Skip to main content

Ichiyama Credits Quality Training for Nagoya Success, May Only Earn Half the Bonus Paid to Men in Tokyo Last Week

The Final Challenge Tokyo Olympics marathon qualification series ended with a Cinderella story come true. Indifferent to the cold rain falling around her, 22-year-old Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) ran the fourth-fastest time ever by a Japanese woman, 2:20:29, to win the Nagoya Women's Marathon.

Beating the 2:21:47 that Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) ran to win January's Osaka International Women's Marathon, Ichiyama was named to the final spot on the Japanese women's marathon team for this summer's Tokyo Olympics. She also broke both national record holder Mizuki Noguchi's 17-year-old record for the fastest time by a Japanese woman on Japanese soil, and the course record held by the now-suspended Eunice Kirwa, a Kenyan-born Bahraini, by nearly a minute.

Up to 30 km Ichiyama sat in the pack. "It'd be too much to say I was jogging for the first 30 km, but I was running with plenty to spare," she said. The only runner in the lead group wearing Nike's new Alphafly shoes, from just before 30 km she began to turn it on, clocking 16:14 for the 5 km from 30 to 35 km and dropping all her competition. At the time, JAAF marathon development project leader Toshihiko Seko was worried, saying, "I think she might be overdoing it here. She must be in the middle of a runner's high." But Ichiyama was so strong that she crushed all fears.

Ichyama's second half was 23 seconds faster than her first half. Over the last 2 km she looked as though she was feeling joy more than suffering, and as she kicked down the last straight she burst into tears. "I always dreamed that a day like today would come," she said. Her time of 2:20:29 was faster than since-disgraced Kenyan Rio Olympics marathon gold medalist Jemima Sumgong's 2:20:41 best. Nevertheless, her coach Tadayuki Nagayama modestly said, "Her time was within our expectations."

Osaka winner Matsuda, who was 4th at September's MGC Olympic marathon trials but moved into the provisional third spot on the team with her victory in Osaka, watched Nagoya on TV with her family. Post-race she tweeted, "It made me realize that I'm not strong enough." Her family rallied around her, saying, "Mizuki, do you really believe that? You want to waste everything by just giving up now? Keep trying! There's still something delicious out there just waiting for you to taste it!" "I'll do my best to be able to smile in front of everyone again," Matsuda tweeted. Two minutes later she added, "...but now that I say that, to be honest, it's going to take a little while."

The key that opened Ichiyama's door to the Olympics was her training. At the trials race she led at national record pace before slowing to 6th, but since then she and Nagayama developed an approach for overcoming the second half of the marathon. Based at high altitude in Albuquerque, U.S.A., one of Ichiyama's main workouts was 8x5000 m, running the first six with a pacer at 3:20/km and then running the last two alone at a faster pace. Her splits in Nagoya were almost identical. "I raced the way I trained," she said post-race. "To move up to the next level you need high-quality training. I'm going to do something cool as an Olympic marathoner."

By running under 2:21:59 in Nagoya, Ichiyama cleared the National Corporate Federation-sponsored Project Exceed A-level criteria for earning a bonus of 10,000,000 yen [~$96,000 USD] with another 5,000,000 yen [~$48,000 USD] for her coach or team. Her teammate Yuka Ando, runner-up in 2:22:41, also qualified for the B-level 5,000,000 yen bonus with a 2,500,000 yen [~$24,000 USD] coach bonus. But because Project Exceed had to pay out 170,000,000 yen [~$1.65 million USD] in bonuses to Suguru Osako and nine other men at last weekend's Tokyo Marathon, only 8,000,000 yen [~$77,000 USD] remain in the project's budget.

Under the Project's rules, if an athlete earned over the remaining 8,000,000 yen they would be paid 2/3 of what was left, 5,330,000 yen [~$52,000 USD] and her team the other 1/3, 2,660,000 yen [~$26,000 USD]. Ichiyama would effectively earn about half what the two men who cleared the same A-level bonus criteria in Tokyo last weekend earned, with Ando apparently left out. Including the amount due to her, the payout would be more like 1/3 what the men earned.

Coach Nagayama minced no words about the situation, saying, "This is where basic chivalry comes in. You don't say you don't have the budget. You quietly pull the money together and reward the athlete for their hard work like an honorable adult. The whole Project Exceed bonus system, the MGC system, they were all really exciting and popular, so the people at the very top need to come together and have a serious talk. If they discontinue the MGC system, the marathon will die. We need both the bonus system and the MGC system to keep on working. The Olympics don't end in 2020. We need to keep doing this through 2024 and 2028 too. That's also the right thing to do."

source articles:
https://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20200308-23080906-nksports-spo
https://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/202003080000338.html
https://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2020/03/09/kiji/20200308s00057000525000c.html
https://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20200308-00000065-mai-spo
translated and edited by Brett Larner

Buy Me A Coffee

Comments

Stefan said…
I still cannot get over how good this run was from Mao Ichiyama and the misfortune that Mizuki Matsuda had by missing out, given her incredible run at Osako. Ideally, I would love to see both run in the Olympics (should it go ahead) but that is not possible unless misfortune strikes the other 2 qualifiers which I would not want.

I am totally dismayed at the prize money issue that has eventuated and agree that something needs to be done so they are paid what they deserve. I hope those that govern Project Exceed and MGC can somehow find the funds to reward them including Yuka Ando and her coach as appropriate. It just doesn't sit well that such a great race, with such great performances and the intensive training that went before it is not adequately rewarded.

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…