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Adachi Against Kawauchi, 50% of XC Season, Another Ekiden and More - Weekend Preview

by Brett Larner

February is one of those months with more events crammed in than it's possible to cover.  This weekend features at least three good quality marathons, a 10-miler, another late-season ekiden, and half of the elite Japanese cross country season.

That XC happens east of Tokyo in Chiba at the Chiba International XC Meet, along with the Feb. 21 Fukuoka International XC Meet one of the two races that decide the Japanese team for next month's World XC Championships in China.  Marugame Half Marathon remnants Samuel Tsegaye (Eritrea) and Juan Luis Barrios (Mexico) make up the major share of the international component in the senior men's 12 km where they face the likes of 2015 Hakone Ekiden course record setter Aoyama Gakuin University's Kazuma Kubota, Daito Bunka University wonder twins Hiroshi and Takashi Ichida and many more.  The Japanese junior teams usually represent well at worlds, and most of the country's best up-and-coming talent will be there.

Others will be at the Chugoku Women's Ekiden, which this year changes homes and names slightly to the Chugoku Women's Sera Ekiden in Sera, Hiroshima, home of 2014 National High School Ekiden champion Sera H.S.  Further west, the Karatsu Road Race hosts sub-2:10 marathoner Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei), top track runners Taku Fujimoto (Team Toyota) and Satoru Kitamura (Team Nissin Shokuhin) and Kenyan Edward Waweru (Team NTN) in its 10-miler, with a good selection of upper-level Japanese women including Misato Horie (Team Noritz) and Yuka Takashima (Team Denso) in its 10 km division.

Another sub-2:10 marathoner from the Asahi Kasei crew, Tomoya Adachi, lines up on home ground at the Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon where his main competition is 2014 Asian Games bronze medalist Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't).  Kawauchi, with a PB of 2:08:14, is recovered from his ankle sprain in late December but down in fitness during his recovery.  Adachi, who ran a 2:09:59 best in Fukuoka in December, should be a more than worthy competitor for him.  Good lower-tier races are also on the calendar at the Ehime Marathon and the Kitakyushu Marathon, the latter of which saw quality times in its first edition last year.

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

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Kawauchi Wins 7th-Straight Okinoshima 50 km

Running the Okinoshima 50 km Ultramarathon on his late father's home island of Oki for the eighth year in a row, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran 2:52:55 to win it for the seventh straight time. Starting strong on the relatively flat first 10 km where he clocked 33:26, low-2:47 pace, Kawauchi slowed to just over 2:50 pace on the course's toughest hills between 10 and 30 km. A sub-2:50 was still in range at that point, but over the last 20 km he faded further to finish in the second-slowest of his Okinoshima wins.



The day before the race Kawauchi paced children in Okinoshima's kids' run. Following that he greeted participants and local supporters at an expo event where he was hailed onstage as the Boston Marathon winner. As per his usual routine, his next race will be the July 1 Gold Coast Marathon in Australia.

© 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Kipchirchir and Chebii Take on Three Gold Coast Winners

The men's race at Australia's Gold Coast Marathon is usually a Kenya-Japan head-to-head, Kenya taking six wins and Japan three in the last ten years. With not a single Ethiopian in the field for this year's 40th edition it looks set for it to happen yet again.

Sub-2:10 Kenyans Victor Kipchirchir, Douglas Chebii, Philip Sanga and the Japan-based Michael Githae will line up to take on three of the race's last four winners, 2017 champ Takuya Noguchi (Konica Minolta), 2015-16 winner and course record holder Kenneth Mungara (Kenya) and 2013 champ and perpetual top three placer Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't). Give the advantage to team Kenya in this bout, but as Noguchi and Kawauchi have proven Gold Coast is a race where Japanese men are legit contenders.

With the window for getting qualifying times for next year's MGC Race 2020 Olympic trials starting to close, the powers that be in Japan have taken note of the success of Noguchi and Kawauchi on the Gold Coast…

The Kawauchi Counter

Yuki Kawauchi's 2018 race results: Jan. 1: Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, U.S.A.: 2:18:59 - 1st - CR
Jan. 14: Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:03:28 - 7th
Jan. 21: Yashio Isshu Ekiden, Saitama: 1:01:03 - 1st - ran entire 20.0 km ekiden solo and beat all 103 teams of 6 runners each
Jan. 28: Okumusashi Ekiden First Stage (9.9 km), Saitama - 29:41 - 6th
Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
Feb. 11: Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon, Shimane - cancelled due to heavy snow
Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama - 1:04:26 - 1st
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:04:49 - 12th
Mar. 11: Yoshinogawa Riverside Half Marathon, Tokushima - 1:05:50 - 1st - CR
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan - 2:14:12 - 1st
Mar. 24: Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials, Saitama
              5000 m Heat 4: 14:53.95 - 1st
              5000 m Heat 6: 14:36.58 - 2nd
           …