Everything right now in Japanese distance is about qualifying for September's MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials. On the men's side Toyota currently leads the way, Yuma Hattori running 2:07:27, Taku Fujimoto 2:07:57 and Chihiro Miyawaki 2:08:45 last year to qualify. Five more Toyota runners ran big today to set up some exciting last-shot bids at qualifying in Tokyo and Lake Biwa.
The National Corporate Half Marathon men's race went out relatively conservatively with a pack of 30 rolling through 10 km in 29:28. A series of runners including 35-year-old full-time-working amateur Takahiro Nakamura (Kyocera Kagoshima) took turns trying to get it moving before Amos Kurgat (Chudenko) took off for good to win unchallenged in 1:01:06. Along with Kenyans Paul Kuira (Konica Minolta) and Patrick Muendo Mwaka (Aisan Kogyo) Toyota's trio of Hideyuki Tanaka, Tsubasa Hayakawa and Minato Oishi emerged at the front of a chase group of 14.
Indoor track is pretty much non-existant in Japan, but in the last few years more Japanese athletes have been heading to the States after ekiden season to give it a go and coming back with national records. Two more records fell at Friday's David Hemery Valentine Invitational in Boston.
First up, in his indoor debut 20-year-old Hyuga Endo (Sumitomo Denko) ran 13:27.81 to break the indoor 5000 m national record set five years ago in New York by Suguru Osako by 0.19. Endo was one of Japan's all-time best high schoolers. Now in his second year in the corporate leagues after opting to skip university he is coached by Yasuyuki Watanabe, Osako's former coach at Waseda University. Also in the same race, Hiroki Matsueda (Fujitsu) was 6th in 13:47.64.
Three hours later, Riko Matsuzaki (Sekisui Kagaku) ran 9:00.86 in the women's 3000 m, taking 0.53 off the national record set way back in 1999 by Akiko Kawashima at the Maebashi World Indoor Championships. Matsuzaki is in the mid…
On Feb. 14 the organizers of the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon confirmed that a local woman in her fifties who served as an interpreter at this year's race had published a blog post in which she referred to the African athletes on whose behalf she had worked as "chimpanzees." The woman said she had no malicious or racist intent behind her comments, but a spokesperson for the organizers called her choice of words "inappropriate." Organizers plan to review their training and guidance procedures for all race management staff members.
The Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon took place in the two cities on Feb. 3. According to the spokesperson, the blog to which the woman posted the comments is for members of a sports club to which she belongs to report on what they have been doing. On Feb. 10 she wrote about her work with the African athletes, posting it with public access so that anyone could read it. She described the struggle of talking to the African athletes, saying …