Skip to main content

Ichida and Takada Ready to Take on United Airline NYC Half

by Brett Larner

Takashi Ichida (Daito Bunka Univ.) and Koki Takada (Waseda Univ.) at Riverside State Park, New York, on Mar. 13.

For the fourth year, the top two Japanese collegiate finishers from November's super-deep Ageo City Half Marathon have been invited to run the United Airlines NYC Half as part of a collaboration set up by JRN between the Ageo city government and the New York Road Runners.  At the 2013 Ageo Half Takashi Ichida (Daito Bunka University) won a five-way sprint finish in 1:02:36 to pick up his place at the 2014 NYC Half.  A stride behind him, Koki Takada (Waseda University), was the third collegiate finisher, ripping of his bib number in anger at missing out on the chance to run in a big race overseas.

A year later, Ichida and Takada were again head-to-head in Ageo, working together to push the pace and drop their competition one by one.  In another sprint finish Takada got the win this time in a PB 1:02:02 with Ichida right behind in a PB 1:02:03.  Both of them scored the NYC invite, and what made it special was that the two had been high school teammates.  Not just teammates, but members of the 2010 National High School Ekiden champion Kagoshima Jitsugyo H.S. team, Ichida leading off on the first stage and Takada running down the competition on the anchor leg to give Kagoshima Jitsugyo its first-ever national title with yet another brilliant sprint finish.

Just over four years later the two are now back together in New York.  For Ichida it is his last race as a student before graduating and joining the powerful Asahi Kasei corporate team.  Takada is a year younger and will head back to his senior year at Waseda, the most prestigious running university in Japan, but for him too there is an element of finality to the race.  Waseda head coach Yasuyuki Watanabe, one of the most revered collegiate runners in Japan's history and still immensely popular as a 40-something coach who developed the Nike Oregon Project's Suguru Osako, is retiring from Waseda at the end of the school year this month, and the United Airlines NYC Half will be his final official appearance as the head of the legendary Waseda.

In the three years so far the Japanese collegiates in NYC have represented, running the two fastest half marathon times and five of the top ten ever by Japanese men on U.S. soil.  #1 on that list is 1:01:48 by Yuta Shitara (Toyo University) at the 2012 NYC Half.  Both Ichida and Takada are gunning for that time, and with a bit of luck from the weather and competition and the kind of teamwork that comes from having bookended a national champion team there's a good chance they could join the growing list of Japanese students running world-class times under 62 minutes.

Even if they don't make it, going home with the kind of experience mostly absent from contemporary Japanese methodology will help put them on the short list for 2020 Olympic marathon hopefuls.  Imagine what it's going to take to make that team.  Running against a top-level international field in their youth and finding out how good they themselves already are can only give Ichida and Takada a leg up in the game.

text and photos (c) 2015 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…