Skip to main content

Comparing D1 Pre-Nationals and the Hakone Ekiden Qualifier

With both American and Japanese university students well into their fall seasons, two major events took place Saturday. Near Madison, Wisconsin, the D1 Pre-Nationals cross-country meet and in Tachikawa, Tokyo the Hakone Ekiden Qualifier half marathon. At Pre-Nats men ran 8 km on a looping XC course with a maximum elevation difference of around 30 m. The field was split into two main races, Cardinal and White, with a total of 69 teams, and an additional Grey race handling some overflow. Teams ran up to seven members, with the top five scoring on cumulative placing. A total of 474 athletes finished the two main races, with five DNF.

At the Hakone Ekiden Qualifier, known as the Yosenkai, the distance was lengthened from 20 km to the half marathon distance this year, on a paved net-uphill course with a maximum elevation difference of about 20 m, most of that in the hilly final 8 km through Showa Kinen Park. 39 second-tier teams fielded up to twelve runners, with the top ten scoring on cumulative time. The eleven fastest teams would join the ten first-tier schools already seeded for January's season-ending Hakone Ekiden. 456 runners finished the Yosenkai, with one DNF.

The difference in scoring put more emphasis on time at the Yosenkai, where winner Komazawa University became the first team in Yosenkai history to break 3:00/km for the average of its ten scoring men. Komazawa should really be classified among the ten first-tier teams that don't have to run the Yosenkai, but a blowup at Hakone this year meant it was sent down to re-qualify and the difference between it and the rest of the second-tier programs was pretty clear. All ten of Komazawa's scorers went under 1:03:30 for the half marathon, averaging 1:02:59.8, with its two non-scoring members also breaking 1:04:00. 2nd and 3rd-place teams Juntendo University and Kanagawa University averaged under 3:02/km, with the 4th through 8th-place teams all breaking 3:03/km.

Combining the Cardinal and White race results, White race winner Brigham Young University averaged 2:59.7/km. Cardinal race winner Northern Arizona University was also a fraction of a second under, its average time rounding to 3:00/km. Stanford University and the University of Washington both averaged under 3:02/km, with only one other team, the University of Colorado, breaking 3:03/km. Again, Pre-Nats averages were for five scoring runners over 8 km each, while Yosenkai averages were for ten scoring runners over a half marathon each.

At the individual level, Pre-Nats Cardinal race top two Grant Fisher (Stanford) and Tyler Day (Northern Arizona) both averaged 2:58.6/km, with White Race winner Rory Linkletter (BYU) averaging 2:59.3/km. Yosenkai winner Josphat Ledama Kisaisa (Obirin) averaged 2:52.7/km, with runner-up Kazuya Shiojiri (Juntendo) averaging 2:54.5/km. Had Fisher been able to sustain the same pace for the half marathon distance the resulting time, 1:02:48, would have been good for 14th in the Yosenkai.

Runners at the Yosenkai were going for time while those at Pre-Nats were racing for place and road racing is a different thing from cross-country, but the difference in results was still striking. It's not hard to see the possible connection to post-collegiate results in the two countries. Japan has 29 men under 2:12 in the marathon this year versus only one American., while the U.S. has 30 men under 3:40 in the 1500 m to Japan's one and 15 under 13:30 in the 5000 m to one Japanese man.

A growing number of Japanese university men are opting to spend time in the United States to take advantage of the focus on shorter distances, with immediate payoffs including the 3:38.65 by Shoma Funatsu (Chuo Univ.) and indoor mile national record by Ryoji Tatezawa (Tokai Univ.) earlier this year. In the same way, more Americans spending time in Japan to learn from its emphasis on longer distances might be one answer to the lack of depth in current American marathoning.

© 2018 Brett Larner

Buy Me A Coffee

Comments

TokyoRacer said…
That's extremely interesting. Knew about the half marathon and 1500m differences, but didn't realize there was such a difference in the 5000m times.
Andrew Armiger said…
Nice analysis, I always enjoy this comparison. There is certainly far less encouragement towards road racing and marathon in the sport's culture in the US.

Most-Read This Week

Tokyo Marathon Cancels Mass Participation Race, To Go Ahead as Elite-Only Event (updated)

Update: The Mar. 8 Nagoya Women's Marathon, the world's largest women-only marathon, is now also looking at canceling its mass-participation division.

In response to the spread of the coronavirus within Japan, the Tokyo Marathon Foundation has decided to cancel the Mar. 1 Tokyo Marathon's 38,000-runner mass-participation race. Founded in 2007, the Tokyo Marathon is Japan's largest mass-participation marathon, with more than a million spectators along its course every year. A men's Olympic marathon team selection race, this year's Tokyo Marathon will be an unusual spectacle with only 200 elite runners including national record holder Suguru Osako (Nike) and previous record holder Yuta Shitara (Honda).

The Tokyo Marathon Foundation is also looking at significantly cutting back the activities of the 11,000 volunteers involved in the event's operations. On Feb. 1 the Foundation already asked roughly 1,800 participants living in China to refrain from taking part…

Tokyo Marathon Looking at Cutting General Division in Response to Coronavirus (updated)

Update: The Tokyo Marathon's mass-participation race has been canceled. More information here.

It has been learned that the Tokyo Marathon Foundation is considering cutting back on the number of runners in the Mar. 1 Tokyo Marathon in response to the continued spread of the coronavirus. According to a spokesperson, the Foundation is said to be considering options including reducing the number of participants and completely canceling the mass participation race.

The Tokyo Marathon has the largest number of participants of any marathon in Japan, with around 40,000 people entered for this year's race. As an Olympic selection race for men, the elite field in Tokyo this year includes national record holder Suguru Osako and previous national record holder Yuta Shitara.

The Foundation and metropolitan government had previously announced plans to distribute masks to runners who wished to use them. But in light of the continued spread of the coronavirus after that announcement, discuss…

Nagoya Women's Marathon Considering Canceling Mass Participation Race

In the wake of the Tokyo Marathon's cancelation of its mass-participation race, on Feb. 17 it was learned that the Mar. 8 Nagoya Women's Marathon, which like Tokyo features a format combining an elite selection race for the 2020 Olympic team with a mass-participation race, is examining whether it will be possible to still stage the mass-participation component of its event.

Following the Tokyo Marathon's announcement earlier in the day that it was canceling its mass-participation race over concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, Nagoya's organizers were inundated with inquiries from the media and amateur runners entered in the race. The organizers say that they hope to reach a decision and make an announcement as soon as possible.

The largest women-only marathon in the world, as of Feb. 13 Nagoya has 24,002 entrants total this year, 137 in its elite division and 23,865 in its general division. Along with Nagoya, organizers are also examining the feasibility of s…