Skip to main content

National Champion Asahi Kasei Team Welcomes its First-Ever Kenyan Members

https://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20170515-00000124-sph-spo

translated by Brett Larner


On May 15 ekiden and marathon powerhouse Asahi Kasei welcomed its first-ever foreign-born team members, Kenyans Kenneth Kiprop Kipkemoi, 32, and Abraham Kapsis Kipyatich, 24, to the team's base in Nobeoka, Miyazaki. The highly accomplished Kipkemoi holds a 10000 m best of 26:52.65 far superior to the 27:29.69 Japanese national record held by Asahi Kasei's Kota Murayama, 24, and his 5000 m and half marathon bests of 13:03.07 and 59:01 are likewise better than the Japanese national records. By comparison, Kipyatich is still young with room to grow further in the future.

Regarding the reinforcement of the team's strength, an Asahi Kasei spokesperson commented, "The mission of our athletics program is to produce athletes who can compete on the front lines at events like the Olympics, World Championships and major marathons. After examining a variety of options for strategies to pursue that goal we opted to hire two foreign athletes."

At this year's New Year Ekiden corporate men's national championships 30 out of 37 teams in the field had foreign-born athletes. In their midst, Asahi Kasei became the first all-Japanese team to win in 18 years. Founded in 1946, the Asahi Kasei team has a long history of producing many of the Japanese long distance world's best, from twins Shigeru and Takeshi Soh to Rio Olympics marathoner Satoru Sasaki, 31, to current wonder twins Kenta and Kota Murayama. By training regularly with two talented athletes from the Long Distance Kingdom of Kenya its competitive abilities are likely to grow even stronger.

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kawauchi Wins 7th-Straight Okinoshima 50 km

Running the Okinoshima 50 km Ultramarathon on his late father's home island of Oki for the eighth year in a row, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran 2:52:55 to win it for the seventh straight time. Starting strong on the relatively flat first 10 km where he clocked 33:26, low-2:47 pace, Kawauchi slowed to just over 2:50 pace on the course's toughest hills between 10 and 30 km. A sub-2:50 was still in range at that point, but over the last 20 km he faded further to finish in the second-slowest of his Okinoshima wins.



The day before the race Kawauchi paced children in Okinoshima's kids' run. Following that he greeted participants and local supporters at an expo event where he was hailed onstage as the Boston Marathon winner. As per his usual routine, his next race will be the July 1 Gold Coast Marathon in Australia.

© 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Kipchirchir and Chebii Take on Three Gold Coast Winners

The men's race at Australia's Gold Coast Marathon is usually a Kenya-Japan head-to-head, Kenya taking six wins and Japan three in the last ten years. With not a single Ethiopian in the field for this year's 40th edition it looks set for it to happen yet again.

Sub-2:10 Kenyans Victor Kipchirchir, Douglas Chebii, Philip Sanga and the Japan-based Michael Githae will line up to take on three of the race's last four winners, 2017 champ Takuya Noguchi (Konica Minolta), 2015-16 winner and course record holder Kenneth Mungara (Kenya) and 2013 champ and perpetual top three placer Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't). Give the advantage to team Kenya in this bout, but as Noguchi and Kawauchi have proven Gold Coast is a race where Japanese men are legit contenders.

With the window for getting qualifying times for next year's MGC Race 2020 Olympic trials starting to close, the powers that be in Japan have taken note of the success of Noguchi and Kawauchi on the Gold Coast…

Japan's 2020 Olympic Trials Marathon to be Held September 15, 2019

On June 15 the JAAF announced the date and course for the Marathon Grand Championship Race, or MGC Race for short, its new almost-one-shot trials race that will determine at least two of the three members of its men's and women's marathon teams for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The MGC Race will be held 11 months prior to the Olympics on September 15, 2019. The winners of the MGC Race will be named to the 2020 team, with either the 2nd or 3rd placer also named to the team depending on whether either has broken a fast standard, 2:05:30 for men and 2:21:00 for women. The remaining top three placer will have to wait until March, 2020 to find out whether they will be included on the team or passed over in favor of someone who clears another fast standard in one of the big six domestic elite marathons in the winter of 2019-20.

The MGC Race course will closely follow the already announced Olympic course, the only key exception being a start and finish in the Jingu Gaien district nearby …