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A Quick Weekend Preview

by Brett Larner

A quick weekend preview as JRN is in international transit for the holidays.

  • The Nittai University Time Trials track series wraps up Saturday with its annual women-only edition featuring fast 3000 m, 5000 m and 10000 m heats.
  • Sunday sees the National High School Ekiden Championships go down, with both the boys' and girls' races broadcast live nationwide and commercial-free on NHK.  The level of competition is extremely high; based on track credentials the 2012 NCAA XC champions University of Oregon women's team would have struggled to make the top ten in last year's girls' race, while the boys' race features at least five high schoolers with 5000 m bests under 14:00.  The National High School Championships offer the first chance to see future greats, like Samuel Wanjiru in the past, in action.
  • The Dec. 23 national holiday on Monday is the date of the first running of the newly relaunched National University Women's Invitational Ekiden Championships on a course around the slopes of Mt. Fuji.  With a Seventh Stage featuring almost 200 m of climb and a date putting it in line with other major championship ekidens hopefully this newly updated event will help elevate the prestige of the university women's ekiden circuit. 
  • Last and definitely not least for U.S. fans, Dec. 23 also features the Sanyo Women's Road Race 10 km and half marathon, where American Olympian Desi Davila goes up against top-ranked Japanese women Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren), Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku), Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya), Yuko Watanabe (Team Edion) and many more.

Look for complete results and reports as the weekend goes on.

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

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2018 Japanese Distance Rankings - Updated 11/11/18

JRN's 2018 Japanese track and road distance running rankings. Overall rankings are calculated using runners' 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.


Past years:
2017 ・ 2016 ・2015 ・ 2014 ・ 2013 ・ 2012 ・ 2011

© 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

18-Year-Old Waithaka Runs 10000 m World Leading Time at Nittai - Weekend Roundup

photo by @tsutsugo55225

For the second time in the last three weeks, a Japan-based Kenyan ran the fastest time in the world this year for 10000 m at Yokohama's Nittai University Time Trials series. On October 20th it was 2015 World U18 Championships 3000 m gold medalist Richard Kimunyan (Hitachi Butsuryu), 20, with a 27:14.70  that surpassed Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei's world-leading mark by almost five seconds. This time it was 2018 World U20 Championships 5000 m silver medalist Stanley Waithaka (Yakult), 18, taking almost two minutes off his PB to break Kimunyan's mark with a 27:13.01 win.

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Go Ahead and Call It a Comeback - Niiya Breaks Shibui's Course Record in Return to Road Racing

Ladies and gentlemen, Hitomi Niiya is back.

You might remember Hitomi Niiya from the 2013 Moscow World Championships 10000 m, where she led the entire way only to get destroyed over the last lap and finish 5th in 30:56.70. That made her the third-fastest Japanese woman ever over that distance, but not long after that race she quit the sport entirely, getting an office job as far away from athletics as she could and not running for almost five years.

But the pull of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is strong, and, now 30, early this year she made the decision to try to make a comeback. Under the eye of former men's 800 m national record holder Masato Yokota she ran a 3000 m and two 5000 m time trials on the track between April and October before choosing the East Japan Women's Ekiden for her return to the roads and the longer distances.

The East Japan Women's Ekiden celebrated its 34th running Sunday, 9 stages totaling 42.195 km through the Fukushima countryside with teams from eac…