Skip to main content

Fast High Schoolers, A National Record, and Kawauchi in an Ekiden - Weekend Road Race Roundup

by Brett Larner

The Osaka International Women's Marathon and Osaka Half Marathon were the weekend's main races, but across the country there was plenty of other action on the roads.  Highlights:

  • In Yamagata, Sakata Minami High School 10th-grader Masato Arao ran 29:27 for 2nd at the Yamagata Prefecture Winter Road Race 10 km, one second behind winner Shuhei Moriya.  Arao's time was 21 seconds faster than the best-ever track 10000 m time by a Japanese 10th-grade boy, Keigo Iijima's 29:48.25.
  • Now in semi-retirement and working as an assistant coach for the Hitachi women's corporate team, former high school star Satoru Kitamura won the men's 10 km at Ibaraki's 65th Katsuta Marathon in 30:06.  Hitachi women defended their titles in both the 10 km and marathon, Ryo Koido winning the 10 km in 33:16 and Kana Kurosawa the marathon in 2:43:03 and both slightly faster than last year.  The men's marathon, by contrast, was very slow.  After a 2:13:15 course record by Shingo Igarashi last year, the winning time this year was 2:22:09 by debuting Juntendo University student Hiroki Kai.  Runner-up last year in 2:15:05, Naoki Inoue was again 2nd in 2:23:13.
  • At Tokyo's Shinjuku City Half Marathon, T20-classified runner Ryo Kaneko won overall in the men's race.  His time of 1:09:31 took 5 seconds off his own T20 national record of 1:09:36. Post-race Kaneko said, "My personal goal is to run 1:08.  I'll keep running until I reach my limit."
  • After having been beaten by national champion high school team Sera H.S. last year, the Mazda corporate men's team stepped up its game this year at the 80th running of the Chugoku Yamaguchi Ekiden to win by more than three minutes.  Mazda's win came in large part thanks to its Ethiopian pair Bekele Shiferaw and Teressa Nyakora.  Shiferaw won the opening stage by 4 seconds over JFE Steel Kenyan Charles Ndirangu, with Nyakora setting a new course record of 34:36 for the 11.9 km Third Stage.  African-born athletes won four of the race's seven stages, a rarity on today's ekiden circuit where restrictions on non-Japanese athletes are common.  The Japanese performance of the day came from Hayato Sonoda of the Kurosaki Harima team who followed up his 2:10:40 breakthrough in Fukuoka by running the 15.9 km Sixth Stage 36 seconds faster than the next-fastest Japanese man on the stage, the biggest margin recorded by any Japanese runner in the ekiden.
  • At the 63rd running of Saitama's Okumusashi Ekiden, Tokyo Kokusai University made up for missing the Hakone Ekiden by downing the Police Department team for the win.  Tokyo Kokusai runners won the third through fifth stages, putting them too far away for the Police to catch even with a new 9.3 km Sixth Stage record of 27:28 by Police anchor Tatsunori Sato.  Running for the Saitama Prefectural Government team, Yuki Kawauchi was only 9th on the 4.3 km Third Stage in 13:16 after coming down with a cold the day before the race.  Post-race Kawauchi told reporters that he plans to try to break his marathon PB of 2:08:14 this spring in preparation for August's London World Championships, for which he is the leading contender for the Japanese team after the first selection race.  "I'm doing everything that needs to be done," he said.  "I am training with the intention of being chosen to represent Japan.  But if other athletes outperform me in terms of results [in the remaining selection races], that would be a good thing."

© 2017 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Official Statement From Corporate Federation Director Nishikawa on Anti-Doping Violation and Sanction

A statement by Koichiro Nishikawa, chairperson of the Japan Industrial Track and Field Association

At the 37th National Corporate Women's Ekiden organized by the Japan Industrial Track and Field Association (JITA), a prohibited substance was detected in a sample taken from Moeno Nakamura, at the time a member of the Universal Entertainment team, in an in-competition drug test. After receiving notification of this result, in accordance with the recommendations of the Japan Anti-Doping Agency disciplinary panel, Nakamura was suspended for one year and three months beginning Nov. 26, 2017.

As the JITA not only do we hold anti-doping education sessions for athletes and coaches in partnership with the Japan Association of Athletics Federations and clearly specify that our events must be carried out in strict accordance with anti-doping regulations, but as the JITA chairperson I have personally given strong emphasis to the importance of "Clean Sport." In spite of these effort…

National Corporate Women's Ekiden Champion Team to be Stripped of Title After Member Tests Positive

On July 18 it was learned from several sources connected with the situation that a member of the 2017 National Corporate Women's Ekiden champion team Universal Entertainment who left the team at the end of last season tested positive for a banned substance in a doping test carried out at the ekiden. Universal Entertainment won the national championship race, its second-ever title and first in five years. But because the athlete's result will be annulled the team will also be stripped of its title, an unprecedented situation in the ekiden's history.

According to an involved source, before the race the athlete took her own personal medicine which included the prohibited substance. The athlete denied having taking the medicine in order to enhance her performance. Team management claimed the athlete had not informed then that she was taking it, and that the situation was the result of her personal carelessness.

The Universal Entertainment team was founded under the name Aruze…

Kazami Breaks 100 km World Record at Lake Saroma

Running on the same course where Japan's Takahiro Sunada set the road 100 km world record of 6:13:33 twenty years ago, 2:17:23 marathoner Nao Kazamibested a deep and competitive field to win the Lake Saroma 100 km Ultramarathon in a world record 6:09:14.

Part of a front group of at least five that went through the marathon split in 2:33:36, on pace for 6:04:01, Kazami lost touch with the lead as rivals Koji Hayasaka and Takehiko Gyoba surged just before halfway to open a roughly 30 second lead that lasted until nearly 75 km. But in the last quarter of the race Kazami, a graduate of Hakone Ekiden powerhouse Komazawa University, was the only one who could sustain anything close to the early pace, overtaking Hayasaka and Gyoba before pulling away to open a lead of over 11 minutes. Kazami's mark took more than 4 minutes off the world record, and he also bettered the 100 km track world record of 6:10:20 set in 1978 well before he was born by the late Don Ritchie.
Trying to stay wi…