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A Mid-Ekiden Season's Weekend Preview


Ekiden season rolls on. Sunday in Fukushima is the 34th running of the East Japan Women's Ekiden, a miniature version of January's National Women's Ekiden featuring teams made up of the best J.H.S., H.S., university, corporate and club runners from each of the 18 prefectures in eastern Japan. Most notable on the entry list is Tokyo's Hitomi Niiya, all-time Japanese #3 for 10000 m and working her way back from a five-year retirement in hopes of making the Tokyo 2020 team. Fuji TV will broadcast the race live from noon to 2:30 p.m. Japan time.

Following last weekend's East Japan and Kyushu corporate men's regional New Year Ekiden national championships qualifiers, the Kansai and Chugoku regions hold their qualifiers Sunday in Wakayama and Hiroshima. Top-placing teams from each region will go on to the New Year Ekiden on January 1st, with Sumitomo Denko and Chugoku Denryoku, featuring 2018 Hokkaido Marathon winner Naoki Okamoto, the favorites. The Kansei Corporate Ekiden will be streamed live on Youtube at the link below starting at 9:10 a.m. Japan time.



For East Japan university and corporate men it's a weekend off from actual ekiden racing, but there's never a weekend fully off. After adding the 2018 National University Ekiden title to its collection last week, Aoyama Gakuin University tunes up for a shot at a fifth-straight Hakone Ekiden win at Tokyo's Setagaya 246 Half Marathon, AGU's half marathon of choice over next weekend's Ageo City Half Marathon where most other Hakone-bound schools line up.

Many of those programs and a range of high school and corporate teams will have people on the track at Yokohama's Nittai University Time Trials as a workout geared toward the different upcoming national championship ekidens. Notables include 2018 World U20 Championships 3000 m gold medalist Nozomi Tanaka (ND28 AC), Harumi Okamoto (Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo), who blacked out while leading last month's National Corporate Women's Ekiden Qualifier, National University Ekiden standout Yuhi Nakaya (Waseda Univ.)  and world-level medalist Kenyans William Malel (Honda) and Jonathan Ndiku (Hitachi Butsuryu).

© 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…