Skip to main content

Know Your Japanese Runners in Boston

It's a week until the Boston Marathon. After decades of its best giving it a miss Boston is coming back into fashion among Japan's elite marathoners. With top three finishes in the men's race the last two years we just might see three in a row for the first time since the golden years back in 1965-1967. A brief introduction to who'll be on the starting line this year:

Nami Hashimoto
PB/SB: 2:33:22 (Nagoya 2019)
Hashimoto has been on a roll so far this year, winning her debut at the Jan. 27 Katsuta Marathon in 2:34:18, running a PB of 1:46:30 three weeks later for 2nd at the Ome 30 km, then bettering her Katsuta time another three weeks later with a 2:33:22 at the Nagoya Women's Marathon. Both Katsuta and Ome send top-placing finishers to Boston, making this Hashimoto's international debut.

Hiroto Inoue
PB/SB: 2:06:54 (Tokyo 2018)
Generally considered to have the best chance of making Japan's 2020 Olympic marathon team, Inoue had a stellar 2018 with a 2:06:54 in Tokyo and a gold medal in the Jakarta Asian Games marathon. Pursuing racing instead of a faster time since his 2:06:54, Inoue arrives in Boston off his best half marathon in four years, a 1:02:12 win at the Mar. 3 Tamana Half Marathon. After training for Boston in New Zealand he told Japanese media, "More than just running it I want to win."

Nao Isaka
PB/SB: 2:36:48 (Katsuta 2019)
Like Hashimoto running her marathon debut at Katsuta on Jan. 27, Isaka earned her place in Boston by finishing 3rd in 2:36:48. So far she has been solid internationally, winning the 2016 Porto Half Marathon in Portugal and taking 2nd at last December's Singapore Half Marathon.

Hiroki Kai
SB: 2:17:29 (Katsuta 2019)
Kai won the hilly Katsuta Marathon men's race just 12 seconds off his best to score a Boston invitation. Two weeks later he ran a 1:04:58 PB at the National Corporate Half Marathon Championships. A full-time massage therapist, Kai is a two-time winner of Thailand's Phuket Marathon, taking it in 2017 and 2018.

Yuki Kawauchi
SB: 2:09:21 (Lake Biwa 2019)
After winning Boston last year Kawauchi struggled through much of the rest of 2018, running three of the slowest marathons of his career. Near the end of the year things started to turn around, and at March's Lake Biwa Marathon he broke 2:10 for the first time in almost two years with a 2:09:21. His mother Mika will also be running Boston in Wave 4.

Masao Kizu
PB/SB: 2:18:21 (Nobeoka 2018)
Going the Ome 30 km route to Boston after a 1:01:45 PB at the Feb. 3 Marugame Half, Kizu was the top Japanese man there at 2nd overall in 1:33:30. Coached by former marathon national record holder Toshinari Takaoka, Kizu's only previous marathon experience was a 2:18:21 debut for 7th in Nobeoka last year just before his graduation from Nihon University.

Kaoru Nagao
SB: 2:36:09 (Nagoya 2019)
A former member of the Universal Entertainment corporate team now competing as a club runner, Nagao was 4th in Ome in 1:47:49 to earn a Boston invitation. Four weeks later she ran 2:36:09 at the Nagoya Women's Marathon, over nine minutes off her PB but the best time of her club era by a long shot. In her only previous international marathon Nagao was 22nd in the 2017 NYC Marathon in 2:44:26.

Hayato Sonoda
PB/SB: 2:09:34 (Beppu-Oita 2018)
With an awkward tilt of his head reminiscent of Hiromi Taniguchi, Sonoda has been working his way up through the ranks the last couple of years, peaking with a 2:09:34 for 2nd at last year's Beppu-Oita Marathon. This year he was 8th in 2:10:39, and in his Boston tune-up, the Mar. 17 Niigata Half Marathon, he only managed a 1:06:01 for 21st.

© 2019 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Buy Me A Coffee


Most-Read This Week

Discovering the Legend - Tsutomu Akiyama on Finding Wanjiru, Mogusu and More

Tsutomu Akiyama is a key figure in the history of both Japanese running and Olympic marathoning. A senior advisor to Yamanashi Gakuin University's ekiden and track and field programs and one half of the partnership responsible for beginning to bring Kenyans to Japan in the wake of Olympic medalist Douglas Wakiihuri's arrival, Akiyama discovered and has been a mentor to the likes of marathon great Daniel Njenga, World Half Marathon silver medalist Philes Ongori, World Championships marathon medalist Tsuyoshi Ogata, Hakone Ekiden course record breaker Mekubo Mogusu, corporate league star, Gideon Ngatuny, multiple world-level medalist Paul Tanui and Beijing Olympics marathon champion and winner of the legendary 2010 Chicago Marathon, Samuel Wanjiru

In 2010 Akiyama gave JRN a one-on-one interview in which he talked about everything, from the human side of his athletes to problems with foreign agents, from picking a teenaged Wanjiru up at the airport during his first trip to Japan …

T-Minus About 100 Days to a National Record - Hitomi Niiya's Complete Training for Her Half Marathon NR in Houston

At the Jan. 19 Aramco Houston Half Marathon, Hitomi Niiya ran 1:06:38 to break Kayoko Fukushi's 2006-era national record with support from JRN. Former men's 800 m national record holder Masato Yokota, 32, coached Niiya to that record. Over the next three days he is publishing Niiya's complete training diary for the months leading up to Houston. JRN will be publishing them in English with permission.

To people who aren't interested this will just be a list of numbers, but I thought it might help the hardcore track maniacs kill some time if I got Niiya's consent to publish her training diary for the 100 days leading up to Houston. Please do not reproduce this info without permission. You're more than welcome to give these workouts a go (although I can't guarantee you'll survive).

Notes in advance
・Easy jogs were once a day on Friday and Sunday, twice a day on other days.
・Strength training every day except Sunday.
・Daily mileage totaled about 30 km. Friday…

T-Minus About 100 Days to a National Record - Part 2 of Hitomi Niiya's Training for a Half Marathon NR

This weekend coach Masato Yokota is publishing half marathon national record holder Hitomi Niiya's complete training diary for the 3 months+ leading up to this past January's Aramco Houston Half Marathon where Niiyaran 1:06:38, at that point the fastest time ever by a woman born outside of Kenya or Ethiopia, for the win. This is part two, covering November, 2019. Read part one, October, here.

So how did you like the first month of training? I was really happy to see that so many more people than I expected enjoyed reading about it. I read every question that people left in the replies. At some point I'll answer them all, so if you have questions please feel free to leave them in the comment section.

Today is the second of three installments of Niiya's training from after the World Championships, covering Oct. 1, 2019 to setting the Japanese national record at the Houston Half on Jan. 19. This covers November's training. Compared to October it gets more and more bru…