu Univ.) - 29:09.79
7. Toshikatsu Ebina (Teikyo Univ.l) - 29:10.11
8. Takumi Honda (Nittai Univ.) - 29:12.02
9. Takamitsu Hashimoto (Josai Univ.) - 29:13.33
10. Masaru Aoki (Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) - 29:13.77

Men's 10000 m Heat 3
1. Ryotaro Otani (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 29:48.87
2. Shota Kimura (Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) - 29:52.72
3. Mitsunori Asaoka (Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) - 29:53.28
4. Jo Fukuda (Kokushikan Univ.) - 29:53.43
5. Yuki Tago (Hosei Univ.) - 29:54.53

Men's 10000 m Heat 2
1. Takuya Yokoyama (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 29:42.01
2. Kiyotaka Miyazawa (Koku Gakuin Univ.) - 29:46.92
3. Hironori Ono (Kokushikan Univ.) - 29:47.51

Men's 10000 m Heat 1
1. Ryuichi Kagawa (Teikyo Univ.) - 29:48.29
2. Ryota Matono (Juntendo Univ.) - 29:49.21
3. Tatsuya Oike (Juntendo Univ.) - 29:49.32

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Kinukawa Again With 31:10.02 For All-Time Japanese #4 at Abashiri 10000 m

by Brett Larner

Ten days after staging a big comeback with a 15:09.96 national 5000 m title, the all-time sixth-best by a Japanese woman, Megumi Kinukawa (Team Mizuno) did it again, running a solo 31:10.02 at the June 22 Hokuren Distance Challenge Abashiri Meet 10000 m to become the all-time fourth-fastest Japanese woman over the distance. More impressive than her time, which cleared the World Championships A-standard by over 30 seconds and makes a double in Daegu very likely, was the way she paced the race. After a 15:45 first half Kinukawa gradually ratcheted up her pace, negative splitting with a 15:25 second half which included 9:09 for the final 3000 m and a superb 2:58 final km. Although rain shortly before the race helped to lower temperatures, conditions at the finish were still a less-than-ideal 20 degrees with 81% humidity. In light of this and her conservative first half it's exciting to consider what might be in store for Kinukawa against a more competitive, aggressive field like that she'll face in Daegu.

With Kinukawa's nearest competition over a minute behind there was little else noteworthy in the race, but roughly half the field recorded new PB marks. The same was true in the A-heat of the men's 5000 m, won by Kenyan John Thuo (Team Toyota) in 13:15.53. Six of the top ten ran new PBs, among them first-year Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.), best known for his 28:23.18 as a high school senior last fall, and Kazuki Onishi (Team Kanebo), the lesser-known identical twin of 2010's top Japanese 10000 m and half-marathon runner Tomoya Onishi (Team Asahi Kasei).

The Hokuren Distance Challenge continues on Saturday in Fukagawa, Hokkaido.

2011 Hokuren Distance Challenge Abashiri Meet
Abashiri, Hokkaido, 6/22/11
Women's 10000 m
1. Megumi Kinukawa (Team Mizuno) - 31:10.02 - PB
2. Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 32:15.09
3. Hiroko Shoi (Team Nihon ChemiCon) - 32:17.39 - PB
4. Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 32:23.29
5. Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya) - 32:50.50
6. Hitomi Nakamura (Team Panasonic) - 32:50.75 - PB
7. Ayumi Sakaida (Team Daihatsu) - 32:59.09 - PB
8. Yuka Hakoyama (Team Wacoal) - 33:13.40
9. Asami Kato (Team Panasonic) - 33:16.21 - PB
10. Shiori Kakizaki (Team Wacoal) - 33:26.50 - debut

Men's 5000 m - Heat A
1. John Thuo (Keyna/Team Toyota) - 13:15.53 - PB
2. Edward Waweru (Kenya/Team NTN) - 13:18.94
3. Daisuke Shimizu (Team Kanebo) - 13:38.42 - PB
4. Assefe Fekele (Ethiopia/Team Kanebo) - 13:40.98 - PB
5. James Rungar (Kenya/Team Toyota) - 13:41.41
6. Kenta Matsumoto (Team Toyota) - 13:43.76 - PB
7. Kazuharu Takai (Team Kyudenko) - 13:46.78
8. Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.) - 13:47.19 - PB
9. Kazuki Onishi (Team Kanebo) - 13:48.82 - PB
10. Kazuki Tomaru (Team Toyota) - 13:50.57

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

High School Regionals Girls' 3000 m National Roundup - 33 Under 9:30

by Brett Larner

The regional qualifier meets for next month's National High School Track and Field Championships took place across Japan between June 17 and 20. Of particular note as an illustration of the depth and development of Japanese distance running at the high school level, the girls' 3000 m event featured thirty Japanese and three Kenyan girls under 9:30 between nine regional meets over the weekend. By contrast, according to the ARRS database only four American high school girls broke 9:30 for 3000 m in all of 2010, with three so far this season.

Kenyan Susan Wylim of Sera H.S. was the top of the crowd with a meet record 9:03.89 at the Chugoku regional meet. Sera's Charles Ndirangu also won the boys' 5000 m with a meet record of 13:44.61. Sera H.S. is most well-known for producing Bitan Karoki (Kenya/Team S&B), who earlier this season won Stanford Univesity's Cardinal Invitational 10000 m in stunning style.

Three other girls, all Japanese, broke 9:10 in the Chugoku and North Kyushu regional meets, the fastest of them Tomoka Kimura (Chikushi Jogakuen H.S.) who clocked 9:05.19 for the win in North Kyushu. With nine girls nationwide at 9:15 or faster and another half-dozen close behind the National Championships 3000 m should be dramatic and fast-paced. Kimura and Chugoku runner-up Katsuki Suga (Kojokan H.S.) will represent Japan in the 3000 m at next month's World Youth Championships in Lille, France.

Regionals action continues with the Hokkaido Regional H.S. T&F Championships June 21-24.

2011 Chugoku Regional H.S. T&F Championships
Hiroshima, 6/17-19/11
Girls' 3000 m
1. Susan Wylim (Kenya/Sera H.S.) - 9:03.89
2. Katsuki Suga (Kojokan H.S.) - 9:09.53
3. Miyuki Oka (Kojokan H.S.) - 9:15.48
4. Yuki Maekawa (Tottori Chuo Ikuei H.S.) - 9:20.49
5. Yoshie Fukuya (Saikyo H.S.) - 9:25.82

2011 North Kyushu Regional H.S. T&F Championships
Kitakyushu, 6/16-19/11
Girls' 3000 m
1. Tomoka Kimura (Chikushi Jogakuen H.S.) - 9:05.19
2. Shiori Yano (Kitakyushu Shiritsu H.S.) - 9:07.19
3. Shiho Mihara (Isahaya H.S.) - 9:29.83

2011 Tokai Regional H.S. T&F Championships
Ecopa Stadium, Fukuroi, 6/17-19/11
Girls' 3000 m
1. Wainaina Murgi (Kenya/Toyokawa H.S.) - 9:10.80
2. Mai Shoji (Okazaki Gakuen H.S.) - 9:14.99
3. Yuka Ando (Toyokawa H.S.) - 9:15.18
4. Maki Sakakibara (Hamakitanishi H.S.) - 9:15.63
5. Saria Kurokawa (Toyokawa H.S.) - 9:19.00
6. Masao Kiyota (Chukyo Prep H.S.) - 9:19.52

2011 South Kanto Regional H.S. T&F Championships
Chiba Sports Center Stadium, Chiba, 6/17-20/11
Girls' 3000 m
1. Yuriko Kosaki (Narita H.S.) - 9:17.16
2. Momoko Akiyama (Hakuho Joshi H.S.) - 9:18.41
3. Sakiko Naito (Shiritsu Funabashi H.S.) - 9:28.91

2011 Kinki Regional H.S. T&F Championships
Nagai Stadium, Osaka, 6/16-19/11
Girls' 3000 m
1. Mika Kobayashi (Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 9:21.22
2. Ayano Ikeuchi (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 9:21.51
3. Nanako Kanno (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 9:21.61
4. Moe Kyuma (Abe H.S.) - 9:23.92
5. Mizuki Matsuda (Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S.) - 9:25.01
6. Haruka Kyuma (Abe H.S.) - 9:26.41
7. Ayana Takeuchi (Nara Ikuei H.S.) - 9:29.39

2011 North Kanto Regional H.S. T&F Championships
Chiba Sports Center Stadium, Chiba, 6/17-20/11
Girls' 3000 m
1. Miyuki Gokan (Tokiwa H.S.) - 9:23.09
2. Miki Kobayashi (Inagakuen H.S.) - 9:25.49
3. Asuka Nagai (Tokiwa H.S.) - 9:31.75

2011 South Kyushu Regional H.S. T&F Championships
Kagoshima, 6/16-18/11
Girls' 3000 m
1. Nozomi Nishiyama (Kamimura Gakuen H.S.) - 9:23.83
2. Misuzu Nakahara (Kamimura Gakuen H.S.) - 9:26.05
3. Ayano Kubo (Kobayashi H.S.) - 9:26.71
4. Marina Otsu (Kobayashi H.S.) - 9:28.77
5. Mio Chijiwa (Chiharadai H.S.) - 9:29.96

2011 Tohoku Regional H.S. T&F Championships
Aomori, 6/17-20/11
Girls' 3000 m
1. Rosemary Wanjiru (Aomori Yamada H.S.) - 9:24.23
2. Natsumi Yoshida (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) - 9:30.09
3. Rina Koeda (Tamura H.S.) - 9:33.59

2011 Shikoku Regional H.S. T&F Championships
Naruto, 6/18-20/11
Girls' 3000 m
1. Yui Okada (Mima H.S.) - 9:29.35
2. Rina Nabeshima (Yamada H.S.) - 9:31.73
3. Sena Takahashi (Yamada H.S.) - 9:39.94

2011 Hokushinetsu Regional H.S. T&F Championshipsi
Fukui, 6/17-19/11
Girls' 3000 m
1. Miwa Yokoyama (Niigata Meikun H.S.) - 9:30.27
2. Nao Takahashi (Takada H.S.) - 9:30.71
3. Saki Fukui (Toyama Shogyo H.S.) - 9:31.08

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Kawauchi Fully Recovered and Still Planning to Run Sapporo

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/osaka/sports/article/news/20110621-OHO1T00130.htm

translated by Brett Larner

On the Japanese national team for the Sept. 4 Daegu World Championships men's marathon, Yuki Kawauchi (24, Saitama Pref.), visited an elementary and junior high school on the island of Oki in Shimane prefecture on June 20. A day earlier while running in the lead of the local Okinoshima 50 km ultramarathon Kawauchi passed out in the final few hundred meters and was taken to a hospital for emergency treatment. "I blacked out with somewhere around 1 km left," he said. "When I came to I was in an ambulance. My temperature right afterwards was around 38 degrees, but I'm OK now. I went to pay my respects at my ancestors' graves, and I got a lot of my strength back from all the energy of the children at the school." Declaring that he feels fully recovered, Kawauchi said he plans to resume normal training on June 21 and to run the July 3 Sapporo International Half Marathon as planned.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Jeilan 27:09.02 at Hokuren Distance Challenge Kitami Meet

by Brett Larner

The first meet of the 2011 Hokuren Distance Challenge series took place June 19 in Kitami, Hokkaido. With cooler than usual temperatures 2006 world 10000 m junior champion and 2008 world junior XC champion Ibrahim Jeilan (Ethiopia/Team Honda) delivered the biggest result of the evening, a solo 27:09.02 nearly a minute ahead of runner-up Alex Mwangi (Kenya/Team YKK). Jeilan's time was the third-fastest of the year by an Ethiopian, putting him into consideration for the Ethiopian team for August's Daegu World Championships. In 5th, third-year Yuki Maeda (Waseda Univ.), whose excellent run on the first day of this year's Hakone Ekiden was instrumental in keeping Waseda in contention for the win, became the latest Waseda runner to break 29 minutes as he clocked a PB of 28:54.34. Ten men on the roster of Waseda's 2010-2011 squad held PBs under 29 minutes.

In the women's 5000 m, 2011 East Japan Corporate T&F 10000 m champion Hiroko Shoi (Team Nihon ChemiCon) ran a strong 15:32.13, the third-best so far this year by a Japanese woman. The meet's other most notable result came in the men's 1500 m A-heat, where Kenyan Edward Waweru (Team NTN) ran a PB of 3:38.90, the fastest time of the year so far on Japanese soil.

The Hokuren Distance Challenge continues June 22 in Abashiri, Hokkaido.

2011 Hokuren Distance Challenge Kitami Meet
Kitami, Hokkaido, 6/19/11
Men's 10000 m
1. Ibrahim Jeilan (Ethiopia/Team Honda) - 27:09.02
2. Alex Mwangi (Kenya/Team YKK) - 28:01.50
3. Assefa Fekele (Ethiopia/Team Kanebo) - 28:32.86
4. Takehiro Arakawa (Team Asahi Kasei) - 28:52.60
5. Yuki Maeda (Waseda Univ.) - 28:54.34
6. Kazuki Onishi (Team Kanebo) - 28:55.90
7. Ryotaro Nitta (Team Konica Minolta) - 28:58.31
8. Naoto Yoneda (Team Konica Minolta) - 29:07.93
9. Fumihiro Maruyama (Team Asahi Kasei) - 29:09.11
10. Shota Hiraga (Waseda Univ.) - 29:09.75

Women's 5000 m
1. Hiroko Shoi (Team Nihon ChemiCon) - 15:32.13
2. Misako Onishi (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 15:46.64
3. Risa Kikuchi (Team Hitachi) - 15:48.61
4. Chieko Kido (Canon AC Kyushu) - 15:58.42
5. Korei Omata (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 16:03.06
6. Eri Watanabe (Team Panasonic) - 16:06.54
7. Haruka Igarashi (Team Nihon ChemiCon) - 16:08.62
8. Miku Yamamoto (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 16:09.31
9. Risa Nakamura (Team Hitachi) - 16:09.61
10. Yuri Umemura (Team Panasonic) - 16:10.29

Men's 3000 m
1. Kosuke Murasashi (Team YKK) - 8:13.89
2. Wataru Yamaguchi (Team Hitachi Cable) - 8:16.24
3. Makoto Hasegawa (Team Hitachi Cable) - 8:17.51

Women's 3000 m
1. Rose Maranga (Kenya/Team Toto) - 9:14.17
2. Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya) - 9:16.42
3. Kazumi Hashimoto (Team Hokuren) - 9:27.42

Men's 1500 m A-Heat
1. Edward Waweru (Kenya/Team NTN) - 3:38.90
2. Sang-Min Sin (Korea) - 3:42.38
3. Kazunari Murakami (Team Fujitsu) - 3:43.70

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Kawauchi Taken to Hospital After Suffering Heat Stroke Near End of 50 km Ultra

http://www.fnn-news.com/news/headlines/articles/CONN00201759.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Click photo to enlarge.

2011 World Championships marathon team member Yuki Kawauchi (24, Saitama Pref.) was taken to the hospital after collapsing just before the finish of the Okinoshima 50 km ultramarathon in Shimane prefecture on June 19.

An amateur runner, Kawauchi earned his ticket to the Daegu World Championships by finishing 3rd at February's Tokyo Marathon in 2:08:37. He ran the Okinoshima race, located on the island where his late father was born, as a practice run for the World Championships. Running at a pace of 37 minutes per 10 km over the difficult, hilly course Kawauchi led the race the whole way, but in the last km he fell repeatedly before finally losing consciousness with 600 m to go. According to a spectator, Kawauchi was, "bent over, leaning forward. He was weaving back and forth and looked like he was out cold on his feet."

A race official said that Kawauchi was taken to a local hospital suffering from heat stroke and dehydration, but that he had regained consciousness and could speak. He was treated and was not expected to be kept in the hospital overnight. The race began at 11:30 a.m. with afternoon temperatures peaking at 25 degrees, 86% humidity, strong sunshine and light winds.

Yuki Kawauchi Reportedly Collapses at 50 km Ultramarathon

by Brett Larner

2011 World Championships marathon team member Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) reportedly collapsed shortly before the finish line of today's Okinoshima 50 km ultramarathon and was taken away by ambulance to receive emergency medical treatment. Kyoto-based ultra runner Yotsuba70 was at the Okinoshima race to compete in the 100 km division, which started 6 1/2 hours before the 50 km, and was on-hand to see Kawauchi's collapse, reporting it on his Twitter feed. Additional details will be added as they are reported.

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Ozaki 3rd at Steamboat Classic 4-Miler

2011 Steamboat Classic 4-Mile Road Race
Peoria, IL, 6/18/11
Women
1. Diane Nukuri (Burundi) - 20:41
2. Adriana Nelson (U.S.A.) - 20:46
3. Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 20:52
4. Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC) - 21:55
5. Fiona Docherty (New Zealand) - 22:09

Men
1. Kevin Chelimo (Kenya) - 18:02
2. Andrew Lemoncello (U.K.) - 18:06
3. MacDonard Ondara (Kenya) - 18:08
4. Martin Fagan (Ireland) - 18:14
5. Josh Moen (U.S.A.) - 18:22

Friday, June 17, 2011

Florence Kiplagat, Youngjun Ji Headline Sapporo International Half Marathon

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20110616-OHT1T00176.htm?from=related

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On June 16 Rikuren announced the elite field for the July 3 Sapporo International Half Marathon. Headlining the race are 2010 World Half Marathon women's champion Florence Jebet Kiplagat (Kenya) and 2010 Asian Games men's marathon gold medalist Youngjun Ji (Korea). Defending champions Cyrus Njui (Kenya/Team Hitachi Cable) and Yuri Kano (Second Wind AC) and 2009 Sapporo winner Gideon Ngatuny (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) will also return.

At the top of the domestic men's field are three members of the Japanese team for this summer's Daegu World Championships marathon, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.), Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) and Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki). Also in the women's race is 10000 m national record holder Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo). The popular Kawauchi will run Sapporo as one of four tuneup races for the World Championships. "I'd like to break my PB [1:02:40]," he commented when asked about his plans for the race.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Yuki Kawauchi Building Up for World Championships With 50 km Ultra This Sunday

by Brett Larner

Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) became an international name when he finished 3rd at February's Tokyo Marathon, qualifying for the Daegu World Championships marathon with a time of 2:08:37 which made him the top man on the Japanese team despite an existence completely outside the corporate running leagues. At the recent Nittai Time Trials meet Kawauchi ran his last track race of the season before getting into the brunt of his marathon training, running 14:10.32 for 7th in the 5000 m in the midst of a typhoon. Before the race Kawauchi sat down with JRN to talk about his planned World Championships preparations. First up on his schedule is the Okinoshima 50 km ultramarathon this Sunday, June 19.

After Tokyo you said that you need to improve your race between 30 and 35 km. At the press conference announcing the World Championships team you indicated that you are planning to run a 50 km ultra in June. Are you doing the 50 km in order to work on your stamina after 30 km?
No, it's just to try a completely different distance, something I've never done before. Oki, the island in Shimane where the ultra is, has a lot of hills. Some of them on the course are 200 or 300 m high. I think if I try something harder than a marathon then the marathon will become more comfortable. It's not a certified course, but it's a 50 km, at any rate.

That's an unusual choice. Athletes your level don't usually run ultras.
That's true, but you can't get faster if you don't try new things that other people haven't tried. In that respect I think I should do whatever it seems to me like I should do.

It's only two months or so before the World Championships. Are you going to be racing it or doing it as a training run?
No, it's just for practice, not a serious race effort! (laughs) More than a race I'm looking at it as a pace run. Instead of doing my usual 43 km training run in Komazawa Park I'm doing it on an island. My time probably won't be very good, but rather than a time goal I'm looking to cover the whole 50 km distance running solidly. It'll give me confidence, and when it gets tough in the marathon, if I compare it with the 50 km it will seem easier. I think it's vitally important to get that experience.

The World Championships will be your third race outside Japan. Both of your previous races, your win at the New Caledonia Half Marathon and your course record at the Guam Half Marathon, were in relatively hot places. I read somewhere recently that you said you think you are weak in the heat.
That's right. Last summer I had problems running in the heat and my condition kind of broke down for a while. I talked to a lot of people for advice but just kept feeling terrible and was only running about 100 km a week. I stopped working with my coach from university and really thought about taking some time off. I had a lot of problems. But, I went and did a lot of trail running up in the mountains and got a good base back together.

So, yes, I'm not that strong in the heat, but I think the problem last year was that I was doing all my running in the heat. This year I'm planning to travel on weekends to do more training in cooler places. The World Championships marathon is just one run, so I think I can cope with it. Humans are capable of doing the impossible if they focus on one particular moment, but they can't do it every day. I think you can run beyond your ability if you really concentrate on that one run.

Wanjiru and Kirui won the Beijing Olympics and Berlin World Championships in 2:06. I don't think the Ethiopian team for Daegu has been announced yet, but the Kenyan team is solid gold, all top guys. Looking at a team like that, do you feel confident in your own running?
I think I can run a competitive race. A medal might not be feasible even if I give it 100%, but if you look at top six, top eight, the performances fall off. I think it's completely realistic to believe I can get in at that level.

Since Tokyo you've gotten financial support from the federation to help with your training for the World Championships. Are you doing anything differently?
No, my training and my work haven't changed at all. Economically it's a little easier to manage thanks to the money from the federation. Well, a lot easier, actually (laughs). But apart from that I don't really want to change anything. At the Gifu Half Marathon I talked to Naoko Takahashi and she told me that the most important thing is just to stay calm, not get carried away, and take things at my own speed.

At the World Championships team lineup announcement press conference you talked a little about your summer training plans. Can you say anything more about them?
I'll be doing a training camp at Mount Zao in Yamagata. I'm also doing a lot of races as training runs. In Hokkaido, apart from the Sapporo International Half Marathon [July 3] I've also entered the Shibetsu Half Marathon [July 24] and the Kushiro 30 km [July 31]. Apart from that, like I said on the weekends I'll be going places where the temperatures are cooler for training and some other races. That's different from last year. Last summer every weekend I ran in hot Komazawa Park and it really took a toll on me. As I said, this time I want to build up a good distance base running in cooler places.

Are you taking time off work for the Yamagata training camp?
I'm trying not to miss any work. There's a long weekend in July, a national holiday, so I'm taking a paid vacation day on the Friday so that I can have four days in Yamagata.



(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

'Yuki Kawauchi, Citizen Runner'

http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2011/06/14/yuki-kawauchi-citizen-marathon-runner/?mod=google_news_blog

Rikuren Announces Japanese Team for Asian Championships

by Brett Larner

On June 15 Rikuren released the lineup of the Japanese team for next month's Asian Athletics Championships, to be held July 7-10 in Kobe. The long distance squads are overall strong, with the men's team in particular featuring the top three Japanese men from both the 5000 m and 10000 m at last weekend's National Championships. The women's team includes the 2nd through 4th place women from the National Championships 5000 m, missing just winner Megumi Kinukawa (Team Mizuno), but is weaker in the 10000 m as only the 4th and 5th-place finishers from Nationals are on the list. A conspicuous absence from both Nationals and the Asian Championships team is top-ranked Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal).

2011 Asian Athletics Championships - Japanese National Team
July 7-10, Kobe, Hyogo

Men's Long Distance
Kazuya Watanabe (Team Shikoku Denryoku)
Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin)
Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Meiji Univ.)
Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.)
Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta)
Tsuyoshi Takeda (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC)
Hiroyoshi Umegae (Team NTN)
Aoi Matsumoto (Team Otsuka Seiyaku)

Women's Long Distance
Hitomi Niiya (Chiba Pref.)
Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshokki)
Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya)
Kaoru Nagao (Team Univ. Ent.)
Hitomi Nakamura (Team Panasonic)
Minori Hayakari (Kyoto Koka AC)
Misato Horie (Team Noritz)

Men's Middle Distance
Masato Yokota (Team Fujitsu)
Takeshi Kuchino (Team Fujitsu)
Hiroshi Ino (Team Fujitsu)
Yuya Konishi (Team Toyota Kyushu)

Women's Middle Distance
Akari Kishikawa (Hasegawa AC)
Ruriko Kubo (Team Edion)
Mika Kobayashi (Suma Gakuen H.S.)
Akane Yabushita (Ritsumeikan Univ.)

Men's Sprints
Masahi Eriguchi (Team Osaka Gas)
Yusuke Kotani (Ritsumeikan Univ.)
Sota Kawatsura (Chuo Univ.)
Hitoshi Saito (Team Sunmesse)
Yuichi Kobayashi (Hosei Univ.)
Shota Iizuka (Chuo Univ.)
Yuzo Kanemaru (Team Otsuka Seiyaku)
Hideyuki Hirose (Keio Univ.)
Yusuke Ishitsuka (Team Mizuno)
Shinji Takahira (Team Fujitsu)
Kei Takase (Team Fujitsu)

Women's Sprints
Kana Ichikawa (Chukyo Univ.)
Nao Okabe (Team Mizuno)
Momoko Takahashi (Team Fujitsu)
Chisato Fukushima (Hokkaido Hi-Tec AC)
Saori Imai (Gakukan Univ.)
Mio Shingu (Higashi Osaka Univ.)
Chisato Tanaka (Team Kyudenko)
Sayaka Aoki (Team Toho Ginko)

Men's Hurdles
Wataru Yazawa (Hosei Univ.)
Kenji Yahata (Team Monteroza)
Takayuki Kishimoto (Hosei Univ.)
Yuta Imazaki (Team Aima)
Takatoshi Abe (Chukyo Univ.)

Women's Hurdles
Ayako Kimura (Team Edion)
Airi Ito (Kansai Univ.)
Satomi Kubokura (Niigata Albirex AC)
Miyabe Tago (J. Vic AC)
Shiori Miki (Higashi Osaka Univ.)

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Nittai Time Trials 5000 m Results

217th Nittai University Time Trials
June 11-12, Nittai University, Yokohama

Women's 5000 m Heat 22
1. Kaho Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 15:43.27
2. Yuka Kakimi (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 15:45.43
3. Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 16:03.56
4. Yukie Nagata (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 16:06.20
5. Miho Ihara (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 16:07.86
6. Yoko Aizu (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 16:09.28
7. Risa Nakamura (Team Hitachi) - 16:10.96
8. Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 16:13.24
9. Yuki Hidaka (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 16:19.02
10. Misaki Kato (Team Kyudenko) - 16:21.54

Men's 5000 m Heat 27
1. Genki Yagisawa (Meiji Univ.) - 13:55.04
2. Michael Githinji (Kenya/Team Toho Refine) - 13:55.49
3. Hideyuki Anzai (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 13:55.77
4. Ryo Matsumoto (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 13:56.06
5. Shinichi Yamashita (Takigahara SDF Base) - 13:56.16
6. Muryo Takase (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 13:57.91
7. Kazuhiro Kuga (Komazawa Univ.) - 13:58.01
8. Akifumi Okushi (Waseda Univ.) - 13:59.15
9. Yoshihiro Wakamatsu (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 14:09.32
10. Bene Zama (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 14:10.91

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Monday, June 13, 2011

2011 Japanese Nationals - Day Three Results

by Brett Larner

On the final day of this weekend's Japanese National Track & Field Championships in Kumagaya, Saitama, three more athletes secured guaranteed places on the Japanese national team for this summer's Daegu World Championships, with five additional athletes securing the right combination of placing and time to stand a chance of being selected for the team. Below is a summary of results from all event finals held on Day Three of the championships.

In noteworthy performances apart from the men's and women's 5000 m:

-2009 World Championships men's javelin medalist Yukifumi Murakami (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) threw a meet record 82.75 m on his first throw of the day to secure his twelfth-straight national title and a place in Daegu.

-Six-time defending men's 400 m champion Yuzo Kanemaru (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) made it seven. Kanemaru was challenged in the home straight by Hideyuki Hirose (Keio Univ.) who finished less than 0.2 seconds behind thanks to a strong finish.

-Defending champions Masato Yokota (Team Fujitsu) and Satomi Kubokura (Niigata Albirex AC) won again in the men's 800 m and women's 400 mH. 100 m champion Chisato Fukushima (Hokkaido Hi-Tec) AC doubled with the 200 m win and will likely double in Daegu. Other past champions including Masashi Eriguchi (Team Osaka Gas) and Kumiko Imura (iDEAR AC) took back their titles but have yet to clear the World Championships qualifying standards. For many, their chances will come at next month's Asian Track & Field Championships, to be held in Kobe in early July.

For video of track events from the final day of the National Championships click the event headers in the results listings below.

2011 Japanese National Track & Field Championships - Day Three
Kumagaya Dome, Kumagaya, Saitama, 6/12/11
Athletes in bold have secured places on the Daegu World Championships team.
Athletes in italics have possibility of being selected for a place on the Japanese team.

1. Megumi Kinukawa (Team Mizuno) - 15:09.96 - PB
2. Hitomi Niiya (Chiba Pref.) - 15:20.35
3. Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 15:42.85

1. Bitan Karoki (Kenya/Team S&B) - 13:15.76 - PB
2. Kazuya Watanabe (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 13:37.41
3. Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 13:38.19

1. Akari Kishikawa (Hasegawa AC) - 2:03.34
2. Ruriko Kubo (Team Edion) - 2:04.46
3. Ayako Jinnouchi (Team Kyudenko) - 2:05.78

1. Masato Yokota (Team Fujitsu) - 1:47.24
2. Takefumi Noguchi (Team Fujitsu) - 1:48.34
3. Yasuhiro Makino (Yutic AC) - 1:48.36

1. Satomi Kubokura (Niigata Albirex AC) - 55.81
2. Miyabi Tago (J. Vic AC) - 56.90
3. Shiori Miki (Higashi Osaka Univ.) - 56.92

1. Yuzo Kanemaru (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 45.68
2. Hideyuki Hirose (Keio Univ.) - 45.84
3. Yusuke Ishitsuka (Team Mizuno) - 46.20

1. Chisato Fukushima (Hokkaio Hi-Tec AC) - 23.44
2. Hanna Ichikawa (Chukyo Univ.) - 23.62
3. Nao Okabe (Team Mizuno) - 23.97

1. Ayako Kimura (Team Edion) - 13.32
2. Airi Ito (Kansai Univ.) - 13.48
3. Chie Kiriyama (Chukyo Univ.) - 13.56

1. Masashi Eriguchi (Team Osaka Gas) - 10.38
2. Yusuke Otani (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 10.40
3. Sota Kawatsura (Chuo Univ.) - 10.49

Women's Long Jump
1. Kumiko Imura (iDEAR AC) - 6.39 m

Women's Discus
1. Yuka Murofushi (Team Mizuno) - 51.85 m

Men's High Jump
1. Naoto Tobe (Tsukuba Univ.) - 2.22 m

Men's Javelin
1. Yukifumi Murakami (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 82.75 m - MR

Men's Shot Put
1. Yohei Murakawa (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 18.35 m

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Kinukawa Back From Zero With 15:09.96 Nationals 5000 m Win

by Brett Larner

10000 m junior national record holder Megumi Kinukawa (Team Mizuno) has made a resounding comeback from over three years of injury and illness, running a nearly 20-second PB of 15:09.96 to win the Japanese National Track & Field Championships women's 5000 m and clear the World Championships A-standard. Coached by Takao Watanabe, the Sendai Ikuei H.S. head coach who took Samuel Wanjiru from being an average Kenyan teen to a half marathon and junior 10000 m world record holder and who left Sendai Ikuei to become her personal coach, Kinukawa has been quietly working her way back up this season and seemed as surprised as anybody in post-race interviews. "I thought that today if everything went OK I'd go for my PB [15:27.98], but the A-standard...." Written off by many as a casualty before her inspirational performance, Kinukawa's time makes her all-time #6 on the Japanese 5000 m lists and earned her a place on the Daegu team.

Kenyan Bitan Karoki (Team S&B) took the men's 5000 m with the same race strategy he used to win May's Cardinal Invitational 10000 m, jogging in the pack through 2000 m before dropping a 2:33 km to sail away to the win in 13:15.76. The two leading Japanese men of 2011, Kazuya Watanabe (Team Shikoku Denryoku) and 10000 m national champion Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) were left to battle it out for the domestic championship title, with Watanabe winning the sprint finish over Sato for the second time this season.



Hitomi Niiya (Chiba Pref.), 2011's leading Japanese woman prior to the race, took the race out fast, going from 75 seconds for the first lap to 70 seconds for the next. Not even her Kenyan former teammate Ann Karindi (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) could follow at that speed, but as Niiya pulled away Kinukawa likewise accelerated away from the pack. Slowing from national record to PB pace, Niiya's lead over Kinukawa stabilized at roughly 4 seconds. In the second half Niiya continued to slow as Kinukawa held steady, eating up the ground before surging past into the lead on the back straight before 4000 m. Finishing just three seconds off her PB in 15:20.35, Niiya was devastated post-race. Nevertheless, with a B-standard time she has a good chance of being put on the Daegu team alongside Kinukawa thanks to the younger runner's A-standard performance. Her coach Yoshio Koide commented via Twitter, "Niiya was great. She's gotten a lot stronger."

2008 national champion and 1500 m national record holder Yuriko Kobayashi, another former teammate of Niiya's at Toyota Jidoshokki, was almost an afterthought in 3rd, running a season-best 15:42.85 as she continues her own comeback from injury. Most of the best university runners were flat, with the top performance coming from Mai Ishibashi (Bukkyo Univ.) in 6th with a 15:49.18 just behind her former teammate Kasumi Nishihara (Team Yamada Denki). With Kinukawa only 21, Niiya just turned 23 and Kobayashi 22, Japan could be looking at the next generation of women ready to step into the current vacuum among its top talent. Interestingly, all three have challenged the corporate ekiden team system, with Kinukawa getting independent sponsorship from Mizuno after graduating high school and saying she didn't want to spend her time running ekidens, Niiya leaving her team following their move in April to stay with coach Koide and run as an independent, and Kobayashi simultaneously studying in university and running for the Toyota Jidoshokki team, an arrangement which resulted in her being banned from corporate league competition. The next five years should be dramatic as all three move into their prime. As evidenced by the small number of women in this year's Nationals 1500 m, 5000 m and 10000 m, they are needed, none more so maybe than Kinukawa. It seems unlikely that she will follow through on earlier plans to shoot for the marathon in the London Olympics, but with her first national title behind her at age 21 there is still plenty of time ahead.



Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) duly led the men through 2000 m until Karoki's big play. Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Meiji Univ.) and Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.) were the only ones to try to follow, with a group of pro men including Watanabe and Sato taking their time working their way back up to the two university men. After they regained contact by 3000 m the Japanese pack's pace slackened and allowed others to catch up, leaving ten in contention at the bell. With the pace too slow for anyone to break the World Championships B-standard of 13:27.00 it came down to a matchup between Watanabe and Sato, the only two Japanese men in the field already holding World Championships-qualifying marks.

Yoroizaka held on for 4th in 13:39.88, just a fraction of a second off his PB. Yusuke Takabayashi (Team Toyota), who ran well in Friday's 10000 m, was 5th in 13:40.54, less than two seconds off his PB after leading the pack in the last part of the race. Defending national champion Yuki Matsuoka (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) finished far down the field in 12th, running 13:49.70. Watanabe's defeat of Sato means that Japan may field athletes in all four World Championships track distance events, something that doesn't happen every time. A former middle distance specialist, in his first year seriously racing the 5000 m Watanabe has shown rapid improvement and superior finishing speed. With further improvement and better conditions he may well have a chance of going after the national record of 13:13.20 held by Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) since 2007.

2011 Japanese National Track & Field Championships
Kumagaya Dome, Kumagaya, Saitama, 6/12/11
Women's 5000 m
1. Megumi Kinukawa (Team Mizuno) - 15:09.96 - PB
2. Hitomi Niiya (Chiba Pref.) - 15:20.35
3. Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 15:42.85
4. Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya) - 15:44.28
5. Kasumi Nishihara (Team Yamada Denki) - 15:46.57
6. Mai Ishibashi (Bukkyo Univ.) - 15:49.18
7. Mika Yoshikawa (Team Panasonic) - 15:53.19
8. Risa Takenaka (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 16:01.24
9. Hanae Tanaka (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 16:19.65
10. Yuko Shimizu (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 16:20.01

Men's 5000 m
1. Bitan Karoki (Kenya/Team S&B) - 13:15.76 - PB
2. Kazuya Watanabe (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 13:37.41
3. Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 13:38.19
4. Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Meiji Univ.) - 13:39.88
5. Yusuke Takabayashi (Team Toyota) - 13:40.54
6. Yusei Nakao (Team Toyota Boshoku) - 13:41.99
7. Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.) - 13:43.15
8. Takuya Ishikawa (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 13:44.87
9. Daisuke Shimizu (Team Kanebo) - 13:45.09
10. Takaya Iwasaki (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 13:46.12 - PB

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

New York Mini 10k and Nittai Univ. Time Trials 10000 m Results

2011 New York Mini 10k
New York, 6/11/11
1. Linet Masai (Kenya) - 31:40
2. Aheza Kiros (Ethiopia) - 32:09
3. Belainesh Gebre (Ethiopia) - 32:10
4. Edna Kiplagat (Kenya) - 32:24
5. Emily Chebet (Kenya) - 32:31
6. Kim Smith (New Zealand) - 32:32
7. Jo Pavey (U.K.) - 32:46
8. Alessandra Aguilar (Spain) - 32:56
9. Eloise Wellings (Australia) - 33:06
10. Magdalena Lewy-Bouvet (U.S.A.) - 33:09
-----
13. Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 33:30
18. Yuri Kano (Second Wind AC) - 34:09

Nittai Univ. Time Trials
Yokohama, 6/11/11
1. Masataka Fujiwara (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 29:57.80
2. Arata Fujiwara (Remo System AC) - 29:58.42
3. Daisuke Miyanaga (Team Osaka Gas) - 29:58.97
4. Shunsuke Miyasaka (Senshu Univ.) - 30:03.26
5. Yoshiharu Tateishi (Team Osaka Gas) - 30:02.90

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Saturday, June 11, 2011

2011 Japanese Nationals - Day One and Two Results

by Brett Larner

On the first two days of this weekend's Japanese National Track & Field Championships in Kumagaya, Saitama, five athletes secured guaranteed places on the Japanese national team for this summer's Daegu World Championships. Eight more had the right combination of placing and time to stand a chance of being selected for the team. Below is a summary of results from all event finals held on Day One and Day Two.

In noteworthy performances apart from the men's and women's 10000 m:

-The men's 200 m lived up to expectations as one of the best events of the meet. Beijing Olympics bronze medalist Shinji Takahira (Team Fujitsu) came back from a long injury setback to win the final in 20.49. 2nd and 3rd place Hitoshi Saito (Team Sunmesse) and Yuichi Kobayashi (Hosei Univ.) were both timed at 20.62 and are very likely to join Takahira in Daegu. 2010 world junior champion Shota Iizuka (Chuo Univ.) was 4th in 20.64, just missing a place on the team but with the outside chance of being picked up as alternate.

-High-schooler Mika Kobayashi (Suma Gakuen H.S.) won the women's 1500 m, the first high school national champion in the event since 2005 when future national record holder Yuriko Kobayashi, also of Suma Gakuen, won.

-Defending men's and women's steeplechase champions Tsuyoshi Takeda (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and Minori Hayakari (Kyoto Koka AC) both repeated, although neither was able to meet the Daegu B-standard. 4th-placer Kanako Ushirogata (Juntendo Univ.) set a new national collegiate record of 10:08.41.

-Two-time World Championships men's 400 mH medalist Dai Tamesue (a-meme AC), running in his first National Championships since pre-Beijing, finished only 6th in the final, nearly a second and a half off winner Takayuki Kishimoto (Hosei Univ.) who won in 49.28 to pick up a national team spot.

-Masumi Aya (Maruzen Kogyo Co.) set a women's hammer throw meet record of 66.32 m for the win but missed clearing the B-standard of 69.00.

Reader Bruce Carrick sent in this video on the women's 1500 m. This youtube user also has an exhaustive collection of videos of the track events.

2011 Japanese National Track & Field Championships
Kumagaya Dome, Kumagaya, Saitama, June 10-12
Athletes in bold have secured places on the Daegu World Championships team.
Athletes in italics have possibility of being selected for a place on the Japanese team.

Men's 10000 m
1. Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 28:10.87
2. Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.) - 28:15.63
3. Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta) - 28:20.40

Women's 10000 m
1. Kayo Sugihara (Team Denso) - 32:18.79
2. Remi Nakazato (Team Daihatsu) - 32:20.81*
3. Hikari Yoshimoto (Bukkyo Univ.) - 32:25.77

*Nakazato is running the marathon at the Daegu World Championships.

Men's 3000 m SC
1. Tsuyoshi Takeda (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 8:37.14
2. Hiroyoshi Umegae (Team NTN) - 8:37.69
3. Jun Shinoto (Team Sanyo Tokushu Seiko) - 8:41.80

Women's 3000 m SC
1. Minori Hayakari (Kyoto Koka AC) - 9:52.98
2. Misato Horie (Team Noritz) - 10:02.24
3. Azusa Saito (Niigata Albirex AC) - 10:05.40
4. Kanako Ushirogata (Juntendo Univ.) - 10:08.41 - NUR

Men's 1500 m
1. Hiroshi Ino (Team Fujitsu) - 3:48.59
2. Yuya Konishi (Team Toyota) - 3:48.92
3. Toshiki Imazaki (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 3:49.18

Women's 1500 m
1. Mika Kobayashi (Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 4:20.41
2. Akane Yabushita (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 4:20.54
3. Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya) - 4:20.55

Men's 400 mH
1. Takayuki Kishimoto (Hosei Univ.) - 49.28
2. Yuta Imazeki (Team Aima) - 49.61
3. Takatoshi Abe (Chukyo Univ.) - 49.81
6. Dai Tamesue (a-meme AC) - 50.55

Women's 400 m
1. Miho Shingu (Higashi Osaka Univ.) - 54.16
2. Chisato Tanaka (Team Kyudenko) - 54.27
3. Sayaka Aoki (Team Toho Ginko) - 54.35

Men's 200 m
1. Shinji Takahira (Team Fujitsu) - 20.49
2. Hitoshi Saito (Team Sunmesse) - 20.62
3. Yuichi Kobayashi (Hosei Univ.) - 20.62
4. Shota Iizuka (Chuo Univ.) - 20.64

Men's 110 mH
1. Wataru Yazawa (Hosei Univ.) - 13.86
2. Kenji Yahata (Team Monteroza) - 13.88
3. Yuji Ohashi (Team Mizuno) - 13.89

Women's 100 m
1. Chisato Fukushima (Hokkaido HiTec AC) - 11.39
2. Hanna Ichikawa (Chukyo Univ.) - 11.61
3. Nao Okabe (Team Mizuno) - 11.74

Men's Pole Vault
1. Daichi Sawano (Chiba T&F Assoc.) - 5.40 m

Men's Triple Jump
1. Shinya Sogame (Sagamihara T&F Assoc.) - 16.42 m

Men's Long Jump
1. Yohei Sugai (Team Mizuno) - 7.94 m

Men's Hammer Throw
1. Koji Murofushi (Team Mizuno) - 77.01 m

Men's Discus
1. Shiro Kobayashi (Niigata Nippo Co.) - 55.42 m

Women's Pole Vault
1. Tomomi Abiko (Shiga Lake Stars AC) - 4.20 m

Women's High Jump
1. Miyuki Fukumoto (Konan Gakuen AC) - 1.79 m

Women's Triple Jump
1. Sayuri Takeda (Hokkaido Taiku Univ.) - 13.12 m

Women's Hammer Throw
1. Masumi Aya (Maruzen Kogyo Co.) - 66.32 m - MR

Women's Shot Put
1. Yukino Otani (Kokushikan Univ.) - 15.44 m

Women's Javelin
1. Risa Miyashita (Osaka Taiku Univ.) - 60.08 m
2. Yuki Ebihara (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 59.98 m

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Sato and Sugihara Win First National 10000 m Titles

by Brett Larner

In thick humidity Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) and Kayo Sugihara (Team Denso) won their first national 10000 m titles June 10 on the first day of the 2011 Japanese National Track & Field Championships at Kumagaya Dome in Kumagaya, Saitama. Coming into Nationals already holding World Championships-elligible marks set at May's Cardinal Invitational, both Sato and Sugihara ran conservative, sit-and-kick races to take both their titles, Sato winning the men's race in 28:10.87 and Sugihara the women's race in 32:18.79. Sugihara earned a guaranteed spot on the Daegu World Championships team, with a Sato a provisional entry.



In the absence of defending champion Kensuke Takezawa (Team S&B) and top-ranked men Tomoya Onishi (Team Asahi Kasei) and Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) the race was expected to be between the three fastest men of the year so far, Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta), Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) and Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.), Ugachi and Sato going for the win and Murasawa also bfor the sub-28 B-standard mark he narrowly missed in April. Ugachi's teammate Paul Kuira (Kenya/Team Konica Minolta) took the race out with a 2:44 first km, just under the target A-standard pace, but things slowed with each passing kilometer. JRN favorite Masato Kihara (Team Kanebo) grew impatient and made an effort to get things back on track just before 5000 m, surging ahead of Kuira before the Kenyan regained the lead a lap later.

After a 14:00 first half Kuira departed, leaving Ugachi to take over up front. His former teammates at Komazawa University Yusuke Takabayashi (Team Toyota) and Takuya Fukatsu (Team Asahi Kasei) did their best to stay in the lead pack, while Sato and Murasawa, who both went to Saku Chosei H.S. and Tokai University, ran side-by-side. With two miles to go the lead pack became the expected trio of Ugachi, Murasawa and Sato. It was clear that a sub-28 B-standard was no longer an option, but Murasawa, a junior, still gave it a good shot at beating his pro rivals. He took the lead several times, but each time Ugachi returned while Sato stayed back and let the pair fight it out.

With 600 m to go Murasawa made his big move, surging away and breaking Ugachi. Sato, all-time Japanese #2 over 3000 m and #3 over 10000 m and fresh from a 1500 m PB last month, stayed behind his frantically kicking younger schoolmate until the 9700 m mark before delivering the coup de grace, winning by a margin of 5 seconds. With no A-standard men Sato's B-standard mark and Nationals win likely get him to Daegu, his first time on a World Championships team. His running this season has been a contrast to previous years when he has peaked in late April or early May only to underperform at Nationals. With a consistent pattern of building toward a late-summer peak Sato may be a big surprise at Worlds.

Despite missing both of his goals Murasawa's run was excellent, even in the tough humidity his second-fastest 10000 m ever. Ugachi could not hold to the same form he has shown all spring, possibly pointing toward the same sort of peaking problem Sato has had so far in his pro career, but with plenty of time ahead of him his goal of a sub-27:40 this season still looks in reach. His Komazawa teammates Takabayashi and Fukatsu both made the top 7, while Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) and 19-year-old Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota) both ran smart races, coming up from the second pack late in the race to take 5th and 6th. Rounding out the top eight was yet another Toyota runner, Daegu World Championships marathoner Yoshinori Oda.

Mid-race leader Kihara faded badly, finishing 26th in 29:29.34. Also underperforming in the tough conditions were 2009 national 10000 m champion Yuki Iwai (Team Asahi Kasei), 17th in 29:05.33, 2009 World Championships marathoner Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko), 20th in 29:09.30, and Hakone Ekiden Fifth Stage stars and Fukushima natives Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) and Ryuji Kashiwabara (Toyo Univ.), 16th in 29:01.15 and 24th in 29:25.43.



The women's race was most notable for what it wasn't, with over a third of the field withdrawing at the last minute, among them many of the biggest names including Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal), Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren), Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu), Noriko Matsuoka (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), and Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya). In their absence, the three women on the entry list holding valid World Championships-qualifying times, Kayo Sugihara (Team Denso), collegiate 10000 m record holder Hikari Yoshimoto (Bukkyo Univ.) and World Championships marathon team member Remi Nakazato (Team Daihatsu) set off together on sub-32 pace, accompanied until the final two laps by recent marathon debutante Kaoru Nagao (Team Univ. Ent.). Yoshimoto led the entire race with Nakazato on her heels and Sugihara hanging back until the final 300 m, when both runners went by and left her behind. With 200 m to go Sugihara in turn dropped Nakazato, pulling away to take the win.

With an A-standard mark from Cardinal and the Nationals title to her name Sugihara has a guaranteed place on the Daegu team. Runner-up Nakazato will be running the marathon, a double unlikely although she is qualified with a B-standard mark within the qualifying window. Yoshimoto also holds and A-standard time and, 3rd overall at Nationals, is a likely addition to the World Championships team.

2011 Japanese National T&F Championships
Kumagaya Dome, Kumagaya, Saitama, 6/10/11
click here for complete results

Men's 10000 m
1. Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 28:10.87
2. Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.) - 28:15.63
3. Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta) - 28:20.40
4. Yusuke Takabayashi (Team Toyota) - 28:24.59
5. Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 28:25.24
6. Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota) - 28:27.90
7. Takuya Fukatsu (Team Asahi Kasei) - 28:30.70
8. Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) - 28:32.68
9. Kenta Murotsuka (SDF Academy) - 28:46.67
10. Takuya Ishikawa (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 28:47.05

Women's 10000 m
1. Kayo Sugihara (Team Denso) - 32:18.79
2. Remi Nakazato (Team Daihatsu) - 32:20.81
3. Hikari Yoshimoto (Bukkyo Univ.) - 32:25.77
4. Kaoru Nagao (Team Univ. Ent.) - 32:33.18
5. Hitomi Nakamura (Team Panasonic) - 33:05.56
6. Yuko Shimizu (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 33:06.05
7. Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 33:07.87
8. Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) - 33:48.00
9. Kumi Ogura (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 34:19.45
10. Yuka Hakoyama (Team Wacoal) - 34:43.66

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Thursday, June 9, 2011

2011 Japanese Nationals Day One Preview - 10000 m (updated)

by Brett Larner

updated 6/10/11 to reflect starting list changes

The 2011 Japanese National Track and Field Championships kick off Friday, June 10 in the wildlands of Kumagaya, Saitama. The major selection event for this summer's World Championships team, on their first day this year's Nationals feature primarily heats for the sprints and middle distances along with the finals for a half dozen field events and, what will likely be two of the highlights of the meet, the men's and women's 10000 m.

The men's 10000 m should be one of the most competitive in Japanese history, on paper at the very least. 10 men in the field have broken 28 minutes, 9 of them with valid World Championships B-standard marks. With the unfortunate withdrawal of defending national champion Kensuke Takezawa (Team S&B) and the fastest Japanese man of 2010, Tomoya Onishi (Team Asahi Kasei) the favorite is Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta), strong all year with PB marks at 5000 m, 10000 m and half marathon, the latter two the leading times of the year and in the all-time Japanese top 6. Ugachi's time of 27:41.97 from May's Cardinal Invitational just missed the World Champs A-standard, so look for him to shoot for a sub-27:40 in the hopes of bringing along one of his college teammates Yusuke Takabayashi (Team Toyota) and Takuya Fukatsu (Team Asahi Kasei). Ugachi's main rival will be all-time Japanese #3 Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin), the only man in the field to have ever broken the A-standard time with his 27:38.25 from the 2009 Brutus Hamilton Invitational. Sato has had trouble in the past with peaking too early in the season but appears on track for a fast 10000 m at this stage with a 1500 m PB and his second-best 5000 m time late last month in Nobeoka.

2009 national champion Yuki Iwai (Team Asahi Kasei) is in dubious condition with weak recent marks after a long injury layoff. World Championships marathoner Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) is likely in good shape as he gets into marathon training, but his teammate Takabayashi and Takabayashi's former training partner Fukatsu have had injury troubles and do not sound 100%. Kanebo teammates Masato Kihara and Takeshi Makabe have been out of the public eye for months with no indication of their current condition.

If there is one wildcard who may dictate the type of race we see it should be top-ranked university runner Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.). Murasawa ran a PB of over 40 seconds at April's Hyogo Relay Carnival 10000 m but missed the World Championships B-standard by less than one second, clocking 28:00.78. While most of the top end of the field can afford to let it be a slower race and to simply go for the win to get their World Champs spot, Murasawa has to make sure the race stays fast enough to go sub-28. His collegiate rival Ryuji Kashiwabara (Toyo Univ.) and the constantly-improving Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) are also worth a watch. Keep an eye out for 19-year-old Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota), who broke his 5000 m by 32 seconds a few weeks ago. With a new 13:35 PB he should be in contention for a sub-28 if he has his mileage together.

The women's 10000 m is smaller, made all the more so by the last-minute withdrawal of the two fastest athletes in the field, 2011's leading Japanese woman Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal), World Championships marathon team member Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) and Olympian Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya). The next-best Japanese woman behind Fukushi so far this year, Kayo Sugihara (Team Denso), ran a PB of 31:34.35 at last month's Cardinal Invitational and is the likely favorite for the win. Along with Sugihara collegiate national record holder Hikari Yoshimoto (Bukkyo Univ.) and the strong Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) also hold A-standard times, but both have been less than 100% this season. World Champs marathon team member Remi Nakazato (Team Daihatsu) holds a valid B-standard 10000 m mark of 31:53.22 but may be focusing on her marathon preparations. Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) has broken 32 minutes, but has been in questionable shape this season. With an excellent weather forecast the chance may be there for one of the mid-32 women in the field to step up with a PB. The ones most to watch are Kaoru Nagao (Team Univ. Ent.) and Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal), both of whom ran strong marathon debuts earlier this season.

2011 Japanese National Track and Field Entry List Highlights
Kumagaya, Saitama, June 10-12
names in bold indicate athletes with valid A-standard marks
names in italics indicate athletes with valid B-standard marks
Men's 10000 m
Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 27:38.25
Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta) - 27:41.97
Paul Kuira (Kenya/Team Konica Minolta) - 27:50.26
Masato Kihara (Team Kanebo) - 27:52.75
Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) - 27:53.55
Takeshi Makabe (Team Kanebo) - 27:53.78
Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) - 27:55.17
Takuya Fukatsu (Team Asahi Kasei) - 27:56.29
Yusuke Takabayashi (Team Toyota) - 27:56.46
Yuki Iwai (Team Asahi Kasei) - 27:58.03
Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.) - 28:00.78
Naoko Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 28:05.84
Yoshitaka Iwamizu (Team Fujitsu) - 28:17.80
Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 28:18.15
Ryuji Kashiwabara (Toyo Univ.) - 28:20.99
Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota) - 28:21.00
Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.) - 28:23.18

Women's 10000 m
Hikari Yoshimoto (Bukkyo Univ.) - 31:30.92
Kayo Sugihara (Team Denso) - 31:34.35
Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) - 31:38.71
Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 31:42.86
Remi Nakazato (Team Daihatsu) - 31:53.22
Kaoru Nagao (Team Universal Ent.) - 32:10.46
Yuko Shimizu (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 32:14.71
Yuka Takashima (Team Denso) - 32:22.93
Tomoka Inadomi (Team Wacoal) - 32:26.46
Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) - 32:37.72
Hiromi Chujo (Team Wacoal) - 32:43.02
Yuka Hakoyama (Team Wacoal) - 32:47.22
Hitomi Nakamura (Team Panasonic) - 32:51.63
Kumi Ogura (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 32:53.94

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved