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Showing posts from January, 2019

Hakone Ekiden Champion Tokai University Team Members Visit Hospitalized Teammate Who Suffered Stroke

On Jan. 29 three members of 2019 Hakone Ekiden champion team Tokai University, new captain Ryoji Tatezawa (3rd yr.), Shota Onizuka (3rd yr.) and Kiseki Shiozawa (2nd yr.), visited Shunya Takeuchi, 19, in a Chiba hospital.

Takeuchi had planned to enter Tokai as a first-year last April, but in October, 2017 the day before the Chiba Prefecture High School Ekiden he suffered a stroke that has left him hospitalized and struggling to recover ever since. Tatezawa brought Takeuchi, who would have been completing his first year right now if not for the stroke, a Tokai University uniform and the team's tasuki, the sash each member wore in the ekiden.

Takeuchi is currently undergoing rehabilitation and cannot speak full words yet, but he smiled widely when presented with the uniform and tasuki. Tatezawa, who last year broke the indoor mile national record and won his second-straight 1500 m national title, told him, "This year I'm going to break the 1500 m national record for you, T…

Hattori and Suzuki Lead Ome 30 km Elite Field

On Jan. 30 the organizers of the Ome 30 km and 10 km Road Race announced the elite field for this year's 53rd running, scheduled for Feb. 17. Leading the men's 30 km division is 30 km collegiate record holder and 2018 Fukuoka International Marathon champion Yuma Hattori (25, Toyota), the first Japanese man to win Fukuoka in 14 years. Hattori will run Ome as one of the 21 men who have qualified for the MGC Race, the 2020 Tokyo Olympic marathon trials. He will face 2017 winner Ezekiel Cheboitibin (Sunbelx).

Leading the women's field is Ayuko Suzuki (27, Japan Post), winner of the 2018 Hokkaido Marathon in her debut over the distance and one of nine women to have qualified for the MGC Race. 2018 Boston Marathon 4th-placer Rachel Hyland (U.S.A.) will make her Ome debut. The guest starter will be 2004 Athens Olympics marathon gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi, 40, with 2000 Sydney Olympics marathon gold medalist Naoko Takahashi, 46, likewise appearing as a special guest.
53rd Ome 3…

Tokyo Olympics Likely to Feature Morning Track and Field Finals to Meet Demands of U.S. Broadcasting

On Jan. 29 it was learned that final discussions are underway for staging some track and field individual event finals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics during morning sessions. Road events such as the men's and women's marathons and race walks are already scheduled to be held in the morning in order to deal with the expected hot conditions, but an additional seven or eight individual events are now also likely to see their finals held at the New National Stadium during the morning Japan time.

According to a source involved in the talks, the plan is under discussion by the IOC and IAAF. As will be the case with swimming, the morning sessions will allow an American television network that has paid large sums for broadcast rights to the IOC to show the events during primetime in the United States. A Japanese official involved in the situation commented, "We expect to see a good balance struck between jumps, throws and track." Events with competitive American athletes such as…

Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon Elite Field

Japan's most obscure elite-level marathon, the Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon has announced its elite field for its 57th running on Feb. 10. Generally a developmental-level race with winning times in the 2:11 to 2:13 range, Nobeoka serves as a springboard for early career marathoners to move on to bigger things. Which hasn't stopped local Ryoichi Matsuo (Asahi kasei) from making it an annual event on his calendar, with wins in 2016 and 2017 and 2nd-place in an exciting sprint finish last year. Matsuo is back again this year to try to become only the second man in the race's history to win it three times.

His main competition is Josai University ekiden team assistant coach Shingo Igarashi, 2nd in Osaka last fall and racing Nobeoka after training run efforts at the Xiamen and Dubai marathons in January. With a 2:15:02 best in Tokyo two years ago Takuma Shibata (Komori Corp.) should also factor in. The most interesting first-timer is Masamichi Yasuda (Aichi Seiko), a solid ha…

Fukushi Looking at Nagoya After Osaka Fall

On Jan. 28 the Wacoal corporate team posted an update on its website about the condition of Kayoko Fukushi, 36, following her DNF at Sunday's Osaka International Women's Marathon. Running her first marathon since the Rio Olympics, Fukushi fell 12.6 km into the race. Bleeding from her head and knees she got up and continued the race in order to qualify for the Sept. 15 MGC Race 2020 Tokyo Olympic marathon trials, but near 35 km she finally dropped out.

On the Wacoal website it said that an MRI and examination had found, "only cuts and bruises on both knees, her right forehead and right elbow. There was no damage to any bones, and it is expected to take only one week for her to fully recover." With regard to MGC qualification the statement said, "Once she has recovered from her injuries, after talking the situation over with her we will be actively looking at her running the Mar. 10 Nagoya Women's Marathon." If Fukushi runs it will be a major addition to…

Corporate League Runner Struck by Car During Chugoku Yamaguchi Ekiden

One of the highlights of the new year, the Chugoku Yamaguchi Ekiden took place Jan. 27, with the Mazda corporate team winning the open division for the fourth year in a row. Including the open, municipal and high school divisions a total of 46 teams took part in the Chugoku Yamaguchi Ekiden's 82nd running, covering 84.4 km in seven stages starting in front of Ube City Hall, passing the Yamaguchi Prefectural Government offices and finishing in front of Shunan City Hall.

Mazda's Shiferaw Bekele set a new stage record of 43:35 on the 15.1 km First Stage, outrunning the Chudenko team's lead runner Amos Kipruto by 3 seconds and establishing a lead that was never broken all the way to the finish. In the high school division, 2018 National High School Ekiden champion Kurashiki H.S. of Okayama won for the second-straight year, with the Sera T&F Association team winning the municipal division for the first time thanks in part to stage record runs by its second man John Mwaniki

Sado Over Ohara at Osaka Women's Marathon, Fukushi DNF After Bad Fall, Iwade and Tanihara Take the Half

Relative darkhorse Fatuma Sado (Ethiopia) outlasted some of Japan's top Olympic hopefuls and her Kenyan competition to win the Osaka International Women's Marathon in 2:25:39.

Stellar pacing right on the A-group target of 17:00 per 5 km quickly shook the pack down to the main contenders, Ethiopians Sado, Abebech Afework and Sutume Asefa Kebede, Kenyans Bornes Chepkirui and Eunice Jeptoo and Japan's Rei Ohara (Tenmaya), Kayoko Fukushi (Wacoal), and Natsuki Omori (Daihatsu). Ohara had already qualified for September's MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials, but for Fukushi, running her first marathon since the Rio Olympics, and the debuting Omori, they needed to either clear 2:24 or be in the first three Japanese women after Ohara and under 2:28.

Just past 12 km disaster struck Fukushi. Tripping in the middle of the pack and falling, she tore both knees and hands before hitting her head on the pavement. Fukushi bounced up and quickly regained contact with the pack, but b…

The Olympic Trials Qualification Deadline Draws Near - Osaka International Women's Marathon Preview

We're getting into the last few months of qualification for September's MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials, and for Japanese women's Sunday's Osaka International Women's Marathon represents one of the last chances to make it. One of only eight to have qualified so far, Rei Ohara (Tenmaya) is one of three Japanese women in the field to have broken 2:24, along with 2016 Osaka winner Kayoko Fukushi (Wacoal) and 2014 Yokohama winner Tomomi Tanaka (Daiichi Seimei). But none of that trio has run that kind of time since early 2016, and for both Fukushi and Tanaka this will be the first marathon since they represented Japan in the marathon in Rio.

That seems to be the overall impression of the domestic field in Osaka this year, it being mostly made up of people at their best two or three years ago but hoping to get it back together well enough to qualify for the trials. They'll have to be under 2:28:00 if among the top three Japanese women excluding Ohara, and unde…

Withdrawals from Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon

The organizers of the Feb. 3 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon announced on Jan. 23 that invited elite athletes Chiharu Takada (JR Higashi Nihon) and Tomohiro Tanigawa (Konica Minolta) have withdrawn with stress fractures, Takada in his right fibula and Tanigawa in a metatarsal of his left foot. In addition, general division elite Takashi Ichida (Asahi Kasei) has also withdrawn due to shin splints in his left leg.

source article:
https://mainichi.jp/articles/20190123/k00/00m/050/146000c
translated by Brett Larner

2019 Tokyo Marathon Elite Field

Hot on the heels of the London Marathon field announcement, the Tokyo Marathon has put its 2019 elite field into the public sphere. With a new date a week later on March 3rd thanks to the impending Imperial succession Tokyo has at last put together a proper elite women's field at parity with the men's field, one including top-level Japanese women for the first time. Change is slow to come, but with this field it looks like it has arrived. 2:18:34 for 2nd in Berlin last year,

Ethiopian Ruti Aga leads 14 women with times 2:23 or better in the last 3 years. Half are Ethiopian, two Kenyan, two Bahraini and three Japanese, with two high-level first-timers, Kenya's Joan Chelimo Melly and Japan's Mao Ichiyama, tacked on. #2 through #4-ranked women Boru Feyse Tadese, Yebrgual Melese and Ababel Yeshaneh all ran 2:19 to 2:20 last year, making the chances of an Ethiopian sweep definitely greater than zero.

The structure of Japanese national team selection and marketing-related f…

Takechi, Ozaki and Mohamed Scratch From Osaka International Women's Marathon

The organizers of the 38th Osaka International Women's Marathon have announced cancellations from Sunday's race. Mari Ozaki (Noritz) has withdrawn due to sciatic nerve pain, Shiho Takechi (Yamada Denki) with a stress fracture, and Maki Ashi (Kyudenko) and Rie Fujita (Kyocera) with Achilles tendon pain.

From overseas, Merima Mohamed (Bahrain) has also withdrawn for reasons unspecified, to be replaced by Abebech Afework (Ethiopia), runner-up at the 2016 Amsterdam Marathon in 2:24:27.

source article:
https://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/20190122/ath19012211020004-n1.html
translated and edited by Brett Larner

Hayakawa and Yamamoto Named New Coaching Staff of Toto Corporate Team

On Jan. 21 the Toto corporate women's long distance team announced that 2014 Asian Games women's marathon 4th-placer Eri Hayakawa, 37, will become assistant coach starting Feb. 1. Mitsuhiro Yamamoto, 55, who coached Hayakawa prior to her retirement in 2017, will take over as head coach the same day.

source article:
https://www.jiji.com/jc/article?k=2019012100995&g=spo
translated by Brett Larner

Karemi and Matsuda Break Okukuma Course Record - Weekend Half Marathon Roundup

For the second year in a row Japan-based Kenyan Jeremiah Thuku Karemi (Toyota Kyushu) broke the course record at Kumamoto's Okukuma Half Marathon. Coached by 1992 Barcelona Olympics marathon silver medalist Koichi Morishita, Karemi took 27 seconds off his winning time last year to win by over a minute in 1:01:21. Joel Mwaura (Kurosaki Harima) was a distant 2nd in 1:02:40, with Karemi's teammate Yuki Oshikawa (Toyota Kyushu) taking the top Japanese spot at 3rd in 1:03:13. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) was 9th in 1:04:04 a week after running the Ibusuki Nanohana Marathon.

In the women's race, Anna Matsuda (Kyocera), coached by former men's half  marathon national record holder Atsushi Sato, took 26 seconds off the course record to win in 1:13:10. Not far off, Kotomi Tsubokura (Wacoal) was a clear 2nd in 1:03:27 with Maki Saito (Higo Ginko) improving on her 10th-place finish last year to take 3rd in 1:14:46.

Also Sunday, up in Tokyo the Akabane Half Marathon ce…

Tenmaya and Kamimura Gakuen Win KItakyushu Women's Ekiden

The 30th Kitakyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden took place Jan. 20 with a 32.7 km course divided into 5 stages for the open division and 6 for the high school division and a start and finish in front of Kitakyushu City Hall. Tenmaya took the top spot in the open division for the first time in 6 years in 1:46:32, while 2018 National High School Ekiden champion Kamimura Gakuen H.S. won the high school division in 1:47:41, its first win in 16 years.

Since the start of the year Tenmaya's star runner Rei Ohara has been suffering back pain and came to Kitakyushu undertrained as a result. That didn't stop her from running the fastest time on the anchor stage, covering the 11.4 km leg in 36:33. "Once I got started it was a lot easier to move than I'd expected," she said post-race. "Our first four runners ran really well, and thanks to them I was able to be the one to break the tape at the finish line."

A relieved Tenmaya head coach Yutaka Taketomi commente…

Fukushima Wins First-Ever National Men's Ekiden Title

video highlights via NHK

Two and a half weeks after delivering the standout performance of the 2019 Hakone Ekiden, Toyo University third-year Akira Aizawa did it again, just missing the stage record as he anchored the Fukushima team to its first-ever National Men's Ekiden title.

The season-ending national championship ekiden for Japanese men, the race features teams made up of the top junior high school, high school, university, club and pro runners from each of Japan's 47 prefectures, an entertaining format that often produces the national debuts of future stars from the next two generations alongside the best of the current one.

No team from the Tohoku region, Japan's northeastern area that was hit by the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster, had ever won the National title before today. Fukushima started well in 4th, but over the next two stages it dropped to 12th as 3rd man Hiroki Abe, the only Japanese collegiate man to break 28 minutes for 10000 m last year and one of t…

Mokgobu and Sonoda Return to Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon (updated)

After an exciting head-to-head last year that saw them race each other to sub-2:10 PBs, Desmond Mokgobu (South Africa) and Hayato Sonoda (Kurosaki Harima) return to the Feb. 3 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon. The pair face not only each other but recent sub-2:10 men Hicham Laqouahi (Morocco), Abdela Godana (Ethiopia), Hiroyuki Yamamoto (Konica Minolta), Daisuke Uekado (Japan/Otsuka Seiyaku), Justus Kiprotich (Kenya), Takuya Fukatsu (Asahi Kasei) Kohei Ogino (Japan/Fujitsu) and Yihunilign Adane (Ethiopia) and sub-62 half marathoners Keijiro Mogi (Asahi Kasei), Charles Ndirangu (JFE Steel) and Shuho Dairokuno (Asahi Kasei), setting up a better-than-average pack by Beppu-Oita standards.

For the Japanese men Beppu-Oita counts toward qualification for the MGC Race, Japan's 2020 Olympic Trials. Sonoda and Uekado have already made it along with fellow entrants Naoki Okamoto (Chugoku Denryoku) and Tomohiro Tanigawa (Konica Minolta), but for Ogino and others it will be just about their last …

National Sports Agency Issues Notice Urging Restriction of Iron Injections

On Jan. 11 the Japan Sports Agency sent out a notice to prefectural boards of education and sports organizations urging them to prevent unnecessary iron injections in student athletes. Late last year the issue of high school ekiden athletes being given injections of iron despite not suffering from anemia came to light.

According to the Sports Agency's bulletin, intravenous injection of iron can lead to excessive levels of iron in the body, which in turn can negatively impact internal organs such as the liver, heart and pancreas as well as lowering the body's ability to produce hemoglobin. Iron injections should only be employed in cases where the anemia is critical or where oral administration of iron is not appropriate.

The notice also pointed out that doctors should not make the decision to administer iron injections simply because a coach or athlete complains that their performance level is declining, and that appropriate treatment should be selected based on proper examin…

Ichiyama and Kirui Lead Marugame Half Elite Field

Last year's winners Betsy Saina and Edward Waweru, both of Kenya, return to the Feb. 3 Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon, but in both cases they have tough competition. Ranked #1 in the women's race is Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) with a 1:09:14, 3 seconds better than Saina's winning time last year. 3 seconds slower is Sinead Diver (Australia) with a 1:09:20 on home ground last year. Sara Hall (U.S.A.) isn't far behind, and with track star Ayuko Suzuki (Japan Post) making her debut off a brilliant run at last weekend's National Women's Ekiden it should be a solid pack up front.

In the men's race, 2017 marathon world champion Geoffrey Kirui (Kenya) leads the way, his best recent time a 1:00:04 in New Delhi two years ago. Only 2 seconds behind is Shadrack Kiplagat (Kenya), with Evans Cheruiyot (Kenya) and the Japan-based Waweru just over 20 seconds back. Waweru's condition is a question mark after an injury at the New Year Ekiden. Kenta Murayama (Asah…

2019 Japanese Distance Rankings - updated 11/19/19

2019 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. Distances will be added as the season progresses. Click any image to enlarge.


Past years:
2018 ・ 2017 ・ 2016・ 2015 ・ 2014 ・ 2013 ・ 2012 ・ 2011

© 2019 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Suzuki Anchors Aichi to National Women's Ekiden Title

video highlights by NHK

Coming back from a win in her marathon debut at last August's Hokkaido Marathon, 2016 10000 m national champion Ayuko Suzuki anchored the Aichi prefecture team to the National Women's Ekiden title in a back-and-forth race with hosts Kyoto. An entertaining format with teams made up of the best junior high school, high school, university and pro runners from each of Japan's 47 prefectures, the National Women's Ekiden and its male counterpart next weekend in Hiroshima make up the peak of championship ekiden season.

Aichi took the lead on the second of the day's nine stages thanks to a stage win by high schooler Yumi Fujinaka and from there to the end was never out of the top two. After a brief challenge from Chiba Aichi didn't get its first real threat until Kyoto pulled up even on the Fifth Stage, both teams handing off simultaneously to the Sixth. Kyoto fell as far as 26 seconds behind over the next two stages, but junior high schooler Ko…

Aoyama Gakuin First Year Takayuki Iida Leads Weekend Half Marathon Action

The National Women's Ekiden was the weekend's biggest race, but across the country four half marathons saw decently competitive men's action.

At Tochigi's Takanezawa Genki Up Half Marathon, as in the last few years Hakone Ekiden runner-up Aoyama Gakuin University ran its B-team of Hakone non-starters, this year with company from the team that beat it, Tokai University. AGU swept the top ten, first-year Takayuki Iida taking the top spot in 1:03:10 with teammate Shuya Iwami also getting under 64 minutes. Tokai seemed to treat the day more as a workout, but head coach Hayashi Morozumi, 52, took the chance to get in on the action too, running the 10 km division in 43:04.

In Tokyo, the High Tech Half Marathon celebrated its 20th running with the edition of a marathon division. Independent Hideyuki Ikegami (Aminosaurus) won the men's half in 1:05:08. Club runner Eri Suzuki (Noshiro Yamamoto T&F Assoc.) ran the fastest women's time of the weekend, 1:19:34, to win…

Nissin Shokuhin to Eliminate All Athletes Except Sato and Murasawa

Two-time New Year Ekiden national champion Nissin Shokuhin Group announced on Jan. 10 that it is making major cuts to its men's ekiden team. With the exception of MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials qualifiers Akinobu Murasawa, 27, and Yuki Sato, 32, it will eliminate its other twelve athletes from the team. It has also canceled contracts with two graduating university fourth-years who were scheduled to join the team in April following their graduation.

The Nissin Shokuhin Group team has been one of the leaders of Japanese long distance, home to top class athletes including current marathon national record holder Suguru Osako, 27. The change in its policies comes suddenly. According to a person involved in the situation, of the team's fourteen members the twelve other than Murasawa and Sato have been asked to leave the team. Those who wish to continue their athletic careers will receive support in transferring to another team, while those who wish to retire will have the op…

Asian Games Gold Medalist Inoue to Run Boston Marathon

2018 Jakarta Asian Games men's marathon gold medalist Hiroto Inoue (26, MHPS) announced Jan. 10 that he this season he will tackle one of the world's highest-level races, April's Boston Marathon. "Not having pacers in a race adds its own kind of stress," he said. "I want to race it seriously as a step toward what's coming up."

The Boston Marathon is famous for its uphills late in the race. September's MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials event also features an uphill at 37 km, and the opportunity to get the same kind of experience was enough to convince him to run. Originally Inoue had been looking at running March's Tokyo Marathon where he ran 2:06:54 last year, but, he said, "I want to run for time when the time comes to run for it. This year is about finding out how competitively I can race."

Inoue made his announcement just before departing for a training camp in New Zealand along with his MHPS teammate Ryo Kiname, 28. Target…