Skip to main content

Back on the Track, A New Ekiden and No Rest for Kawauchi - Weekend Preview

by Brett Larner

Earlier this year when Oregon-training then-future 3000 m national record holder Suguru Osako (Team Nissin Shokuhin) ran in a U.S. track meet its webcast announcer, talking about Osako's PBs, said in a mocking tone of voice, "Who runs track in November?"  The answer, of course, is just about every elite Japan-based runner.

November is full of track time trial meets that coaches use to assess fitness within their rosters ahead of the mid-December to mid-January national championship ekiden season.  One of the biggest happens on Saturday, the Hachioji Long Distance time trials meet in Tokyo's western suburbs featuring seven men's 10000 m heats packed with much of the top talent in the country.  The A-heat features 18 of the best Japan-based Africans paced by sub-27 man Bedan Karoki (DeNA RC), young sub-28 Japanese athletes Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota), Keita Shitara (Team Konica Minolta), Yuta Shitara (Team Honda) and Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Team Asahi Kasei) plus nine others hoping to join them.  The other 6 heats, staggered in 10-second target time increments, all feature Japan-based Kenyan pacers like 2013 World XC junior silver medalist Leonard Barsoton (Team Nissin Shokuhin) leading mixed pro and collegiate fields.  Quality track time trial meets are scheduled far to the west in Nagasaki, mid-country at Chukyo University, and northwest of Tokyo at Heisei Kokusai University in Saitama.  If you consider yourself a serious runner here, there's a pretty good chance you'll be running track in November.

Many college-aged women who aren't will instead be north of Tokyo in Tochigi at the Nikko Irohazaka Women's Ekiden, a brand-new event and welcome addition to the university women's calendar.  14 teams are entered for the one-way, uphill race that is looking to build up some of the buzz that surrounds the Hakone Ekiden's legendary uphill Fifth Stage.  With 6 stages totalling only 23.4 km it'll be over in a relative flash, but at 875 m of climb it's a tough course, especially on its own Fifth Stage which climbs roughly 400 m in 3.5 km.  The #1 women's university team in eastern Japan, Daito Bunka University, is fielding a lineup featuring A-listers Mari Tayama and Eri Utsunomiya, and national-level Osaka Geidai University and Chuo University likewise have some of their big names on their entry list, so in its first running the Nikko Irohazaka Women's Ekiden looks set for a good race.

The weekend's other main event comes in Saitama at the newish Koedo Kawagoe Half Marathon.  A week after a 2:12:59 course record at the Fukuchiyama Marathon, two weeks after a career third-best 1:02:55 at the Ageo City Half Marathon and four weeks after a disappointing turn at the TCS New York City Marathon, Kawagoe course record holder Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) returns to give his 1:04:44 record from last year a go in a tuneup for a shot at a 2:07 marathon next month.  Look for coverage of these and other events throughout the weekend here on JRN.

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Morita Goes Sub-32 in 10000 m Debut

Running her track 10000 m debut of a 32:27 road 10 km in the spring, Kaori Morita (Panasonic) closed hard off a slow opening pace to win the National Corporate Federation Women's Long Distance Time Trials 10000 m Friday afternoon in Yamaguchi.

A new filler meet to take up space on the calendar following the National Corporate Women's Ekiden's move to November, the Corporate Time Trials meet featured one heat of 3000 m and three 5000 m heats before its main focus, the 10000 m. After a 3:19 first 1000 m Morita's teammate Yuka Hori, winner of the 10.9 km Third Stage at Nationals, took over, leading the field at 3:12 to 3:14 / km pace through 7000 m. Morita, who won the 7.0 km First Stage, went to the front at that point with a 3:14 to 8000 m before taking off.

Clocking her fastest split up to that point with a 3:07 between 8 and 9000 m, Morita closed impressively with a 3:01 final km to dip under 32 minutes as she won in 31:59.94. Steepler Chikako Mori (Sekisui Kagaku) w…

Saitama International Marathon Top Two's Times Annulled Due to Last-Minute Misdirection by Race Officials

At the Nov. 12 Saitama International Marathon, Kenyan Flomena Cheyech Daniel won a sprint finish over Bahraini Shitaye Habtegebrel by 3 seconds to take her second-straight Saitama title in 2:28:39. On Dec. 11 race organizers announced that both runners' times had been annulled.

In the midst of the pair's battle for the win, race officials misdirected the pair into the righthand lane on the final corner instead of the lefthand lane in which the finish line was located. Both ran over the curb dividing the two lanes and returned to the original course before finishing.

At the time JAAF executive director Mitsugi Ogata said, "This was a mistake by the organizers and the athletes did nothing wrong. There was no effect on the finishing order and no advantage gained in terms of the distance run." After later consultation with JAAF officials, race organizers decided that Cheyech and Habtegebrel had not covered the complete distance and that their times should be annulled. N…

Tokyo Marathon to Move to March Date Beginning in 2019

At a press conference in Tokyo on Dec. 12, the Tokyo Marathon Foundation announced that beginning in 2019, the Tokyo Marathon will move from its current date on the last Sunday of February to the first Sunday of March. The next Imperial succession is set to take place in 2019, meaning that February 23 will become the Emperor's Birthday national holiday starting in 2020. The race date is being preemptively moved to avoid any potential overlap.

According to the Foundation, setting up and breaking down the facilities necessary to hold the Tokyo Marathon takes several days. With the finish area being positioned in front of the Imperial Palace there were concerns that problems would arise due to the large number of people who would gather in the area to celebrate the Emperor's birthday.

Translator's note: The Tokyo Marathon previously experimented with a March race date in 2009 but abandoned it to return to February the next year. Since 1994 the first Sunday of March has been t…