Skip to main content

Weekend Road Racing Preview

Sunday's Saitama International Marathon leads a busy weekend of women's racing across the country. 4th in August's London World Championships marathon, last year's winner Flomena Cheyech Daniel (Kenya) returns to lead the tiny elite field of six internationals and two domestic women. Cheyech's strongest competition is Japan's Reia Iwade (Dome), the former under-20 marathon record holder who abruptly quit the Noritz corporate team earlier this year to go the solo route. Whether her new situation finds her ready to go remains to be seen. Close behind and maybe a more likely bet to stay with Daniel is Shitaye Habtegebrel (Ethiopia). Iwade, Kaori Yoshida (Team RxL) and any other Japanese women in the general elite field will have the chance to qualify for Japan's 2020 Olympic Trials race if they go under 2:29:00.

Starting 30 minutes after the elite women, Saitama also features a coed mass participation field. Local poster boy Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) will run just a week after racing France's Nice-Cannes Marathon, just the second time in his career that he has run marathons on back-to-back weekends. With the 30 minute stagger putting the elite women out of range Kawauchi hopes to do better than his disappointing 2:15:02 in Nice. Anything better than 2:18:50 will add another course record to his resume. Watch the NTV broadcast of Saitama at 9:00 a.m. local time Sunday.

To the east in Fukushima, the East Japan Women's Ekiden is one of two major women's ekidens happening Sunday. A prelude to January's National Women's Ekiden, it features teams from the eighteen prefectures making up eastern Japan. Each team consists of the top junior high school, high school, university and corporate runners from that prefecture, with all the teams racing for regional supremacy. The Shizuoka team has pulled in the biggest pre-race headlines, its roster prominently featuring London World Championships marathoners Yuka Ando and Mao Kiyota, both of the Suzuki Hamamatsu AC team. East Japan will be broadcast live on Fuji TV starting at noon on Sunday, 10 minutes after the Saitama International Marathon broadcast ends.

Simultaneous with East Japan, the Fukui Super Ladies Ekiden pits top corporate, university and club teams against each other in a rare match-up. Newly-crowned national champion Meijo University is the heavy favorite, their toughest collegiate competition coming from Osaka Gakuin University, 4th at last month's Nationals, with last year's National Corporate Women's Ekiden 4th-placer Kyudenko leading the pros. Fukui TV's local broadcast goes out at noon Sunday.

Other high school, university and corporate league women will race 3000 m and 5000 m on the track Saturday at the Nittai University Time Trials meet. Men including 14 Japan-based Kenyans and former Aoyama Gakuin University and Komazawa University aces Tadashi Isshiki (GMO) and Ikuto Yufu (Fujitsu) will line up in the 10000 m A-heat, with other men including William Malel (Honda) and Ronald Kwemoi (Komori Corp.) due to run one of Sunday's 40 heats of 5000 m. Also Sunday, runners from the Tokai UniversityAoyama Gakuin University and Komazawa University men's ekiden teams lead the field for the mass-participation Setagaya 246 Half Marathon in Tokyo. Continuing the qualification round for the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden corporate men's national championships, the Kansai Region holds the 60th edition of its Corporate Men's Ekiden Championships. Likewise for the Chugoku Region.

© 2017 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Weekend Overseas Japanese Results

Lost in the luminosity of Eliud Kipchoge's world record and Gladys Cherono's women's course record at the Berlin Marathon were a score of Japanese results there and elsewhere overseas, ranging from the sparkling to the dull. Cherono and 2nd and 3rd placers Ruti Aga and Tirunesh Dibaba all broke Mizuki Noguchi's Berlin Marathon course record of 2:19:12 which has stood since she set that national record mark in 2005.

A kilometer behind Dibaba, Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) followed up her 2:22:44 debut in Osaka in January with a 2:22:23 PB for 5th, making her just the fourth Japanese woman ever to break 2:23 twice in her career. 2:23:46 woman Honami Maeda (Tenmaya) ran 2:25:23 for 7th, beating Tenmaya teammate Rei Ohara whose 2:27:28 put her only 10th but qualified her for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics marathon trials, only the second athlete after 2018 Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) to qualify for the trials under the two-race average wildcard opt…

Running the 2020 Olympic Marathon Course Part Two - The Women's Marathon

Today marks two years until the women's marathon at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. There's been a lot of concern about the 7:00 a.m. start time approved by the IOC two weeks ago as it means that athletes will be running under direct sunlight in temperatures in the low 30's and potentially high humidity. I went down to the Olympic Stadium site this morning and, starting at exactly 7:00 a.m., ran 30 km of the course to check for myself what kind of conditions the athletes will be facing.


If you're not familiar with Tokyo, take a look at the map to get a better idea of what I'm talking about. I ran from the stadium to the 20 km point and then back, cutting out the sections from 20 to 28 km and from 31 to 35 km which I'll do next week on the 9th, two years ahead of the men's marathon.
The bad news: The conditions were tough. With zero cloud cover and very little wind, at the time of the 7:00 a.m. start at the Olympic Stadium it was 31.1˚C with 68% humidity according…

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…