Skip to main content

Japan's Main Summer Track Series Starts Tomorrow in Shibetsu

by Brett Larner

Japan's late-June and early-July Hokkaido-based Hokuren Distance Challenge time trial series gets underway tomorrow in Shibetsu.  Formerly a six-part series, the Distance Challenge now includes only four meets, June 26 in Shibetsu, June 29 in Fukagawa, July 3 in Abashiri and wrapping up July 6 in Kitami.  Given the series' timing its focus is often on improving marks ahead of international championships and Japanese athletes often produce their best track times of the year at one of the four races.

Shibetsu features mens' and womens' 1500 m, 3000 m and 5000 m distances.  On the women's side where the most notable names are 2013 London Marathon 7th-place finisher Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) and 2013 National Championships 5000 m 3rd-placer Riko Matsuzaki (Team Sekisui Kagaku) in the women's 3000 m A-heat, with Ayumi Hagiwara (Team Uniqlo), 3rd in this year's Payton Jordan 10000 m, looking like the favorite in the 5000 m A-heat.

5000 m national record holder Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica-Minolta) and 2:09:12 debut marathoner Tomoyuki Morita (Team Kanebo) are the top Japanese entries in the men's 5000 m, but most of the action there is bound to come from the eight-strong African contingent led by 2011 World Cross Country Championships silver medalist Paul Tanui (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) and the current #1-ranked Japan-based African, Patrick Mutunga (Kenya/Team Toyota Boshoku).

Click here for complete starts lists for the Hokuren Distance Challenge Shibetsu Meet.

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kawabata Over Kawauchi at Takashimadaira 20 km

Like a distant echo of the thunder of yesterday's Yosenkai 20 km reverberating across the city, Tokyo's other major 20 km road race took place this morning in the northwestern suburb of Takashimadaira. Narrowly surviving the loss of its main sponsor last year, the Takashimadaira Road Race offers a unique 5 km loop course that delivers fast times. Now in its 42nd year, Takashimadaira is a favorite for upper-tier universities that don't have to run the Yosenkai to requalify for the Hakone Ekiden, for other schools' second-stringers, and for top-level independents and amateurs.

This year's race was fronted by a group of runners from Izumo Ekiden winner Tokai University who didn't make Tokai's final Izumo roster, by London World Championships marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) and others from yesterday's Yosenkai winner Teikyo University and the Hakone-qualified Juntendo University and Komazawa University. In the same cool and lightly rainy…

Kawauchi and Kanematsu Win Rainy Shimantogawa 100 km

The 23rd edition of the Shimantogawa Ultramarathon took place Oct. 15 in Shimanto, Kochi. 1822 runners started the 100 km division, where Yoshiki Kawauchi (26, Saitama T&F Assoc.) and Aiko Kanematsu (37, Team RxL) took the men's and women's titles for the first time.

The 100 km division started under a heavy downpour at 5:30 a.m. in front of Warabioka J.H.S. The 576 participants in the 60 km division got off 4 1/2 hours later from Koinobori Park, with both races finishing at Nakamura H.S.

Kawauchi, the younger brother of "civil servant runner" Yuki Kawauchi, ran Shimantogawa for the second time, improving dramatically on last year's run to win in 6:42:06. "Last time I was 21st, a total disaster," Kawauchi said afterward. "My brother told me, 'Don't overdo it on the uphills,' and his advie helped me get through it. The scenery around Iwama Chinkabashi was really beautiful."

Kanematsu began running with her husband around age 30…

Osaka Marathon Elite Field

One of the world's ten biggest marathons, in its six runnings to date the Osaka Marathon has continued to avoid the addition of a world-class elite field of the same caliber as at equivalently-sized races like Tokyo, Berlin and Boston. In place of doling out cash to pros, Osaka's women's field has developed into a sort of national championship race for amateur women.

In the field this year are six, probably all six, of the amateur Japan women to have broken 2:40 in the last three years. Last year's top three, Yoshiko Sakamoto (F.O.R.), Yumiko Kinoshita (SWAC) and Hisae Yoshimatsu (Shunan City Hall) lead the way at the 2:36 +/- level, with a second trio of Marie Imada (Iwatani Sangyo), Mitsuko Ino (R2 Nishin Nihon) and Chika Tawara (RxL) all around the 2:39 level.

Last year's winner Sakamoto and 3rd placer Yoshimatsu squared off in September at Germany's Volksbank Muenster Marathon, Yoshimatsu tying Sakamoto's Osaka winning time of 2:36:02 to take 3rd over …