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Weekend Preview

by Brett Larner

It's a big weekend of racing across Japan.  The 70th Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon leads the way with a shot at the Japanese men's national record as Konica Minolta teammates Masato Kikuchi, Keita Shitara and Tsuyoshi Ugachi, all 1:00:32 to 1:01:12 for the half marathon, line up with support from past winner Collis Birmingham (Australia), Goitom Kifle (Eritrea), track star Yuki Sato (Nissin Shokuhin) in his serious half marathon debut, and more.  2014 Asian Games marathon gold medalist Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) leads a women's field that includes 2015's top Japanese woman Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya), last year's winner Eloise Wellings (Australia), Canadian record hopeful Natasha Wodak and many more.

Likewise celebrating an anniversary year is the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon in its 65th running.  Not counting in the qualifying for the Rio Olympic team the home field is weaker than usual, Kenichi Shiraishi (Team Asahi Kasei) topping the list at 2:10:36 in Beppu two years ago.  Ahead of Shiraishi are three solid sub-2:10 internationals, Evans Ruto (Kenya), Hailu Shume (Ethiopia) and Anthony Maritim (Kenya).  One potentially interesting name in is marathon debut is Hiroto Kanamori (Takushoku Univ.), one of the stars of the ultracompetitive First Stage at January's Hakone Ekiden.  With a 2:31:28 best amateur Hiroko Yoshitomi (First Dream AC) leads the women's race fresh off three marathon wins in the last three months.

Yokohama's Kanagawa Half Marathon also goes down Sunday, as always featuring a field packed with Hakone runners.  Two-time Hakone champion Aoyama Gakuin University has two of its best, 2015 National University Half Marathon Tadashi Isshiki and 2016 Hakone Ekiden Eighth Stage winner Yuta Shimoda, on its entry list.  Both Isshiki and Shimoda are set to make their marathon debuts at the end of the month at the Tokyo Marathon, Shimoda at the age of 19.  Other university runners will line up further north at the Moriya Half Marathon.  Northwest of Tokyo, Yuki Kawauchi will run his second ekiden of 2016, representing the Saitama Prefectural Government at the home ground Saitama Ekiden.

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

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Kawauchi Named Captain of Japanese National Team for London World Championships

At a JAAF event at the British Embassy in Tokyo on July 21, marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (30, Saitama Pref. Gov't) was named men's captain of the Japanese national team for next month's London World Championships. Javelin throw national record holder Yuki Ebihara (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) was chosen as women's captain.

In a wide-ranging and impassioned speech 4 minutes and 20 seconds long, Kawauchi stoked the team's morale as he told attendees, "I think that there are athletes here today who look at London as just a checkpoint along the way to the Tokyo Olympics. But as a representative of Japan it is not enough just to be there competing. I feel it strongly. You must produce results at this event, the London World Championships. This is the task assigned to each and every one of us. It is critical that we work seriously to achieve our goals. The Japanese people want nothing less. What can we as athletes do for them? More than just wearing the uniform, each of us mus…

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http://athleticsasia.org/index.php/k2-component/143-500-000-usd-prized-asian-premier-marathon-series-2017-18-launched-in-beijing

A very interesting World Marathon Majors-style development with prize money only for Asian athletes. Equally interesting is the absence of a Japanese race in the series. Japanese marathoners would dominate the series if they ran its three component races, their only real current competition in Asia coming from East African-born Bahraini athletes.

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The JAAF has made a series of announcements over the last week confirming additions to its small team for next month's London World Championships. Along with previously announced rosters for track and field events, combined events and road events, the following athletes have been added to the Japanese team. Relay members are pending IAAF confirmation. The final complete team roster is expected next week.

Men's 400 m Hurdles
Ryo Kajiki (Josai Univ.) - 49.33
Yusuke Ishida (Waseda Univ.) - 49.35

Men's 3000 m Steeplechase
Hironori Tsuetaki (Fujitsu) - 8:29.05

Men's 4 x 400 m Relay
Yuzo Kanemaru (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 45.76
Kosuke Horii (Sumitomo Denko) - 45.88

Women's Javelin Throw
Yuki Ebihara (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 61.95 m

© 2017 Brett Larner, all rights reserved