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Showing posts from January, 2020

Kanagawa, Marugame and Beppu-Oita - Weekend Preview

Sunday features three big races on the early post-ekiden calendar. In Yokohama, the Kanagawa Half Marathon always hosts dozens and dozens of university runners from top Hakone Ekiden schools like Aoyama Gakuin University and Komazawa University on its fast if spectacularly unscenic industrial zone course. Kanagawa also features a high-level 10 km that usually attracts some of the better university women.

The top college guys will opt for the Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon, where they'll face off against national record holder Yuta Shitara (Honda), 2017 winner Callum Hawkins (Great Britain), sub-60 men Zane Robertson (New Zealand/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and Kelvin KiptumCheruiyot (Kenya) and more. Spots on the World Half Marathon Championships are on the line for the top finishers. The women's race has three sub-1:09 women up front including Sanyo Half winner Charlotte Purdue (Great Britain), last month's Okukuma Half winner Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) and last year…

'Notice of Cancellation of Hokkaido Marathon 2020'

Aga and Legese Back for 2020 Tokyo Marathon - Elite Field Highlights

Ethiopia is pretty far down the road to overtaking Kenya as the world's leading marathon nation, and its presence is heavy in both the women's and men's fields for the Olympic year 2020 Tokyo Marathon. Lacking London's star power the Tokyo fields won't win many nominations for best of 2020, but with loads of World Marathon Majors top three finishers and winners of next-tier gold label marathons they're still fields at a level most other races would love to be able to pull off.

On the women's side, with PBs of 2:18:34 and 2:18:46 defending champ Ruti Aga and past winner Birhane Dibaba lead a main of twelve top-tier invited elites, of which nine were born in Ethiopia. The other three, Valary Jemeli Aiyabei, nationality transfer Lonah Chemtai Salpeter, and Selly Chepyego Kaptich, were all born in Kenya.

With Tokyo not counting in last-chance Olympic qualification for Japanese women the top entrant from outside those two countries is Japan's Haruka Yamaguc…

Matsuda and Coach Receive 15 Million Yen Bonus for Sub-2:22 in Osaka

On Jan. 27, Osaka International Women's Marathon winner Mizuki Matsuda (24, Daihatsu) received a 10 million yen [~$92,000 USD] bonus for her 2::21:47 time. The bonus was paid by the National Corporate Federation as part of its Project Exceed program. Along with Matsuda receiving 10 million yen for breaking 2:22, her coach Miwako Yamanaka received a 5 million yen bonus [~$46,000 USD].

When asked what she plans to do with the money, Matsuda smiled as she answered, "Save it. That's what everyone around me is telling me to do. And," she added with a laugh, "to watch out for guys coming after my money." While she may not intend to use the money for herself, Matsuda does plan to use some of it for her ultra-supportive mother Akemi. "I told her that I'd like to pay for her to get her teeth fixed. That costs about 700,000 yen [~$6500 USD], so she was super happy and said 'Thank you very much.'" Matsuda also plans to go visit a friend who live…

Asian Indoor Championships Canceled Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

On Jan. 27 it was announced that the Asian Indoor Championships, scheduled to take place Feb. 12-13 in Hangzhou, China, have been canceled due to the outbreak of a new form of coronavirus in China. The JAAF received official confirmation of the news from the Asian Athletics Association and transmitted the news to affected athletes and staff.

The World Indoor Championships are scheduled to be held Mar. 13-15 in Nanjing, China. According to an official, World Athletics is in consultation with the World Health Organization to obtain information on the situation in China in order to make an informed decision about whether that event should also be canceled.

Both the Asian and World Indoor Championships are high-level events where top-placing athletes can score valuable world ranking points that affect their qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

source article
https://www.jiji.com/jc/article?k=2020012700441&g=spo
translated by Brett Larner

Matsuda Breaks Into Olympic Team Contention With 2:21:47 Win in Osaka

4th at the MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials after having run the fastest Japanese women's time during the qualifying window, 2018 Osaka International Women's Marathon winner Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) had to break her own PB of 2:22:23 to have a shot to replace MGC 3rd-placer Rei Ohara (Tenmaya) on the provisional Olympic roster. And she did it.

A local girl by birth, Matsuda was right alongside new half marathon national record holder Hitomi Niiya (Sekisui Kagaku) as Niiya paced the first 12 km ahead of target pace, on track for 2:19:40 at 10 km before handing over to the other pacers. The pace killed off the pretenders one by one, then Ohara, then former half marathon record holder Kayoko Fukushi (Wacoal), who dropped out just past 25 km, leaving a core group of eight at halfway with Matsuda the only Japanese woman left at 1:09:54 ahead of the two remaining pacers.

From there til the last pacer's departure at 30 km Matsuda kept burning off the competition, only Ethi…

One Step From Sapporo - Osaka International Women's Marathon and Osaka Half Marathon Preview

Gather round, y'all, Sunday's Osaka International Women's Marathon has a story to tell. It's the next-to-last chance for Japanese women to make the Sapporo 2020 Olympic team. All they have to do is be the first Japanese woman across the line and go 2:22:22 or better, as better as possible to keep the crosshairs that will be on their back at the Nagoya Women's Marathon in March down to a workable size. Three women on the list could conceivably play the protagonist and hit 2:22:22 on a good day, Rei Ohara (Tenmaya), Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) and Kayoko Fukushi (Wacoal).

Ohara, last year's runner-up, has run as fast as 2:23:20 and currently has a provisional place on the 2020 Olympic team after finishing 3rd at September's MGC Race Olympic marathon trials. She's the one who stands to get knocked out if anyone hits the 2:22:22 standard, so while Nagoya might have made more strategic sense, here she is. A 28th-place finish at December's Sanyo Ladies Hal…

Shitara on Plans for Tokyo Marathon: "Unless I Run 2:04 I Won't Deserve to Run in the Olympics"

In an interview in Miyazaki on Jan. 23, former men's marathon national record holder Yuta Shitara (Honda) talked in no uncertain terms about his plans for the Tokyo Marathon, his last chance to earn a ticket to the 2020 Olympics. It's going to take breaking current record holder Suguru Osako's 2:05:50 national record to take the third spot on the Olympic team. But, said Shitara, "Even if I break the national record and am chosen, unless I run 2:04 I won't deserve to run in the Tokyo Olympics." If he runs a 2:05 national record, he said unambiguously, "I'll probably turn it down."

Commenting on Shitara's statement, his coach Satoshi Ogawa said, "I think he has complete confidence about winter races, but when it comes to summer races he's not as sure he can perform as expected. He probably thinks that there are other people who can do better in summer races."

Shitara also said, "Tokyo will be the last marathon I run in Japa…

"It Was Important That She Have the Moment to Shine All to Herself' - Inside Hitomi Niiya's National Record With Pacer Tsuyoshi Ugachi

by Ryo Ota

On Jan. 21 Tsuyoshi Ugachi (32, Konica Minolta) returned from the Jan. 19 Aramco Houston Half Marathon in Texas, U.S.A., where he paced Hitomi Niiya (31, Sekisui Kagaku) to the win in a 1:06:38 Japanese national record. Ugachi earned praise for his perfect pacing work, which pushed Niiya to take 48 seconds off the former national record of 1:07:26 set 14 years ago by Kayoko Fukushi (37, Wacoal). "Coach Yokota called me up and said, 'We'd really like it if you'd help her get the Japanese record,'" Ugachi said. "I've known Niiya since high school, so I think my name must have come up not just as someone who could set the pace but as someone who could give her a feeling of security and peace of mind to reduce stress during the race."

Ugachi has been known for his pure guts racing since his days at Komazawa University, where he played a big role in its 2008 Hakone Ekiden win. He has spent the last ten years at the famed Konica Minolta cor…

Saitama International Marathon to be Discontinued

It has been learned that the Saitama metropolitan government and the JAAF, organizers of the Saitama International Marathon used as a selection race for World Championships and Olympic teams, plan not to hold the race this year due to problems with attracting elite athletes and other issues. Launched in 2015 as the successor to the discontinued Yokohama International Women's Marathon, the annual Saitama International Marathon was the first World Athletics-certified marathon in the prefecture of Saitama.

But due to its hilly course Saitama earned a reputation for slow times, and cases of elite Japanese women canceling plans to run became more and more frequent. At last month's fifth edition, despite the opportunity to earn a place on the 2020 Olympic team only one elite Japanese woman competed. According to a person involved in the situation, it was no longer possible to justify spending over 700 million yen (~$6.4 million USD) to hold a national team selection race with decre…

Denso Wins Kitakyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden

The Denso corporate team held off top-ranked Tenmaya and Kamimura Gakuen High School to win the 31st Kitakyushu Women’s Invitational Ekiden, Sunday in Fukuoka. A unique race that pits top-ranked corporate, university and high school teams against each other in a season-ending epilogue to last weekend’s National Women’s Ekiden, the Kitakyushu Invitational features a long anchor stage split into two segments for the high school division to make it teams of five against six.

Denso started the race in 2nd, with leading runner Shuri Ogasawara covering the 5.3 km First Stage in 16:59, 3 seconds behind Rina Miyata (Kyudenko). Its next runner, Husan Zeyituna, dropped a stage best to put Denso 9 seconds ahead, but despite a scare from Kyudenko’s fourth runner Joan Kipkemoi Denso’s win was never at real risk.

Anchor Akko Matsumoto brought them home in 1:27:29, 48 seconds ahead of Kyudenko. Despite a good team performance up to that point, Kyudenko anchor Yuri Karasawa was caught in the final …

Nagano Wins National Men's Ekiden Title

video highlights by NHK

The team representing Nagano prefecture overcame a slow start to return to the top of the National Men's Ekiden in the event's 25th anniversary edition. Falling as low as 15th out of the 47 prefectural teams in the race after the first three stages, Nagano's fourth and fifth runners Akihito Kimura and Atsushi Utsuno fought their way up to the top three, setting up junior high schooler Hiroto Yoshioka to take over the lead with an 8:22 course record for the 3.0 km Sixth Stage. 8 seconds up on rival Hyogo with 13.0 km to go, Nagano anchor Yuhi Nakaya widened the margin of victory to 17 seconds by race's end with a 37:18 clocking.

Beaten only by Fukushima's Akira Aizawa on time, Nakaya brought Nagano home in a new record of 2:17:11 for the seven-stage, 48.0 km course. Although only two individual stages saw new course records, the top six teams all broke the old record of 2:18:43, Hyogo taking 2nd in 2:17:28 and Saitama 3rd in 2:17:34 off a sol…

Niiya Runs National Record For the Win in Houston

Kicking off the Olympic year in the third year of her comeback from retirement, 2007 Tokyo Marathon winner Hitomi Niiya (Sekisui Kagaku) ran a Japanese national record 1:06:38 to win the Aramco Houston Half Marathon in her American debut and first half marathon in 11 years.



Running with support from JRN, Niiya brought her high school-era friend Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Konica Minolta), a 1:00:58 half marathoner, to pace her at an even 3:10/km, pace for 1:06:49 with room to spare under Kayoko Fukushi's 2006 national record of 1:07:26. In cold and windy conditions the pair went out faster than planned, splitting 15:37 at 5 km and 31:10 at 10 km, 1:05:45 pace, leaving a field including 2019 Tokyo Marathon winner Ruti Aga (Ethiopia) and world all-time 6th-fastest half marathoner Caroline Chepkoech Kipkirui (Kenya) behind.

Rounding a turnaround into a long section headed straight into the wind the pace settled down to the planned level with a 15:52 from 10 to 15 km, leaving her 55 seconds up …

Mwaura and Ichiyama Break Okukuma Half Marathon Course Records

click photo for complete video of race

3rd two years ago and runner-up last year, Joel Mwaura (Kurosaki Harima) finally got the better of two-time champ Jeremiah Thuku Karemi (Toyota Kyushu), breaking away inside the first 5 km to solo a 1:00:44 for the win and taking more than 30 seconds off Karemi's course record at the Okukuma Road Race half marathon. Hiroshi Ichida (Asahi Kasei) led a small group of Japanese men who tried to follow Mwaura's move, while Karemi initially hung back. Once Karemi caught back up, he and Ichida ran past halfway together before he put on a surge at a water station to drop Ichida and try to close the gap to Mwaura. But a third-straight title in his last race in Japan wasn't to be, as Karemi finished just over a minute behind Mwaura in 1:01:49. Ichida held on to the top Japanese spot at 3rd in a 3-second PB of 1:02:21.

The women's race initially played out as a head-to-head between duos from the Wacoal and Kyocera corporate teams, with Wacoa…

Suzuki and Shitara Lead Kumanichi 30 km Field

On Jan. 17 the organizers of the Kumanichi 30 km Road Race announced the elite field of 15 men and 5 women for this year's 64th running on Feb. 16. 2020 Olympic women's marathon team member Ayuko Suzuki (Japan Post) and half marathon national record holder Yuta Shitara (Honda) are scheduled to lead the women's and men's fields.

Suzuki won the 10000 m at the 2013 World University Games and ran the 5000 m at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. In just her second marathon she finished 2nd at last September's MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials to secure her place on the Olympic team. Kumanichi will be a key part of her pre-Olympic preparations.

Other women in the race include last year's 3rd-placer Chika Ihara (Higo Ginko) and 6th-place Minori Goto (Canon AC Kyushu). Both are aiming for the win.

Shitara ran the 10000 m in Rio, set the half marathon national record in 2017, and broke the marathon national record for the first time in 16 years with a mark of 2:06:1…

Beppu-Oita Marathon and Marugame Half Elite Fields

The Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon and Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon both happen Feb. 1, and in the last couple of days each has announced its elite field for this year's race.

Primarily a men's race, Beppu-Oita has a small international field of five at the 2:08 to 2:10 level, fronted by last year's runner-up Abdela Godana (Ethiopia), with Mongolian duo Byambajav Tseverrnravdan and Munkhbayar Narandulam and a trio of Japan-based Kenyans and Ethiopians, Alex Mwangi (YKK), Abayneh Degu (Yasukawa Denki) and Joel Mwaura (Kurosaki Harima) bumping up the international numbers.

Three sub-2:10 Japanese men, all at the 2:10 to 2:11 level in 2019, lead the home crowd. Rio Olympian Satoru Sasaki (Asahi Kasei) leads the way off an excellent 3rd-place finish at September's Sydney Marathon, with teammate Takuya Fukatsu (Asahi Kasei) and Jo Fukuda (Nishitetsu) also on board. Former Hakone Ekiden Seventh Stage course record holder Keisuke Hayashi (GMO) will be making his…

2020 Japanese Distance Rankings - updated 3/28/20

2020 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. Click any image to enlarge.


Past years:
2019 ・ 2018 ・ 2017 ・ 2016・ 2015 ・ 2014 ・ 2013 ・ 2012 ・ 2011

© 2020 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Kyoto Wins National Women's Ekiden Title for 17th Time

Bringing together everyone from the top junior high school runners to the pros, the National Women's Ekiden took place in Kyoto on Jan. 12. Hosts Kyoto outran Miyagi and Tokyo to win the national title for the 17th time, extending its lead as the winningest team in the National Women's Ekiden 38-year history.

The race started and finished at Kyoto's Takebishi Stadium, covering the full marathon distance in nine stages. Teams from all 47 prefectures competed for the national title. On the First Stage, Nagasaki's Ririka Hironaka, who last month cleared the Tokyo Olympics 5000 m qualifying standard, opened a lead of over 30 seconds on 2nd place and broke the stage record dating back to 2003.

Nagasaki held the lead over the next two stages, but near the end of the Fourth Stage they were run down by Nagano. On the Fifth Stage high school 3rd-year Rina Kimura tied the stage record to take Miyagi from 3rd past Nagano into 1st. But from the Fifth through Seventh stages a trio…

2020 Olympic Marathon Trials Winner Shogo Nakamura Wins First Race of Year in PB Time

2020 Olympic marathon trials winner Shogo Nakamura (27, Fujitsu) ran a course record 1:01:40 to win the Jan. 12 Takanezawa Genki Up Half Marathon in Tochigi. His time bettered his 2016 PB of 1:01:53 by 13 seconds. "I ran pretty much according to plan," he commented afterward.

Nakamura's sponsor team Fujitsu finished 17th at November's East Japan Corporate Ekiden, failing to qualify for the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden national championships. As a result, Takanezawa was his first race of the Olympic year. Alongside him were members of 2020 Hakone Ekiden champion Aoyama Gakuin University, runner-up Tokai University and other top collegiate programs. Most fielded 3rd-year and younger team members who didn't make this year's Hakone lineups, giving them valuable experience for the buildup to next year's 97th running.

Next up Nakamura plans to run in the Mar. 29 World Half Marathon Championships. His coach Hiroaki Oyagi, 61, commented, "At the World Half we wil…

Coming Down From Hakone - This Year's Race in the Cold, Hard Light of Day

Damn, has it already been a week? Time goes by so fast. Times at the HakoneEkiden this year were fast too. Eight guys broke course records on four of the five stages on Day One, and another five broke the records on three of the five stages on Day Two. Two of the three stages that didn't have new records were just seconds off. Four teams broke the Day One course record, two broke the overall course record, and one broke the Day Two record. This all mirrored what happened a day earlier at the New Year Ekiden, where eight men broke the records on four of the seven stages, at least one other missed by seconds, the top two teams broke the official overall course record and two more broke the record for the actual current version of the course.


And not just records. Some of them were historic, epoch-making marks. None more so than Tokyo Kokusai University's Vincent Yegon, who busted the greatest performance in Hakone history, a 59:25 course record for the 21.4 km Third Stage, 2:01…