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JRN's Ten Most-Read Stories of 2017

In 2017 Japan Running News celebrated its 10th anniversary. From the Hakone Ekiden to the London World Championships to the Hofu Yomiuri Marathon, looking back over the year here are its top ten stories as determined by JRN readers.

1. Last-Place Finisher Named Winner After Entire Rest of Field Disqualified - Feb. 15
At a children's road race in Okayama runners were misdirected on the course and ran a shorter distance. Followed by a sweeper, only the last-place runner ran the correct 3.0 km course, and when the other 262 participants were disqualified the last-placer was named the winner.

2. Hawkins and Kirwa Win Marugame Half, Takeshita Over Muiru in Kanagawa - Feb. 5
Less than a week after his breakthrough 1:00:24 was annulled due to a short course, Scotland's Callum Hawkins won Marugame in a new national record of 1:00:00, while Rio Olympics silver medalist Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) made it two Marugame titles in a row. Men's preview and women's preview. At the Kanagawa Half Kazuki Takeshita (Toyo Univ.) became the first man to break 63 there with a 1:02:41 course record win.

3. Real Talk From Kawauchi on "Taking on the World" - Mar. 28
Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) wrote a three-part editorial for one of Japan's major sports sites, talking in detail about his run at the 2016 Fukuoka International Marathon, his plans for the 2017 London World Championships, and his hopes and expectations for the future.
Part One - The Miracle in Fukuoka
Part Two - Bringing All My Experience Into Play in London
Part Three - The Lessons of the Past Are Not Outdated

4. History Comes Calling - Kipsang and Chepchichir Run Japanese Soil Records at Tokyo Marathon - Feb. 26
On a new and improved course Kenyans Wilson Kipsang and Sarah Chepchirchir each took over a minute off the records for the fastest marathons ever run in Japan, winning the Tokyo Marathon in 2:03:58 and 2:19:47. Yuta Shitara (Honda) had one of the most memorable debuts in Japanese history, going through halfway in 1:01:55 en route to a 2:09:27. 19-year-old Ayaka Fujimoto (Kyocera) ran 2:27:08 for 4th in the women's race, the fastest-ever by a Japanese teenager. Preview

5. Noguchi Downs Mungara and Kawauchi for Gold Coast Win, Bekele Breaks Women's Course Record - July 2
Takuya Noguchi (Konica Minolta) outkicked last year's top two Kenneth Mungara (Kenya) and Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) to win Australia's Gold Coast Airport Marathon in 2:08:59 and become the sixth member an exclusive club of Japanese men to win an overseas marathon sub-2:10. A newlywed, Noguchi's wife and 2015 Gold Coast winner Risa Takenaka (Shiseido) was 3rd in 2:28:32.

6. 17-Year-Old Biyazen Bests Hachioji in 10000 m Debut - Nov. 25
Ethiopian teenager Yeneblo Biyazen (Yachiyo Kogyo) ran 27:32.51 in his 10000 m debut to win the Hachioji Long Distance meet A-heat. Half marathon national record holder Yuta Shitara (Honda) ran a PB of 27:41.97, while Olympian Kazuya Shiojiri (Juntendo Univ.) ran one of the fastest times ever by a Japanese university student, 27:47.87.

7. Kawauchi Ties Sub-2:20 World Record, Kato Crushes Course Record in Hofu Yomiuri Marathon Wins - Dec. 17
In his last race of 2017, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) won the Hofu Yomiuri Marathon for the third time in 2:10:03. Top woman Misaki Kato (Kyudenko) took over 7 minutes off the course record as she won in 2:28:12. Kawauchi's win was his 75th career sub-2:20 marathon, tying the world record held by American Doug Kurtis.

8. Aoyama Gakuin University Wins Third-Straight Hakone Ekiden to Complete Triple Crown - Jan. 3
Aoyama Gakuin University became the fourth school in history to win the Izumo Ekiden, National University Ekiden and Hakone Ekiden in a single season, the sixth to win Japan's biggest race three years in a row, and the first ever to do both. For the first time Hakone featured four African-born runners, but none of the teams that fielded them made the top ten. Kanto Alliance anchor Akito Terui ran the fastest time on his stage but was not named the stage winner due to a bizarre rule.  Preview.

9. Kawauchi Breaks Mekonnen's Sub-2:12 World Record - July 5
At July's Gold Coast Airport Marathon, high-volume marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran his 23rd career sub-2:12 marathon, more than any other runner in world history. By the end of the year he had increased that to 25.

10. The MGC 6 - Inside the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Marathon Trials - Dec. 20
This year the JAAF announced a new selection procedure for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics marathon teams, with a long series of races giving athletes the chance to make the MGC Race, a new Olympic Trials event with tough entry standards. JRN broke down the new system and explained its ins and outs.

© 2017 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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Most-Read This Week

Cheboitibin Breaks Seko's Course Record at Ome 30 km

One of Japan's longest-standing course records at its elite races fell Sunday as Kenyan Ezekiel Cheboitibin (Sunbelx) beat the great Toshihiko Seko's 38-year-old Ome 30 km Road Race record by almost 30 seconds.

Tough and hilly with a net climb in the first half and descent on the return trip, Ome is a standard spring marathon prep run and a natural partner for April's Boston Marathon, with which it has a longstanding athlete exchange program. The 2017 Ome winner, this time out Cheboitibin was gunning for Seko's record from the start, hitting the mostly uphill 10 km completely solo in 29:47, 20 km midway through the return trip in 59:30, and saving his fastest 10 km split for the end as he crossed the finish line in 1:29:06. Seko's 1:29:32 just two months before his first Boston win had made him the only man in Ome history to break 90 minutes. With the best performance of his career Cheboitibin turned the page on that history.

With the withdrawal of Fukuoka winner

Beppu-Oita Marathon to Review Staff Training After Interpreter Refers to African Athletes as "Chimpanzees"

On Feb. 14 the organizers of the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon confirmed that a local woman in her fifties who served as an interpreter at this year's race had published a blog post in which she referred to the African athletes on whose behalf she had worked as "chimpanzees." The woman said she had no malicious or racist intent behind her comments, but a spokesperson for the organizers called her choice of words "inappropriate." Organizers plan to review their training and guidance procedures for all race management staff members.

The Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon took place in the two cities on Feb. 3. According to the spokesperson, the blog to which the woman posted the comments is for members of a sports club to which she belongs to report on what they have been doing. On Feb. 10 she wrote about her work with the African athletes, posting it with public access so that anyone could read it. She described the struggle of talking to the African athletes, saying …

Japan Names National Team for 23rd Asian Athletics Championships

Japan has named a team featuring ten individual medalists from the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games to get an early taste of this year's World Championships  at April's Doha Asian Athletics Championships. Along with its gold medal-winning men's 4x100 m team, standouts include Jakarta gold medalists Yuki Koike (Sumitomo Denko) in the men's 200 m, Seito Yamamoto (Toyota) in the men's pole vault and Keisuke Ushiro (Kokushin Univ. AC) in the decathlon.

The women's long distance roster is strong, led by 2018 World U20 Championships 3000 m gold medalist Nozomi Tanaka (ND28 AC) in the 5000 m and the resurgent Hitomi Niiya (Nike Tokyo TC) in the 10000 m, while the most interesting name among the men is Jakarta 3000 m steeplechase bronze medalist Kazuya Shiojiri (Juntendo Univ.).
23rd Asian Athletics ChampionshipsJapanese National Team
Doha, Qatar, Apr. 21-24, 2019
complete team listing
underlined athletes are 2018 Asian Games medalists

Women
Sprints
Chisato Fukushima (Seiko) - 100…