Skip to main content

Historic Himeji Castle 10-Miler to Fold in Favor of Full Marathon Format

http://www.kobe-np.co.jp/news/sports/201309/0006363197.shtml

translated by Brett Larner

A favorite of athletes from junior high to the corporate leagues, Hyogo prefecture's Himeji Castle Road Race is set to be discontinued after February's 54th running.  With a new Himeji Castle World Heritage Site Marathon set to be launched in 2015, the 10-miler's race organization committee will be dismantled and the event's long history of hosting many of the country's best athletes will come to an end.

According to the Hyogo Prefecture Track and Field Association's 50th anniversary commemorative magazine, in 1948 there was a move to inaugurate a series of 10-mile road races in January in all the major cities of the country, but in 1960 the series came to a halt.  With Hyogo's event having been held at Himeji Castle since 1954 and having already developed a reputation as a fast course, it was relaunched in 1961 as the first Himeji Castle Road Race with a certified course under the auspices of the Kinki Track and Field Association.  The rest is history.

For corporate league and university men, the 10-mile division has been the main draw. Winners have included Tatsuya Moriguchi (Team Kobe Seiko), a member of the ill-fated Moscow Olympics men's long distance team, Hakone Ekiden star and now Waseda University head coach Yasuyuki Watanabe (Waseda Univ.), and men's marathon national record holder Toshinari Takaoka (Team Kanebo).

In 1990 other divisions were added to allow junior high school-aged runners to compete. London Olympics marathoner Ryo Yamamoto (Team Sagawa Express) and Beijing Olympics track runners Kensuke Takezawa (Team Sumitomo Denko) and Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) were among the countless local junior high school students to run, each of them scoring wins.

Hyogo Track and Field Association director Masaaki Uetsuki commented, "There's a touch of sadness about this decision, but this race has played its role in making Hyogo the home of Japanese distance running.  Now we want to support as wide a range of runners as possible and make the Himeji Castle Marathon as popular and successful as we can."

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Nittai University Head Coach Masaaki Watanabe Fired Over Abuse Scandal

On Sept. 12 Nittai University announced that it will fire ekiden team head coach Masaaki Watanabe, 55, over the current power harassment scandal surrounding him. According to the university's public relations office, interviews by the alumni association with five current and one former team member reported multiple acts of violence by Watanabe including kicking athletes' legs and grabbing them by the chest.

The interviews also reported that Watanabe verbally abused and threatened student athletes and attacked their character. When runners fell off pace during workouts he was reported to have shouted, "Get the hell out of this university!" and, following the runners in a car, "I am going to f*cking run you over and kill you." Injured team members were also reported to have been subject to verbal humiliation by Watanabe, including, "Look at this f*cking cripple," and "You f*cking deserve it." Watanabe admitted the accusations but said tha…

Weekend Overseas Japanese Results

Lost in the luminosity of Eliud Kipchoge's world record and Gladys Cherono's women's course record at the Berlin Marathon were a score of Japanese results there and elsewhere overseas, ranging from the sparkling to the dull. Cherono and 2nd and 3rd placers Ruti Aga and Tirunesh Dibaba all broke Mizuki Noguchi's Berlin Marathon course record of 2:19:12 which has stood since she set that national record mark in 2005.

A kilometer behind Dibaba, Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) followed up her 2:22:44 debut in Osaka in January with a 2:22:23 PB for 5th, making her just the fourth Japanese woman ever to break 2:23 twice in her career. 2:23:46 woman Honami Maeda (Tenmaya) ran 2:25:23 for 7th, beating Tenmaya teammate Rei Ohara whose 2:27:28 put her only 10th but qualified her for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics marathon trials, only the second athlete after 2018 Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) to qualify for the trials under the two-race average wildcard opt…

Kazami Breaks 100 km World Record at Lake Saroma

Running on the same course where Japan's Takahiro Sunada set the road 100 km world record of 6:13:33 twenty years ago, 2:17:23 marathoner Nao Kazamibested a deep and competitive field to win the Lake Saroma 100 km Ultramarathon in a world record 6:09:14.

Part of a front group of at least five that went through the marathon split in 2:33:36, on pace for 6:04:01, Kazami lost touch with the lead as rivals Koji Hayasaka and Takehiko Gyoba surged just before halfway to open a roughly 30 second lead that lasted until nearly 75 km. But in the last quarter of the race Kazami, a graduate of Hakone Ekiden powerhouse Komazawa University, was the only one who could sustain anything close to the early pace, overtaking Hayasaka and Gyoba before pulling away to open a lead of over 11 minutes. Kazami's mark took more than 4 minutes off the world record, and he also bettered the 100 km track world record of 6:10:20 set in 1978 well before he was born by the late Don Ritchie.
Trying to stay wi…