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Shitara Chasing 10 Mile National Record Sunday in Karatsu - Weekend Preview



At least five major races fill the calendar this weekend across Japan. Potentially the biggest is the Karatsu 10-Miler, where half marathon national record holder Yuta Shitara (Honda) is slated to run in what many hope will be a shot at the antique national record. Over 30 seconds faster than the American national record, Hisatoshi Shintaku's 45:40,has stood since 1984 and survived  over three decades of assaults including Shitara's 45:58 at December's Kumamoto Kosa 10-Miler. It translates to 42:34 for 15 km; at last weekend's Marugame Half Shitara went through 15 km in 42:39. Just two weeks out from a shot at the Japanese national record for the marathon will Shitara try to add another national record to his resume en route to Tokyo?

Many of his corporate league brethren and sistren will be lining up at the National Corporate Half Marathon and 10 km Championships. Historically the world's deepest competitive men's half marathon and second-deepest women's half, the National Championships are a race that the powers that be use to choose the few corporate league athletes they will allow to compete overseas at the half marathon distance later in the year. This year that includes spots on the Valencia World Half Marathon team. Most notable on the men's side is 10000 m national record holder Kota Murayama (Asahi Kasei) who has yet to run a serious half despite his twin brother and teammate Kenta Murayama's success at that distance. The women's race has been somewhat diluted by the addition a few years back of a road 10 km division, but it still produces fast times up front. Yukiko Akaba's 2013 winning time of 1:08:59 was the last time a Japanese woman has broken 1:09. TBS will broadcast the National Corporate Half on delay at 2:00 p.m. Sunday Japan time.

Record-breaking snow has hammered much of Japan's west coast this winter, but Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) is still set to run the Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon in Izumo, Shimane armed with fresh cold weather experience. Izumo will be a tuneup for his second marathon of 2018, next weekend's Kitakyushu Marathon.

The Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon is Sunday's major elite-level marathon. Defending champs Ryoichi Matsuo (Asahi Kasei) and Noriko Sato (First Dream AC) return, Matsuo looking to become only the second man in Nobeoka's 56 years to win three straight titles and Sato the first in the short four years of history in the women's race to repeat. Takumi Honda (Asahi Kasei) and Yusei Tsutsumi (JFE Steel) are especially interesting among the first timers in the men's race.

Formerly one of Japan's three big 10-milers, the mass-participation Himejijo Marathon will also happen Sunday. JRN will be on-site to film the first episode of our new TV show to be broadcast worldwide on NHK World in mid-March.

Championship ekiden season is three weeks gone but there's still no shortage of post-season road relay action. The biggest is Sunday's Chugoku Women's Ekiden, held in Hiroshima.

© 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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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…

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

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…