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Zewdie Leads 11 Under 28:00, World Half Medalist Chepyego Runs 5000 m Best - Weekend Track Results (updated)

by Brett Larner
video and photos by Ekiden News

Second only to May's Prefontaine Classic, one of the world's few remaining ultra-deep 10000 m races went down Saturday in the misty mountains of Tokyo's western suburb of Hachioji at the Hachioji Long Distance Time Trials meet.  Japan-based Million Zewdie (Team Yachiyo Kogyo) ran a PB 27:36.35, the fastest time by an Ethiopian man in 2014, to lead 11 men sub-28 in one of the big tuneups for the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden corporate men's national championships.  Right with him was Kenyan Bernard Kimani (Team Yakult) with a 27:36.60 PB for 2nd, while a few strides back Zewdie's teammate Kassa Mekashaw (Team Yachiyo Kogyo) added to the PB haul in 3rd in 27:38.93.

The biggest news from the Japanese point of view came in 4th, where Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Team Asahi Kasei), already the fastest Japanese collegiate ever with a 27:44.30 in the U.K. in 2011, ran 27:38.99 for 4th, all-time #5 in the Japanese record books and the fastest …

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…

Tanaka and Fukushi Entered for National Corporate Women's Ekiden

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20141126-1401292.html

translated by Brett Larner

Rosters for the 26 teams entered in the Dec. 14 National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships were announced Nov. 26.  Both 2014 Yokohama International Women's Marathon winner Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) and 2013 Moscow World Championships women's marathon bronze medalist Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) feature on the entry list.

Also entered are 2012 London Olympics marathoners Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) and Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya), along with 19-year-old Reia Iwade (Team Noritz), who finished 3rd in Yokohama on Nov. 16 in her marathon debut.  2004 Athens Olympics marathon gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi was not entered on the Sysmex team roster.

The National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships will be held on a six-stage, 42.195 km course from the Matsushima Culture and Tourism Exchange Center to Sendai Municipal Field.

Both London Olympics Gold Medalists to Run 2015 Tokyo Marathon

http://response.jp/article/2014/11/26/238309.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The organizers of the 2015 Tokyo Marathon have announced that both London Olympics gold medalists will run next year's race, men's marathon gold medalist Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda) and women's marathon gold medalist Tiki Gelana (Ethiopia) each signing on to run as invited athletes.  Kiprotich ran the Tokyo Marathon in 2012 to qualify for the Olympics, finishing 3rd in 2:07:50 behind winner Michael Kipyego (Kenya) and Arata Fujiwara (Japan).  Formerly based in Japan, Gelana ran the Yokohama International Women's Marathon earlier this month where she was 6th in 2:29:13.

The 2015 Tokyo Marathon is scheduled to be held Feb. 22.  As of Nov. 14, 304,825 people had entered for the 28,400 places in the general division, and with entries for the elite, sub-elite, charity runner and other divisions well over capacity across the board, preparations are progressing steadily.  114 companies are e…

Kyudenko Rounds Out New Year Ekiden Qualifiers With Kyushu Corporate Ekiden Win

by Brett Larner
photo by akm.y

Corporate men’s qualification for the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden national championships wrapped up Sunday with the westernmost region Kyushu Corporate Men’s Ekiden. Despite missing its top Japanese man, 2:08:00 marathoner Kazuhiro Maeda, defending champion and course record holder Kyudenko made it two in a row, taking the top spot over the seven-stage, 78.8 km course in 3:54:35 by 43 seconds over last year’s 3rd-placer Kurosaki Harima. After running almost even through the first two stages Kurosaki Harima pulled ahead and led Kyudenko until the 9.2 km Fifth Stage, when Moscow World Championships 10000 m bronze medalist Paul Tanui ran a stage best 25:24 to put Kyudenko in the lead for good.

Yasukawa Denki, featuring Moscow World Championships marathon 5th placer Kentaro Nakamoto, was another 40 seconds back, anchor Bunta Kuroki running down Barcelona Olympics marathon silver medalist Koichi Morishita-coached Toyota Kyushu anchor Kento Otsu to give Yasukawa Denk…

Japan Scores First International Chiba Ekiden Win in Five Years In Anchor Stage Battle Against Kenya

by Brett Larner

Up against a relatively anonymous team fielded by course record holder and three-time defending champion Kenya, the Japan team fought hard over the final two of the day's six stages to come up with its first International Chiba Ekiden win since 2009, covering the 42.195 km course in 2:05:53 for the win with an all-star team of three men and three women.  But it was anything but a one-dimensional race, at least half a dozen countries bringing top-quality teams that made for an exciting race of turnover the entire way.

#1-ranked collegiate runner Kenta Murayama led off for Japan but fell behind the talented front pack midway and finished only 6th on the 5 km First Stage.  Jake Robertson (New Zealand) did most of the work against Lucas Bruchet (Canada), Tadashi Isshiki (Japan Univ.) Florian Orth (Germany), Egor Nikolaev (Russia), Tyler Pennel (U.S.A.) and Brett Robinson (Australia), all staying side by side through most of the stage before Robinson kicked past Roberts…

Inoue Leads Kanto 10000 m Time Trials in 28:19.28 PB

by Brett Larner
video by naoki620

With universities in the Kanto Region gearing up for the season-ending Hakone Ekiden on Jan. 2-3 the KGRR held its annual 10000 m time trial meet Sunday, moved this year from Tokyo's soon-to-be-demolished National Stadium to one of the most beautiful tracks in Japan, Keio University's Hiyoshi Field in Kanagawa.  Sixteen men's 10000 m heats and one women's 10000 m filled up most of the day until well beyond sunset.



In the fastest men's heat, 2014 Copenhagen World Half Marathon Championships team member Hiroto Inoue (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) ran a PB 28:19.28 for the win over last year's top finisher Takuya Fujikawa (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.), whose 28:20.31 was a new AGU school record.  Inoue and Fujikawa ran in a front pack of five that included Kazuma Kubota (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.), Hironori Tsuetaki (Chuo Gakuin Univ.) and Yusuke Osumi (Daito Bunka Univ.), virtually all five men taking turns keeping the pace steady at 2:50/km, 28:20 p…

Tokyo Institute of Technology's First Hakone Ekiden Runner Masaki Matsui Hopes to Be the Next Kawauchi

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2014/11/23/kiji/K20141123009339970.html

translated by Brett Larner

A rebel runner with a high coefficient of variation is set to run the sport's biggest stage.  Members of the Kanto Region University Student Alliance team for the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden met with members of the media Nov. 23 in Yokohama for interviews following the Kanto Region University 10000 m Time Trials meet at Keio University.  Masaki Matsui, a junior at science powerhouse Tokyo Kogyo University, the Tokyo Institute of Technology, where he studies in the School of Engineering's Department of Aerospace Mechanics, told reporters, "Most of the time I train alone.  I mostly run by myself, so that's the way I want to run my race.  Whatever stage I'm put on I want to give it what I have."

As a second-year on the dominant Saku Chosei H.S. ekiden team Matsui suffered a stress fracture in his lower pelvis that forced him to leave the team.  Having gotten good g…

Kawauchi Takes Nine Minutes Off Fukuchiyama Marathon Course Record - Road Review

by Brett Larner

Three weeks after an unsuccessful run at the TCS New York City Marathon and a week after the third-fastest half marathon of his career, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) returned to his favorite distance at the 24th Fukuchiyama Marathon in Kyoto.  Cancelled last year in the wake of a typhoon, Fukuchiyama was rewarded for its invite of Kawauchi as he took nearly nine minutes off the course record with a solo 2:12:59 win.  Opening with an ambitious 14:56 split for the first 5 km, 2:06 marathon pace, Kawauchi was immediately on his own, and despite progressively slowing for the rest of the way he opened over 14 minutes on 2nd place and held on well enough to just meet his pre-race goal of a 2:12 finish.  Post-race he deadpanned, "I'm majorly rewriting the course records at marathons across Japan to promote my "Japanese Archipelago Domestic Remodelling Project."  Click here for video of Kawauchi's finish.

Kawauchi's time also beat the new c…

Ritsumeikan Tears Down Rivals Kyoto Sangyo and Kwansei Gakuin for Kansai University Men's Ekiden Championships Title

by Brett Larner

As the world's best university distance runners start their buildup to the main event of their year, the Kanto Region's Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden, and the U.S.A.'s NCAA holds its national cross country championships, their counterparts further west ran their season-ender Saturday at the 76th Kansai Region University Men's Ekiden Championships.

On a new course in Tango, Kyoto last year Kyoto Sangyo University beat crosstown rival Ritsumeikan University in a photo finish, both schools clocking 4:10:50 for the 8-stage, 81.2 km distance.  This year both were back up front on a slightly longer 81.4 km version of the Tango course, but instead of a two-school show both got a serious challenge from last year's 4th-placer Kwansei Gakuin University.

KSU started in 2nd with Ritsumeikan and KGU further back as most other schools put their best runners on the First Stage.  After a stage win by second man Yohei Koyama KGU was up to 2nd, and by the end of the Third S…

International Chiba Ekiden Leads Weekend Action (updated)

by Brett Larner

Monday's International Chiba Ekiden leads Japan's weekend action, with 13 teams from 11 countries competing over a 6-stage, 42.195 course that alternates men's and women's stages.  Defending championKenya returns with a surprisingly weak team of relative unknowns led by Matthew Kisorio in his first race wearing the Kenyan national vest since his drug suspension and, on its women's side, Mercy Kibarus.  On paper at least 7 teams have a shot at beating the 3-straight winners, but Kenya has come to Chiba with uncredentialed teams that have mopped the roads with the competition before and can't be ignored.

The last team to beat them was the Japanese University Team in 2010, and this year's JUT is just as strong.  Meiji University's Ken Yokote broke a stage record at the National University Ekiden Championships 3 weeks ago and, with support from Aoyama Gakuin University stars Yusuke Ogura and Tadashi Isshiki,Kyoto University's independent…

High School National Champion Teammates Takada and Ichida Go 1-2, Yiu Sets Women's NR at Fast Ageo City Half Marathon (updated)

by Brett Larner
videos by Ekiden News



The Ageo City Half Marathon, Japan's major fall half marathon and, jointly with March's National University Half Marathon Championships, the deepest race at its distance in the world, delivered again in perfect conditions for its 27th running.  Every year the head coaches of most of the men's university teams bound for Japan's premier sporting event, the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden, use Ageo to narrow down their rosters to their final Hakone squad, meaning a dedicated and motivated pack of hundreds going for all they're worth and almost unimaginable results.  For the last three years the New York City Half Marathon has invited the top two Japanese collegiates in Ageo to run NYC in a relationship set up by JRN, adding an extra drive to the front end of the race.

Last year Takashi Ichida (Daito Bunka Univ.) craftily kicked his way to the win in the last few meters in a PB 1:02:36, the top five all finishing within 2 seconds of him.  No…

Tanaka Wins Final Yokohama International Women's Marathon, 19-Year-Old Iwade 2:27:21 Debut

by Brett Larner

Two-time National Corporate Half Marathon champion Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) continued her transition to the marathon today, following up on her 2:26:05 debut for 5th in Nagoya in March with a 2:26:57 win over London Olympics gold medalist Tiki Gelana (Ethiopia) and others at the final running of the short-lived Yokohama International Women's Marathon.

The race started close to target pace with a 16:56 opening 5 km split, but from there to 10 km the Kenyan pacer Purity Cherotich lost control, running 16:35, sub-2:20 pace, and dropping all but independent Azusa Nojiri (Hiratsuka Lease) and debuting 19-year-old Reia Iwade (Team Noritz).  With a 20-second lead over Tanaka and formerly Japan-based Kenyans Philes Ongori and Caroline Rotich both Nojiri and Iwade let go and coasted, returning to a more sensible pace with a 16:57 for the next 5 km.  Rotich soon closed the gap and went by the leading Japanese pair, Nojiri letting her go but Iwade throwing caution …

The Gap Between Japan and the Rest of the World

by Brett Larner

I was asked to give a speech at the welcoming reception the night before this year’s Ageo City Half Marathon about the JRN-arranged invite for the top two Japanese university finishers in Ageo to run March’s NYC Half Marathon. Guests in the audience included Ageo mayor Minoru Shimamura, KGRR chairman and Hakone Ekiden race director Yoshiyuki Aoba, Waseda University head coach Yasuyuki Watanabe and other Hakone university teams’ head coaches, and 1999 World Championships marathon silver medalist Ari Ichihashi. I decided not to prepare anything and just freestyle it. This is a translation of what I can remember saying.

Good evening everybody. If you ever have to give a speech in a foreign language I would advise against drinking sake beforehand. The words don’t come out right. I’m not that strong with honorific language, so if I say things in a rude way I apologize in advance. That is not my intention. To begin with, congratulations to Mayor Shimamura and everyone…

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 Takas…

International Chiba Ekiden Entry Lists

http://www.sankei.com/sports/news/141111/spo1411110022-n1.html

translated by Brett Larner

On Nov. 11 the Japanese Federation released the rosters for the thirteen combined men's and women's teams from eleven countries for the Nov. 24 International Chiba Ekiden.  The six-stage, 42.195 km race uniquely features alternating men's and women's stages.  At the forefront of the Japanese National Team are the leaders of the university athletics world, identical twins KentaMurayama (Komazawa Univ.) and Kota Murayama (Josai Univ.).  Joining them in hopes of generating Japan's first Chiba win in five years are Incheon Asian Games 10000 m bronze medalist Ayumi Hagiwara (Team Uniqlo) and other young stars.

The Japanese University Team features a solid lineup of current young collegiate talent including 2014 National University Track and Field Championships 10000 m runner-up Kentaro Hirai (Kyoto Univ.) and last year's Chiba Fourth Stage winner Natsuki Omori (Ritsumeikan Univ.…

Monteroza Athletics Club to Hold Track School Session

http://www.work-master.net/201404814

translated by Brett Larner

The Monteroza Athletics Club is pleased to announce that it will hold a "Monteroza Track School" session on Nov. 15 at Hachioji Municipal Junior High School #6 in Hachioji, Tokyo.  Active both overseas and at some of the world's top-level meets, members of the Monteroza team will give demonstrations and lessons in sprint, hurdle, high jump and long jump events.  Some of Japan's best athletes will show the practical how-to of what they do right before the very eyes and beyond the wildest dreams of participating elementary school students in the hope that the hands-on experience will inspire the next generation to take up the sport.

After the competition experience session, registered dietitians from Meiji Savas will hold a nutrition seminar targeted at students' parents.  Meiji Savas provides nutritional advice and support to many of the country's top athletes including Monteroza decathlete Hiromas…

12,156 Take Part in First Running of Fukuoka Marathon

http://www.nishinippon.co.jp/nnp/f_toshiken/article/126034

translated by Brett Larner

The first running of the Fukuoka Marathon took place Nov. 9 on a course from downtown Fukuoka to Itoshima.  A total of 12,156 people took part in the full marathon and the 5.2 km fun run and wheelchair divisions, soaking up enthusiastic cheering from local residents as the course passed through towns and along the seafront.

The full marathon featured 11,173 participants including 7929 men and 2244 women.  Rain that began falling the night of the 8th lifted just before the 8:18 wheelchair start and 8:20 marathon and fun run start from Tenjin Crossing outside Tenjin Station in Fukuoka.  Light rain fell occasionally during the race, but with a high temperature of 18.4 degrees conditions throughout the day were comfortable for a marathon.  9898 runners, 7754 men and 2144 women, reached the finish line near Itoshima City Hall, a finish rate of 97.3%.

Local runners led the day, with Tetsuya Shoji (30, Fukuo…

Osaka Gakuin and Gunma On Top As Women's Ekidens Turn 30

by Brett Larner

Two of Japan's elite women-only ekidens founded after the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics celebrated their 30th anniversaries Sunday.  At the Fukui Super Ladies Ekiden, last year's top collegiate team Osaka Gakuin University staged a classic come-from-behind race to take its first Fukui title, covering the six-stage, 30.0 km course in 1:38:23.  Down by more than a minute behind leader Panasonic and in 15th place after the 6.55 km First Stage, each of Osaka Gakuin's next five runners moved up in both stage ranking and overall standing until Sakie Arai took the lead by four seconds over 2014 National University Women's Ekiden champion Ritsumeikan University and by six over Panasonic with a 16:10 stage best on the Fifth Stage.  Anchor Saori Noda then put both Ritsumeikan and Panasonic away with a 24:25 stage best for the 7.45 km Sixth Stage to win by nearly a minute.  Panasonic's anchor, 2014 Gold Coast Airport Marathon winner Asami Kato, overtook Ritsumeika…