Skip to main content

Taiga Ito Back on Track for Sunday's Hofu Yomiuri Marathon

http://kyushu.yomiuri.co.jp/news-spe/20090507-606401/news/20121212-OYS1T00296.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

If you ask Taiga Ito (26, Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) who he is targeting, he immediately brings up Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) and Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Sagawa Express).  It's not just that he respects them as his former senior teammates at Takushoku University, but something more.  Having missed the London team himself, Ito views the two Olympians as his rivals.  "I don't just want to be like them, I want to beat them," he says.  With that state of mind Ito will make a return to the marathon on the start line of Sunday's Hofu Yomiuri Marathon.

As a general division entrant in Hofu in 2010 Ito took 2nd in 2:15:42, the top Japanese man behind winner Serod Batochir (Mongolia).  The following July he ran his best of 2:13:16 abroad at Australia's Gold Coast Marathon, taking 4th.  But despite making straightforward progress and a boost in his confidence from getting the results and the times he was looking for, his blueprint for making the London team was torn in half.

At the 2011 Fukuoka International Marathon Ito went out at sub-2:10 pace for the first time.  "My training and fitness were perfect," he says, and his taper going into the race was likewise on-target.  Nevertheless, the pace proved too fast and he fell off after only 20 km, ultimately finishing 76th in a dismal 2:29:55.  He made a last-chance bid for the London team two and a half months later at this year's Tokyo Marathon but was only 33rd.  "It hurt to feel how weak I really was," he reflects on his failed Olympic selection race runs.

But despite the crushing defeats Ito did not turn away.  He was soon deep in discussion with Suzuki head coach Takuro Mikata and the team's assistant coaches about where his problems lay.  Their diagnosis: "You can be confident in your stamina, but we need to improve your overall speed."  Ito's new goal was settled.

His new program leading up to his return to the marathon included sessions of full-effort 1000 m and 2000 m repeats, thoroughly polishing his speed.  An indication of his improvement came in October when he set a new 10000 m personal best.  "There have been no mistakes in my training," he says, showing that his lost confidence has fully returned.

Now he is back in Hofu for the first time in two years.  "My goal is to break my PB," he says.  "I want to show the people of Hofu how much I've improved since last time."  In his eighth marathon Ito hopes to relaunch his bid to join the ranks of the world class.

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Daniel and Kawauchi Win Saitama International Marathon

After missing a medal by 3 seconds at August's London World Championships, defending champ Flomena Cheyech Daniel (Kenya) made it two in a row as she won a tight battle against Shitaye Habtegebrel (Bahrain) to win the Saitama International Marathon in 2:28:39.

With the onus on Japanese women Reia Iwada (Dome) and Kaori Yoshida (Team RxL) to break 2:29:00 in order to qualify for Japan's new-format 2020 Olympic trials race, the pair of them did most of the heavy lifting for the first two-thirds of the race. Yoshida led the early kilometers before Iwade took over, and through strong head and tailwinds, over rolling hills and around sharp turns Iwade kept things moving just under target pace, shaking the pack down to just her, Daniel, Habtegebrel and relative unknown Bekelech Daba (Ethiopia) by 15 km.

Little changed up front until after the lead group hit the start of the hilliest 10 km on the course after 25 km. For the first time Iwade slipped to the rear of the pack, and on a …

Ekiden Weekend Roundup

Ekiden season is in full swing, and across the country it was another busy weekend. Although there were four major ekidens nationwide, the best action came as runners from high school to the pros tuned up for the string of national championship ekiden races stretching from the end of this month to mid-January. At Kanagawa's Nittai University Time Trials meet, two-time steeplechase junior world champion Jonathan Ndiku (Hitachi Butsuryu) pipped 5000 m junior world championships bronze medalist William Malel (Honda) at the line in the 10000 m A-heat, winning in 27:22.73 to Malel's 27:22.79. Four other Kenyans including Ndiku's junior teammate Richard Kimunyan broke 28 minutes as their coaches eye who to run at the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden.



Evans Yego of the tiny Sunbelx supermarket team won the more conservative 5000 m A-heat in 13:48.04, a race most notable for high schoolers Luka Musembi (Sendai Ikuei H.S.), Masato Suzuki (Suijo H.S.) and Reito Hanzawa (Gakuho Ishikawa H.S.) …

Breaking Down the Best-Ever Japanese Marathon Times By Country

Japanese marathoners these days have the reputation of rarely racing abroad, and of rarely racing well when they do. Back in the day that wasn't true; Japanese marathoners have won all the World Marathon Majors-to-be except New York, and two of the three Japanese men to have run 2:06 and all three women to have run 2:19 did it outside Japan. Whatever the extent to which things did turn inward along the way, the last few years have seen an uptick in Japanese runners going farther afield and running better there than any others before them.

The lists above and below show the fastest times run by Japanese athletes in different countries to 2:20:00 for men and 2:45:00 for women. Japanese men have run sub-2:20 marathons in 37 countries around the world including Japan, with Japanese women having cleared 2:45 in 33 countries including at home. Breaking it down by IAAF label times, more Japanese men have run label standard times abroad, but women have typically performed at a higher label…