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Showing posts from 2017

Krifchin and Lemciyeh Win Kobe Marathon

The Kobe Marathon held its 7th running on Nov. 19.  19,709 runners took part in this year's race, with 600,000 people cheering them on along the course between the start at Kobe City Hall and the finish in the Kobe Harbor area which this year celebrates its 150th anniversary. American Maegan Krifchin, 29, won the women's race in a course record time of 2:33:14. Khalil Lemciyeh of Morocco also broke the men's course record, winning in 2:12:49.

The Kobe Marathon is organized by the Hyogo Prefectural Government and the City of Kobe. 7,500 volunteers helped runners over the course of the three days of race weekend. This year the turnaround point moved 1.25 km to the west, taking runners under Akashi Kaikyo Bridge for the first time. The final section of the course on Port Island was shortened to make up the distance. At noon at the finish area temperatures were 12 degrees with 65% humidity. 18,949 people finished the race.

At the starting ceremony in front of City Hall, a mom…

Kariuki Cracks Course Record at 30th Anniversary Ageo City Half Marathon

2017 Kanto Regionals 10000 m and half marathon D2 champion Simon Kariuki (Nihon Yakka Univ.)  overcame windy conditions at the 30th edition of the Ageo City Half Marathon to shave one second off the course record, winning in a PB 1:01:25.

Kariuki and 2017 Kanto Regionals D1 5000 m and 10000 m champ Patrick Mathenge Wambui (Nihon Univ.) took it out in the first km, setting up a fascinating duel between Kanto's top two collegiate men on the track.


Led by Hayato Seki, star runner of this year's Izumo Ekiden champ Tokai University in his half marathon debut, the main body of the Japanese pack gradually relinquished the lead to the Kenyan pair, down 50 seconds by 10 km and continuing to drift back from then. Ageo has typically seen its lead Japanese collegiate men running between high-61 and mid-62, but nobody in the field seemed willing to go ahead of Seki and the runner on his shoulder, 2017 World University Games half marathon gold medalist Kei Katanishi (Komazawa Univ.).


Near …

Kosimbei, Kwemoi and Shitara Lead Hachioji 10000 m Field

Nestled deep in the misty foothills of the western Tokyo mountains, Hosei University's late November Hachioji Long Distance meet has quietly turned into one of the world's premier track 10000 m, its A-heat never quite dipping under 27 minutes yet but still producing record-setting depth and the two fastest Japanese men's 10000 m in history.
This year's entry list is another monster, with 27:02.59 man Nicholas Kosimbei (Toyota) leading 17 men with recent times under 28 minutes, twelve of them Kenyan, three Japanese and two Ethiopian. Fresh off a 27:22.73 win at last weekend's Nittai University Time Trials, two-time steeplechase junior world champion Jonathan Ndiku (Hitachi Butsuryu) is slated to pace what is scheduled to be a sub-28 race, but with Kosimbei, sub-27:30 men John Maina (Fujitsu) and Rodgers Chumo Kwemoi (Aisan Kogyo) and five others under 27:45 including last year's winnerRonald Kwemoi (Komori Corp.) on the list the front end should go faster. 
Rig…

Breaking Down the Best-Ever Japanese Marathon Times By Country

Japanese marathoners these days have the reputation of rarely racing abroad, and of rarely racing well when they do. Back in the day that wasn't true; Japanese marathoners have won all the World Marathon Majors-to-be except New York, and two of the three Japanese men to have run 2:06 and all three women to have run 2:19 did it outside Japan. Whatever the extent to which things did turn inward along the way, the last few years have seen an uptick in Japanese runners going farther afield and running better there than any others before them.

The lists above and below show the fastest times run by Japanese athletes in different countries to 2:20:00 for men and 2:45:00 for women. Japanese men have run sub-2:20 marathons in 37 countries around the world including Japan, with Japanese women having cleared 2:45 in 33 countries including at home. Breaking it down by IAAF label times, more Japanese men have run label standard times abroad, but women have typically performed at a higher label…

New Year Ekiden Fourth and Sixth Stages Changed After Course Found Slightly Short

Around 80 representatives of the National Corporate Track and Field Association, Gunma Prefectural Government and related media organizations met Nov. 15 at the prefectural government offices to discuss course changes and upcoming promotional efforts for the 62nd running of the New Year Ekiden national corporate men's championships on Jan. 1. It was confirmed that two of the ekiden's seven stages, the Fourth Stage and Sixth Stage, will be changed for this season's race.

The New Year Ekiden has been run on a 100 km course since 2001, but it was recently found that its actual distance was slightly insufficient. The course changes are intended to increase the distance to make up for the overall shortfall as well as to improve the course's runnability. The Fourth Stage has traditionally headed east from the Shiyakusho-mae intersection in Imaizumi-cho in Isesaki, but its new course will instead send it south along Route 354 for a increase in length from 22.0 to 22.4 km. Th…

Ekiden Weekend Roundup

Ekiden season is in full swing, and across the country it was another busy weekend. Although there were four major ekidens nationwide, the best action came as runners from high school to the pros tuned up for the string of national championship ekiden races stretching from the end of this month to mid-January. At Kanagawa's Nittai University Time Trials meet, two-time steeplechase junior world champion Jonathan Ndiku (Hitachi Butsuryu) pipped 5000 m junior world championships bronze medalist William Malel (Honda) at the line in the 10000 m A-heat, winning in 27:22.73 to Malel's 27:22.79. Four other Kenyans including Ndiku's junior teammate Richard Kimunyan broke 28 minutes as their coaches eye who to run at the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden.



Evans Yego of the tiny Sunbelx supermarket team won the more conservative 5000 m A-heat in 13:48.04, a race most notable for high schoolers Luka Musembi (Sendai Ikuei H.S.), Masato Suzuki (Suijo H.S.) and Reito Hanzawa (Gakuho Ishikawa H.S.) …

Daniel and Kawauchi Win Saitama International Marathon

After missing a medal by 3 seconds at August's London World Championships, defending champ Flomena Cheyech Daniel (Kenya) made it two in a row as she won a tight battle against Shitaye Habtegebrel (Bahrain) to win the Saitama International Marathon in 2:28:39.

With the onus on Japanese women Reia Iwada (Dome) and Kaori Yoshida (Team RxL) to break 2:29:00 in order to qualify for Japan's new-format 2020 Olympic trials race, the pair of them did most of the heavy lifting for the first two-thirds of the race. Yoshida led the early kilometers before Iwade took over, and through strong head and tailwinds, over rolling hills and around sharp turns Iwade kept things moving just under target pace, shaking the pack down to just her, Daniel, Habtegebrel and relative unknown Bekelech Daba (Ethiopia) by 15 km.

Little changed up front until after the lead group hit the start of the hilliest 10 km on the course after 25 km. For the first time Iwade slipped to the rear of the pack, and on a …

Weekend Road Racing Preview

Sunday's Saitama International Marathon leads a busy weekend of women's racing across the country. 4th in August's London World Championships marathon, last year's winner Flomena Cheyech Daniel (Kenya) returns to lead the tiny elite field of six internationals and two domestic women. Cheyech's strongest competition is Japan's Reia Iwade (Dome), the former under-20 marathon record holder who abruptly quit the Noritz corporate team earlier this year to go the solo route. Whether her new situation finds her ready to go remains to be seen. Close behind and maybe a more likely bet to stay with Daniel is Shitaye Habtegebrel (Ethiopia). Iwade, Kaori Yoshida (Team RxL) and any other Japanese women in the general elite field will have the chance to qualify for Japan's 2020 Olympic Trials race if they go under 2:29:00.

Starting 30 minutes after the elite women, Saitama also features a coed mass participation field. Local poster boy Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov&#…

Kanagawa University Upsets Favorites to Win First National University Ekiden Title in 20 Years

Riding a wave of rapid improvement since the start of the season, Kanagawa University pulled off a perfect race to beat favorites Tokai University and Aoyama Gakuin University and win its first National University Men's Ekiden Championships title since 1997 in one of the fastest times in event history.

Tokai beat defending national champion AGU at last month's Izumo Ekiden, and today's race was expected to be another head-to-head. But on the opening stage both were far from the front-end action. Likewise for #3-ranked Yamanashi Gakuin University, still on the mend from injuries to many of its best runners. In the absence of the three favorites, #4 through #7-ranked teams Komazawa University, Kanagawa, Waseda University and Toyo University formed a leading group from which 2015 national champion Toyo emerged as the front runner.

Tokai and AGU spent the next three stages working up to the lead group before both lost ground on the Fifth Stage and had to try to regain their f…

Kawauchi 6th in French Debut at Marathon des Alpes-Maritimes Nice-Cannes

Returning to its regular starting point on the Promenade des Anglais this year for its tenth anniversary running, France's Marathon des Alpes-Maritimes Nice-Cannes experienced wild winds and rain for much of the race. Running in France for the first time, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) hoped to become the first non-African winner in event history. Staying in the middle of a lead pack of five Kenyans and two Ethiopians, Kawauchi and the rest of the group were just off the planned sub-2:10 pace through halfway as pacer Cosmas Birech struggled to deal with winds that shifted in every direction. Daniel Yator was the first casualty of the tough conditions.

At 22 km the course moved away from the open beachfront, blocking the wind enough for Birech to pick it up to the planned 3:04/km. But as he did Kawauchi found himself unable to respond, and within a kilometer he had dropped ten seconds off the lead sextet. From there it was a struggle for him to hold off Yator, who beat Ka…

Shitaraless Honda Wins East Japan Corporate Ekiden

Qualification for the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden corporate men's national championships got underway on the Nov. 3 holiday in Japan's most competitive region, East Japan, with the 58th East Japan Corporate Men's Ekiden Championships. Running without half marathon national record holder Yuta Shitara, 2015 winner Honda returned to the top with an exciting anchor stage win in 3:47:55 for the 7-stage, 77.5 km course.

The Hitachi Butsuryu team's leading man Yuki Muta got them off to a good start on the opening stage, but a 1-2 punch from DeNA's Kenta Murozuka and Bedan Karoki put DeNA 20 seconds ahead of the early leaders. 7th on the First Stage, Honda worked its way up to 3rd by the end of the Third Stage just a second behind Hitachi Butsuryu.

Honda moved into 2nd on the next stage, but its gap to leader DeNA stayed steady at 21 seconds. Fujitsu passed Hitachi Butsuryu for 3rd thanks to a stage win from Ken Yokote, and a new stage record of 22:52 for the 7.8 km Fifth Stag…

Kawauchi Headlines Marathon des Alpes-Maritimes NIce-Cannes Elite Field

Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) makes his French racing debut this Sunday at the 10th Marathon des Alpes-Maritimes NIce-Cannes. Following wins at September's Oslo Marathon and October's Betsukai Pilot Marathon, Kawauchi hopes to achieve one goal that has eluded him so far in his career: joining the small group of just six Japanese men to have ever won a marathon outside Japan in a time under 2:10:00.

The only other man in the field to have broken 2:10 in his career is Kenyan Alfred Kering, whose closest time to that mark in the last three years was a 2:10:27 win at the 2016 Lisbon Marathon. No others in the field have run under 2:11, but times aren't everything. The slowest man in the field on paper with a best of just 2:13:13, Daniel Yator beat Kawauchi at June's Stockholm Marathon en route to that time and will be looking to do it again.

The women's field is small, with only three women who have broken 2:38 led by Ethiopian Tigist Shetu with a 2:34:37 bes…

Tokai and AGU Rematch - National University Men's Ekiden Championships Preview

Following October's season-opening Izumo Ekiden and world record-breaking Yosenkai 20 km, the university men's ekiden season continues Sunday with the National University Men's Ekiden Championships. 12 top regional teams from across the country will face off with the 15 best in the Tokyo-centric Kanto Region on an 8-stage course from Nagoya to Mie totalling 106.8 km. TV ASahi will broadcast the complete race starting at 7:00 local time on Sunday. International viewers can try mov3.co for streaming, with other options to be found here.

At Izumo the up-and-coming Tokai University squad took down defending champion Aoyama Gakuin University, head coach Hayashi Morozumi's cross-country-based methodology having overtaken the innovative systematic approach of AGU's Susumu Hara that had made AGU into the dominant team of the era. AGU is likewise the defending champion at Nationals, but the longer average stage lengths at Nationals play to Tokai's strengths and it will…

Ishida and Rakunan Break National Records at Junior Olympics

At the weekend's Junior Olympics in Yokohama's Nissan Stadium, Asakawa Junior High School 9th-grader Kosuke Ishida won in 8:17.84 to take almost 1.5 seconds off the 3000 m junior high school boys national record. A totally solo run in heavy rain, Ishida won by a margin of almost 16 seconds over his closest competition. The record followed his 1500 m junior high school national record of 3:49.72 at the Sept. 23 Nittai University Time Trials meet in Yokohama, cementing his position at the top of next year's incoming high school class.



Held together with the Junior Olympics, the JAAF Relay Championships saw another record fall in the men's 4x100 m. In the first qualifying heat Kyoto's Rakunan High School, alma mater of Japan's first sub-10 man Yoshihide Kiryu, set a new high school national record of 39.57, the team of Ryo Wada, Daisuke Miyamoto, Yoshinobu Imoto and Kentaro Hiraga shaving 0.07 seconds off the record it had previously set in 2012 with Kiryu anchor…

Fukuoka International Marathon Elite Field

The Fukuoka International Marathon has released the elite field for its 71st running on Dec. 3. For the home ground men it's the first main chance to hit the tough qualifying standards for Japan's new 2020 Olympic Trials race, the MGC Race scheduled for late 2019. Rio Olympian Satoru Sasaki (Asahi Kasei) tops the domestic list at 2:08:56, with Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) and Sasaki's teammates Takuya Fukatsu and Fumihiro Maruyama (both Asahi Kasei) close behind with recent 2:09 times. Expectations are high for Suguru Osako (Nike Oregon Project), 3rd in Boston this year in 2:10:28 in his marathon debut, and at least as high for two prominent Japanese first-timers, former Hakone Ekiden uphill Fifth Stage superstar Daichi Kamino (Konica Minolta) and Keita Shitara (Hitachi Butsuryu), twin brother of half marathon national record holder Yuta Shitara (Honda).

Last year's winner Yemane Tsegay (Ethiopia) returns off a DNF at August's London World Championships…

Fujiwara and Nojiri Lead Weekend Marathon Results

With the 22nd typhoon of the season hitting Japan's eastern coast, five of Japan's biggest amateur marathons faced the decision of whether to go ahead as scheduled.

The biggest of them, the third running of the Yokohama Marathon, 10th largest in the world last year with 22,594 finishers, was the only one to cancel, a controversial decision that went out Saturday evening ahead of milder-than-expected conditions on race morning.

With almost 13,000 finishers last year, the Kanazawa Marathon scored a new course record in its third edition as Kazuya Deguchi (Asahi Kasei) won in 2:18:44, the event's first sub-2:20 apart from disqualified Russian Victor Ugarov's 2:17:19 at Kanazawa's first running two years ago. Deguchi ran Kanazawa as a tuneup for December's Fukuoka International Marathon. Mitsuko Ino (R2 Nishi Nippon) took eight minutes off the women's course record with a 2:42:24 win.



For the second time in its three runnings to date, local resident Olympian A…

Meijo University Women Win First National Title Since 2005

3rd last year, Meijo University returned to the top with its first national title since 2005 at today's National University Women's Ekiden Championships in Sendai.

Missing its star pair Anju Takamizawa and Riho Takamizawa (no relation), defending champion Matsuyama University was never in the race, 25th of 26 teams on the 6.4 km First Stage and eventually working its way up to 13th. 6 seconds out of 1st, Meijo took over the lead on the 5.6 km Second Stage and held it almost the entire rest of the way.

With a record of ten wins and four 2nd-place finishes in the last 14 years, last year's runner-up Ritsumeikan University went into 1st on the 4.8 km Fourth Stage thanks to a stage best run by Ayano Tanaka, setting up a duel between course record holder Kotona Ota (Ritsumeikan Univ.) and #1-ranked first-year Rika Kaseda (Meijo Univ.) on the day's longest stage, the 9.2 km Fifth Stage. Kaseda caught Ota within the first 3 km, but while it looked like the younger Kaseda mig…

Matsuyama Looks to Repeat - National University Women's Ekiden Preview

The university men's ekiden season is already well underway, but for women the first of the season's national-level university ekidens takes place this Sunday with Sendai's Morinomiyako Ekiden, the National University Women's Ekiden Championships.

Starting in 2003 Kyoto's Ritsumeikan University became an almost unstoppable force, winning ten national titles and three 2nd-place finishes in thirteen years including five-straight from 2011 to 2015. Last year they were knocked back to 2nd by first-time national champion Matsuyama University but came back with a season-ending win over Matsuyama and 3rd-placer Meijo University at the Mt. Fuji Women's Ekiden.

All three schools are back and feature as the three favorites, Matsuyama led by fourth-year Anju Takamizawa, a 2016 Rio Olympian in the 3000 m steeplechase, and 2005 national champion Meijo led by first-year Rika Kaseda, runner-up in the 5000 m at September's National University Track and Field Championships…

Yutaka Giken Women's Team to Disband After Missing National Championships Qualification

The Yutaka Giken corporation based in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka announced on Oct. 26 that its women's ekiden team will be disbanded at the end of fiscal year on Mar. 31, 2018, drawing to a close a team history spanning a quarter century since its founding as Shizuoka's first corporate women's ekiden team in 1992. The team was founded with the aim of fostering a sense of camaraderie and solidarity among the company's employees, for promoting the company name, and for improving the relationship with the surrounding committee.

Based in Hamamatsu since the team's founding, the "Blue Wind" women qualified for the National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships 18 times and regularly hosted running workshops with local elementary school children, becoming a public symbol of the company. However, during an Oct. 26 press conference to announce the company's mid-year financial statement, CEO Katsuhiro Kurokawa cited the recent diversification of the company'…