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JRN's Ten Most-Read Stories of 2018

JRN's ten most-read stories in the best year in Japanese men's marathoning history and one of the best for Japanese women.

1. How it Happened - Apr. 20
Inside the first Japanese men's Boston Marathon win in 31 years. JRN's all-time most-read story. Based on actual events. Preview.

2. Kazami Breaks 100 km World Record at Lake Saroma - June 24
Nao Kazami (Aisan Kogyo) broke the longstanding men's 100 km world record on the same course where it had been set previously. The top five all broke 6:30, with 3rd and 4th-placers Takehiro Gyoba and Hideaki Yamauchi going on to medal at the 100 km World Championships.

3. Kawauchi Breaks Sub-2:20 World Record in Sub-Zero Temperatures - Jan. 1
Running solo in below-freezing temperatures, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) became the first person to run under 2:20 in the marathon 76 times with a 2:18:59 course record win at the Marshfield Road Runners New Year's Day Marathon.

4. Guinness Certifies Kawauchi's World Record 78 Career Sub-2:20 Marathons After Half Marathon in Panda Costume - Mar. 25
The Guiness World Records organization formally recognized Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) as the world record holder for most sub-2:20 marathons at a ceremony following a race in his hometown.

5. The Greatest Day in Japanese Men's Marathoning History - Feb. 25
Yuta Shitara (Honda) ran a national record 2:06:11 to lead nine Japanese men under 2:10 in the greatest single marathon in Japanese history. Dickson Chumba of Kenya and Birhane Dibaba of Ethiopia won the men's and women's races outright. Preview.

6. Aoyama Gakuin Runs Down Toyo for Fourth-Straight Hakone Ekiden Title - Jan. 2/3
After falling behind Toyo University on the first day of the 2018 Hakone Ekiden, Aoyama Gakuin University came back on day two to become one of only a handful of schools to win Japan's most prestigious race four years in a row.

7. Kawauchi Breaks Nobeyama Ultra Course Record - May 20
Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) won the 71 km Nobeyama Ultra in course record time despite walking late in the race. The straw that broke the camel's back, it took him six months to physically recover from the strain.

8. Osako Brings Japanese National Record Back to Chicago - Oct. 7
Suguru Osako (Nike Oregon Project) cracked Shitara's still-fresh national record, running 2:05:50 for 3rd at the Chicago Marathon. Taku Fujimoto (Toyota) had an overlooked breakthrough, running a 2:07:57 PB. Preview 1. Preview 2.

9. Ndirangu Wins, Robertson Sets NR, Nakamura Makes Olympic Trials in Lake Biwa Debuts - Mar. 4
Three first-timers from different corners of the globe made headlines at Lake Biwa, where Japan-based Kenyan Macharia Ndirangu (Aichi Seiko) took the top spot in 2:07:53. Preview.

10. How a Former National Team Level Marathoner Developed an Eating Disorder - Aug. 22
Former World Championships marathoner Yumiko Hara was arrested multiple times for shoplifting food, blaming an eating disorder she developed after being subjected to strict dietary restrictions at her corporate team.

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Most-Read This Week

Kusu Runs Steeplechase World-Leading Time, Yabuta and Yoshimura Break National Records, Tanaka Just Misses Fukushi's NR - Kitami and Liege Highlights

Wednesday afternoon and evening saw the fourth meet in this year's five-part Hokuren Distance Challenge series, this time in the town of Kitami. The program included the little-raced 2000 m steeplechase as a tuneup for Monday's series-closing Abashiri meet, and in both the women's and men's races the national records went down. A top collegiate steepler while at Kyoto Sangyo University, Yui Yabuta (Otsuka Seiyaku) ran 6:27.74 to break the women's record. In the men's race 1500 m specialist Yasunari Kusu (Ami AC) surprised many by breaking the Japanese national record with a world-leading 5:31.82 despite little experience in the steeple.

The women's 3000 m in Kitami was more explicitly set up as a national record attempt, with four of the ten fastest Japanese women ever over the distance lined up to gun for the great Kayoko Fukushi's 8:44.40 record dating back to 2002. From the gun it was out at NR pace, with pacers Hellen Ekalale (Toyota Jidoshokki) an…

Lemeteki and Aoki Win Shibestu Half

Kenyan Razini Lemeteki (Takushoku Univ.) and relative unknown Nanami Aoki (Iwatani Sangyo) took the top spots in hot and sunny conditions at the Shibetsu Half Marathon in Hokkaido. With Kenta Murayama (Asahi Kasei) doing early frontrunning in the men's race only to fade to a 20th-place finish in 1:06:40 Lemeteki had little competition for the win in 1:03:25. 2017 Shibetsu winner Tsubasa Hayakawa (Toyota) was the top Japanese man at 2nd in 1:03:42, beating MGC Race Olympic marathon trials qualifiers Daichi Kamino (New Balance) and Naoki Okamoto (Chugoku Denryoku) - by 4 seconds and 11 seconds. Other MGC Race qualifiers Masato Imai (Toyota Jidoshokki), Yuji Iwata (MHPS) and Ryo Kiname (MHPS) all struggled, none of them breaking 66 minutes.

Aoki won the women's race easily in 1:15:12 by almost a minute over Mai Nagaoka (Sysmex). MGC Race qualifiers Reia Iwade (Under Armour) and Keiko Nogami (Juhachi Ginko) were listed to start but apparently did not run.
33rd Suffolkland Shibets…

Koike Runs Japan's Third Sub-10, Niiya Clears Doha 5000 m Standard - Weekend Track Highlights

Japanese athletes were busy on the track overseas this weekend. At Friday's Stumptown Twilight meet in Portland, indoor mile Asian record holder Nanami Arai (Honda) took 2nd in the men's 1500 m in 3:39.58, his second time this season breaking 3:40. It used to be a rarity to see a Japanese man clear 3:40, something that happened once every couple of years, but so far this season four Japanese men have done it a total of six times. If the distance had even a fraction of the prestige of the Hakone Ekiden, or of that it has in the U.S., there's no doubt there'd be more.

Speaking of distances with prestige, on the first day of London's Muller Anniversary Games Diamond League spectacular Yuki Koike (Sumitomo Denko) became the third Japanese man to join the sub-10 club, running 9.98 (+0.5 m/s) for 4th in the men's 100 m final. Koike also ran 2nd on the Japanese men's 4x100 m relay team, which clocked a season best 37.78 for 2nd despite featuring only two regulars…