What was the Japanese men's performance of the year?

What was the Japanese men's performance of the year?

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Collegiate 10000 m Record Holder Yoshimoto Quits Team Yamada Denki to Take Time Off From Sport

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/sports/news/130130/oth13013022310003-n1.htm

translated by Brett Larner

The management of the Yamada Denki corporate women's team announced on Jan. 30 that 2011 World Championships 10000 m runner Hikari Yoshimoto, 23, quit the team on Jan. 29.  According to an involved party, Yoshimoto will return home to Kumamoto to take an indefinite leave of absence from competitive running.

Yoshimoto was the star of the Bukkyo University women's ekiden team, leading them to two-straight National University Women's Ekiden Championships titles in 2009 and 2010. In April, 2010 she broke the 15 year old 10000 m national collegiate record with a new mark of 31:30.92, and in the fall the same year she finished 5th in the Asian Games.  After graduating from Bukkyo last spring she followed her longtime coach Kenichi Morikawa to Yamada Denki but was unable to make the Olympic team for London.

First Wave of Foreign Elites Arrives in Oita

http://www.e-obs.com/obs-news/genko/DD01300022268.html

translated by Brett Larner

The first wave of invited foreign athletes for the Feb. 3 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon arrived in Oita on Jan. 30.  This year's Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon will feature a total of five invited athletes from abroad.  Greeted at the race hotel on Feb. 3 by race officials were Poland's Adam Draczynski, 12th at last year's race, and, making his Beppu-Oita debut, Abdelkrim Boubker of Morocco.

The Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon starts at noon on Feb. 3 in front of Umitamago near Mt. Takasaki. This year's race promises to be white-hot.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

New Generation of Japanese Mass-Participation Marathons Waking Up to Reality

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20130125-00000301-yomidr-soci
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/life/news/130125/trd13012505000000-n1.htm
http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/chiba/20130126/CK2013012602000123.html
http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXNZO50998060V20C13A1L71000/

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Since the start of Japan's record-breaking running boom countless city and prefectural governments have started organizing new mass-participation marathons.  However, the widespread use of the standardized operation model employed by the Tokyo Marathon and Osaka Marathon has landed many of the new races deeply in red ink.  The issue of adapting race management to suit local conditions has begun to become of critical importance.

At the 2nd edition of the Osaka Marathon last Nov. 25, Yokohama Metropolitan Sports Promotion Division Director Yuji Nishiyama was in attendance to observe the event's operations.  "If they can do this here, why not in Yokohama?" he said.  And not only Yokohama.  Cities across the country are jockeying for position with countless new marathons of field sizes greater than 10,000 starting in 2013 and beyond.  In Kyushu, Saga Prefecture, one of the few in the country without a single full marathon, will host the new Saga Sakura Marathon in downtown Saga on April 7.  In February, 2014 Kita-Kyushu will launch a new marathon.  To commemorate the opening of the new Hokuriku shinkansen line in spring, 2015, Kanazawa will hold a new marathon in November that year.  Together with the prefectural government, the Okayama city government plans to stage a new marathon in the fall of 2015 that is projected to be the biggest in Shikoku.

According to the amateur runner market-targeted monthly magazine Runners, together with the increase in the number of races, the annual number of runners who completed Federation-certified domestic marathons has increased 240% over the last five years. Jiro Hashimoto, CEO of Runners' publisher R-bies which is also heavily involved in providing logistical support to domestic races nationwide, commented, "The running boom is only just getting started.  This is the time to be talking about how to get mass-participation races ready for the next watershed."

The majority of the new races are the direct result of the personal interest of governors and mayors seeking an economic influx and increase of name recognition for their region or city.  All of them aim to be able to handle the management of entry fees, public funds and sponsor money from local firms that is at the heart of any independent race management company, but that knowhow doesn't exist in government offices.  It's not hard to hear worried voices in those offices saying, "If we don't get enough sponsor money we'll never be able to afford the kind of security they have in Tokyo and Osaka," and, "We don't have enough people to run the kind of aid stations they have in Tokyo and Osaka."

As an example of the reality facing new races, the first edition of the new Kyoto Marathon last March ran up a debt of 231 million yen [~$2.6 million USD] which the Kyoto city government was forced to cover using public funds.  Contributing to the overrun, more than three times the regular number of on-duty police were required to ensure the smooth passage of ambulances and other emergency vehicles, with the cost of notifying the public of disruptions to regular traffic flow likewise exceeding expectations.  For this year's second edition operating costs have been reduced by more than 100 million yen [~$1.1 million USD] but even so there remains a shortfall of around 130 million yen [~$1.5 million USD].  As part of the effort to cover this amount, entry fees were raised from 10,000 yen to 12,000 yen [$110 USD to $130 USD].  A new entry method which allows people to gain guaranteed entry without having to go through the general lottery in return for a donation of at least 100,000 yen [~$1100 USD] toward the race's operating budget was introduced under the name "Charity Runner," but the name of the program was later changed "to avoid confusion with actual charities."

Another example is the Chiba Aqualine Marathon, run partly on the Tokyo Bay Aqualine highway bridge and which held its first running in October with a field of 14,000.  Despite bringing 151 million yen [~$1.7 million USD] into the local economy, on Jan. 24 Chiba governor Kensaku Morita, a primary backer of the Chiba Aqualine Marathon, announced that the 2013 edition of the race has been cancelled.  Governor Morita cited the difficulty in arranging for the closure of the highway, which cost the prefecture 86 million yen [~$1 million USD] in toll revenue, in explaining the cancellation, saying, "It took us three years to prepare for last year's race.  It isn't possible for us to be ready to stage the marathon again this year, but I really hope to hold it again next year."  Additional non-marathon-related tourism also lost out due to the bridge's six-hour closure, including local golf courses who complained that the race was being staged during one of their busiest times of the year.

At the other end of the spectrum, operating with zero public money is the Shonan International Marathon, which held its seventh running last November.  In charge of planning and operating the race as well as coordinating with the three cities and two towns along the course in Kanagawa Prefecture is the Runners' Wellness company headed by Yuji Sakamoto, the man who coaches and advises the celebrities who run the 24 Hour Ultramarathon segment of Nihon TV's annual 24 Hour Television variety show.  With a budget based primarily on the entry fees of the event's 23,500 runners, Shonan uses 3000 volunteers who receive special safety training to provide security and advertises road closure information in local newspapers and on local radio to keep costs low.  Sakamoto spoke confidently of his operation, saying, "By sticking to a carefully worked out business plan a private company can organize a race here in Japan the same way they do in Europe and the United States without losing any quality of service."

R-bies CEO Hashimoto also spoke of the value of having independent race organizers. With regard to the current situation among Japanese races he said, "When there is too much focus on providing safety not enough attention can be paid to highlighting the unique local character of the event. In the U.S. races everywhere have all the main organizers together in one place where they can easily exchange ideas and communicate. We need that kind of situation for our major races in Japan too."

This year the Tokyo Marathon has joined the London Marathon and four other massive marathons worldwide in the World Marathon Majors series. The Osaka Marathon has also entered into a relationship with the Chicago Marathon in a bid to develop its level of internationalization. There is no question that the bipolarization of the amateur marathon is only going to increase. With the first running it is about figuring out what you are doing. The second time and beyond it becomes about improving the appeal and interest of the event. It is necessary to build organizing committees that can look at and consider the medium and long term.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

35000 Fans Turn Out for Nittai University's Hakone Ekiden Victory Parade

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20130127-OHT1T00211.htm

translated by Brett Larner



On Jan. 27, 2013 Hakone Ekiden winners Nittai University held a victory parade in Aoba, Yokohama to celebrate their first Hakone title in 30 years.  35000 fans, the most ever for a Hakone victory parade, turned out to share the team's joy.  All ten members of this year's winning team including captain Shota Hattori road in three open cars along with head coach Kenji Beppu, with the Nittai brass band and cheerleaders riding behind the team in two four-ton trucks and the Booster Club in a bus.  People were lined up six-deep along both sides of the road for the entire 3.1 km parade route from Aobadai Station to the university's Kenshidai campus.  An organizer laughed, "There are so many people it's like a replay of the Hakone Ekiden.  I'm totally surprised.  Things are going to get out of hand!"

Riding in the lead car and carrying the victory banner, Hattori vowed to win Hakone again, saying, "The support we've received from everyone here has given us all newfound power and motivation.  I'll never forget this scene.  I want to see it again next year."

Nakamoto's Goal in Beppu-Oita: "A PB and My First Win"

http://kyushu.yomiuri.co.jp/news/national/20130129-OYS1T00326.htm

translated by Brett Larner

London Olympics marathon 6th-place finisher Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) will run the Feb. 3 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon.  Of his first marathon since the Olympics he says with resolve, "My goal is to win a marathon for the first time.  I'm aiming to break my PB."

Beppu-Oita is one of the selection races for August's Moscow World Championships marathon team.  With a sub-2:08 necessary for a guaranteed place on the team the 2:08:53-best Nakamoto's theme in his preparations has been speed.  Up to now he has always taken the approach of running a steady pace, picking off people falling off the lead pack late in the race.  This time he is planning an active, aggressive run, saying, "After 30 km I want the action to be coming from me."

In order to achieve that target Nakamoto has changed his training methodology. Reducing the number of 40 km training runs in the leadup to the race he has increased the quality of his 8~12 km pace runs, polishing his overall speed. Since a disappointing performance at the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden his motion and fitness have improved bit by bit. His coach Naoki Yamagashira commented, "It is important to try different things to find out what works best."

Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. to Run Sunday's Meigi Ekiden Despite Ongoing Corporal Punishment Scandal

http://www.tonichi.net/news/index.php?id=27076
http://www.fnn-news.com/news/headlines/articles/CONN00239441.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Translator's note: Click here and here for background on this story.  Toyokawa Kogyo's head coach is Masaaki Watanabe.

Despite an ongoing scandal involved allegations of the repeated use of corporal punishment by Toyokawa Kogyo H.S.'s 50-year-old male ekiden head coach against team members, principal Yoshihisa Takemoto has confirmed that the team is continuing to train and is scheduled to run in the Feb. 3 Meigi Ekiden.

Over the weekend the school grounds were quiet and empty without the usual club activities.  The streets around the school have been crowded with local residents peering into the school grounds as they pass by.  A group of men calling themselves alumni of Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. have been gathered near the front gate of the school's grounds, shouting at members of the media and telling them go away.  A male local resident in his 50's commented, "I was surprised to hear that this has been happening right here in our town.  We need to raise the standards for those responsible for leading youth sports.  I believe that this problem needs to be thought of in terms of leaders' overall training and education."

According to information released at a session at the school over the weekend, since last April twelve members of the Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. ekiden team have received corporal punishment from the coach.    Of serious concern to the school administration were two cases in which a male student and a female student left the school after being slapped and beaten.  Although the school was aware of these two cases, they did not inform the Aichi Prefectural Board of Education of them until issuing a written report on Jan. 25.  Principal Takemoto explained the failure to report the situation in a timely matter by saying, "The students' parents strongly requested that we remain silent until the students were back on their feet."

It was also revealed that in January, 2009, at the insistence of a father whose son had been beaten, the coach had written a document to the principal promising not to use corporal punishment against students.  In the written pledge the coach wrote, "I will not repeat this or go too far in my leadership," "I am sorry for having overstepped the bounds of my authority regardless of what the reason may have been," and, "I will reflect deeply on what I have done and give my word that I will not repeat these actions."  However, according to school officials, six months after signing the pledge the coach beat male team members in the head with a deck brush seriously enough for them to require stitches.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon Announces 51st Elite Field

by Brett Larner

The organizers of the Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon released the elite field on Jan. 28 for this year's 51st running, scheduled for Feb. 10.  Traditionally an elite developmental race for first- or second-time marathoners, this year's race is capped by 2010 Asian Games marathon silver medalist and 2011 World Championships marathoner Yukihiro Kitaoka (Team NTN).  Kitaoka has been mostly injured since 2010 and will be seeking a return to the kind of form he showed that year.  His main challengers among the marathoners are the Koichi Morishita-coached Kenji Takeuchi (Team Toyota Kyushu) and Etsu Miyata (Team Fujitsu), a teammate of former national record holder Atsushi Fujita.

This year's race is heavy on people making their debuts.  Chief among them are sub-63 men Ayumu Sato (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) with a 1:02:33 best from last year's Marugama Half and Nittai University grad Kazuya Deguchi (Team Nissin Shokuhin) with a best of 1:02:46.  2009 Ome 30 km winner Hirokatsu Kurosaki (Team Konica Minolta) will also finally make a long-awaited debut in the marathon after running a half marathon best in 2012.  The talented Ryo Kiname (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) will serve as the lone pacer, and with the race expected to go at the 2:11-2:12 level the 2:11:05 course record could fall with the right conditions.  Check back closer to race date for Nobeoka coverage details.

51st Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon Elite Field
Nobeoka, 2/10/13
click here for complete field listing

1. Yukihiro Kitaoka (Team NTN) - 2:10:51 (Lake Biwa 2010)
41. Kenji Takeuchi (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 2:12:44 (Nobeoka 2011)
2. Etsu Miyata (Team Fujitsu) - 2:13:19 (Nagano 2010)
42. Naoki Yamashita (Team NTN) - 2:16:11 (Lake Biwa 2012)
3. Jun Matsumoto (Team Aichi Seiko) - 2:16:35 (Nobeoka 2012)
4. Ryoichi Matsuo (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:16:55 (Ohtawara 2012)
5. Kenji Sakata (Team Kurosaki Harima) - 2:18:19 (Nobeoka 2011)
43. Sho Matsumoto (Dream AC) - 2:18:59 (Fukuoka 2012)
9. Ayumu Sato (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) - 1:02:33 (Marugame Half 2012)
10. Kazuya Deguchi (Team Asahi Kasei) - 1:02:46 (Nossapu Misaki Half 2008)
11. Mitsutaka Imura (Team Komori Corp.) - 1:03:12 (Marugame Half 2010)
6. Takahiro Ozaki (Team Fujitsu) - 1:03:12 (Marugame Half 2008)
12. Yohei Fujiwara (Team Sagawa Express) - 1:03:15 (Marugame Half 2012)
13. Hiroaki Sano (Team Honda) - 1:03:16 (Tachikawa Half 2009)
44. Takashi Goto (Team Nishitetsu) - 1:03:30 (Tachikawa Half 2009)
14. Norimasa Yoshida (Team Subaru) - 1:03:31 (Ageo City Half 2006)
15. Hirokatsu Kurosaki (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:03:32 (National Corporate Half 2012)
7. Satoshi Abe (Team Toenec) - 1:03:34 (Nagoya Half 2009)
45. Hajime Koizumi (Iwaki T&F Assoc.) - 1:04:01 (Ageo City Half 2007)
16. Kazuaki Shimizu (Team Yakult) - 1:04:11 (Marugame Half 2008)
8. Makoto Hasegawa (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) - 1:04:28 (National Corporate Half 2008)
17. Yoshihiro Shimazawa (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) - 1:04:36 (Ageo City Half 2002)
19. Takuya Suzuki (Team Aisan Kogyo) - 1:05:13 (Moriya Half 2012)
18. Keiji Akutsu (Team Subaru) - 1:05:35 (Tachikawa Half 2007)

Pacer
31. Ryo Kiname (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki)

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Ekiden Weekend Roundup

http://www.chugoku-np.co.jp/News/Tn201301280004.html
http://www.komaspo.com/4210
http://mainichi.jp/area/saitama/news/20130128ddlk11050143000c.html
http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20130127-1077441.html
http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20130127-OHT1T00214.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Three late-season ekidens took place this weekend.  Amid light snow in Yamaguchi, 48 teams took part in the 76th running of the Chugoku Yamaguchi Ekiden on a 7-stage, 84.4 km course from Ube City Hall to Shunan City Hall.  In the elite division, after an exciting Sixth Stage that saw 2012 Fukuoka International Marathon winner Joseph Gitau (Kenya/Team JFE Steel) cover the 15.9 km stage in 46:11 to move his team up into 1st, Team Chugoku Denryoku retook the lead on the anchor stage and claimed its eleventh Chugoku Yamaguchi title and first in two years in a time of 4:06:44.  Saikyo High School's A team won the high school division in 4:18:58 after leading all the way from the Second Stage, also claiming its eleventh win and first in two years.  Defending local division winner Hiroshima T&F Association picked up a second-straight division win in 4:23:18.  The Chugoku Denryoku team received a banner of victory at the award ceremony, with each of the division winners receiving a trophy from sponsor Chugoku Newspaper Co.

At the 59th Atsugi Ekiden, 2013 Hakone Ekiden 3rd-place Komazawa University took its fourth-straight win, just of its own record from last year as it covered the six-stage, 42.195 km course in 2:05:28.  Up to Fourth Stage there was some turnover in the lead, but when Shota Baba took over from Kenya Sonota Komazawa got into its rhythm.  Fifth Stage man Koki Takahashi started well but faded over the second half of his stage to lose ground, leaving it up to anchor Koji Someya to hold on to the overall win.  Despite running conservatively Someya clocked the fastest time on the anchor stage, joining Baba and First Stage runner Yoshihiro Nishizawa in picking up stage wins.

At the 59th Okumusashi Ekiden, Tokai University beat defending champion Chuo University, winning the open division in 1:56:20 for the six-stage, 38.792 km course. Tokyo Nogyo Prep #3 H.S. won the high school division in 1:58:46, putting an end to Saitama Sakae H.S.'s hopes of an eleventh-straight Okumusashi win.  205 teams altogether ran Okumusashi, where the biggest news came via Saitama Prefectural Government team Fourth Stage runner Yuki Kawauchi who clipped 1 second off the existing record to set a new mark of 13:00 for the 4.679 km stage.  It was Kawauchi's fourth race, third win and second-straight ekiden run of 2013.  "Including high schoolers, I passed about twenty people today," said Kawauchi.  He will next race the Feb. 3 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, one of the domestic selection races for August's Moscow World Championships.  "Everything's going smoothly so far," he said.  "I just have to be careful about fatigue and losing my edge."  At the first domestic selection race, December's Fukuoka International Marathon, Hiroyuki Horibata (Team Asahi Kasei) ran 2:08:24. That time is Kawauchi's target in Beppu-Oita.  "If I run faster than Horibata did then I might not do Lake Biwa in March," he revealed, hoping to get the job done in one take.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Gamera-Shmyrko Over Fukushi for Osaka Women's Win in 2:23:58

by Brett Larner

London Olympics marathon 5th-place Tetyana Gamera-Shmyrko (Ukraine) once again put on a show of her astounding finishing speed, running down race leader Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) in the final km to break her best for the third time in the last year as she won the 2013 Osaka International Women's Marathon in 2:23:58.  Fukushi managed a PB of 2:24:21 for 2nd, just missing the Federation's sub-2:24 requirement for a guaranteed place on the Moscow World Championships team, with 25-year-old Yuko Watanabe (Team Edion) coming through with a 3 1/2 minute best for 3rd in 2:25:56.

A cold and sunny day and the carrot provided by the Federation's time goal meant a quick race.  After a rocky and erratic start the pace settled into a steady mid-to-low-2:23 groove, with Gamera-Shmyrko, Fukushi, Watanabe, 10000 m national record holder Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) and, in her first marathon since giving birth, Mari Ozaki (Team Noritz) making up a steady pack of five trailed by assorted stragglers including Australian Lisa Jane Weightman, Poland's Karolina Jarzynska and 2011 Tokyo Marathon winner Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal).

As the first half of the race went by the lead group's pace strayed into world-leading high-2:22 territory.  Gamera-Shmyrko and Watanabe made what would prove to be a wise call, letting go and staying on low-2:23 pace.  The lead group gained more than 10 seconds on them, but as the pace slowed nearing halfway both women rejoined Fukushi, Ozaki and Shibui up front in relatively well-rested condition.  Fukushi made her first move near 25 km, shaking up the lead pack but not forging ahead for real until a drink station a few km later. Soon she was alone with the two pacers, Gamera-Shmyrko and Ozaki several seconds behind and Shibui and Watanabe an equal distance back from them.

Gamera-Shmyrko had a PB just sub-2:29 when she split 7:06 for the final 2.195 km to finish 2nd last year in Osaka, and given that fact and her similar performance at the London Olympics Fukushi knew that she needed to built up a margin to be able to fend off Gamera-Shmyrko's supercharged finish.  With the pacers' departure at 30 km Fukushi continued on alone at high-2:22 pace, her lead growing to 140 m by the 5 km to go sign.

Gamera-Shmyrko dropped Ozaki and started her hunt, and ahead of her Fukushi's sun began to go down.  Fukushi's splits strayed over 3:30/km, and by 40 km it was plain that the Ukrainian was going to overtake the lead.  With just under 1 km to go, turning onto the path leading into Nagai Stadium and the finish Gamera-Shmyrko blew by Fukushi looking strong and kicking the last lap of the track for her first time under 2:24 with a 7:14 closing split.  Fukushi just missed doing the same, disappointed at her loss but with the consolation of a small PB.

Further back Ozaki had faded off her aggressive early pace and was caught by the Manabu Kawagoe-coached Watanabe, whose 2:25:56 best for 3rd stands her a chance of World Championships team selection at this stage.  Ozaki took 4th in a successful comeback at age 37, but there was no luck to be had for Shibui, who faded badly and was run down by Weightman, Jarzynska and Higuchi to finish 8th.

Shibui and Fukushi trained together for Osaka, Shibui, the former marathon national record holder, offering Fukushi her support and advice and sharing her bottle after Fukushi missed hers at the first drink station.  In her post-race interview Shibui immediately asked, "Did Fukushi win?" and was visibly disappointed at the answer. Shibui's pre- and post-race comments about her future were ambiguous, leaving open the question of whether she plans to retire.  Her performance in Osaka had the feeling of being at least in part for Fukushi's benefit, an effort to try to help restore the broken lineage of Japanese women's marathoning that stretched from Naoko Takahashi to Shibui to Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex).  Although she lost the race Fukushi's performance was a big step in the right direction, confident and controlled in running world-leading pace alone and a PB even when coming up short.  But, as she laughed to her coach right after finishing, "It's going to take a little more time."

In the accompanying mass-participation half marathon, corporate runner Saki Tabata (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) had an easy win over collegiates Mami Onuki (Hyogo Univ.) and Kanade Iida (Osaka Geidai Univ.) in 1:13:01 in the women's race, while 2008 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon winner Tomoya Adachi (Team Asahi Kasei) took the men's race in 1:04:54 in a tight sprint finish over Komazawa University graduate Noritaka Fujiyama (Team Sumitomo Denko).

2013 Osaka International Women's Marathon
Osaka, 1/27/13
click here for complete results

1. Tetyana Gamera-Shmyrko (Ukraine) - 2:23:58 - PB
2. Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) - 2:24:21 - PB
3. Yuko Watanabe (Team Edion) - 2:25:56 - PB
4. Mari Ozaki (Team Noritz) - 2:26:41
5. Lisa Jane Weightman (Australia) - 2:29:09
6. Karolina Jarzynska (Poland) - 2:30:29
7. Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) - 2:32:16
8. Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 2:32:41
9. Shiori Hayashida (Osaka Geidai Univ.) - 2:39:36 - debut
10. Yui Ouchi (Team Noritz) - 2:39:39

DNF - Mariya Konovalova (Russia)
DNF - Mihaela Botezan (Romania)

2013 Osaka Half Marathon
Osaka, 1/27/13
click here for complete results

Women
1. Saki Tabata (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:13:01
2. Mami Onuki (Hyogo Univ.) - 1:15:25
3. Kanade Iida (Osaka Geidai Univ.) - 1:15:57

Men
1. Tomoya Adachi (Team Asahi Kasei) - 1:04:54
2. Noritaka Fujiyama (Team Sumitomo Denko) - 1:04:55
3. Kosuke Tsuji (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:04:58

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

12 Members of Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. Ekiden Team Confirmed Beaten by Head Coach, 2 Leaving School as Consequence

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20130126-00000066-mai-soci

translated by Brett Larner

Translator's note: Click here for more background on this story, which comes shortly after the suicide of a national-level high school basketball team's 17-year-old captain following beatings by the team's coach.  Although none of the Japanese media reports on this story mention the head coach by name, Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. is coached by Masaaki Watanabe.  Yesterday the Aichi Prefecture Government website featured an interview with Watanabe in a series titled "Shining Stars," but as of this morning the interview, #24 in a series, has been deleted.

At a special session at Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. on Jan. 26 addressing allegations of the use of corporal punishment on student athletes by the 50-year-old male head coach of the school's national-level ekiden team after requests from the Aichi Prefectural Board of Education for him to exert more self-control in his leadership, Board officials revealed that two members of the team had left Toyokawa Kogyo during the 2012-13 school year as a consequence of being beaten by the coach, one transferring to another school and the other dropping out.  The Board also confirmed that during the same period of time ten other team members had also experienced beatings.

At the session, school principal Yoshihisa Takemoto told members of the media that at an altitude training camp in Nagano late last July the coach hit a team members in the face with both hands twice.  One of the blows hit the student's ear, damaging the eardrum seriously enough to require two weeks of treatment.  The coach explained the incident by saying, "The student's awareness of things was pretty dim, so I was making reality clear to him."  Following this, the student left the team and in September transferred to another school.  In October the coach repeatedly slapped a female team member in the face in front of the other students, leading to her dropping out of the school at the end of December.

A questionnaire about whether they had experienced corporal punishment was distributed to all Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. students on Jan. 11.  Ten members of the school's ekiden team responded that they had been slapped in the face, kicked, or received other physical punishment.  Many of these students indicated that they had been beaten on multiple occasions.  The coach told the school administration, "Corporal punishment is not part of my leadership," but administration officials determined that his actions did in fact constitute corporal punishment.  On Jan. 25 the administration sent a report to the Prefectural Board of Education that a total of twelve team members including the two students who left the school had been subjected to corporal punishment.

Principal Takemoto commented, "This is not something we want here.  We need to carefully consider the situation."  On the question of why the school administration did not inform the Prefectural Board of Education that two students had left the school after receiving corporal punishment he replied, "We prioritized respecting the decisions of the students and those responsible for them."

As part of the Jan. 26 session, administration officials held a meeting with the adult leadership of the school's ekiden team to explain the details of the situation to them.  The other adults responsible for the team were virtually unanimous in their support for the head coach to remain in his position, saying, "If the ekiden team is going to make the National Championships then we need our coach and his strength."  The administration said that they would allow the coach to continue working but urged him to exert more self-control in his leadership.

Additionally, at the session it was revealed that an advisor to the boys' volleyball team had slapped a team member, while another teacher had likewise struck a student in the classroom.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Corporal Punishment Uncovered at Ekiden Powerhouse Toyokawa Kogyo H.S.

http://sp.mainichi.jp/m/news.html?cid=20130126k0000e040235000c&inb=sns

translated by Brett Larner

An official with renowned high school ekiden powerhouse Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. in Aichi Prefecture revealed during an interview that the teacher serving as the team's head coach, 50, had repeatedly beaten and performed other acts of corporal punishment on team members.  On Jan. 25 the Prefectural Board of Education instructed the coach to exercise more self-control and restraint in his leadership of the ekiden team.  On the afternoon of Jan. 26 the Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. administration will hold a meeting with school club coaches and other adult guardians to explain its policies.

According to the Prefectural Board of Education and other associated parties, the coach frequently hit team members, including across the face with an open hand.  On Jan. 11 in response to accumulating rumors of the use of corporal punishment at Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. the Board opened an investigation at the school.  Questionnaires distributed to students at the school confirmed that some had been beaten.

In July, 2009 the coach had beaten team members with a deck brush, some requiring stitches to injuries on their heads.  The Prefectural Board of Education issued a reprimand at the time but did not make an official statement on the details of the case.  A Board official commented, "It's unfortunate that corporate punishment has been used repeatedly.  We want to be sure to explain our policies carefully to those in authority at the school."

The coach, who was not named, developed the Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. ekiden team into one of the best in the country, making fourteen-straight National High School Ekiden Championships through 2011.  In 2004 the team finished 2nd.

Translator's note: Toyokawa Kogyo H.S.'s head coach is Masaaki Watanabe, age 50.  Two members of the Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. team ran on the 3rd-place Aichi Prefecture team at last weekend's National Men's Ekiden.

This story and the Aichi Prefecture Board of Education's Jan. 11 investigation of Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. come shortly after the Jan. 9 announcement of the Dec. 23 suicide of the 17-year-old captain of the national-level Sakuranomiya H.S. basketball team in Osaka.  The Sakuranomiya H.S. student athlete left a suicide note citing being repeatedly beaten by the team's 47-year-old head coach, who confirmed that he had slapped the boy in the face on more than one occasion.  The issue of the reality of corporal punishment in Japanese schools is currently receiving national attention as a consequence.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Dubai Marathon Women's Results

Misaki Katsumata at the Dubai Marathon, c/o Dr. Helmut Winter... on Twitpic
Dubai, 1/25/13
click here for complete results

1. Tirfi Tsegaye Beyene (Ethiopia) - 2:23:23
2. Ehitu Kiros Reda (Ethiopia) - 2:23:39
3. Amane Gobena Gemeda (Ethiopia) - 2:23:50
4. Aheza Kiros Abeye (Ethiopia) - 2:24:30
5. Belaynesh Olijira Jemama (Ethiopia) - 2:25:01
6. Shitaye Bedasa Ordofa (Ethiopia) - 2:25:47
7. Isabellah Andersson (Sweden) - 2:26:05
8. Abebech Afework Bekele (Ethiopia) - 2:27:08
9. Beata Naigambo (Namibia) - 2:27:54
10. Misaki Katsumata (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 2:30:42

photo (c) 2013 Dr. Helmut Winter
all rights reserved

Mizuki Noguchi and Two Others Withdraw From Osaka International Women's Marathon

http://sportsnavi.yahoo.co.jp/sports/athletic/headlines/article/20130125-00000028-dal

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The organizers of the Jan. 27 Osaka International Women's Marathon announced on Jan. 25 that three members of its domestic elite field, Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya), Madoka Ogi (Team Juhachi Ginko) and national record holder Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) have all withdrawn from Sunday's race, Nakamura with plantar fasciitis in her right foot and Ogi with a stress fracture of one of her toes.  Noguchi has withdrawn due to lingering effects of the sudden stomach illness that kept her out of the National Women's Ekiden two weeks ago.

In a statement via the race organizers Noguchi said, "I've been training for the Osaka International Women's Marathon since November, but just a little while ago I suffered some bad stomach problems.  It has taken some time to recover from them and in my current circumstances I know that I wouldn't be able to do the kind of running I would need to achieve my goal for this race, so I have made the decision to withdraw.  Since I had to pull out last year as well I really focused on running the Osaka International Women's Marathon this year, so it's very disappointing to have to do it again.  But I know that I have a debt of gratitude to all the people who have continued to support me and cheer for me through the good times and the bad times and I want to get my body strong as soon as possible and ready to give the kind of run that will let everyone say that I've made a complete and total comeback!"

Osaka International Women's Marathon Preview

by Brett Larner

Update: Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya) Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) and Madoka Ogi (Team Juhachi Ginko) have all withdrawn.

The first major Japanese marathon of the year takes place this Sunday with the Osaka International Women's Marathon.  A small, elite-only event with an accompanying mass-participation half marathon, Osaka Women's is the second of three chances for Japanese women to make the 2013 World Championships team on home ground.  The race will be broadcast live by Fuji TV starting at noon and should be available to international viewers by using Keyhole TV.  JRN will also once again cover the race live on Twitter.

Last year the Japanese federation declared ambitious standards for the World Championships team, sub-2:08 for men and sub-2:24 for women.  Last year's Osaka Women's winner Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) did it, but only fourteen Japanese women have ever cleared that standard and only two in the last five years.  Amid a distinct sense of leaves changing colors three of the people who have done it will line up in Osaka, marathon national record holder Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex), 10000 m national record holder Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) and two-time World Championships marathoner Mari Ozaki (Team Noritz).  Shibui, the former Japanese marathon national record holder, last broke 2:24 while winning Osaka Women's in 2009 to make the Berlin World Championships team, but injuries she sustained in training for Berlin knocked her out of the top level of Japanese marathoning for almost three years until last March's Nagoya Women's Marathon where she ran a surprising 2:25:02.  Noguchi has had perpetual injury problems and has only run two marathons since setting the national record in 2005, last breaking 2:24 in 2007 while setting the Tokyo International Marathon course record of 2:21:37 and making a comeback in Nagoya last year in 2:25:33.  Ozaki is aiming to make a comeback of her own from childbirth, her last quality marathon coming in 2010 and her last sub-2:24 in Osaka in 2005.

Four years is a long time for an elite marathoner, let alone six or eight, but while the question facing them is whether any of them can take another step back toward their old selves, the bigger question may be whether half marathon national record holder Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) is ready to join them sub-2:24.  Fukushi has run three marathons to date, two of them in Osaka and both disasters.  Her only success came in Chicago two years ago where she ran 2:24:38 off a fast first half.  Strong through the fall ekiden season, she was set to run the doomed New York City Marathon and carried her fitness over to a stunning run at December's National Corporate Women's Ekiden.  Osaka has been unlucky for Fukushi, but with good conditions forecast at this stage this could be the race where she picks up the fallen mantle of Japanese women's marathoning and does what fans have been hoping for for years.

There isn't much international competition in Osaka Women's at the sub-2:24 level, with only two real contenders should Fukushi or the others take a serious shot at meeting the Federation's standard.   Mariya Konovalova (Russia) had a long track career prior to her 2:23:50 at the 2010 Chicago Marathon, but since then she has stalled at the 2:25 level. Tetyana Gamera-Shmyrko (Ukraine) seemed to come out of nowhere last year, arriving at the 2012 Osaka International Women's Marathon with only a 2:28:14 PB and a 2:31:58 at the Daegu World Championships to her name but running near her half marathon best in the first half, faster in the second half, and clocking one of the fastest closing splits ever by a woman, 7:06 for the final 2.195 km, to set a Ukrainian national record of 2:24:46 for 2nd. And she did it again at the London Olympics, closing fast for another national record of 2:24:32 in 5th.  All told she looks like the favorite on Sunday.

If the race plays out closer to 2:25 a second tier of athletes including Japanese runners Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya), Madoka Ogi (Team Juhachi Ginko), Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) and Yuko Watanabe (Team Edion) and overseas elites Mihaela Botezan (Romania), Karolina Jarzynska (Poland) and Lisa Jane Weightman (Australia) should add variables to the equation.  Among the Japanese runners the Manabu Kawagoe-coached Watanabe is the one to watch, with 10000 m and half marathon PBs since her 2:29:20 marathon best in Nagoya last year including a 1:10:06 for 2nd at last month's Sanyo Women's Half Marathon, a minute and a half faster than Ozaki ran in the same race.  2012 winner Shigetomo's teammate Yoshie Kurusu (Team Tenmaya) in the general division is also worth keeping an eye on.

2013 Osaka International Women's Marathon Elite Field
Osaka, 1/27/13
click here for detailed field listing

31. Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) - 2:19:12 (Berlin 2005) - withdrawn
32. Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 2:19:41 (Berlin 2004)
38. Mari Ozaki (Team Noritz) - 2:23:30 (Osaka Women's 2003)
1. Mariya Konovalova (Russia) - 2:23:50 (Chicago 2010)
2. Tetyana Gamera-Shmyrko (Ukraine) - 2:24:32 (London Olympics 2012)
33. Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) - 2:24:38 (Chicago 2011)
3. Mihaela Botezan (Romania) - 2:25:32 (London 2003)
34. Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya) - 2:25:51 (Nagoya Women's 2008) - withdrawn
35. Madoka Ogi (Team Juhachi Ginko) - 2:26:55 (Osaka Women's 2008) - withdrawn
4. Karolina Jarzynska (Poland) - 2:27:16 (Yokohama Women's 2011)
5. Lisa Jane Weightman (Australia) - 2:27:32 (London Olympics 2012)
36. Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) - 2:28:49 (Tokyo 2011)
104. Ayumi Nakayama (Team Yamada Denki) - 2:28:50 (Osaka Women's 2008)
37. Yuko Watanabe (Team Edion) - 2:29:20 (Nagoya Women's 2012)
105. Yoshie Kurusu (Team Tenmaya) - 1:11:22 (half)
103. Maiko Murayama (Team Yamada Denki) - 1:12:46 (half)

Pacers
61. Philes Ongori (Kenya)
62. Alevtina Ivanona (Russia)
63. Azusa Nojiri (Toyama T&F Assoc.)
64. Tomomi Higuchi (Team Daihatsu)

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tokyo Marathon Releases 2013 Elite Field

by Brett Larner

Tokyo makes a decent entry into the Majors with an elite field including four 2:04 men and six with 2:06 bests, and a women's field featuring three under 2:21.  Defending champions Michael Kipkorir Kipyego (Kenya) and Atsede Habtamu (Ethiopia) return but are not shown the courtesy of the #1 bibs in their divisions, those going to 2012 Berlin Marathon runner-up Dennis Kipruto Kimetto (Kenya) and 2:19:19 runner Irina Mikitenko (Germany). Mikitenko seems bound to fall prey to Ethiopians Bezunesh Bekele and Aberu Kebede with 2011 Boston champion Caroline Cheptonui Kilel also in the top group of competion.  Kipruto is up against the resurgent James Kwambai (Kenya) and two components of last year's Miracle in Dubai, Dino Sefir and Jonathan Kiplimo Maiyo (Kenya). If Kipruto feels motivated to go for the win this time he is the sure favorite, and it is certainly worth his while.  The combination of 1st place and a course record are worth around $120,000 U.S. and World Marathon Major points are also on the line for the first time. Tokyo's weather has been a crap shoot in its six editions to date and the terrible final 6 km of the Tokyo course make truly Grade-A times unlikely, but barring a repeat of the freezing hell of 2010 the 2:07:23 and 2:25:28 course records seem bound to fall.

The Japanese field is led by last year's runner-up Arata Fujiwara (Miki House), talking big about the 2:06:16 national record and making the race interesting.  Despite going 2 for 3 last year he doesn't exactly have the greatest record when it comes to important races, so a more reliable bet to be interesting is the Koichi Morishita-coached former Hakone Ekiden superstar Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu), who earlier this month ran the equivalent of a half marathon national record while setting a 22.0 km course record of 1:02:50 at the New Year Ekiden.  2:08:38 man Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko), Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) and 30 km national record holder Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) should be in the picture with Fujiwara and Imai for a place on the 2013 World Championships team if any of them goes sub-2:08. Also of note are the debuts of marathon national record holder Toshinari Takaoka-coached half marathon ace Masato Kihara (Team Kanebo), 2012 10000 m national champion Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin), and sub-62 half marathoners Yusuke Takabayashi (Team Toyota) and Ryotaro Nitta (Team Konica Minolta).

With an IAAF Gold Label and now a place in the World Marathon Majors it's worth nothing that for Japanese women at the Tokyo Marathon there is not true gender parity with the men.  Despite similar quality in the foreign fields only the men's race counts toward Japanese World Championships team selection, and as such there is a built-in disincentive for Japanese women to race in Tokyo.  Having a situation where your own country's women are discouraged from entering doesn't really seem worthy of a first-rate world-class event or something that should have an international seal of approval.

Only one first-rate female Japanese marathoner, 2009 World Championships silver medalist Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei), is on the list; whether because she wants to race against the best foreign field we'll see on Japanese soil this year or to lend the women's race a cloak of legitimacy is a good question. Former corporate runners Azusa Nojiri, Yoshiko Fujinaga, Noriko Matsuoka, Hiroko Yoshitomi and Yumi Sato, all now running as amateurs or with club teams, make up the next tier.  Last year's 10000 m national champion Mika Yoshikawa (Team Panasonic) is debuting along with 1:10:48 woman Hiroko Shoi (Team Nihon ChemiCon) and both contribute in a big way to the domestic quality, but compared to the domestic fields at this weekend's Osaka International Women's Marathon or what we'll see at March's Nagoya Women's Marathon it's not hard to see that while Tokyo may meet the letter of the law with regard to the kind of standards you would expect from a World Marathon Major its spirit is otherwise.  There are no doubt a lot of politics and issues of TV broadcast rights involved in this situation, which may be inevitable, but if the organizers can't sort it out and are just going to go ahead with treating their own women as less then does the Tokyo Marathon really deserve to be one of the World Marathon Majors at this point?

2013 Tokyo Marathon Elite Field and Selected General Division Entrants
Tokyo, 2/24/13
click here for complete elite field listing

Men
1. Dennis Kipruto Kimetto (Kenya) - 2:04:16 (Berlin 2012)
2. James Kipsang Kwambai (Kenya) - 2:04:27 (Rotterdam 2009)
3. Dino Sefir (Ethiopia) - 2:04:50 (Dubai 2012)
4. Jonathan Kiplimo Maiyo (Kenya) - 2:04:56 (Dubai 2012)
5. Eric Ndiema (Kenya) - 2:06:07 (Amsterdam 2011)
6. Gilbert Kipruto Kirwa (Kenya) - 2:06:14 (Frankfurt 2009)
102. Daniel Njenga (Kenya/Team Yakult) - 2:06:16 (Chicago 2002)
7. Feyisa Bekele (Ethiopia) - 2:06:26 (Amsterdam 2012)
8. Bernard Kiprop Kipyego (Kenya) - 2:06:29 (Chicago 2011)
9. Michael Kipkorir Kipyego (Kenya) - 2:06:48 (Eindhoven 2011)
101. Josphat Ndambiri (Kenya/Team Komori Corp.) - 2:07:36 (Fukuoka 2011)
21. Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) - 2:07:48 (Tokyo 2012)
10. Gideon Kipkemoi Kipketer (Kenya) - 2:08:14 (Amsterdam 2012)
22. Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) - 2:08:38 (Tokyo 2012)
127. Yuzo Onishi (Travel DB) - 2:08:54 (Lake Biwa 2008)
23. Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) - 2:09:03 (Tokyo 2011)
11. Amhed Baday (Morocco) - 2:09:16 (Daegu Int'l 2012)
111. Yuko Matsumiya (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) - 2:09:18 (Lake Biwa 2005)
12. Essa Ismael Rashed (Qatar) - 2:09:22 (Amsterdam 2012)
24. Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) - 2:09:28 (Tokyo 2012)
14. Dmitry Safronov (Russia) - 2:09:35 (London 2011)
25. Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 2:10:32 (Fukuoka 2011)
103. Yuki Moriwaki (Team JFE Steel) - 2:11:52 (Beppu-Oita 2012)
104. Koji Gokaya (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:12:07 (Lake Biwa 2011)
105. Hiroki Kadota (Team Kanebo) - 2:12:24 (Beppu-Oita 2012)
106. Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:12:31 (Lake Biwa 2012)
107. Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:12:42 (Lake Biwa 2011)
108. Chiharu Takada (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:12:44 (Fukuoka 2010)
109. Yuki Nakamura (Team Kanebo) - 2:12:52 (Tokyo 2012)

Debut
26. Masato Kihara (Team Kanebo) - 1:01:15 (Nat'l Corporate Half 2012)
169. Yusuke Takabayashi (Team Toyota) - 1:01:31 (Marugame 2012)
170. Ryotaro Nitta (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:01:45 (Marugame 2012)
171. Soji Ikeda (Team Yakult) - 1:02:10 (Kyoto 2008)
27. Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 27:38.25 (Brutus Hamilton Inv. 10000 m 2009)

Pacers
51. Philip Kiprono Langat (Kenya)
52. Wilfred Kirwa Kigen (Kenya)
53. Cyrus Njui (Kenya/Team Hitachi Butsuryu)
54. Jacob Wanjuki (Kenya/Team Aichi Seiko)
55. Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta)

Women
31. Irina Mikitenko (Germany) - 2:19:19 (Berlin 2008)
32. Bezunesh Bekele (Ethiopia) - 2:20:30 (Dubai 2012)
33. Aberu Kebede (Ethiopia) - 2:20:30 (Berlin 2012)
34. Caroline Cheptonui Kilel (Kenya) - 2:22:36 (Boston 2011)
41. Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 2:23:30 (Tokyo Int'l 2008)
35. Olena Shurkhno (Ukraine) - 2:23:32 (Berlin 2012)
36. Albina Mayorova (Russia) - 2:23:52 (Nagoya Women's 2012)
37. Atsede Habtamu (Ethiopia) - 2:24:25 (Berlin 2011)
42. Azusa Nojiri (Toyama T&F Assoc.) - 2:24:57 (Osaka Int'l 2012)
206. Yoshiko Fujinaga (Isahaya T&F Assoc.) - 2:25:40 (London 2011)
38. Yeshi Esayias (Ethiopia) - 2:26:00 (Tokyo 2012)
39. Helalia Johannes (Namibia) - 2:26:09 (London Olympics 2012)
43. Noriko Matsuoka (Second Wind AC) - 2:26:54 (London 2011)
40. Nastassia Staravoitava (Belarus) - 2:27:24 (Dusseldorf 2012)
205. Hiroko Yoshitomi (First Dream AC) - 2:32:27 (Nagoya Women's 2012)
201. Yumi Sato (Tokyo T&F Assoc.) - 2:32:49 (Osaka Int'l 2012)
202. Kaori Oyama (Team Noritz) - 2:32:51 (Tokyo 2012)
203. Rina Yamazaki (Team Panasonic) - 2:32:51 (Tokyo 2011)

Debut
44. Hiroko Shoi (Team Nihon ChemiCon) - 1:10:48 (Nat'l Corporate Half 2010)
245. Mika Yoshikawa (Team Panasonic) - 1:11:13 (Marugame 2011)

Pacers
56. Hiroki Mitsuoka (Team Otsuka Seiyaku)
57. Yohei Nishiyama (Team Otsuka Seiyaku)
58. Kenta Hirose (Team Otsuka Seiyaku)

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Athletes' Village Opens Ahead of Jan. 27 Osaka International Women's Marathon

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/west/west_sports/news/130122/wsp13012216420008-n1.htm

translated by Brett Larner



On Jan. 22 the athletes' village for Sunday's Osaka International Women's Marathon opened at Hotel New Otani in central Osaka.  Already in Japan, the first athlete to arrive was overseas elite Karolina Jarzynska (Poland).  Full of smiles, Jarzynska received a large bouquet of flowers from hotel staff.

With an elite field of five foreigners and eight Japanese, Osaka International's entry list of 554 is the largest in event history.  Among the domestic elites, 2004 Athens Olympics gold medalist and national record holder Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex), 10000 m and former marathon national record holder Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) and half marathon national record holder and London Olympics 10000 m 10th-place finisher Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) are scheduled to run.

The Osaka International Women's Marathon starts and finishes at Nagai Stadium in Higashi Sumiyoshi, Osaka, with the race going off at 12:10 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 27.  The race will be broadcast live nationwide on Fuji TV beginning at 12:00 noon.

Victory Parade Scheduled for Sunday in Yokohama to Celebrate Nittai University's Hakone Ekiden Win

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20130122-OHT1T00194.htm

translated by Brett Larner

Nittai University, who earlier this month scored their first Hakone Ekiden win in 30 years, announced on Jan. 22 that it will hold a victory parade in Yokohama this Sunday, Jan. 27.  Beginning at 1:00 p.m. at Aobadai Station on the Tokyu Denentoshi line, the parade will cover a 3 km course to the university's Kenshidai campus and will feature three open cars, two four-ton trucks.  The Nittai University Booster Club, the university brass band and cheerleader squad will help create a spectacular atmosphere, with uphill Fifth Stage star and team captain Shota Hattori leading the team in showing their appreciation of fans' support.  After the parade there will be a party on the university campus celebrating the team's win, with a ceremonial cracking open of a sake barrel, pounding of mochi, and each team member talking about his goals and ambitions for 2013-14.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

'Yamauchi Announces Retirement'

UKA's announcement of the retirement of 2008 Osaka International Women's Marathon winner Mara Yamauchi.

Yamauchi's own announcement on her blog.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Olympic Marathoner Naoko Sakamoto Retires

http://www.asahi.com/sports/update/0120/SEB201301200008.html?tr=pc

translated by Brett Larner

Naoko Sakamoto (32, Team Tenmaya), 7th at the 2004 Athens Olympics, announced her retirement from competition on Jan. 20 after running her final race, the Kita-Kyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden, where she placed 7th on the opening stage.  "I still have the urge to get back to the top, but I just can't do the training I need to get there anymore," she said.  "I decided that it's time to stop.  I'm sad that I couldn't end it with a marathon."

Sakamoto graduated from Nishinomiya H.S. in Hyogo and joined the Tenmaya corporate team in 1999.  In 2003 she ran 2:21:51 at the Osaka International Women's Marathon, the Japanese debut marathon record.  Later the same year she was 4th in the Paris World Championships marathon, then won the 2004 Osaka International Women's Marathon to make the Athens Olympics.  Following Athens a series of injuries kept her from making another national team.

Note: Sakamoto's agent Brendan Reilly sent the following: I've been working with Naoko during her entire career at Tenmaya. She is certainly one of my all-time favorite athletes, as cheerful and well-mannered as anybody I've been with in this sport. Her sub-70:00 second half (when sub-70:00 marathon splits were still a rarity) to win the 2004 Osaka International Women's Marathon on a snowy, bone-chillingly cold day was one of the greatest pieces of running I've ever seen. I am fairly certain Naoko's split from 30K to 40K that day was quicker than her lifetime 10,000m PB.

It says a lot about the former depth of Japanese women marathoning that at two of her career highlights...4th at the Paris World Championships and 7th at the Athens Olympics...that would have been headline news in most marathoning countries, Naoko was still only the 3rd finisher among Japanese women.

If you can ever track down the rap video that some of her young running fans made for her before the 2004 Athens Olympics, try to post it. Great stuff!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Hyogo Defends National Men's Ekiden Title With Perfect Team Performance

by Brett Larner

Click photo for video highlights via race broadcaster NHK.

Hyogo Prefecture took its second-straight National Men's Ekiden title Jan. 20 in Hiroshima with a perfect team performance that held off rivals Tokyo and Aichi Prefecture. With anchor Satoru Kitamura (Team Nissin Shokuhin) ailing after potentially career-ending injuries last year and a disastrous performance three weeks ago at the New Year Ekiden the rest of the Hyogo team knew that they needed a margin of at least a minute by the start of the anchor stage to have a chance at holding off  Tokyo and Aichi anchors Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B) and Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota), and, aided by ideal conditions, they timed it perfectly.

Last year's First Stage winner Keisuke Nakatani (Hyogo/Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) took it out fast and accelerated each km on the 7.0 km leg, just missing the course record but giving Hyogo a 2-second lead.  3.0 km Second Stage runner Chikashi Ikeda (Hyogo/Kakogawa Yamate J.H.S.) stretched that out to 13 seconds, just missing the course record which local Shiki Shinsako (Hiroshima/Shiwa J.H.S.) managed to clip in 8:29 further back in the pack.  8.5 km Third Stage runner Keisuke Fujii (Hyogo/Chuo Gakuin Univ.) fell afoul of Nike Oregon Project-bound Suguru Osako (Tokyo/Waseda Univ.), ran just off the course record to put Tokyo ahead for the only point in the race, while Osako's former Waseda teammate Yusuke Mita (Aichi/Team JR Higashi Nihon) advanced to 3rd to set up the expected race between the three pre-race favorites.

8 seconds down from Tokyo at the start of the 5.0 km Fourth Stage, Yuhi Akiyama (Hyogo/Suma Gakuen H.S.) tied his track 5000 m PB to set a new course record of 14:07 and give Hyogo a lead of exactly 1 minute, with Aichi just 8 seconds back from Tokyo in 3rd.  Tokyo's Rintaro Takeda (Waseda Jitsugyo H.S.) ran a stage best to close 10 seconds on the 8.5 km Fifth Stage, but on the 3.0 km Sixth Stage Hyogo's Haruki Nishimura (Miki J.H.S.) made what ended up being crucial move of the race for his team's chances, reopening the lead to its greatest margin of the day, 1:15 over Tokyo.  Aichi, with the strongest anchor in the field, was another 14 seconds back.

Hyogo anchor Kitamura started off well and did what he could, holding a steady pace near 3:00/km for the 13.0 km Seventh Stage.  Behind him, New Year Ekiden First Stage winner Miyawaki of Aichi ran down past 1500 m and 5000 m national champion Ueno of Tokyo in just over 1 km, but after initially running relaxed and letting Miyawaki go Ueno went to work at 3 km and caught back up.  For the first half of the stage they alternated running ahead of each other, not so much working together as trying to shake each other off. In what may have been the smartest race Ueno has ever run at a distance over 5 km, he pushed the pace just before halfway to inch away from Miyawaki and start to close the gap to leader Kitamura.  At 9 km the gap was down to 47 seconds, 28 seconds by 11 km.  Kitamura began to show signs of pain as he came into the final straightaway to the finish in front of Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Museum but mustered up a last push with 1 km to go.  He looked home free, but behind him Ueno threw in a last kick befitting a 1500 m national champ, eating up the distance but too late as Kitamura crossed the line just 5 seconds ahead.  Hyogo beat Tokyo 2:19:51 to 2:19:56 for the full 48.0 km course in what may have been the first time two teams have broken 2:20 in the event's 18-year history.  "Yeah, that was pretty stressful," Kitamura laughed in post-race interviews.  Precisely judged and executed, Hyogo's performance was a masterpiece of team running.

Miyawaki, coming off injuries in the fall and reportedly experiencing some pain again since his New Year Ekiden stage win, underperformed but still brought Aichi across the line in 3rd in 2:20:35, just holding off Saitama Prefecture anchor Keita Shitara (Toyo Univ.) who ran down Chiba Prefecture anchor Yusuke Sato (Nihon Univ.) for an unexpected 4th in 2:20:55.  27:44 local Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Hiroshima/Team Asahi Kasei) looked as though he would catch Shitara and Sato but ran out of steam in the final 3 km.  Coming down the last straight he was caught by 2013 Hakone Ekiden winner Nittai University ace Keigo Yano (Nagano) but responded with a final surge to repass Yano one step from the finish.  Yoroizaka got the home crowd ovation, but to the surprise of all Yano took the anchor stage win on time, running 4 seconds faster than Ueno.  Akita Prefecture rounded out the eight-deep podium.

Further back, London Olympics marathoners Kentaro Nakamoto (Yamaguchi/Team Yasukawa Denki) and Ryo Yamamoto (Kyoto/Team Sagawa Express) crossed the line just 4 second apart in 16th and 17th.  The National Men's Ekiden marks the end of the national-level ekiden season, with just a few large regional events left over the next few weeks.  For most runners the next two months will include cross-country, half marathons and marathons before the spring track season begins in April.  Nakamoto, 6th in London, will line up next in two weeks at the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon in a bid to shore up his position on the roster of candidates for Augusts's Moscow World Championships marathon team.

2013 National Men's Ekiden Top Results
Hiroshima, 1/20/13
47 teams, 7 stages, 48.0 km
click here for complete results

Top Team Results
1. Hyogo - 2:19:51
2. Tokyo - 2:19:56
3. Aichi - 2:20:35
4. Saitama - 2:20:55
5. Chiba - 2:21:06
6. Hiroshima - 2:21:20
7. Nagano - 2:21:20
8. Akita - 2:21:33
9. Oita - 2:21:37
10. Nagasaki - 2:21:40

Stage Best Performances
First Stage - 7.0 km
1. Keisuke Nakatani (Hyogo/Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) - 19:56
2. Soma Ishikawa (Tochigi/Sano Nihon Prep H.S.) - 19:58
3. Yusuke Nishiyama (Mie/Iga Hakuo H.S.) - 20:00

Second Stage - 3.0 km
1. Shiki Shinsako (Hiroshima/Shiwa J.H.S.) - 8:29 - CR
2. Tomoki Ota (Shizuoka/Hamano J.H.S.) - 8:32
3. Hayato Seki (Nagano/Chino Tobu J.H.S.) - 8:33

Third Stage - 8.5 km
1. Suguru Osako (Tokyo/Waseda Univ.) - 23:39
2. Kenta Murayama (Miyagi/Komazawa Univ.) - 23:57
3. Yuki Matsuoka (Kyoto/Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 23:58
4. Naoki Okamoto (Hiroshima/Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 23:59
5. Minato Oishi (Shizuoka/Team Toyota) - 24:01
6. Yusuke Mita (Aichi/Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 24:04
7. Keisuke Fujii (Hyogo/Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 24:08
8. Ikuto Yufu (Oita/Komazawa Univ.) - 24:11
9. Tatsuya Oike (Gifu/Juntendo Univ.) - 24:15
10. Hiroyuki Ono (Gunma/Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 24:17

Fourth Stage - 5.0 km
1. Yuhi Akiyama (Hyogo/Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 14:07 - CR
2. Nanami Arai (Chiba/Yachiyo Shoin H.S.) - 14:29
2. Jinnosuke Matsumura (Yamaguchi/Saikyo H.S.) - 14:29

Fifth Stage - 8.5 km
1. Rintaro Takeda (Tokyo/Waseda Jitsugyo H.S.) - 24:50
2. Yuki Hirota (Hyogo/Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) - 25:00
2. Kazuki Takahashi (Akita/Omagari Kogyo H.S.) - 25:00

Sixth Stage - 3.0 km
1. Masahide Saito (Saitama/Otone J.H.S.) - 8:52
2. Shun Ando (Akita/Kamikoani J.H.S.) - 8:55
3. Akihiro Gunji (Tochigi/Nishi Nasuno J.H.S.) - 8:57

Seventh Stage - 13.0 km
1. Keigo Yano (Nagano/Nittai Univ.) - 37:54
2. Yuichiro Ueno (Tokyo/Team S&B) - 37:58
3. Rui Yonezawa (Fukui/Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 38:04
4. Keita Shitara (Saitama/Toyo Univ.) - 38:05
5. Fumihiro Maruyama (Oita/Team Asahi Kasei) - 38:11
5. Tomoya Onishi (Gifu/Team Asahi Kasei) - 38:11
7. Yusei Nakao (Shizuoka/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 38:21
8. Chihiro Miyawaki (Aichi/Team Toyota) - 38:23
9. Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Hiroshima/Team Asahi Kasei) - 38:26
10. Ryo Yamamoto (Kyoto/Team Sagawa Express) - 38:27

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

2012 National High School Champion Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. Sets Kita-Kyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden Course Record

by Brett Larner

At the Jan. 20 Kita-Kyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden, 2012 National High School Ekiden champions Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. outran all competition to break the existing 32.8 km course record by 41 seconds.  Kita-Kyushu features an interesting format that sees top high school team running against pro teams with the open division's 11.7 km final stage divided into two for the younger high school division teams.

Locals Team Kyudenko led through the first three stages, with Kenyan ace Sally Chepyego scoring a course record 18:11 for the 5.9 km Second Stage.  2012 National Corporate Ekiden champions Team Universal Entertainment and Ritsumeikan Uji just a second behind dueled for 2nd before the high school champions pulled ahead on the Third Stage thanks to a stage win by the team's star Nanako Kanno.  Ritsumeikan Uji's fourth runner Mai Hirota delivered another stage win to bring the team even with Kyudenko at the handoff to the Fifth Stage.

For Kyudenko, Universal Entertainment and other open-division teams the Fifth Stage was 11.7 km, while Ritsumeikan Uji and other high schools faced 4.9 and 6.8 km subdivisions of the stage.  Despite the best efforts of Kyudenko anchor Misaki Kato she was no match for the younger runners running shorter distances, and Ritsumeikan Uji pulled ahead to cross the finish line first in a new course record of 1:45:52.  Team Tenmaya anchor Rei Ohara, who lost to high schooler Miyuki Uehara (Kagoshima Joshi H.S.) at last weekend's National Women's Ekiden, was also too much for Kato, outrunning her by more than a minute to give Tenmaya 1st in the open division.

With the Kita-Kyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden the national-level women's ekiden season comes to a close.  The focus now turns to longer distances on the road, with next weekend's Osaka International Women's Marathon and places on the Moscow World Championships marathon team taking up the biggest share of the attention.  JRN will cover Osaka live via Twitter on @JRNLive.  Check back later in the week for a preview and viewing details.

2013 Kita-Kyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden Top Results
Kita-Kyushu, 1/20/13
high school division: 16 teams, 6 stages, 32.8 km
open division: 11 teams, 5 stages, 32.8 km 
click here for complete results

Top Team Results - High School Division
1. Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. - 1:45:52 - CR
2. Chikushi Joshi Gakuen H.S. - 1:47:43
3. Kamimura Gakuen H.S. - 1:49:01
4. Suma Gakuen H.S. - 1:49:12
5. Isahaya H.S. - 1:51:40

Top Team Results - Open Division
1. Tenmaya - 1:46:27
2. Kyudenko - 1:46:39
3. Canon AC Kyushu - 1:47:38
4. Kyocera - 1:47:41
5. Universal Entertainment - 1:48:46

Stage Best Performances
First Stage - 4.2 km: Ayako Jinnouchi (Team Kyudenko) - 13:23
Second Stage - 5.9 km: Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudeko) - 18:11 - CR
Third Stage - 5.1 km: Nanako Kanno (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 16:19
Fourth Stage - 5.9 km: Mai Hirota (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 19:47
Fifth Stage - open - 11.7 km: Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya) - 36:54
Fifth Stage - H.S. - 4.9 km: Yuki Fujiwara (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 16:08
Sixth Stage - H.S. - 6.8 km: Momoka Katada (Ritsumeikan Uji H.S.) - 21:18

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Kawauchi Runs Saitama Ekiden Less than 48 Hours After Egypt Marathon Win

http://sportsnavi.yahoo.co.jp/sports/athletic/headlines/article/20130120-00000028-dal
http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20130120-1074433.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) ran the Jan. 20 Saitama Ekiden on the Saitama Prefecture Government team, finishing 2nd on the 11.9 km Third Stage in 36:54. On Jan. 18 Kawauchi ran the Egyptian Marathon, winning in a course record time.  He spent only two nights in Egypt.  "It was kind of a rushed trip," he said.  "I didn't get enough sleep so I was a little tired, but I was in good shape for the run."  He was satisfied with his ekiden performance, saying, "Even in the middle of marathon training I haven't lost my ekiden speed.  I wasn't fatigued at all."

Saturday, January 19, 2013

National Men's Ekiden Preview - Updated

by Brett Larner

updated 1/19/13 with start list

The partner event to last weekend's National Women's Ekiden, the final men's championship ekiden of the season takes place this Sunday with the 18th National Men's Ekiden in Hiroshima.  Like the women's event, the National Men's Ekiden features 47 teams from each of Japan's prefectures made up of top junior high school, high school, university and corporate-league runners.  Although there is less cross-division competition than in the National Women's Ekiden, the three high school stages and two junior high school stages in the National Men's Ekiden have often been the site of the first national appearance of future stars while the 8.5 km Third Stage and 13.0 km anchor stage always feature the rare sight of the top New Year Ekiden pros and Hakone Ekiden collegiate runners going head to head.  The National Men's Ekiden is broadcast live nationwide and commercial-free on NHK starting at 12:15 p.m. and should be viewable via Keyhole TV, particularly the premium edition.  JRN will also cover the race live via Twitter @JRNLive. Follow the event's official Japanese-language Twitter feed here.

The interprefectural ekidens' entry and start lists are notoriously fluid, but based on the lineups currently publicly available defending champion Hyogo comes to the 2013 edition of the race as the favorite, six of its seven runners making the top grade on their stages. Despite missing ace Kensuke Takezawa (Team S&B) who anchored both Hyogo's 2010 and 2012 national titles, Hyogo comes in ranked #2, its runners set to outperform Aichi through much of the first two-thirds of the race.  Critical to the team's chances will be the success of anchor Satoru Kitamura (Team Nissin Shokuhin), a talented track athlete who has had trouble coming back from injury.  At the New Year Ekiden earlier this month Kitamura finished far down in the field on the First Stage behind Miyawaki, so barring a major comeback it will be hard for him to deliver the win this time without a major lead. Alternate Kazuto Nishiike (Hosei Univ.), 3rd on Hakone's First Stage, may be a more successful choice.

Its toughest competition is Aichi, with five top-ranked runners on the starting list.  With a fast start by 5th-ranked high schooler Tatsuya Hayashi (Ishin H.S.), solid support on the Third Stage from former Waseda University man Yusuke Mita (Team JR Higashi Nihon), 13:55.64 high schooler Kazuma Taira (Toyokawa Kogyo H.S.) on the Fifth Stage and 2013 New Year Ekiden First Stage winner Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota) on anchor Aichi looks all but unstoppable.  If they are within a minute of Hyogo on the anchor stage look for Miyawaki to run Kitamura down.

Tokyo, hosts Hiroshima and Yamaguchi are a short distance back and could also overtake Hyogo if Kitamura runs into trouble.  Tokyo will start off strong with 13:59.90 high schooler Yusuke Uchikoshi (Kokugakuin Prep Kugayama H.S.) in what may be his final race before setting sail for American shores and should be up front for the first half of the race, with similarly U.S.A.-bound Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.) on Third and an anchor from past 1500 m and 5000 m national champion Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B). Hiroshima should have a slower start but come to the front on the Third Stage via local Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku).  Look for them to fade again before a strong anchor run from first-year pro Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Team Asahi Kasei), fully recovered from the injuries that kept him out of the Olympics after a senior year 27:44.30 while at Meiji University.  Yamaguchi's strengths lie mostly with its junior high runners and it should spend much of the race mid-field, but look for London Olympics marathon 6th-placer Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) to make up ground on the anchor stage. Nakamoto's Olympic teammate Ryo Yamamoto (Kyoto/Team Sagawa Express) is also slated to run anchor, setting up a potential showdown ahead of Nakamoto's shot at the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon win two weeks later.

Darkhorses Mie and Oita have reasonably strong lineups and should be in play for finishes on the eight-deep podium.  Mie should start strong, but with a poor performance from anchor Yusuke Takabayashi (Team Toyota) at the New Year Ekiden it may fade over the final kilometers and be run down by teams from the next tier.  Oita's main strength lies on the Third through Fifth Stages, with Komazawa University 10000 m record holder Ikuto Yufu leading off this section.

In terms of individual action, the most exciting racing should come on the First, Third and Seventh Stages. Uchikoshi, Tochigi's Soma Ishikawa (Sano Nihon Prep H.S.) and Hyogo's Keisuke Nakatani (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) should be battling through at least the first 5 km, but there is often a surprise on this stage from a little-known runner looking to make a statement before heading off the college in April. The Third Stage features a heavy balance of university runners.  Alongside Osako, Okamoto and Yufu on the Third Stage are past 5000 m national champion Yuki Matsuoka (Kyoto/Team Otsuka Seiyaku), 2012 national university half marathon champion Toshikatsu Ebina (Aomori/Teikyo Univ.), 2011 national university 5000 m champion Kenta Murayama (Miyagi/Komazawa Univ.) and 2013 Hakone Ekiden First Stage winner Masaya Taguchi (Miyazaki/Toyo Univ.). The anchor stage features eight men with sub-28 10000 m bests including two of its all-time top ten, Yu Mitsuya (Fukuoka/Team Toyota Kyushu) and Yoroizaka, plus Olympians Nakamoto, Yamamoto and Ryuji Ono (Miyazaki/Team Asahi Kasei), 2013 New Year Ekiden Sixth Stage winner Ryotaro Nitta (Miyagi/Team Konica Minolta), Ueno, and current Hakone Ekiden stars Keita Shitara (Saitama/Toyo Univ.) and Kazuma Kubota (Kumamoto/Aoyama Gakuin Univ.). Look for dramatic racing all the way to the end of the race in front of Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park.

National Men's Ekiden Entry List Highlights
Hiroshima, 1/20/13
47 teams, 7 stages, 48.0 km
click here for complete entry list

First Stage - 7.0 km
Soma Ishikawa (Tochigi/Sano Nihon Prep H.S.) - 13:53.95
Yusuke Uchikoshi (Tokyo/Kokugakuin Prep Kugayama H.S.) - 13:59.90
Keisuke Nakatani (Hyogo/Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) - 14:02.55
Yusuke Nishiyama (Mie/Iga Hakuo H.S.) - 14:03.12
Tatsuya Hayashi (Aichi/Ishin H.S.) - 14:05.90

Second Stage - 3.0 km
Chikashi Ikeda (Hyogo/Kakogawa Yamate J.H.S.) - 8:21.22
Tomoki Ota (Shizuoka/Hamana J.H.S.) - 8:22.92
Takuya Hanyu (Chiba/Inzai J.H.S.) - 8:25.18
Shiki Shinsako (Hiroshima/Shiwa J.H.S.) - 8:25.65
Masahiro Fukumoto (Yamaguchi/Asae Higashi J.H.S.) - 8:33.89

Third Stage - 8.5 km
Suguru Osako (Tokyo/Waseda Univ.) - 27:56.94
Yuki Matsuoka (Kyoto/Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 27:59.78
Ikuto Yufu (Oita/Komazawa Univ.) - 28:02.46
Hiromitsu Kakuage (Fukushima/Komazawa Univ.) - 28:03.27
Naoki Okamoto (Hiroshima/Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 28:05.84
Hiroyuki Ono (Gunma/Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 28:06.35
Kenta Murayama (Miyagi/Komazawa Univ.) - 28:14.27
Yusuke Mita (Aichi/Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 28:15.02
Toshikatsu Ebina (Aomori/Teikyo Univ.) - 28:42.90
Masaya Taguchi (Miyazaki/Toyo Univ.) - 1:03:39 (half)

Fourth Stage - 5.0 km
Shuhei Kondo (Oita/Oita Tomei H.S.) - 14:04.05
Yuhi Akiyama (Hyogo/Suma Gakuen H.S.) - 14:07.15
Jinnosuke Matsumura (Yamaguchi/Saikyo H.S.) - 14:07.28
Shunya Kuroyanagi (Mie/Iga Hakuo H.S.) - 14:14.86
Yuya Ando (Aichi/Toyokawa Kogyo H.S.) - 14:14.98

Fifth Stage - 8.5 km
Kazuma Taira (Aichi/Toyokawa Kogyo H.S.) - 13:55.64
Shuhei Otsuka (Oita/Oita Tomei H.S.) - 14:06.91
Yuki Hirota (Hyogo/Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) - 14:07.85
Junya Uemura (Tochigi/Hakuho Prep Ashikaga H.S.) - 14:07.69
Rintaro Takeda (Tokyo/Waseda Jitsugyo H.S.) - 14:11.23

Sixth Stage - 3.0 km
Haruki Nishimura (Hyogo/Miki J.H.S.) - 8:31.30
Kentaro Harada (Yamaguchi/Takagawa Gakuen J.H.S.) - 8:41.52
Yuya Yoshida (Hiroshima/Takaya J.H.S.) - 8:43.82
Kazuya Nishiyama (Gunma/Isesaki District 1 J.H.S.) - 8:44.0
Masahide Saito (Saitama/Otone J.H.S.) - 8:44.13

Seventh Stage - 13.0 km
Yu Mitsuya (Fukuoka/Team Toyota Kyushu) - 27:41.10
Chihiro Miyawaki (Aichi/Team Toyota) - 27:41.57
Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Hiroshima/Team Asahi Kasei) - 27:44.30
Yusei Nakao (Shizuoka/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 27:48.71
Tomoya Onishi (Gifu/Team Asahi Kasei) - 27:50.72
Ryuji Ono (Miyazaki/Team Asahi Kasei) - 27:53.19
Takeshi Makabe (Okayama/Team Kurosaki Harima) - 27:53.58
Yusuke Takabayashi (Mie/Team Toyota) - 27:56.46
Satoru Kitamura (Hyogo/Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 28:00.22
Yuichiro Ueno (Tokyo/Team S&B) - 28:12.37
Keita Shitara (Saitama/Toyo Univ.) - 28:15.90
Ryo Yamamoto (Kyoto/Team Sagawa Express) - 28:22.84
Ryotaro Nitta (Miyagi/Team Konica Minolta) - 28:44.33
Kentaro Nakamoto (Yamaguchi/Team Yasukawa Denki) - 28:54.59
Kazuma Kubota (Kumamoto/Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 59:28 (20 km)

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Shiseido Head Coach Tsutomu Hiroyama to Retire - "It's Disappointing When I Haven't Achieved My Ambitions Yet"

http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/20130117/ath13011720530000-n1.html

translated by Brett Larner

The Shiseido corporation has announced that women's long distance team head coach Tsutomu Hiroyama, 46, will retire from the team at the end of March.  The announcement comes partly as a consequence of the Shiseido team's 13th place finish at December's National Corporate Women's Ekiden, the latest in a series of increasingly shaky results in recent years.  Hiroyama's wife Harumi Hiroyama, 44, who beginning with the 1996 Atlanta Olympics made three straight Olympic teams in track distance events, has been serving as an assistant coach and according to the announcement will also retire from the team.  Following their departure current coaching staff member Toshitaka Andoji, 47, will be promoted.

Tsutomu joined Shiseido in 1989, switching the focus of his own career as an athlete to coaching and helping to develop Harumi and others.  The couple's stoic character and unassailable conduct in the wake of Harumi not being selected for the Sydney Olympic marathon team despite running a superb 2:22:56 at the 2000 Osaka International Women's Marathon selection race earned them a tremendous reputation.  Tsutomu was promoted to head coach in 2007.  He commented, "It is very disappointing to be told to leave when I haven't achieved my ambitions yet.  If I have the chance somewhere else I would still like to work with athletes who dream of becoming world-class."

Friday, January 18, 2013

Kawauchi Takes Over Ten Minutes Off Egyptian Marathon Course Record

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20130118-OHT1T00141.htm

translated by Brett Larner

According to the organizers of the Jan. 18 Egyptian Marathon in Luxor, civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) won in a course record 2:12:24.  Going out alone right from the beginning he built a large lead by the time he crossed the finish line.  "This was the 20th anniversary of this race and my 20th marathon.  It felt like fate," he said with satisfaction.

Kawauchi missed his originally-scheduled flight from Japan after forgetting his passport at home and ended up buying a replacement ticket himself.  "I kind of panicked over my own mistake, and that has given me something to reflect on," he said.  "But it seems like I was able to turn that feeling into something I could use in my running."

To try to earn a place on the Japanese marathon team for August's Moscow World Championships Kawauchi plans to run the Feb. 3 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon and the Mar. 3 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon.

Translator's note: The former Egyptian Marathon course record was 2:22:32 set in 2001 by Egypt's Mohamed El Moursy.  The year before that, former Japanese national record holder Takeyuki Nakayama won in a then-course record 2:23:18.  Kawauchi's time was also a new Egyptian all-comers' record by more than seven minutes.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

1:00:53 Man Chihiro Miyawaki Leads Kumanichi 30 km Field

http://kumanichi.com/fsports/marathon/2013/kiji/20130117001.xhtml

translated by Brett Larner

On Jan. 16 the organizers of the Feb. 17 Kumamoto-jo Marathon released the names of the 15 invited athletes for the 57th running of the event's accompanying elite-level Kumanichi 30 km Road Race.

The most-watched athlete is bound to be civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.), who will be running Kumanichi as a tuneup for the Mar. 3 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, the final domestic selection race for the Japanese national team for this summer's Moscow World Championships.  Kawauchi's main competition will come from 21-year-old Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota), whose win on the First Stage of this year's New Year Ekiden and 2012 bests of 27:41.57 and 1:00:53 rank him as the #1 man in the country right now in a class of speed that Kawauchi cannot hope to match.  Kenyan Daniel Gitau (Team Fujitsu) also outranks Kawauchi on pure speed.

Two runners from 2013 Hakone Ekiden 2nd-place Toyo University will make their 30 km debuts at Kumanichi, ace Second Stage 3rd-placer Keita Shitara and Kumamoto native Kento Otsu, who placed 7th on Hakone's Eighth Stage this year.  Instrumental in securing overall 3rd-place Komazawa University's Hakone Ekiden Day Two win, Tenth Stage winner Kensuke Gotoda will also line up.

With a new course last year starting along with the inaugural Kumamoto-jo Marathon, Komazawa alum Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta) won last year's race in 1:30:01. A total of 60 athletes, 55 men and 5 women, are entered in the elite 30 km.  With a difficult course full of ups and downs the question will be whether any of them is up to the challenge of beating Ugachi's time.  The race begins at 9:00 a.m.

2013 Kumanichi 30 km Road Race Elite Field
Kumamoto, 2/3/13
times listed are half-marathon bests

Men
2. Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota) - 1:00:53
4. Daniel Gitau (Kenya/Team Fujitsu) - 1:01:02
9. Keita Shitara (Toyo Univ.) - 1:01:45
1. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) - 1:02:18
12. Yudai Yamakawa (Teikyo Univ.) - 1:02:36
10. Kento Otsu (Toyo Univ.) - 1:02:43
8. Kyohei Nishi (Team Kyudenko) - 1:02:59
3. Kazuki Tomaru (Team Toyota) - 1:03:15
6. Fumihiro Maruyama (Team Asahi Kasei) - 1:03:29
11. Kensuke Gotoda (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:03:49
13. Shun Suzuki (Kanagawa Univ.) - 1:03:51
7. Kentaro Masuda (Team NTT Nishi Nihon) - 1:04:12
5. Ryota Matoba (Team Komori Corp.) - 1:04:49

Women
301. Yuko Mizuguchi (Team Denso) - 32:30.33 (10000 m)
302. Risa Takemura (Team Kyudenko) - 33:46 (10 km)

Meiji University Captain Kikuchi Joining National Champion Team Konica Minolta En Route to Rio

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/hokkaido/sports/news/20130110-OHT1T00068.htm

translated by Brett Larner

After a 7th-place finish at the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden, Masato Kikuchi, captain of one of the pre-race favorites Meiji University, announced that following his graduation this spring he will join the top corporate team, 2013 New Year Ekiden national champion Konica Minolta, in pursuit of a place on the Japanese national team for the 2016 Rio Olympics.  We talked to him about his burning ambition for the future.

At this year's Hakone Ekiden Meiji University finished 7th.  As captain, what were your impressions of the team's performance?
Last year we were 3rd, so having been looking to improve on that and go for the overall win it was really disappointing.  But given the problems on the Ninth Stage [where Tomoya Matsui experienced serious dehydration issues] the fact that we didn't drop out and were able to carry the tasuki the whole way and still make the seeded bracket was good.  I think everyone on the team shares that feeling of having gotten through it.

You ran Hakone all four years at Meiji.  Your first year you were 10th on the Seventh Stage, then 4th on the Third Stage your second year, and 5th on the ace Second Stage last year.  This year you were also 5th on the Third Stage, a very solid performance.
Well, personally I was hoping to made up a little more ground before the handoff, but with the strong headwinds we were running into in the second half [up to 70 kph] both of my thighs were locking up.  But since I had been injured in the fall and didn't make the starting teams for the Izumo Ekiden [in October] or the National University Ekiden [in November], I think that I got the minimum acceptable job done in my final Hakone.

What did the Hakone Ekiden mean to you?
It was the race that brought me up and made me strong.  Being in an environment where I could try to stick with the upperclassmen after joining Meiji, then trying not to led the younger guys beat me when I became an upperclassman myself, that made me take root and grow.  My goals for the future and my competitiveness were born there.  The incredible crowds cheering at Hakone were also a major motivation.

On Jan. 20 you will run your final race as a university student, the National Men's Ekiden in Hiroshima.
I've run it every year since I was in 9th grade.  With my run this time I want to pay back all the good people of Hokkaido who have cheered for me and supported me over the years.  If I can I want to advance the Hokkaido team's position even just a little.

Beginning in April you'll be joining the Konica Minolta team, which took its seventh national title at this year's New Year Ekiden after not winning for five years.  Tell us about your ambitions as a corporate league runner.
There's nothing but talent on that team.  To start with I want to adapt to their training and become one of the seven starting members of their ekiden team so that I can experience what I never could as a college student, winning a national ekiden title.  More long term, I want to become a marathoner.  Like Konica's Takayuki Matsumiya, who ran in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, I want to become an athlete good enough to earn the right to wear the Rising Sun.  In terms of age I've got two good chances left at making the Olympics.  I'm going to put everything I've got into making the national team for the next one, Rio.

What would you say to the younger athletes of Hokkaido who look to your example and dream of running the Hakone Ekiden and in the corporate leagues?
Training through the bitter cold of the Hokkaido winter is very hard, but if keep your dreams and goals high, believe in yourself and put in your training every day then the chance to succeed will definitely come your way.

Masato Kikuchi: Born Sept. 18, 1990 in Niseko, Hokkaido.  22 years old.  173 cm, 56 kg, blood type O.  He began running in 4th grade.  Finishing 3rd in the Hokkaido Prefecture Junior High School 1500 m and 3000 m while at Kutchan Toryo J.H.S., he went on to win the Hokkaido Prefecture High School 5000 m as a senior at Muroran Otani H.S.  At Meiji University he studied science and technology.  His best marks are 28:43.61 for 10000 m and 1:04:21 for the half-marathon.  Along with his parents, his family includes an older sister and older brother.

Konica Minolta Men's Ekiden Team: Coached by Katsumi Sakai, the team was founded in 1970 as the Konica Track and Field Team and is currently made up of 14 athletes.  It won three-straight New Year Ekiden national titles from 2001-2003 along with wins in 2005, 2006 and 2008.  2013 marked its seventh title, the second-most in New Year Ekiden history.  Past team members have included 1996 Atlanta Olympics and 2000 Sydney Olympics double marathon medalist Erick Wainaina and current Hokuren women's team coach Takashi Ota.