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Japanese World Cross-Country Team Rosters

by Brett Larner

With a few exceptions cross-country has never been a major part of Japanese long-distance methodology, but each World Cross-Country Championships sees a roster featuring many of Japan's best.  London Olympian Hitomi Niiya (Team Univ. Ent.) heads the senior women's squad for Sunday's Worlds in Bydgoszcz, Poland, accompanied by the runner-up in last weekend's National Corporate Half Marathon Championships, Hanae Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) and top-ranked collegiate Ayuko Suzuki (Nagoya University).  2013 Hakone Ekiden winner Nittai University fields three members of its champion team, Takumi Honda and Keigo Yano in the senior men's race and 1st-year Hideto Yamanaka leading the junior men's squad.  Alongside Yamanaka is Tadashi Isshiki of 2012 National High School Ekiden champion Toyokawa H.S.  Curiously, the senior men's team includes only four athletes, with top-ranked men Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.), Yuki Matsuoka (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) and Yuya Konishi (Team Toyota Kyushu) having given Worlds a pass after finishing well at the Chiba and Fukuoka selection races.

As usual Japan's best chance of getting into the medals comes in the junior women's 6 km where it has a long streak of team medals.  With a 9:06.91 best for 3000 m Miyuki Uehara (Kagoshima Joshi H.S.) is the top-ranked woman on the list, along with Nanami Aoki of 2012 National High School Ekiden winner Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. and Fukuoka International XC winner Azusa Sumi of runner-up Toyokawa H.S.

Two members of the Kenyan men's team also run for Japanese corporate teams.  On the junior team, Leonard Baroston runs for Tokyo-based Team Nissin Shokuhin, while on the senior team Jonathan Ndiku is a longtime member of Chiba-based Team Hitachi Butsuryu.

Senior Men's 12 km
Takumi Honda (Nittai University) 5000 m: 13:56.47   10000 m: 28:46.38   half: 1:02:37
Hiroyuki Ono (Team Nissin Shokuhin) 5000 m: 13:44.76   10000 m: 28:06.35   half: 1:03:30
Wataru Ueno (Komazawa University) 5000 m: 13:46.79   10000 m: 28:42.89   half: 1:02:50
Keigo Yano (Nittai University) 5000 m: 13:54.54   10000 m: 28:53.25   half: 1:03:16

Senior Women's 8 km
Yukari Abe (Team Shimamura) 5000 m: 15:53.03
Miho Ihara (Team Shikoku Denryoku) 5000 m: 15:48.23   10000 m: 32:18.00
Mai Ishibashi (Team Denso) 5000 m: 15:35.38   10000 m: 32:37.25
Hitomi Niiya (Team Univ. Ent.) 5000 m: 15:10.20   10000 m: 30:59.19   half: 1:11:41
Hanae Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) 5000 m: 15:34.21   10000 m: 32:27.56   half: 1:09:18
Ayuko Suzuki (Nagoya University) 5000 m: 15:34.15

Junior Men's 8 km
Tatsuya Hayashi (Ishin H.S.) 5000 m: 14:05.90 10000 m: 29:20.35
Yuki Hirota (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) 5000 m: 14:07.85
Tadashi Isshiki (Toyokawa H.S.) 5000 m: 14:00.31
Yusuke Nishiyama (Iga Hakuo H.S.) 5000 m: 14:03.12
Kazuki Takahashi (Omagari Kogyo H.S.) 5000 m: 14:16.07
Hideto Yamanaka (Nittai University) 5000 m: 14:10.49   10000 m: 29:26.74

Junior Women's 6 km
Nanami Aoki (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) 3000 m: 9:17.14
Yui Fukuda (Suma Gakuen H.S.) 1500 m: 4:17.15
Maki Izumida (Hakuho Joshi H.S.) 3000 m: 9:13.30
Azusa Sumi (Toyokawa H.S.) 3000 m: 9:11.30
Miyuki Uehara (Kagoshima Joshi H.S.) 3000 m: 9:06.91
Saki Yoshimizu (Chikushi Joshi Gakuen H.S.) 3000 m: 9:19.31

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

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How it Happened

Ancient History I went to Wesleyan University, where the legend of four-time Boston Marathon champ and Wes alum Bill Rodgers hung heavy over the cross-country team. Inspired by Koichi Morishita and Young-Cho Hwang’s duel at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics I ran my first marathon in 1993, qualifying for Boston ’94 where Bill was kind enough to sign a star-struck 20-year-old me’s bib number at the expo.

Three years later I moved to Japan for grad school, and through a long string of coincidences I came across a teenaged kid named Yuki Kawauchi down at my neighborhood track. I never imagined he’d become what he is, but right from the start there was just something different about him. After his 2:08:37 breakthrough at the 2011 Tokyo Marathon he called me up and asked me to help him get into races abroad. He’d finished 3rd on the brutal downhill Sixth Stage at the Hakone Ekiden, and given how he’d run the hills in the last 6 km at Tokyo ’11 I thought he’d do well at Boston or New York. “If M…

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http://sports.yahoo.co.jp/column/detail/201701120002-spnavi

translated by Brett Larner

Ahead of his nomination to the London World Championships Marathon team, Sportsnavi published a three-part series of writings by Yuki Kawauchi on what it took for him to make the team, his hopes for London, and his views on the future of Japanese marathoning.  With his place on the London team announced on Mar. 17, JRN will publish an English translation of the complete series over the next three days. See Sportsnavi's original version linked above for more photos. Click here for part two, "Bringing All My Experience Into Play in London," or here for part three, "The Lessons of the Past Are Not 'Outdated.'"


The Fukuoka International Marathon was held on Dec. 4 last year. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) took part despite nursing injuries he had sustained in training. Falling rain contributed to less than ideal conditions during the race, but from the very early stages…