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Iwatani Sangyo Launches Women's Ekiden Team Coached by Hisakazu Hirose

http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/20170330/ath17033017380002-n1.html

translated by Brett Larner

The Iwatani Sangyo corporation held a press conference in Osaka on Mar. 30 to announce the launch of its new women's ekiden team on Apr. 1.  Head coach Hisakazu Hirose, who guided Mizuki Noguchi to the 2004 Athens Olympics women's marathon gold medal, spoke of his ambitions for the team, telling the media, "There are three years left until the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  I want to try for it."

Nanami Aoki, who stood at the peak of the high school and university ekiden scene as part of the Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. and Ritsumeikan Univ. teams, and the other members of the initial squad of six were introduced along with the team's orange uniform.  The team dormitory in its home base of Mino, Osaka is set to be completed in September.  Coach Hirose commented, "Our first competition will be May's Kansai Jitsugyodan Track and Field Championships.  My goal is to cultivate anoth…

JAAF Announces Move to Single-Race Olympic Trials Selection for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Marathon Teams

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20170330-OHT1T50055.html

translated by Brett Larner

Regarding the men's and women's marathon selection for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, on Mar. 29 the JAAF announced a new selection process in which the top two Japanese men and women at a new Olympic Trials marathon to be held in the fall of 2019 or later will be named to the team.  Beginning this fall the existing set of selection races will become qualifying races, with athletes needing to clear specified times and placings in order to qualify for the Olympic Trials race.  In that way Olympic marathon team selection will become a two-stage process, a major change from the current process of comparing the results in different races and one that ensures transparency in national team selection.  The move is expected to be confirmed at next month's JAAF executive board meeting.

With the Japanese marathoning world in the midst of a downtown the move is a major shakeup, the JAAF's shift in poli…

The Lessons of the Past Are Not “Outdated” - Real Talk From Yuki Kawauchi on “Taking on the World” (part 3)

http://sports.yahoo.co.jp/column/detail/201701140003-spnavi

translated by Brett Larner

Part three in a three-part series written by Yuki Kawauchi and published by Sportsnavi. Visit the above link to their original Japanese-language article for more photos. Click here for part one in the series, “The Miracle in Fukuoka,” and here for part two, “Bringing All My Experience Into Play in London.”


During his days at Gakushuin University Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Prefectural Government) ran in the Hakone Ekiden as part of the Kanto Region University Select Team. After graduating he chose to take a job as a Saitama Prefecture employee rather than going into the corporate running leagues, and since then he has run countless marathons as an “amateur runner.” By choosing a different road from the elite runners who join the corporate leagues Kawauchi has worked on the marathon under his own power and has put long and serious thought into it. His path has shown the runners to come the way to a new optio…

Bringing All My Experience Into Play In London - Real Talk From Yuki Kawauchi on “Taking on the World” (part 2)

http://sports.yahoo.co.jp/column/detail/201701120005-spnavi

translated by Brett Larner

Part two in a three-part series of writings by Yuki Kawauchi on what it took to qualify for the London World Championships, his goals for August’s main event, his views on the future of Japanese marathoning and advice to the runners to come. The original was published by Sportsnavi in Japanese. Visit the link above for more photos.  Click here for the first article in the series, "The Miracle in Fukuoka." Click here for part three, "The Lessons of the Past Are Not 'Outdated.'"



Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) took 3rd overall as the top Japanese finisher at the Dec. 4 Fukuoka International Marathon. That result put him into position as one of the leading contenders for the privilege of running in this summer’s London World Championships. At both the 2011 Daegu World Championships and 2013 Moscow World Championships Kawauchi finished a disappointing 18th, unable to take pa…

“The Miracle in Fukuoka” - Real Talk From Yuki Kawauchi on “Taking on the World” (part 1)

http://sports.yahoo.co.jp/column/detail/201701120002-spnavi

translated by Brett Larner

Ahead of his nomination to the London World Championships Marathon team, Sportsnavi published a three-part series of writings by Yuki Kawauchi on what it took for him to make the team, his hopes for London, and his views on the future of Japanese marathoning.  With his place on the London team announced on Mar. 17, JRN will publish an English translation of the complete series over the next three days. See Sportsnavi's original version linked above for more photos. Click here for part two, "Bringing All My Experience Into Play in London," or here for part three, "The Lessons of the Past Are Not 'Outdated.'"


The Fukuoka International Marathon was held on Dec. 4 last year. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) took part despite nursing injuries he had sustained in training. Falling rain contributed to less than ideal conditions during the race, but from the very early stages…

Shitara Quits Konica Minolta Team: "I Want to Get Myself Back Together"

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2017/03/29/kiji/20170329s00056000268000c.html

translated by Brett Larner

On Mar. 29 Konica Minolta announced that Keita Shitara, 25, has quit the corporation's ekiden team and will leave his position with the company effective Mar. 31.  As captain of the Toyo University ekiden team he led Toyo to the overall Hakone Ekiden win before graduating and joining Konica Minolta in 2014.  However, since then he has been troubled by injuries and been unable to produce the kind of results he had hoped for, leading him to inform team management of his intent to leave.  Through a statement issued by the company Shitara commented, "I want to get myself back together in a new environment."

Translator's note: Shitara is the twin brother of Yuta Shitara (Team Honda), who turned heads with his 1:01:55 first half debut at February's Tokyo Marathon.  Along with the Asahi Kasei team's Murayama twins and Ichida twins, the Shitaras are one of the…

Hakone Ekiden Last-Placer Kokushikan University Ups Its Game With Addition of Its First-Ever Kenyan Runner

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/feature/hakone/20170327-OHT1T50120.html

translated by Brett Larner

Having finished last at the 2017 Hakone Ekiden in 20th place, Kokushikan University announced on Mar. 26 that it is bringing in its first-ever foreign student runner.  Kenyan Paul Gitonga, 20, is expected to join the team around April 10.

In the thin oxygen at 2000 m altitude in Kenya Gitonga has run 14:10 for 5000 m and sub-29 for road 10 km, and with an 800 m best of 1:49 he has speed as well.  While in Japan in February to take Kokushikan's entrance examination he ran a 5000 m time trial in 14:20 despite inadequate preparation.  Head coach Masami Soeda, 39, commented, "He's suited to the roads and could run the marathon."  Gitonga is expected to factor heavily into Kokushikan qualifying for Hakone for the second-straight year and could even be what the team needs to make the seeded top-ten bracket for the first time in 28 years.

Translator's note: Kenyan James Mwangi,…

World Cross Country Championships - Japanese Results

Kampala, Uganda, 3/26/17
click here for complete results

U20 Women
1. Letesenbet Gidey (Ethiopia) - 18:34
2. Hawi Feysa (Ethiopia) - 18:57
3. Celliphine Chepteek Chespol (Kenya) - 19:02
-----
15. Tomomi Musembi Takamatsu (Japan) - 20:24
17. Yuka Sarumida (Japan) - 20:28
19. Hayaka Suzuki (Japan) - 20:40
22. Rika Kaseda (Japan) - 20:51
31. Wakana Kabasawa (Japan) - 21:20
49. Hikari Onishi (Japan) - 22:05

U20 Men
1. Jacob Kiplimo (Uganda) - 22:40
2. Amdework Walelegn (Ethiopia) - 22:43
3. Richard Yator Kimunyan (Kenya) - 22:52
-----
27. Kazuya Nishiyama (Japan) - 25:15
37. Yoji Sakai (Japan) - 25:41
42. Ryunosuke Chigira (Japan) - 25:51
51. Sodai Shimizu (Japan) - 26:11
78. Keita Yoshida (Japan) - 27:23

Senior Women
1. Irene Chepet Cheptai (Kenya) - 31:57
2. Alice Aprot Nawowuna (Kenya) - 32:01
3. Lilian Kasait Rengeruk (Kenya) - 32:11
-----
24. Yuka Hori (Japan) - 34:54
40. Mao Ichiyama (Japan) - 35:52
59. Fumika Sasaki (Japan) - 37:02
78. Kaori Morita (Japan) - 38:24

Senior Men
1. Geoffrey…

Can Yuka Ando's "Ninja Running" Bring the Gold Medal Back to Japan at the Tokyo Olympics?

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/column/20170314-OHT1T50078.html

an editorial by Yuji Hosono
translated by Brett Larner



After running 2:21:36 for 2nd at the Mar. 12 Nagoya Women's Marathon to become the all-time 4th-fastest Japanese woman, the name of 22-year-old Cinderella girl Yuka Ando (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) is now synonymous with the slightly incongruous term "ninja running."  Her lower arms hanging loosely, barely moving, gaining forward propulsion through the strength of her legs, a unique form on display throughout her duel with Rio Olympics silver medalist Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain).  It just may be enough to bring the Olympic women's marathon gold medal back to Japan for the first time since Mizuki Noguchi in Athens in 2004.

Ando's ninja running first caught my eye about a year ago at the May, 2016 Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon.  I had the impression that it seemed to be between Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal), who was expected to medal in the Rio Olympics and Ando, who …

New Marathon Star Yuka Ando Must Take the Rest She Needs and Avoid the Impossible - An Editorial

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2017/03/15/kiji/20170314s00056000173000c.html

an editorial by Kenji Fujiyama
translated by Brett Larner

At the Mar. 12 Nagoya Women's Marathon, fresh new 22-year-old star Yuka Ando (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) gave a straight up head to head challenge to Rio de Janeiro Olympics silver medalist Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) on the way to finishing 2nd in 2:21:36 and becoming the fourth-fastest Japanese woman ever.  Debuting marathoners usually avoid taking on the impossible and keep to their own pace, but Ando stayed with Kirwa determinedly, saying, "To win you have to go with it.  Who cares what happens in the second half."  These days there are a lot of athletes running with the weak motivation of targeting the "top Japanese" position from the start, but even after coming in at all-time Japanese #4, when Ando said, "I still showed weakness.  I want to refine what I'm doing even more so that I can truly take on the world," ma…

Japanese Team Rosters for Kampala World Cross Country Championships

by Brett Larner

#世界クロカン】日本代表選手団、第42回世界クロスカントリー選手権大会の開催地、ウガンダ カンパラに到着です。現地メディアのお出迎えもありました! #陸上pic.twitter.com/3YpD2j5Hfc — JAAF(日本陸上競技連盟) (@jaaf_official) March 22, 2017
The World Cross Country Championships take place this Sunday, March 26 in Kampala, Uganda.  Perpetual team medal contenders, the Japanese junior women's squad is the strongest part of the Japanese roster, featuring four women with 3000 m bests under 9:10 led by 8:58.86 runner Tomomi Musembi Takamatsu of 2016 National High School Ekiden champion Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S.  The Japanese national team for the 2017 World Cross Country Championships:

Senior Men's 10 km
Kosei Yamaguchi (Team Aisan Kogyo) - 28:34.19
Shota Maeda (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 28:59.86
Yuma Higashi (Team Kyudenko) - 29:14.78
Haruki Ono (Kanagawa Univ.) - 29:18.49
Yamato Otsuka (Kanagawa Univ.) - 29:22.18

Senior Women's 10 km
Mao Ichiyama (Team Wacoal) - 32:15.73
Kaori Morita (Team Panasonic) - 32:27
Yuki Hori (Team Panasonic) - 32:40
Fumik…

Seko and Kawauchi Spar at London World Championships Team Meeting

https://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20170320-00000067-dal-spo
https://www.daily.co.jp/general/2017/03/21/0010019282.shtml

translated and edited by Brett Larner

In preparation for August's London World Championships, the members of the men's and women's marathon teams attended a team meeting in Tokyo on Mar. 20.  Having announced that this year's World Championships would be his last time contending for a national team, Yuki Kawauchi (30, Saitama Pref. Gov't) displayed extraordinary resolve as he said, "As a representative of Japan in London I fully intend to burn it all."

JAAF Long Distance and Marathon Development Project Leader Toshihiko Seko, 60, gave a 30-minute speech in front of the athletes and their coaches, bemoaning a sense of crisis as he said, "If things keep going this way marathoning is going to die out."  Quoting the words of his legendary mentor, the late Kiyoshi Nakamura, Seko told them, "Do not be like scissors or a razor, e…

Weekend Half Marathon Roundup

by Brett Larner
Murayama photo courtesy NYRR

The last main racing weekend of the Japanese calendar, this weekend saw high-level half marathon performances at home and abroad.

At the United Airlines NYC Half MarathonKenta Murayama (Team Asahi Kasei), twin brother of 10000 m national record holder Kota Murayama (Team Asahi Kasei), ran 1:00:57 for 5th, the best time ever by a Japanese man on U.S. soil and the second-best ever run outside Japan. Collegiate runners Rintaro Takeda (Waseda Univ.) and Kenta Ueda (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) were 22nd and 25th. London World Championships marathon alternate Misato Horie (Team Noritz) ran 1:12:45 for 13th in the women's race.

Japan-based Kenyans Grace Kimanzi (Team Starts) and Doricah Obare (Team Hitachi) took both titles at the Matsue Ladies Road Race, Kimanzi winning the half marathon in 1:10:09 and Obare the 10 km division in 33:14. With Matsue serving as the National University Women's Half Marathon Championships and the selection ra…

Kawauchi Sets Hometown Kuki Half Marathon Course Record Wearing Junior High School-Era Uniform

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2017/03/19/kiji/20170319s00056000211000c.html
https://www.daily.co.jp/general/2017/03/19/0010014104.shtml

translated and edited by Brett Larner
photo by Tsukasa Kawarai

Fresh from being named to the London World Championships men's marathon team on Friday, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran the first race of his London buildup Sunday at the Kuki Half Marathon, winning by a massive margin in a course record 1:05:03.  The site of his unofficial half-marathon-in-a-suit world record in its first edition last year, the Kuki Half Marathon is Kawauchi's hometown race.  With a course change sending the race past his alma mater Washinomiya J.H.S. this year, Kawauchi ran wearing his junior high school-era uniform.  "It was a headwind the whole way," he laughed about his time, almost three minutes slower than his PB.  "Now isn't the time to push it. I feel good."

Having declared that the World Championships will be his …

Murayama Runs Fastest-Ever Japanese Time on U.S. Soil at United Airlines NYC Half

by Brett Larner
photo courtesy of NYRR

Kenta Murayama (Team Asahi Kasei) ran the fastest time ever by a Japanese man on U.S. soil to take 5th in the United Airlines NYC Half Marathon in 1:00:57.  The first alumnus of the Japan Running News-New York Road Runners program to bring top collegiate talent from November's Ageo City Half Marathon to New York to return as a pro, Murayama asserted himself from the gun, ensuring the race got off to an honest start as he led the first 5 km in 14:24.  "The last time I was here the first 5 km was close to 15:00," he told JRN post-race.  "If it starts too slow it affects how you feel later in the race and keeps too many people up front.  I wanted to run comfortably.  I figured that 14:20 would be about right.  It didn't feel too fast, but when I looked around almost nobody was left."

Remaining up front after just the first 2 km were the eventual top six including Murayama, 2017 Marugame Half winner Callum Hawkins (Great Bri…