Skip to main content

Fujiwara Announces Retirement and New Role as Chuo University Head Coach

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/1614520.html
http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/feature/hakone/20160309-OHT1T50065.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Historical Hakone Ekiden powerhouse Chuo University held a press conference on Mar. 9 to announce the retirement of three-time World Championships marathon team member and Chuo alumnus Masakazu Fujiwara, 35, from competition and his naming as new head coach of its ekiden team.  Chuo holds multiple Hakone records including 6-straight wins, 14 wins overall, 87-straight and 90 total Hakone appearances, but under former head coach Haruo Urata, 54, for the last four years it failed to make the seeded top ten.  Fujiwara commented, "I want to get us back into the seeded bracket within two or three years," showing his enthusiasm for returning Chuo to its glory days.

As a first-year at Chuo Fujiwara won the Hakone Ekiden's famed uphill Fifth Stage, placing 2nd and 3rd on the same stage as a second-year and third-year.  As a third-year he also won the gold medal in the 2001 World University Games half marathon, and as a fourth-year he won Hakone's most competitive stage, the Second Stage.  Just before his graduation he set the still-standing debut and collegiate marathon national records of 2:08:12 at the 2003 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, qualifying for the 2003 Paris World Championships team.

Fujiwara and Honda teammate Suehiro Ishikawa at the 2013 Great Manchester Run.

After graduating he joined the Honda corporate team.  Injuries prevented him from running in Paris and continued to hamper his pro career, but in 2010 he became the only Japanese man to win the Tokyo Marathon, following up with marathon national team appearances at the 2013 Moscow and 2015 Beijing World Championships.  He planned to run last weekend's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon to try to make his Olympic debut but suffered a stress fracture in his right shin that forced him to withdraw.  Missing out on his Olympic dream, he decided to retire. 

Fujiwara will leave Honda at the end of March to take over at his alma mater Chuo University in a new leadership capacity at the start of the 2016-17 academic year in April.  He departs with lifetime bests of 13:49.33 for 5000 m, 28:17.38 for 10000 m, 1:02:23 for the half marathon and 2:08:12 for the marathon.  "The Rio Olympics were my goal," he said.  "It's a shame that my dream as an athlete ended with just the World Championships, but now I want to help rebuild a powerful Chuo University and someday take the overall Hakone win."


Translator's note: JRN supported Fujiwara at the 2013 Great Manchester Run where he set his road 10 km PB of 29:32.  Among his many accomplishments, Fujiwara holds the world record for the longest time between consecutive sub-2:09, and probably sub-2:10, marathons, 10 years and 1 day, with his 2:08:12 debut at Lake Biwa on March 2, 2003 and a 2:08:51 at Lake Biwa on March 3, 2013.  It's a testament to what kind of person Fujiwara is that he never gave up hope that entire time, much of it lost to injury, when most other people would have thrown in the towel long before.

These and other articles caused a lot of hilarity on Japanese Twitter due to their use of the phrase "藤原新監督," literally "New Head Coach Fujiwara."  "新監督," new head coach, is the normal way to refer to someone in Fujiwara's position, but the character for new, 新, "shin," also has the alternate reading "arata."  This means the characters 藤原新監督 can be read as "Head Coach Arata Fujiwara."  藤原新, Arata Fujiwara, is a 2:07 Olympian still active as an athlete.  Reached for comment, Arata Fujiwara told JRN dryly, "I'll do my best."  The first article has since been edited to refer to Masakazu Fujiwara simply as "藤原," Fujiwara. 

photos © 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Norway's Moen Blasts 2:05:48 European Record to Win Fukuoka

More than living up to the promise of his 59:48 Norwegian half marathon record at October's Valencia Half, Sondre Nordtad Moen took down all comers to win the 2017 Fukuoka International Marathon in a European record 2:05:48.

【福岡国際マラソン】

🏆優 勝 モーエン 2:05.48! pic.twitter.com/lpzMUYHfhu — NOBUKI T&F (@nobu_777__tf) December 3, 2017
Superb pacing work took the lead group through 30 km with almost perfect 3:00/km splits along the way, a race of attrition that shaved down the field to a core group of five real contenders. Defending champ Yemane Tsegay (Ethiopia) was the first big name to go, with 2:06 man Lani Rutto (Kenya), the debuting Keita Shitara (Japan/Hitachi Butsuryu) and last year's 3rd-placer Yuki Kawauchi (Japan/Saitama Pref. Gov't) among the other big names to lose touch in the first half, leaving Moen, favorite Bedan Karoki (Kenya/DeNA), London Olympics gold medalist Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda), last year's 5th-placer Amanuel Mesel (Eritrea) and Boston Maratho…

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…

Shitara Wins Kumamoto Kosa 10-Miler

In a year that saw him deliver one of the most memorable debut marathons in history, a half marathon national record, 10000 m and marathon PBs and more, Yuta Shitara (Honda) ended 2017 on a high note, beating three-time defending champion Jeremiah Thuku Karemi (Toyota Kyushu) to win the 42nd Kumamoto Kosa 10-Miler. Shitara, Karemi, London World Championships marathoner Hiroto Inoue (MHPS), Ethiopian Abayneh Degu (Yasukawa Denki) and track ace Shuho Dairokuno (Asahi Kasei) ran together in a lead group through the early going, but Shitara was just too much for the others to handle.

Shitara broke the tape in 45:58, only the fourth Japanese man to ever clear 45 minutes. Karemi was well under last year's winning time but nowhere close to catching Shitara, finishing 2nd in 46:10 and Inoue only 2 seconds behind him. With many corporate and university teams using Kosa to tune up for the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden and Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden, it regularly produces the deepest 10 mile results i…