Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hakone Ekiden Star Kashiwabara to Appear as Guest Runner at Hometown Iwaki Sunshine Marathon

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/news/20120130-OYT1T01091.htm

translated by Brett Larner

The organizers of the 3rd Iwaki Sunshine Marathon to be held Feb. 12 in Iwaki, Fukushima, announced Jan. 30 that Iwaki native Ryuji Kashiwabara, 22, the captain of 2012 Hakone Ekiden winners Toyo University, will run as a special guest at this year's race.  Kashiwabara commented, "I hope that I can give even a little encouragement to everyone in my hometown to help them take another step toward rebuilding."

Kashiwabara is entered in the full marathon, which starts at the Iwaki Civic Track & Field Grounds, and plans to run around 8 km with the other entrants.  Iwaki mayor and race committee director Takao Watanabe* said, "I want to extend my thanks to Kashiwabara for keeping all of us back home in his thoughts ever since the disasters."

*Translator's note: This is not the same Takao Watanabe who coached Samuel Wanjiru and currently coaches Megumi Kinukawa.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Ndirangu, Tsumurai, Komazawa University Set Course Records in Weekend Ekiden Action

by Brett Larner

Along with marathoner Yuki Kawauchi's anchor stage win at the Okumusashi Ekiden, three other ekidens around the country on Sunday saw significant action.

At the biggest of them, the 75th Chugoku Yamaguchi Ekiden, Team Mazda had a surprise upset over local stronghold Team Chugoku Denryoku thanks to a spectacular anchor run from ace Akihiko Tsumurai.  Starting the 11.1 km Seventh Stage 43 seconds behind Chugoku Denryoku anchor Takumi Kiyotani, Tsumurai ran him down and won by three seconds, with Mazda finishing in 4:11:49 for the seven-stage, 84.4 km course to Chugoku Denryoku's 4:11:52.  Tsumurai clocked a new stage record of 31:21, a flat conversion to 28:07 for a road 10 km, just two seconds off the national record held by Chugoku Denryoku's Atsushi Sato.  2011 national champion Sera H.S. was a surprise 3rd in 4:14:13, one second ahead of the pro Team Sagawa Express thanks to a sizeable lead from opening Kenyan John Gasaya and a new stage record of 45:24 for the 15.9 km Sixth Stage by star Charles Ndirangu.  Ndirangu's record translates to 45:57 for 10 miles, just inside the all-time top 100 for that distance.

Near Tokyo, 2012 Hakone Ekiden runner-up Komazawa University set a new record of 2:05:13 at the 58th running of the six-stage 42.195 km Atsugi Ekiden.  First Stage runner Shogo Nakamura led off with a strong 29:57 for 10.3 km to give Komazawa a 44-second lead that was never threatened.  Komazawa's final margin of victory over runner-up Josai University was nearly two minutes as Josai came through the finish in 2:07:07.  Shoin University was a surprise 3rd in 2:08:13 after a Third Stage win by Aritaka Kajiwara.

Komazawa runners were also busy elsewhere.  At the first running of the Harenokuni Okayama Ekiden, Komazawa senior Taichi Takase ran 29:40 to win the 10.0 km anchor stage for his hometown of Niimi.  Kurashiki H.S. star Shota Baba was an impressive 2nd in 29:44.

As ekiden season winds down, watch for one more competitive men's ekiden, the Feb. 5 Meigi Ekiden, and the Feb. 12 Chugoku Women's Ekiden.

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Kawauchi Wins Okumusashi Ekiden Anchor Stage

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20120129-896429.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

A contender for the London Olympics men's marathon team, Yuki Kawauchi (24, Saitama Pref.) had a strong run at the amateur Okumusashi Ekiden on Jan. 29 in Hanno, Saitama.  Anchoring his coworkers' Saitama Prefectural Government team, Kawauchi won the 9.283 km Sixth Stage with a time of 27:15, just four seconds off the course record, and advancing his team from 84th to 66th place.  As he ran cheers of, "Go Kawauchi!" and "The Olympics!" followed him along the course.

"The distance today was short, so I treated it as a speed workout, a time trial," Kawauchi said after the race, satisfied with his performance.  "I went out hard and tried to catch people who were slowing down, then in the second half I tried to hang on.  It was a good run."

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Shigetomo Wins Osaka International Women's Marathon in 2:23:23, Koda and Murayama Take Half

by Brett Larner

After heavy pre-race favorite Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) faltered soon into the second half of the Jan. 29 Osaka International Women's Marathon, second-time marathoner Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) was there to pick up the pieces as she took eight minutes off her debut time from last year's London Marathon to win in 2:23:23, the fastest time by a Japanese woman since Mizuki Noguchi's 2:21:37 course record at the Nov., 2007 Tokyo International Women's Marathon.   Shigetomo's performance puts her as the leading contender for a spot on the Olympic team with one selection race to go, and barring a slew of spectacular runs at the Mar. 11 Nagoya Women's Marathon she is likely to become the fourth-straight Tenmaya runner to make an Olympic team.  Ukrainian Tetiana Gamera-Shmyrko and former pro XC skiier Azusa Nojiri (Team Daiichi Seimei) also ran well, both running new PBs under 2:25 to take 2nd and 3rd after Gamera-Shmyrko ran a solid negative split to pass Nojiri coming onto the track.

The race went out largely according to schedule, with a group of four pacers taking the lead pack out on low-2:22 pace with Fukushi patiently staying at the back of the group.  Gamera-Shmyrko, running a crafty race, hung back with veterans Chika Horie (Team Univ. Ent.) and Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC) in the second pack.  By 20 km the lead pack was down to pacer Yuko Shimizu (Team Sekisui Kagaku), Fukushi, Nojiri and Shigetomo as the pace ratcheted down into 2:21 territory.  Shimizu, with a half marathon PB of 1:12:22, deserves significant props for taking the leaders through halfway in 1:10:58 after the premature exit of the other pacers.  Nojiri fell away before the 22 km turnaround, and when Shimizu finished her duties a few hundred m later it was down to a duel between Shigetomo and Fukushi.

Surprisingly it was Shigetomo, impressively relaxed and smooth, who did the breaking as she took the pace under 3:20/km, opening a few m on Fukushi.  The separation turned into a gap, and by 27 Shigetomo was free.  She sailed on at sub-2:22 pace before slowing in the later km, but her final time of 2:23:23, very close to pre-race best-case scenario expectations, was the 17th-fastest ever by a Japanese woman and made her the all-time 9th-best Japanese woman, a welcome newcomer and a good start to the year if somewhat pale behind the glow of Friday's Dubai Marathon where the task of what Japanese women face if they hope to regain their global medal competitiveness was made more than clear.

Fukushi faded and was run down first by Nojiri, then others one by one.  Nojiri was strong over the final km, taking over 30 seconds off her PB despite getting caught by the fast-closing Gamera-Shmyrko, who took 3 1/2 minutes off her best and opened 11 seconds on Nojiri over the final 400 m lap of the track with a 7:06 final 2.195 km split, the fastest in the field by a wide margin.  Second-packers Horie and Shimahara both just went under 2:30, Shimahara in her final race before taking time off to start a family.  Fukushi dropped as far as 9th, finishing only 2 1/2 minutes faster than her disastrous debut four years ago.  Having said that she is not thinking about the track at all for the London Olympics despite running sub-31 less than a year ago, Fukushi's next move remains a question mark.  At this stage with one selection race remaining Shigetomo and Daegu World Championships 5th-placer Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) look very solid for the Olympic marathon team, with the final place a toss-up between Yokohama International Women's Marathon winner Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) and the winner in Nagoya.  With the Osaka results in hand expect Akaba to make an announcement shortly on whether she will run next month's Tokyo Marathon or try to improve her standing in Nagoya.

The Osaka Half Marathon, held concurrently with the marathon, continued its development into a significant early-year event with decently strong performances on both the men's and women's sides.  2:11 marathoner Takaaki Koda (Team Asahi Kasei), in a tuneup for the Tokyo Marathon, won the men's race in 1:03:54 two seconds ahead of fellow 2:11 man Satoru Kasuya (Team Toyota Boshoku).  Maiko Murayama (Team Yamada Denki) had the women's win by over a minute, running 1:12:46.

2012 Osaka International Women's Marathon
Osaka, 1/29/12
click here for complete results

1. Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) - 2:23:23 - PB
2. Tetiana Gamera-Shmyrko (Ukraine) - 2:24:46 - PB
3. Azusa Nojiri (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 2:24:57 - PB
4. Chika Horie (Team Univ. Ent.) - 2:28:35
5. Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC) - 2:29:51
6. Yumi Sato (Team Shiseido) - 2:32:49
7. Irene Mogaka (Kenya) - 2:35:36
8. Lauren Shelley (Australia) - 2:35:57
9. Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) - 2:37:35
10. Naoko Sakamoto (Team Tenmaya) - 2:39:27
11. Constantina Dita (Romania) - 2:40:08
DNF - Lidiya Grigoryeva (Russia)

2012 Osaka Half Marathon
Osaka, 1/29/12
click here for complete results

Men
1. Takaaki Koda (Team Asahi Kasei) - 1:03:54
2. Satoru Kasuya (Team Toyota Boshoku) - 1:03:56
3. Kenichi Shiraishi (Team Asahi Kasei) - 1:03:57
4. Takanobu Otsubo (Osaka Police Dept.) - 1:03:57
5. Noritaka Fujiyama (Team Sumco) - 1:04:11

Women
1. Maiko Murayama (Team Yamada Denki) - 1:12:46
2. Yui Ouchi (Team Noritz) - 1:13:58
3. Kanade Iida (Osaka Geidai Univ.) - 1:14:19
4. Rei Miura (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:14:24
5. Shiori Hayashida (Osaka Geidai Univ.) - 1:15:04

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fukushi Shooting for the Marathon in London

http://www.daily.co.jp/general/2012/01/28/0004773977.shtml

translated by Brett Larner

Fukushi at 26 miles in Chicago. Photo (c) 2011 Dr. Helmut Winter

The pre-race athletes' press conference for the Jan. 29 Osaka International Women's Marathon Olympic selection race took place Jan. 27.  Aiming for her long-hoped-for appearance on the Olympic marathon stage, half-marathon national record holder Kayoko Fukushi (29, Team Wacoal) appeared confident of her chances of punching her ticket.  Four years ago in Osaka Fukushi went out at a blazing speed in her debut only to slow dramatically after 30 km.  Fully prepared this time, Japan's queen of the track is ready for payback.

Fukushi looks confident because she feels it.  At the press conference her face was relaxed.  "My goal is to beat myself," she said.  "What's different this time?  Maybe I've grown up a little, as people do."  It's been four years since her "Breakdown of the Century" at the Beijing Olympics selection race, and Fukushi is focused on erasing that memory.  It has been a month since she announced following December's National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships that she would run Osaka, and in that time she has completely shut out the media to concentrate on her training.  For her debut four years ago Fukushi was underprepared, with only one month of dedicated training. This time she has been training specifically for Osaka since July, an entire half-year.  "We didn't just cram for this overnight," said her coach, Tadayuki Nagayama.  "I think the gods of the marathon smiled upon us this time."  His assurance that Fukushi will earn her place in London was easy to see.

Asked about the withdrawal of her strongest rival for the team, Athens Olympics marathon gold medalist and national record holder Mizuki Noguchi (Team Wacoal), Fukushi said , "I was really surprised.  But it doesn't change anything for me."  She added firmly, "I want to go to London in the marathon.  I want to see how competitive I can be against the world's best marathoners.  I'm looking forward to taking on all challengers."  Totally focused on London, Osaka is Fukushi's next checkpoint.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Watch the 2012 Osaka International Women's Marathon Live Online - Preview

by Brett Larner

The 2012 Osaka International Women's Marathon, the second of Japan's three-race domestic Olympic marathon team selection races, is on for this Sunday, Jan. 29.  Broadcast live on Fuji TV starting at noon Japan time, overseas viewers have the chance to catch the race via Keyhole TV.  Schedule permitting, JRN plans to cover the race via Twitter @JRNLive.

The 2012 Osaka International Women's Marathon was to be about one thing: the return of marathon national record holder and 2004 Olympic gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) in a showdown against half-marathon national record holder and ascendant marathoner Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) for a place on the Olympic team.  Nobody else in the field stood a realistic chance of competing in Noguchi and Fukushi went at it full-strength.  With Noguchi's last-withdrawal after a reported injury to her left leg the race remains a single-plot story: how fast will Fukushi go?

And that's it, really.  Even more so in light of the incredible results at today's Dubai Marathon where four Ethiopian women broke the former national record of 2:20:42, two of them sub-2:20, and formerly Japan-based Lucy Wangui Kabuu (Kenya) likewise went under the 2:20 mark.  Fukushi's debut in Osaka in 2008 was a glorious implosion, but her return to the distance at last fall's Chicago Marathon was reasonably solid.  Going out at sub-2:20 pace she faded to a 2:24:38, but even that is faster than anyone else in the field has ever run with the exception of veterans Constantina Dita (Romania) and, scheduled to run in the general division, Naoko Sakamoto (Team Tenmaya).  Neither of them has approached a 2:24 in years.

So, how fast will Fukushi go?  Hard from the start?  Sit behind the designated pacers until 25 km and then push?  Wait until 30 km?  The minimum goal is of course the win, but if it's not faster than 2:23, something a Japanese woman hasn't done since Noguchi's last marathon in 2007, it will feel hard to honestly call it a success.  Anything slower and she is opening up the door for someone else in the field having a diamond day to steal the win like Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) did from 2009 World Championships silver medalist Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei) in the Yokohama selection race.  Ozaki's teammate Azusa Nojiri (Team Daiichi Seimei) or Sakamoto's teammate Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) seem like the mostly likely candidates for a breakthrough, but it's hard to see either going under 2:23.  Neither do there seem to be any challengers among the small field of five foreign invited athletes.  A blowup or bad day would open things up to a more interesting race and a chance for someone unexpected like Nojiri or Shigetomo to make the London team, but otherwise we're looking at a solo time trial or one-woman push over the last 10-12 km.  How fast will Fukushi go?  Place your bets now.

2012 Osaka International Women's Marathon Elite Field
and selected general division entrants
click here for complete elite field

1. Constantina Dita (Romania) - 2:21:30 (Chicago '05)
2. Lidiya Grigoryeva (Russia) - 2:25:10 (Los Angeles '06)
3. Mihaela Botezan (Romania) - 2:25:32 (London '03)
4. Tetiana Gamera-Shmyrko (Ukraine) - 2:28:14 (Krakow '11)
5. Irene Kemunto Mogaka (Kenya) - 2:30:10 (Los Angeles '09)
32. Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) - 2:24:38 (Chicago '11)
33. Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC) - 2:25:10 (Hokkaido '09)
34. Azusa Nojiri (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 2:25:29 (London '11)
35. Chika Horie (Team Univ. Ent.) - 2:26:11 (Hokkaido '02)
36. Madoka Ogi (Team Juhachi Ginko) - 2:26:55 (Osaka Int'l 08)
37. Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) - 2:31:28 (London '11)
101. Naoko Sakamoto (Team Tenmaya) - 2:21:51 (Osaka Int'l '03)

Pacers
61. Aniko Kalovics (Hungary)
62. Julia Mumbi (Kenya)
63. Chizuru Ideta (Team Daihatsu)
64. Kumi Ogura (Team Shikoku Denryoku)

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Akaba to Settle Selection Race Plans After Seeing Osaka Outcome

http://www.daily.co.jp/newsflash/2012/01/26/0004770377.shtml

translated by Brett Larner

After the announcement of her name as an invited elite at the Feb. 26 Tokyo Marathon, a race outside the set of selection races for the women's Olympic marathon team, Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) issued a statement of clarification on Jan. 26 through her representative.  "As part of my goal of making the podium at the London Olympics I intend to set a big PB this spring," she said.  After seeing the outcome of the Jan. 29 Osaka International Women's Marathon Olympic team selection race she will make the final decision as to whether she will run Tokyo or the Mar. 11 Nagoya Women's Marathon selection race.  Akaba placed 5th as the top Japanese finisher at last year's World Championships, opening up the possibility that she may be able to skip the selection races.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tokyo Marathon Announces 2012 Elite Men's and Women's Fields

by Brett Larner

The organizers of the 2012 Tokyo Marathon have announced the elite men's and women's fields for the Feb. 26 Olympic-year race, and on both sides the fields are the best since the Tokyo Marathon began in 2007.  Former world record holder Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopia) lines up alongside last year's winner Hailu Mekonnen (Ethiopia), 2010 winner Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda), 2008 winner Viktor Rothlin (Switzerland), 2:05 man Jafred Chirchir Kipchumba (Kenya), 2:06 runners Gilbert Kipruto Kirwa (Kenya) and Michael Kipkorir (Kenya), top-ranked Japanese man Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) and more.  For the Japanese men a spot or two on the London Olympic team is at stake, and vying for an Olympic ticket along with past winner Fujiwara and fan favorite Kawauchi are last year's 4th-placer Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota), two-time Tokyo runner-up Arata Fujiwara (Tokyo T&F Assoc.), 2009 3rd-placer Kazuhiro Maeda, former 30 km world record holder Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) and others.  In the general elite division, watch for the marathon debut of sub-28 10000 m runner Yuki Iwai (Team Asahi Kasei) fresh off a great run at the New Year Ekiden, the return of 2008 World Half Marathon Championships 5th-placer Yusei Nakao (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) after changing teams last year, and sub-60 half runner Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya) trying again to get the marathon right.

No Olympic spot is in contention for the Japanese women, which makes the presence of Daegu World Championships 5th-place Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) a surprise that can perhaps be read as a confirmation that she is likely guaranteed a place in London on the strength of Daegu.  Akaba has yet to run a time comparable to her half-marathon best, but look for that to change here if the weather is good.  Leading the way in the foreign elite field is 2011 Venice Marathon course record setter Helena Loshanyang Kirop (Kenya), whose best of 2:23:37 from Venice is the only recent time in the field better than Akaba's 2:24:09 PB in London last spring.  Ethiopians Atsede Habtamu and Eyerusalem Kuma make up the remainder of the strongest end of the field, both with best marks at the 2:24 level.  2:25:10 Russian veteran Lidiya Grigoryeva will apparently attempt a double after running the Jan. 29 Osaka International Women's Marathon.  The women's general elite division includes sub-2:30 runner Yuko Machida (Hanno T&F Assoc.), Ohtawara Marathon course record setter Kaori Akagawa (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), 19 year-old sensation Minami Yamanouchi (Koriyama Hosei H.S. AC) and debuting pro Ayumi Sakaida (Team Daihatsu).

Look for more coverage of the 2012 Tokyo Marathon in the weeks leading up to what should be a great, record-setting day.

2012 Tokyo Marathon
Feb. 26, 2012
click here for detailed field listing

Men
1. Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopia) - 2:03:59 (Berlin 2008)
2. Jafred Chirchir Kipchumba (Kenya) - 2:05:48 (Eindhoven 2011)
3. Gilbert Kipruto Kirwa (Kenya) - 2:06:14 (Frankfurt 2009)
4. Michael Kipkorir (Kenya) - 2:06:48 (Eindhoven 2011)
5. Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda) - 2:07:20 (Enschede 2011)
6. Viktor Rothlin (Switzerland) - 2:07:23 (Tokyo 2008)
7. Hailu Mekonnen (Ethiopia) - 2:07:35 (Tokyo 2011)
8. Oleksandr Sitkovskyy (Ukraine) - 2:09:26 (Bila Tserkva 2011)
11. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) - 2:08:37 (Tokyo 2011)
12. Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) - 2:09:03 (Tokyo 2011)
13. Arata Fujiwara (Tokyo T&F Assoc.) - 2:08:40 (Tokyo 2008)
14. Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) - 2:10:29 (Beppu-Oita 2011)
15. Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) - 2:10:04 (Rotterdam 2007)
16. Takaaki Koda (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:11:08 (Tokyo 2011)
17. Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda) - 2:08:12 (Biwako 2003)
101. Seiji Kobayashi (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) - 2:10:38 (Beppu-Oita 2009)
102. Atsushi Ikawa (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:11:04 (Beppu-Oita 2011)
103. Satoru Kasuya (Team Toyota Boshoku) - 2:11:17 (Biwako 2011)
104. Takashi Horiguchi (Team Honda) - 2:12:05 (Tokyo 2011)
105. Koji Gokaya (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:12:07 (Biwako 2011)
106. Masaki Shimoju (Team Konica Minolta) - 2:12:18 (Nobeoka 2010)
107. Satoshi Irifune (Team Kanebo) - 2:09:23 (Fukuoka 2008))
110. Tomoya Adachi (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:11:59 (Beppu-Oita 2008)
113. Tomoya Shimizu (Team Sagawa Express) - 2:09:23 (Biwako 2008)
118. Yusei Nakao (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:14:43 (Tokyo 2009)
119. Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya) - 2:14:44 (Tokyo 2011)
133. Toshinari Suwa (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 2:07:55 (Fukuoka 2003)
151. Kazuyoshi Shimozato (Team Komori Corp.) - debut - 1:30:36 (30 km)
155. Yuki Iwai (Team Asahi Kasei) - debut - 27:58.03 (10000 m)

Women
21. Helena Loshanyang Kirop (Kenya) - 2:23:37 (Venice 2011)
22. Atsede Habtamu (Ethiopia) - 2:24:25 (Berlin 2011)
23. Eyerusalem Kuma (Ethiopia) - 2:24:55 (Amsterdam 2011)
24. Tatiana Arkhipova (Russia) - 2:25:01 (Berlin 2011)
25. Lidiya Grigoryeva (Russia) - 2:25:10 (Los Angeles 2006)
26. Yeshi Esayias (Ethiopia) - 2:26:04 (Daegu 2011)
27. Rosaria Console (Italy) - 2:26:10 (Berlin 2011)
28. Lishan Dula (Bahrain) - 2:26:56 (Rotterdam 2011)
29. Kateryna Stetsenko (Ukraine) - 2:27:51 (Ukraine 2010)
30. Adriana da Silva (Brazil) - 2:32:30 (Berlin 2010)
31. Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) - 2:24:09 (London 2011)
32. Kaoru Nagao (Team Univ. Ent.) - 2:26:58 (Yokohama Int'l 2011)
33. Eri Okubo (Second Wind AC) - 2:28:49 (Berlin 2011)
34. Yukari Sahaku (Team Univ. Ent.) - 2:28:55 (Tokyo 2009)
35. Yumiko Hara (Team Univ. Ent.) - 2:23:48 (Osaka Int'l 2007)
201. Yuko Machida (Hanno T&F Assoc.) - 2:29:35 (Nagoya 2009)
202. Sumiko Suzuki (Team Hokuren) - 2:32:02 (Tokyo 2011)
203. Yumi Hirata (Tokyo T&F Assoc.) - 2:29:23
204. Kaori Akagawa (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:33:38 (Ohtawara 2011)
205. Chinami Fukaminato (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:34:16 (Hokkaido 2009)
217. Minami Yamanouchi (Koriyama Hosei H.S. AC) - 2:47:41 (Ohtawara 2011)
240. Ayumi Sakaida (Team Daihatsu) - debut - 1:13:23 (half-marathon)
241. Kazuki Nakano (Josai Univ.) - debut - 1:16:50 (half-marathon)

Designated Men's Pacemakers
Samuel Tsegay (Eritrea)
Mulugeta Wami (Ethiopia)
Cyrus Njui (Kenya/Team Hitachi Cable)
Kazuyuki Ito (Team JR Higashi Nihon)
Bitan Karoki (Kenya/Team S&B)

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Noguchi Out of Osaka With Injury to Left Thigh (updated)

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/sports/news/120125/oth12012515000009-n1.htm
http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20120125-894574.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The organizers of the 31st Osaka International Women's Marathon and the Sysmex Women's Distance Running Team announced on Jan. 25 that invited athlete Mizuki Noguchi, 33, has pulled out of this Sunday's London Olympics selection race edition of Osaka with inflammation in the back of her left thigh.

Noguchi has been training at 1600 m altitude in Boulder, Colorado since Dec. 24.  She returned to Japan on Jan. 19, saying, "I did almost 100% of what was on the training menu.  I'm ready to drop a big one."

Noguchi, the 2004 Athens Olympics marathon gold medalist, was forced to pull out of defending her title at the 2008 Beijing Olympics after an injury to her left hip joint.  Since then she has suffered serial injuries but has persevered in trying to return to competition through her intense mental toughness.  Her last marathon was the Nov., 2007 Tokyo International Women's Marathon, one of the selection races for the Beijing Olympics.  Her planned return to the distance in Osaka after four years and two months had attracted enormous attention.

Update (from Nikkan article 1 hr 41 min after Sankei article): According to a source involved in the situation, Noguchi intends to shift her plans to try to make the London team by running the final Olympic selection race, the Mar. 11 Nagoya Women's Marathon.

Shimahara's Verdict After Osaka Course Tour: "Looks Fast"

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/west/west_sports/news/120124/wsp12012418010006-n1.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On Jan. 24 ahead of her final race at the 31st Osaka International Women's Marathon this Sunday, Jan. 29, Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC) toured the new course that was introduced last year, helping with her mental preparations for the main event.  At the same time, Beijing Olympics marathon gold medalist Constantina Dita (Romania) did some light running in Osaka Castle Park near the athletes' village.

Shimahara started her tour at around 6 a.m., checking out the section of the course from the turnaround at Dotonboribashi Minamizume on Midosuji Street to the finish at Nagai Stadium by car.  Comparing the new course to the old one, on which she finished 3rd at the 2006 Osaka International Women's Marathon, Shimahara said, "It's very fast and looks fast.  It made me think of the 2007 World Championships," [where she placed 6th].

Noguchi Ahead of First Marathon in 4 Years, 2 Months: "It's Good to Be Back"

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/sports/news/120122/oth12012219000029-n1.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

In the backdrop to west of Boulder, Colorado are the Rocky Mountains.  Looking at the line of snow tens of thousands of years old painted red by the post-workout evening light, the surge of unexpected feeling is almost enough to bring tears to the eye.  "I can train hard again now," says 2004 Olympic marathon gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex).  "It's good to be back."

The last time Noguchi put on a show of bravado in the marathon was at the Nov. 2007 Tokyo International Women's Marathon, where she set the course record of 2:21:37.  Overcoming a blank slate of four years, two months, Noguchi is now once again ready to stand on the start line and face the full 42.195 km.  This Sunday, Jan. 29 she will race the Osaka International Women's Marathon in search of a ticket to the London Olympics.

Noguchi pulled out from her planned Olympic title defense at the Beijing Olympics after suffering an injury to her left thigh.  Recovery from that injury took her two years and five months.  Thinking herself ready to return, Noguchi began racing again in October, 2010, but only two months later she suffered a stress fracture in her left ankle.  "You want to move, but you can't.  To a marathon runner not being able to run is the worst pain there is," said Noguchi.  Her doctor ordered her to take a prolonged break, and walking and monotonous physical therapy became the staples of Noguchi's daily routine.  The always-optimistic and positive Noguchi became dejected and morose, thinking, "That's it, it's over," and constantly complaining to her friends.

But even when her spirits were down she didn't give up.  Constantly pushing her in the back were her coach Hisakazu Hirose, her devoted support crew, and the endless letters of encouragement from her fans.  "Not being able to run only made me want to run more," she said.  "I understood that I really love to run."  Soon she was sinking herself into rigorously severe training on a daily basis, and the results are clear now as she appears renewed.

Last year Noguchi was 5th at both a road race in Holland in November and a half-marathon in Okayama in December.  Rather than rousing forgotten fears, Noguchi takes a positive outlook on the results.  "[Including an ekiden in October] I've gotten to the point where I can race three times in two months.  Compared to the misery of not being able to run that's totally fine."  Asked about whether her training has been productive, Noguchi's face lights up and her talk becomes more passionate.  "It's not a question of whether or not I'm near my old form.  I'm there.  I'm going to be running full-strength, like it hasn't been four years, and I'm going to reach my goal of a place at the London Olympics."  With such words of confidence flowing from her, it's clear that Noguchi truly believes she is fully back.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Russian Tatyana Aryasova Stripped of 2011 Tokyo Marathon Title After Testing Positive for Masking Agent

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/news/20120124-OYT1T00932.htm?from=main6
http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/120124/spg1201241730001-n1.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The Tokyo Marathon Foundation announced on Feb. 24 that a doping test performed at the Feb. 27, 2011 Tokyo Marathon on women's winner Tatyana Aryasova of Russia returned positive for HES (hydroxyethyl starch), a banned substance typically used to conceal use of other banned performance-enhancing substances.  As a result of the positive test Aryasova has been stripped of her 2011 title.  Runner-up Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) has been elevated to the winner's place and will be paid the difference in prize money from her previous finishing position.

According to the Japan Anti-Doping Agency, HES is used to conceal blood doping carried out to improve aerobic performance.  This is the first time the substance has been detected at a race within Japan, but the number of athletes caught using it in overseas cycling races and similar events is considerable.  According to the Tokyo Marathon Foundation, the announcement of the result was held until the completion of the proper procedures by the IAAF.  Aryasova will be stripped of all race results following last year's Tokyo Marathon and will serve a two-year ban beginning last April 29.

Translator's note: Click here for the Tokyo Marathon's official announcement of Aryasova's positive doping test and the removal of her name as last year's winner.

As of this writing Aryasova is listed as an athlete represented by Spartanik RS Inc. International Sport Management, an agency headed by IAAF Registered Athlete Representative Andrey Baranov.  Baranov also represents Russian women's marathon national record holder Liliya Shobukhova, Mariya Konovalova, and Inga Abitova, with Spartanik RS Inc. listing a large number of the world-class Russian long-distance women as its clients.  Also on the list are Lidiya Grigoryeva and Ukrainian Tetiana Gamera-Shmyrko, invited athletes for Sunday's Osaka International Women's Marathon.  A screen shot of Spartanik RS Inc.'s current athlete listing, including both Aryasova and 2011 Tokyo Marathon 3rd-place finisher Tatyana Petrova along with Shobukhova, Konovalova, Abitova, Grigoyeva and other well-known Russian women:

Olympic Champion Dita Voices Support for Noguchi Ahead of Sunday's Osaka Int'l Women's Marathon

http://www.sanspo.com/smp/sports/news/120124/spg1201240502000-s.htm

translated by Brett Larner

The athletes' village for the Jan. 29 London Olympics selection year Osaka International Women's Marathon opened Jan. 23 at an Osaka-area hotel.  The first invited athlete to arrive was 2008 Beijing Olympics marathon gold medalist Constantina Dita (Romania).  Speaking on her 42nd birthday, Dita commented on her preparation and plans for her third appearance in Osaka after an absence of four years.  "Compared to four years ago my overall volume is down, but I've trained enough to challenge my body," she said.  Of her friend and predecessor as Olympic gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi (33, Team Sysmex) Dita voiced her support as she said, "She's still young.  She's at a perfect age for winning another medal at the Olympics.  I hope she has a great performance."

Monday, January 23, 2012

'Tanui and Wude Yimer Take the Spoils at Elgoibar Cross Country'

http://iaaf.org/news/newsid=63397.html

Kyushu-based Paul Tanui (Team Kyudenko) won the 69th Cross Internacional Juan Muguerza meet on Jan. 22.  Another roundup of the weekend's XC action:

http://www.albertostretti.org/2012/01/crosscountry-recapof-sunday.html

Kitamura, Tsukisawa Win 15,000-Strong Chiba Marine Half-Marathon

http://photo.sankei.jp.msn.com/kodawari/data/2012/01/0122chiba/
http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/120123/spg1201230505006-n1.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The 36th Chiba Marine Half-Marathon took place Jan. 22 in Mihama, Chiba.  From the family fun run to the half-marathon division, a total of over 15,000 people took part, enjoying themselves despite the cold rain that fell during the race.

In the federation-registered women's half-marathon division, 2010 champion Saori Kitamura of Juntendo University returned to win again in 1:15:51.  In the federation-registered men's half-marathon division, Tokyo Keizai University senior Sho Tsukisawa won for the first time in 1:06:39. Beijing Olympics triathlete Ai Ueda (Inage Inter AC) won the open women's half-marathon for the third-straight year.  Popular running personalities Mari Tanigawa and Yoshio Koide were also on hand to give a talk to participants and to cheer them on.

Only 11 seconds separated men's winner Tsukisawa from 5th place.  "I don't know where that last kick came from," he said.  "Last year I was 3rd, so I'm really happy with this."  Following his graduation in March Tsukisawa will join the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, which features a corporate-league ekiden team.  "I hope to run in the New Year Ekiden," he said of his future goals as a runner with the Police team.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Takezawa Anchors Hyogo to National Men's Ekiden Championship Title

by Brett Larner

Kensuke Takezawa runs down the win for Hyogo Prefecture at the 2012 National Men's Ekiden Championships. Click photo for video highlights via race broadcaster NHK.

Pre-race favorite and 2010 champion Hyogo Prefecture lived up to expectations, taking the 2012 National Interprefectural Men's Ekiden Championships title on the strength of stage wins by opening man Keisuke Nakatani and anchor Kensuke Takezawa.  High schooler Nakatani made a bold surge with 2 km to go on the 7 km opening stage to put Hyogo ahead by 10 seconds.  Hyogo's Chikashi Ikeda maintained the lead through the 3 km Second Stage, but Third Stage runner Fuminori Shikata fell victim to a 2:37 opening km by Tokyo's runner Yuta Takahashi and dropped to 7th.  Hyogo spent the rest of the race playing catchup, not regaining the lead until 8 km into the 13 km Seventh Stage, where anchor Takezawa caught up to and then dropped Aichi Prefecture's Yuta Ito to take the win by 22 seconds.  Takezawa also took the stage best by 3 seconds over Olympic A-standard 10000 m men Chihiro Miyawaki (Gifu/Team Toyota) and Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Tochigi/Team Konica Minolta), who both broke their stage record at the New Year Ekiden three weeks ago.

Tokyo rode the momentum of Takahashi's bold Third Stage run to stay near the front of the race, with anchor Yoshihiro Wakamatsu putting the team into 2nd for its best-ever finish after dropping Ugachi in the final 2 km.  Hakone Ekiden champion Toyo University's Eighth Stage winner Kento Otsu (Kumamoto) had another good run, starting off in 2nd on the anchor stage and staying with Wakamatsu and Ugachi after they caught him and working together to catch Ito.  In the final stretch he outkicked Ugachi and Ito to give Kumamoto a 3rd-place finish, 8th on the mostly-pro stage on time.  Ugachi hoped to run down the lead for defending champion Tochigi Prefecture but could do no better then 4th after he was outrun by Takezawa and dropped by both Wakamatsu and Otsu.  Ito ran well despite inevitably losing the lead on the anchor stage, keeping a steady pace against better competitors and hanging on to 5th.

The return of the talented and injury-prone Takezawa, with university marks of 13:19.00, 27:45.59 and 1:00:31 and a string of stress fractures Japan's equivalent of American Dathan Ritzenhein, was one of the biggest stories of this year's ekiden. Outrunning both Miyawaki and Ugachi suggests he may be capable of picking up an Olympic A-standard time this season to throw his hat in as the fourth Japanese man in contention for the London Olympics 10000 m.  His First Stage teammate Nakatani also deserves credit for aggressively frontrunning his way to the win.  In other noteworthy individual performances, rookie Kazuya Deguchi (Ibaraki) and little-known Kenta Murozuka (Ishikawa) had strong runs back in the Third Stage pack to tie for the stage win, outrunning a large number of star runners from the 2012 Hakone Ekiden. Although Takezawa's run was the most significant, sub-14 high schooler Kazuma Kubota (Kumamoto) was no doubt the most impressive of the day with the fastest time on the 8.5 km Fifth Stage by 30 seconds and moving up from 13th to take the lead.  Kubota actually clocked 1 second faster than either Deguchi or Murozaka ran for the same distance in the opposite direction.  The last runner he caught, Aichi's Daichi Kamino, also deserves credit for frontrunning the stage before being caught and for hanging on to Kubota once he made contact.  On the anchor stage three 2012 Hakone Ekiden stage winners made the top ten in a mostly-pro field, with Komazawa University's Shinobu Kubota (Fukui) taking 6th and Toyo University sophomores Otsu and Yuta Shitara (Saitama) going 8th and 9th.  Shitara tied marathoner Masato Imai (Fukushima), who will run March's Biwako Mainichi Marathon in a last bid to make the London Olympic team.

2012 National Interprefectural Men's Ekiden Championships
Hiroshima, 1/22/12
47 teams, 7 stages, 48.0 km
click here for complete results

Stage Best Performances
First Stage - 7.0 km (H.S.)
1. Keisuke Nakatani (Hyogo/Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) - 20:12
2. Ken Yokote (Tochigi/Sakushin Gakuin H.S.) - 20:22
3. Shogo Higashijima (Saga/Torisu Kogyo H.S.) - 20:23

Second Stage - 3.0 km (J.H.S.)
1. Tatsuya Yamaguchi (Hiroshima/Mukogaoka J.H.S.) - 8:37
2. Hiroki Nagayama (Kagoshima/Kurino J.H.S.) - 8:40
3. Hiroyuki Sakaguchi (Nagasaki/ Hiu J.H.S.) - 8:42

Third Stage - 8.5 km (univ/pro)
1. Kazuya Deguchi (Ibaraki/Team Asahi Kasei) - 24:14
1. Kenta Murozuka (Ishikawa/SDF Academy) - 24:14
3. Yusuke Mita (Aichi/Waseda Univ.) - 24:19
4. Tatsunori Hamazaki (Okinawa/Team Komori Corp.) - 24:21
5. Kazuharu Takai (Fukuoka/Team Kyudenko) - 24:24

Fourth Stage - 5.0 km (H.S.)
1. Yugo Muroi (Oita/Nihon Bunri Prep. H.S.) - 14:30
2. Makoto Mitsunobu (Saga/Torisu Kogyo H.S.) - 14:32
2. Yuki Hirota (Hyogo/Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) - 14:32

Fifth Stage - 8.5 km (H.S.)
1. Kazuma Kubota (Kumamoto/Kyushu Gakuin H.S.) - 24:13
2. Shohei Otsuka (Oita/Oita Tomei H.S.) - 24:43
3. Shota Baba (Okayama/Kurashiki H.S.) - 24:47

Sixth Stage - 3.0 km (J.H.S.)
1. Takuma Nagai (Ibaraki/Izumigaoka J.H.S.) - 8:42
2. Daigo Kamura (Saga/Johoku J.H.S.) - 8:50
2. Shiki Shinsako (Hiroshima/Shiwa J.H.S.) - 8:50

Seventh Stage - 13.0 km (pro/univ)
1. Kensuke Takezawa (Hyogo/Team S&B) - 37:32
2. Chihiro Miyawaki (Gifu/Team Toyota) - 37:35
3. Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Tochigi/Team Konica Minolta) - 37:47
4. Yoshihiro Wakamatsu (Tokyo/Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 37:57
5. Hisanori Kitajima (Fukuoka/Team Yasukawa Denki) - 38:14
6. Shinobu Kubota (Fukui/Komazawa Univ.) - 38:17
7. Tomoya Adachi (Oita/Team Asahi Kasei) - 38:19
8. Kento Otsu (Kumamoto/Toyo Univ.) - 38:23
9. Yuta Shitara (Saitama/Toyo Univ.) - 38:25
9. Masato Imai (Fukushima/Team Toyota Kyushu) - 38:25

Top Team Performances - 48.0 km
1. Hyogo - 2:20:19
2. Tokyo - 2:20:41
3. Kumamoto - 2:20:50
4. Tochigi - 2:20:53
5. Aichi - 2:20:54
6. Ibaraki - 2:21:17
7. Oita - 2:21:18
8. Saga - 2:21:36
9. Fukui - 2:21:52
10. Saitama - 2:22:02

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. and Tenmaya Win Kitakyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden

by Brett Larner

The 2012 Kitakyushu Invitational Women's Ekiden came close to an upset as Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. came close to running down the leading pro teams, as close as 18 seconds to taking the lead spot.  Ritsumeikan Uji started off in 7th overall and 3rd among high school teams, but a strong Second Stage run by Nanami Aoki moved them up to 3rd overall and the lead high school position.  Team ace Nanako Kanno won the 5.1 km Third Stage outright in a solid 16:26,  overtaking the pro Team Kyocera and coming within 22 seconds of leader Team Kyudenko, no small feat considering that Kyudenko's Second Stage runner Sally Chepyego (Kenya) won her leg by 26 seconds.

Past Olympian Naoko Sakamoto (Team Tenmaya) overtook Ritsumeikan Uji's Asaka Iwai by 2 seconds on the 5.9 km Fourth Stage, but both advanced on Kyudenko, Tenmaya to within 16 seconds and the high schoolers to 18 seconds.  Kyudenko anchor Mika Okunaga needed a big run to stay ahead of Tenmaya's Rei Ohara but came up short, finishing only 6th on the 11.7 km Fifth Stage on time to drop from 1st of 3rd in the pro division.  Ohara gave Tenmaya the win, with half-marathon specialist Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) also catching Kyudenko for 2nd.  The high school teams split the anchor stage into two shorter legs, 4.9 km and an anchor run of 6.8 km, but despite this advantage Ritsumeikan Uji's final two runners could not stay with Ohara.  Ayano Ikeuchi won the high school anchor stage to bring Ritsumeikan Uji across the line 55 seconds behind Tenmaya and 36 seconds ahead of Kyocera, 1st in the high school division by over two minutes.

2012 Kitakyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden
Kitakyushu, 1/22/12
open division: 11 teams, 5 stages, 32.8 km
high school division: 17 teams, 6 stages, 32.8 km
click here for complete results

Stage Best Performances
First Stage - 4.2 km
1. Ayako Jinnouchi (Team Kyudenko) - 13:36
2. Yui Fukuda (Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 13:37
3, Mei Suzuki (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 13:41

Second Stage - 5.9 km
1. Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) - 18:28
2. Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) - 18:54
3. Shiori Yano (Kitakyushu Municipal H.S.) - 19:02

Third Stage - 5.1 km
1. Nanako Kanno (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 16:26
2. Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 16:38
3. Takako Yamada (Team Edion) - 16:43

Fourth Stage - 5.9 km
1. Naoko Sakamoto (Team Tenmaya) - 19:22
2. Risa Yokoe (Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 19:48
3. Asaka Iwai (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 19:53
3. Yuki Hidaka (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 19:53

Fifth Stage (open) - 11.7 km
1. Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya) - 36:48
2. Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 37:21
3. Keiko Nogami (Team Juhachi Ginko) - 37:28

Fifth Stage (H.S.) - 4.9 km
1. Shoko Sonoda (Chikushi Joshi Gakuen H.S.) - 16:29
2. Uran Hamada (Kamimura Gakuen H.S.) - 16:31
3. Yuki Fujiwara (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 16:49

Sixth Stage (H.S.) - 6.8 km
1. Ayano Ikeuchi (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 20:52
2. Miki Yasutomi (Kamimura Gakuen H.S.) - 21:33
3. Saki Yoshimizu (Chikushi Joshi Gakuen H.S.) - 22:00

Top Team Performances - Open
1. Team Tenmaya - 1:46:04
2. Team Kyocera - 1:47:35
3. Team Kyudenko - 1:47:50
4. Team Juhachi Ginko - 1:48:51
5. Team Edion - 1:48:55

Top Team Performances - High School
1. Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. - 1:46:59
2. Kamimura Gakuen H.S. - 1:49:10
3. Chikushi Joshi Gakuen H.S. - 1:49:36
4. Suma Gakuen H.S. - 1:50:03
5. Yamada H.S. - 1:51:35

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Friday, January 20, 2012

Watch the National Men's Ekiden Live Onine - Preview

by Brett Larner

The last major national ekiden of the season takes place this Sunday in Hiroshima with the 17th running of the seven-stage, 48.0 km National Men's Interprefectural Ekiden Championships.  Like last weekend's women's race the National Men's Ekiden features 47 teams from each of Japan's prefectures made up of runners all the way from junior high school students to pros, and like the women's ekiden it will be broadcast live nationwide and commercial-free on NHK beginning at 12:15 p.m, with the action getting underway at 12:30.  Overseas viewers should be able to watch online for free via Keyhole TV with the password NHK, and English-language commentary will again be available via Twitter @JRNLive.

The National Men's Ekiden entry lists are notoriously unreliable as predictors of final starting order, but based on what is available at this point 2010 champion Hyogo Prefecture is the clear champion, with all seven of its athletes ranked among the best of their stages.  Its two long-stage runners, Fumnori Shikata and anchor Kensuke Takezawa, are both in somewhat rickety condition, but even so it would take a fairly large breakdown for Hyogo not to dominate the race.

Defending champion Tochigi Prefecture is one of three teams that face a good chance of challenging Hyogo, with a strong lead-off from sub-14 high schooler Ken Yokote and JRN's top Japanese distance runner of 2011, Tsuyoshi Ugachi, returning in the anchor position.  Alongside Tochigi as potential challengers are Nagasaki Prefecture and hosts Hiroshima Prefecture.  Nagasaki features two fast junior high school runners and solid performers on the two long stages, with Hakone Ekiden Second Stage winner Takehiro Deki slated for the 8.5 km Third Stage and 28:18 man Ryo Kiname handling anchor duties.  Hiroshima's team is slightly weaker on paper, with much of its fortune resting on veteran anchor Kazuyoshi Tokumoto.  Nine more teams are close behind in quality and will be competing for the remaining four spots on the eight-deep podium, among them ChibaFukushimaHokkaido, IbarakiKumamoto, Mie, NaganoOita, and Toyama.

In individual action, 7.0 km high school-only First Stage promises a good showdown between sub-14 boys Kenya Sonota (Aomori), Ken Yokote (Tochigi) and Kazuma Kubota (Kumamoto) to establish the lead.  Most of the main action beyond that will come on the mixed university/pro Third Stage and Seventh Stage.  The 8.5 km Third Stage features a larger number of university runners, with 2012 Hakone Ekiden stage winners Takehiro Deki (Nagasaki), Ryuji Kashiwabara (Fukushima), Suguru Osako (Nagano) and Kenji Yamamoto (Ishikawa) slated to square off.  Look also for 2008 World Half Marathon Championships 5th-placer Yusei Nakao (Shizuoka) in his first race since joining the Suzuki Hamamatsu AC mid-fall.  The densely-packed 13 km Seventh Stage features a great rematch between rivals Chihiro Miyawaki (Gifu) and Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Tochigi), who in the last few months have raced each other to Olympic A-standard 10000 m times and a joint New Year Ekiden course record.  Ugachi prevailed on the track and Miyawaki on the road, so look for their anchor run here to be a tie-breaker as the season begins to move toward the pre-Olympic buildup.

2012 National Interprefectural Men's Ekiden Start List Highlights
Jan. 22, 2012, Hiroshima
7 stages, 48.0 km
click here for complete entry lists
bib numbers: team - stage

First Stage - 7 km (H.S.)
stage record: 19:51 - Yuki Matsuoka (Kyoto/Rakunan H.S.), 2003 / Yuki Sato (Nagano/Saku Chosei H.S.), 2005
2-1. Kenya Sonota (Aomori/Aomori Yamada H.S.) - 13:55.91
9-1. Ken Yokote (Tochigi/Sakushin H.S.) - 13:58.86
43-1. Kazuma Kubota (Kumamoto/Kyushu Gakuin H.S.) - 13:59.16
1-1. Yusuke Ogura (Hokkaido/Sapporo Yamanote H.S.) - 14:03.96
28-1. Keisuke Nakatani (Hyogo/Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) - 14:04.36

Second Stage - 3 km (J.H.S.)
stage record: 8:30 - Yuta Katsumata (Shizuoka/Fujioka J.H.S.), 2009
24-2. Reon Suzuki (Gifu/Takada J.H.S.) - 8:33.40
42-2. Hiroyuki Sakaguchi (Nagasaki/Hiu J.H.S.) - 8:33.84
34-2. Tatsuya Yamaguchi (Hiroshima/Mukokaoka J.H.S.) - 8:34.94
46-2. Hiroki Nagayama (Kagoshima/Kurino J.H.S.) - 8:37.10
38-2. Daichi Moto (Ehime/Yoshiumi J.H.S.) - 8:37.81
28-2. Yohei Saika (Hyogo/Kurakuen J.H.S.) - 8:38.11
18-2. Fumiya Hashiba (Toyama/Nyuzen J.H.S.) - 8:38.15

Third Stage - 8.5 km (univ./pro)
stage record: 23:26 - Terukazu Omori (Kochi/Team Kuroshiro Tsushi Service), 2005
36-3. Terukazu Omori (Kagawa/Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 27:43.94
21-3. Yusei Nakao (Shizuoka/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 27:48.71
44-3. Ikuto Yufu (Oita/Komazawa Univ.) - 28:02.46
4-3. Kenta Murayama (Miyagi/Komazawa Univ.) - 28:17.18
37-3. Hiroki Mitsuoka (Tokushima/Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 28:18.13
8-3. Kazuya Deguchi (Ibaraki/Team Asahi Kasei) - 28:20.66
16-3. Yusuke Hasegawa (Niigata/Team S&B) - 28:21.86
40-3. Kazuharu Takai (Fukuoka/Team Kyudenko) - 28:24.61
47-2. Tatsunori Hamasaki (Okinawa/Team Komori Corp.) - 28:29.16
13-3. Yuta Takahashi (Tokyo/Team S&B) - 28:30.51
7-3. Ryuji Kashiwabara (Fukushima/Toyo Univ.) - 28:25.17
34-3. Akihiko Tsumurai (Hiroshima/Team Mazda) - 28:36.91
39-3. Ryo Matsumoto (Kochi/Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 28:37.41
28-3. Fuminori Shikata (Hyogo/Waseda Univ.) - 28:38.46
20-3. Tsubasa Hayakawa (Fukui/Tokai Univ.) - 28:41.26
17-3. Suguru Osako (Nagano/Waseda Univ.) - 28:42.83
29-3. Yoshihiro Yamamoto (Nara/Team Toyota Boshoku) - 28:43.86
18-3. Kosuke Murasashi (Toyama/Team YKK) - 28:44.29
45-3. Takehiro Arakawa (Miyazaki/Team Asahi Kasei) - 28:44.39
43-3. Takaya Iwasaki (Kumamoto/Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 28:45.24
14-3. Yo Yazawa (Kanagawa/Waseda Univ.) - 28:45.56
19-3. Kenta Murozuka (Ishikawa/SDF Academy) - 28:48.67
23-3. Hiroyoshi Umegae (Mie/Team NTN) - 28:53.13
12-3. Masatoshi Kikuchi (Chiba/Team Fujitsu) - 28:53.80
41-3. Yuya Konishi (Saga/Team Toyota Kyushu) - 28:55.14
27-3. Yasuhito Ikeda (Osaka/Team NTT Nishi Nihon) - 28:55.63
1-3. Yuki Munakata (Hokkaido/Chuo Univ.) - 28:55.65
22-3. Yusuke Mita (Aichi/Waseda Univ.) - 28:58.89
42-3. Takehiro Deki (Nagasaki/Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 29:02.10

Fourth Stage - 5 km (H.S.)
stage record: 14:10 - Hirotaka Tamura (Aomori/Aomori Yamada H.S.), 2010
9-4. Soma Ishikawa (Tochigi/Sano Nichidai Prep H.S.) - 13:57.30
28-4. Yuki Hirota (Hyogo/Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) - 14:11.24
22-4. Daichi Kamino (Aichi/Chukyodai Prep H.S.) - 14:13.88
45-4. Junpei Nasu (Miyazaki/Nissho Gakuen H.S.) - 14:15.16
44-4. Masahiro Kotani (Oita/Nihon Bunri Prep H.S.) - 14:16.02

Fifth Stage - 8.5 km (H.S.)
stage record: 23:55 - Akinobu Murasawa (Nagano/Saku Chosei H.S.), 2009
28-5. Yuta Katsumata (Hyogo/Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) - 14:02.69
43-5. Shota Miyagami (Kumamoto/Kyushu Gakuin H.S.) - 14:10.28
9-5. Keita Shioya (Tochigi/Nasu Takuyo H.S.)
44-5. Yugo Muroi (Oita/Nihon Bunri Prep H.S.) - 14:14.88
23-5. Yusuke Nishiyama (Mie/Iga Hakuho Prep H.S.) - 14:16.70
7-5. Kenta Muto (Fukushima/Tamura H.S.) - 14:17.58
34-5. Shin Watanabe (Hiroshima/Sera H.S.) - 14:18.12

Sixth Stage - 3 km (J.H.S.)
stage record: 8:31 - Taiga Machizawa (Chiba/Minami Nagareyama J.H.S.), 2010
42-6. Ryo Nishimura (Nagasaki/Konagai J.H.S.) - 8:36.41
17-6. Hiroki Takehana (Nagano/Togura Kamiyamada J.H.S.) - 8:39.94
19-6. Kosuke Maeyachi (Ishikawa/Tsumi Minami J.H.S.) - 8:41.34
28-6. Masataka Takayanagi (Hyogo/Kakogawa Yamate J.H.S.) - 8:42.18
8-6. Homare Morita (Ibaraki/Goshogaoka J.H.S.) - 8:42.73
12-6. Renya Maeda (Chiba/Goi J.H.S.) - 8:43.84

Seventh Stage - 13 km (pro/univ.)
stage record: 37:09 - Kenta Oshima (Kochi/Team Kuroshiro Tsushi Service), 2004
9-7. Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Tochigi/Team Konica Minolta) - 27:40.69
24-7. Chihiro Miyawaki (Gifu/Team Toyota) - 27:41.57
28-7. Kensuke Takezawa (Hyogo/Team S&B) - 27:45.59
33-7. Takeshi Makabe (Okayama/Team Kanebo) - 27:53.78
30-7. Takeshi Hamano (Wakayama/Team Toyota) - 28:08.23
40-7. Hisanori Kitajima (Fukuoka/Team Yasukawa Denki) - 28:08.53
34-7. Kazuyoshi Tokumoto (Hiroshima/Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 28:13.23
37-7. Atsushi Ikawa (Tokushima/Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 28:14.75
31-7. Kenichi Jiromaru (Tottori/Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 28:16.49
23-7. Kenta Matsumoto (Mie/Team Toyota) - 28:17.99
42-7. Ryo Kiname (Nagasaki/Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) - 28:18.52
26-7. Ryo Yamamoto (Kyoto/Team Sagawa Express) - 28:22.84
20-7. Shinobu Kubota (Fukui/Komazawa Univ.) - 28:23.61
17-7. Yuichiro Ueno (Nagano/Team S&B) - 28:27.39
5-7. Masaki Ito (Akita/Kokushikan Univ.) - 28:28.64
45-7. Takahiro Yamanaka (Miyazaki/Team Honda) - 28:33.69
21-7. Minato Oishi (Shizuoka/Team Toyota) - 28:34.66
10-7. Atsushi Yamazaki (Gunma/Team Subaru) - 28:36.82
22-7. Naomasa Uchida (Aichi/Team Toyota) - 28:37.12
1-7. Masato Kikuchi (Hokkaido/Meiji Univ.) - 28:43.61
4-7. Kosaku Hoshina (Miyagi/Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 28:44.00
13-7. Yoshihiro Wakamatsu (Tokyo/Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 28:44.85
46-2. Sho Matsueda (Kagoshima/Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 28:45.68
27-7. Noriyuki Nabetani (Osaka/Osaka City Hall) - 28:47.67
7-7. Masato Imai (Fukushima/Team Toyota Kyushu) - 28:48.09
2-7. Hirotaka Tamura (Aomori/Nihon Univ.) - 28:48.54
18-7. Naohiro Yamada (Toyama/Team YKK) - 28:49.58
41-7. Junya Kinoshita (Saga/Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) - 28:50.53
25-7. Toshiaki Nishizawa (Shiga/Komazawa Univ.) - 28:51.05
14-7. Aritaka Kajiwara (Kanagawa/Shoin Univ.) - 28:52.55
8-7. Masamichi Shinozaki (Ibaraki/Team Hitachi Cable) - 28:54.92
39-7. Takanori Ichikawa (Kochi/Toyo Univ.) - 28:54.93
11-7. Hayato Saito (Saitama/Team Honda) - 28:55.40
12-7. Tomohiro Shiiya (Chiba/Team Toyota Boshoku) - 28:58.33

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Seino to Step Down as Head Coach at Sendai Ikuei H.S. Following 12th-Place Finish

http://www.kahoku.co.jp/news/2012/01/20120119t14025.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On Jan. 18 Junichi Seino, 27, head coach of Sendai Ikuei High School's ekiden team, announced that he intends to resign from both his position as coach and as a member of the school's teaching staff following the completion of the academic year at the end of March.

At the Dec. 25 National High School Ekiden Championships in Kyoto, Sendai Ikuei H.S. was one of the favorites for the win but finished only 12th.  According to a source connected with the situation, following the race Seino took full personal responsibility for the team's poor performance. The school proposed a plan under which previous head coach Takao Watanabe, under whose leadership Sendai Ikuei won six national titles including the still-standing course record with ace Samuel Wanjiru, would return to take over with Seino remaining to work in tandem with him.  Seino flatly rejected the proposal.  Parents of the team's current members protested the school's plan and strongly asked him to remain in his current capacity, but Seino replied with his resignation.  "What they've suggested is unbelievable and disrespectful to the others involved.  I cannot accept it," Seino said.

Seino is a local, a native of nearby Zao, Miyagi.  As a sophomore at Sendai Ikuei H.S. he was a member of its National High School Ekiden champion team as well as one of the ten men on Juntendo University's Hakone Ekiden winning team as a senior there.  Following his graduation from Juntendo in 2007 he returned to Sendai Ikuei to become assistant coach under Watanabe.  He became head coach a year later in April, 2008 when Watanabe resigned to become the personal coach of Sendai Ikuei graduate and women's junior 10000 m national record holder Megumi Kinukawa.  In Seino's first year as head coach Sendai Ikuei's boys team finished 2nd at the National High School Ekiden Championships.

Following his departure Seino intends to continue his coaching career at a different high school.  Sendai Ikuei's team has roughly thirty members.  If any of the students express the wish to follow Seino and change high schools with him the school administration will respect their decision.  With regard to the situation having come to the point of Seino leaving the school, Sendai Ikuei H.S. principal Takehiko Kato declined to be interviewed by the Kahoku Newspaper, saying that he is too busy with overseeing construction of the school's new Miyagino campus and other responsibilities.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Batochir, Hunt, Njenga, Njoroge, Ramadhani Headline 61st Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon

http://sp.mainichi.jp/m/news.html?cid=20120118k0000m050038000c

translated by Brett Larner

On Jan. 17 the organizers of the Feb. 5 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon announced the elite field for this year's 61st running.  The six Japan-based invited athletes include last year's runner-up Daniel Njenga (Kenya/Team Yakult) and 6th-place finisher Yuki Moriwaki (Team JFE Steel), last summer's Asian Championships bronze medalist Kenji Takeuchi (Team Toyota Kyushu) and 2011 Hokkaido Marathon winner Harun Njoroge (Kenya/Team Komori Corp.).

Among the seven  overseas elites are 2010's 3rd-placer Jeff Hunt (Australia), 2007 Biwako Mainichi Marathon winner Samson Ramadhani (Tanzania) and two-time Hofu Yomiuri Marathon winner Serod Batochir (Mongolia).

The general division includes 2011 Grand Tour Kyushu ekiden MVP Takehiro Arakawa (Team Asahi Kasei) and Takaaki Tanaka of 2012 Hakone Ekiden course record setters Toyo University, both making their marathon debuts.  Comedian Hiroshi Neko is also entered as part of his quest to qualify for the London Olympics for Cambodia.  A total of 2098 athletes are entered for this year's race.

2012 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon Elite Field
Oita, 2/5/12
click here for complete field listing

Men
1. Samson Ramadhani (Tanzania) - 2:08:01 (London, 2003)
2. Abdellah Falil (Morocco) - 2:08:18 (Daegu, 2011)
3. Adam Draczynski (Poland) - 2:10:49 (Vienna, 2010)
4. Jeff Hunt (Australia) - 2:11:00 (Beppu-Oita, 2010)
5. Serod Batochir (Mongolia) - 2:11:35 (London, 2011)
6. Desta Gebrehiwet (Ethiopia) - 2:11:55 (Venice, 2011)
7. Yakob Jarso (Ethiopia) - debut - 1:00:07 (New Delhi, 2010)
11. Daniel Njenga (Kenya/Team Yakult) - 2:06:16 (Chicago, 2002)
12. Harun Njoroge (Kenya/Team Komori Corp.) - 2:11:43 (Beppu-Oita, 2011)
13. Yuki Moriwaki (Team JFE Steel) - 2:12:34 (Beppu-Oita, 2011)
14. Kenji Takeuchi (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 2:12:44 (Nobeoka, 2011)
15. Keisuke Wakui (Team Yakult) - 2:13:31 (Biwako, 2011)
16. Masanori Ishida (Team Sagawa Express) - 2:13:54 (Nobeoka, 2011)
101. Norimasa Nishina (Team Fujitsu) - 2:15:12 (Hofu, 2011)
102. Chia Che Chang (Taiwan) - 2:17:12 (Hofu, 2008)
104. Tetsuo Nishimura (Team YKK) - 2:14:22 (Biwako, 2007)
105. Rei Yoshioka (Team Yakult) - debut - 1:02:56 (Ageo, 2005)
112. Teruto Ozaki (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:13:28 (Beijing, 2006)
115. Takehiro Arakawa (Team Asahi Kasei) - debut - 1:03:17 (Tamana, 2011)
116. Yoshikazu Kawazoe (Team Asahi Kasei) - debut - 1:03:19 (Nat'l Corp. Half, 2010)
120. Yu Chiba (Team Honda) - debut - 1:04:01
121. Takaaki Tanaka (Toyo Univ.) - debut - 1:05:44

Women
2001. Kaori Yoshida (Amino Vital AC) - 2:29:45 (Chicago, 2010)
2002. Chiyuki Mochizuki (Canon AC Kyushu) - 2:39:57 (Beppu-Oita, 2011)
2003. Yuka Ezaki (Team Kyudenko) - 2:31:35 (Osaka Int'l, 2007)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Chepchirchir, Ito, Kawauchi, Kisorio and Sato Headline Elite Field of 53 at Marugame International Half Marathon

http://www.jiji.com/jc/c?g=spo_30&k=2012011600713
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/sports/news/120116/oth12011619010032-n1.htm
http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2012/01/16/kiji/K20120116002445470.html
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/region/news/120117/kgw12011702170000-n1.htm
http://www.shikoku-np.co.jp/sports/local/20120117000111

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On Jan. 16 the organizers of the 66th Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon, scheduled for Feb. 5, announced the 36 men and 17 women making up this year's elite field.  Headlining the overseas men's field are 58:46 all-time #3 half marathoner Matthew Kisorio (Kenya) and course record holder Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya).  The top domestic draws in the men's race are national record holder Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) and Olympic hopeful Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) in his final tuneup for the Tokyo Marathon.  Two-time World Championships marathoner Satoshi Irifune (Team Kanebo) will also run, and 2012 Hakone Ekiden top four Toyo University, Komazawa University, Meiji University and Waseda University will all send members of this year's teams.

1:08:07 half marathoner Sarah Chepchirchir (Kenya) leads the overseas women's field, along with Ethiopian Tiki Gelana.  2011 World Championships marathoner Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku), 2009 World Championships marathoner Yoshiko Fujinaga (Team Shiseido) and Kagawa natives Yuka Izumi (Team Tenmaya) and Kumi Ogura (Team Shikoku Denryoku) top the women's race.   Making a return from giving birth to her first baby, marathoner Mari Ozaki (Team Noritz) will also line up, and 2010 Nagoya International Women's Marathon winner Yuri Kano (Team Shiseido) is entered in the women's general division.  11025 people are entered for the half marathon, with entrants in the 3 km and 1 km races swelling the total numbers to 12384.

2012 Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon Elite Field Highlights
Marugame, Kagawa, 2/5/12
click here for complete elite field listing

Women
Sarah Chepchirchir (Kenya) - 1:08:07
Yuri Kano (Team Shiseido) - 1:08:57
Yoshiko Fujinaga (Team Shiseido) - 1:09:29
Mari Ozaki (Team Noritz) - 1:09:33
Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 1:09:54
Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:10:03
Tiki Gelana (Ethiopia) - 1:10:22
Kaoru Nagao (Team Univ. Ent.) - 1:10:45
Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) - 1:10:51
Shino Saito (Team Shimamura) - 1:10:51
Yuka Izumi (Team Tenmaya) - 1:10:58
Yui Sakai (Team Shiseido) - 1:11:05
Sung-Eun Kim (Korea) - 1:11:34
Shoko Mori (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:11:41
Rika Shintaku (Team Shimamura) - 1:11:49
Sayo Nomura (Meijo Univ.) - 1:11:54
Chiharu Matsuo (Team Kyudenko) - 1:12:00
Misato Horie (Team Noritz) - 1:12:16
Kumi Ogura (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 1:12:21
Eriko Noguchi (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:12:44
Ho-Sun Park (Korea) - 1:12:58
Margarita Plaksina (Russia) - 2:27:07 (marathon)

Men
Matthew Kisorio (Kenya) - 58:46
Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya) - 59:48
Atsushi Sato (Teak Chugoku Denryoku) - 1:00:25
Jacob Wanjuki (Kenya/Team Aichi Seiko) - 1:00:32
James Mwangi (Kenya/Team NTN) - 1:00:34
Alistair Cragg (Ireland) - 1:00:49
Daniel Gitau (Kenya/Team Konica Minolta) - 1:01:08
Satoshi Irifune (Team Kanebo) - 1:01:36
Kenta Oshima (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 1:01:48
Rachid Kisri (Morocco) - 1:01:52
Yuko Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:01:53
Yusuke Takabayashi (Team Toyota) - 1:01:54
Soji Ikeda (Team Yakult) - 1:02:10
Arata Fujiwara (Tokyo T&F Assoc.) - 1:02:17
Yukihiro Kitaoka (Team NTN) - 1:02:17
Keita Kurihara (Team Chudenko) - 1:02:17
Tomoyuki Morita (Team Kanebo) - 1:02:20
Munehiro Sugaya (Team Toyota Boshoku) - 1:02:22
Makoto Tobimatsu (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 1:02:26
Cosmas Ondiba (Kenya/Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:27
Chiharu Takata (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 1:02:27
Keisuke Nakatani (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 1:02:30
Hiromitsu Kakuage (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:02:34
Ryotaro Nitta (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:02:35
Masaki Shimoju (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:02:35
Masatoshi Kikuchi (Team Fujitsu) - 1:02:36
Satoru Kasuya (Team Toyota Boshoku) - 1:02:40
Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) - 1:02:40
Takumi Owada (Team Hitachi Cable) - 1:02:40
Tsukasa Morita (Team Sanyo Tokushu Seiko) - 1:02:42
Seiji Kobayashi (Team Mitsuibishi Juko Nagasaki) - 1:02:44
Shuji Yoshikawa (Team Kyudenko) - 1:02:44
Satoshi Yoshii (Team Sumco) - 1:02:45
Kazuya Deguchi (Team Asahi Kasei) - 1:02:46
Daisuke Matsufuji (Team Kanebo) - 1:02:47
Kazuhiko Bando (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 1:02:49
Masanori Kitajima (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 1:02:50
Ryo Matsumoto (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 1:02:50
Shota Yamaguchi (Team Fujitsu) - 1:02:51
Ryo Yamamoto (Team Sagawa Express) - 1:02:51
Yuta Igarashi (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 1:02:52
Masaki Ito (Kokushikan Univ.) - 1:02:53
Tomoyuki Sato (Team Asahi Kasei) - 1:02:53
Hidemi Yokomine (Team Yakult) - 1:02:53
Koji Matsuoka (Team Mazda) - 1:02:55
Yuki Iwai (Team Asahi Kasei) - 1:02:59
Dmytro Baranovskyy (Ukraine) - 2:07:15 (marathon)
Jinhyeok Jeong (Korea) - 2:09:28 (marathon)
Benjamin Gandu (Kenya/Nihon Univ.) - 28:03.43 (10000 m)
Shuhei Yamamoto (Waseda Univ.) - 28:38.15 (10000 m)
Keita Shitara (Toyo Univ.) - 28:46.80 (10000 m)
Hiroyuki Sasaki (Waseda Univ.) - 28:48.47 (10000 m)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Osaka Wins First National Women's Ekiden Championships Title in 19 Years

Yuka Tokuda gives Osaka the National Women's Ekiden win in 2:16:37. Click photo for video highlights courtesy of broadcaster NHK.

by Brett Larner

The Osaka women's team emerged from nowhere to take a surprise win at the 30th anniversary National Interprefectural Women's Ekiden Championships Jan. 15 in Kyoto, leading wire to wire to score its first national title in 19 years.  First Stage runner Ryoko Kizaki, winner of November's Yokohama International Women's Marathon Olympic selection race, got things off on the right by taking the 6.0 km opening leg by a margin of 2 seconds.  Chizuru Ideta followed up on the 4.0 km Second Stage, second-fastest on time but holding on to the narrow lead, but Third Stage junior high school runner Nozomi Musembi Takamatsu, half-Japanese daughter of Kenyan 2001 Nagano Marathon winner Maxwell Musembi, deserves much of the credit for opening up a permanent lead despite only running 3.0 km.  Takamatsu was second on her stage on time but managed to gap rival Azusa Sumi of Aichi prefecture.  Only one of Osaka's six remaining runners made the top three on stage time, but each made a small contribution to the final 56-second margin of victory with which anchor Yuka Tokuda brought the team home.

Defending champion Kyoto Prefecture was 2nd, moving up in the second half of the race after a slow start but falling short of catching Osaka with a somewhat flat performance by anchor Kasumi Nishihara, the 2011 national corporate 10000 m champion.  2010 champion Okayama Prefecture was a ramshackle version of its former self, with First Stage runner and Olympian Yurika Nakamura a dismal 42nd of 47 and three more of its runners missing out on making the top twenty on their stages.  Kojokan H.S. ace Katsuki Suga was virtually the team's sole bright spot, 2nd on the 4.1075 km Fifth Stage, but even so Okayama could do no better than outkicking Saitama Prefecture by 2 seconds for 8th.

Chiba Prefecture was a large presence as expected, taking 3rd on the strength of anchor Hitomi Niiya's stage win despite a weak leading run from Yurie Doi.  Had Doi been up to her usual level it may have been enough for Niiya to be in range of Kyoto on the final loop of the track, but Chiba's performance was nevertheless strong.  Expected challengers Aichi Prefecture and Gifu Prefecture featured in the early part of the day but each faded in the later stages, Aichi settling into 6th and Gifu 20th.

In other noteworthy individual action, 2011 national champion Toyokawa H.S.'s Yuka Ando of Aichi Prefecture took down a number of strong pro and university runners to win the 4.0 km Second Stage, not least among them stage record and 1500 m national record holder Yuriko Kobayashi of Hyogo Prefecture.  Ando's rival Nanako Kanno of Ritsumeikan Uji H.S., running for the Kyoto team, nearly did the same on the 4.0 km Fourth Stage, but despite falling two seconds short of university star Risa Takenaka's 12:48 stage win for Shiga Prefecture, Kanno had the consolation of beating the likes of 10000 m Olympic A-standard holder Yuko Shimizu of Gifu Prefecture and 5000 m national champion Megumi Kinukawa, who placed 4th for Gunma Prefecture in her first race since Achilles tendon trouble last month.  10000 m national champion Kayo Sugihara of Shimane Prefecture was likewise 4th on the 10.0 km anchor stage behind Niiya and university runners Hikari Yoshimoto of Kumamoto Prefecture and Hanae Tanaka of Ritsumeikan University.

The National Interprefectural Men's Ekiden Championships takes place next Sunday, Jan. 22, in Hiroshima with the same team format mixing runners from junior high to pro.  Check back later in the week for JRN's detailed preview and information on watching the commercial-free national broadcast online.  Follow @JRNLive for real-time English-language race updates.

2012 National Interprefectural Women's Ekiden Championships
47 teams, 9 stages, 42.195 km
Kyoto, 1/15/12
click here for complete results

Stage Best Results
First Stage (6.0 km)
1. Ryoko Kizaki (Osaka/Team Daihatsu) - 19:21
2. Misaki Onishi (Mie/Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 19:23
3. Sayo Nomura (Gifu/Meijo Univ.) - 19:23

Second Stage (4.0 km)
1. Yuka Ando (Aichi/Toyokawa H.S.) - 12:26
2. Chizuru Ideta (Osaka/Team Daihatsu) - 12:28
3. Yuki Mitsunobu (Saga/Team Kyocera) - 12:32

Third Stage (3.0 km)
1. Ayaka Nakagawa (Saitama/Asaka Daisan J.H.S.) - 9:17
2. Nozomi Musembi Takamatsu (Osaka/Kunei Joshi Gakuen J.H.S.) - 9:22
3. Yuka Kobayashi (Tochigi/Nakamura J.H.S.) - 9:25

Fourth Stage (4.0 km)
1. Risa Takenaka (Shiga/Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 12:48
2. Nanako Kanno (Kyoto/Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 12:50
3. Yuko Shimizu (Gifu/Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 12:52

Fifth Stage (4.1075 km)
1. Nanami Aoki (Kyoto/Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 12:57
2. Katsugi Suga (Okayama/Kojokan H.S.) - 13:02
3. Rui Aoyama (Kanagawa/Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 13:11

Sixth Stage (4.0875 km)
1. Mika Kobayashi (Hyogo/Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 12:58
2. Fumiko Hashimoto (Saitama/Team Shimamura) - 13:01
3. Miku Yamamoto (Aichi/Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 13:08

Seventh Stage (4.0 km)
1. Risa Yokoe (Hyogo/Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 12:33
2. Mizuki Matsuda (Osaka/Kunei Joshi Gakuen H.S.) - 12:46
3. Moe Kyuma (Kyoto/Ayabe H.S.) - 12:48

Eighth Stage (3.0 km)
1. Kokoro Sawairi (Shizuoka/Fujioka J.H.S.) - 9:53
2. Fukiko Ando (Hyogo/Okubo J.H.S.) - 9:55
3. Yurina Kinoshita (Kanagawa/Nagata J.H.S.) - 9:59

Ninth Stage (10.0 km)
1. Hitomi Niiya (Chiba/Sakura A.C.) - 32:06
2. Hikari Yoshimoto (Kumamoto/Bukkyo Univ.) - 32:17
3. Hanae Tanaka (Fukuoka/Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 32:18

Top Team Results
1. Osaka - 2:16:37
2. Kyoto - 2:17:33
3. Chiba - 2:17:49
4. Hyogo - 2:17:53
5. Fukuoka - 2:17:55
6. Aichi - 2:18:10
7. Shizuoka - 2:18:32
8. Okayama - 2:18:52
9. Saitama - 2:18:54
10. Kanagawa - 2:19:15

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Kinukawa May DNS at Olympic Marathon Selection Race After Training Setback

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2012/01/15/kiji/K20120115002431060.html

translated by Brett Larner

Targeting the London Olympics marathon, 5000 m national champion Megumi Kinukawa (22, Mizuno) may withdraw from the Mar. 11 Nagoya Women's Marathon Olympic selection race.  The news came out following the Jan. 14 opening ceremonies for Sunday's National Interprefectural Women's Ekiden Championships that Kinukawa began experiencing pain in her right Achilles tendon in early December and was forced to take 20 days off training.  As a result of her training being far behind schedule, she switched places on the Gunma team at the Jan. 15 ekiden from her planned debut on the 10.0 km anchor stage to the 4.0 km Fourth Stage.  "I've only just started running, so I'm at about 50%," she said with obvious discouragement.  "I hope to improve on that in the race tomorrow."

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Watch the 2012 National Women's Ekiden Live Online - Preview

by Brett Larner

The last national championship women's ekiden of the season takes place this Sunday, Jan. 15 in Kyoto.  The National Interprefectural Women's Ekiden Championships have one of the most interesting formats on the circuit, with teams of nine women ranging from junior high schoolers to pros running for teams representing Japan's 47 prefectures.  The open stages are one of the few chances to see the best high school, university and pro women battle it out, while the stages reserved for junior high and high school runners often feature breakout performances by unknowns.  The commercial-free national broadcast and outstanding online coverage begins on NHK at 12:15 p.m.  Overseas viewers should be able to watch live online via Keyhole TV using the password NHK, with English-language commentary available once again via Twitter @JRNLive.

Final start lists at the men's and women's National Interprefectural Ekidens are notoriously unpredictable compared to the posted entry lists, but assuming anything similar to what is currently public hosts and perennial favorites Kyoto Prefecture once again bring the strongest team to the start line.  Look for national corporate 10000 m champion Kasumi Nishihara, top-ranked high schoolers Nanako Kanno, Haruka Kyuma and Ayano Ikeuchi and Nagoya University ace Eriko Kushima to give Kyoto a winning edge, particularly in the second half of the race.  The only team to beat Kyoto in recent years, Okayama Prefecture, is again its strongest rival, with a team made up entirely runners from National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships 4th-place Team Tenmaya and National High School Ekiden Championships runners-up Kojokan H.S. plus two junior high girls.

This year three other prefectural teams stand a good chance of competing with the two favorites, all three sporting four runners among the best on their stages.  Aichi Prefecture is the best of these, on paper tying Kyoto and Okayama.  Leading off with National University 5000 m champion Ayuko Suzuki, Aichi has an overall high level and has distributed its talent throughout the race, so look for it to be a steady presence near the front.  Chiba Prefecture includes 2011 National Track & Field Championships 5000 m runner-up Hitomi Niiya and ascendant ekiden star Yurie Doi in its lineup and should do well through at least the first five stages.  Gifu Prefecture is something of a surprise, leading off with outstanding track and ekiden specialist Yuko Shimizu and following with three more women among the best of their stage.  It wouldn't be a surprise to see Gifu in the early lead.

In individual competition, the 6.0 km First Stage and 10.0 km Ninth Stage once again feature most of the best talent.  Along with Shimizu, Niiya, Nishihara and Suzuki on the First Stage are ekiden star Korei Omata (Yamanashi), World Championships marathoner Yoshiko Fujinaga (Nagasaki), Yokohama International Women's Marathon winner Ryoko Kizaki (Osaka) and national champion Ritsumeikan University leader Risa Takenaka (Shiga).  The main event on the anchor stage is a great three-way matchup between national 5000 m champion Megumi Kinukawa (Gunma), national 10000 m champion Kayo Sugihara (Shimane) and national 10000 m collegiate record holder Hikari Yoshimoto (Kumamoto), but with a dozen other big names there should be plenty of action.  Notables on other stages include 1500 m national record holder Yuriko Kobayashi (Hyogo) looking to start of her Olympic season by breaking her own Second Stage course record, and the up-and-coming Doi on Fifth Stage for Chiba.

2012 National Women's Interprefectural Ekiden Championships
Entry List Highlights
Jan. 15, Kyoto
9 stages, 42.195 km
click here for complete entry lists
bib numbers: team - stage

First Stage - 6 km (open)
stage record: 18:44 - Miwako Yamanaka (Nara/Team Daihatsu), 2003
24-1. Yuko Shimizu (Gifu/Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 32:14.71
15-1. Korei Omata (Yamanashi/Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 32:27.89
43-1. Seika Nishikawa (Kumamoto/Team Sysmex) - 32:37.28
42-1. Yoshiko Fujinaga (Nagasaki/Team Shiseido) - 32:44.60
12-1. Hitomi Niiya (Chiba/Sakura AC) - 15:13.12
27-1. Ryoko Kizaki (Osaka/Team Daihatsu) - 15:22.87
26-1. Kasumi Nishihara (Kyoto/Team Yamada Denki) - 15:23.80
22-1. Ayuko Suzuki (Aichi/Nagoya Univ.) - 15:33.47
25-1. Risa Takenaka (Shiga/Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 15:33.54
10-1. Miyuki Gokan (Gunma/Tokiwa H.S.) - 9:08.46

Second Stage - 4 km (open)
stage record: 12:07 - Yuriko Kobayashi (Hyogo/Team Toyota Jidoshokki), 2009
28-2. Yuriko Kobayashi (Hyogo/Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 15:33.09
37-2. Yui Okada (Tokushima/Mima Shugyo H.S.) - 9:13.41
22-2. Yuka Ando (Aichi/Toyokawa H.S.) - 9:14.27
12-2. Yuriko Kosaki (Chiba/Narita H.S.) - 9:15.52
35-2. Ayumi Hagiwara (Yamaguchi/Team Uniqlo) - 9:19.56

Third Stage - 3 km (J.H.S.)
stage record: 9:11 - Yui Takahashi (Yamagata/Tobishima J.H.S.), 2004
11-3. Ayaka Nakagawa (Saitama/Asaka San J.H.S.) - 9:17.46
27-2. Nozomi Musenbi Takamatsu (Osaka/Kunei Joshi Gakuin J.H.S.) - 9:22.99
21-3. Nao Yamamoto (Shizuoka/Mikkabi J.H.S.) - 9:23.49
24-3. Sachi Aoki (Gifu/Tajimi J.H.S.) - 9:25.56
14-3. Naho Matsumoto (Kanagawa/Midorigaoka J.H.S.) - 9:28.51

Fourth Stage - 4 km (open)
stage record: 12:41 - Yuriko Kobayashi (Hyogo/Team Toyota Jidoshokki), 2011
10-4. Yuika Mori (Gunma/Team Yamada Denki) - 15:36.55
12-4. Riko Matsuzaki (Chiba/Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 9:10.37
26-4. Nanako Kanno (Kyoto/Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 9:17.44
33-4. Chiyo Adachi (Okayama/Kojokan H.S.) - 9:18.16

Fifth Stage - 4.1075 km (open)
stage record: 12:53 - Taeko Igarashi (Miyagi/Sendai Ikuei H.S.), 1995
12-5. Yurie Doi (Chiba/Team Starts) - 15:41.38
33-5. Miyuki Oka (Okayama/Kojokan H.S.) - 9:10.62
22-5. Mao Kiyota (Aichi/Chukyo Prep. H.S.) - 9:13.43

Sixth Stage - 4.0875 km (H.S.)
stage record: 12:39 - Nanako Kanno (Kyoto/Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.), 2011
33-6. Katsuki Suga (Okayama/Kojokan H.S.) - 9:05.72
26-6. Haruka Kyuma (Kyoto/Ayabe H.S.) - 9:23.21

Seventh Stage - 4 km (H.S.)
stage record: 12:21 - Kazue Kojima (Kyoto/Ritsumeikan Univ.), 2007
26-7. Ayano Ikeuchi (Kyoto/Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 9:17.64
44-7. Madoka Uesugi (Oita/Nihon Bunri Prep H.S.) - 9:24.63
45-7. Yuki Nakamura (Miyazaki/Kobayashi H.S.) - 9:28.75

Eighth Stage - 3 km (J.H.S.)
stage record: 9:41 - Moe Kyuma (Kyoto/Ayabe J.H.S.), 2009
17-8. Kanna Tamaki (Nagano/Kawanakajima J.H.S.) - 9:25.24
24-8. Yuka Hori (Gifu/Nakayama J.H.S.) - 9:35.76
22-8. Hinano Yamada (Aichi/Miyoshi Kita J.H.S.) - 9:39.14

Ninth Stage - 10 km (pro/univ.)
stage record: 30:52 - Kayoko Fukushi (Aomori/Team Wacoal), 2004
10-9. Megumi Kinukawa (Gunma/Mizuno) - 31:10.02
32-9. Kayo Sugihara (Shimane/Team Denso) - 31:34.35
43-9. Hikari Yoshimoto (Kumamoto/Bukkyo Univ.) - 31:45.82
26-9. Eriko Kushima (Kyoto/Kyoto Sangyo Univ.) - 32:16.84
23-9. Hiroko Shoi (Mie/Team Nihon ChemiCon) - 32:17.39
21-9. Hitomi Nakamura (Shizuoka/Team Panasonic) - 32:23.49
34-9. Yuko Watanabe (Hiroshima/Team Edion) - 32:27.89
28-9. Ayumi Sakaida (Hyogo/Team Daihatsu) - 32:37.39
22-9. Asami Kato (Aichi/Team Panasonic) - 32:51.07
37-9. Mai Ito (Tokushima/Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 32:54.15
24-9. Sayo Nomura (Gifu/Meijo Univ.) - 32:57.69
29-9. Kazue Kojima (Nara/Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 15:35.87
40-9. Hanae Tanaka (Fukuoka/Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 15:54.18
33-9. Yurika Nakamura (Okayama/Team Tenmaya) - 15:57.60
45-9. Aya Nagata (Miyazaki/Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 9:18.41

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved