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Meijo University Wins Second-Straight Mount Fuji Women's Ekiden National Title

The Mount Fuji Women's Ekiden, the National University Women's Ekiden Championships Invitational, took place Dec. 30 in Shizuoka. 22 universities from across the country and two select teams competed for the national title in the midst of cold rain, with Nagoya's Meijo University covering the seven-stage, 43.4 km course in 2:23:09 to win for the second year in a row.

After a slow start that saw it sitting 3rd halfway through the race, Meijo's fourth runner Yuma Yamamoto ran a course record 13:55 for her 4.4 km stage to cut the defending champs' deficit way down. Meijo's next runner, 2019 World University Championships half marathon silver medalist Rika Kaseda, ran the fastest time for the race's longest stage to move the team up from 3rd to 1st. Sixth runner Narumi Kobayashi likewise won her stage on time to give Meijo a lead it kept all the way through the uphill anchor stage.

Meijo's win was both its second-straight and second ever and followed its w…

Buchanan and Takano Win Year-End Half Marathon

Australian Andrew Buchanan took over a minute and a half off his PB to win the third running of Tokyo's Year-End Half Marathon Dec. 29 in the western suburb of Tachikawa.

Conceived of as a race targeting university and corporate league men whose teams had missed out on qualifying for the New Year and Hakone Ekidens and for amateurs to get the chance to run alongside them, the Year-End Half Marathon covers four rolling laps of Showa Kinen Park, the same site used for the Hakone Ekiden Qualifier half marathon and National University Men's Half Marathon.

Buchanan ran as part of a lead group of five near 1:03-flat pace, with the group shaking down to four by 15 km. As Buchanan started to push over the final lap longtime leader Koga Matsuo (Josai Univ.) dropped off, leaving Shingo Moriyama (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) and Taiyo Iwasaki (Jobu Univ.) to compete for the win. Neither was up to the task, Buchanan kicking away for the win in 1:02:50 good enough to make him the fourth-fastes…

Championship Ekiden Week is Here - Mount Fuji, New Year and Hakone Previews

Championship ekiden week is here, four days of road relay action spread across five days from Dec. 30 to Jan. 3, all broadcast live to millions of fans across the nation.

Last year Nagoya's Meijo University beat five-time champ Ritsumeikan University to win the Mount Fuji Women's Ekiden, the National University Women's Ekiden Championships invitational, in course record time. This season Meijo looked pretty well unbeatable at the mid-season Morinomiyako Ekiden, beating runner-up Daito Bunka University by over two and a half minutes and Ritsumeikan by more than three over Morinomiyako's six-stage, 38.1 km course. Mount Fuji's is more demanding, seven hilly stages totaling 43.4 km through the foothills of Mount Fuji. Last year Meijo, Daito Bunka and Ritsumeikan finished within two and a half minutes of each other, and with Meijo looking even better this season it'll be hard for either of its main rival teams, or any others, to close that gap up. Watch the Mount …

Ichiyama and Shitara Top 2019 Japanese Distance Rankings

Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) and Yuta Shitara (Honda) topped JRN's 2019 Japanese distance rankings as the overall female and male athletes of the year despite neither succeeding in qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic team.

Just 21 years old, Ichiyama debuted at March's Tokyo Marathon in 2:24:33, then came back the next month with a 2:27:27 in London to qualify for the MGC Race Olympic marathon trials. En route to the MGC Race she won July's Hakodate Half Marathon in an all-time Japanese #8 time of 1:08:49 before taking the Olympic trials out at national record pace. She fell short of making the team, but after bouncing back in time for ekiden season she wrapped the year with a PB of 31:34.56 at December's National Corporate Time Trials meet.

Struggling with injury ever since his marathon national record at the 2018 Tokyo Marathon, Shitara returned with a 1:01:36 tuneup at April's Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon before dropping the fastest Japnaese 10000 m of the year, 27:53.6…

JRN's Ten Most-Read Stories of 2019

The New Year and Hakone Ekidens were big news among JRN readers as always. But in Japanese long distance, this year was all about the 2020 Olympic marathon, and especially about the Sept. 15 MGC Race, Japan's first modern attempt at a one-shot Olympic trials format for choosing its Olympic marathon lineup. Five of this year's ten most-read stories were about the MGC Race, its qualifying races, and about the Olympic marathon itself. The complete top ten stories of the year in Japanese distance as seen by JRN readers:

Tokai University Wins First-Ever Hakone Ekiden Title - Jan. 2-3
After Toyo University held off four-time defending champion Aoyama Gakuin Unviersity to lead the Hakone Ekiden at the end of its first day, Tokai University came on strong on Day Two to overtake Toyo and keep AGU at bay for its first-ever win at Japan's most prestigious race.

Nakamura and Maeda Win Japanese 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials - Sept. 15
Abandoning its black box multi-race national team sel…

'Kamino Comes From Behind to Win Asian Marathon Championships'

https://worldathletics.org/news/report/asian-marathon-championships-2019-kamino-ri-k

In addition to medalists Kamino, Matsuo and Uesugi, Japan's Mirai Waku took 4th in the women's race in 2:33:03 with Marie Imada 9th in 2:48:30.

Sendai Ikuei Girls and Boys Sweep National High School Ekiden Titles

video highlights by NHK

Bringing together the country's best high school athletes in Kyoto, the Dec. 22 National High School Ekiden Championships saw Miyagi prefecture's Sendai Ikuei H.S. dominate, taking the national titles in both the girls' and boys' races. It was the first time in 26 years for Sendai Ikuei to achieve the double at Nationals.

The girls' race, a half marathon distance split into five sections, featured an early duel between last year's winner Kamimura Gakuen H.S. of Kagoshima prefecture and Sendai Ikuei, 3rd last year. A stage-winning run from third runner Moe Shimizu put Sendai Ikuei into the top position, and from there to the end it held on to the lead to win in 1:07:00, its fourth national title and the fifth-fastest time in event history. Only one other school, Aichi prefecture's Toyokawa H.S., has ever won Nationals four times. Anchor and team captain Rina Kimura was overjoyed as she commented, "We started the race today feelin…

National High School Ekiden Coaches' Poll on Iron Injection Problem: 40% Say it "Can't Be Eliminated"

The 70th National High School Boys Ekiden Championships and 31st National High School Girls Ekiden Championships take place Dec. 22 in Kyoto on a course starting and finishing at Takebire Stadium. Beginning this year, the JAAF is introducing mandatory blood testing for all athletes competing at the National High School Ekiden as a measure against the abuse of iron injections to enhance performance instead of their intended purpose of alleviating anemia.

Iron injections are said to increase the blood's oxygen-carrying capacity and so to improve endurance, but since iron can accumulate in the liver and heart, excessive intake can cause serious health issues. The JAAF introduced guidelines for preventing the injections' misuse in May.

As part of the JAAF's new guidelines, all athletes who compete at the National High School Ekiden must undergo blood testing at a medical institution within five days after the Championships and report the results to the JAAF. The Mainichi news…

Tokyo Olympics Organizers Announce 2020 Sapporo Olympic Marathon Course

On Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games Organizing Committee (Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee) finalized the above marathon course for the Games of the 32nd Olympiad (Tokyo 2020) under the approval of World Athletics (WA).

Follow the finalization of the course, WA technical delegate and council member Sylvia Barlag commented, "It is always a challenge to create Olympic marathon and race walk courses. They require a balance between the environment provided to the athlete, showing off the charms of the host city, meeting technical and broadcast requirements, and other factors in order to provide a wonderful experience for spectators and an enjoyable Olympic Games. We have succeeded in meeting these challenges in Sapporo. I would like to thank everyone, including the athletes, who contributed to crafting this course on short notice. We look forward to seeing the world's best marathoners and race walkers competing for gold on our Sapporo courses."

Second Half of Sapporo Olympic Marathon Course to be Two Laps of 10 km Loop

Moved from Tokyo to Sapporo, the 2020 Olympic marathon course was fixed Dec. 18 with its previously undetermined second half to consist of two laps of a 10 km loop. World Athletics approved of the plan, which has runners doing laps of the northern half of the 20 km first half of the course. The Olympic Organizing Committee will formally announce the course on Dec. 19.

World Athletics and the Organizing Committee had been butting heads over what to do about the last 22.195 km of the course, with the international group insisting on three laps of a 7 km loop and the organizers wanting to run the 20 km first loop a second time. As a compromise, the organizers suggested the two-lap 10 km route. The 10 km loop largely overlaps with the already established 20 km first half and has the advantage of reducing preparation and management costs compared to World Athletics' 7 km loop plan.

source article:
https://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/20191219/ath19121905010001-n1.html
translated by Brett L…

A Chance to Score a Spot at the Olympics - Osaka International Women's Marathon Elite Field

The Osaka International Women's Marathon announced its elite field for its Jan. 26, 2020 running today. It's a race that serves one main purpose: to try to get a Japanese woman under 2:22:23 and onto the 2020 Sapporo Olympic marathon team. It's perfectly set up for that to happen, with three Ethiopian-born athletes and one Kenyan under 2:22 in the last two years, last year's winner Fatuma Sado (Ethiopia), pacing for the first 12 km from the woman with the stablest pace control in Japan, Hitomi Niiya (Nike Tokyo TC), and three Japanese women who could conceivably hit 2:22:22 on a good day, Rei Ohara (Tenmaya), Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) and Kayoko Fukushi (Wacoal).

Ohara, last year's runner-up, has run as fast as 2:23:20 and currently has a provisional place on the 2020 Olympic team after finishing 3rd at September's MGC Race Olympic marathon trials. She's the one who stands to get knocked out if anyone hits the 2:22:22 standard, so while Nagoya might have m…

Osaka Half Marathon Elite Field Highlights

Held alongside the Osaka International Women's Marathon, its companion Osaka Half Marathon has grown from a mass-participation mixed gender event to now feature as one of Japan's top post-ekiden season half marathons. Not being a national team selection event for the World Half Marathon Championships it doesn't get many of the big names, who mostly line up a week later in Marugame, but the fields are definitely not bad.

On the women's side, last year's winner Reia Iwade (Under Armour), the fastest female Japanese marathoner of 2019, is back as the only woman in the race to have broken 70 minutes. But she has serious competition from Yuka Hori (Panasonic), only 1:11:05 at the 2018 National Corporate Half but fresh off a 31:38.63 PB for 10000 m earlier this month. 10000 m collegiate national record holder Hikari Yoshimoto (Daihatsu) should also be one of the bigger threats to Iwade after a brilliant anchor run at last month's National Corporate Women's Ekide…

Mutsmikita Girls and Ichikai Boys Win First National Junior High School Ekiden Titles

The 27th National Junior High School Ekiden took place Dec. 15 in Saga's Kibogaoka Bunka Park. Aichi prefecture's Mutsumikita J.H.S. won the five-stage, 12.0 km girls' race in 41:43, while Tochigi prefecture's Ichigai J.H.S. took the six-stage, 18.0 km boys' race in 57:23. For both schools it was the first time to win the national title.

With a stage-winning run from their third runner the Mutsumikita girls moved up from 4th to 1st, holding steady over the last two stages to take the win. Nanao J.H.S. of Ishikawa prefecture was 25 seconds behind in 2nd, with Fukuoka's Asakawa J.H.S. 3rd.

The Ichigai boys ran a steady race to hold the top position throughout. Anchor Ginga Yokota started with the lead and just held off a tough challenge from Chiba's Abiko J.H.S., who came in just 9 seconds behind him for 2nd. Last year's national champion Katsura J.H.S. of Kyoto was 3rd.

source article:
https://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/201912150000244.htm…

Purdue Over Maeda at Sanyo Ladies Half, Cliff Betters Own Canadian NR

The first of Japan's selection races for next year's World Half Marathon Championships, the Sanyo Ladies Road Race saw a pack of seven including last year's winner Honami Maeda (Tenmaya), 2:21 marathoner Yuka Ando (Wacoal), the U.K.'s Charlotte Purdue, Canadian national record holder Rachel Cliff and others stay together until almost 15 km before Purdue put the pedal down. Maeda, winner of September's MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials, tried to stay with her, but Purdue had the win in her, taking first in 1:08:45, the fastest time of her career on a record-legal course.

Maeda was next in 1:09:08, bettering her PB from her win last year by 4 seconds. Moving up from a 2nd-place finish in the 10 km in Sanyo last year, her teammate Sara Miyake (Tenmaya) was 3rd in 1:09:23 to give Tenmaya a good chance of having two women on the Worlds team. Ando was the only other woman under 70 minutes at 1:09:38. Cliff, who broke the Canadian marathon NR in Nagoya in March, race…

Yoshimatsu Wins Eighth Hofu Title, Wong Breaks Hong Kong National Record

Running the Hofu Yomiuri Marathon's 50th anniversary edition the year she turned 40, Hisae Yoshimatsu (Shunan City Hall) soloed a 2:39:22 to pick up her eighth Hofu win and extend her legacy as the winningest champion in Hofu history.

Going out on mid-2:39 pace in the first 5 km, Yoshimatsu picked it up to mid-2:38 and stayed that way until the final kilometers, when she slowed slightly. At 2:39:22 she was over 7 minutes ahead of runner-up Mikiko Ota (KSS RC), in a class of her own. Next up she will run March's Tokyo Marathon.

The men's race was closer right until the end, with a pack of nine plus two pacers going through halfway in 1:05:01 and staying together until Kenyans Matthew Kiprotich and Paul Kiprop broke free at 30 km. At first Shinichi Yamashita (Takigahara SDF Base) was the only Japanese man to try to go with them, but Taiki Yoshimura (Asahi Kasei) quickly rolled up to regain contact with the two leaders by 34 km and then drop Kiprop by 35.

Kiprotich responded…

IOC and World Athletics Officials On Sapporo Junket to See Potential Olympic Marathon Course

IOC and World Athletics officials are in Sapporo to see the potential course for next summer's Tokyo Olympics marathon. On the morning of Dec. 14, a group of around 20 officials from both groups and members of the Olympic Games Organizing Committee visited Odori Park, the designated start and finish point for the marathon. The first 20 km of the course have been set, but the remaining section has yet to be determined. The Organizing Committee wants to use the same 20 km loop for the second half of the race, but World Athletics insists upon using three laps of a 7 km loop.

The visiting officials will tour the course by bus until 4:00 p.m., hopefully using the experience to finalize the rest of the course at some point in the near future. Organizing Committee executive Yoshiro Mori commented, "All three groups are thinking in terms of wrapping it up next week."

source articles:
http://www.news24.jp/nnn/news16434946.html
https://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20191214-00000102-ky…

A Crisis for Tokyo Olympics Over IOC Promise that Marathon Swimming Will Be Held in Tokyo Bay

There is plenty of worry over the heat expected at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The marathons and race walks were controversially moved to Sapporo, but the fate of the marathon swimming event remains uncertain. According to reports by the AP last week, American officials are making a stink about the water quality and water temperature at the Odaiba site for marathon swimming in Tokyo Bay.

The AP reports that even prior to the announcement of the marathon being moved to Sapporo, a group of athletes and 11,000 supporters had requested that the marathon swimming venue in Tokyo Bay be moved. It quoted unhappy voices from the group of athletes who plan to participate in the Tokyo Olympics, saying, "We want to take part in the Olympics, but what kind of price will we have to pay?" In addition, it said that a group of American officials were scouting locations for an alternate venue in one of the lakes at the base of Mount Fuji.

The Tokyo Olympics marathon swimming competition is a 10…

Tokyo Paralympics Marathon Course to Remain Unchanged and In Tokyo

A few weeks ago the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games marathons were abruptly moved to Sapporo on a whim by the IOC. The 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games marathon, however, will still be held in Tokyo as scheduled on Sept. 6, the final day of the Games. With runners faced by a variety of physical challenges all competing for gold, the Paralympic marathon can be enjoyed from courseside just as much as the one at the Olympics.

The Tokyo Paralympics marathon course is identical to that originally planned for the Olympics. Both the 2012 London Olympics and 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics had multi-lap circuit courses, but this time the course will offer a wide-ranging tour of all Tokyo's major landmarks. Starting at the new Olympic Stadium, the course passes near Sensoji Temple, Tokyo Station, Kabukiza Theater, Tokyo Tower and the Imperial Palace before returning for a finish back inside the Olympic Stadium. Organizing Committee official Koji Murofushi commented, "It's a dynamic course unlik…

National High School Ekiden Championships Introduces Mandatory Testing for All Athletes

At a Dec. 10 press conference in Osaka, organizers of the Dec. 22 National High School Ekiden Championships announced that mandatory testing for iron injections will be introduced at this year's race. Iron injections can help to increase hemoglobin levels in the body, mimicking the effect of altitude training. The introduction of testing comes at the insistence of the JAAF.

An official commented, "Iron injections are suitable as a treatment for anaemia, but as a means of enhancing performance they are inappropriate. The injections can have side effects upon the body, so testing will be introduced to protect the athletes." All athletes competing at the National High School Ekiden Championships will be tested over a five-day period from Dec. 23 to Dec. 27.

Background on this story detailing the prevalence of iron injection usage to enhance performance and on the JAAF's pre-Olympic push to clean things up.

source article:
https://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news…

Sapporo City Council Weighs Proposal for $6.5 Million Supplementary Budget to Resurface 8.7 km Segment of 2020 Olympic Marathon and Race Walk Courses

On Dec. 9 the Sapporo City Council heard a proposal for a 700 million yen [~$6.5 million USD] supplementary budget to cover costs of roadwork on the 2020 Olympic race walk course and as yet not fully determined marathon course. 8.7 km of the 10.7 km of the courses under city jurisdiction were judged to need repair work ahead of the Olympics. The road work would be set to begin in early March next year with a target completion date by the end of May.

With regard to the events' courses, on Dec. 4 the IOC executive board reached a final agreement on the race walk courses along Sapporo Ekimae street, but they only approved of the first 20 km of organizers' proposed marathon course. The 2020 Olympic Organizing Committee aims to have the rest of the course settled before the end of the month.

The city's calculation for the road work expenditures in its proposal was based only on the first 20 km of the marathon course. The Organizing Committee had requested the Sapporo city gove…

Two People Permanently Banned After Using Bicycle at Shanghai Marathon

Two runners who cheated at the Nov. 17 Shanghai International Marathon have been permanently banned from the event. According to organizers and domestic media, one of the two rode a bicycle to make up part of the race's distance.

China is currently in the midst of a major boom in the popularity of running and marathons, but incidents of cheating are spreading at the same pace. At this year's Shanghai Marathon four people were penalized for violating race rules and regulations. The most brazen among them was a female runner who ran with a male bib number and was caught riding a bicycle, according to The Beijing News.

Race organizers said that the woman, identified by her last name Zhao, has been permanently banned from all their events, commenting, "The orderly conduct of the race was significantly disturbed." The man whose bib the woman wore was also permanently banned for "being involved in committing fraud and for failure to prevent the events from happening.…

Jepchirchir Wins Saitama, Yugeta Breaks Own 60+ WR, Yamaguchi Breaks Own Nara CR - Weekend Marathon Highlights

Two of Japan's main year-ending marathons celebrated anniversary runnings this year, with the Saitama International Marathon holding its 5th edition and the Nara Marathon marking ten years.

Former half marathon world record holder Peres Jepchirchir (Kenya) dropped the competition at 30 km to win in Saitama. Within the first kilometer an all-African lead group had left top Japanese entrants Kaori Yoshida (Team RxL) and Kasumi Yoshida (Nitori), and Nina Savina (Belarus) behind. The lead group quickly rounded down to four, Jepchirchir and Ethiopian trio Fatuma Sado, Belaynesh Oljira and Rahma Tusa. #1-ranked Oljira slipped off early in the second half, and when the pacers stopped at 30 km Jepchirchir had no trouble getting rid of Tusa and Sado.

Jepchirchir took 1st in a PB of 2:23:50, with Sado a distant 2nd in 2:26:45. After 35 km Tusa ran into trouble, stopping and stretching out her legs and losing ground first to Oljira, 3rd in 2:27:11, and then Savina, who ran a PB 2:28:44 for …