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2012 As Seen By JRN Readers

JRN's most-read articles of 2012 by month:

January
Toyo University takes eight minutes off Hakone Ekiden course record in historic win.Jan. 3
Russian Tatyana Aryasova stripped of 2011 Tokyo Marathon title after testing positive for masking agent. - Jan. 24

February
Kisorio wins deepest-ever Marugame International Half-Marathon. - Feb. 5
2012 Tokyo Marathon preview. - Feb. 23
Kipyego, Habtumu win Tokyo Marathon, Fujiwara back with 2:07:48. - Feb. 26
Kawauchi, 14th in 2:12:52: "I do not think I will be picked" for Olympics; shaves head. - Feb. 27
Gebrselassie gives words of support to Kawauchi. - Feb. 28
Fujiwara's high school coach, hometown supporters delighted with Tokyo performance. - Feb. 28

March
Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon preview. - Mar. 2
Takehiro Deki ahead of Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon debut: "That's where my talent is." - Mar. 2
Ndungu wins debut at Lake Biwa, Szost 2:07:39 sets Polish NR, Yamamoto takes probable Olympic spot. - Mar. 4
Nagoya Women's Marathon preview. - Mar. 9
Russian Mayorova wins largest-ever women-only marathon, Ozaki takes top Japanese spot in Nagoya. - Mar. 11
Japan names London Olympics men's and women's marathon teams. - Mar. 12
Toyo in New York - Kento Otsu, Yuta Shitara and Coach Sakai talk pre-NYC Half. - Mar. 16
Comedian Neko tapped for Cambodian Olympic team in marathon; official announcement due in April. - Mar. 26

April
Top three break course record at Yaizu Minato Half-Marathon. - Apr. 8

May
800 m runner Kieng Samorn chosen for Cambodian Olympic team. - May 22

June
Japan announces complete London Olympics athletics team. - June 11

July
From the Hakone Ekiden to the Olympic marathon - a manifesto. - July 25

August
Arata Fujiwara - his Olympic marathon defeat in his own words. - Aug. 22

September
Kawauchi runs double 1500 m and 5000 m PBs, targets 1500 m at 2013 National Championships. - Sept. 23

October
Kawauchi at the World Half: "My goal is 61 minutes."Oct. 2
Japanese women bronze, Kawauchi shames the system again at World Half-Marathon Championships. - Oct. 6
Izumo Ekiden winner Aoyama Gakuin University head coach Susumu Hara: "We're not quite there yet but we can see it glittering up ahead now." - Oct. 9
The U.S. team talks after second-straight Izumo Ekiden top eight finish. - Oct. 11

November
Tokyo Marathon officially joins World Marathon Majors. - Nov. 1
2009 Yokohama International Women's Marathon winner Abitova given two-year doping suspension. - Nov. 8
Fujiwara's goal in Fukuoka: "Defeat Kawauchi." - Nov. 10
Hyundai, Adidas-sponsored IAAF gold label Beijing Marathon bans Japanese citizens "for their own safety." - Nov. 10
Strong New York ties in Yokohama and Ageo as Moscow World Championships campaign kicks off. - Nov. 15
2012 NCAA XC and 2012 National University Ekiden Championships top five teams compared. - Nov. 20
International Chiba Ekiden preview. - Nov. 22
Kenya over Japan for second-straight International Chiba Ekiden win. - Nov. 23
'Rupp, Puskedra and Japanese distance running.' - Nov. 27
A bolder Arata Fujiwara talks about the training and psychology behind his return from Olympic breakdown. - Nov. 28
2012 Fukuoka International Marathon preview. - Nov. 30

December
Joseph Gitau takes surprise win in Fukuoka in 2:06:58. - Dec. 2
Fukuoka Marathon post-race comments. - Dec. 3
Collegiate 5000 m and 10000 m national champion Omwamba wins Kumamoto Kosa 10-miler. - Dec. 3
Kawauchi wins Hofu in 2:10:46 two weeks after 2:10:29 in Fukuoka, Hosaka gets age 63 world record. - Dec. 16
How I learned to love the ekiden and why you should too. - Dec. 20
Waseda ace Osako to join Salazar's Nike Oregon Project. - Dec. 26

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
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Yuta Shitara Breaks Japanese Men's Half Marathon National Record in Berlin Marathon Tuneup at Usti nad Labem Half

A week after his 28:55 at the Birell Prague Grand Prix 10 km and just eight days out from the Berlin Marathon, Yuta Shitara (Honda) made the great leap forward, taking 8 seconds off Atsushi Sato's 2007 half marathon Japanese national record, finishing 8th at the Czech Republic's Usti nad Labem Half Marathon.

Shitara is probably most well-known outside Japan for going through halfway under 62 minutes during his marathon debut at this year's Tokyo Marathon and still ending up with a 2:09:27, but he's been turning heads in Japan since his second year at Toyo University when he broke a stage record at the 2012 Hakone Ekiden and outkicked the U.S.A.'s Dathan Ritzenhein to finish in 1:01:48 at the NYC Half two months later, until this year the fastest time ever by a Japanese man on U.S soil.

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As a member of Toyo University Shitara was part of two Hakone Ekiden-winning teams before joining Konica Minolta following his graduation in 2014. His first year at Konica Minolta Shitara ran New Year Ekiden national championships' toughest stage, but since his second year he has experienced a slump. Saying, "I need to change my environment in order to get my head straight and back on track," Shitara chose to leave the team at the end of March, returning to Toyo as his training base.

The Hitachi Butsuryu team came into being in April, 2012 as the successor to the Hitachi Cable Marathon Team. It is based in Matsudo, Chiba. Under the leadership of head coach Manabu Kitaguchi, 45, it has grown steadily, placing 10th at this year's New Year Ekiden.…