Skip to main content

Ageo and Yokohama Lead a Busy Weekend Across Japan

by Brett Larner

It's one of the busiest weekends of the year across Japan, with three major road races, regional championship corporate ekiden action, two big track meets and even some overseas collegiates.



The biggest race on the schedule is Sunday's Ageo City Half Marathon in Ageo, Saitama, a local race used by coaches of university teams bound for Japan's most prestigious sporting event, January's Hakone Ekiden, to pare down their rosters to the final candidates for their Hakone lineups.  As a result Ageo regularly features jaw-dropping numbers, with close to 200 going under 1:06 and 4~500 under 1:10.  In a program put together by JRN, for the last three years the NYC Half Marathon has invited the top two Japanese collegiates in Ageo to its race in March, and in 2013 the invite had a measurable impact.  In its first 25 years Ageo saw 36 people break 1:03.  At last year's 26th running 18 more runners, all Japanese collegiates, broke 1:03.

Defending champion Takashi Ichida (Daito Bunka Univ.) will be back in pursuit of another shot in New York, and 2012 winner Kenta Murayama and 2013 National University Half Marathon champion Shogo Nakamura, both members of four-time National University Ekiden winner Komazawa University and of the Japanese National Team at the 2014 Copenhagen World Half Marathon Championships, are also on the entry list.  There's no telling who will actually start, but given the steady stream of record-breaking depth and quality in Japan since Tokyo won the 2020 Olympic bid it's safe to say that it's going to be another incredible day in Ageo no matter who ends up on the podium.  Local hero Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) will also make a return to competition in Ageo for the first time since running the TCS New York City Marathon two weeks ago.  JRN will be onhand to cover the race live.  Follow @JRNHeadlines and @JRNLive for more.

Next on the list is the Yokohama International Women's Marathon, going out with a bang after just six runnings by welcoming 2012 London Olympics gold medalist Tiki Gelana (Ethiopia) back to Japan.  Yokohama has always been something of a dinosaur, an attempt to hold on to something outdated as times change, bumped down from Tokyo to Yokohama as the new Tokyo Marathon shouldered aside the historic Tokyo International Women's Marathon, and while it is disappointing it's not really surprising that it never caught on and will be sent down again to Saitama next year, where it is due to be subsumed into a mass-participation race in 2016.

The formerly Japan-based Gelana makes for a good last hurrah along with fellow former Japan residents Philes Ongori (Kenya) and Caroline Rotich (Kenya), both of whom enigmatically have PBs of 2:23:22.  Joining them are the Euro cadre of Olena Shurkhno (Ukraine), Marisa Barros (Portugal), Zivile Balciunaitie (Lithuania) and Alina Prokopeva (Russia), and Irvette Van Zyl (South Africa).  Japanese hopes lie primarily in former teammates Azusa Nojiri (Hiratsuka Lease), an independent who won August's Hokkaido Marathon, and two-time National Corporate Half Marathon champion Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei), running her second marathon after debuting in 2:26:05 in Nagoya this year.  The most interesting Japanese woman may be Reia Iwade (Team Noritz), maing her debut at age 19 after a 1:09:45 half marathon at the Sanyo Ladies Half last December just after her birthday.  Follow @JRNLive for live coverage throughout the race.

Speaking of Sanyo, traditionally a year-end highlight producing many of the year's top Japanese women's times, this year it has moved to mid-November and now sits opposite Yokohama.  As a consequence its half marathon has taken a serious hit in quality.  Mattie Suver (U.S.A.) and Charlotte Purdue (Great Britain) face a weak domestic field with only two Japanese women, Shoko Mori (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) and Asami Furuse (Team Kyocera), holding bests under 1:15.  Better quality is to be found in Sanyo's 10 km division, where Japan-based Kenyans Grace Kimanzi (Team Starts) and Felista Wanjugu (Team Univ. Ent.) lead 2011 Tokyo Marathon winner Noriko Higuchi and her Wacoal teammates Yuka Hakoyama, Mao Kuroda and Ai Migita and others.

Japanese women are also to be found abroad this weekend as once again members of the Meijo University women's ekiden team will run the Netherlands' Zevenheuvelenloop road race.  Road action is rounded out by regional qualifying ekidens for the corporate men's New Year Ekiden national championships.  Across Japan, men's corporate teams in the Chubu, Chugoku, Hokuriku and Kansai regions will be racing to make the New Year cut, following last weekend's East Japan regional qualifier.  And for those not running in any of the races above, major track time trials will also happen at Nittai University in Yokohama and Ecopa Stadium further west in Shizuoka.  JRN will bring you results and coverage of all these events through the weekend and into next week.

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Asian Decathlon Champion Ushiro Cut From Doha Team After JAAF Guaranteed Him Spot Three Months Ago

On Sept. 17 it was learned that men's decathlon national champion Keisuke Ushiro (33, Kokushikan Club) has had his guaranteed spot on the Japanese national team for the Doha World Championships later this month eliminated. Ushiro won the gold medal at April's Doha Asian Championships, then won June's National Championships.

Under their published regulations for national representation in Doha, the JAAF guaranteed him a spot on the World Championships team for these accomplishments. But according to an involved party, IAAF regulations stipulate that the participation of area champions in certain events is dependent upon approval of the relevant technical delegate, and this appears to be the case in this instance. Ushiro has not cleared the World Championships qualification standard.

Ushiro did not attend the official Doha national team sendoff event held the same day in Tokyo. No explanation of the cancellation of his place on the team was offered to attendees at the event…

Ushiro Allowed to Compete at World Championships

At one point "misselected" by the JAAF to represent Japan at the World Championships beginning Sept. 27 in Doha, Qatar, Asian decathlon champion Keisuke Ushiro (33, Kokushikan Club) has been allowed to compete. The JAAF made the announcement on Sept. 20 that Ushiro was one of five athletes being added to Japan's roster. On his Twitter account Ushiro wrote, "I'm sorry to have made so many people worry about this, but I'm happy to say that today I got word that I'll be able to go to the World Championships. I'll do everything I can to be ready so I can get as close as I can to realizing my dream of medaling. Thank you all for your support."

As the 2019 Asian Championships gold medalist and 2019 national champion, the JAAF announced Ushiro as a member of the Doha team in June. But on Sept. 17 the IAAF informed the JAAF that Ushiro would not be allowed to compete due to not having cleared the qualification standard. The situation forced JAAF execut…

JAAF Executive Asaba on Mishandling of Ushiro's World Championships Team Nomination: "We Were Naive. The Level of Our Organization is Low"

At a Tokyo-area press conference on Sept 18, JAAF executive Kazunori Asaba explained the circumstances surrounding decathlon champion Keisuke Ushiro (Kokushikan Club) having his place on the Doha World Championships team cut. Ushiro had not cleared the World Championships qualification standard of 8200 points, but in April he won the gold medal at the Asian Championships. It was assumed that as area champion he would be qualified to participate in the World Championships, and when he won June's National Championships the JAAF told him he would be on the Worlds team.

Regarding the area champion's qualification for the World Championships, the IAAF states, "Area champions in individual events held at the World Championships automatically qualify regardless of whether they have achieved the qualification standard. This is not applicable to the 10000 m, 3000 m steeplechase, combined events, field events or road events, in which their participation subject to the approval of …