Skip to main content

Weekend Preview: Asian Games, Berlin Marathon, Nittaidai and the Start of Ekiden Season

by Brett Larner

There is a truckload of action just waiting to dump on fans of Japanese distance around the world this weekend.  Along with the Incheon Asian Games, where athletics kick off Saturday with the women's 10000 m and 3000 mSC and the men's 5000 m, Sunday's Berlin Marathon offers more international exposure to the stealthy Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) in the women's race and the solid trio of 2:08 men Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) and Ryo Yamamoto (Team SGH Group Sagawa) and 2014 Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon winner Kazuki Tomaru (Team Toyota).

Back home of familiar shores where laundry facilities are guaranteed to be close at hand, fall gets into full swing with the first two significant ekidens of the season, Saturday's Kansai Region University Women's Ekiden and Sunday's Kanto Region University Women's Ekiden.  Both qualify top-placing teams in the two highly competitive regions for October's National University Women's Ekiden Championships, one of two peak races of the season for collegiate women.

Non-ekiden road action is capped by the Fukuoka Prefecture 10-Mile Championships which this year feature the last four winners, all from the Barcelona Olympics marathon silver medalist Koichi Morishita-coached Toyota Kyushu team.  Most noteworthy among them is Masato Imai, using the race as a final tuneup for his return to the TCS New York City Marathon in November.  The Hakodate Half Marathon also features a healthy number of corporate league runners and collegiates, along with Iwate's Ichinoseki International Half Marathon the same day.

Down the road from Fukuoka, the Nagasaki Nighter Time Trials track meet will host many of the corporate runners based in other parts of Kyushu while northwest of Tokyo Saitama has the East Japan Corporate Long Distance Time Trials , but the main domestic track meet of the weekend is the fall's first edition of the Nittai University Time Trials series in Yokohama.  The two-day meet with everyone from amateurs to Olympians features a grab-bag of distances from 800 m to 10000 m on Saturday before focusing exclusively on 5000 m on Sunday, with 40 heats of around 30 athletes each scheduled to start at 8:00 a.m. sharp and wrap up by 8:35 p.m. at the latest.

Look for as much coverage of each of these races as is humanly possible throughout the weekend right here on JRN.  And don't forget to enter JRN's Asian Games marathon prediction contest for a chance to win great limited-edition prizes.

(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 …

Kiplagat, Ichiyama, Tadese and Shitara Lead Marugame Half Elite Field

The Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon is always one of Japan's deepest races of the year on the men's side, its 2012 running setting a world record for the most men under 64 minutes in a single half marathon in history. On the women's side the field is always smaller but still home to the 1:07:26 Japanese national record set by Kayoko Fukushi (Wacoal) back in 2006.

Edna Kiplagat (Kenya), Sara Hall (U.S.A.) and Betsy Saina (Kenya) lead the women's international field, two-time defending champ Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) giving Marugame a miss this year. Fresh off a 1:09:14 PB at last month's Sanyo Ladies Half, Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) leads a trio of Japanese women with recent sub-1:10 times, something that has become a puzzling rarity lately. Fukushi is also back, her recent best of 1:12:04 a long way from her best days.

Speaking of which, world record holder Zersenay Tadese (Eritrea) will be looking to break 60 minutes for the first time since 2015. His toughest…

Cheboitibin, Kiprono and Sonoda Top Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon Elite Entries

With just over two weeks to go the organizers of the Feb. 4 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon have released their elite field for this year's race. With its history as an elite men-only race Beppu-Oita's women's field is still tiny given its status as an IAAF silver label race, but this year promises a good race between two local 2:32 women, 2016 winner Hiroko Yoshitomi (Memolead) and Yuka Takemoto (Canon AC Kyushu), that should see the 2:39:57 course record fall. Defending champ Haruka Yamaguchi (AC Kita) also returns with a 2:38:43 PB from last fall that puts her range of the course record as well.

The men's race is heavier-duty, with a spot in the MGC Race Tokyo Olympic Trials available to the top Japanese man under 2:11:00 and to up to five others if they clear 2:10. Hayato Sonoda (Kurosaki Harima) and Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) are the only Japanese men in the field to have run those kinds of times in the last couple of years, and with support from 2:09~2:10 men