Skip to main content

Weekend Preview: Five Big Races in 48 Hours

by Brett Larner

A big weekend of racing on the track and roads lies ahead.

Saturday the Tokyo area hosts not one but two massive 10000 m time trial meets.  The Hachioji Long Distance meet at Hosei University has grown to become one of the world's leading races at that distance over the last few years, the site of a 27:29.69 Japanese national record by Kota Murayama (Team Asahi Kasei) last year.  The A-heat at this year's race will be targeting 27:45 ahead of next summer's London World Championships with pacing by Bedan Karoki (DeNA RC) and features the tantalizing debut of Ronald Kwemoi (Team Komori Corp.).

At the same time as Hachioji, many of Japan's best collegiate men who didn't race at last weekend's record-setting Ageo City Half Marathon will be taking on 10000 m at Keio University's Kanto Region University Time Trials. Last year Hakone Ekiden champion Aoyama Gakuin University put eight of its men under 29 minutes in one heat at Keio.  This year seven of its best are entered in the A-heat, so expect more.  Unlike Hachioji, Keio also features women's races, with the A-heat set to go for sub-32:30.  Click here for a more detailed preview of both meets.

The next morning a solid field lines up at the Kumamoto Kosa 10-Mile Road Race.  A tuneup for the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden national corporate men's championships, Kosa is far and away the world's #1 10-miler.  This year's field includes sub-61 half marathoner Keijiro Mogi (Team Asahi Kasei), 2:07:39 marathoner Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu), Rio Olympians Kazuya Shiojiri (Juntendo Univ.), Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei) and Suehiro Ishikawa (Team Honda), former Hakone Fifth Stage star Daichi Kamino (Team Konica Minolta) and many more.

Many university women not racing at Keio will instead be running the second of the season's three big university women's ekidens, the Nikko Irohazaka Ekiden.  All uphill, Irohazaka is an interesting event that puts the women's season on almost an equal footing with the three-race university men's ekiden season.  Course record holder and defending champion Daito Bunka University returns as the favorite after taking 5th at last month's National University Women's Ekiden, the top placer there entered in Irohazaka.

Further to the north, corporate women will run the Queens Ekiden, their national championship race.  Moved up several weeks this year from its traditional mid-December date, the Queens Ekiden is now in direct conflict with the Saitama International Marathon, one of the races the JAAF uses to pick its national team.  22 teams will race the six-stage, 42.195 km ekiden where defending champion Denso set a 2:14:22 course record last year.  Japan Post features Rio Olympians Ayuko Suzuki and Hanami Sekine, but with the fitness of both a question mark its chances look tough.  Yamada Denki may be a more solid pick for a breakthrough this year.  JRN will cover the race live on @JRNLive starting at 11:50 a.m. Japan time on Sunday.

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

One Month Until the Japanese Olympic Marathon Trials

It's one month to go until what's bound to be the best marathon of 2019, Japan's 2020 Tokyo Olympics marathon trials, the Sept. 15 Marathon Grand Championship Race. Up to now Japan has typically picked its Olympic and World Championships marathon teams based on performances in a series of specific races, primarily the Fukuoka International Marathon, Tokyo Marathon and Lake Biwa Marathon for men, and the Saitama International Marathon, Osaka International Women's Marathon and Nagoya Women's Marathon for women. This time around they're going with a U.S.-style one-shot trials race, the MGC Race.

People had a nearly two-year window from August, 2017 to April this year to hit tough standards to qualify. Only 34 men and 15 women made it, and after withdrawals for the Doha World Championships the MGC Race's final entry list is just 31 men and 12 women. Swedish Athletics Federation official Lorenzo Nesicalled it "the most difficult marathon race ever to quali…

MGC Race Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier - Naoki Okamoto

Naoki Okamotoage: 35
sponsor: Chugoku Denryoku
graduated from: Tottori Chuo Ikuei H.S., Meiji University

best time inside MGC window:
2:11:29, 1st, 2018 Hokkaido Marathon

PB: 2:11:29, 1st, 2018 Hokkaido Marathon

other PBs:
5000 m: 13:37.71 (2009) 10000 m: 28:05.84 (2011) half marathon: 1:02:16 (2009)

marathons inside MGC window (Aug. 1 2017 – April 30 2019)
DNF, 2019 Beppu-Oita Marathon
1st, 2018 Hokkaido Marathon, 2:11:29 – PB
DNF, 2018 Boston Marathon

other major results:
4th, 2019 Shibetsu Half Marathon, 1:03:53
2nd, 2019 New Year Ekiden Fourth Stage (22.4 km), 1:05:13
1st, 2018 Chugoku Corporate Ekiden Sixth Stage (19.0 km), 56:25 – CR
1st, 2018 Ome 30 km Road Race, 1:33:09
21st, 2017 Tokyo Marathon, 2:13:53

We’re picking Okamoto as our official dark horse of the men’s race. The second-oldest man in a field, Okamoto is a journeyman corporate leaguer who never broke 2:12 and whose PBs all came a decade ago. But, nearing the end of his career, over the last two years he has really come on…

Running the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Marathon Course Part Three - Men's Marathon and Overall Summary

Today marks one year until the men's marathon at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. For the third time in the last week, once last Friday with one year to go to the Olympic women's marathon, once on Monday with a likely competitor in the men's marathon, and again today, I ran most of the Olympic marathon course taking temperature and humidity readings every half an hour to get a handle on what kind of conditions athletes in each race can expect to be facing. Between the three runs I covered about 80 km, and including the two times I did it last summer two years out from the women's marathon and men's marathon about 135 km, on the Olympic course. To get it out of the way off the bat, a couple of days ago a few readers told me that the Buy Me A Coffee button wasn't working. I think the problem has been fixed, so if you're so inclined please feel free to use it. Your support for JRN is always really appreciated.

And now on to the run.


This time out I went to the start …