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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

60-Year-Old Hiromi Nakata Wins Tottori Marathon Overall Women's Race

The Tottori Marathon held its 12th running on March 10. In light rain and 11˚C temperatures 3717 people ran Tottori's one-way course that passes local historic sites such as the Tottori Sand Dunes and the Tottori Castle ruins. Running 3:12:44 for the overall women's win was 60-year-old Hiromi Nakata.
"I was as surprised as anyone that I won," said Tanaka. "I had to stop at the toilets early on and lost some time, but I tried using the double inhale, double exhale breathing method that the actor Kankuro Nakamura uses on the Idaten TV show and got into a good rhythm. Thanks to that I could just keep going and going. I had no idea I was in 1st, and when they put up the finish tape as I was coming in I thought, 'No way!'""
Nakata is a resident of Hamamatsu, Shizuoka. In 2017 she ran the fastest time of the year in Japan by a 58-year-old, 3:05:02. In the mornings she does housework and works in her garden for an hour, fitting in 30 to 60-minute run…

Meet Ken Nakayama

Chuo University fourth-year Ken Nakayama is running Sunday's United Airlines NYC Half Marathon, the eighth year that the New York Road Runners have invited top Japanese university men from November's Ageo City Half Marathon to run their half. You might have seen his training partner Kensuke Horio finish 5th in the Tokyo Marathon in his debut a couple of weeks ago. Nakayama is one of the very top graduating seniors in Japan this year, but his route to that level has been one of the most unconventional.

Japanese distance running is highly systematically organized, with top high schools feeding into top universities where the best runners will run the Hakone Ekiden and get recruited to top corporate teams and then go on to become the country's top marathoners. Scouting at the university level is intense, and for the most part it's pretty clear early on in high school who the cream of the crop are going to be.

Nakayama was nobody in high school. He played soccer in junior…

The 2020 Olympic Trials Qualifiers and the New Olympic Standards

Sunday's Nagoya Women's Marathon and Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon pretty much wrapped up qualification for the Sept. 15 MGC Race, Japan's new 2020 Olympic trials in the marathon. There's still a chance for people who haven't qualified yet to get in if they can clear the wildcard standards, 2:24:00 or a two-race 2:28:00 average for women and 2:08:30 or a 2:11:00 average for men, by the end of April. At least two men with good chances of making it, Kenta Murayama (Asahi Kasei) and Asuka Tanaka (Hiramatsu Byoin), are planning to race again in April to try to go that route, and there will probably be others. But realistically the numbers of qualifiers probably won't change too much from what they are now.

As of the end of Sunday's races, 14 women and 30 men have qualified. On the women's side, the Tenmaya corporate team, the most successful at putting women on national teams in the marathon, has produced the most qualifiers with three, Honami Maeda, Mizuki …