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Osaka Leads Weekend Action



Sunday's Osaka International Women's Marathon leads the way in Japanese road action this weekend. With qualification spots in the MGC Race 2020 Olympic Trials at stake for the home field there are three main questions:

  1. Can straight-arm specialist Yuka Ando (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) duplicate her 2:21:36 debut in Nagoya last year after running badly at the London World Championships?
  2. Can Honami Maeda (Tenmaya), the only Japanese woman to have qualified for the MGC Race so far, run a fast marathon for real after conquering the heat to win August's Hokkaido Marathon in 2:28:48?
  3. What can last year's 10000 m national champion Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) do in her debut?
Eunice Jeptoo (Kenya) tops the international list with a 2:26:13 in Eindhoven last year, with the debuting Gotytom Gebreslase (Ethiopia) the wildcard, her best mark at distance a 49:56 at last year's Utica Boilermaker 15 km. 

Osaka will be broadcast live Sunday by Fuji TV starting at noon local time. A free live stream should be available here. For a detailed field listing click here. This year will also mark the 31st and final year that local heroes The Alfee have written and recording a theme song for Osaka, always a highlight of its broadcast.

Simultaneously with Osaka, the coed Osaka Half Marathon may sneak its way into the TV broadcast. If not, it's being streamed live here and on Youtube. Look for London World Champs men's 10th placer Kentaro Nakamoto (Yasukawa Denki) in a tuneup run for April's Boston Marathon.

Also Sunday is the 66th running one of Japan's biggest marathons, the Katsuta Marathon. Every year top men and women from Katsuta end up at the Boston Marathon, Katsuta course record setter Shingo Igarashi (Josai Univ. Staff) going so far as to frontrun the first half of Boston in 2016 before suffering a stress fracture mid-race. Katsuta also features Japan's first fast road 10 km of the year.

In post-season ekiden action, a mix of central Japan corporate men's teams, universities and club teams will face off at the 81st running of the Chugoku Yamaguchi Ekiden. Live splits will be available here

Northwest of Tokyo, more top club and university teams will race the 64th Okumusashi Ekiden. A regular at Okumusashi with the Saitama Prefectural Government, London World Championships men's marathon 9th placer Yuki Kawauchi will take a rare turn on the 9.9 km First Stage. This year Cambridge University will field an alumni team for the first time. With a 28:45.48 best for 10000 m from Stanford last year Matt Leach will face Kawauchi for Cambridge on the opening leg. JRN will be on-site supporting Cambridge and covering the race live.

© 2017 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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2018 Japanese Distance Rankings - Updated 11/11/18

JRN's 2018 Japanese track and road distance running rankings. Overall rankings are calculated using runners' times and placings in races over 5000 m, 10000 m, half-marathon and marathon and the strength of these performances relative to others in the top ten in each category. Click any image to enlarge.


Past years:
2017 ・ 2016 ・2015 ・ 2014 ・ 2013 ・ 2012 ・ 2011

© 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

18-Year-Old Waithaka Runs 10000 m World Leading Time at Nittai - Weekend Roundup

photo by @tsutsugo55225

For the second time in the last three weeks, a Japan-based Kenyan ran the fastest time in the world this year for 10000 m at Yokohama's Nittai University Time Trials series. On October 20th it was 2015 World U18 Championships 3000 m gold medalist Richard Kimunyan (Hitachi Butsuryu), 20, with a 27:14.70  that surpassed Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei's world-leading mark by almost five seconds. This time it was 2018 World U20 Championships 5000 m silver medalist Stanley Waithaka (Yakult), 18, taking almost two minutes off his PB to break Kimunyan's mark with a 27:13.01 win.

Both winners received support from 2014 Commonwealth Games steeplechase gold medalist Jonathan Ndiku (Hitachi Butsuryu), who ran season bests for 2nd place each time, 27:50.38 three weeks ago and 27:28.27 on Saturday. 2013 World U18 Championships 3000 m bronze medalist Alexander Mutiso (ND Software) was also under 28 minutes, running just off his PB at 27:42.16 for 3rd. Kazuma Taira (Kan…

Go Ahead and Call It a Comeback - Niiya Breaks Shibui's Course Record in Return to Road Racing

Ladies and gentlemen, Hitomi Niiya is back.

You might remember Hitomi Niiya from the 2013 Moscow World Championships 10000 m, where she led the entire way only to get destroyed over the last lap and finish 5th in 30:56.70. That made her the third-fastest Japanese woman ever over that distance, but not long after that race she quit the sport entirely, getting an office job as far away from athletics as she could and not running for almost five years.

But the pull of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is strong, and, now 30, early this year she made the decision to try to make a comeback. Under the eye of former men's 800 m national record holder Masato Yokota she ran a 3000 m and two 5000 m time trials on the track between April and October before choosing the East Japan Women's Ekiden for her return to the roads and the longer distances.

The East Japan Women's Ekiden celebrated its 34th running Sunday, 9 stages totaling 42.195 km through the Fukushima countryside with teams from eac…