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Lake Biwa, Tachikawa and Tamana Ahead With Worlds Places at Stake

by Brett Larner

The end of the Japanese road season approaches with three big races on Sunday.  First is the last of the domestic selection races for Japan's World Championships marathon team, the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon.  With 2:05:13 man Vincent Kipruto (Kenya), 30 km world record holder Peter Kirui (Kenya) and 2012 Houston Marathon winner Tariku Jufar (Ethiopia) in the field Wilson Kipsang's 2:06:13 course record may be in reach, or at least the 2:06:50 winning time last weekend in Tokyo.  For the Japanese men the Federation has set a 2:07:59 hoop for a guaranteed place on the Moscow team, and the men have been jumping.  The main candidates for the team so far are:
Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) - 2:08:00 - PB (4th, Tokyo)Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) - 2:08:15 - PB (1st, Beppu-Oita)Hiroyuki Horibata (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:08:24 - PB (2nd, Fukuoka)Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 2:08:35 - PB (2nd, Beppu-Oita) Given the recent upward trajectory in Japanese men…

Maeda to Kawauchi: "Stop Making Fun of Corporate Runners"

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20130225-00000081-spnannex-spo
http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2013/02/26/kiji/K20130226005277520.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Kazuhiro Maeda (31, Team Kyudenko) ran a personal best 2:08:00 at Sunday's Tokyo Marathon to finish 4th overall as the first Japanese man in the race.  He missed the federation's sub-2:08 time standard for a guaranteed place on the World Championships team by just one second, but his ticket to August's Championships in Moscow is all but in his hand.  The driving force behind his aggressive run: pure anger.

Recently the "anti-corporate runners" Yuki Kawauchi (25, Saitama Pref. Gov't) and Arata Fujiwara (31, Miki House AC) have dominated the Japanese marathon world.  Kawauchi's words in particular have been radical to the extreme, such as, "I don't want to lose to ekiden runners who do marathons in their spare time."  At the 2011 Fukuoka International Marathon, after b…

Takezawa to Leave S&B Team: "I Want to Find My Own Path Forward"

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2013/02/24/kiji/K20130224005268200.html
http://dena.jp/press/2013/02/post-125.php

translated and edited by Brett Larner

With Team S&B's longstanding sponsorship set to be eliminated at the end of next month due to a streamlining of operations, Kensuke Takezawa, 26, announced that he will not join the rest of the team in moving to new sponsor DeNA.  His plans remain undecided.

A 2008 Beijing Olympics track team member, Takezawa commented, "My path forward is something that I ultimately want to find by myself, under my own strength, and for this reason I've decided not to move with the team.  I need to re-examine myself and carefully consider the best course of action."

The new DeNA team will become an official entity on April 1.  Previous announcements had said that all athletes and staff from the S&B team would transfer together.

Kensuke Takezawa: Born Oct. 11, 1986 in Hyogo.
3000 m: 7:49.26     5000 m: 13:19.00     10000 m:…

Katakawa and Kikuchi Set Course Records in Yutoku and Inuyama

62nd Kashima Yutoku Road Race
Kashima, Saga, 2/24/13
click here for complete results

Men's Half Marathon
1. Kiragu Njuguna (Kenya/Hiramatsu Hospital) - 1:04:00
2. Koji Kaneko (Team Kurosaki Harima) - 1:04:17
3. Yuki Matsumura (Juntendo Univ.) - 1:04:25
4. Shohei Nakayama (Koku Gakuin Univ.) - 1:04:45
5. Tsubasa Akagi (Team Nishitetsu) - 1:04:50

Women's Half Marathon
1. Mayumi Watanabe (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 1:14:51
2. Natsumi Nakamura (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 1:15:59
3. Shiho Suetsugu (Nagasaki Univ) - 1:18:13

Men's 10 km
1. Junji Katakawa (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 29:23 - CR
2. Yuzo Hiratsuka (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 29:50
3. Shuhei Kitsukawa (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 30:13

Women's 10 km
1. Sakurako Fukuuchi (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 33:28
2. Chikako Mori (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 33:51
3. Eri Tayama (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 34:10
4. Eri Utsunomiya (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 34:18
5. Mari Tayama (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 34:25

35th Yomiuri Inuyama Half Marathon
Inuyama, Aichi, 2/24/13
click here for top results

Kimetto Gets Tokyo Marathon CR

by Brett Larner

video by naoki620

On a cold and moderately windy day, pre-race favorite Dennis Kipruto Kimetto (Kenya) lived up to expectations to bring the Tokyo Marathon into the World Marathon Majors with a 2:06:50 course record, holding off defending champion Michael Kipkorir Kipyego (Kenya) over the final kilometers after taking the lead at 34 km.

The group of pacers taking the lead men through 30 km were far off the target splits of 14:50-55 per 5 km, never breaking 15:00 and immediately eliminating 2:05 from possibility. At 30 km James Kwambai (Kenya) took over, initiating a surge that turned into a 5 km split of 14:20 once Kimetto went to work at 34 km.  Kipyego came close to catching up back up in the final 5 km but could not manage to close the final 3 seconds before losing ground in the final kilometer.

2009 Tokyo runner-up Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko), who ran a 2:08:38 PB in Tokyo last year, was the only Japanese man to go with Kwambai's push, moving up to 4th in …

Ndirangu and Niiya Top Fukuoka XC

by Bret Larner

Sera H.S. grad Charles Ndirangu (Kenya/Team JFE Steel) followed up his win two weeks ago at the Chiba International Cross-Country Meet with another win Feb. 23 at the Fukuoka International Cross-Country Meet, narrowly outrunning #1-ranked Japanese collegiate Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.) in the senior men's 10 km, 29:47 to 29:50 with Australian 10000 m national record holder Ben St. Lawrence 3rd in 30:21.  With Fukuoka a selection race for Japan's World Cross-Country teams, Osako and 4th and 5th place finishers Yuki Matsuoka (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) and Wataru Ueno (Komazawa Univ.) threw their hats into the ring for team consideration.  The top Japanese man from Chiba, Keigo Yano of 2013 Hakone Ekiden champion Nittai University, was 6th as Ueno just got him at the line.

In the senior women's 6 km race London Olympian Hitomi Niiya (Team Univ. Ent.) took yet another Fukuoka title by a sweeping margin, clocking 20:00 to runner-up Ayumi Hagiwara's 20:37.  Mai Ishi…

Six Races Ahead on a Busy Weekend

by Brett Larner

Six noteworthy races are on the schedule for this weekend.  First among them is Saturday's Fukuoka International Cross-Country Meet, the second of two chances for Japanese athletes to pick up places on the national team for next month's World Cross-Country Championships.  Highlights of the main races will be shown on TBS beginning at 3:30 p.m., the only cross-country race in Japan with a TV broadcast.

All five Japanese men in the top ten in the senior race at the Chiba International Cross-Country Meet return, led by Keigo YanoTakumi Honda and Shota Hattori of 2013 Hakone Ekiden winners Nittai University.  Top competition for the additional places on the Worlds team includes #1-ranked Japanese collegiate Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.), 27:44.30 man Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Team Asahi Kasei), Ikuto Yufu and Kenta Murayama of 2012 National University Ekiden champion Komazawa University, Murayama's twin brother Kota Murayama (Josai Univ.), Yuta Shitara (Toyo Univ.) an…

Nagoya Women's Marathon Announces Elite Field

by Brett Larner

In its second year as a mass-participation women-only marathon the Mar. 10 Nagoya Women's Marathon released its elite field on Feb. 21.  For Japanese women it is the last chance to make the 2013 World Championships in a domestic race, with Boston and London remaining within in the qualifying window.  National record holder Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) tops the list after having pulled out of the Osaka International Women's Marathon for the second year in a row.  She made a comeback to the marathon in Nagoya last year after her Osaka pullout.  Will she start in Nagoya this year?  Place your bets now.  London Olympians Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) and Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu), both winners of other domestic women's marathons, and last year's Tokyo Marathon 4th-placer Eri Okubo (Second Wind AC) round out the top end of the domestic field.

The overseas field is strong.  Kenyan Georgina Rono looks like the favorite for the win with a 2:21:39 in Frankfur…

Federation Announces Japanese Entrants for Asian Marathon Championships

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2013/02/20/kiji/K20130220005238180.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On Feb. 20 Rikuren, the Japanese federation, announced the Japanese entrants for the Feb. 24 Asian Marathon Championships to be held in conjunction with the 2013 Hong Kong Marathon.  Kenzo Kawabata (Team Aisan Kogyo) will compete in the men's division with Kumi Ogura (Team Shikoku Denryoku) representing the women.  Kawabata, 28, set his best of 2:13:40 at the 2011 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon.  Ogura, 27, ran a half marathon best of 1:10:51 earlier this month at the Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon.

Beijing Olympics Marathoner Satoshi Osaki to Retire After Lake Biwa

http://www.iza.ne.jp/news/newsarticle/sports/other/631195/

translated by Brett Larner

2008 Beijing Olympics men's marathon team member Satoshi Osaki (36, Team NTT Nishi Nihon), has announced that he plans to retire following the Mar. 3 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon.  Following his retirement from competition he will continue on as a coach with NTT.

A native of Osaka, Osaki attended Yamanashi Gakuin University.  He placed 6th at the 2007 World Championships and followed up with a 2:08:36 for 3rd overall and the top Japanese position at Lake Biwa in 2008 to make the Beijing team, but shortly before the Olympics he was forced to withdraw with hip problems.

London Olympian Mika Yoshikawa to Retire After Tokyo Debut

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20130220-1087812.html

translated by Brett Larner

2012 London Olympian and 10000 m national champion  Mika Yoshikawa (28, Team Panasonic) will retire from competition to get married following her marathon debut at the Feb. 24 Tokyo Marathon according to a statement released by her team management on Feb. 20.  In the statement Yoshikawa said, "With my marriage coming up I've decided to retire from my career as an athlete.  Achieving my big dream of standing on the Olympic stage was the most, most important page in the story of my life."  Her future plans, she said, are, "to start a family."  Yoshikawa finished 16th in the London Olympics 10000 m and 13th in her 5000 m heat.

Arata Fujiwara Withdraws from Tokyo

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20130219-00000569-san-spo

translated by Brett Larner

The Tokyo Marathon organizers announced Feb. 19 that invited athlete Arata Fujiwara (31, Miki House) has withdrawn due to inflammation of the hamstrings in his right leg.  He has been experiencing pain in that area since last month.  To improve his chances of making it to Tokyo he pulled out of the Feb. 3 Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon and adjusted his training volume to a level he could handle while undergoing recovery, but he did not return to a condition that would let him be ready to race in time. "My condition is not good at all.  There's no point in running it just to run it," Fujiwara commented on his decision to withdraw.

Last year Fujiwara ran 2:07:48 to finish 2nd overall as the top Japanese man, earning a place on the London Olympic team.  Without training seriously he jumped into December's Fukuoka International Marathon, finishing 4th in 2:09:31.  His goal…

"Like Seeing Myself on the Other Side" - Brendan Martin on the Ome 30 km

interview by Brett Larner
race photos by Mika Tokairin

mattress photo by Brendan Martin

Hansons team member Brendan Martin ran the Ome 30 km on Feb. 17 off his 4th American placing at last year's Boston Marathon as part of a longstanding relationship between Ome and the BAA.  Having been on the U.S. team at October's Izumo Ekiden where he ran the alternates' 5000 m on the track, Ome was Martin's second race in Japan. Starting conservatively and steadily moving up through the field, he finished 8th in 1:36:07. A day later JRN caught up with him at Cafe Barney in Shibuya to talk about his experience.

This was your second time racing over here.  What were your impressions this time?

I was honored to compete with some of the best runners in Japan.  I stuck out like a sore thumb.  The course was very, very challenging, very tough.  It has a lot of unique character and I feel like there was a big component of running the course correctly.   It's not like going to Chicago a…

1200 Attend Nittai University's Hakone Ekiden Victory Banquet

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20130218-1087016.html

translated by Brett Larner

2013 Hakone Ekiden winners Nittai University held a banquet at Tokyo's Hotel New Otani on Feb. 18 to celebrate their first Hakone title in 30 years.  More than 1200 guests and dignitaries attended the banquet, including former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, 75, holder of an honorary doctorate from Nittai.  A lifelong Hakone Ekiden fan, Prime Minister Mori praised team captain and Fifth Stage winner Shota Hattori, telling the banquet attendees,  "On TV he looks so strong and powerful, but seeing him in person he is an adorable little munchkin, that Hattori."  Hattori, looking nervous onstage up to that point, laughed and relaxed.

The members of Hattori's last Hakone-winning team from 30 years ago were also in attendance and gathered onstage for a commemorative photo.  Among them were 1991 Tokyo World Championships marathon gold medalist Hiromi Taniguchi, 51, and ot…

Course Records at Chunichi Hamanako Ekiden

by Brett Larner

In what was really and truly probably the last noteworthy ekiden of the season, course records fell Feb. 17 in two of the three divisions at the 37th Chunichi Hamanako Isshu Ekiden at Lake Hamana in Shizuoka.  Despite the absence of aces Martin Mathathi and Yusei Nakao, the Suzuki Hamamatsu AC team had no trouble winning the 53.5 km men's race, clocking 2:42:49 to runner-up Teikyo University's 2:44:15.  Suzuki men took three of the five stages, with 2010-11 steeplechase national champion Tsuyoshi Takeda setting a course record of 29:12 for the 9.6 km Fourth Stage.

In the six-stage, 42.0 km high school boys' race, 2012 National High School Ekiden runner-up Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S. ran 2:07:38 to set a new overall course record thanks to four of its runners scoring stage bests.  Fourth man Yuki Hirota, running the same 9.6 km course as Takeda in the men's race, set a new high school division record of 28:44, almost 30 seconds better than Takeda's mark.  T…

Kawauchi Challenges Kashiwabara to Race Him Next Year in Ome

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20130218-OHT1T00017.htm
http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20130218-OHT1T00024.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner
Kashiwabara photo by Mika Tokairin



Will the two biggest stars of Japanese long distance clash in Ome?  After winning Kumamoto's Feb. 17 Kumanichi 30 km in a course-record 1:29:31, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) said that he hopes to run Tokyo's Ome 30 km next year, setting up a potential duel with the Hakone Ekiden's most famous runner, uphill specialist Ryuji Kashiwabara (Team Fujitsu). Kashiwabara, who won the nearly 900 m-uphill Fifth Stage at Hakone four times, three in course records, made his debut at this year's Ome 30 km just after Kawauchi's win at Kumanichi, finishing 3rd in 1:31:49 after leading through 22 km.  "I want to try again next year," Kashiwabara said.  "I can't wait," said Kawauchi.  The God of Mountain vs. the Civil Servant Runner bringing the thrills to …

Shitara Sets Collegiate National Record, Ito and Kawauchi Blaze Fast 30 km Times in Ome and Kumamoto

by Brett Larner
Ome photos by Mika Tokairin

Kumanichi screencap by Applepie

Cold and clear weather helped bring fast times at both of Japan's major 30 km road races on Feb. 17.  At the 57th Kumanichi 30 km Road Race in Kumamoto, the site of the former 1:28:00 world record set by Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta in 2005) and a race which joined forces with the new mass-partipation Kumamoto-jo Marathon last year to ensure its own survival, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) did the seemingly impossible and fulfilled his pre-race promise of a win around 1:29:30.  Despite a spectacular 2:08:15 marathon PB two weeks ago at the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, Kawauchi took apart a top-notch field and outkicked the fresh 22-year-old Fumihiro Maruyama (Team Asahi Kasei) by 3 seconds for the win in 1:29:31, a new PB by 36 seconds and a record on the hillier new course introduced last year by 30 seconds. Kawauchi's time was the sixth-best in Kumanichi history, but considering the toughe…

2009 World Championships Silver Medalist Ozaki to Retire

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20130217-00000003-mai-spo

translated by Brett Larner

2009 World Championships women's marathon silver medalist Yoshimi Ozaki (31, Team Daiichi Seimei) announced Feb. 16 that she will retire from competitive running following the Feb. 24 Tokyo Marathon.  Ozaki realized her dream of making the Olympics, finishing 19th at last summer's London Olympics.  After that, she said, "I didn't have any goals left in the marathon."  She plans to leave the Daiichi Seimei team to take some time off.

Ozaki joined Daiichi Seimei in 2000 after graduating from Soyo H.S. in Kanagawa.  She began running marathons in 2008, and in her second shot at the distance she won the 2008 Tokyo International Women's Marathon in what remained her PB, 2:23:30.  Of her nine marathons she won twice and finished 2nd four times, earning a reputation for consistency.  In addition to the Olympics she ran in the 2009 and 2011 World Championships.  While at Daiichi Sei…

Ome 30 km Road Race Ready to Ring in Spring

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/event/sports/news/20130204-OHT1T00222.htm
http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/feature/sports/20090121-834932/news/20130212-OHT1T00189.htm
http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/feature/sports/20090121-834932/news/20130214-OHT1T00117.htm
http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20130214-OHT1T00245.htm
http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20130215-OHT1T00216.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The 47th edition of the Ome 30 km and 10 km Road Race is just around the corner on Feb. 17.  Once again this year runners will pour in from across the country to take part, with 15000 entered for the 30 km and 5000 for the accompanying 10 km division.  We profile five people from among the elites and amateurs who will pass through the early-spring streets of Ome this Sunday.

Ryuji Kashiwabara(23, Team Fujitsu) - Men's 30 km
The star of the Hakone Ekiden from 2009 to 2012, Kashiwabara is targeting an ambitious time of 1:30:30 in his 30 km debut.  Earning the nickname "the God…