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Tokyo Marathon Preview

Having already eliminated its mass-participation field and over 90% of its staff and volunteers in a pre-emptive bid to stay ahead of the coronavirus situation, with just a couple of days to go the JAAF confirmed that Sunday's Tokyo Marathon would be a go. 24 hours later race director Tad Hayano kicked off the elite race press conference by talking about the difficult position the event is in but expressing optimism about the different races encapsulated in Sunday's marathon. They'll all be broadcast live in 117 countries around the world. A few words on each of them:

Women's Wheelchair
This was hit hardest by withdrawals, with seven of the ten women scheduled to compete pulling out including top three-ranked women Manuela Schar (Switzerland), Tatyana McFadden (U.S.A.) and Susannah Scaroni (U.S.A.). That leaves #4-ranked Tsubasa Kina (Japan) in the top spot and ready to take advantage of the wheelchair division prize money being doubled this year with additional bonuse…

Lake Biwa Marathon Organizers Ask People Not to Come Cheer

The organizers of the Mar. 8 Lake Biwa Marathon have asked people not to come cheer along the course in order to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. People involved with the race are being asked to wear masks and wash their hands, and alcohol disinfectants are being distributed as measures against infection. The post-race award ceremony at a local hotel and an elementary school students' 1000 m track race during the marathon have been canceled in order to reduce the number of people assembled.

source article:
https://mainichi.jp/articles/20200228/k00/00m/050/013000c
translated by Brett Larner

JAAF Says Tokyo Marathon Is Not a Large-Scale Event, Will Go Ahead

With sports events, concerts and other events canceling in response to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's call for large-events to be voluntarily suspended over the next two weeks as a step toward combating the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, on Feb. 27 the JAAF issued a statement saying that the Tokyo Marathon and other marathons scheduled for early March will go ahead as scheduled, saying that they "have only a few hundred runners each and do not meet the definition of large-scale events."

The events in question, all races that serve as qualifying events for the Tokyo Olympic team, are the Mar. 1 Tokyo Marathon, and the Lake Biwa Marathon and Nagoya Women's Marathon, both scheduled to be held Mar. 8. Having already been greatly reduced in scale through the elimination of their mass-participation fields, the number of runners in each race is expected to be around 200 in Tokyo, 300 at Lake Biwa and 130 in Nagoya.

JAAF executive Akira Kazama commented, "A large-sca…

Japan Withdraws From World University Cross-Country Championships

Thank you for your ongoing support. It has been decided that the Japanese national team will not take part in the 22nd World University Cross-Country Championships in Mar. 7 Marrakech, Morocco as originally planned.

We regret the inconvenience and disappointment this will cause to the student athletes, coaches and supporters who had planned to participate, but we ask for your understanding. Due to the worldwide spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, consideration was given to the danger of infection and health risks posed to the athletes and staff members.

source article:
https://iuau.jp/ev2019/22wuxc/22wuxc_chushi.pdf
translated by Brett Larner

Six People in Close Contact With Person Infected With COVID-19 Ran Kumamoto Castle Marathon

The Kumamoto municipal and prefectural governments have released further information on three new cases of infection with the COVID-19 coronavirus within the prefecture. Prefectural officials have identified the bus an infected person used to travel between Fukuoka and Kumamoto, while city officials revealed that six people who came in contact with one of the infected people ran the Feb. 16 Kumamoto Castle Marathon.

At a press conference this week, city officials explained that prior to the onset of her symptoms, a nurse in her 20s came into close contact with eleven friends and colleagues, saying, "She went to the marathon with six of them to cheer at Kumamoto Castle's Ninomaru plaza, and went out for dinner with the other five." However, that information was corrected to eight people who cheered with her and ten who had dinner.

Six of the woman's colleagues in fact ran the marathon, having ridden to it in a car she was driving. Two others had lunch with her in the…

Shibuya Wins 2020 Tokyo Tomin Ekiden

Like Saturday's National Cross Country Championships going ahead in the face of the COVID-19 coronavirus scare, the Tokyo Tomin Ekiden, the championship ekiden for Tokyo citizens representing their home districts, held its 73rd running Monday along the Arakawa river in the northeastern suburb of Katsushika. 23 teams fielded 6 runners apiece, each of them covering the same 5.0 km stage under beautifully sunny early spring skies.

The First Stage was the fastest of the day, with Takuya Saito of Meguro covering it in 15:00. Starting 40 seconds back in 7th, Shibuya's second runner Gary Wilberforce moved into the top spot just past halfway and pushed on to open a 22-second lead over the Hamura team and win his stage on time. That dropped to 15 seconds on the Third Stage, but with another stage win from fourth runner Issei Mori Shibuya's lead grew to 1:03.

On the Fifth Stage it fell again to 46 seconds due in large part to a stage win from 2nd-place Adachi's fifth runner Shu…

Yamaguchi, Matsueda, Morimoto and Niiya Win in Auckland

With the New Zealand and Australian summer series rolling on, four Japanese athletes won events at Auckland's Sir Graeme Douglas International meet.

Kosei Yamaguchi took the men's 3000 m steeplechase just a fraction of a second off his PB in 8:31.25, resisting the early fast pace set by Yasunari Kusu and then dispatching Australian James Nipperness over the last two laps to take the win. Japan's #3-ranked steepler, Yamaguchi's performance moves up to the cusp of top 45 in the world, limited to three athletes per country, putting this summer's Tokyo Olympics in range.

Qualifying for Tokyo for sure in the women's 5000 m was half marathon national record holder Hitomi Niiya. Like Yamaguchi running with early pacing from other Japanese athletes, Niiya mostly soloed her way to a 15:07.02 PB, taking just over 3 seconds off her old best from the 2012 London Olympics and clearing the Tokyo Olympics qualifying standard by almost as much. Niiya said pre-race that this ra…

Urano and Ishizawa Win Senior National Cross-Country Titles, Ishida and Kosakai Win Junior Races

One of the few events to survive the wave of race cancelations currently sweeping Japan as the COVID-19 coronavirus spreads, the National Cross-Country Championships took place Feb. 22 in Fukuoka.

The senior men's 10 km was almost a replay of last year's race, with Hakone Ekiden uphill Fifth Stage star Yuhei Urano (Koku Gakuin Univ.) replacing Yuta Bando (Hosei Univ.) in the leading role of outrunning brothers Kazuki Tamura (Sumitomo Denko) and Yusuke Tamura (Kurosaki Harima) for the national title. Despite windy conditions times were quicker than in recent years, with Urano winning in 29:18 by 6 seconds over Kazuki Tamura and Yusuke Tamura another 10 seconds back.

In the senior women's 8 km, last year's 5th-place and 2018 national 3000 m steeplechase champion Yukari Ishizawa (Edion) came back from a mid-race dropoff to outrun a group of women more than a decade younger for the win in 26:57, beating 20-year-old Yuna Wada (Meijo Univ.) by 1 second and 19-year-old teamm…

Mayor Vows That Soja Kibiji Marathon Will Go Ahead: "What Is This Trend of Canceling Everything That Brings People Together?" (updated)

At a press conference on Feb. 19, Soichi Kataoka, mayor of Soja, Okayama, said that the Feb. 23 Soja Kibiji Marathon will go ahead as scheduled. As concern over the COVID-19 coronavirus continues to spread throughout Japan races scheduled for the next few weeks have been canceling one after another. Kataoka bucked the trend, saying that organizers would take every step possible such as distributing disinfectants at the race venue to make sure it could be staged safely. "What is this trend of canceling everything that brings people together?" he said.

The Soja Kibiji Marathon has 21,000 entrants from across the country, of whom 18,000 live within Okayama prefecture. It has no entrants residing abroad. If the situation worsens, for example if cases of infection with the virus within Okayama are confirmed before Sunday, Kataoka indicated that additional measures including cancelation will be considered.

At the same time, other events within Okayama have had cancelations. The c…

The World's Largest Women-Only Marathon, Nagoya Cancels Mass-Participation Race Over Coronavirus

To all the runners who planned to take part in the 2020 Nagoya Women's Marathon: We wish first of all to express our sincerest condolences to those who have lost their lives as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus, to their families, and to all those stricken ill by the virus.

In consultation with a variety of organization, the Nagoya Women's Marathon has been examining what steps we could take to counter COVID-19, which currently appears to be spreading throughout Japan. We had made plans to conduct the race under the safest possible conditions, but among the latest cases of COVID-19 infection are those in which the route of transmission is unknown. Between the Nagoya Women's Marathon and its partner Nagoya City Half Marathon over 40,000 runners, their accompanying supporters and locals would have many opportunities to gather and mingle, and in light of the new developments we could not assure with confidence that everyone would be able to participate in the event in saf…

Defending Champions Jepkosgei, Tilahun, McFadden and Romanchuk to Return for United Airlines NYC Half

The top two Japanese university men at last November's Ageo City Half Marathon, Akira Akasaki (Takushoku University), left, 2nd in 1:01:46, and Haruka Onodera (Teikyo University), right, 4th in 1:02:03, will run the Mar. 15 United Airlines NYC Half in the 9th year of a partnership between the two races set up and maintained by JRN. Below is a NYRR press release on this year's elite field.

New York, February 18, 2020 – All four defending champions – Joyciline Jepkosgei, Tatyana McFadden, Belay Tilahun, and Daniel Romanchuk – will return for the 2020 United Airlines NYC Half, which will feature a world-class professional athlete field that includes 14 Olympians and eight Paralympians leading 25,000 runners from Prospect Park in Brooklyn to Central Park in Manhattan.

The 15th running of the event will take place on Sunday, March 15, leading the athletes on a 13.1-mile tour through neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Manhattan and past iconic New York City landmarks, including Grand Army…

Fujimoto and Takeyama Lead Japanese Team for World Half Marathon Championships

The JAAF has announced the Japanese team for next month's World Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia, Poland. Six of the ten men and women are fresh off PBs at the Marugame Half and National Corporate Half earlier this month, with three of the other four having set new bests since December.

Set to be elevated from runner-up to winner of December's Fukuoka International Marathon after the bust of Moroccan El Mahjoub Dazza, Taku Fujimoto (Toyota) leads the men's team with an all-time Japanese #2 1:00:06 in Marugame. Three other men on the team including amateur Takahiro Nakamura (Kyocera Kagoshima) broke 1:01 at the National Corporate Half two weeks ago. The only man on the the team not to have cleared 1:01 yet is 2020 Olympic marathon trials winner Shogo Nakamura (Fujitsu), who ran a PB 1:01:40 at January's Takanezawa Half.

National Corporate Half winner Kaena Takeyama (Daihatsu) is the top-ranked woman with a 1:09:12,  followed by Sara Miyake (Tenmaya), 3rd at Decemb…

The Voices of Average Runners on the Street as Tokyo Marathon Cancels Mass-Participation Race and Other Races Follow Suit (updated)

In the wake of the Tokyo Marathon Foundation's cancelation of its Mar. 1 mass-participation race over coronavirus concerns, other races across Japan have begun to follow Tokyo's lead.

After initially announcing that it would go ahead, the Feb. 23 Himeji Castle Marathon in Hyogo has now announced it will follow Tokyo's lead and cancel. The Neyagawa Half Marathon in Osaka announced that it will completely cancel its event the same day, which had 5,392 entrants supported by 1,350 volunteers this year. Entry fees will not be refunded, but all entrants will have the option to run next year's race for free. Also on Feb. 23, Saitama's Fukaya City Half Marathon announced it would cancel its race, saying that it would not return entry fees but would send entrants the program and entry goods and give them priority in entering next year, while Aichi's Inuyama Half Marathon canceled without specifying details, saying those will be posted on its website.

The Miura Internat…

Nagoya Women's Marathon Considering Canceling Mass Participation Race (updated)

Updated: Nagoya has canceled its mass-participation race and, like Tokyo, plans to go ahead as an elite-only race with Olympic team spots at stake. More here.

In the wake of the Tokyo Marathon's cancelation of its mass-participation race, on Feb. 17 it was learned that the Mar. 8 Nagoya Women's Marathon, which like Tokyo features a format combining an elite selection race for the 2020 Olympic team with a mass-participation race, is examining whether it will be possible to still stage the mass-participation component of its event.

Following the Tokyo Marathon's announcement earlier in the day that it was canceling its mass-participation race over concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, Nagoya's organizers were inundated with inquiries from the media and amateur runners entered in the race. The organizers say that they hope to reach a decision and make an announcement as soon as possible.

The largest women-only marathon in the world, as of Feb. 13 Nagoya has 24,002…

Tokyo Marathon Cancels Mass Participation Race, To Go Ahead as Elite-Only Event (updated)

Update: The Mar. 8 Nagoya Women's Marathon, the world's largest women-only marathon, is now also looking at canceling its mass-participation division.

In response to the spread of the coronavirus within Japan, the Tokyo Marathon Foundation has decided to cancel the Mar. 1 Tokyo Marathon's 38,000-runner mass-participation race. Founded in 2007, the Tokyo Marathon is Japan's largest mass-participation marathon, with more than a million spectators along its course every year. A men's Olympic marathon team selection race, this year's Tokyo Marathon will be an unusual spectacle with only 200 elite runners including national record holder Suguru Osako (Nike) and previous record holder Yuta Shitara (Honda).

The Tokyo Marathon Foundation is also looking at significantly cutting back the activities of the 11,000 volunteers involved in the event's operations. On Feb. 1 the Foundation already asked roughly 1,800 participants living in China to refrain from taking part…

Tokyo Marathon Looking at Cutting General Division in Response to Coronavirus (updated)

Update: The Tokyo Marathon's mass-participation race has been canceled. More information here.

It has been learned that the Tokyo Marathon Foundation is considering cutting back on the number of runners in the Mar. 1 Tokyo Marathon in response to the continued spread of the coronavirus. According to a spokesperson, the Foundation is said to be considering options including reducing the number of participants and completely canceling the mass participation race.

The Tokyo Marathon has the largest number of participants of any marathon in Japan, with around 40,000 people entered for this year's race. As an Olympic selection race for men, the elite field in Tokyo this year includes national record holder Suguru Osako and previous national record holder Yuta Shitara.

The Foundation and metropolitan government had previously announced plans to distribute masks to runners who wished to use them. But in light of the continued spread of the coronavirus after that announcement, discuss…

Honami Maeda Breaks Mizuki Noguchi's 30 km National Record and Pre-Athens Ome 30 km Course Record

2020 Olympic marathon trials winner Honami Maeda (Tenmaya) took down two massive marks at Sunday's Ome 30 km Road Race in Tokyo's mountainous western suburbs, breaking Mizuki Noguchi's 30 km national record and pre-Athens Olympic gold medal Ome course record in 1:38:35 in wet conditions. Beating her closest female competition by almost eight minutes, Maeda was strong and about as steady as possible over the tough Ome course, clocking 5 km splits of 16:18 - 16:18 - 16:48 - 16:22 - 16:37 - 16:12.

Maeda's stated goal pre-race was Noguchi's 1:39:06 course record, set in February, 2004 as a key tune-up for Noguchi's gold medal-winning run in the Athens Olympics marathon. That fell by a wide margin, but few expected Maeda to also beat Noguchi's national record of 1:38:49 set en route during her 2:19:12 marathon national record run at the 2005 Berlin Marathon. It took Maeda's fastest split of the race, a 16:12 from 25 km to the finish, for that to happen, but…

Asian Cross-Country Championships Postponed Due to Coronavirus

On Feb. 14 the JAAF announced that the Asian Cross-Country Championships, scheduled to be held Mar. 29 in Hong Kong, will be postponed due to the spread of the coronavirus. The Championships will instead be held in November or December.

source article:
https://www.jiji.com/jc/article?k=2020021401076&g=spo
translated by Brett Larner

Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon Elite Field

Coming right after the announcement of elite field for the Mar. 8 Nagoya Women's Marathon is the announcement for its male counterpart, the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon earlier the same day. Like Nagoya it's the last chance for someone to make the 2020 Olympic team. All they have to do is break the 2:05:50 national record, or whatever the fastest Japanese man runs at the Tokyo Marathon a week earlier if someone there goes better than 2:05:50.

Basically it's not going to happen. Takuya Noguchi (Konica Minolta) is the only Japanese guy at Lake Biwa under 2:09 in the last three years, and he hasn't been himself since his 2:08:59 win at the 2017 Gold Coast Marathon. There's no shortage of people around the 2:09 to 2:10 level, but out of them the only one who could conceivably have the kind of breakthrough it would take to make the Olympic team is Kengo Suzuki (Fujitsu).

At the MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials last September Suzuki was the guy who played domestique…

Nagoya Women's Marathon Elite Field

The Mar. 8 Nagoya Women's Marathon is really the last chance for Japanese women to make the 2020 Sapporo Olympic marathon team. At last September's MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials the top two put themselves on the team for sure. 3rd-placer Rei Ohara (Tenmaya) was provisionally on the team unless someone ran 2:22:22 or better at one of the three main winter Japanese women's marathons. Last month in Osaka, MGC 4th-placer Mizuki Matsuda (Denso) did just that, running 2:21:47 for the win.

So, the task now in Nagoya, the last of the three chances to steal a spot, is for someone to run 2:21:46. Yuka Ando (Wacoal) is the only Japanese woman in the race who has done it before, running  2:21:36 in her debut there three years ago. She hasn't been anywhere near that since then, but with a change to the Wacoal corporate team last year she seems to be going in the right direction.

Wacoal also has its other two heavy hitters on the list, four-time Olympian Kayoko Fukushi and

2020 Olympic Marathoner Suzuki Withdraws from Kumanichi 30 km With Injury

On Feb. 10 the organizers of this Sunday's Kumanichi 30 km Road Race announced that invited athlete Ayuko Suzuki (Japan Post), a member of Japan's marathon team for the 2020 Olympics, has withdrawn. According to an official, Suzuki sustained a pulled muscle in the back of her right thigh. She had experienced pain in her right thigh in late January while training in the United States.

After returning to Japan the pain was diagnosed as a pulled muscle, and in the interest of being cautious she decided to withdraw from Kumanichi. As she recovers she intends to resume training. Suzuki finished 2nd at last September's MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials to secure her place on the Olympic team.

Translator's note: Along with Suzuki, male invited athletes Kazuki Muramoto (Sumitomo Denko) and 2020 Hakone Ekiden First Stage winner Ren Yonemitsu (Soka Univ.) have also withdrawn.  Last year both Suzuki and men's Olympic marathon team member Yuma Hattori (Toyota) were schedul…

Matsuo Wins Third Nobeoka Marathon Title - Weekend Road Racing Roundup

The National Corporate Half Marathon and 10 km Championships were the biggest Japanese race of the weekend, but there was a lot more going on across the country. At the Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon, local Ryoichi Matsuo (Asahi Kasei) dropped teammate Taiki Yoshimura with a surge at the 40 km mark to become the first runner in Nobeoka's 58-year history to win it three times. His winning time of 2:12:02 was also a PB and put him 7 seconds up on Yoshimura. Shota Miyagami (Kyudenko) was 3rd in 2:12:26. Complete results.

The Ehime Marathon also had its 58th running. Haruki Okayama (Comody Iida) won the men's race in 2:14:53, with Yoshiki Nakamura (Ehime Ginko) and Takaki Mori (Mont Blanc) running 2:17:04 and 2:18:39 for 2nd and 3rd, Nakamura hanging on after a hard fall just before 29 km. Two weeks after running 2:32:48 in Osaka, Miharu Shimokado (Brooks) ran 1:35 under the old course record to win the women's race in a new record of 2:33:57. No other women cleared 2:45.



At t…

Ten Men Under 1:01, Five Women Under 1:10 at National Corporate Half Marathon Championships

Before last weekend only eight Japanese men had ever gone under 1:01 in the half marathon on record-legal courses, with another four on the old downhill Tokyo Half course. At last Sunday's Marugame Half four did it, two who had done it before and two who went under the national record in the first time clearing 1:01. At today's National Corporate Half Marathon Championships eight more did it, equalling all of Japanese history in the course of eight days and the previous record-legal history in a single race.

Not too much question why, but the racing was still good. Kenyan James Rungaru (Chuo Hatsujo) earned the win, 16 seconds ahead of the pack at 5 km in 14:33 and only going faster from there to his 1:00:27 finish. The main pack had a leisurely 14:49 opening 5 km before getting it in gear, dropping to 14:17 for the next 5 km and getting down as fast as 14:12 splits between 15 and 20 km. Kiyoshi Koga (Yasukawa Denki) was the first Japanese man across the line, dropping Kenyan…