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Showing posts from February, 2019

Kenenisa Bekele Withdraws from Tokyo Marathon with Stress Fracture

The Tokyo Marathon Foundation announced on Feb. 20 that 5000 m and 10000 m world record holder Kenenisa Bekele (Ethiopia) has withdrawn from the Mar. 3 Tokyo Marathon 2019 due to injury. The statement read, "He has a stress fracture that is going to take a little more time to heal. His motivation to recover and set his sights on a new goal is high, but unfortunately it seems that is still going to take a while."

#2-ranked Marius Kipserem (Kenya) has also withdrawn with injuries. On the domestic front, Kengo Suzuki (23, Fujitsu) has pulled out due to his condition. Yohei Suzuki (24, Aisan Kogyo) and Shinobu Kubota (27, Toyota) have also sustained injuries that will prevent them from starting. In the women's race, 2017 London World Championships team member Yuka Ando, 24, who earlier this month transferred from the Suzuki Hamamatsu AC team to the Wacoal corporate team, is also out with injury.

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Last Chance for Tokyo 2020? - Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon Elite Field

With just under three weeks to go the organizers of the Mar. 10 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon's 74th running have finally released the elite field. For Japanese men it's the last chance - almost - to qualify for September's MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials, the last domestic race with up to six spots up for grabs for anyone under 2:11:00 or 2:10:00 and more for anyone else under 2:08:30 or averaging under 2:11:00 between Lake Biwa and another marathon in the last year and a half. The window on that last two-race option runs through April 30th so there will still be a few chances left, but realistically for most of the men at Lake Biwa this is it, all or nothing for a home soil Olympic team.

There's a good international field of twelve African-born runners of eight nationalities at the 2:06 to 2:09 level to help pull the Japanese men to hit those times. Last year's winner Macharia Ndirangu (Kenya/Aichi Seiko) is back, ranked 6th in a field led by 2:06 men Deribe…

Cheboitibin Breaks Seko's Course Record at Ome 30 km

One of Japan's longest-standing course records at its elite races fell Sunday as Kenyan Ezekiel Cheboitibin (Sunbelx) beat the great Toshihiko Seko's 38-year-old Ome 30 km Road Race record by almost 30 seconds.

Tough and hilly with a net climb in the first half and descent on the return trip, Ome is a standard spring marathon prep run and a natural partner for April's Boston Marathon, with which it has a longstanding athlete exchange program. The 2017 Ome winner, this time out Cheboitibin was gunning for Seko's record from the start, hitting the mostly uphill 10 km completely solo in 29:47, 20 km midway through the return trip in 59:30, and saving his fastest 10 km split for the end as he crossed the finish line in 1:29:06. Seko's 1:29:32 just two months before his first Boston win had made him the only man in Ome history to break 90 minutes. With the best performance of his career Cheboitibin turned the page on that history.

With the withdrawal of Fukuoka winner

Shimokado and Imada Scratch From Sunday's Ome 30 km

Following the earlier announcement of the withdrawals of Yuma Hattori (Toyota) and Ayuko Suzuki (Japan Post), on Feb. 15 the organizers of the 53rd Ome 30 km Road Race announced that two more athletes have pulled out of the women's 30 km division of Sunday's race. Miharu Shimokado (28, Brooks) has withdrawn due to a pulled muscle in her right calf, while Marie Imada (29, Iwatani Sangyo) is suffering from inflammation in her right foot.

Both Shimokado and Imada ran December's Saitama International Women's Marathon. Imada broke her PB by 2 minutes and 25 seconds to take the top Japanese position at 4th in 2:29:35 but missed qualifying for the MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials by 35 seconds. The last race in the MGC qualifying series is the Mar. 10 Nagoya Women's Marathon, with the wildcard qualifying window running until Apr. 30.

Waseda University 3rd-year Kosuke Magara has also withdrawn from the men's 30 km division.

source article:…

Beppu-Oita Marathon to Review Staff Training After Interpreter Refers to African Athletes as "Chimpanzees"

On Feb. 14 the organizers of the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon confirmed that a local woman in her fifties who served as an interpreter at this year's race had published a blog post in which she referred to the African athletes on whose behalf she had worked as "chimpanzees." The woman said she had no malicious or racist intent behind her comments, but a spokesperson for the organizers called her choice of words "inappropriate." Organizers plan to review their training and guidance procedures for all race management staff members.

The Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon took place in the two cities on Feb. 3. According to the spokesperson, the blog to which the woman posted the comments is for members of a sports club to which she belongs to report on what they have been doing. On Feb. 10 she wrote about her work with the African athletes, posting it with public access so that anyone could read it. She described the struggle of talking to the African athletes, saying …

Japan Names National Team for 23rd Asian Athletics Championships

Japan has named a team featuring ten individual medalists from the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games to get an early taste of this year's World Championships  at April's Doha Asian Athletics Championships. Along with its gold medal-winning men's 4x100 m team, standouts include Jakarta gold medalists Yuki Koike (Sumitomo Denko) in the men's 200 m, Seito Yamamoto (Toyota) in the men's pole vault and Keisuke Ushiro (Kokushin Univ. AC) in the decathlon.

The women's long distance roster is strong, led by 2018 World U20 Championships 3000 m gold medalist Nozomi Tanaka (ND28 AC) in the 5000 m and the resurgent Hitomi Niiya (Nike Tokyo TC) in the 10000 m, while the most interesting name among the men is Jakarta 3000 m steeplechase bronze medalist Kazuya Shiojiri (Juntendo Univ.).
23rd Asian Athletics ChampionshipsJapanese National Team
Doha, Qatar, Apr. 21-24, 2019
complete team listing
underlined athletes are 2018 Asian Games medalists

Chisato Fukushima (Seiko) - 100…

Hattori and Suzuki Scratch From Ome 30 km

The organizers of the Ome 30 km Road Race announced on Feb. 10 that both of its feature invited elite athletes Yuma Hattori (Toyota) and Ayuko Suzuki (Japan Post) have scratched from the Feb. 17 race.

Hattori won December's Fukuoka International Marathon in a strong 2:07:27 to position himself as a leading candidate for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and its trials event, September's MGC Race. He is reportedly not feeling well currently. In the organizers' statement he commented, "I'm simply not in the best condition to run Ome, and thinking about the future I've decided not to do it. I'm very sorry to disappoint everyone who was looking forward to Ome. I will do everything I can to be on the starting line of the MGC Race in perfect condition and ask for your continued support."

Suzuki ran an all-time Japanese #3 time of 1:07:55 at the Feb. 3 Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon, demonstrating the potential to make the podium at the Tokyo Olympics. A…

Toyota On Fire - Weekend Road Race Roundup

Everything right now in Japanese distance is about qualifying for September's MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials. On the men's side Toyota currently leads the way, Yuma Hattori running 2:07:27, Taku Fujimoto 2:07:57 and Chihiro Miyawaki 2:08:45 last year to qualify. Five more Toyota runners ran big today to set up some exciting last-shot bids at qualifying in Tokyo and Lake Biwa.

The National Corporate Half Marathon men's race went out relatively conservatively with a pack of 30 rolling through 10 km in 29:28. A series of runners including 35-year-old full-time-working amateur Takahiro Nakamura (Kyocera Kagoshima) took turns trying to get it moving before Amos Kurgat (Chudenko) took off for good to win unchallenged in 1:01:06. Along with Kenyans Paul Kuira (Konica Minolta) and Patrick Muendo Mwaka (Aisan Kogyo) Toyota's trio of Hideyuki Tanaka, Tsubasa Hayakawa and Minato Oishi emerged at the front of a chase group of 14.

As the pace picked up over the last 5 km th…

Endo and Matsuzaki Break National Records in Boston

Indoor track is pretty much non-existant in Japan, but in the last few years more Japanese athletes have been heading to the States after ekiden season to give it a go and coming back with national records. Two more records fell at Friday's David Hemery Valentine Invitational in Boston.

First up, in his indoor debut 20-year-old Hyuga Endo (Sumitomo Denko) ran 13:27.81 to break the indoor 5000 m national record set five years ago in New York by Suguru Osako by 0.19. Endo was one of Japan's all-time best high schoolers. Now in his second year in the corporate leagues after opting to skip university he is coached by Yasuyuki Watanabe, Osako's former coach at Waseda University. Also in the same race, Hiroki Matsueda (Fujitsu) was 6th in 13:47.64.

Three hours later, Riko Matsuzaki (Sekisui Kagaku) ran 9:00.86 in the women's 3000 m, taking 0.53 off the national record set way back in 1999 by Akiko Kawashima at the Maebashi World Indoor Championships. Matsuzaki is in the mid…

Tokyo Marathon Course Record Holder Sarah Chepchirchir Provisionally Suspended for Doping Offenses

A training partner of disgraced Rio Olympics gold medalist Jemima Sumgong, Tokyo Marathon course record holder and Japan all-comers' record holder Sarah Chepchirchir of Kenya has been provisionally suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit for use of prohibited substances or methods. Chepchirchir's suspension follows the announcement last month of an eight-year suspension for Sumgong for doping-related offenses and an attempted coverup.

Both Chepchirchir and Sumgong are represented by agent Federico Rosa, whose other Kenyan clients include two-time Commonwealth Games medalist Lucy Kabuu, suspended last month for two years for doping, former Boston Marathon course record holder Rita Jeptoo, who lost her title and record with a four-year doping suspension, and former Olympic 1500 m gold medalist Asbel Kiprop, found to have tested positive for EPO. Rosa is scheduled to have athletes including 2018 Abu Dhabi Marathon winners Marius Kipserem (Kenya) and Ababel Yeshaneh (Ethiopia),…

National Corporate Half Marathon, Nobeoka Marathon and More - Weekend Preview

It's a relatively quiet weekend ahead in the middle of Japan's busiest road racing season, but there are still four important races going on in the southern part of the country. The biggest is the National Corporate Half Marathon and 10 km Championships in Yamaguchi.  Men's national record holder Yuta Shitara (Honda) is entered in what would be his first race since catching the flu post-Fukuoka and leads the domestic component of a field that includes nine men with recent sub-1:02 times and a million more right on the cusp. If he runs his main competition is sub-60 man Paul Kuira (Konica Minolta). 61:30ish runners Keisuke Nakatani (Nissin Shokuhin) and Kengo Suzuki (Fujitsu) will be looking to make comebacks after long periods of injury.

The women's field is split between the half marathon and 10 km. Only three women in the half have broken 70 minutes before, Miho Shimizu (Hokuren) doing it the most recently with a 1:09:27 at Nationals in 2016. Shiori Yano (Canon AC K…

Hattori and Suzuki Lead National Cross Country Championships Entry Lists

Entry lists were announced Feb. 6 for the 2019 National Cross Country Championships, to be held Feb. 23 in Fukuoka's Uminonakamichi Kaihin Park.

The senior men's 10 km field of 165 is led by last year's 5000 m national champion Hazuma Hattori (Toenec), 2019 Marugame Half Marathon 4th-placer and new Aoyama Gakuin University captain Takato Suzuki, and Fukuoka native Shota Onizuka who ran the First Stage on 2019 Hakone Ekiden champion Tokai University's winning team.

The senior women's 8 km features Yuka Hori, Fifth Stage record breaker at last year's National Corporate Women's Ekiden for national champion Panasonic, her teammate and Third Stage winner Nanami Watanabe and 2018 Asian Games 5000 m 6th-placer Minami Yamanouchi (Kyocera). 102 women are scheduled to run. The national championships will also include junior men's 8 km and junior women's 6 km races.

JAAF marathon development project leader Toshihiko Seko commented, "The men's race sh…

Okayama Marathon Has Record-Breaking Economic Impact on Local Community

On Feb. 5 the organizing committee of last November's 2018 Okayama Marathon announced that the event brought a record 1,580,000,000 yen [~$14.5 million USD] into the local economy. Compared to the 2017 edition the race's economic impact increased by 110,000.000 yen [~$14.5 million USD] thanks in part to a larger number of runners from overseas and beautiful weather that brought out more spectators along the course. The race's 5th running is scheduled for Nov. 10 this year.

16,547 runners took part in last year's Okayama Marathon and fun run, and factoring in visitors to the event venue, volunteers and others, a total of roughly 293,000 people participated, an increase of 8000 over 2017. Based on 2065 valid responses to a participants' survey, runners spent a total of 1,040,000,000 yen [~$9.5 million USD] locally on food and accommodations, an increase of 80,000,000 yen [~$750,000 USD]. Visitors from outside Okayama prefecture spent an average of 23,624 yen [~$225 …

Andrew Epperson on His Beppu-Oita Breakthrough (updated)

Sunday’s Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, the top-level race in Japan’s second tier of elite men’s marathons, saw some historic results, with fourteen men breaking 2:12, ten of them Japanese. Given last year’s Tokyo Marathon, where nine Japanese men went sub-2:10, that might not seem like a big deal. But there were virtually no A-list Japanese men in the race, most of the ten who broke 2:12 heading into the race with PBs in only the 2:12 to 2:15 range and a few of them guys who never made their university ekiden teams’ starting rosters. For perspective, the United States has never had ten men under 2:12 in an entire year on record-eligible courses, and even including ineligible ones the only time it has ever happened was thanks to the tailwind-aided 1983 Boston Marathon. It’s pretty clear that something special happened in Beppu.

One of the runners who benefited from that special something was American Andrew Epperson. An assistant coach at Colorado State University, Epperson came to Bepp…

Nageeye and Saina Win Marugame Half, Suzuki 1:07:55 Debut for All-Time Japanese #3

It was one of those magical Marugame days when everything, almost everything, went right, when despite an uphill second half everyone, almost everyone, ran a PB they'll probably never touch again. Defending Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon winner Betsy Saina (Kenya) taking over a minute off her best to beat the debuting Ayuko Suzuki (Japan Post) to the line 1:07:49 to 1:07:55, Suzuki's time landing her at all-time #3 on the Japanese charts. 41-year-old 3rd-placer Sinead Diver (Australia) running a masters' world record 1:08:55. And more down the line.

And on the men's side, Abdi Nageeye (Netherlands) knocking almost two minutes off his best to outrun former Ageo City Half Marathon course record holder Simon Kariuki (Nihon Yakka Univ.) over the last 5 km for a national record 1:00:24 to Kariuki's 1:00:43 PB. 3rd-placer Jack Rayner (Australia) narrowly holding off a fast-closing pack of five Japanese collegiate and corporate men in 1:01:36 with all five b…

Laqouahi and Yamaguchi Take Beppu-Oita, Futaoka Leads Three Japanese Men Sub-2:10 for First Time

The Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon is known for its winds, but at today's 68th running they held off until almost the end of the race, setting the stage for Beppu-Oita's deepest-ever field to go hard from the start. A lead pack of around 40 hit 5 km in 15:00, 2:06:36 pace, backing off a bit from there but staying on high-2:07 to low-2:08 pace until the final pacer stepped off at 30 km. As in Osaka last week and Marugame earlier today, one of the favorites fell early in the race and had to drop out, in this case 2018 Hokkaido Marathon winner Naoki Okamoto (Chugoku Denryoku), already qualified for the 2020 Olympic trials but in great shape and going for a fast time. Okamoto broke his left elbow in the fall, which will reportedly take two months to completely heal.

Qualification for the trials event, September's MGC Race, weighed heavily on the minds of the Japanese men, dozens of whom stayed with the pace as long as they could. A short way back 2:16-level American Andrew Eppe…

2:21:36 Marathoner Yuka Ando Joins Wacoal Team

On Feb. 1 the Wacoal women's corporate team announced that 2017 London World Championships team member Yuka Ando, 24, has joined its organization. Ando previously ran for the Suzuki Hamamatsu AC team.

Known for her unique "ninja running" style with minimal upper body motion and arms held almost straight down at her sides, Ando ran 2:21:36 at the 2017 Nagoya Women's Marathon to become the fourth-fastest Japanese woman ever and break the debut marathon national record. She placed only an unremarkable 17th at the World Championships later that year, but with a 2:27:37 at the 2018 Osaka International Women's Marathon she qualified for September's MGC Race, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics marathon trials event.

The Suzuki Hamamatsu AC team has undergone repeated coaching staff changes in recent years. In her new environment alongside half marathon national record holder Kayoko Fukushi Ando will now be able to target the Tokyo Olympics.

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Beppu-Oita, Marugame and More - Weekend Preview

With championship ekiden season a wrap this weekend gets Japan's winter road racing season up to full steam. The main race of the weekend is Sunday's Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon. Everything is about qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics more-or-less one-shot trials right now, and that's obvious with a look at what's probably the strongest-ever Beppu-Oita entry list. Ten men in the field have broken 2:10 in the last three years, five of them Japanese, with last year's top two Desmond Mokgobu (South Africa) and Hayato Sonoda (Kurosaki Harima) leading the way.

Sonoda, Daisuke Uekado (Otsuka Seiyaku) and 2018 Hokkaido Marathon winner Naoki Okamoto (Chugoku Denryoku) have already qualified for September's MGC Race trials event, but anyone else in the 2:10 to 2:11 range will have a shot. With a 2:09:36 in Tokyo last year Kohei Ogino (Fujitsu) only needs to run 2:12:24 to qualify, making him the probable favorite to qualify, but the field also features the debut…

Inoue Returns from New Zealand Training Camp Ahead of Boston: "More Than Just Running It I Want to Win"

Don't set limits on yourself. 2018 Jakarta Asian Games marathon gold medalist and all-time Japanese #5 man at 2:06:54, Hiroto Inoue (26, MHPS) returned to Japan on Jan. 31 after three weeks of training in New Zealand for the Apr. 15 Boston Marathon. Even though New Zealand was hit by a severe heat wave with temperatures going over 30˚C, he completed a 50 km run and two 40 km runs. Inoue was positive about the training camp, saying, "I built up a good base and ran according to purpose. The sunshine was brutally strong and there were days when it was really windy, but by training hard in the midst of tough conditions I've put in the groundwork to be able to handle the distance." His coach Jun Kuroki, 47, was also positive, saying, "He had no injury issues, trained well, and had a good time."

The ability to win is what he is honing now. In preparation for September's MGC Race 2020 Tokyo Olympic marathon trials, Inoue will give March's Tokyo Marathon a…

Kumanichi 30 km Road Race Elite Field

63rd Kumanichi 30 km Road RaceElite Field Highlights
Kumamoto, 2/17/19
complete field listing
times listed are best half marathon times in last 3 years except where noted

Anna Matsuda (Kyocera) - 1:10:52 (Gold Coast 2018)
Yuko Kikuchi (Hokuren) - 1:12:25 (Sanyo 2017)
Nanayo Okamoto (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) - 1:12:31 (Osaka 2019)
Chika Ihara (Higo Ginko) - 1:12:35 (Sanyo 2018)
Kikuyo Tsuzaki (Noritz) - 1:12:42 (Sanyo 2017)
Sakie Arai (Higo Ginko) - 1:12:45 (Matsue Ladies 2016)
Hiroko Miyauchi (Hokuren) - 1:13:39 (Sanyo 2017)
Megumi Hirai (Canon AC Kyushu) - 1:14:29 (Sanyo 2017)
Minori Goto (Canon AC Kyushu) - 1:14:41 (Osaka 2017)

Ken Nakayama (Chuo Univ.) - 1:01:32 (Ageo 2018)
Keita Yoshida (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:01:46 (Marugame 2019)
Kei Katanishi (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:01:50 (Yosenkai 2018)
Kazuto Kawabata (Konica Minolta) - 1:02:23 (Marugame 2017)
Reiri Nakashima (Tokai Univ.) - 1:02:28 (Ageo 2018)
Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 1:02:49 (Ageo 2018)
Shintaro Miwa (NTN) …