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Showing posts from January, 2019

Mokgobu and Sonoda Return to Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon

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

JRN's 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…

Kohei Arai's Recovery From Hakone Ekiden Fall Expected to Take Half a Year

Daito Bunka University head coach Osamu Nara, 47, spoke with reporters about the condition of 4th-year Kohei Arai. A week ago on Jan. 2 just 200 m into the 21.3 km First Stage of the 2019 Hakone Ekiden Arai twisted his left ankle badly while falling. Arai got up to run the remaining distance of over 21 km on the injured ankle, finishing the stage 8:40 behind the leaders.

Nara told reporters that while there were no broken bones, it is expected to take half a year for Arai to return to competition. Arai is scheduled to join the Sunbelx corporate team in April following his graduation. "In consultation with the team he is joining we have to work to make sure his injury fully heals," said Nara. "We expect that to take around half a year."

At the Hakone Ekiden coaches' pursuit cars do not enter the course until around 10 km into the First Stage. As a result Nara did not see Arai's accident himself and had difficulty judging its severity as the race went on. &qu…

Sakamoto 7th in Xiamen, Mwangi Breaks Hong Kong All-Comers Record - Weekend Overseas Road Race Results

The year's international road racing circuit kicked off Sunday with two races in Asia featuring top-level Japanese athletes. At the C&D Xiamen Marathon in China, ten Japanese athletes ranked in the women's and men's Asian top 100 ran with support from JRN as part of Xiamen's bid to become the first race worldwide to qualify for the IAAF's new platinum road race label.

2016 Osaka Marathon winner and mother of three Yoshiko Sakamoto (Y.W.C.) placed highest among them, taking 7th in 2:39:00 with 2018 Osaka runner-up Haruka Yamaguchi (AC Kita)  9th in 2:42:39, 2017 Osaka winner Yumiko Kinoshita (Tokyo T&F Assoc.) 10th in 2:43:56, and 2018 Geneva Marathon runner-up Hisae Yoshimatsu (Shunan City Hall) 12th in 2:45:32.

Running just two days after Josai University had a disappointing 20th-place finish at the Hakone Ekiden, its assistant coach Shingo Igarashi was the top-placing Japanese man at 15th in 2:20:45. Dejene Debele (Ethiopia) won the men's race for th…

Some Stats From Hakone

Part of Japan's success in the men's marathon last year was the focus on half marathon distance development in university for the HakoneEkiden, a ten-stage race over two days with distances between 20.8 km and 23.1 km. This year's race was record-breaking across the board, boding well for the next generation's chances of matching the current one's achievements in the last year. Half marathon equivalents for the winning times on each stage of this year's race and numbers of runners in the field of 23 per stage under equivalent half marathon times:

First Stage (21.3 km) - 1:02:35 = 1:01:59 half marathon
1 under 1:02:00 half marathon equivalent
15 under 1:03:00 half marathon equivalent
18 under 1:04:00 half marathon equivalent

Second Stage (23.1 km) - 1:06:18 = 1:00:33 half marathon
2 under 1:01:00 half marathon equivalent
7 under 1:02:00 half marathon equivalent
11 under 1:03:00 half marathon equivalent
17 under 1:04:00 half marathon equivalent

Third Stage (21.4 km…

Tokai University Wins First-Ever Hakone Ekiden Title

For years the Hakone Ekiden has been a Day One blowout, the uphill Fifth Stage that ends it basically deciding the winner on Day Two. Last year 2014 winner Toyo University won Day One only to fall victim to the superior depth of Aoyama Gakuin University, which ran Toyo down to score a fourth-straight win at Japan's biggest race.

This year Toyo again took the Day One title, opening an almost insurmountable 5:30 lead over AGU. Bigger problems faced it, though, in the form of #1-ranked Tokai University just 1:14 behind. Tokai head coach Hayashi Morozumi was one of Japan's most successful high school coaches while at Nagano's Saku Chosei H.S., beneficiaries of his cross-country-based principles including current marathon national record holder Suguru Osako. Since arriving at Tokai it has taken him time to get his system up and running for college-aged athletes, the last few seasons exceeding AGU on paper but coming up short at the main event.

But today was Tokai's day. To…

Toyo Leads Hakone Ekiden Day One in Course Record Time

It’s one of the sad truths of Japanese distance running that you never see them at their absolute best unless you get to see the New Year or Hakone Ekidens. That was in full effect today on Day One of the 95th Hakone Ekiden, with record-breaking runs on three of the day’s five stages and just a few seconds off a record on a fourth.

Aoyama Gakuin University came to this year’s race having transformed itself from a lovable underdog to an unbreakable four-straight champion of Japan’s most prestigious race. Last year Toyo University, the last team to win pre-AGU, gave them hell over the first day, beating them to finish on the shores of Lake Ashi only to fall victim to AGU’s superior depth on the return trip to Tokyo the next morning. This time it was all about the two of them again.

Toyo 2nd-year Kazuya Nishiyama, winner of the 21.3 km First Stage last year, took it out hard this time for a few hundred meters, just enough time for disaster. 30 seconds into the race Daito Bunka University

MHPS Just Misses Stopping an Asahi Kasei New Year Ekiden Threepeat

In a 100 km race that came down to a sprint finish over the last 100 m the ascendant Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems team came up just short of stopping old-school powerhouse Asahi Kasei from scoring a third-straight New Year Ekiden corporate men's national title.

Unremarkable over the first two stages, it took a Third Stage win by Tetsuya Yoroizaka with pressure from the superb 32-year-old Ryosuke Maki (Subaru) to put Asahi Kasei in range of the front. But on the day's longest stage, the 22.4 km Fourth Stage, MHPS' Jakarta Asian Games marathon gold medalist Hiroto Inoue had other ideas. Running with incredible smoothness and poise Inoue ran down some of 2018's best Japanese marathoners including Berlin 4th-placer Shogo Nakamura (Fujitsu) and Chicago 2:07:57 man Taku Fujimoto (Toyota) to go 35 seconds out front, 16 seconds faster than he ran last year before his 2:06:54 in Tokyo but still 18 seconds off Yuta Shitara's course record.

With Fukuoka winner Yuma Hatto…