Skip to main content

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

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kawauchi Breaks Nobeyama Ultra Course Record

2018 Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) won the longest race of his career to date Sunday in Nagano, taking over six minutes off the Yatsugatake Nobeyama Kogen 71 km Ultramarathon in 4:41:55.

A training run for next month’s Stockholm Marathon, Kawauchi set off solo at a steady pace around 3:45/km. Climbing from 1355 m to 1908 m as he approached 20 km he naturally slowed, but with over 1000 m of descent over the next 30 km he was soon back on track. Hitting the marathon split around 2:39, he was so far ahead of the 2nd placer that the announcer initially forget Kawauchi had already gone by and announced the next runner as the leader.

At 58 km Kawauchi was on track to clear 4:30:00, but hitting the uphills in the final 10 km and feeling the effects of the unfamiliar distance he slowed to almost 5:00/km. But with so much leeway to work with there was never any danger of the 4:48:13 course record slipping out of reach. Kawauchi stopped the clock in 4:41:55, please…

How it Happened

Ancient History I went to Wesleyan University, where the legend of four-time Boston Marathon champ and Wes alum Bill Rodgers hung heavy over the cross-country team. Inspired by Koichi Morishita and Young-Cho Hwang’s duel at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics I ran my first marathon in 1993, qualifying for Boston ’94 where Bill was kind enough to sign a star-struck 20-year-old me’s bib number at the expo.

Three years later I moved to Japan for grad school, and through a long string of coincidences I came across a teenaged kid named Yuki Kawauchi down at my neighborhood track. I never imagined he’d become what he is, but right from the start there was just something different about him. After his 2:08:37 breakthrough at the 2011 Tokyo Marathon he called me up and asked me to help him get into races abroad. He’d finished 3rd on the brutal downhill Sixth Stage at the Hakone Ekiden, and given how he’d run the hills in the last 6 km at Tokyo ’11 I thought he’d do well at Boston or New York. “If M…

The Kawauchi Counter

Yuki Kawauchi's 2018 race results: Jan. 1: Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, U.S.A.: 2:18:59 - 1st - CR
Jan. 14: Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:03:28 - 7th
Jan. 21: Yashio Isshu Ekiden, Saitama: 1:01:03 - 1st - ran entire 20.0 km ekiden solo and beat all 103 teams of 6 runners each
Jan. 28: Okumusashi Ekiden First Stage (9.9 km), Saitama - 29:41 - 6th
Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
Feb. 11: Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon, Shimane - cancelled due to heavy snow
Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama - 1:04:26 - 1st
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:04:49 - 12th
Mar. 11: Yoshinogawa Riverside Half Marathon, Tokushima - 1:05:50 - 1st - CR
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan - 2:14:12 - 1st
Mar. 24: Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials, Saitama
              5000 m Heat 4: 14:53.95 - 1st
              5000 m Heat 6: 14:36.58 - 2nd
           …