Skip to main content

Waseda University Ekiden Head Coach Watanabe to Retire in March

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2014/12/01/kiji/K20141201009384320.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On Dec. 1 Waseda University announced that ekiden head coach Yasuyuki Watanabe, 41, will retire at the end of his contract in March next year.  His successor has not yet been determined.



One of Waseda's most famous alumni, Watanabe had spectacular success during his running career there, winning Hakone Ekiden stages three times including a classic Second Stage battle against Kenyan Stephen Mayaka (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.).  In April, 2003 he was named assistant coach of Waseda's ekiden program and a year later in April, 2004 was promoted to head coach.  In that capacity he set about restoring the fallen Waseda to its former glory.  Under his leadership Waseda finished 2nd at the 2008 Hakone Ekiden, and in the 2010-2011 season it scored a rare triple crown, winning the Izumo Ekiden, National University Ekiden and Hakone Ekiden and becoming the first school to set course records at all three in one season.



Through a school spokesperson Watanabe said, "From the bottom of my heart I would like to thank everyone who has supported the team over the last twelve years."

Translator's note:  One of Watanabe's last official appearances as head coach of Waseda, Japan's University of Oregon, will be with Waseda third-year Koki Takada, the 2014 Ageo City Half Marathon and 2014 Hakone Ekiden Second Stage winner, at the March 15 New York City Half Marathon.

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Yuta Shitara Breaks Japanese Men's Half Marathon National Record in Berlin Marathon Tuneup at Usti nad Labem Half

A week after his 28:55 at the Birell Prague Grand Prix 10 km and just eight days out from the Berlin Marathon, Yuta Shitara (Honda) made the great leap forward, taking 8 seconds off Atsushi Sato's 2007 half marathon Japanese national record, finishing 8th at the Czech Republic's Usti nad Labem Half Marathon.

Shitara is probably most well-known outside Japan for going through halfway under 62 minutes during his marathon debut at this year's Tokyo Marathon and still ending up with a 2:09:27, but he's been turning heads in Japan since his second year at Toyo University when he broke a stage record at the 2012 Hakone Ekiden and outkicked the U.S.A.'s Dathan Ritzenhein to finish in 1:01:48 at the NYC Half two months later, until this year the fastest time ever by a Japanese man on U.S soil.

Three weeks before Tokyo this year he ran a 1:01:19 PB at the Marugame Half. Many people would call that a solid tuneup three weeks out from a serious marathon, but eight days? In P…

Ayuko Suzuki Leaves for Altitude Training in Boulder Motivated for the Marathon

2017 London World Championships 5000 m and 10000 m runner Ayuko Suzuki (25, Japan Post) left from Narita Airport on Sept. 18 for altitude training in Boulder, Colorado.

Two days earlier at a half marathon in Czech Republic, Yuta Shitara (25, Honda), like Suzuki born in 1991, broke the 10-year-old Japanese men's half marathon national record in a time of 1:00:17. "It's a big motivation to see an athlete the same age as me doing something like that," she said. Showing her determination to be one of her generation's leaders, she added, "I'll be 28 [at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics], right in my prime mentally and physically. I want to run big too."

In the leadup to the Tokyo Olympics Suzuki has the marathon in sight along with the track. "I need to run a half marathon and marathon somewhere once to check [how well they suit me]," she said. "Coach and I will be talking about it." If everything goes according to plan, December's Sanyo …

New Half Marathon NR Holder Yuta Shitara's Twin Brother Keita Joins Hitachi Butsuryu Corporate Team

Having left the Konica Minolta men's corporate team at the end of March this year, Keita Shitara, 25, announced on Sept. 19 that he will join the Hitachi Butsuryu team. The official announcement is scheduled for Sept. 20.

As a member of Toyo University Shitara was part of two Hakone Ekiden-winning teams before joining Konica Minolta following his graduation in 2014. His first year at Konica Minolta Shitara ran New Year Ekiden national championships' toughest stage, but since his second year he has experienced a slump. Saying, "I need to change my environment in order to get my head straight and back on track," Shitara chose to leave the team at the end of March, returning to Toyo as his training base.

The Hitachi Butsuryu team came into being in April, 2012 as the successor to the Hitachi Cable Marathon Team. It is based in Matsudo, Chiba. Under the leadership of head coach Manabu Kitaguchi, 45, it has grown steadily, placing 10th at this year's New Year Ekiden.…