Skip to main content

University Runners Feature in Rest of March's Races

by Brett Larner

With Japan's fiscal and academic year wrapping up at the end of March the majority of the country's corporate runners are in a holding pattern until track season gets underway in April.  Collegiate runners dominate what's left of the season, with Sunday's National University Women's Half Marathon Championships, held in conjunction with the Matsue Ladies' Half Marathon and 10 km, marking the last major domestic race of the season. Winning times at the National Championships have been in the 71-minute range the last few years.  The lack of a World University Games this year could bring down that leading edge, but if the record-setting depth at last week's National University Men's Half Marathon Championships was any indication the women's race should still be deeply competitive.

2013 Ageo City Half Marathon winner Takashi Ichida (Daito Bunka University) and 2013 National University Track and Field Championships 1500 m winner Ikuto Yufu (Komazawa University) represent Japan's university men this weekend at the NYC Half Marathon, the third time top-level Japanese collegiates have run NYC through a relationship set up by JRN between NYC and Ageo.  Ichida hopes to run sub-62 for the first time, with Yufu targeting a time better than his younger Komazawa teammate Kenta Murayama's 1:02:02 at last year's NYC Half.  Look for more on Ichida and Yufu in New York on JRN over the next few days.

Further ahead, Ichida's twin brother Hiroshi Ichida (Daito Bunka University) and Yufu's teammate Shota Baba (Komazawa University) lead the four-man Japanese team for next weekend's World University Cross Country Championships in Entebbe, Uganda, with Daito Bunka's Fuyuka Kimura also featuring prominently on the women's team.

A week later, Murayama, now all-time Japanese #3 over the half marathon with a best of 1:00:50 at age 20, his Komazawa teammate and 2013 World University Games half marathon bronze medalist Shogo Nakamura, and Hiroto Inoue (Yamanashi Gakuin University), with a 1:01:39 best making him the fastest-ever Japanese 21-year-old, make up the lion's share of the Japanese men's team for the Copenhagen World Half Marathon Championships.  Another Komazawa grad, last year's 5000 m national champion Sota Hoshi (Team Fujitsu), and Masato Kikuchi (Team Konica Minolta), both sub-1:01:30 men, round out the team, but hopes are high throughout Japan that Murayama, freshly 21, will lead the way with a mark well under the current Japanese national record of 1:00:25. The all-corporate women's team is relatively weaker, with only Reia Iwade (Team Noritz) having cleared the 70-minute mark in her career to date, running a best of 1:09:45 at December's Sanyo Women's Half Marathon to make the Copenhagen team.

For those craving their Yuki Kawauchi fix, Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) is lining up in half marathons both this weekend and next, running his home ground Saitama City Half Marathon this weekend and the Ogori Half Marathon a week later.  Kawauchi's rival independent Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) will also line up in Saitama's 3 km race.

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Toyo University Leads Defending Champ Aoyama Gakuin on Hakone Ekiden Day One

The team that brought Japan's greatest race into the modern era with its historic 2012 sub-3 min/km win, Toyo University came out swinging to win Day One of the 2018 Hakone Ekiden.

Intensely popular with fans, Toyo has struggled this season with its entire senior class out with injury. With its fate in the hands of its younger members Toyo 1st-year Kazuya Nishiyama, freshly 19 in November, stepped up and took control of the race with both hands. Midway through the fast First Stage Nishiyama surged hard to go out front alone, 2017 World University Games half marathon gold medalist Kei Katanishi (Komazawa Univ.) and relative unknown Yuhei Urano (Koku Gakuin Univ.) the only ones to try to go with him. Nishiyama covered the 21.3 km stage in 1:02:16, equivalent to a 1:01:40 half marathon, with Urano and Katanishi around 15 seconds back. 3-time defending champ Aoyama Gakuin University was 25 seconds behind in 5th at the first exchange, 2017 Izumo Ekiden winner Tokai University another …

Kawauchi Breaks Sub-2:20 World Record in Sub-Zero Temperatures

Battling freezing temperatures and wind chill that took things down to -23C, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran a 2018 world-leading 2:18:59 at the Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, taking 30 minutes off the course record and breaking American Doug Kurtis' historic sub-2:20 world record with his 76th career sub-2:20.

Kawauchi spent Dec. 29 to 31 training on the Boston Marathon course ahead of his upcoming appearance as part of the John Hancock Elite Athlete Team and planned to run Marshfield at the tail end of his trip. The Marshfield Road Runners club, organizers of the marathon, had their longstanding race USATF certified ahead of his appearance.


Wearing full-length tights in a marathon for the first time, in Marshfield Kawauchi planned to run the first of the hilly course's two laps in 1:09 flat to give himself room to work with in breaking 2:20. But in the wind and cold he struggled to stay on pace, ice crystals coating his face as he hit halfway in 1:10:29…

Aoyama Gakuin Runs Down Toyo for Fourth-Straight Hakone Ekiden Title

In a rare reversal of Day One standings, Aoyama Gakuin University ran down Toyo University early in on Day Two to win its fourth-straight Hakone Ekiden title. At both the Izumo Ekiden and National University Men's Ekiden this season, Toyo struggled to cope with the absence of its entire senior class due to injury, running up front much of the way but lacking the depth to keep the lead in the final stages. Hakone played out like an opera-scale version of the same familiar story, its brilliant Day One win backlit by the headlights of rapidly approaching fate.

Second on Day Two's opening stage, the 20.8 km Sixth Stage with around 800 m elevation loss, both of the last two years, AGU 3rd-year Yuji Onoda just missed the course record en route as he ran down Toyo's Shunsuke Imanishi and put AGU almost a minute ahead by the time he handed off. AGU's next two runners Keisuke Hayashi and Yuta Shimoda both won their stages, Hayashi, a relative unknown on the roster, running 1:0…