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Showing posts from 2019

Emi Ikeda Named First Female Head Coach of Ritsumeikan Uji High School Ekiden Team

Three-time National High School Ekiden champion Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. released an announcement on Mar. 19 revealing that alumna Emi Ikeda, 35, will take over as the team's head coach effective Apr. 1. Previous head coach Yoshinobu Ogino will remain on in an advisory position. Speaking enthusiastically at the announcement press conference, Ikeda told the media, "I want to learn from Ogino's wealth of knowhow concerning leadership and aim to be #1 in Japan."

Last year marked 30 straight years of Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. making the National High School Ekiden. Ogino commented, "As I approached age 70 I started to think that I would regret it if I didn't help to develop the team's next leader. The color that has been wrought over a long history will run even deeper, and the Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. name will live on forever."

Ikeda is a native of Kyotanabe, Kyoto. Her runner-up placing on the First Stage of the 2000 National High School Ekiden was key to Ritsum…

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…

Weekend Overseas Race Results

Two weeks after running 2:32:30 at the Tokyo Marathon and a week after a 2:34:49 in Nagoya, Hiroko Yoshitomi (Memolead) ran Taiwan's Wan Jin Shi Marathon. Hoping to break the 2:34:53 course record, Yoshitomi led the lead pack of six women through most of the first half. But nearing the turnaround point she faded, leaving eventual winner Naomi Jepkosgei Maiyo (Kenya) to claim the win in a new course record time of 2:34:08. Runner-up Meseret Gola Sisay (Ethiopia) was also under the old course record, just, in 2:34:51. Yoshitomi fell off pace to take 6th in 2:48:45. The course record also fell in the men's race, with winner Matthew Kipsaat (Kenya) negative splitting a 2:11:17 for the win. Kipsaat was the only runner to go under the old course record of 2:13:05.

Eriko Kushima (Noritz) was faster than Yoshitomi at the Seoul Marathon, running 2:40:55 for 10th. Kazuki Takeshita (SDF) ran 2:14:14 for 12th in the men's race, the best time by a Japanese man outside Japan so far this…

Suzuki Wins National University Women's Half Marathon, Otsubo and Ando Take Niigata

Yuka Suzuki (Daito Bunka Univ.) won a close pack race to take the 2019 National University Women's Half Marathon title, outkicking Rika Kaseda (Meijo Univ.) by 2 seconds for the win in 1:11:27. With a relatively slow start the lead pack of nearly 20 gradually picked up its pace, splitting faster for every successive 5 km until only Suzuki, Kaseda, Yuka Tagawa (Matsuyama Univ.) and Yukina Ueda (Tsukuba Univ.)were left together at 20 km.

With three spots at stake on the Japanese national team for this summer's World University Games one of them had to lose, and as Suzuki and Kaseda pulled away over the last km the third spot came down to another duel. Tagami proved to have the better finish, taking 3rd in 1:11:35 to Ueda's 1:11:38. Defending World University Games half marathon gold medalist Yuki Munehisa (Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) was a DNF, dropping out after 10 km as the pace increased.

Run as part of the Matsue Ladies Half Marathon, the race also included corporate league runne…

'Race Record Assault on Tap in New Taipei City'

The New Taipei City Wan Jin Shi Marathon live stream starts at 6:00 a.m. local time Sunday.

photo: Japan's Hiroko Yoshitomi (Memolead), center, at the Wan Jin Shi Marathon expo with locals. Photo c/o race organizers.

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…

JAAF Introduces Rule Changes to Facilitate Doctors and Race Staff Stopping Athletes in Distress

At its executive board meeting on Mar. 14 the JAAF introduced new competition rules for domestic races that allow doctors and referees to stop athletes from continuing regardless of the athlete's own wishes. At last October's National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships Qualifier there were complaints of inadequate handling of athletes who were in trouble after one athlete who sustained an injury was shown crawling on her hands and knees to hand off her team's tasuki and another became delirious and disoriented and began running the wrong direction and in circles. Medical staff and race officials will now have greater latitude to speak to and even touch athletes in order to confirm their physical condition. The aim of the rule change is to remove concerns about what constitutes "aid" to athletes and to better ensure the health and safety of the competitors.

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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 …

Fast Times in Tachikawa, National Records in Nagoya, Bounasr on Top at Lake Biwa - Weekend Road Racing Highlights

All three of Sunday's main road races saw quality times thanks to a combination of deep fields, good conditions and the promise of national team spots.

First up at the National University Men's Half Marathon Championships in western Tokyo's Showa Kinen Park, Hakone Ekiden Fourth Stage course record breaker Akira Aizawa (Toyo Univ.) led the top three under 62 minutes in a skillfully controlled 1:01:45. With places on the team for this summer's Napoli World University Games team at stake Aizawa waited until near the end to take advantage of the final hills to break free of the pack.

Runner-up Taisei Nakamura (Komazawa Univ.) and 3rd-placer Tatsuhiko Ito (Tokyo Kokusai Univ.) both cleared 62 minutes for the first time, Nakamura in 1:01:51 and Ito in 1:01:52, Ito's mark especially newsworthy from the still fresh new Tokyo Kokusai program. Teammates Hidekazu Hijikata and Yuhei Urano (Koku Gakuin Univ.) were both just over the 62-minute mark to round out the probable li…

Nagoya, Lake Biwa and Tachikawa - Weekend Preview

What do you know, it's another big weekend. The last chance for Japan's marathoners to go the easy route for qualifying for September's MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials by placing among the top six Japanese finishers at the Nagoya Women's Marathon and Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon. Traditionally they're a week apart with Nagoya marking the end of the season, but with the Tokyo Marathon moving the Lake Biwa's usual date the first Sunday in March due to the impending Imperial succession the JAAF has opted to stage Nagoya and Lake Biwa back-to-back the same day.

In the morning comes Nagoya. The upper end of the domestic field took a hit with the expansion of Tokyo's women's field this year, but there's no shortage of talent from 2:24 on down. Only nine women have qualified for the MGC Race to date, but given the depth of the field it'll be a true shock if nobody hits the standards. #1-ranked Japanese woman Reia Iwade (Under Armour) already has …

Hagiwara Overcoming History of Injuries on Road to Comeback

2014 Incheon Asian Games women's 10000 m bronze medalist Ayumi Hagiwara (Toyota Jidoshokki) has finally emerged from a long, dark tunnel. Running her first half marathon in five years this February she broke her PB by one second. "I feel as though I've managed to get the hands moving a little on a watch that had stopped," she said, measuring her words thoughtfully.

Hagiwara graduated from Shizuoka's Tokoha Kikugawa H.S., joining the Uniqlo corporate team where she was coached by Hideo Suzuki who had previously led World Championships medalist Reiko Tosa to success in the marathon. With her Asian Games bronze and a run that helped the Japanese national team win the 2014 International Chiba Ekiden she quickly gained attention.

But when injury struck she was forced to cancel her planned marathon debut, and things started to fall apart. She had a disastrous run in the 10000 m at the 2016 National Championships and failed to make the Rio Olympic team. When her coach …

Sawai Pharmaceuticals Voluntarily Recalls Stomach Medicine Found to Contain Prohibited Substance

A Japanese pharmaceutical company has voluntarily withdrawn a stomach medicine after it was found to be contaminated with a prohibited substance. Sawai Pharmaceuticals has announced that it is voluntarily recalling its Ecabet Sodium Karyu 66.7% Sawai product, a medicine used to treat gastritis and stomach ulcers, after it was found to contain the ingredient acetazolamide, a drug prohibited under anti-doping regulations.

On Mar. 1 the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare conclusively determined that a wrestler had tested positive as a direct result of using the Sawai product in question. Sawai Pharmaceuticals said that although there is no health danger in using the product, it is voluntarily withdrawing it because it is unclear at what stage the prohibited substance was included. The company said that it is highly likely the contamination was committed by another company to which it outsources some manufacturing and that it is investigating the situation.

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Inoue Runs Second-Fastest Time Ever at Tamana Half in Tuneup for Boston

While many of the other main contenders for September’s MGC Race, Japan’s new 2020 Olympic trials marathon, were focused on trying to run super fast times at the Tokyo Marathon, 2018 Asian Games gold medalist Hiroto Inoue (MHPS) did his last major tuneup for next month’s Boston Marathon at the 70th edition of Kumamoto’s Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon.

Throughout the race Inoue went head-to-head with 2018 winner Patrick Muendo Mwaka (Aisan Kogyo) before finally dropping him in the final kilometers. At 1:02:21 Mwaka was more than 30 seconds up on his winning time from last year, but Inoue surged away from him to win in 1:02:12, his best half marathon time in four years and the second-fastest winning time in Tamana’s 70-year history. Only five people had ever broken 63 minutes at Tamana previously, but this year the top eight all did it, 8th-placer Shunsuke Kanbe (Komazawa Univ.) running a PB 1:02:56. Boston-bound Shizuoka Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) was over …

Legese and Aga On Top, El Abbassi and Osako on the Sidelines at 2019 Tokyo Marathon

Headwinds in the last 6.5 km and cold rain throughout kept the really fast times from happening as scheduled, but the 2019 Tokyo Marathon still brought plenty of surprises.

#1-ranked Birhanu Legese (Ethiopia) winning the men's race wasn't one of them. The lead pack blasted most of the first half sub-2:04 pace, only breaking up after rounding the 20 km turnaround. Early casualties included last year's 4th-place Gideon Kipketer (Kenya) and Asian record holder El Hassan El Abbassi (Bahrain), but just after the turnaround national record holder Suguru Osako (Nike Oregon Project) and 2018 Berlin Marathon 4th-placer Shogo Nakamura (Fujitsu) dropped back, Osako stopping shortly thereafter.

The remaining six split into two trios. In the front group, defending champ Dickson Chumba (Kenya) fell back from Legese and Bedan Karoki (Kenya/DeNA) approaching 30 km before Legese took off after the final pacer said goodbye. On the way down to the 35.8 km turnaround Legese's pace approa…

Storylines and Subplots at the 2019 Tokyo Marathon

The 2019 Tokyo Marathon is this Sunday. Storylines and subplots of this year’s race:
The Women The Tokyo Marathon has its roots as an elite men-only race. It’s taken twelve years since 18-year-old Hitomi Niiya became its first female winner, for no prize money or recognition (“I got a nice finisher’s medal” she told JRN last week), for the Tokyo women’s race to get up to parity with the men’s. It’s been a slow, step-by-step process, but this year at last parity has been achieved. If anything the women’s field is better than the men’s. Even before the withdrawal of the top two men there were more high-level international women in the field than men, and that’s even more so now.

Ethiopian power trio Ruti Aga, Boru Feyse Tadese and Yebrgual Melese all have the skills to better Sarah Chepchirchir’s 2:19:47 course record and its likely replacement, last year’s 2:19:51 win by Birhane Dibaba, Aga talking 2:18:30 at the pre-race press conference. But with six other women in the field with r…

Japan Announces Team of 22 for Aarhus World XC Championships

Following last Saturday's National Cross Country Championships, the JAAF has announced the rosters for next month's World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark.

The always-strong U20 Women's squad and sometimes-strong U20 Men's squad are solid, each featuring the top six from its race at Nationals led by junior national champions Ririka Hironaka (Nagasaki Shogyo H.S.) and Jun Kasai (Kansai Soka H.S.).

The Senior Men's team is one of the better in recent years, with only Nationals 2nd-placer Kazuki Tamura (Sumitomo Denko) and 6th-placer Shota Onizuka (Tokai Univ.) giving the team a miss. In their places will run 7th-place Kosei Yamaguchi (Asian Kogyo), a steeplechase specialist, and Yusuke Nishiyama (Toyota), the fastest man on the team with a track 10000 m PB of 28:29.23.

But the Senior Women's lineup is thin. Six of the top eight placers at Nationals were already on the Japanese national team for April's Doha Asian Championships, and of them only…

Hakone Ekiden Hopeful Kanto Gakuin University Appoints Female Coach

On Mar. 26 it was learned that Kanto Gakuin University, which last qualified for the Hakone Ekiden in 2004, has hired female IAAF-certified coach Akari Kishikawa, 33, to join its coaching staff beginning Apr. 1. The Daiichi Seimei women's corporate team is led by head coach Sachiko Yamashita, 54, and the Ritsumeikan University and Josai University women's ekiden teams by assistant coaches Miyuki Tokura, 45, and Yukiko Akaba, 39, but it is virtually unheard of for a woman to be appointed to a university men's ekiden program staff.
Kishikawa, who is qualified as a senior psychology counselor among other things, has a proven track record with two national titles to her name in the 800 m in 2010 and 2011. She will support Kanto Gakuin head coach Yoshitaka Nakagawa, 43, and is expected to play a key role in shaping a stronger team.
At last October's Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai qualifying race Kanto Gakuin University finished only 23rd. Missing a qualifying spot by a wide margin…

Arai Breaks Asian Record at BU Last Chance Invitational

Running at the same meet where 2019 Hakone Ekiden champion Tokai University's Ryoji Tatezawa broke the indoor mile national record last year, Tokai graduate Nanami Arai (Honda) ran an Asian area record 3:56.60 for the win at Sunday's Boston University Last Chance Invitational. A teammate of half marathon national record holder Yuta Shtiara, Arai outkicked Olympic medalist Nick Willis to record the fastest-ever mile indoor or outdoor by a Japanese athlete and take 0.45 off the Asian indoor record set way back in 1993 by Qatar's Mohamed Suleiman. Yasunari Kusu (Ami AC) was 11th in 4:07.21.

Returning to the B.U. track two weeks after breaking the 5000 m indoor national record at the David Hemery Valentine Invitational, Hyuga Endo (Sumitomo Denko) came up well short of Suguru Osako's 3000 m indoor NR of 7:45.62, running 8:02.43 for 3rd.
Boston University Last Chance InvitationalBoston, U.S.A., 2/24/19
complete results

Men's Mile
1. Nanami Arai (Honda) - 3:56.60 - AR
2. …

Rodgers Breaks Shizuoka CR - Weekend Road Race Roundup

The National Cross-Country Championships were the weekend's most competitive race, but half marathons were the main source of road action. Takumi Obara (Komazawa Univ.) ran the fastest time of the day to win the 41st Inuyama Half Marathon in 1:03:52, outrunning Shoya Kawase (Seigakkan Univ.) by two seconds. Kawase's run was a rare sub-64 from a university man outside the Kanto Region, holding off 3rd placer Shota Ezomori (Waseda Univ.) by four seconds. Honoka Sugiura (Chukyo Univ.) dominated the women's race by nearly a minute to win in 1:13:31. Daiji Kawai (Toenec) won Inuyama's 10 km division in a strong 29:01, with Honoka Wada (Nagano Higashi H.S.) the fastest woman at 33:50.

At the 68th Kashima Yutoku Half Marathon, Ryuichi Hashimoto (Juntendo Univ.) won the men's race in 1:04:40, with Hiroko Yoshitomi (Memolead) taking the women's race in 1:15:01. Hikaru Kumagai (Raffine) ran almost the identical time to Hashimoto to win the 13th Fukaya City Half Marathon

Bando and Tanaka Win National XC Titles, Kasai and Hironaka Take Junior Races

Japan held its 2019 National Cross Country Championships Saturday in Fukuoka, its primary selection race for next month's Aarhus World Cross-Country Championships.

In the senior men's race, heavy favorite Kazuya Shiojiri (Juntendo Univ.) broke away from the field early, only to be run down midway by the 190-cm Yuta Bando (Hosei Univ.), who quickly broke Shiojiri and went ahead in the lead. With just a lap to go he was caught by brothers Kazuki Tamura (Sumitomo Denko) and Yusuke Tamura (Kurosaki Harima). With Kazuki Tamura constantly turning to call encouragement to his younger brother over his shoulder Bando had just enough downtime to attack in the last kilometer and get away for the win in 29:36. Kazuki Tamura was 2nd in 29:40 with Yusuke 3rd in 29:41. Waseda University first-year Yuhi Nakaya was 4th, with Yohei Komatsu and Shota Onizuka, two of the star members of 2019 Hakone Ekiden winner Tokai University, rounding out the top six and probable Aarhus senior men's team…