Following the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden and Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden, the year's first full weekend of road racing included at least four major half marathons across the country.
きょう、げんきあっぷはーふまらそんはしりました!— Stanley (@stanleysiteki) January 8, 2017
At Tochigi's Takanezawa Genki Up Half Marathon, Kenyan Stanley Siteki, a Tokyo Kokusai University teammate of Hakone anchor stage "phantom winner" Akito Terui, outran Hakone champion Aoyama Gakuin University's alternates and B-team memeber to win in 1:03:20. Last year's Takanezawa winner Aritaka Kajiwara was 4th in 1:03:45, exactly a minute slower than his 2016 course record.
In Tokyo, the High-Tech Half Marathon, a rebranded version of the popular Mari Tanigawa Half Marathon, saw former JR Higashi Nihon runner Shusei Ohashi win the men's race in 1:05:29. Eri Suzuki, at 5th the top Japanese woman in last month's Honolulu Marathon, won the women's race in 1:16:57.
Now running for the minor Memolead corporate team, former #1-ranked amateur Hiroko Yoshitomi outdid Suzuki's time, winning the Oita City Half Marathon in 1:15:43 in a tuneup for the Osaka International Women's Marathon in three weeks. Two-time Oita winner Fumihiro Maruyama and teammate Tomoya Adachi of 2017 New Year Ekiden winner Asahi Kasei scratched, leaving local amateur Hiroki Nonaka to win the men's race in 1:08:34. A day later, Yoshitomi doubled up with a 1:16:02 win at her local Imabari Half Marathon in Saga.
Fresh back from touring the London World Championships marathon course, Yuki Kawauchi started his 2017 race calendar at the tiny Ikinoshima New Year Half Marathon near Nagasaki. Running in heavy rain, Kawauchi won by ten minutes in 1:06:35. Next weekend he is scheduled to return to the competitive Okukuma Half Marathon in Kumamoto.
新春壱岐マラソン💦— soldier Sato (^-^)/ (@hmtbs097) January 8, 2017
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