Skip to main content

Olympic Marathoner Eri Yamaguchi Building a New Ekiden Team

http://www.kobe-np.co.jp/news/sports/201505/0008049840.shtml

translated by Brett Larner

A former marathon great is working hard in her position as head coach.  International Pacific University in Okayama has named 2000 Sydney Olympics marathon 7th-placer Eri Yamaguchi, 42, to lead its new women's ekiden team.  Returning to the field of competition for the first time in four years, Yamaguchi was full of a sense of mission as she said, "I want to pass to them everything that I learned and accomplished."

In March, 2011 Yamaguchi left her job as assistant coach at the Tenmaya women's corporate team to get married, afterward focusing on developing juniors.  When the knock on the door came from IPU she was conflicted, asking herself, "Can you go back to the competitive world?  You won't be able to take care of your family any more."  But after talking with IPU president Hiroshi Ohashi, she said, "I got a strong desire to help develop a strong ekiden team."  "She is one of the people who helped shape Japan's long distance world," President Ohashi commented.  "We have been considering this move for the last three years," he added, smiling at seeing his plans come to realization.

At the moment the team includes just four students, all first and second-years, but plans do not call for them to enter the ekiden circuit until after next season.  As the ability levels of their incoming first-years will shape the team's development, Yamaguchi is busy with doing her first-ever recruiting.  "First we have to build the team," she said, calmly assessing the team's prospects.  "If we get off on the right track then we will be able to think about winning."  She has already begun planting the seeds of competitiveness and development in the minds of inexperienced athletes in what is now a "friendly club."  With morning practice at 6:00 a.m. and another session in the evening there is little free time.  "I'm like a substitute mom for all the athletes," she said.  With a busy day-to-day schedule she added,  "When I go home all I can do is sleep."  But her smile betrayed the sense of fulfillment her new work brings her.

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kazami Breaks 100 km World Record at Lake Saroma

Running on the same course where Japan's Takahiro Sunada set the road 100 km world record of 6:13:33 twenty years ago, 2:17:23 marathoner Nao Kazamibested a deep and competitive field to win the Lake Saroma 100 km Ultramarathon in a world record 6:09:14.

Part of a front group of at least five that went through the marathon split in 2:33:36, on pace for 6:04:01, Kazami lost touch with the lead as rivals Koji Hayasaka and Takehiko Gyoba surged just before halfway to open a roughly 30 second lead that lasted until nearly 75 km. But in the last quarter of the race Kazami, a graduate of Hakone Ekiden powerhouse Komazawa University, was the only one who could sustain anything close to the early pace, overtaking Hayasaka and Gyoba before pulling away to open a lead of over 11 minutes. Kazami's mark took more than 4 minutes off the world record, and he also bettered the 100 km track world record of 6:10:20 set in 1978 well before he was born by the late Don Ritchie.
Trying to stay wi…

Tanaka and Hashioka Win Gold - World U20 Championships Day Two Japanese Results

Working together to execute an aggressive frontrunning team strategy born from failure two years ago in Bydgoszcz, 2018 Asian U20 3000 m gold medalist Nozomi Tanaka and 2018 Asian Junior Cross Country gold medalist Yuna Wada opened a massive lead over the African Junior Cross Country medalist Ethiopian duo of Meselu Berhe and Tsige Gebreselama in the early going of the Tampere World U20 Championships women's 3000 m. Tanaka took the lead from the gun before Wada went out front at 200 m to set a fast pace. Through splits of 3:00 and 3:03 for the first 2000 m, Tanaka kicked hard from 300 m out to close with a 2:51 for Japan's first-ever gold medal in the event, winning in a PB of 8:54.01.

Berhe and Gebreselama caught Wada on the back corner but weren't even close to matching Tanaka, taking 2nd and 3rd in PBs just under the 9-minute mark. Wada just held off Kenyan Jenali Jemutai Yego for 4th in 9:00.50, seeming happy in post-race interviews to have helped a teammate score gol…

Kamulu Runs 10000 m World Lead, Ahn Breaks Korean National Record, Tamura Clears 28 Minutes, Niiya Back on Track in Fukagawa

National records fell for the third meet in a row in the four-part Hokuren Distance Challenge series Wednesday in Fukagawa, Hokkaido. Longtime Japan resident Pauline Kamulu (Route Inn Hotels) had a shockingly good run in the women's 10000 m A-heat, following up her 1:06:56 bronze medal run at the Valencia World Half Marathon Championships by lopping over a minute off her 10000 m best with a 2018 world-leading time of 30:41.85.

Kamulu lapped the entire field, her nearest competitor Honami Maeda (Tenmaya) returning from a 2:23:46 marathon PB in Osaka in January to take 30 seconds off her own best in 32:13.87. Further back, Seul Ki Ahn broke the South Korean national record set 13 years ago in Fukagawa with a new mark of 32:33.61. Ahn's NR followed the 2:25:41 NR set by Do Yeon Kim at the Seoul International Marathon in March, a miniature renaissance in South Korea women's distance running.

The men's 10000 m A-heat was also decently fast, Andrew Lorot (Subaru) leading fo…