Wednesday, February 29, 2012

'Vancouver Man Eyes Japanese Marathon'

http://www.vancourier.com/technology/Vancouver+eyes+Japanese+marathon/6223704/story.html

No Clemency Granted as Transferring Sendai Ikuei Team Barred for Six Months

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20120228-910220.html
http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/p-sp-tp0-20120222-907198.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On Feb. 28 the Aichi Prefecture High School Athleteics Board announced its decision with regard to the ten first and second-year former members of Miyagi prefecture ekiden powerhouse Sendai Ikuei H.S. who have transferred to Aichi's three-time girls' national champion Toyokawa H.S. due to the effects of last year's disasters and other problems.  The board has ruled that no special consideration will be given to the athletes as victims of the disasters and that in accordance with standard policy they will be barred from competing in high school federation-sponsored events for six months.  The transferring athletes will not be eligible to compete in this summer's National High School Track & Field Championships but will be able to run November's Aichi prefecture qualifier for the National High School Ekiden Championships.

Further details of the transfer were also released.  In addition to the ten previously announced students, among whom are all seven first and second-year Japanese members of last year's Nationals team, five of the six top-ranked junior high school boys Sendai Ikuei had recruited to join its ekiden team at the start of the school year in April have cancelled their enrollments.  Sendai Ikuei's boys' and girls' teams have made the National High School Ekiden Championships together for twenty-straight years and have won a combined total of nine National High School Ekiden titles, but head coach and Sendai Ikuei alum Junichi Seino resigned from the school following suggestions that former head coach Takao Watanabe return to work together with him in the wake of the boys' team's 12th-place finish last December.  According to a source connected to the school, there is no chance whatsoever that Watanabe will return to coach at Sendai Ikuei.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Yoshii Out of Lake Biwa With Injury

http://mainichi.jp/enta/sports/general/news/20120228ddm035050076000c.html

translated by Brett Larner

On Feb. 27 the organizers of the 67th Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon announced that domestic invited elite Satoshi Yoshii (28, Team Sumco), with a PB of 2:10:45 from last year's Lake Biwa, has withdrawn from the Mar. 4 race due to injury problems.  Yoshii began experiencing pain in his right knee in mid-January.  He continued to train while trying to recuperate from the problem, but in compensating for the injury his left Achilles tendon also became painful.

Fujiwara's H.S. Coach, Hometown Supporters Delighted With Tokyo Performance

http://mainichi.jp/area/nagasaki/news/20120227ddlk42050279000c.html
http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/osaka/sports/article/news/20120228-OHO1T00105.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner
photo by Dr. Helmut Winter


At the Feb. 26 Tokyo Marathon, Isahaya, Nagasaki native and Isahaya H.S. alum Arata Fujiwara, 30, was the top Japanese finisher at 2nd overall in 2:07:48, immediately elevating him into the top position among the contenders for the London Olympic team.  Voices of support and congratulations have poured in from his hometown friends and colleagues and from his former teachers.  As a student at Isahaya H.S. Fujiwara never made it to the National High School Championships, but according to his coach at Isahaya, Toshihiro Matsumoto, even in those days he never neglected his training and was always focused on improving, traits that remain inside him now.

Two weeks ago, with no doubt in his voice, Fujiwara told his former coach by phone, "I'm going to run 2:07.  I'm going to London."  Matsumoto travelled to Tokyo to see the race, watching near the 30 km point.  When he saw Fujiwara in pursuit of the leaders he shouted out, "Keep going!  Keep going!" at the top of his voice.  Right after the race Fujiwara called him, almost exploding with energy as he said, "Coach!  I did it!"

Two years ago Fujiwara quit the JR Higashi Nihon corporate team.  He signed a contract with a Japanese manager and sports equipment manufacturer, but after firing the manager last spring he terminated the relationship with the sponsor in October after they failed to pay him.  Now, Matsumoto believes, Fujiwara is set for the Olympics.  "I admire him for achieving this on his own.  It shows his strength of mind," said Matsumoto.

Isahaya mayor Akio Miyamoto gave Fujiwara exceptional praise, saying, "If he is named to the Olympic team he will follow gymnast Kohei Uchimura and race walker Koichiro Morioka to become Isahaya's third Olympian.  The way he advanced in pursuit of the lead in the final stage of the race was superb and deeply moved all the citizens of Isahaya."

photo (c) 2012 Dr. Helmut Winter
all rights reserved

Gebrselassie Gives Words of Support to Kawauchi

http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/120228/spg1202280505000-n1.htm
http://mainichi.jp/enta/sports/general/track/news/20120227spn00m050018000c.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner
photo by Dr. Helmut Winter


Pre-race and pre-haircut.

A day after the Tokyo Marathon Olympic selection race, pre-race favorites Arata Fujiwara (30, Tokyo T&F Assoc.) and Yuki Kawauchi (24, Saitama Pref.) were on opposite sides of the fence after finishing 2nd and 14th.  While Fujiwara celebrated securing his Olympic ticket, Kawauchi appeared at a post-race ceremony at his high school with a "penitent" shaven head, a sign of how seriously he has let go of his hopes of making the London Olympic team.  "I was unable to produce results and I want to apologize to everyone who has supported me," he said.  "My shot at the Olympics is over.  With this result I do not expect to be selected.  I have no regrets about it."

The same day, former world record holder Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopia) made an appearance as a "coach" at an Adidas-sponsored program at a Tokyo-area school after finishing 4th in the Tokyo Marathon.  When a journalist showed him a picture of the bald-headed Kawauchi, Gebrselassie gave a shout of surprise and shock.  Hearing of Kawauchi's words of despondency Gebrselassie sent him his personal encouragement, saying, "You cannot give up.  If today was a bad day then you must look to tomorrow, and then to think of next year.  There is no other choice."

Although he has given up on his Olympic dream, the truth of the stimulus this full-time working amateur has provided to the Japanese men's marathon world remains unshaken.  "If other Japanese athletes make us all proud and run 2:06 or 2:07 to make the Olympic team then maybe my being here meant something," he said.  In the wake of Tokyo he plans to run the April 29 Metro Group Dusseldorf Marathon, where German Olympic hopefuls and Kenyans will also be lining up.  "This time I want to run in the lead pack and then show all the Germans and Kenyans the strength of the Japanese," he said.  For Kawauchi's competitive spirit, there is no finish line.

photo (c) 2012 Dr. Helmut Winter
all rights reserved

Monday, February 27, 2012

10000 m National Champion Sugihara Wins on Roads at Inuyama Half Marathon

by Brett Larner

Alongside the Tokyo Marathon, three important half marathons took place on Feb. 26.

At the oldest of them, the 61st Kashima Yutoku Road Race, talented amateur Hiroko Yoshitomi (First Dream AC) had a breakthrough with a 1:12:35 course record in the women's half marathon.  Daito Bunka University first-year Takashi Ichida had a comfortable 25-second win over Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai runner-up Yusuke Sato (Nihon Univ.), running 1:04:20 to Sato's 1:04:45 in the men's race.  Hakone champ Toyo University's Koshi Watanabe was close behind Sato in 3rd in 1:04:48.

Pro Keita Baba (Team Honda) outkicked Ichida's teammate Junji Katakawa (Daito Bunka Univ.) to win the 6th Fukaya Half Marathon, 1:04:41 to 1:04:46.  Honda runners also took the 3rd and 4th places.  Rina Kurosawa (Tamagawa Univ.) won the women's race in 1:15:30.

The biggest half marathon results of the weekend came at the 34th Yomiuri Inuyama Half Marathon.  Running solo, 10000 m national champion Kayo Sugihara (Team Denso) beat Yoshitomi's Yutoku time with a strong 1:11:59, just off her PB.  In the men's race Shogo Nakamura and Kensuke Gotoda of Hakone Ekiden runner-up Komazawa University took the top two men's spots, running 1:03:26 and 1:03:49.

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Fujiwara, 2nd in 2:07:48: "I Went Out for Korean Barbecue"

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20120227-909700.html

translated by Brett Larner

After finishing 2nd overall as the top Japanese man at the 2012 Tokyo Marathon, Arata Fujiwara (30, Tokyo T&F Assoc.) spoke happily the morning after the race.  Last night he broke his week-long ban on drinking alcohol, raising celebratory cups until "an hour when athletes aren't supposed to be up.  I wanted to eat meat, any kind, so I went out for Korean barbecue.  I had a craving for red meat so I had five or six people's worth of harami.  It tasted.....pretty normal," he said with a laugh.

Having set a new PB of 2:07:48 in Tokyo Fujiwara is certain to make the London Olympics team.  "I'm thinking about the blueprint for where to go next," he said.  "For the time being I'm just going to do nothing at all but take it easy for a week," he said as he looks forward to his recovery.  A measure of the sensation his run has caused: "My Facebook has gone so crazy that I don't know what to do," he laughed.

Kawauchi, 14th in 2:12:51: "I Do Not Think I Will be Picked" for Olympics; Shaves Head

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/sports/news/120226/oth12022616510012-n1.htm
http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20120227-909730.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner
photo by Dr. Helmut Winter


His head lolling, just before 24 km Yuki Kawauchi (24, Saitama Pref.) fell back from the second pack at the Feb. 26 Tokyo Marathon.  At the Fukuoka International Marathon he dynamically closed a gap of 23 seconds at 30 km to finish 3rd, but in Tokyo he didn't have enough energy even to make up the distance once he fell behind.  "I'm disappointed in myself that I let my confidence get shaken by not being able to get my drink bottles at 5 km and 10 km," he said after the race.  "Maybe it was a lack of preparation, or a lack of experience.....It was disgraceful."  Having run well in Fukuoka as a practice run, Kawauchi chose to run a second Olympic selection race expecting to do even better, but his Olympic quest has now ended in a disastrous defeat.

At last year's Tokyo Marathon Kawauchi qualified for the Daegu World Championships after running 2:08:37.  Ever since then the 24 year-old government worker has been surrounded by a whirlwind of attention.  He has been constantly approached by journalists, and whenever he goes to do his regular weekend training runs in Komazawa Park the cameras are clicking all around him as he runs.  "If you can't take the pressure then you'll never become a strong athlete," he said, accepting this part of celebrity as a chance for growth.

Kawauchi went into Tokyo without the slightest intention of trying to get into the Olympics just by being the first Japanese man across the line.  He did not view a time like his 2:09:57 from Fukuoka as even close to being competitive with the world's best and made it perfectly clear before Tokyo that he intended to go for a 2:07.  His position as a candidate for the Olympic team on the basis of his Fukuoka result remains unchanged, but Kawauchi is not holding on to any thought of running in the Olympics.  "If you're not good enough to be internationally competitive then you don't need to go to the Olympics," he said.  "I tried, and it's over.  Selection is based on results, and I do not think I will be picked."  Having followed his own vision and failed, even in defeat the strength of Kawauchi's character and sportsmanship shine through.

Following the race Kawauchi shaved his head in atonement for his performance.  "I felt that I had to give everyone who supported me a sign of my remorse," he said.  "It's better that my shame be exposed for everyone to see."  Click here for photos.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Kipyego, Habtamu Win Tokyo Marathon, Fujiwara Back With 2:07:48

by Brett Larner
photos by Dr. Helmut Winter


In ideal conditions verging on the cold side, the 2012 Tokyo Marathon played out to the patient, with top three women Atsede Habtamu (Ethiopia), Yeshi Esayias (Ethiopia) and Helena Loshanyang Kirop (Kenya) and top three men Michael Kipyego Kipkorir (Kenya), Arata Fujiwara (Tokyo T&F Assoc.) and Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda) all running down the early leaders in the final kilometers to finish on the podium.

Habtamu ran 2:25:28 for the Tokyo women's course record, while 4th-place woman Eri Okubo (Second Wind AC) ran a PB of 2:26:08, faster than the winning time at the Yokohama International Women's Marathon Olympic selection race, after setting off alone at 2:22 pace.  Kipyego, Fujiwara and Kiprotich all ran under 2:08, Kipyego taking the win in 2:07:37 and Fujiwara becoming the all-time 7th-best Japanese man with a 2:07:48 PB, the fastest time by a Japanese man in over four years. Breakaway men's leaders Haile Gebreselassie and Hailu Mekonnen of Ethiopia faltered after hitting the hills in the last 6 km, Gebrselassie finishing 4th in 2:08:17 and Mekonnen fading to 8th with Gebrselassie saying he had back trouble on the downhills and was unable to keep it together.  Domestic pre-race favorite Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) appeared to be straining after only 5 km and fell out of the main pack just past halfway, unable to reclose with a strong finish as his Olympic dream came to an all-but-sure end with his 14th-place 2:12:51 finish.

In the women's race Okubo, a 2:28 runner, went out aggressively at 2:22 pace on the first downhill section of the course with the foreign invited elites at a steadier 2:26 pace.  Okubo progressively slowed after 10 km but continued to look superbly strong even after #2-seeded Habtamu ran her down just before 40 km.  Habtumu kept pushing on to a new CR of 2:25:28, while Esayias and Kirop closed on Okubo in the last km, kicking away from her in the home straight.  Esayias scored a PB by just seconds, while further back Brazilian Adriana da Silva and Sumiko Suzuki (Team Hokuren) also set PBs as they went under 2:30 for the first time.  Despite her time being faster than Yokohama winner Ryoko Kizaki's mark Okubo will not be a contender for the London Olympic team as the Tokyo Marathon does not count in the Japanese women's Olympic selection procedure.

The men's race started off more or less as planned, with a top group of pacers taking Gebrselassie out at sub-3 minute/km pace and the second group holding steady closer to 3.  Five runners went with Gebrselassie, including Kipyego, Kiprotich, Mekonnen, 2:05 man Jafred Chirchir Kipchumba (Kenya) and 2010 Tokyo Marathon winner Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda).  In the large second group, Kawauchi was already red in the face by 5 km, while those around him in the pack of 30-40 looked largely relaxed.  The front group opened a lead of around 20 seconds over the second group by 10 km, but approaching the 15 km turnaround the pace slowed and the chase pack began to catch up.  Rounding the turnaround the pace up front accelerated again, and first Kipchumba and then Fujiwara dropped out of the lead pack and were swallowed up by the second pack.

The front group went through halfway in 1:02:51 with the second group in 1:03:20, and when one of the top group pacers stopped Gebrselassie and defending champion Mekonnen pushed ahead of the last pacer and dropped Kipyego and Kiprotich.  Between halfway and 25 km Kawauchi, looking very uncomfortable, lost touch with the second pack and dropped off quickly.  The movement in the second group didn't happen until their pacers stopped at 25 km, when Arata Fujiwara began to edge away, looking around and repeatedly motioning with his hand for others to come with him.  Nobody did, but a chase pack of five formed behind him, including Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko), 5000 m and 30 km national record holder Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta), Takeshi Kumamoto (Team Toyota), Bunta Kuroki (Team Yasukawa Denki) and Takaaki Koda (Team Asahi Kasei). When he realized he was alone, Fujiwara went to work and focused on running down those ahead.  Behind him, Tokyo course record holder Viktor Rothlin (Switzerland) joined the chase pack.


Mekonnen acted as a pacer for Gebrselassie after 25 km, keeping things moving on 2:05 pace while Kipyego held steady on track for 2:06 and Kiprotich faded to 2:07 territory.  Fujiwara caught up to Kiprotich after 30 km and the pair stuck together as they focused on making up ground to the three ahead of them.  The Ethiopian leaders appeared to settle into a more relaxed pace, and by 35 km they had slipped to 2:06 pace.  At the 35 km water station Gebrselassie's concentration slipped as he dropped his drink bottle, stopped to pick it up, then started running again without retrieving it.  Mekonnen seemed to wait for him, but a few hundred meters later on the first of the uphills he fell behind and Gebrselassie pulled away.  Fujiwara likewise lost touch with Kiprotich on the first of the uphills, but he quickly regained contact once the road leveled out.

At this stage the running order was Gebrselassie, Mekonnen, Kipyego, Kiprotich, Fujiwara, but in a demonstration of the unpredictability of the marathon the order completely turned over in the final 5 km.  Kipyego stepped up his effort as the Ethiopians faded, taking the lead at 38 km.  Kiprotich and Fujiwara overtook Mekonnen before Kiprotich dropped Fujiwara to run down Gebrselassie just before 40 km.  Fujiwara looked to have stalled, but pushing on the final hill at 41 km he caught Gebrselassie at the 1 km to go sign and rolled on after Kiprotich.  Kipyego packed it in for a 2:07:37 finish, missing the course record but happy with the win.  Fujiwara recaught Kiprotich just before the final corner, and in a sprint finish he dropped the Ugandan to take 2nd only 11 seconds behind winner Kipyego with the fastest 2nd-half split in the field.  Gebrselassie held on to 4th in 2:08:17, his first marathon finish in over two years but one unlikely to get him his hoped-for Olympic place.

Chase pack runners Rothlin, Maeda and Matsumiya all succeeded in running down Mekonnen, Rothlin returning to form with a 2:08:32 for 5th, Maeda throwing his hat into the Olympic contention ring with a 2:08:38 PB, and Matsumiya finally breaking 2:10 with a new best of 2:09:28.  Kawauchi was unable to summon up his characteristic second-half strength, and having risked his standing from Fukuoka on something better in Tokyo he lost his chance for the London Olympic team with a disappointing 2:12:51.  Masakazu Fujiwara likewise risked his chances on a brave first half up front, finishing 31st in 2:16:46.  With one men's Olympic selection race remaining, next weekend's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, Arata Fujiwara is as guaranteed a spot in London as is possible in a selection procedure with no published criteria.  Maeda's 2:08:38 puts him in good contention, but with a strong field lined up for Lake Biwa his time and 6th-place finish are surely in range of at least two Japanese men in that race.  If two break his time he will most likely follow Fujiwara's fate in the last Olympics and be relegated to alternate.

2012 Tokyo Marathon
Tokyo, 2/26/12
click here for top 500 results and splits

Men
1. Michael Kipyego Kipkorir (Kenya) - 2:07:37
2. Arata Fujiwara (Tokyo T&F Assoc.) - 2:07:48 - PB
3. Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda) - 2:07:50
4. Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopia) - 2:08:17
5. Viktor Rothlin (Switzerland) - 2:08:32
6. Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) - 2:08:38 - PB
7. Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) - 2:09:28 - PB
8. Hailu Mekonnen (Ethiopia) - 2:09:59
9. Takeshi Kumamoto (Team Toyota) - 2:10:13 - PB
10. Atsushi Ikawa (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:11:26

Women
1. Atsede Habtamu (Ethiopia) - 2:25:28 - CR
2. Yeshi Esayias (Ethiopia) - 2:26:00 - PB
3. Helena Loshanyang Kirop (Kenya) - 2:26:02
4. Eri Okubo (Second Wind AC) - 2:26:08 - PB
5. Tatiana Arkhipova (Russia) - 2:26:46
6. Lishan Dura (Bahrain) - 2:28:22
7. Eyerusalem Kuma (Ethiopia) - 2:28:36
8. Kateryna Stetsenko (Ukraine) - 2:28:38
9. Adriana da Silva (Brazil) - 2:29:17 - PB
10. Sumiko Suzuki (Team Hokuren) - 2:29:26 - PB

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

photo (c) 2012 Dr. Helmut Winter
all rights reserved

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Fukuoka XC Results

2012 Fukuoka International Cross-Country Meet Results
Fukuoka, 2/25/12
click here for complete results

Senior Men's 10 km
1. Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.) - 30:27
2. Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 30:27
3. Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.) - 30:32
4. Daichi Motomura (Tokai Univ.) - 30:40
5. Yuya Konishi (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 30:47
6. Yu Mitsuya (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 30:50
7. Hiroyoshi Umegae (Team NTN) - 30:56
8. Shinobu Kubota (Komazawa Univ.) - 30:58
9. Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B) - 31:00
10. Hideyuki Anzai (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 31:02

Note: The top three men, Osako, Sato and Murasawa, are all graduates of Nagano's Saku Chosei H.S., along with 9th-place finisher Ueno.  Saku Chosei is one of the only schools to incorporate XC training as a staple of its methodology.

Senior Women's 6 km
1. Hitomi Niiya (Sakura AC) - 20:18
2. Grace Kimanzi (Kenya/Team Starts) - 20:38
3. Megumi Kinukawa (Mizuno) - 20:49
4. Ayuko Suzuki (Nagoya Univ.) - 20:56
5. Sachi Tanaka (Sports Yamagata 21) - 21:09
6. Hanae Tanaka (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 21:12
7. Izumi Nakajima (Team Daihatsu) - 21:19
8. Hiroko Shoi (Team Nihon ChemiCon) - 21:21
9. Anna Hasuike (Team Higo Ginko) - 21:29
10. Yuko Kikuchi (Hakuoh Univ.) - 21:33

Junior Men's 8 km
1. Jeremiah Karemi (Kenya/Toyokawa H.S.) - 24:27
2. Kazuma Kubota (Kyushu Gakuin H.S.) - 25:01
3. Yudai Yamamoto (Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 25:04
4. Kazuki Uemura (Mima Shugyo H.S.) - 25:08
5. Shota Baba (Kurashiki H.S.) - 25:09

Junior Women's 6 km
1. Miyuki Uehara (Kagoshima Joshi H.S.) - 20:45
2. Shiori Yano (Kita Kyushu Civic H.S.) - 20:54
3. Momoko Akiyama (Hakuoh Joshi H.S.) - 20:58
4. Yuki Maekawa (Torisu Chuo Kunei H.S.) - 20:59
5. Nanami Aoki (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 20:59

Junior Men's 4 km
1. Naoki Nakamura (Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 13:00
2. Ryunosuke Hayashi (Uwa H.S.) - 13:02
3. Akira Tomiyasu (Toyokawa Kogyo H.S.) - 13:04

Junior Women's 4 km
1. Tomoka Katada (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 14:31
2. Sakurako Fukuuchi (Kinki Prep H.S.) - 14:45
3. Kaori Kawazoe (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 14:48

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Long day. Feels like time for a musical interlude.

2012 Tokyo Marathon Preview (updated)

by Brett Larner
all photos by Dr. Helmut Winter

Update: Last year's 4th place finisher Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) has withdrawn with lower back pain problems.


The most anticipated Japanese marathon in years is here.  The second of three Japanese men's selection races for the London Olympics, the 2012 Tokyo Marathon looks set to get them back on track with the fast times that have dried up since Beijing.  The women's race is competitive despite an almost total absence of elite Japanese women, and former marathon world record holder Haile Gebrselassie is slated to try for what would undoubtedly be his final Olympic appearance. It's going to be a big day, and the weather looks good at this stage. You can follow along with Nihon TV's broadcast via Keyhole TV or via JRN's live Twitter commentary @JRNLive, both beginning at 9:00 a.m. Japan time on Sunday.

Going for 2:25, Eri Okubo (Second Wind AC).

Looking first at the women's race, it seems somehow self-defeating that with a multiple-race Olympic selection procedure domestic runners cannot participate against a strong international elite field in an IAAF gold label race in one of the world's great cities in their own country if they want to go to the Olympics.  Tokyo is not among the races at which Japanese women can qualify for the Olympic team.  The only two world-class Japanese women originally entered in Tokyo, Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) and Kaoru Nagao (Team Univ. Ent.), both bowed out of the chance to run against 2:23 and 2:24 Africans in Tokyo to instead run the Nagoya selection race against a domestic field with only a token international component.  That leaves the up-and-coming Eri Okubo (Second Wind AC) and the past-her-prime Yumiko Hara (Team Univ Ent.) to try to find a spot in the sizeable prize money among the nine foreign elites, the best of whom include Venice Marathon course record holder Helena Loshanyang Kirop (Kenya) and the strong Ethiopian duo of Atsede Habtamu and Eyerusalem Kuma, all sub-2:25 women.  Yes, there are a lot of politics involved with respecting other races' territory and with keeping the focus on the men, but having only two second-tier domestic women among eleven elites in the country's premier gold label marathon is an embarrassment, period.  Look for Kirop, Habtamu and Kuma to vie for the upper end of the prize purse with a possible challenge from Russian Tatiana Arkhipova, who was bumped up from 3rd to 2nd in last year's Tokyo results when Russian Tatyana Aryasova tested positive for a masking agent after winning.

                                                             No caption necessary.

In the men's race, Haile needs a fast time in Tokyo to make the Ethiopian Olympic team, and after a DNF at the 2010 New York City Marathon, a DNS at the 2011 Tokyo Marathon and another DNF at the 2011 Berlin Marathon it doesn't look good.  The talk was originally of him going for a controlled 2:05, but with a raft of young, relatively unknown Ethiopians running 2:04 and 2:05 in Dubai last month the pressure is on him for something faster.  If he is fit and motivated his most likely competitor is Kenyan Jafred Chirchir Kipchumba, who ran an excellent 2:05:48 to win last year's Eindhoven Marathon, something that would have seemed improbable a few years ago.  2009 Frankfurt Marathon winner Gilbert Kipruto Kirwa (Kenya) and Eindhoven 3rd-placer Michael Kipkorir Kipyego both have sub-2:07 marks and should also factor into the front of the race.

2011 Enschede Marathon winner Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda) and defending Tokyo champion Hailu Mekonnen (Ethiopian) both have 2:07 wins to their name, and at that level if they are not among the leaders they are ideally placed where the top Japanese men are hoping to run.  Longer shots among the foreign competition are Tokyo course record holder Viktor Rothlin (Switzerland), 2011 Bila Tserkva winner Oleksandr Sitkovsky (Ukraine) and sub-hour half-marathoner Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya).

                                        2:08:40                       2:08:37                       2:08:12

Which brings us to the Japanese men.  With World Championships marathon 7th-placer Hiroyuki Horibata (Team Asahi Kasei) and all three of the top Japanese finishers at the first London Olympics selection race in Fukuoka running again in either Tokyo or Biwako the Olympic team is completely open.  Tokyo is hosting a great domestic field including the fastest Japanese men of 2010 and 2011, the only Japanese man to win Tokyo, a national record holder and more.  Things have slowly been turning around since the system broke down at the Beijing Olympics, and the momentum currently with the best men suggests it could take a 2:07 to make the London team in Tokyo.  If times are at the 2:07 to 2:08 level in Tokyo two people could qualify.  It's entirely possible that someone could run that and still not make it.  Of the main contenders for the Olympic team we break them down into three groups of five.

The Favorites
Yuki Kawauchi (2:08:37, Saitama Pref.) has been the face of Japanese marathoning for the last year since his stirring 2:08:37 breakthrough at the 2011 Tokyo Marathon.  Consistent in doing things his own way, he was the top Japanese man at the Fukuoka selection race in 2:09:57 but said that his real target was a 2:07 in Tokyo.  Only eleven Japanese men have ever broken 2:08, but relative to his 1:02:40 and 2:08:37 bests last February Kawauchi's 1:02:18 half-marathon PB earlier this month in Marugame puts him right where he needs to be to join the club.

Yoshinori Oda - Withdrawn (2:09:03, Team Toyota) is best-known for getting broken by Kawauchi at the 39 km point in Tokyo last year, but the quality of his 2:09:03 debut there, the third-fastest debut ever by a Japanese man, was largely overlooked.  Achilles problems hit him at the Daegu World Championships, but with a good 10000 m mid-fall and a passably strong run at the New Year Ekiden it looks like he has been building back to full fitness.  Nevertheless, he looks like the weakest choice out of the top five.

Arata Fujiwara (2:08:40, Tokyo T&F Assoc.) had a bad 2011 with serial injury and career setbacks.  Training quietly on his own, he came from out of nowhere in Marugame earlier this month with a 1:01:34, a PB by over 40 seconds, to re-establish himself as a leading Olympic contender.  His marathon career is too checkered to make a prediction, but everything suggests he is ready for his biggest run yet.

Masakazu Fujiwara (2:08:12, Team Honda) is the only Japanese man to have won the Tokyo Marathon, outrunning Kawauchi, Arata Fujiwara and half-marathon national record holder Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) to win in the sleet and freezing hell of the 2010 race.  He is also the collegiate and debut marathon national record holder with a best of 2:08:12.  He ran well in the fall and winter with a strong performance at the New Year Ekiden, so in what is likely his last chance to make an Olympic team look for him to finally capitalize on the unrealized potential shown in his 2:08 debut.

Yuki Iwai (debut, Team Asahi Kasei) is the darkhorse of the Japanese field, debuting at the very bottom of the general elite division rather than among the invited runners.  A sub-28 10000 m runner, Iwai ran on the track at the 2009 World Championships but has been injured ever since.  He popped up with a superb performance at the New Year Ekiden, then went sub-62 for the first time at Marugame.  He seems to be coming into his marathon debut in Tokyo under the radar, but intuition says he is ready to surprise.

The Possibilities
Kazuhiro Maeda (2:10:29, Team Kyudenko) was the top Japanese man at the 2009 Tokyo Marathon in his debut and has had a few good marathon performances since then.  The 3rd Japanese man at Fukuoka behind Kawauchi and Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu), he is trying again to make the Olympic team.

Takayuki Matsumiya (2:10:04, Team Konica Minolta) is the 5000 m and 30 km national record holder and the former world record holder for 30 km.  Despite these credentials he has not yet performed up to potential at the marathon.  Matsumiya also ran well at the New Year Ekiden.

Takaaki Koda (2:11:08, Team Asahi Kasei) was solid at last year's Tokyo Marathon with a 2:11:08.  He won January's Osaka Half Marathon, and with the strong history of Asahi Kasei behind him it wouldn't be surprising to see him improve on last year.

Satoru Kasuya (2:11:17, Team Toyota Boshoku) finished second in Osaka behind Koda by only two seconds.  A former anchor of Komazawa University's Hakone Ekiden team, he had a good PB at Biwako last year and could also step up.

Yusei Nakao (2:14:43, Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) has some of Japan's best track credentials and was 5th at the 2008 World Half Marathon Championships, but he has not had the same success in the marathon yet.  Injuries in 2010 and a team change last year kept him out of the public eye, but he has improved steadily over the winter ekiden season.

The Long Shots
Seiji Kobayashi (2:10:38, Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) is a likable veteran with a 2:10 best from 2009.  His performances have trailed off somewhat but he has pulled out big runs in the past.

Atsushi Ikawa (2:11:04, Team Otsuka Seiyaku) is coached by 2:06 runner Takayuki Inubushi.  After a promising debut at the 2010 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon he DNF'd in Fukuoka and was a DNS at last year's Ottawa Marathon.

Satoshi Irifune (2:09:23, Team Kanebo) has run in two World Championships marathons and has multiple 2:09's to his name, but it has been a few years since he has run on a par with his best.

Tomoya Adachi (2:11:59, Team Asahi Kasei) won the 2008 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon in his debut but has not yet matched that performance in several attempts.

Tomoya Shimizu (2:09:23, Team Sagawa Express) was a surprise with a 2:09:23 at Biwako in the last Olympic qualifying round but has not been able to return to that level since then.

2012 Tokyo Marathon
Tokyo, Feb. 26, 2012

Men
click here for detailed field listing

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)
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 2010)
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)
151. Kazuyoshi Shimozato (Team Komori Corp.) - 1:30:36 (30 km)
155. Yuki Iwai (Team Asahi Kasei) - 1:01:58 (half-marathon)

Women
click here for complete field listing

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)
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)
33. Eri Okubo (Second Wind AC) - 2:28:49 (Berlin 2011)
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
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 Pacers
55. Samuel Tsegay (Eritrea)
56. Mulugeta Wami (Ethiopia)
57. Cyrus Njui (Kenya/Team Hitachi Cable)
58. Kazuyuki Ito (Team JR Higashi Nihon)
59. Bedan Karoki (Kenya/Team S&B)

Designated Women's Pacers
67. Kosuke Tsuji (Team Otsuka Seiyaku)
68. Yohei Nishiyama (Team Otsuka Seiyaku)
69. Hiroki Mitsuoka (Team Otsuka Seiyaku)

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

photos (c) 2012 Dr. Helmut Winter
all rights reserved

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Upcoming Non-Tokyo Marathon Weekend Action

by Brett Larner

With the opening of the Tokyo Marathon expo tomorrow JRN will be focused on coverage of what looks set to be the most exciting edition yet.  Check back starting tomorrow for our race previews and other coverage.

But there is other action lined up across Japan this weekend.  First and foremost is Saturday's Fukuoka International Cross-Country Meet.  Fukuoka usually plays the role of one of the two selection races for the Japanese teams for the World Cross-Country Championships, but with no World XC this year only places on the Japanese team's for next month's Asian Cross-Country Championships and April's World University Cross-Country Championships are there for the taking.  The junior races are as always stacked with the best high school talent and the senior women's 6 km promises a great rematch between defending champ Hitomi Niiya (Sakura AC) and 5000 m national champion Megumi Kinukawa (Mizuno), but the most interesting race looks set to be the senior men's 10 km.

On the entry list for the men's race are last year's winner and newly-minted Kenyan XC champion Bedan Karoki (Kenya/Team S&B), 10000 m national champion Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin), past 1500 m and 5000 m national champion Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B), 2011 and 2012's top Japanese half-marathoner Yusuke Takabayashi (Team Toyota), World University 10000 m champion Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.), New York City Half-Marathon invited athletes Kento Otsu (Toyo Univ.) and Yuta Shitara (Toyo Univ.), university stars Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.), Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.) and Keita Shitara (Toyo Univ.), Kenyans Nicholas Makau (Team Yachiyo Kogyo) and Jacob Wanjuki (Team Aichi Seiko) and many, many more.

Fukuoka will be broadcast nationwide on TBS from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.  Overseas viewers should be able to watch online through the miracle of Keyhole TV.  Click here for more info.

As with last year Karoki is scheduled to pace the first 10 km of the Tokyo Marathon the day after Fukuoka.  He is said to have signed with the same management company who represented Samuel Wanjiru.  This management has reportedly entered Karoki in this weekend's World's Best 10 km in Puerto Rico despite Karoki's previous engagements to run in Fukuoka and Tokyo, bringing to mind comparisons to Wanjiru other than just in the area of his running.  If true, let's hope it all turns out better for Karoki than this kind of thing did for Sammy.

At the same time as the Tokyo Marathon on Sunday, three competitive half-marathons will also be going on across the country, the Kashima Yutoku Half-Marathon in southern Japan, the central Inuyama Yomiuri Half-Marathon, and, northwest of Tokyo, the Fukaya City Half Marathon. All three races feature top university runners winding down their road seasons before track season gets underway.  10000 m national champion Kayo Sugihara (Team Denso) is scheduled to run Inuyama, and Daegu World Championships marathoner Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) is also slated to run the 10 km in Inuyama as her final tuneup for the Mar. 11 Nagoya Women's Marathon where she will face a tough field looking to qualify for the London Olympics.  Check back on Sunday and Monday for results from all three road races alongside our Tokyo coverage.

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Nagoya Women's Marathon Announces Elite Field for Olympic Selection Race

by Brett Larner

Coming in just ahead of the wave of Tokyo Marathon hype, the organizers of the reformatted Nagoya Women's Marathon have announced the elite field for the final Japanese women's Olympic selection race to be held Mar. 11.  Switching gears from a small, elite event to a mass-participation women-only race with an accompanying mixed half-marathon, Nagoya will host a tiny overseas field and the biggest domestic invited field in memory.

The all-but-negligible international field features veteran medalists Catherine Ndereba (Kenya) and Lidia Simon (Romania) returning for their perpetual Japanese invites along with Eastern Europeans Albina Mayorova (Russia), Olena Shurkhno (Ukraine) and Rasa Drazdauskaite (Lithuania).  Of more interest is the domestic field, the closest thing Japan has seen to a straight-up Olympic trials race.

Fifteen Japanese women are on the invited list to contend for the Olympic team spot or spots still available.  General opinion has two places available, with Osaka International Women's Marathon winner Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) a lock after her 2:23:23 victory but Yokohama winner Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) given little chance of making the Olympic team with only a 2:26:32.  Those shooting for places include the current and former national record holders Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) and Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo), 2011's top two women Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei) and Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren), past World Championships marathoners Yuri Kano (Team Shiseido), Remi Nakazato (Team Daihatsu), Yoshiko Fujinaga (Team Shiseido) and Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku), past Tokyo Marathon winners Mizuho Nasukawa (Team Univ. Ent.) and Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) and more.  Also worth watching after strong runs at the Kagawa Marugame International Half-Marathon are Kaoru Nagao (Team Univ. Ent.) and Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera).

After tiny fields and relatively unsurprising outcomes in Yokohama and Osaka, Nagoya should be a dynamic and thrilling cap to the winter Japanese marathon season and Olympic-qualifying series. Check back closer to race day for information on how to watch live online.

2012 Nagoya Women's Marathon Elite Field
Nagoya, Mar. 11, 2012
click here for complete elite field listing

1. Catherine Ndereba (Kenya) - 2:18:47 (Chicago 2001)
2. Lidia Simon (Romania) - 2:22:54 (Osaka Int'l 2000)
3. Albina Mayorova (Russia) - 2:25:35 (Chicago 2003)
4. Olena Shurkhno (Ukraine) - 2:28:34a (San Diego 2011)
5. Rasa Drazdauskaite (Lithuania) - 2:29:47 (Turin 2011)
11. Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) - 2:19:12 (Berlin 2005)
12. Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 2:19:41 (Berlin 2004)
13. Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 2:23:30 (Tokyo Int'l 2008)
14. Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) - 2:24:09 (London 2011)
15. Yuri Kano (Team Shiseido) - 2:24:27 (Tokyo Int'l 2008)
16. Remi Nakazato (Team Daihatsu) - 2:24:29 (Yokohama Int'l 2011)
17. Mizuho Nasukawa (Team Univ. Ent.) - 2:25:38 (Tokyo 2009)
18. Yoshiko Fujinaga (Team Shiseido) - 2:25:40 (London 2011)
19. Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:26:55 (Osaka Int'l 2011)
20. Kaoru Nagao (Team Univ. Ent.) - 2:26:58 (Yokohama Int'l 2011)
21. Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) - 2:28:49 (Tokyo 2011)
22. Kaori Yoshida (Amino Vital AC) - 2:29:45 (Chicago 2010)
23. Akane Wakita (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 2:29:54 (Nagoya Int'l 2010)
24. Misaki Katsumata (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 2:31:10 (Tokyo 2011)
25. Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 2:33:36 (Nagoya Int'l 2010)

Pacers
51. Aniko Kalovics (Hungary)
52. Rene Kalmer (South Africa)
53. Sayo Nomura (Meijo Univ.)
54. Mao Kuroda (Team Yutaka Giken)

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Her Chances for the Olympics Hopeless, Yurika Nakamura Withdraws from Nagoya

http://www.kobe-np.co.jp/news/sports/0004831749.shtml

translated by Brett Larner

On Feb. 21 Beijing Olympic marathoner Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya) announced that she has withdrawn from her planned run at the Mar. 11 Nagoya Women's Marathon because she has not been able to get into good enough shape.  The final selection race for the London Olympics marathon team, her withdrawal means that Nakamura has given up on trying to repeat as an Olympic marathoner.

Nakamura won her debut marathon at the 2008 Nagoya International Women's Marathon and finished 13th at the Beijing Olympics later that year.  However, running for the Okayama Prefecture team at January's National Women's Ekiden she finished only 42nd on the First Stage.  According to Tenmaya head coach Yutaka Taketomi, during her training in late January Nakamura was not getting back into shape.  "Even if she started, she is in no shape to run," he said in explaining the decision to pull her from Nagoya.  "London has been her goal ever since Beijing, so it's very unfortunate.  I decided to take her out in order to work on turning her back around."  Tenmaya's Risa Shigetomo is a favorite to make the London team after winning the Jan. 29 Osaka International Women's Marathon.

Translator's note: Nakamura was the only Japanese woman to finish the Beijing Olympic marathon.  Since her promising debut in 2008 every marathon she has run has been a PW.

Tosa to Retire Following Nagoya Women's Marathon

http://www.chunichi.co.jp/s/article/2012022101002045.html

translated by Brett Larner

Two-time World Championships women's marathon medalist and two-time Olympic marathoner Reiko Tosa (35, Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) announced on Feb. 21 that the Mar. 11 Nagoya Women's Marathon Olympic selection race will be her final competition before retirement.  Following her retirement she plans to remain at Mitsui as an advisor, helping guide the team's future progress.  Tosa dropped out of the Beijing Olympic marathon with an injury to her right foot.  Following a comeback at the 2009 Tokyo Marathon she announced her retirement to start a family, but after the birth of her daughter in 2010 she attempted to return to competition.  Her return did not go smoothly as she was unhappily forced to cancel planned runs at the 2011 Tokyo Marathon and 2011 Hokkaido Marathon after injury setbacks.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ten Members of Sendai Ikuei H.S. Ekiden Team to Transfer to Toyokawa H.S.

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20120221-906707.html
http://mainichi.jp/enta/sports/general/news/20120221ddm035050006000c.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

With nine boys' and girls' National High School Ekiden Championships titles to its name, Sendai Ikuei H.S. (Miyagi Pref.) announced on Feb. 20 that ten members of its ekiden team will be leaving together and transferring to three-time girls' national champion Toyokawa H.S. (Aichi Pref.) for the new school year.  Sendai Ikuei's graduates include Beijing Olympics men's marathon gold medalist Samuel Wanjiru (Kenya) and 5000 m national champion Megumi Kinukawa (Mizuno).  The school's training facilities were seriously damaged in last year's natural disasters, and the announcement of the resignation of head coach Junichi Seino (27) following the boys' team's 12th-place finish at last year's National High School Ekiden Championships spread discontent and agitation throughout the team.

A Toyokawa H.S. spokesperson said that the school had offered to take in the students as part of an effort to provide relief to those in the disaster-stricken areas.  "We decided that this was what we could do to support students from the affected region," explained the spokesperson.  "We will do everything we can to help them, including providing mental care for those students who have experienced profound hardship."  The ten students involved in the transfer, all first and second-years, include seven boys and three girls.  Excluding foreign students, all three first and second-year boys and two girls who ran in last year's National High School Ekiden Championships are part of the transfer.  All took Toyokawa's entrance exam and were approved for admission on Feb. 18.  The transfer to Toyokawa's ekiden team is expected to be effective Mar. 1.

The Sendai Ikuei H.S. girls' team finished 3rd at Nationals but the boys' team was only 12th, leading to discussion of head coach Seino's departure.  According to the involved source, in addition to Seino's impending resignation, the damage and effects of last March's earthquake and tsunami and the necessity of being in an environment in which student athletes can train and focus properly given the high level of competition in Japan were the primary reasons for the students' request for the transfer.  With regard to the unusual situation of a large number of top-level athletes seeking to transfer between national champion high schools together, the national high school federation commented, "There is no precedent.  We ask the local high school federations in both prefectures to investigate and confirm the facts of this case."

Athletes are restricted from competing in national events such as the National High School Track & Field Championships and National High School Ekiden Championships for six months after a transfer, but given the special circumstances of the natural disasters and other factors the athletes have not yet been sanctioned in this instance.  A spokesperson for the national high school federation commented, "It will be necessary to make a final decision before the [National H.S. T&F Championships] Aichi Prefecture qualifiers in May."  The Aichi prefecture high school federation said, "This action was undertaken out of a desire to provide relief to victims of the disasters.  We will have to consider it carefully."

When Sendai Ikuei H.S. disbanded its table tennis program in 2008, eight members of the team including students from the school's related junior high school transferred to a private high school in Yamaguchi prefecture.  A Sendai Ikuei spokesperson said, "We respect the personal decisions of all the students involved.  Our track and field program will have to rebuild from zero."

Monday, February 20, 2012

Oil Found Poured Across Marathon Course

http://news24.jp/nnn/news8681250.html

translated by Brett Larner

Early on the morning of the Feb. 19 Kumamoto-jo Marathon oil was found poured across several locations on the marathon course, with a 20-liter oil can found nearby one of the spots.  Police believe the oil was poured as a prank and are investigating.  Firefighters were called to clean up the oil and the race went off without interruption.

Kano Wins Rock 'n' Roll Pasadena Half Marathon

http://running.competitor.com/cgiresults_list?eId=49&eiId=73&seId=223&page=1&rowCount=25&firstname=&lastname=&bib=&gender=F&division=&submit=Search

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hakoyama, Ugachi Take Kumanichi as Japan's Two Big 30 km Races Line Up on Same Day

by Brett Larner

Traditionally held one week apart, the world's two top 30 km races, the Kumanichi 30 km in southern Japan and the Ome 30 km in Tokyo's mountainous western suburbs, were both held Feb. 19 this year.

With over 17000 runners in this year's field Ome has long been a popular mass-participation event along with hosting an elite race, but Kumanichi has typically been an elite-only event with only a few dozen men and a handful of women.  Keeping with the explosion of mass-participation events, this year Kumanichi incorporated a new amateur full marathon, the Kumamotojo Marathon with a field of 10000, while keeping the small elite 30 km division on a new course covering most of the marathon course.  The leading candidate for the London Olympics 10000 m squad, Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta) took things in stride in his second Kumanichi appearance, splitting a solo 14:25 for the first 5 km well ahead of world record pace.  Although he slowed progressively for the rest of the way, the remainder of the field was already far enough behind that they were never able to close the gap.  Ugachi took the win in a 2012 world-leading 1:30:01, a 13 second PB over the time he clocked two years as a Komazawa University senior.  In the very small women's field, Yuka Hakoyama (Team Wacoal) took 34 seconds off the course record to win in 1:43:26.  In the amateur full marathon, Jobu University alum Shota Jige won the men's race in 2:23:41, while Kazumi Sakaguchi took the women's race in 2:56:22.

Further north in Ome, rookie pro Hideaki Tamura (Team JR Higashi Nihon) pushed hard in the second half of the race to drop a pack of five.  Tamura won easily by over a minute in 1:33:26, the slowest winning time in Ome since 1979.  American Terrance Shea placed 10th in 1:38:36, advancing through the field in the final kilometers after running much of the way in 15th place.  The women's race was more aggressive, with favorite Kaori Yoshida (Amino Vital AC) following through on her pre-race plan to go after a 1:42.  Yoshida split 51:24 for the uphill first 15 km, with Asami Kato (Team Panasonic) close behind in 51:39.  She continued to widen her lead through 20 km heading onto the downhills, but then abruptly she shut down.  By 25 km Kato had a lead of 27 seconds, and by the finish her margin was over a minute.  Running an almost even race, Kato finished in 1:43:55, the fourth-fastest winning time in Ome history, while Yoshida faded to 1:45:01.

In Ome's competitive 10 km division, Kazumi Hashimoto (Team Hokuren) won the women's race in 33:18.  High schooler Kazuma Ganaha (Tokyo Nogyo Prep H.S.) won the men's 10 km in 30:50.

2012 Kumanichi Road Race
Kumamoto, 2/19/12
click here for complete results

Men's 30 km
1. Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:30:01 - PB
2. Yuki Oshikawa (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 1:30:43 - PB
3. Ryotaro Nitta (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:30:50 - PB
4. Masaki Ito (Kokushikan Univ.) - 1:31:20 - PB
5. Taichi Takase (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:31:35 - PB

Women's 30 km
1. Yuka Hakoyama (Team Wacoal) - 1:43:26 - CR
2. Mika Okunaga (Team Kyudenko) - 1:46:29
3. Chihiro Takato (Team Wacoal) - 1:47:23

Men's Marathon
1. Shota Jige - 2:23:41

Women's Marathon
1. Kazumi Sakaguchi - 2:56:22

2012 Ome Road Race
Ome, Tokyo, 2/19/12
click here for complete results

Men's 30 km
1. Hideaki Tamura (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 1:33:26
2. Takamitsu Hashimoto (Josai Univ.) - 1:34:28
3. Kota Shinozaki (Tokyo Police Dep't.) - 1:35:31

Women's 30 km
1. Asami Kato (Team Panasonic) - 1:43:55
2. Kaori Yoshida (Amino Vital AC) - 1:45:01
3. Maiko Murayama (Team Yamada Denki) - 1:47:11

Men's 10 km
1. Kazuma Ganaha (Tokyo Jitsugyo H.S.) - 30:50
2. Ken Tochiyama (Tokyo Jitsugyo H.S.) - 30:56
3. Kajima Nakamura (Takushoku Prep H.S.) - 30:58

Women's 10 km
1. Kazumi Hashimoto (Team Hokuren) - 33:18
2. Yukari Abe (Panasonic) - 33:45
3. Shiho Yagahi (Hachioji H.S.) - 33:50

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Deki Sets Two Course Records in Three Days Ahead of Lake Biwa Marathon Debut

by Brett Larner

Video highlights of Day One including Terada's missed handoff.

The winner of the highly competitive Second Stage at this year's Hakone Ekiden, Aoyama Gakuin University junior Takehiro Deki had two big runs in his final tune-up for his planned marathon debut at the Mar. 4 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon.  Running for his hometown Nagasaki team at the Feb. 17-19 Nagasaki Prefecture One-Circuit Ekiden, Deki broke the stage record on both of the two legs he ran.  On the first day of competition he took eight seconds off the record for the 14.0 km Fourth Stage, recording a new mark of 42:07.  On the third and final day of the race Deki again ran 14.0 km, this time taking a solid 33 seconds of the Seventeenth Stage record with an impressive time of 40:49, almost two minutes better than the next-fastest man on the stage.  Thanks in part to his efforts the Nagasaki team won the overall title in the event's 61st year, clocking 21:29:09 for the total 407.4 km distance to win by more than eight minutes over the runner-up Omura-Tohi team.

Several other runners set new stage records, with Ryota Matono of Goto also setting two new records, but one familiar face besides Deki made headlines at the start of the first day.  Natsuki Terada, the Koku Gakuin University sophomore who infamously took a wrong turn with just over 100 m to go on the anchor stage at the 2011 Hakone Ekiden, stole the show again.  When the Seihi-Saikai team's Keitaro Fukushima came to the first handoff zone in the lead Terada, the next Seihi-Saikai runner, was nowhere to be found.  Fukushima stood helplessly as a team went by before Terada showed up in the handoff zone, a loss of around eight seconds.  Terada managed to retake the lead and ran the fastest time on the Second Stage, but the incident quickly made the rounds on Twitter and added to his infamy.  All was forgiven, if not forgotten, when Terada returned the next day to set the stage record on the 14.6 km First Stage, running 43:49, nineteen seconds better than the previous record.

61st Nagasaki Prefecture One-Circuit Ekiden
Nagasaki, Feb. 17-19, 2012
11 teams, 42 stages, 407.4 km
click here for complete results

Top Team Results
1. Nagasaki - 21:29:09
2. Omura-Tohi - 21:38:46
3. Seihi-Saikai - 21:42:07
4. Sasebo - 21:52:12
5. Tsushima - 21:58:01

Stage Record Performances
Day One, Stage Four (14.0 km) - Takehiro Deki (Nagasaki) - 42:07
Day One, Stage Eight (12.3 km) - Ryota Matono (Goto) - 36:52
Day Two, Stage One (14.6 km) - Natsuki Terada (Seihi-Saikai) - 43:49
Day Two, Stage Eleven (13.8 km) - Hideo Shimomura (Omura-Tohi) - 41:21
Day Three, Stage One (19.2 km) - Ayumu Sato (Nagasaki) - 57:09
Day Three, Stage Six (12.3 km) - Ryota Matono (Goto) - 36:51
Day Three, Stage Seven (3.0 km) - Hiroyuki Sakaguchi (Sasebo) - 8:22
Day Three, Stage Twelve (1.5 km, women) - Miki Moribayashi (Nagasaki) - 4:47
Day Three, Stage Seventeen (14.0 km) - Takehiro Deki (Nagasaki) - 40:49

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

'Karoki Dominates'

http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/sports/InsidePage.php?id=2000052383&cid=39&story=Karoki%20dominate

'Karoki and Chepkirui Steal the Headlines in Nairobi'

http://www.iaaf.org/Mini/CROS12/News/NewsDetail.aspx?id=63634

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Ugachi, Nitta, Yoshikawa Feeling Great Ahead of Kumanichi 30 km

http://kumanichi.com/fsports/marathon/2011/kiji/20120218002.shtml

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The 56th edition of the Kanaguri Memorial Kumanichi 30 km road race takes place at 9 a.m. on Feb. 19th in Kumamoto, Kyushu.  It's the race where the best future prospects of Japanese long distance running gather to get their first experience battling over the longer distances, one where countless Olympians and World Championships team members have run.  Two world records have been run at Kumanichi, but with a new course this year featuring 20 m hills the race has taken on a tougher, up-and-down character.

Among the eight invited men and two invited women, the favorite is the leading candidate for Japan's 10000 m squad at the London Olympics, Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta).  What kind of race will he deliver before he shifts his focus to track season?  His strong rival Takuya Ishikawa (Team Chugoku Denryoku) has withdrawn with injury to his right knee, but Ugachi's teammate Ryotaro Nitta (Team Konica Minolta) comes to the race on the winds of a typhoon having smashed his half-marathon PB at the Feb. 5 Kagawa Marugame International Half-Marathon.  Ugachi and Nitta jogged part of the course together on Feb. 17 looked relaxed and fit.  Shuji Yoshikawa (Team Kyudenko) also ran great in Marugame and will be a force to reckon with in Kumanichi.

Along with the amateur runners taking part in the new full marathon division, the Kumanichi 30 km features a field of 65, four of them women, along with the ten invited athletes.  Closing ceremonies for the race will take place at 4:00 at the Hotel Nikko Kumamoto.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Kaori Yoshida Tuning Up for Nagoya Women's Marathon at Ome 30k

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20120214-OHT1T00212.htm

translated by Brett Larner

The 46th Ome Road Race takes place this Sunday, Feb. 19.  This year 20000 runners from across the country are entered, 15000 in the 30 km and 5000 in the 10 km.  This is the first in a five-part series on runners who will help call in spring on the streets of Ome.

At the Feb. 5 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, Kaori Yoshida (30, Amino Vital AC) drew attention for her pacemaking of comedian runner Hiroshi Neko, 34, who was attempting to qualify for Cambodia's London Olympic team after having changed his citizenship.  Running between 17 and 18 minutes per 5 km, Yoshida finished her run at the 30 km point in 1:46:22.  "I kind of wanted to keep going, but I knew I had other races coming up so I stopped there," she says with a wry smile.  Neko went on to smash his PB with a new mark of 2:30:26, opening up the door for his chances for the Olympics.  His result inspired Yoshida.  "In his training he was really improving and growing.  Seeing that gave me motivation to keep moving forward too," she says.

Yoshida has been a member of top corporate teams including Sekisui Kagaku where she was coached by Yoshio Koide (Sakura AC).  These she is a club runner, running with amateur club members twice a week around Tokyo's Imperial Palace.  "I learn a lot from training together with the club members," she says of their impact on her.  "The environment I'm in right now suits me the best of any I've been in."

It goes without saying that her personal goal is to make the Olympics.  At November's Yokoham International Women's Marathon she ran into trouble and finished only 7th.  She will be looking for payback at the Mar. 11 Nagoya Women's Marathon, where ten women who have made Olympic or World Championships marathon teams since 2008, including national record holder Mizuki Noguchi (33, Team Sysmex), have already declared they plan to run.  In the face of such competition she remains confident, saying, "If I run my own race I think I can run 2:24."  As a tune-up for Nagoya her goal for the Ome 30k is, "To win in 1:42."  The cheers from spectators along the streets of Ome will help give her the strength she needs to punch her Olympic ticket.

Kaori Yoshida - Born Aug. 4, 1981 in Sakado, Saitama.  155 cm, 40 km.  Youngest of three children.  Began running in junior high school, and as a student at Kawagoe Joshi H.S. won the 1999 Asian XC Junior race.  She joined the Sekisui Kagaku corporate team in 2000, and after switching to the Shideido team and then the Second Wind club she joined Amino Vital AC in 2009.  She won the 2006 Hokkaido Marathon and has won two overseas marathons.  Her PB is 2:29:45 from the 2010 Chicago Marathon.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hitachi Cable Transfers Ekiden Team to Hitachi Logistics as Marathon Team

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/sports/news/120215/oth12021519530022-n1.htm

translated by Brett Larner

With twenty-five New Year Ekiden national championship appearances to its ekiden team's name, the Hitachi Cable company announced on Feb. 15 that due to a decline in its business revenues and other reasons, effective April 1 it would transfer the team to its sister company, Chiba-based Hitachi Logistics, where it will become a marathon team.  The coaching staff of three and all fourteen current Team Hitachi Cable members plan to make the move together.  Team Hitachi Cable was founded in 1970.  In its tenth-straight New Year Ekiden appearance this year it finished 27th.

Translator's note: The Hitachi Cable team includes 2010 Hokkaido Marathon winner Cyrus Njui and two-time World Junior 3000 mSC champion Jonathan Ndiku of Kenya among its members.

2012 Japanese Distance Rankings

Updated 12/24/12 - final 2012 rankings

JRN's 2012 Japanese track and road distance running rankings. Overall rankings are calculated using runner's times and placings in races over 5000 m, 10000 m, half-marathon and marathon and the strength of these performances relative to others in the top ten in each category. Click any image to enlarge.

Overall


5000 m

10000 m

Half-Marathon

Marathon

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Hakone Ekiden Winner Toyo University's Kento Otsu and Yuta Shitara to Run NYC Half Marathon

by Brett Larner

The New York Road Runners announced on Feb. 14 that Kento Otsu and Yuta Shitara of 2012 Hakone Ekiden course record setters Toyo University will run the Mar. 18 NYC Half Marathon as part of this year's elite field.  Sophomores Shitara and Otsu, both of whom turned 20 in December, went 2-3 at last November's Ageo City Half Marathon, Shitara in a PB of 1:02:35 and Otsu in a PB of 1:02:43.  Both excelled at January's Hakone Ekiden, Shitara running 1:02:32 for 21.3 km, equivalent to a 1:01:56 half marathon, to break the Seventh Stage record and Otsu missing the Eighth Stage record, Hakone's oldest, by only 7 seconds as he ran 1:04:12 for a hilly 21.5 km.

Their invitation to New York is a first for Japan's top university men.  NYRR president and CEO Mary Wittenberg said, "All of us at NYRR are excited to see Kento and Yuta come to New York to run against some of the best in the world in this important step ahead in their careers.  We look forward to watching the pair race as they follow in the hallowed history and legacy of great Japanese long distance runners."

The NYC Half Marathon will be the first overseas race for both runners.  Otsu told JRN, "I've never had the chance to mix it up in an international race, so the opportunity to run in an event like the NYC Half that brings together a lot of high-level, highly motivated athletes will be a great chance for me to see how far I can push myself.  I have no idea how people overseas train or live, or what the atmosphere at their races is like, so this will be an important experience for my future career as an athlete."

At Hakone, Shitara's identical twin brother Keita Shitara ran a time equivalent to a 1:01:54 half marathon.  He followed up two weeks ago with a 1:01:45 at the Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon.  In New York Yuta will be aiming to at least equal his brother's best. "This invitation to the NYC Half isn't something that I will just do and be done with," he commented.  "It's a chance to feel how competitive I can be, to search deep inside and find out how I measure up.  I want to be able to come back with good news."

Joining Otsu and Shitara in New York will be Toyo University head coach Toshiyuki Sakai, at 35 already one of the most successful university coaches in Japan, with support from Japan Running News.  "This is a really valuable opportunity for both of them," said Sakai.  "I want them both to run an aggressive race."

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

'Iwaki City Sunshine Marathon Champion!'

Click here to read American Tyler McCandless' account of his win at Sunday's Iwaki Sunshine Marathon.

Osako, Sato, Kinukawa, Niiya Headline Fukuoka International XC Meet

http://sportsnavi.yahoo.co.jp/other/athletic/headlines/20120214-00000014-kyodo_sp-spo.html

translated by Brett Larner

On Feb. 14 the Japanese federation released the elite fields for the Feb. 25 Fukuoka International Cross-Country Meet.  At the top of the senior men's 10 km are 10000 m national champion Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) and past 1500 m and 5000 m national champion Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B).  Also in the men's race are top-ranked university men Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.) and Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.).  Topping the senior women's 6 km are last year's winner Hitomi Niiya (Sakura AC) and 5000 m national champion Megumi Kinukawa (Mizuno).  The Fukuoka International Cross-Country Meet is the second selection race for March's Asian Cross-Country Championships in China and April's World University Cross-Country Championshiops in Poland.

Translator's note: Sato, Ueno, Osako and Murasawa all graduated from Nagano's Saku Chosei H.S., one of the few Japanese high schools to incorporate XC training as a staple of its program.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon Announces 2012 Field

by Brett Larner

Right on schedule the organizers of the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, the last chance for Japanese men to make the London Olympics marathon team, have announced the complete field for this year's race.  Coming on Mar. 4 just a week after the Tokyo Marathon, Biwako, as the race is known in Japan, has managed to put together a strong international field, both at the front end and further back at the level where people will be trying to meet their countries' Olympic qualification times.  The clear favorites in the first category are 2:06 Kenyan Nicholas Manza and 2:07 Ethiopian Bekana Daba, but with Japan based Kenyans Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin) and Samuel Ndungu (Team Aichi Seiko) on the list to make their debuts the lead pack could be deeper than usual.  Biwako has always been good to Spanish marathoners, and with sub-28 runner Ayad Lamdassem entered for an apparent debut it is possible that this year could see another one factor into the race.

Among the contenders for the Japanese Olympic team on the entry list, the favorites include half-marathon national record holder Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku), 2011 World Championships marathon team members Hiroyuki Horibata (Team Asahi Kasei), Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) and Yukihiro Kitaoka (Team NTN), and, trying again after losing out to Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) at December's Fukuoka International Marathon, Hakone Ekiden star Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu).  Sub-2:10 veterans in the field include Tsuyoshi Ogata (Team Chugoku Denryoku), Yuzo Onishi (Team Nissin Shokuhin), Takeshi Hamano (Team Toyota), Yuko Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta), Shinichi Watanabe (Team Sanyo Tokushu Seiko) and Tomoyuki Sato (Team Asahi Kasei).

Several current Hakone stars are entered to make their marathon debuts in hopes of a miracle Olympic spot, including Takehiro Deki (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.), Tsubasa Hayakawa (Tokai Univ.) and Shota Hiraga (Waseda Univ.).  Among the pros scheduled to debut are sub-62 half-marathoners Takanobu Otsubo (Osaka Police Dept.), Muryo Takase (Team Nissin Shokuhin) and Akihiko Tsumurai (Team Mazda), as well as 3000 mSC national record holder Yoshitaka Iwamizu (Team Fujitsu).

Foreign competition that should be running against the Japanese Olympic hopefuls includes 2:08 Moroccan Abdellah Taghrafet, 2:09 runners Henryk Szost (Poland), Abdellatif Meftah (France), Lee Troop (Australia) and Ruggero Pertile (Italy), Kenyan Ernest Kebenei and Ethiopian Yohanis Abera.  Canadians Dylan Wykes and Steve Osaduik will be trying for their last chance to break Athletics Canada's sub-2:11:30 qualifying time for the London team.

Biwako will be broadcast live and commercial-free nationwide on NHK.  Overseas viewers should be able to watch live online for free via Keyhole TV, and JRN will again offer live English coverage via Twitter @JRNLive.  Check back closer to race date for more details.

2012 Biwako Mainichi Marathon Elite Field & General Division Highlights
Mar. 4, Otsu
click here for complete field listing

Nicholas Manza (Kenya) - 2:06:34
Bekana Daba (Ethiopia) - 2:07:04
Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:07:13
Abdellah Taghrafet (Morocco) - 2:08:21
Tsuyoshi Ogata (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:08:37
Yuzo Onishi (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 2:08:54
Takeshi Hamano (Team Toyota) - 2:09:18
Yuko Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) - 2:09:18
Hiroyuki Horibata (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:09:25
Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 2:09:31
Shinichi Watanabe (Team Sanyo Tokushu Seiko) - 2:09:32
Henryk Szost (Poland) - 2:09:39
Tomoyuki Sato (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:09:43
Abdellatif Meftah (France) - 2:09:46
Lee Troop (Australia) - 2:09:49
Ruggero Pertile (Italy) - 2:09:53
Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 2:10:32
Satoshi Yoshii (Team Sumco) - 2:10:45
Yukihiro Kitaoka (Team NTN) - 2:10:51
Ernest Kebenei (Kenya) - 2:10:55
Naoto Yoneda (Team Konica Minolta) - 2:11:00
Yohanis Abera (Ethiopia) - 2:11:08
Masashi Hayashi (Team Yakult) - 2:11:17
Kensuke Takahashi (Team Toyota) - 2:11:25
Takashi Horiguchi (Team Honda) - 2:12:05
Ryo Yamamoto (Team Sagawa Express) - 2:12:10
Masatoshi Oike (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:12:15
Tomohiro Seto (Team Kanebo) - 2:12:21
Yusuke Kataoka (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:12:28
Kazuo Ietani (Team Sanyo Tokushu Seiko) - 2:12:37
Dylan Wykes (Canada) - 2:12:39
Toyoshi Ishige (Team Yakult) - 2:12:45
Etsu Miyata (Team Fujitsu) - 2:13:19
Masayuki Obata (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 2:13:54
Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:13:54
Steve Osaduik (Canada) - 2:16:49

Debut
Shingo Mishima (Team Toyota) - 1:30:45 (30 km)
Gideon Ngatuny (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 59:50 (half-marathon)
Samuel Ndungu (Kenya/Team Aichi Seiko) - 1:00:55 (half-marathon)
Takanobu Otsubo (Osaka Police Dept.) - 1:01:55 (half-marathon)
Muryo Takase (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 1:01:57 (half-marathon)
Akihiko Tsumurai (Team Mazda) - 1:01:58 (half-marathon)
Yoshihiro Yamamoto (Team Toyota Boshoku) - 1:02:03 (half-marathon)
Shota Hiraga (Waseda University) - 1:02:08 (half-marathon)
Suehiro Ishikawa (Team Honda) - 1:02:23 (half-marathon)
Hiroshi Yamada (Team Konica-Minolta) - 1:02:31 (half-marathon)
Daisuke Matsufuji (Team Kanebo) - 1:02:47 (half-marathon)
Masahiro Kuno (Team NTN) - 1:02:49 (half-marathon)
Takehiro Deki (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 58:51 (20 km)
Ayad Lamdassem (Spain) - 27:45.58 (10000 m)
Yoshitaka Iwamizu (Team Fujitsu) - 28:17.80 (10000 m)
Kosaku Hoshina (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 28:20.36 (10000 m)
Tsubasa Hayakawa (Tokai Univ.) - 28:41.26 (10000 m)

Pacers
Boniface Kirui (Kenya)
Isaac Macharia (Kenya)
Ryosuke Maki (Team Osaka Gas)
James Mwangi (Kenya)
Yohei Yamamoto (Team NTT Nishi Nihon)

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

McCandless Wins Iwaki Sunshine Marathon

http://news24.jp/nnn/news8653142.html

translated by Brett Larner

Click photo for video highlights via NHK.

The third edition of Fukushima's only certified marathon, the Iwaki Sunshine Marathon, took place on Feb. 12.  This year's race featured a guest appearance by the captain of 2012 Hakone Ekiden winners Toyo University's ekiden team, Iwaki native Ryuji Kashiwabara, who jogged the first part of the course.  3860 runners from across the country braved cold and windy conditions to run the course from the Iwaki Civic Track & Field Grounds to Onohama Port, a route still bearing signs of the ravages of last year's disasters.  American Tyler McCandless won the men's race in 2:27:35.  The top Fukushima resident was the Koriyama SDF Base's Masashi Kato of Sukagawa, 5th in the men's race.

Translator's note: McCandless wrote to say that Iwaki and his hometown are sister cities, hence the invitation to come run.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sera H.S. Kenyans Ndirangu, Wairimu Dominate Chiba Int'l XC Senior Races

by Brett Larner

Sera High School's Kenyans Charles Ndirangu and Susan Wairimu once again took the top positions, winning the senior men's 12 km and senior women's 8 km races at the 47th Chiba International Cross-Country Meet Feb. 12 in Chiba.  Ndirangu ran head-to-head against 2007 World Championships 10000 m bronze medalist Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), accompanied partway by junior teammate John Gathaiya (Kenya/Sera H.S.).  After Gathaiya faded Ndirangu eventually opened a gap of ten seconds over Mathathi, winning in 34:59.  Gathaiya was nearly run down by 2011 World University Games 10000 m gold medalist and 1500 m national university champion Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.), who broke away from a chase pack of four including track runner Yuta Takahashi (Team S&B), 10000 m national champion Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) and Hakone Ekiden Seventh Stage record holder Yuta Shitara (Toyo Univ.) late in the race.  Gathaiya held on to 3rd in 35:38 with Osako just six seconds back.  A gap of nineteen seconds separated Osako and the other three Japanese runners, who took 5th through 7th.  With Chiba serving the role of selection race for the Japanese teams for the Asian XC Championships and World University XC Championships all four Japanese men should figure into the team nominations.

Ndirangu's teammate Wylim likewise took the senior women's 8 km title, but by a smaller margin over Kenyan pro Grace Kimanzi (Team Starts), clocking 26:41 to Kimanzi's 26:46.  5000 m national champion Megumi Kinukawa (Mizuno), on the mend from Achilles trouble in December, took a distant 3rd in 27:17 after dropping university star Ayuko Suzuki (Nagoya Univ.) on the final set of hills.

Just a week after running the Briggs Athletics Classic 5000 m in Australia, Kazuma Kubota (Kyushu Gakuin H.S.) and Ken Yokote (Sakushin Gakuin H.S.) went up against each other again in the junior men's 8 km.  As on the track Kubota again came up on top, winning in 24:33 over Yokote, whose 24:41 was just enough to keep him ahead of a large chase pack.  The junior women's 5 km featured an outstanding lineup of virtually every top high school runner in the country.  Yuka Ando (Toyokawa H.S.) proved the strongest, winning by four seconds in 16:45.  1500 m national champion Mika Kobayashi (Suma Gakuen H.S.) was 8th in 16:57.

2012 Chiba International Cross-Country Meet
47th running, Chiba, 2/12/12
click here for complete results

Senior Men's 12 km
1. Charles Ndirangu (Kenya/Sera H.S.) - 34:59
2. Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 35:09
3. John Gathaiya (Kenya/Sera H.S.) - 35:38
4. Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.) - 35:44
5. Yuta Takahashi (Team S&B) - 36:03
6. Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 36:05
7. Yuta Shitara (Toyo Univ.) - 36:15
8. Hiroyoshi Umegae (Team NTN) - 36:24
9. Hayato Saito (Team Honda) - 36:26
10. Masaya Taguchi (Toyo Univ.) - 36:28

Senior Women's 8 km
1. Susan Wairimu (Kenya/Sera H.S.) - 26:41
2. Grace Kimanzi (Kenya/Team Starts) - 26:46
3. Megumi Kinukawa (Mizuno) - 27:17
4. Ayuko Suzuki (Nagoya Univ.) - 27:25
5. Mutsumi Ikeda (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 27:30
6. Ai Igarashi (Team Sysmex) - 27:31
7. Toshika Tamura (Matsuyama Univ.) - 27:35
8. Tetiana Gamera-Shmyrko (Ukraine) - 27:40
9. Azusa Kurusu (Juntendo Univ.) - 27:46
10. Ayame Takaki (Meijo Univ.) - 27:50

Junior Men's 8 km
1. Kazuma Kubota (Kyushu Gakuin H.S.) - 24:33
2. Ken Yokote (Sakushin Gakuin H.S.) - 24:41
3. Kazuki Uemura (Mima Shogyo H.S.) - 24:44
4. Taiga Machizawa (Kashiwa Civic H.S.) - 24:45
5. Keisuke Nakatani (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) - 24:47
6. Koki Takada (Kagoshima Jitsugyo H.S.) - 24:50
7. Yuta Koyama (Toyokawa Kogyo H.S.) - 24:50
8. Hideto Yamanaka (Okukuni H.S.) - 24:53
9. Yudai Yamamoto (Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 25:03
10. Yusuke Nishiyama (Iga Hakuho H.S.) - 25:05

Junior Women's 5 km
1. Yuka Ando (Toyokawa H.S.) - 16:45
2. Mai Shoji (Okazaki Gakuen H.S.) - 16:49
3. Miyuki Uehara (Kagoshima Joshi H.S.) - 16:49
4. Nanami Aoki (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 16:50
5. Katsuki Suga (Kojokan H.S.) - 16:51
6. Chiharu Suzuki (Yamanashi Gakuin Prep. H.S.) - 16:55
7. Tomoka Kimura (Chikushi Joshi Gakuen H.S.) - 16:56
8. Mika Kobayashi (Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 16:57
9. Nanako Kanno (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 17:01
10. Natsuki Omori (Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S.) - 17:02

Senior Men's 4 km
1. Yasunori Murakami (Team Fujitsu) - 11:54
2. Hiroaki Koike (Toyo Univ.) - 11:58
3. Koji Imaeda (Kanagawa Univ.) - 12:03
4. Daisuke Tamura (SDF Academy) - 12:04
5. Takahiro Tsuchiya (Toyo Univ.) - 12:05

Junior Men's 4 km
1. Naoki Nakamura (Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 12:25
2. Jack Williams (Canada) - 12:29
3. Daiki Suzaki (Muroran Otani H.S.) - 12:30
4. Ryo Nishiyama (Yamanashi Gakuin Prep H.S.) - 12:36
5. Takao Kizu (Sakuragaoka Nihon Prep H.S.) - 12:40

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved