Monday, April 30, 2012

Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational - Japanese Results

Stanford University, California, 4/29/12
click here for complete results

Men's 10000 m Kim McDonald
1. Cam Levins (Southern Utah) - 27:27.96
2. Sam Chelanga (OTC) - 27:29.82
3. Chris Derrick (Stanford) - 27:31.38
-----
10. Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.) - 27:50.59
13. Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Konica Minolta) - 27:52.79
16. Yuki Sato (Nissin Shokuhin) - 27:57.07
24. Kensuke Takezawa (S&B) - 28:15.79
28. Yuki Matsuoka (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 28:55.90
29. Yusuke Takabayashi (Toyota) - 29:12.69
30. Ikuto Yufu (Komazawa Univ.) - 29:21.29
31. Tomoyuki Morita (Kanebo) - 29:25.55

Men's 10000 m Heat 2
1. Josphat Boit (Mammoth TC) - 28:11.75
2. Liam Adams (Unatt.) - 28:11.76
3. James Strang (Unatt.) - 28:12.03
-----
31. Atsushi Ikawa (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 29:05.32

Women's 5000 m Heat 1
1. Sally Kipyego (OTC) - 14:43.11
2. Julia Lucas (OTC) - 15:08.52
3. Julie Culley (Asics) - 15:13.87
-----
12. Kayoko Fukushi (Wacoal) - 15:33.11
17. Risa Takenaka (Shiseido) - 15:44.94

Women's 5000 m Heat 2
1. Megan Brown (Brooks) - 15:33.42
2. Kathy Kroeger (Stanford) - 15:33.76
3. Nicole Aish (Unatt.) - 15:33.95
-----
4. Misaki Onishi (Sekisui Kagaku) - 15:34.36
5. Riko Matsuzaki (Sekisui Kagaku) - 15:34.69
10. Chihiro Takato (Wacoal) - 15:56.41
11. Misako Suguro (Shiseido) - 15:56.95

Men's 5000 m Heat 2
1. Jake Hurysz (Unatt.) - 13:38.59
2. Kevin Williams (Oklahoma) - 13:39.87
3. Kenyon Neuman (Nike) - 13:40.38
-----
20. Ryohei Kawakami (Kanebo) - 13:54.91

Men's 3000 m SC Heat 1
1. Kyle Alcorn (Nike) - 8:26.66
2. Alex Genest (Speed River) - 8:27.41
3. Donald Cowart (RMR) - 8:29.05
-----
18. Aoi Matsumoto (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 9:01.23

Men's 3000 m SC Heat 2
1. Jordan Fife (Brooks) - 8:33.89
2. Lyle Weese (Unatt.) - 8:35.09
3. Tsuyoshi Takeda (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 8:35.86

Women's 800 m Heat 1
1. Morgan Uceny (Adidas) - 2:02.46
2. Andrea Ferris (Unatt.) - 2:03.62
3. LaTavia Thomas (Hsinternatio) - 2:03.90
-----
7. Akari Kishikawa (Hasegawa Sports) - 2:04.63

Sunday, April 29, 2012

'Course Records for Tola, Jeruto in Duesseldorf'

http://world-track.org/2012/04/course-records-for-tola-jeruto-in-duesseldorf/


The lead pack at 9 km.

Kawauchi 8th in Solo Dusseldorf - "No Other Japanese Was a New Experience"

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/sports/news/120429/oth12042920580028-n1.htm

translated by Brett Larner
photos (c) 2012 Brett Larner

Having lost in his bid to make the London Olympics team, civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) finished 8th in 2:12:58 at the Apr. 29 Dusseldorf Marathon, his first European race. Kawachi commented afterward, "Having only Kenyans and Ethiopians and no other Japanese around me was a new experience," taking something positive from the experience.  Losing touch with the lead pack following a surge just before 23 km, he missed his goal of a sub-2:10 clocking.  "I wanted to beat my Tokyo Marathon time (2:12:51) no matter what.  I can only blame my own weakness for this result, and I have to figure out how to do better."

A full-time employee at Kasukabe H.S. in Saitama, Kawauchi is an oddity among Japan's top-class athletes.  Following his European debut, he says, "I'm going straight from the airport to work."  Even in the face of disappointment he remains as serious and principled as ever.

2012 Dusseldorf Marathon
Dusseldorf, Germany, 4/29/12
click here for complete results

Men
1. Seboka Diriba Tola (Ethiopia) - 2:08:27 - CR
2. Duncan Koech (Kenya) - 2:08:33 - PB
3. Abraham Kiprotich (Kenya) - 2:08:35
4. Marcin Chabowski (Poland) - 2:10:07 - PB
5. Evans Ruto (Kenya) - 2:10:10
6. Nahashon Kimaiyo (Kenya) - 2:10:28
7. Abraham Chelanga (Kenya) - 2:10:40
8. Yuki Kawauchi (Japan) - 2:12:58
-----
15. Saeki Makino (Japan) - 2:21:42 - PB

Women
1. Agnes Jeruto (Kenya) - 2:25:49 - CR
2. Nastassia Staravoitava (Belarus) - 2:27:24
3. Melkam Gisaw (Ethiopia) - 2:27:50
4. Volha Dubovskaya (Belarus) - 2:28:08
5. Kebebush Haile Lema (Ethiopia) - 2:29:02
6. Anna Hahner (Germany) - 2:30:14 - debut
7. Fantu Eticha Jimma (Ethiopia) - 2:30:53
8. Jane Rotich (Kenya) - 2:31:06

Chepyego and Ndirangu Repeat in Oda Memorial Meet 5000 m

2012 Oda Memorial Track & Field Meet
Big Arch Stadium, Hiroshima, Apr. 28-29, 2012
click here for complete results

Women's Grand Prix 5000 m
1. Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) - 15:19.27
2. Beatrice Wainaina Murugi (Kenya/Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 15:38.71
3. Toshika Tamura (Matsuyama Univ.) - 15:49.11
4. Ayame Takagi (Meijo Univ.) - 15:54.80
5. Yoko Aizu (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 15:57.38
6. Azusa Kurusu (Juntendo Univ.) - 16:07.19
7. Yuka Ando (Team Mizuno) - 16:10.19
8. Sayuri Sendo (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 16:10.85
9. Michi Numata (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 16:18.85
10. Mika Tanimizu (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 16:22.46

Men's Grand Prix 5000 m
1. Charles Ndirangu (Kenya/Team JFE Steel) - 13:36.29
2. Jeremiah Karemi (Kenya/Toyokawa H.S.) - 13:40.64
3. Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) - 13:42.27
4. Ryo Matsumoto (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 13:46.02
5. Yasuhito Ikeda (Team NTT Nishi Nihon) - 13:46.58
6. Yasuhiro Tago (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 13:47.28
7. Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 13:49.15
8. John Gathaiya (Kenya/Sera H.S.) - 13:51.89
9. Daiki Hirose (Meiji Univ.) - 13:53.96
10. Masato Kikuchi (Meiji Univ.) - 13:57.16

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Friday, April 27, 2012

Dusseldorf Marathon Pre-Race Press Conference and Streaming Info

Yuki Kawauchi and 2006 European 10000 m champion Jan Fitschen at the Dusseldorf Marathon press conference, Apr. 27.

by Brett Larner

Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) is set to make his European debut this Sunday at the 10th Metro Group Dusseldorf Marathon, an IAAF Bronze Label event.  Kawauchi contacted JRN in late December last year to ask for assistance in finding a late-April race in Europe to do as a practice run for the London Olympics.  Following his failed bid to make the Japanese team at February's Tokyo Marathon he elected to commit himself to running Dusseldorf as a serious race.  Joining him is the best field assembled yet in Dusseldorf's short history, with one 2:06 runner and five 2:08 men plus defending champion Nahashon Kimaiyo (Kenya), two debutants with sub-62 half marathon credentials and a sizeable second pack of runners looking to break their home countries' Olympic qualifying standards.  Weather permitting, the out-of-nowhere 2:08:32 course record set by Iaroslav Musinschi (Moldova) in 2010 looks sure to fall.

On April 27 he appeared alongside German favorite Jan Fitscher and others to talk about his plans for the race.  "At the minimum," he told the media, "I want to break 2:10, but along with that I want to show that even though Kenyans and Ethiopians are superb athletes, Japanese runners can compete with them.  In Tokyo we went through halfway in 1:03:13, so if the first half here is 1:03:30 I don't think it'll be too fast, and if it's 1:04 I'll be very confident."  If he achieves both his time goal and the win Kawauchi will become only the second Japanese man to win a European marathon sub-2:10, 25 years after 1991 World Championships gold medalist Hiromi Taniguchi's 2:09:50 win at the 1987 London Marathon.  Kawauchi's training partner Saeki Makino (Kawaguchi T&F Assoc.) will likewise be making his European debut looking for a sub-2:15 PB clocking.

The Dusseldorf Marathon will be streamed live here beginning at 9 a.m. local time on Sunday the 29th.  Check back for pictures and further coverage of the race weekend.

10th Metro Group Dusseldorf Marathon
Dusseldorf, 4/29/12

Men
1. Nahashon Kimaiyo (Kenya) - 2:10:36 (2011 Dusseldorf winner)
2. Seboka Tola (Ethiopia) - 2:06:17
4. Joseph Ngeny (Kenya) - 2:08:10
5. Evans Ruto (Kenya) - 2:08:36
6. Duncan Koech (Kenya) - 2:08:38
7. Yuki Kawauchi (Japan) - 2:08:37
8. Abraham Chelanga (Kenya) - 2:08:43
11. Josphat Ngetich (Kenya) - 2:13:44
15. Saeki Makino (Japan) - 1:04:35 (half)
17. John Ewoi (Kenya) - 2:14:56
20. Jan Fitschen (Germany) - 2:15:40
22. Marcin Chabowski (Poland) - 2:14:32
23. Jose Moreira (Portugal) - 2:13:37
32. Stanley Salil (Kenya) - debut - 1:01:35 (half)
33. Tewelde Estifanos (Eritrea) - debut - 1:01:39 (half)

text and photo (c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Marathoner Ogata Becomes Head Coach at Hiroshima University of Economics

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20120427-941257.html

translated by Brett Larner

Hiroshima University of Economics announced April 27 that 2008 Beijing Olympics marathoner Tsuyoshi Ogata (38) has been named head coach of its track and field team following his retirement from Team Chugoku Denryoku after December's Fukuoka International Marathon.  At a Hiroshima-area press conferece Ogata told members of the media, "I want to pass on the knowledge and experience that I've been able to develop in my career, and to bring my athletes up to be people who will keep looking upwards to the next level."  Ogata left Team Chugoku Denryoku at the end of January and began focusing on his new work in February.  "It was hard to leave," he said of the decision, "but you only live once.  More than feeling like I've left something behind I view this as the chance to take on something I've always wanted to do."  Ogata has not formally left the Chugoku Denryoku company, instead taking an indefinite leave of absence.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Atsushi Sato to Leave Chugoku Denryoku Team, Return Home to Fukushima

http://www.chugoku-np.co.jp/sports/Sp201204270091.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On April 26 it was announced that Beijing Olympics men's marathoner Atsushi Sato (33, Team Chugoku Denryoku) will take an indefinite leave of absence from the Chugoku Denryoku team to relocate his training base to his native Fukushima.  Sato will remain affiliated with Chugoku Denryoku but will enter Fukushima University in October as a research student.

Born in Aizu, Fukushima, last year's disasters were a major turning point for Sato.  Becoming a driving force in helping to alleviate the region's misery in the wake of the nuclear accidents has given him new motivation.  With the understanding of his company, he chose to return to his hometown.  At Fukushima University he will be researching the physiological effects of low-oxygen training while training in his hometown of Aizu as he targets next year's World Championships.  Among the many others who have been separated from Fukushima, Sato's wife and 800 m national record holder Miho Sato (34) will also return with him to work with children's track and field clubs in the area.

After graduating from Waseda University Sato joined the Chugoku Denryoku team in 2001 and was a major part of the team's success on the ekiden circuit.  He ran the marathon at the 2003 World Championships before setting the half marathon national record in 2007 and making the Beijing Olympics marathon team in 2008.  At the 2009 World Championships marathon he finished 6th.  Since then he has dealt with injury problems, missing out on his goal of repeating as an Olympian at this summer's London Olympics when he was unable to run his planned qualifying race.  Sato commented, "When I think of how precious Fukushima is to me it gives me the drive to try to become competitive on the world level again."

Monday, April 23, 2012

'2012 IAU 100k World Championships Results'

http://www.irunfar.com/2012/04/2012-iau-100k-world-championship-results.html

Not sure what happened in the men's race as Japan, a perennial medal contender, apparently had no men in the top 25.

Update: A reader in Finland sent a link to this discussion about the Seregno World Championships.  Apparently the Russian, Finnish and Japanese teams were housed over 50 km from the race site with the drive to the race taking four hours due to the drivers getting lost.  A Finnish team member commented: "It is a total let down that arrangements can be like this at a World Championship-level event.  I feel most sorry for the Japanese, who went to the World Championships in tragedy."

2012 IAU 100k World Championships
Seregno, Italy, 4/22/12
click here for complete results

Women
1. Amy Sproston (U.S.A.) - 7:34:08
2. Kajsa Berg (Sweden) - 7:35:23
3. Irina Vishnevskaja (Russia) - 7:36:01
4. Meghan Arbogast (U.S.A.) - 7:41:52
5. Pam Smith (U.S.A.) - 7:43:04
6. Judit Foldingne Nagy (Hungary) - 7:43:55
7. Mami Kudo (Japan) - 7:48:05
8. Yuko Ito (Japan) - 7:57:19
9. Marina Zanardi (Italy) - 7:58:07
10. Mai Fujisawa (Japan) - 7:58:38
-----
27. Wakako Oyagi (Japan) - 8:40:29

Women's Teams
1. U.S.A. - 22:59:04
2. Japan - 23:44:02
3. Russia - 23:55:15

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mathathi and Niiya Run 10000 m World Leaders at Hyogo Relay Carnival

by Brett Larner



2007 World Championships 10000 m bronze medalist  Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) make the biggest news of the first day of the 2012 Hyogo Relay Carnival, running a world-leading 27:35.16 to win the Grand Prix 10000 m.  Mathathi ran together with Patrick Mwaka (Kenya/Team Aisan Kogyo) through much of the race after dropping a pack of Japanese athletes in search of Olympic A-standard times before turning it on late in the race to seal the win.  Mwaka was nearly run down by Daisuke Shimizu (Team Kanebo), who fell short of getting the A-standard as he finished 3rd as the top Japanese in 27:50.50, his first time under 28.  The top three Japanese half-marathoners of the year so far took the next three spots but were unable to break 28 in their season openers.  Shinobu Kubota (Komazawa Univ.) was the top collegiate in the Grand Prix race, 7th in a one-second PB of 28:22.29 just ahead of 2011 World University Games 10000 m gold medalist Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.).  Hakone star Ryuji Kashiwabara (Team Fujitsu) made his pro debut, 13th in 28:50.97, while London Olympics marathon squad member Ryo Yamamoto (Team Sagawa Express) ran his first race of the season, 23rd in 29:50.81.



Kubota was actually outrun for top collegiate of the day by Hakone Ekiden champion Toyo University's Keita Shitara, who ran tough against the Kenyan lead pack in the Asics Challenge 10000 m to take thirty seconds off his PB and five seconds off Kashiwabara's Toyo record as he finished 3rd in 28:15.90.  His identical twin brother Yuta Shitara will no doubt be gunning for that mark this season.  Turning heads in the Asics Challenge race, the B-heat of the day, Sera H.S. standout Charles Ndirangu (Kenya/Team JFE Steel) made his pro debut in style with a 27:58.02 win by four seconds over the experienced Jacob Wanjuki (Kenya/Team Aichi Seiko).

At the award ceremony Mathathi made further news when he announced his plans for the year. As quoted by Nikkan Sports, Mathathi said, "I'm not going after the Olympics."  Instead, he will run his marathon debut in Fukuoka in December.  "Since it's my first marathon I won't be setting a time, just going for the win."  The Hyogo Relay Carnival continues Sunday with a competitive women's 10000 m among other highlights.



In the women's Grand Prix 10000 m, Hitomi Niiya (Team Univ. Ent.) continued her outstanding streak over the last year and a half with a world-leading 31:28.26 PB for the win, breaking the London Olympics A-standard by nearly twenty seconds.  After Kenyan Sally Chepyego (Team Kyudenko) ran alone up front for 2000 m, Niiya went to work and reeled her in.  The pair split 15:53 at halfway and ran together for 5000 m before Niiya turned it up a gear, running the second half in 15:35.  Chepyego faded and was overtaken by five-time 1500 m national champion Mika Yoshikawa (Team Panasonic), who missed the A-standard but cleared 32 for the second time in her career.  Chepyego took 3rd in 32:05.04, seven seconds back from Yoshikawa but well clear of the rest of the field.  Niiya now holds A-standard times over both 5000 m and 10000 m and is a very strong candidate to be named to the London team on the track.

In other track action on Saturday, Nittai University ace Shota Hattori set a meet record 28:46.69 to win the men's 10000 m at the Four University Meet in Tokyo's southwestern suburbs.  Nittai runners swept the podium, all running PBs but Hattori.  Across the Pacific, five Japanese men tuned up for next weekend's Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational 10000 m with runs in different heats of the Mt. SAC Relays 5000 m.  10000 m national champion Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) was the top man of the day, dropping Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.) over the last lap to win the Olympic Development Elite heat in 13:40.91, a replay of his national title win over Murasawa last year.  Sato's rival Kensuke Takezawa (Team S&B) was less successful in the Invitational Elite heat, 14th in 13:46.73 after going out near PB pace with the leaders.

2012 Hyogo Relay Carnival
Universiad Memorial Stadium, Kobe, 4/21/12
click here for complete results

Men's Grand Prix 10000 m
1. Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 27:35.16
2. Patrick Mwaka (Kenya/Team Aisan Kogyo) - 27:49.43
3. Daisuke Shimizu (Team Kanebo) - 27:50.50 - PB
4. Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota) - 28:07.45
5. Takuya Fukatsu (Team Asahi Kasei) - 28:10.09
6. Masato Kihara (Team Kanebo) - 28:21.47
7. Shinobu Kubota (Komazawa Univ.) - 28:22.29 - PB
8. Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.) - 28:26.94 - PB
9. Kenta Murotsuka (SDF Academy) - 28:27.30
10. Takuya Ishikawa (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 28:28.39

Women's Grand Prix 10000 m
1. Hitomi Niiya (Team Univ. Ent.) - 31:28.26 - PB
2. Mika Yoshikawa (Team Panasonic) - 31:58.73
3. Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) - 32:05.04
4. Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya) - 32:30.45 - PB
5. Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 32:31.76
6. Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 32:36.45 - PB
7. Megumi Hirai (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 32:38.59 - PB
8. Shino Saito (Team Shimamura) - 32:41.77
9. Miho Ihara (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 32:45.01 - PB
10. Chinami Mori (Bukkyo Univ.) - 32:50.74

Men's Asics Challenge 10000 m
1. Charles Ndirangu (Kenya/Team JFE Steel) - 27:58.02 - PB
2. Jacob Wanjuki (Kenya/Team Aichi Seiko) - 28:01.98
3. Keita Shitara (Toyo Univ.) - 28:15.90 - PB
4. Paul Kuira (Kenya/Team Konica Minolta) - 28:17.86
5. Daniel Gitau (Kenya/Team Fujitsu) - 28:30.35

Women's Asics Challenge 5000 m
1. Sayuri Sento (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 15:59.31
2. Mika Okunaga (Team Kyudenko) - 16:01.95
3. Ayako Mitsui (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 16:02.88

2012 Four-University Meet
Sagami Field, Sagamihara, Kanagawa, 4/21/12

Men's 10000 m
1. Shota Hattori (Nittai Univ.) - 28:46.69 - MR
2. Keigo Yano (Nittai Univ.) - 29:07.06 - PB
3. Yutaro Fukushi (Nittai Univ.) - 29:10.64 - PB
4. Hisanori Nonaka (Tokai Univ.) - 29:22.23 - PB
5. Kiichi Yoshimura (Nittai Univ.) - 29:39.98

2012 Mt. SAC Relays
Walnut, California, 4/21/12
click here for complete results

Men's Elite Invitational 5000 m
1. Cameron Levins (Southern Utah Univ.) - 13:18.47
2. Lawi Lalang (Univ. of Arizona) - 13:18.88
3. David McNeill (U.S.A.) - 13:19.31
-----
14. Kensuke Takezawa (Team S&B) - 13:46.73

Men's Olympic Development Elite 5000 m
1. Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 13:40.91
2. Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.) - 13:43.68
3. Michael Crouch (Zap Fitness) - 13:44.67
-----
10. Tomoyuki Morita (Team Kanebo) - 13:54.36

Men's Open-A 5000 m
1. Mauricio Gonzalez (Colombia) - 13:37.29
2. Keith Gerrard (Mizuno) - 13:50.06
3. Christo Landry (U.S.A.) - 13:52.66
-----
9. Ryohei Kawakami (Team Kanebo) - 14:03.54

Women's Invitational Elite 3000 mSC
1. Korene Hinds (Puma) - 9:42.27
2. Mason Cathay (U.S.A.) - 9:48.67
3. Lennie Waite (Team Rogue Elite) - 9:52.64
-----
8. Yoshika Arai (Team Edion) - 10:05.43

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

videos by naoki620

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Olympic Marathoner Nakamoto Makes Hometown Public Appearance (updated)

http://mainichi.jp/area/yamaguchi/news/20120420ddlk35050432000c.html

translated by Brett Larner

There are less than 100 days left until the London Olympics.  To show its support for its homegrown Olympic marathoner Kentaro Nakamoto (29, Team Yasukawa Denki), the city of Shimonoseki is hosting an Olympic sendoff party for him at Kikugawa Public Sports Center on April 21 from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.  Current students at Nakamoto's elementary school and junior high school and others will gather to raise up a hometown cheer.

Anyone is welcome to attend the party, organized by the Kikugawa Athletic Council and the Kikugawa Sports Club with the aim having the whole town turn out.  Video of Nakamoto's Olympic-qualifying run at March's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon will be shown, his former teachers will give speeches, Nakamoto will talk about his Olympic goals, and the town will present him with a support fund.  For questions contact the organizing committee at 083-287-2820.

Update: According to this article, more than 300 people turned up to show their support for Nakamoto.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Rough Women's 10000 m on Tap at Hyogo Relay Carnival

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20120418-936102.html

translated by Brett Larner

Two days of track and field action kick off April 21 at the Hyogo Relay Carnival in Kobe's Universiade Memorial Stadium.  The first meet in the spring Grand Prix series, it is the official start of the track and field season and one of the meets used to select the Japanese Olympic team.  Athletes will compete in eleven different disciplines.

The women's 10000 m looks like the absolute roughest event of the meet.  "Track queen" Kayoko Fukushi (30, Team Wacoal) is absent, but 2011 World Championships team members Megumi Kinukawa (22, Mizuno) and Hikari Yoshimoto (22, Team Yamada Denki) will be leading the way in search of their second-straight national team appearances.  "White-skinned beauty" Kasumi Nishihara (23, Team Yamada Denki) and the pride of disaster-hit Miyagi Prefecture, Hiroko Shoi (31, Team Nihon ChemiCon), are also among the main contenders.  Despite having lost the speed of her golden years, national record holder Yoko Shibui (33, Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) also cannot be discounted.

The women's 10000 m will also feature two "outsiders."  Hitomi Niiya (24, Sakura AC) made the 5000 m final in Daegu last summer.  She had previously indicated that she was not interested in pursuing longer distances, but she will be racing the Hyogo 10000 m seriously.  The other is Mika Yoshikawa (27, Team Panasonic), formidable speed runner with five 1500 m national titles to her name.

It's likely that we'll see Niiya take the race out fast.  There will be pacers, but there's good chance that Niiya will be out running in front of them.  Changing gears partway through to run her down, Kinukawa is most apt to be her competition.  Exactly in this way Kinukawa beat Niiya to win last year's 5000 m national title.  If it comes down to a last kick, Yoshikawa is the favorite, no mistake about it.  Fans can look forward to the possibilities of both a fast race as runners chase the 31:45.00 Olympic A-standard, and a dramatic, competitive competition between many of the best Japanese women.

The favorite among the Japanese men in the 10000 m is young star Chihiro Miyawaki (20, Team Toyota) who will be looking to break the Olympic A-standard of 27:45.00 for the second time to seal his Olympic spot.  Two-time Hakone Ekiden First Stage winner Suguru Osako (20, Waseda Univ.) is also aiming for the Olympic 10000 m.  With a long list of achievements including the 10000 m gold medal at last year's World University Games he has more than enough potential to get there.  Hakone's "God of the Mountain" Ryuji Kashiwabara (22, Team Fujitsu) will be making his pro debut in the 10000 m at Hyogo.  He says his goal for the first half of this season is "to get myself into the ring as a competitor for the Olympic team."  His current best time is far too weak, but as a powerful, passionate athlete there is plenty of chance that he'll get "somewhere" in a breakthrough performance.

Olympic Marathoner Kizaki Returns From Tour of "Tough" London Course

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/sports/news/120419/oth12041911060007-n1.htm

translated by Brett Larner

London Olympics women's marathon team member Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) returned to Japan on April 19 from altitude training in Albuquerque, New Mexico and a tour of the Olympic course, arriving at Itami Airport after transferring at Haneda Airport.  Kizaki spent three days on the course in London late last month.  She described her impression of the course, which passes landmark sites including Big Ben and St. Paul's Cathedral, saying, "There are places where the road suddenly gets narrow and a lot of 90 degree corners, so it's going to be tough.  If you don't prepare for it I don't think you'll be able to cope with the up-down and the changes in the road surface."

Rizaki plans to return to the U.S.A. for further altitude training in early May, returning again to run the 10000 m at the National Track & Field Championships in June.

Aoyama Gakuin University Signs Sponsorship Deal With Adidas

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20120418-OHT1T00279.htm

translated by Brett Larner

On April 18 sports maker Adidas announced that it has signed an official partnership deal with Aoyama Gakuin University's middle and long-distance track and field team.  Adidas will supply uniforms and other gear to the team, which is targeting an improvement on this year's best-ever 5th-place Hakone Ekiden.  Team captain Takehiro Deki, who ran the all-time #3 collegiate marathon time of 2:10:02 at March's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, commented, "Our goal for this year is to win the Hakone Ekiden.  In our new uniform Aoyama Gakuin is going to tear things up."

Translator's note: Although Adidas has come on strong with sponsorship in the corporate league, as far as I know Aoyama Gakuin is the only university team they sponsor.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sumco to Disband Ekiden Team After Seven New Year Ekiden Appearances

http://sp.mainichi.jp/m/news.html?cid=20120419k0000m050014000c

translated by Brett Larner

The Nagasaki-based Sumco Techxiv company, a subdivision of major semiconductor silicon wafer manufacturer Sumco, announced on April 18 that it plans to disband its ekiden team on July 31.  A statement from the company read, "Due to difficulties in the current business environment we do not expect to be in a position to be able to continue our support of the athletics team."  The team hopes to continue elsewhere as a complete unit and is currently looking for a new sponsor.

The Sumco Techxiv team was founded in 1992, changing its name to Sumco in 1992.  Its current lineup includes eleven athletes headed by 2011 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon 7th-place finisher Satoshi Yoshii.  In 2001 team member Yuki Mori won the National Corporate Half Marathon Championships, going on to run on the Japanese National Team at that year's World Half Marathon Championships in England.  Sumco qualified for the New Year Ekiden seven times, with its best finish coming in 2005 when it placed 23rd.

'Kawauchi Adds Depth to Düsseldorf Field'

http://www.iaaf.org/Mini/LRR12/News/NewsDetail.aspx?id=64627

An English-language version of the German story I linked yesterday.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sendai International Half Marathon Announces Elite Field

by Brett Larner

Cancelled last year in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that hit its area hard, the Sendai International Half Marathon has announced a small but competitive elite field for its 22nd running on May 13.  Japan-resident Kenyans Mekubo Mogusu (Team Nissin Shokuhin), Daniel Gitau (Team Fujitsu) and Harun Njoroge (Team Komori Corp.) make up the front end of the men's field, with London Olympics marathon team member Arata Fujiwara (Tokyo T&F Assoc.), independent Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) and breakthrough marathoner Takashi Horiguchi (Team Honda) among the best in the domestic men's field.

Former women's national record holder Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) returns to Sendai, site of some of her best races, to face the Miyauchi twins Hiroko and Yoko (Team Kyocera) and her own teammate Megumi Seike (Team Sysmex).

This year the Sendai half also features a large mass-participation field, initially planned for last year's edition after 20 years as a competitive event.  Check back closer to race date for more information on catching the TV broadcast.

2012 Sendai International Half Marathon Elite Field
Sendai, 5/13/12
click here for complete elite field listing

Men
Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 59:48
Daniel Gitau (Kenya/Team Fujitsu) - 1:01:01
Harun Njoroge (Kenya/Team Komori Corp.) - 1:01:04
Arata Fujiwara (Tokyo T&F Assoc.) - 1:01:34
Yoshihiro Yamamoto (Team Toyota Boshoku) - 1:02:03
Atsushi Fujita (Team Fujitsu) - 1:02:12
Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) - 1:02:18
Takeshi Kumamoto (Team Toyota) - 1:02:29
Takeshi Maegawa (Team Toenec) - 1:02:30
Takashi Horiguchi (Team Honda) - 1:02:32
Kohei Nishiyama (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:02:38
Tsukasa Morita (Team Sanyo Tokushu Seiko) - 1:02:42
Ryosuke Fukuyama (Team Honda) - 1:02:49
Kosaku Hoshina (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 1:03:09

Women
Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) - 1:07:43
Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 1:09:23
Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 1:09:54
Megumi Seike (Team Sysmex) - 1:10:08
Misato Horie (Team Noritz) - 1:10:37
Sumiko Suzuki (Team Hokuren) - 1:13:30

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

'Mit Yuki Kawauchi Startet Erstmals Ein Japanischer Eliteläufer'

http://www.marathon4you.de/meldungen/metro-group-marathon-duesseldorf/mit-yuki-kawauchi-startet-erstmals-ein-japanischer-elitelaeufer/3618

Machine translation of the above press release turns out decently.  On Christmas Eve last year Kawauchi called me and asked for help with finding a spring race in Europe that met the restrictions of his work schedule, as a test for running with jet lag if he made the Olympic team and as a serious race if Tokyo didn't go well.  With the largest Japanese population in continental Europe Dusseldorf was the choice that best met his objectives.  As with other athletes over the last three years, working together in this way unfortunately means I have to largely cut back on writing about Kawauchi the way I have in the past, but since the first opportunity came in 2009 through a generous offer from Gavin Doyle at the Copenhagen Marathon I've viewed working with Japanese athletes to run races that have not been a part of the regular Japanese calendar as an extension of JRN's aim to increase the accessibility of Japanese distance running and athletes.  As I've written in the past, it's not always easy to responsibly navigate both sides of the equation but I'm glad to be able to help talented, motivated athletes pursue their goals when the opportunity arises and to help find those opportunities.  Here's to a good race in Dusseldorf.

Fujita 7th, Tamura 9th at Boston Marathon

http://www.jiji.com/jc/zc?k=201204/2012041700066&g=spo
http://www.jiji.com/jc/zc?k=201204/2012041700070&g=spo

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Mayumi Fujita (Team Juhachi Ginko) finished 7th at the 2012 Boston Marathon, giving herself a modest assessment as she said, "The conditions were really bad, so more than being a measurement of my own ability I was just lucky to finish."  Due to the heat at this year's Boston the race got off at a very slow pace.  Fujita opted to handle the situation by running steadily in hopes that, "by waiting and hanging on it would be first-come-first-serve at the finish."  Letting the pack go when the pace accelerated, in the later stages of the race she picked off other athletes one by one as she advanced through the field, ultimately finishing as the first non-African.  Looking to the future she said, "I'd like to become more competitive.  I think I can get to the 2:26-2:27 level."

Making his marathon debut, Hideaki Tamura (Team JR Higashi Nihon) was 9th after bravely running in the front pack in his marathon debut.  In conditions that were "a lot hotter than I expected," Tamura ran most of the race in the lead pack.  Even after falling of the pack in the second half he continued to run strongly.  "I told myself to keep hanging on, and I think I ran a pretty honest race," he said afterward.

The 23-year-old Tamura ran the Hakone Ekiden as a student at Tokyo Nogyo University, entering Team JR Higashi Nihon last year.  He won February's Ome 30 km, leading to his marathon debut in Boston.  Of his future plans he said, "My goal is the Olympics."

Monday, April 16, 2012

Climbing the Fence, Olympic Marathon Women to Train Together in Flagstaff

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20120416-935102.html

translated by Brett Larner

At an April 16 press conference in Tokyo to announce its 2012 support and strengthening program, the Japanese federation Rikuren announced that the three members of the London Olympics women's marathon team, Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya), Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) and Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei) will break down the traditional barrier between different corporate teams and train for the Olympics together.  For two weeks lasting from late June through early July the trio will train at altitude in Flagstaff, Arizona.  Strengthening Committee head Tadasu Kawano commented, "To be a true Team Japan, we want to make sure that they are in a position to be able to work together."

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Kawauchi Runs PW to Take First Marathon Win at Kasumigaura Marathon (updated)

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20120415-934528.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The Kawauchis lead in Kasumigaura.

Having missed out on the London Olympics team, Yuki Kawauchi (25, Saitama Pref.) marked the first win among his twelve marathon starts to date at the Apr. 15 Kasumigaura Marathon, Japan's third-largest marathon returning after post-disaster cancellation last year.

Kawauchi ran as a pacer for his younger brother Koki Kawauchi (19, Takasaki Keizai Univ.), but after 23 km he left his brother behind and ran on his own to the finish, closing with an impressive 6:09 split for the final 2.195 km.  Because the brothers went into the race planning to run around 2:25, even with this closing speed Kawauchi's winning time of 2:22:38 was a personal worst, but his wide margin of victory over 2nd place still showed that he was in a different class from the other runners.

"I didn't plan to win today, so I guess I was just lucky," Kawauchi said after the race.  He won Kasumigaura's 10-mile division two years ago and other races last year including July's Kushiro Shitsugen 30 km and October's Kanazawa Hyakumangoku Half Marathon, but this was his first win over 42.195 km even if it was unintentional.  "I'm happy to look at this as my first marathon win.  It was good practice," he said.

His brother Koki finished 7th in 2:28:36.  "I wanted to break 2:27," Koki told reporters, "but at least I was faster than Hiroshi Neko's best time (2:30:26)."  Yuki will race the April 29 Dusseldorf Marathon in his European debut.  Yukie Tamura (42, Kasai Runners AC) won the women's race in Kasumigaura in 2:49:00.

Update: Dr. Helmut Winter sent me this list of the top ten fastest known final 2.195 km splits.  Kawauchi's 6:09 is the all-time 2nd fastest behind only Geoffrey Mutai's 6:05 from Eindhoven '09, knocking former world record holder Haile Gebrselassie out of the top ten.  The circumstances were a bit different, but.....

photo (c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Kibiwott and Sang Go Under Course Record at Nagano Marathon

by Brett Larner

Cooler than usual temperatures helped two Kenyans, winner Francis Kibiwott and runner-up Silas Sang, take down double Olympic marathon medalist Erick Wainaina's long-standing Nagano Marathon course record of 2:10:17 on April 15, Kibiwott setting a new mark of 2:09:05 and Sang just five seconds back in a new PB of 2:09:10.  The women's race was a slower affair, but winner Pauline Wangui (Kenya) still managed a sizeable PB as she won in 2:34:22 by nearly a minute over Ethiopian Belainesh Gebre.

Kibiwott, Sang, countryman Moses Kangogo, Russian Alexey Sokolov and ultramarathon specialist Kiyokatsu Hasegawa (Team JR Higashi Nihon) set off in a pack of five, but by 20 km it had whittled down to just the three Kenyans.  The trio hit halfway in 1:04:28, with2:08 man  Kangogo falling off after 25 km.  Kibiwott and Sang were together until near the end, Kibiwott emerging on top in a hard push to the finish.  Down 24 seconds at halfway, Sokolov came within four seconds of Kangogo at 40 km but could not manage to close the gap and ended up 4th, six seconds behind.  Hasegawa faded badly to 2:16:03, more than five minutes behind Sokolov,  but still hung on to 5th.

The women's race was more of a duel between Wangui and Gebre, the pair running together until near 35 km before Wangui was able to edge away.  Top Japanese woman Sayuri Baba (Team Sekisui Kagaku) came from far behind to almost close the gap to fading 4th-placer Lauren Shelley (Australia) but came just short as she finished 5th in 2:37:38 to Shelley's 2:37:13.

2012 Nagano Marathon
Nagano, 4/15/12
click here for top 15 results and splits

Men
1. Francis Kibiwott (Kenya) - 2:09:05 - CR
2. Silas Sang (Kenya) - 2:09:10 - PB (CR)
3. Moses Kangogo (Kenya) - 2:10:53
4. Alexey Sokolov (Russia) - 2:10:59 - PB
5. Kiyokatsu Hasegawa (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:16:03

Women
1. Pauline Wangui (Kenya) - 2:34:22 - PB
2. Belainesh Gebre (Ethiopia) - 2:35:19
3. Rose Kerubo Nyangacha (Kenya) - 2:36:18
4. Lauren Shelley (Australia) - 2:37:13
5. Sayuri Baba (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 2:37:38 - PB

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Yuta Shitara Silver, Daichi Motomura Bronze at World University XC Championships

by Brett Larner



Toyo University's Yuta Shitara has had a busy last month.  After a 1:01:48 PB at the March 18 New York City Half Marathon he beat marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) over ten miles on April 1 and set a meet record for 3000 m on April 8 before travelling to Lodz, Poland for the 18th World University Cross-Country Championships on April 15.  Leading the first part of the race and working together with Tokai University's Daichi Motomura to control the pace, Shitara ended up going head-to-head against Algerian Abdelmajed Touil for the win but falling four seconds short as Touil outkicked him for the win, 29:11 to 29:15.  Leading at halfway, Motomura hung on to 3rd in 29:22.  Komazawa University's Kazuhiro Kuga placed 7th and Daito Bunka University's Hiroshi Ichida, like Shitara an identical twin, 24th to give the Japanese men the team gold medal alongside Shitara and Motomura's individual silver and bronze.  The Japanese women fell short of individual hardware but took 6th, 7th, 8th and 10th to take the team gold by one point over Romania.



2012 World University Cross-Country Championships
Lodz, Poland, 4/14/12
click here for complete results

Men
1. Abdelmajed Touil (Algeria) - 29:11
2. Yuta Shitara (Japan/Toyo Univ.) - 29:15
3. Daichi Motomura (Japan/Tokai Univ.) - 29:22
4. Antonio Abadia Beci (Spain) - 29:32
5. Vedat Gunen (Turkey) - 29:32
6. Matthew Bayley (Australia) - 29:35
7. Kazuhiro Kuga (Japan/Komazawa Univ.) - 29:36
8. Christian Glatting (Germany) - 29:37
9. Dmytro Lashyn (Ukraine) - 29:43
10. Rabia Makhloufi (Algeria) - 29:45
-----
24. Hiroshi Ichida (Japan/Daito Bunka Univ.) - 30:21
29. Masaya Taguchi (Japan/Toyo Univ.) - 30:34

Women
1. Ancuta Bobocel (Romania) - 15:48
2. Carla Salome Rocha (Portugal) - 15:54
3. Roxana Birca (Romania) - 15:56
4. Emily Rose Stewart (GBR) - 16:05
5. Amina Bettiche (Algeria) - 16:08
6. Mutusmi Ikeda (Japan) - 16:10
7. Ayuko Suzuki (Japan) - 16:15
8. Toshika Tamura (Japan) - 16:19
9. Tamara Jewett (Canada) - 16:24
10. Ayame Takaki (Japan) - 16:25
-----
16. Azusa Kurusu (Japan) - 16:44

Men's Teams
1. Japan - 36
2. Ukraine - 57
3. Algeria - 61
4. Spain - 74
5. Poland - 81

Women's Teams
1. Japan - 21
2. Romania - 23
3. Poland - 45
4. Canada - 46
5. Spain - 57

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Saturday, April 14, 2012

World Championships Marathoner Yoshiko Fujinaga Retires

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/news/20120411-OYT1T00950.htm

translated by Brett Larner

Team Shiseido announced on April 11 that marathoner Yoshiko Fujinaga, 30, has retired.  Fujinaga left the team on March 30 and plans to pursue a career as a teacher.

As a student at Isahaya H.S. in Nagasaki Fujinaga ran the 5000 m at the 1999 World Championships, going on to run the marathon at the 2009 World Championships.  Aiming for the London Olympics, she finished only 38th at March's Nagoya Women's Marathon.

Translator's note: Fujinaga and London Olympics men's marathon team member Arata Fujiwara (Tokyo T&F Assoc.) were teammates at Isahaya H.S.

Friday, April 13, 2012

'Course Record Under Threat in Nagano' - Preview

http://www.iaaf.org/Mini/LRR12/News/NewsDetail.aspx?id=64553

JRN will be at the Nagano Marathon expo all day Saturday at the Venice Marathon booth.  Stop by and say hi.

Hiroshi Neko Ineligible for Olympic Marathon Team?

http://www.daily.co.jp/general/2012/04/13/0004969026.shtml

translated by Brett Larner

Questions have arisen at the IAAF concerning the eligibility of comedian Hiroshi Neko, 34, to compete in the London Olympics marathon following his transfer of citizenship to Cambodia last October and his naming to the Cambodian Olympic team in March.  On April 12 it was revealed that the IAAF has asked the Cambodian federation for an explanation of the circumstances surrounding Neko's selection, raising doubts that Neko will be approved to compete.

Regarding transfers of nationality, at its general meeting last year the IAAF introduced new rules effective this year pertaining to athletes who have not previously run for their country's national team.  For such athletes, if less than one year has elapsed since a transfer of nationality the athlete must either
  1. Have lived continuously in the adopted country for at least one year, or
  2. Have received special exemption from the IAAF council.
Neko is active as an entertainer in Japan, making it very unlikely that he meets the criteria for having resided in Cambodia for one year.  To receive a special exemption it would be necessary for the Cambodian federation to file a petition, but, an IAAF official commented, "This is granted only in very serious, significant cases and there must be a deep and compelling reason," leaving the question of whether an exemption would be granted unclear.

Translator's note: Cambodian men's marathon national record holder Hem Bunting will be trying to break the 2:18 Olympic marathon B-standard at Sunday's Paris Marathon.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tsukasa Koga, 42, Arrested After Off-Leash Doberman Bites 20-Year-Old University Runner in Yoyogi Park (with video)

http://news.tv-asahi.co.jp/news/web/html/220411045.html (with video)
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/news/20120411-OYT1T00919.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Tsukasa Koga, 42, was arrested after letting her Doberman off-leash in Tokyo's Yoyogi Park.

According to the police, in November last year Koga's 1 m-long Doberman bit a 20-year-old university runner while off-leash in Yoyogi Park, Shibuya, Tokyo.  The male athlete was bitten in his right thigh, a wound which required two weeks of recovery.  Ms. Koga refused to pay for the student's hospital costs when he contacted her, telling him, "It's your fault.  You provoked my dog."  After she ignored multiple summons from the police she was arrested.  When questioned after her arrest Koga denied the charges, saying, "I didn't have my dog off the leash and I'm not responsible for any injuries."

Translator's note: Hallelujah, there is justice in the world.  I have been running in Yoyogi Park daily for many years.  A few years ago the park administration built three large fenced-off off-leash dog play areas for the benefit of both dog owners and other people trying to enjoy a crowded metropolitan park.  Despite this and the signs posted at every entrance to the park some dog owners continue to let their dogs off-leash wherever and whenever they like.

I began to have problems with Ms. Koga, her male companion and their off-leash Dobermans over a year ago.  While running one of my regular loops one day the Doberman with the metal collar in the video, apparently the same one which attacked the university runner, charged me on the same hill shown at the beginning of the video.  I stood my ground and shouted at the dog, but it still leaped at me and scratched my right arm with the claws on its right paw.  I confronted Koga and her male partner and they completely ignored me, with no apology, no eye contact, no response to me insisting that they leash their two Dobermans except a muttered, "Yeah, whatever," from Koga's male companion.  I went to a police stand nearby and told the two officers there what had happened and showed them the scratches on my arm and they said essentially, "Huh, yeah, Dobermans are dangerous."  I asked if they shouldn't do something about it since the park is full of small children and the officers said, "Tell you what.  Call us if it bites you next time."  

Park staff were more responsive to complaints after other encounters with Koga and her dog and repeatedly went to confront them, but it's a reality of life in Japan as a non-Japanese that the police are not going to do anything about claims against a Japanese citizen by a foreigner.  It's unfortunate that it actually did take a runner getting bitten for the police to do something and sad that the dog will no doubt be destroyed, but I'm glad Koga is getting what she deserves before anyone gets more seriously hurt.

'Hem Bunting and Ly Nary Wind Up Kenyan Training, Head to Paris'

http://www.phnompenhpost.com/index.php/2012033055325/Sport/hem-bunting-and-ly-nary-wind-up-kenyan-training-head-to-paris.html

Thanks to reader CK for sending this link to the latest chapter in the Cambodian Olympic marathon selection saga involving Cambodian national record holder Hem Bunting, Japanese-born comedian Hiroshi Neko and others.  Bunting and Ly Nary run the Paris Marathon this Sunday.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Hakone Ekiden Uphill Ace Kashiwabara Looking for 2:06, Olympics in New Pro Career

http://www.47news.jp/CN/201203/CN2012033001001929.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Having dominated the Hakone Ekiden's uphill Fifth Stage for his four years at Toyo University, men's long distance athlete Ryuji Kashiwabara, 22, made his debut in the uniform of his new corporate sponsor Fujitsu at a press conference in Minato Ward, Tokyo.  "I expect my career to last until I'm around 32 or 33," Kashiwabara told the media of his goals for the future.  "Within that time I want to go to the Olympics once.  My goal in the marathon is 2:06."

Beginning this season Kashiwabara will focus on the track to improve his speed, with a planned marathon debut his third year as a pro in 2014.  Having joined the Fujitsu team effective April 2, his first race in the new uniform will be at the April 21-22 Hyogo Relay Carnival.  Already one step ahead, he will be training in Miyazaki until April 28 as part of a corporate league-sponsored selective training camp.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Shitara Twins Top Weekend University Track Action

by Brett Larner

Along with Saturday's Kanaguri Memorial Meet where four men cleared 13:30 in the 5000 m, the weekend saw a number of small meets between Kanto-region university teams with the odd pro popping up in a few races.  Among the highlights:



2012 Hakone Ekiden champion Toyo University's twin juniors Keita Shitara and Yuta Shitara dominated the Five-University Meet at Daito Bunka University on Sunday.  Both brothers surged away from the field mid-race to take their events in new meet records, Keita with a 14:04.40 in the 5000 m to win by 8.62 seconds and Yuta with an 8:04.87 in the 3000 m to win by 8.00 seconds.



With a strong international debut in New York three weeks ago and a 10-mile win over marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) last weekend, next weekend Yuta will run on the Japanese national team at the World University XC Championships in Poland.



Nihon University's Kenyan senior Benjamin Gandu made easy work of the rest of the 5000 m field at Saturday's Nihon-Tokai Dual Meet, running a meet record 13:52.78 versus Tokai University runner-up Daichi Motomura's 14:06.58.  Nihon's new Kenyan first-year Daniel Mwiba Kitoni likewise took the 1500 m in a new meet record, running 3:48.34 to beat Tokai ace Akinobu Murasawa, who clocked 3:49.26.



Running in cushiony training shoes, Kenyan Johnson Kiumbani (Team Konica Minolta) won easily at the Setagaya Time Trials Meet 5000m, running 14:03.24 over a field including marathoner Satoshi Irifune (Team Kanebo) and Koku Gakuin University star Natsuki Terada.



Most of the rest of Team Kanebo ran the 3000 m A-heat, with Daisuke Shimizu coming out on top in 8:06.33.  The heat was most notable for the return to competition of Kanebo's Tomoyuki Morita, running his first race since debuting at last month's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon in 2:09:12.  Morita was 3rd in 8:17.36.



A week ahead of the start of this season's Nittai University Time Trials series, Nittai faced off against Chuo University in another dual meet at Nittai.  Nittai juniors Takumi Honda and Shota Hattori ran good early-season sub-14 marks of 13:57.09 and 13:58.56 to go 1-2 in the men's 5000 m, each just a few seconds off his PB.  The Nittai-Chuo meet was the only one to feature substantial women's competition, with Nittai's Maki Ashi taking the women's 5000 m in 16:22.19.

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Videos shot by Chris the Spitz and Kozai1802.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Top Three Break Course Record at Yaizu Minato Half Marathon

by Brett Larner

Kawauchi on the podium.

Despite windy conditions, times were fast across the board at the 27th Yaizu Minato Half Marathon in Shizuoka prefecture, a race deep in university competition.  The top three men cracked the fourteen-year-old course record of 1:03:54, two of them in the university division including winner Yusuke Ota (Nittai Univ.) who set a new overall CR of 1:03:42, Meiji University's winning team set a record for the combined times of the top two runners from the school in Yaizu's unique National University Pair Marathon Championships division, and just a week after a loss in a 10-miler against Toyo University ace Yuta Shitara, marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) came up 2nd overall again with a new general division course record of 1:03:48.

Kawauchi's participation was unannounced, and when he appeared on the start line a murmur among the university runners quickly grew into an ovation from the mass runners as word spread.    Ota, Kawauchi and eventual 3rd-placer Tomoyasu Matsui (Meiji Univ.) set off together from the gun, already with a gap over the rest of the field by 3 km.  The trio pushed each throughout the race, with Ota surging to pull away in the final kilometers and Kawauchi outkicking Matsui by two seconds.  All three broke the course record, but the entire field was also quick as nineteen men broke 66 minutes, the most ever at Yaizu.

The top three finishers in each division received a supply of locally-caught skipjack tuna, with Meiji's duo of Matsui and Ryo Ishima receiving an entire maguro tuna as a bonus for the Pair Marathon Championships course record.  In post-race podium comments Kawauchi said, "This was a flat, fast course and I was happy to run here.  I'll be back next year."  Asked about what comes next he replied, "I'll be aiming to run a fast time in Dusseldorf at the end of the month."  Before that, he will pace his younger brother's marathon debut at next week's Kasumigaura Marathon in Ibaraki prefecture.

27th Yaizu Minato Half Marathon
Yaizu, Shizuoka, 4/8/12
click here for complete results

Men
1. Yusuke Ota (Nittai Univ.) - 1:03:42 - CR
2. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) - 1:03:48 (CR)
3. Tomoyasu Matsui (Meiji Univ.) - 1:03:52 (CR)
4. Ryo Ishima (Meiji Univ.) - 1:04:05
5. Naoki Inoue (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:04:11
6. Shunsuke Yuji (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:04:15
7. Norihiko Matsuda (Hosei Univ.) - 1:04:25
8. Soji Takahashi (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:04:25
9. Yuichi Okutani (Takushoku Univ.) - 1:04:46
10. Ko Takagi (Meiji Univ.) - 1:04:52

Women
1. Natsuki Kato (Honda RC) - 1:20:34

Pair Marathon Championships
1. Meiji Univ. - 2:07:57 - CR
2. Aoyama Gakuin Univ. - 2:08:36
3. Komazawa Univ. - 2:09:54

text and photos (c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Takezawa, Ugachi Just Off Olympic B-Standard at Kanaguri Memorial 5000 m

by Brett Larner

The Japanese track season got moving Apr. 7 with the first big meet of the year, the 21st Kanaguri Memorial Meet in Kumamoto.  In the men's 5000 m A-heat, relative newcomer Patrick Mwikya (Kenya/Team Toyota Boshoku) led start to finish, winning in a solo 13:21.36.  A tight pack behind him saw Kensuke Takezawa (Team S&B), on the mend from his latest round of injuries, emerge to take 2nd in 13:28.70 just short of the 13:27.00 Olympic B-standard.  A step behind were Kenyan Daniel Gitau (Team Fujitsu) and 10000 m Olympic A-standard holder Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta), both under 13:30.  In the men's B-heat, winner Hayato Saito (Team Honda) would have placed well in the A-heat as he won by a comfortable margin in 13:41.80.

Kenyans Sally Chepyego (Team Kyudenko) and, making her pro debut, Beatrice Murugi (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) ran together ahead of the Japanese pack with Chepyego pulling away for the win in 15:20.30.  Yuka Ando, debuting with her new Mizuno sponsorship, was 3rd in 15:43.67 with high schooler Shiori Yano (Kitakyushu Civic H.S.) 4th in an impressive 15:44.68.  Like Hayato in the men's race, women's B-heat winner Ai Igarashi (Team Sysmex) would have been more at home in the A-heat as she won in 15:50.47 by a margin of nearly 12 seconds.

The other noteworthy race of the day came in the men's 1500 m A-heat, where Yasunori Murakami (Team Fujitsu) won by a hair over Masahiro Takaya (Team JR Higashi Nihon), 3:43.96 to 3:43.99.  800 m NR holder Masato Yokota (Team Fujitsu) was 3rd in a PB 3:45.63, while 2011 National University 1500 m champ Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.) was 5th in 3:46.84.

21st Kanaguri Memorial Middle and Long-Distance Meet
Kumamoto, 4/7/12
click here for complete results


Men's 5000 m A-Heat
1. Patrick Mutunga Mwikya (Kenya/Team Toyota Boshoku) - 13:21.36
2. Kensuke Takezawa (Team S&B) - 13:28.70
3. Daniel Gitau (Kenya/Team Fujitsu) - 13:28.97
4. Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta) - 13:29.50 - PB
5. Paul Kuira (Kenya/Team Konica Minolta) - 13:30.07
6. Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 13:33.16
7. Takuya Fukatsu (Team Asahi Kasei) - 13:33.34 - PB
8. Patrick Mwaka (Kenya/Team Aisan Kogyo) - 13:38.88
9. Kazuya Deguchi (Team Asahi Kasei) - 13:41.99 - PB
10. Kazuharu Takai (Team Kyudenko) - 13:42.30 - PB

Women's 5000 m A-Heat
1. Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) - 15:20.30
2. Beatrice Wainaina Murugi (Kenya/Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 15:21.77
3. Yuka Ando (Mizuno) - 15:43.67
4. Shiori Yano (Kitakyushu Civic H.S.) - 15:44.68
5. Tomoka Inadomi (Team Wacoal) - 15:46.98
6. Chieko Kido (Canon AC Kyushu) - 15:59.01
7. Hiroko Shoi (Team Nihon ChemiCon) - 16:00.84
8. Misaki Sango (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 16:05.48
9. Anna Hasuike (Team Higo Ginko) - 16:07.41
10. Miyuki Mandai (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) - 16:09.25

Men's 5000 m B-Heat
1. Hayato Saito (Team Honda) - 13:41.80
2. Alex Mwangi (Kenya/Team YKK) - 13:46.21
3. Hideyuki Tanaka (Juntendo Univ.) - 13:52.16
4. Takehiro Arakawa (Team Asahi Kasei) - 13:53.33
5. Teruo Taneno (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 13:54.07

Women's 5000 m B-Heat
1. Ai Igarashi (Team Sysmex) - 15:50.47
2. Rina Nabeshima (Kanaya Taiku Univ.) - 16:02.31
3. Kotomi Takayama (Team Sysmex) - 16:03.01
4. Aya Nagata (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 16:04.43
5. Sayuri Sento (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 16:06.56

High School Boys' 5000 m A-Heat
1. Jeremiah Karemi (Toyokawa H.S.) - 13:52.71
2. Hazuma Hattori (Toyokawa H.S.) - 14:12.50
3. Tadashi Isshiki (Toyokawa H.S.) - 14:22.90

High School Girls' 3000 m A-Heat
1. Kumiko Otani (Oita Tomei H.S.) - 9:31.26
2. Saki Yoshimizu (Chikushi Joshi Gakuen H.S.) - 9:35.38
3. Misuzu Nakahara (Kamimura Gakuen H.S.) - 9:37.65

Men's 1500 m A-Heat
1. Yasunori Murakami (Team Fujitsu) - 3:43.96
2. Masahiro Takaya (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 3:43.99
3. Masato Yokota (Team Fujitsu) - 3:45.63 - PB
4. Aoi Matsumoto (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 3:46.21
5. Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.) - 3:46.84

Women's 1500 m A-Heat
1. Rose Maranga (Team Toto) - 4:24.79
2. Yukari Soh (Team Asahi Kasei) - 4:27.54
3. Yui Fukuda (Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 4:27.97
4. Minami Nakaarai (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) - 4:28.46
5. Azusa Saito (Niigata Albirex AC) - 4:29.06

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Friday, April 6, 2012

"Public Servant Swimmer" Yuki Kawachi Makes Final in 100 m Freestyle

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/news/f-sp-tp0-20120405-929360.html

translated by Brett Larner

At the national swimming Olympic trials in Tokyo on Apr. 5, Yuki Kawachi (25, SDF Academy) won his 100 m freestyle semifinal in a time of 50.21 to advance to the final, where he is ranked 7th.  His time was 0.30 second faster than he swam in his opening heat, but, he says, "I'm a little dissatisfied.  In the final I'm shooting for 48.9."

Although his name is written almost identically to the "Public Servant Runner" Yuki Kawauchi (25, Saitama Pref.), his last name is pronounced "Kawachi."  Nevertheless, the similarity is enough for his coworkers at the SDF Academy office to call him the "Public Servant Swimmer."  "People always say, 'Hey, you guys have the same name,'" says Kawachi.  "Having the same first name gives me motivation."

The marathoner Kawauchi missed out on making the London Olympic team, but the swimmer Kawachi is right on the verge of making it in the 400 m relay.  "I want to get my ticket to the Olympics," he said.

Kanaguri Memorial 5000 m Kicks Off Track Season

by Brett Larner

Update: Women's 1500 m NR holder Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) has switched from the 1500 m to the 5000 m.


This weekend marks the official start of track season across Japan.  With many of the Kanto-region Hakone Ekiden university men's teams matching up for dual meets and one five-school meet hosted by Daito Bunka University, the top Olympic hopefuls will be lining up far south in Kumamoto for Saturday's 21st Kanaguri Memorial Middle and Long-Distance Track Meet.

The men's 5000 m A-heat looks to be by far the race of the weekend.  The entry list includes 2011 World XC silver medalist Paul Tanui (Kenya/Team Kyudenko); 2010 World XC junior silver medalist Clement Langat (Kenya/Team Subaru); Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin), one of the two Japanese men currently holding an Olympic-qualifying mark; Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota) and Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta), two of the three men with Olympic A-standard 10000 m times; most of the other Olympic track contenders, Takuya Fukatsu (Team Asahi Kasei), Yusuke Takabayashi (Team Toyota), Kensuke Takezawa (Team S&B) and Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B); Komazawa University aces Shinobu Kubota, Wataru Ueno and Ikuto Yufu; and more.  Notable absences include Olympic-mark holders Kazuya Watanabe (Team Shikoku Denryoku) and Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Meiji Univ.).  2011 World University Games 10000 m gold medalist and 2011 National University 1500 m champion Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.) is pursuing a different path to his goal of making the Olympic 10000 m, bypassing the 5000 m for the 1500 m.

The women's 5000 m A-heat also looks good, with national champion Megumi Kinukawa (Mizuno) the obvious favorite despite winter injury troubles.  With the apparent departure of Kenyan Ann Karindi from Team Toyota Jidoshokki, Kinukawa's only real competition is Hiroko Shoi (Team Nihon ChemiCon), but the field also includes top talent Tomoka Inadomi (Team Wacoal), Tomoka Kimura (Chikushi Joshi Gakuen H.S.) and Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera). As with Osako, women's 1500 m national record holder Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) is scheduled to start her season in the 1500 m where she will face Kenyans Sally Chepyego (Team Kyudenko) and Rose Maranga (Team Toto) along with domestic rivals Mika Kobayashi (Suma Gakuen H.S.), Azusa Saito (Niigata Albirex AC) and Risa Yokoe (Suma Gakuen H.S.).

Although the meet is likely to be only an early-season rust-buster, if even half the field on the entry starts it will be a good indication of where people stand ahead of the spring's other major chances to clock Olympic-qualifying times, most notably Stanford University's Cardinal Invitational which will see a large Japanese contingent.  Click here for complete Kanaguri Memorial entry lists.

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Olympic Marathoner Yamamoto Visits Governor Targeting the Top

http://www.kyoto-np.co.jp/shiga/article/20120405000043

translated by Brett Larner

Olympic team member and Moriyama, Saga resident Ryo Yamamoto (27, Team Sagawa Express) visited Saga governor Yukiko Kada at the prefectural government offices on Apr. 4, receiving the governor's words of support and encouragement.  Yamamoto went to Nagata High School in Hyogo and Tokyo's Chuo University before joining the Moriyama-based Sagawa Express team.  After doing much of his training around the shores of Lake Biwa he was the top Japanese finisher in March's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, reserving his place on the Japanese Olympic marathon team.

Yamamoto went to the prefectural government offices with Sagawa Express head coach Tsuyoshi Nakano and Moriya mayor Kazuhiro Miyamoto, talking about the tough, hang-on-til-the-end race that got Yamamoto to the Olympics.  Governor Kada commented, "It must have been very tough running in the rain.  I was very impressed.  I hope that in the main event you show us all the same strength you gained training at our Lake Biwa."  Yamamoto told the governor, "I want to take another step forward in London and target the top eight.  If I can progress enough to contend in the front pack then I can go even higher."

Thursday, April 5, 2012

2011 Hokkaido Marathon Winner Morimoto Retires

http://www.sanyo.oni.co.jp/feature/sports/other/2012/04/02/20120402195150.html

translated by Brett Larner

Team Tenmaya announced on Apr. 2 that its runner Tomo Morimoto, 28, the alternate for the 2008 Beijing Olympics women's marathon team, has retired from competition as of the end of March.  A native of Hyogo prefecture, Morimoto joined Tenmaya in 2002 after graduating from Shujitsu H.S.  Her abundance of stamina and mental fortitude giving her a competitive edge, Morimoto won the May, 2006 Vienna Marathon in 2:24:33 in only her second marathon.  She was the alternate for both the Beijing Olympics and Berlin World Championships marathon teams.  Her target for this year was the London Olympics, but a long-term leg problem prevented her from starting in any of the domestic selection races.  Despite an injury to her right ankle she won last August's Hokkaido Marathon, a race which was to be her final marathon.  Following her retirement she will work in the office of a Tenmaya subsidiary which owns a chain of sports clubs.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Pressure Building Online for Neko to "Get Out of the Olympics"

http://www.j-cast.com/2012/04/02127558.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Click here to let Hiroshi Neko know how you feel about his Olympic plans directly.


Having secured a place on the Cambodian Olympic team in the men's marathon following a transfer of nationality in November, voices have begun to speak out online against comedian Hiroshi Neko, 34, calling for him to "get out of the Olympics."  There are plenty of examples of athletes changing nationality, but Neko is not that quality of a marathoner and his naming to the Cambodian team "steals" a place from an actual Cambodian athlete, so talk calling the whole thing a disgrace and asking what exactly Cambodia stands to benefit has begun to circulate.

Neko has been running seriously for four years.  On Feb. 5 he finished 50th at the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, taking seven minutes off his best time to set a new PB of 2:30:26.  With zero Cambodian track and field athletes having cleared the Olympic qualifying standards the door was open for Neko to be chosen for the single men's "special exemption" ticket available to Cambodia.  He was chosen on that basis.  He plans to remain based in Japan for training until the Olympics and to continue with his career as a comedian, travelling to Cambodia for races when the need arises.

Neko held a press conference in Tokyo on Mar. 26 to announce his nomination to the Olympic team.  At the conference he declared, "I'll stay a comedian all the way until I'm standing on the Olympic starting line."  He said he plans to start the race with his characteristic "Meow!" gag for the cameras and has the best stunt of his career planned for the finish line.  His place on the Olympic team won't be officially ratified by the Cambodian Olympic Committee until mid-April, but momentum to "Get Hiroshi Neko out of the Olympics" has already begun build up online over suspicions about what is underlying this drive to go as far as permitting a transfer of nationality in order to put someone not qualified to be in the Olympics into the race.  Other voices are calling for a "former" Japanese national not to bring disgrace to the nation of Cambodia. Among the criticisms to have appeared online:
"There is no reason to pick Hiroshi Neko.  None at all."

"If he's on the Cambodian Olympic team then he should get out of Japan and go live in Cambodia and show some support for his new country."

"The problems with this are that it's all a publicity stunt, it's obvious that there is money changing hands, it's a theft of an Olympic place on another country's team, and doing gags and comedy routines at an important sports event like the Olympics is a declaration of contempt for it and the other athletes."
Opposition to Neko appearing in the Olympics is not limited to the online world, however.  Two-time Olympic marathon medalist Yuko Arimori, 45, whose charity is deeply involved in supporting Cambodia and Cambodian athletes, including bringing top Cambodian marathoners to compete in Japanese races, was very critical in a recent interview in a major newspaper, saying
"There are Cambodian athletes working hard right now to qualify for the Olympic team and I really wanted them to make it, so seeing the powers that be give away the place on the team to a Japanese person makes me very sorry for those athletes."
 Writing in the Mar. 17, 2012 issue of Weekly Gendai magazine, novelist Ayako Sono, 80, wrote that if Neko is officially confirmed for the Olympics after changing his citizenship to become Cambodian it is not an act that any reasonable, commonsensical person could even consider acceptable.  In strong words she wrote that the person changing their nationality will face the consequences of this action for the rest of their life, closing with:
"If he is going into this thinking lightheartedly that he can just change back to being a Japanese citizen after the Olympics then that triviality, that flippancy and shamelessness, makes me feel that there is no limit to how far we Japanese will debase ourselves."

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Toyota Jidoshokki Head Coach Seriously Injured in Storm-Related Accident During Practice

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/news/20120403-OYT1T00526.htm?from=tw

translated by Brett Larner

At roughly 6:50 a.m. on Apr. 3, Shigeo Hasegawa, 48, head coach of National Corporate Women's Ekiden champion Team Toyota Jidoshokki, was seriously injured when a 3.5 m-tall baseball backstop fell on him in gale-force winds at Toyota Jidoshokki's Kariya Training Grounds in Kariya, Aichi.  According to a statement from the police, Hasegawa and ten members of the Toyota Jidoshokki team were at the training ground for morning practice.  The backstop, used for baseball batting practice, began to fall over in the strong winds and Hasegawa moved to stop it from toppling.  A steel pole in the backstop struck his pelvis and lower back, breaking bones and causing serious injury.  At the time of the incident there was a strong wind warning for the Aichi area as a storm front swept across the country.

World Championships Gold Medalist Taniguchi Takes Over as Head Coach at Tokyo Nogyo University

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2012/04/02/kiji/K20120402002965070.html

translated by Brett Larner

Tokyo Nogyo University announced on Apr. 2 that 1991 Tokyo World Championships men's marathon gold medalist Hiromi Taniguchi, 51, has been named head coach of its track and field program and an associate professor in the university's Department of International Agriculture and Food Studies.  With an eye to improving its placing at the Hakone Ekiden, Taniguchi has been advising the Tokyo Nogyo University ekiden team since last fall.

Taniguchi ran in both the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and 1996 Atlanta Olympics.  After retiring he took a coaching position at Team Asahi Kasei, followed by helping to found the Oki corporate team where he was also head coach.  Most recently he was head coach of the Tokyo Denryoku ekiden team, leaving that position in September, 2010.

Translator's note: Tokyo Nogyo University finished last at this year's Hakone Ekiden after its Day One anchor came down with a cold on race morning following the cutoff for submitting alternates.  Its Day Two squad set the school record for the second half of the race but could not improve the team's position.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Yuta Shitara Over Kawauchi at Satte 10-Miler

by Brett Larner

Ritzenhein and Shitara in NYC. Photo by Brett Larner.

On a quiet weekend between the end of Japan's road season and the start of track season, three minor road races saw noteworthy results from university runners across the country.  Just two weeks after outkicking 2009 World Half Marathon Championships bronze medalist Dathan Ritzenhein (U.S.A.) to run a 1:01:48 PB at the NYC Half Marathon, Yuta Shitara (Toyo Univ.) marked the first day of his junior year by beating popular marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) by 44 seconds at the Satta Sakura 10-Miler in Saitama.

 Aoyama Gakuin University's Naohisa Matsuda likewise had a big win at the Nihondaira Sakura Road Race, setting a new record of 1:12:22 for the tough 23 km course featuring a nearly 300 m uphill. At the Saga Sakura Half Marathon, Fukuoka University's Takuro Nakanishi, a former member of the pro Team JR Higashi Nihon, won easily in 1:04:19. Superb amateur Hiroko Yoshitomi (First Dream AC) won the women's division by six minutes in 1:13:18.

21st Satte Sakura 10-Mile Road Race
Satte, Saitama, 4/1/12
click here for complete results
1. Yuta Shitara (Toyo Univ.) - 47:23
2. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) - 48:07
3. Saeki Makino (Kawauchi T&F Assoc.) - 50:37

28th Nihondaira Sakura 23 km Road Race
Shizuoka, 4/1/12
click here for top results
1. Naohisa Matsuda (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:12:22 - CR
2. Shun Gorotani (Toyo Univ.) - 1:14:06
3. Atsushi Komine (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:15:10

2012 Saga Sakura Half Marathon
Saga, 4/1/12
click here for complete results
Men
1. Takuro Nakanishi (Fukuoka Univ.) - 1:04:19

Women
1. Hiroko Yoshitomi (First Dream AC) - 1:13:18

text and photo (c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Olympic Marathoner Yamamoto Promises Kyoto Mayor to Get to "The Next Level"

http://mainichi.jp/area/kyoto/news/20120331ddlk26050637000c.html

translated by Brett Larner

London Olympics men's marathon team member Ryo Yamamoto (27, Team Sagawa Express) went to Kyoto City Hall Mar. 30, promising Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa to run a courageous race at the Olympics.  Yamamoto is registered with the Kyoto Track & Field Association.  At the Mar. 4 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon he was the top Japanese finisher, 4th overall in a strong 2:08:44.

Having his audience with Mayor Kadokawa in Kyoto City Hall's drawing room, Yamamoto told him, "In my training over the four months that are left until the main event I want to get myself to the next level.  I want to be running in the lead pack and go one place beyond what I think I can do.  There are a lot of sharp curves, so I think it's going to be a tough course and I plan to go spend time on it and study it carefully."

Mayor Kadokawa smiled as he told Yamamoto, "The way you ran down the leaders at the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon was very impressive.  All the citizens of Kyoto support you with all their hearts."  Following his audience with Mayor Kadokawa, Yamamoto paid a visit to Governor Keiji Yamada.