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Matsueda, Tanaka and Yoshimatsu Lead Weekend European Japanese Results


Japanese runners were busy overseas this weekend with top-level athletes racing in at least four countries. Four Japanese athletes ran in Saturday’s Birell Prague Grand Prix 10 km. In a race that saw the women’s road 5 and 10 km world records fall to half marathon world record holder Joyciline Jepkosgei (Kenya), Asian area record holder Kayoko Fukushi (Wacoal) was almost five minutes out of the action, finishing 10th in 34:43. Fukushi told JRN post-race that she had stomach problems midway, but with a halfway split just under 17 minutes she was never really in the action. Four women cleared 31 minutes, the most in history.


Benard Kimeli (Kenya) took the men’s course record down to 27:10 in a three-win sprint finish that led eight men under 28 minutes, another history-making mark. Missing out on making it nine, 10000 m U18 national record holder Kenta Murayama (Asahi Kasei) came up well short of his goal of bettering the 28:05 road 10 km national record, finishing just 19th 29:09 and losing a familiar-looking sprint finish against teammate Tetsuya Yoroizaka who clocked the same time for 18th. Taking the top Japanese spot in a tuneup for the Berlin Marathon later this month, Yuta Shitara (Honda) executed a gradual buildup to negative split his was to a 28:55 for 16th. Shitara will stay in the Czech Republic until Berlin, running next weekend’s Usti nad Labem half marathon as his final shakeout before going for a 2:07.


Having spent the last couple of weeks in Europe with Yoroizaka, Hiroki Matsueda (Fujitsu) helped lead the Japanese team at France’s Decanation to a 4th-place overall finish, taking 2nd in the men’s 2000 m in 5:23.15. Having cracked 9 minutes for 3000 m at this summer’s National High School Championships, Nozomi Tanaka (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.), daughter of sub-2:30 amateur marathoner Chihiro Tanaka, took 3rd in the women’s 2000 m in an U20 national record 5:53.47.

Equalling Tanaka’s position to mark the top Japanese placing in an international road race this weekend, Hofu Yomiuri Marathon course record holder Hisae Yoshimatsu (Shunan City Hall) paced her European debut perfectly, moving up from 8th place at 10 km to finish 3rd in 2:36:02 at the Volksbank Muenster Marathon. In a race that saw the lead quartet of Africans go through halfway on course record pace in 1:14:00 and last year’s runner-up Yoshiko Sakamoto (Y.W.C.) in 1:17:08, Yoshimatsu’s first and second halves were almost dead even, 1:17:58 for the first half and 1:18:04 for the second.

With the fastest second half in the field Yoshimatsu overtook her competition, including Sakamoto, one by one the finish less than 3 minutes off Kenyan winner Rose Jepchogei’s 2:33:05. At 2:38:29 Sakamoto was 16 seconds faster than last year but took only 4th. Last fall Sakamoto became the first Japanese runner to win the Osaka Marathon, Yoshimatsu taking 3rd in that race. In Muenster Yoshimatsu exactly tied Sakamoto’s Osaka time. The pair will line up again in Osaka this year, promising a great duel.

At the U.K.’s Great North Run half marathon, Hiroyuki Yamamoto (Konica Minolta) had the best Japanese men’s placing since Arata Fujiwara took 4th in 2013, finishing 5th in 1:02:03. Despite having run 1:01:04 in Marugame earlier this year, Yamamoto’s teammate and former Hakone Ekiden star Daichi Kamino was a non-factor, finishing 12th in only 1:04:47. Yamamoto will return to the New York City Marathon in November after finishing 4th there last year, New York’s best-ever Japanese men’s placing.

Yoshimatsu photo © 2017 Dr. Helmut Winter, all rights reserved
text, other photos and video © 2017 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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Lexicon

Betsudai - the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon
daigaku - university
ekiden - a long-distance relay race
faito - a courseside audience cheer; see ganbatte
ganbatte (ganbare) - a courseside audience cheer; see faito
gasshuku - an intensive training camp
Hakone Ekiden - the annual university men`s championships
jitsugyodan - corporate-sponsored professional running teams
onsen - a hot spring
Q-chan - Naoko Takahashi, the 2000 Sydney Olympics women`s marathon gold medalist, Olympic record holder and first woman to break 2:20 in the marathon
rikujo - track and field, the marathon, and other running events
Rikuren - the JAAF
tasuki - the sash which is handed off during an ekiden
zannen - too bad
otaku - a nerdy, socially awkward person, usually male, who is obsessed with some esoteric topic

Race Entries

Races in Japan usually close entry at least a month beforehand, often much longer. They generally do not have race day entry and race organizers are not willing to make special exceptions for foreigners. If you are coming to Japan for, say, a business trip in two weeks, it is not possible to enter a race. If you are making longer-range plans then it may be possible to find a suitable event using the following services:

Samurai Running Japan is a long-standing entry service that focuses on smaller races to help overseas visitors "experience the 'real' Japan."  Along with entry it assists with accommodations and transportation.

Launched in September, 2015, Runnet Japan is an English-language branch of Runnet, Japan's dominant online entry service, catering to the international community.  The number of races offered on Runnet Japan is still limited but constantly expanding.

Other entry services like Sports Entry, TecNet and the new Sportsnavi Do still offer only Ja…

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