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Showing posts from May, 2020

Osaka Governor Admits "It Would be Pretty Difficult" to Put On Osaka Marathon This Year

Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura, 44, appeared remotely on a morning news talk show on May 31. Asked by one of the hosts whether the Nov. 29 Osaka Marathon, one of the world's ten largest marathons, would be held this year, Yoshimura answered, "I think it would be pretty difficult this year, but the organizers are in the final stages of their decision-making process. They will make an announcement soon."

Held annually since its launch in 2011, this year the Osaka Marathon is set to celebrate its tenth edition and its first running as a World Athletics label race. As mayor of the city of Osaka Yoshimura himself ran and finished the 2017 race. With a new course finishing at Osaka Castle Park, last year's race had 32,989 finishers. With that number of people it is likely that they would come into close proximity to each other at the start in front of the Osaka Metropolitan Government offices.

"We are in discussion with all involved parties," said Yoshimura. …

Today's Race - 2017 Hakone Ekiden Qualifying 20 km Road Race

Unlikely to happen this year, this was the 2017 edition of the Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai, the race where the second tier of teams qualifies for January's Hakone Ekiden. The world's #1 20 km race, this was the Yosenkai's final running at that distance before being changed to the half marathon distance the following year. The announcement at the end of the teams to make the cut is one of the most dramatic moments in the sport.

Tohoku Miyagi Fukko Marathon and Toyama Marathon Canceled

On the last business day of May four of the remaining fall Japanese marathons made announcements about their events' futures in the face of coronavirus crisis. The Oct. 4 Tohoku Miyagi Fukko Marathon, 7.457 finishers in its second edition two years ago and canceled last year due to a typhoon, announced the cancelation of this year's race. In their announcement the organizers said that while they did not want to cancel for the second year in a row, they felt that the options available to them for going ahead with the race would deviate too far from the race's mission of building contact between runners and local residents still rebuilding from the 2011 tsunami. All entry fees will be refunded.

Held in the only prefecture in Japan not to have found a single case of coronavirus infection to date,  the Oct. 25 Iwate Morioka Marathon, 5,729 finishers last year announced that it is stepping back from its plans to go ahead as scheduled. Race organizers said that they would make …

Today's Race - 1986 London Marathon

Another late-career overseas win from the great Toshihiko Seko, this one at the 1986 London Marathon.

Universities Taking First Steps Toward Resuming Sports Team Practice

Their activity curtailed by the coronavirus crisis, university sports teams are beginning to move toward resuming team practices. On May 27 the University of Tsukuba sports department released guidelines for gradually restarting team activities. Training sessions of up to one hour with fewer than 20 people are expected to be phased in, and it is expected that the university's facilities will reopen on June 19, the date on which the ban on traveling between prefectures in scheduled to be lifted.

The heads of each program within the department had submitted proposals for an early resumption of team training, but the university would not permit the use of on-campus facilities before that date. Based at Tsukuba, men's high jump national record holder Naoto Tobe (28, JAL) has been training at a nearby facility instead.

Nittai University is expected to maintain restrictions on access to its campus until June 10, and facilities at the university cannot be used until then. Juntendo Un…

Today's Race - 1987 Boston Marathon

Raw lead vehicle footage of marathon legend Toshihiko Seko's second Boston Marathon victory at the 1987 race.

Today's Race - 2005 National High School Girls Ekiden First Stage

17-year-old 12th-grader and future half marathon national record holder Hitomi Niiya breaks her own course record, going under 19 minutes for the second time to run the still-standing CR for the 6.0 km First Stage at the 2005 National High School Girls Ekiden Championships. She remains the only woman to ever break 19 minutes for the stage and the only Japanese woman to ever win it all three years of high school.

July's Hokuren Distance Challenge Series May Go Ahead On Limited Scale

Following the nationwide lifting of the state of emergency earlier this week, Hokkaido's Hokuren Distance Challenge may be held on its planned dates from July 4th to 18th on a reduced scale. According to a source involved with the series, based on the advice of experts the 10000 m will be cut, with only events of 5000 m and shorter held in order to reduce the size of the series' meets and keep them in line with government social distancing guidelines. The JAAF earlier requested that meets and races refrain from going ahead through the end of June, but if the Hokuren series happens it will likely signal a restart of the track and field season.

The number of people allowed to participate in the series will likely be limited, with priority given to upper-tier athletes. Many issues such as accommodations and the number of race and athlete support personnel permitted on-site have yet to be worked out. One of the organizers commented, "The series will bring in a lot of people …

Today's Race - 2004 National High School Girls Ekiden First Stage

16-year-old 11th-grader and future half marathon national record holder Hitomi Niiya becomes the first and only woman to break 19 minutes on the 6.0 km National High School Girls Ekiden Championships First Stage at the 2004 race.

Hakone Champ AGU's Coach Hara Critical of Aoba's Naming as Nihon University Head Coach

While offering words of congratulations on the nomination of former Inter-University Athletic Union of Kanto (KGRR) director Yoshiyuki Aoba, 77, to the head coach position at Nihon University, Susumu Hara, 53, head coach of 2020 Hakone Ekiden winner Aoyama Gakuin University, voiced caution about the potential for Aoba to wield too much influence.

The move by Nihon University, which finished 18th at Hakone this year, came as a surprise to the university men's ekiden scene, replacing retiring coach Yoshiyuki Musha, 36, with the 77-year-old veteran and Nihon alumnus Aoba who had led Daito Bunka University to four Hakone titles in younger days. Aoba hasn't coached since he left Daito Bunka in 2000 to take up the position of KGRR director.

Currently the core figure in the university ekiden world, in a telephone interview Hara reacted with surprise to the news of Aoba's return. "To begin with, I would like to congratulate Coach Aoba on his return to the scene," said H…

National Championships Rescheduled for October 1-3 in Niigata

Postponed from its original June dates due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the JAAF plans to reschedule the 2020 National Track and Field Championships for October 1-3 in Niigata's Denka Big Swan Stadium, according to a source involved in the decision. The plan is expected to be confirmed at a June 4 executive board meeting.

The National Championships were originally planned to be held June 25-28 in Osaka. Initially the JAAF hoped to hold the rescheduled competition at Tokyo's New Olympic Stadium, but in their view it was determined that the virus crisis made it impossible to make the necessary preparations. This year's Nationals will not serve as a trials event for the postponed Tokyo Olympics, as World Athletics has previously announced that performances before the end of November this year will not count toward Olympic qualification.

Translator's note: The JAAF previously announced that the 10000 m National Championships, originally scheduled for May, will be hel…

Today's Race - 2003 National High School Girls' Ekiden First Stage

15-year-old 10th-grader and future half marathon national record holder Hitomi Niiya makes her national debut, winning the 6.0 km First Stage at the 2003 National High School Girls Ekiden Championships.

Former Hakone Ekiden Director Yoshiyuki Aoba Named Head Coach at Nihon University

Nihon University, 18th at this year's Hakone Ekiden, has named former Daito Bunka University head coach and former Inter-University Athletic Union of Kanto (KGRR) director Yoshiyuki Aoba, 77, as its new head coach. It is almost unheard-of for someone who has risen to the top position of the KGRR, organizers of the Hakone Ekiden, to return to coaching. Previous head coach Yoshiyuki Musha, 36, has retired from coaching and will remain at Nihon University in another capacity.

With 12 Hakone Ekiden titles to its name, ranking it #3 in the event's history, and 89 Hakone appearances, the second-most in history, the change is a surprising move from the powerhouse Nihon University. The young Musha stepped down following this year's 18th-place finish, the sixth year in a row that Nihon has missed a prestigious top ten finish, leaving the door open for the 77-year-old veteran Aoba to come in.

Aoba graduated from Nihon University, becoming head coach at Daito Bunka University at just…

Today's Race - 1986 Tokyo International Marathon

Takeyuki Nakayama vs. Juma Ikangaa for the Tokyo International Marathon course record.

Today's Race - 2017 Marugame Half Marathon

One of the better domestic fields at the Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon at its 2017 race.

Today's Race - 1987 Hakone Ekiden Fifth Stage

More vintage Hakone Ekiden action with its uphill Fifth Stage from the 1987 race.

Nov. 8 Okayama Marathon Canceled - 13,491 Finishers Last Year

Scheduled for Nov. 8, the 2020 Okayama Marathon has been canceled due to the coronavirus crisis. We carefully considered whether we could safely hold a race that brings together 16,400 runners from across the country and determined that it would not be possible to complete eliminate the risk of infection to the runners, staff, volunteers, and spectators along the road.

It is very disappointing to have to convey this news to everyone who had been looking forward to our race, runners, citizens of Okayama prefecture, our supporters across the country, sponsors, partner organizations and everyone else involved with our event, but we thank you and ask for your understanding. We will work to improve the Okayama Marathon so that we can make it an even better and more enjoyable event the next time we are able to put it on. Thank you all.

Okayama Marathon Organizing Committee

Translator's note: Along with Okayama, the Oct. 11 Niigata City Marathon with 6,784 finishers last year, announced …

Today's Race - 1987 Hakone Ekiden First and Second Stages

Some vintage Hakone Ekiden action with the opening two stages of the 1987 race.



Yamanashi Gakuin University Resumes Team Training, Limiting Group Size

Aiming to make a return to the Hakone Ekiden after missing out on qualifying for this year's race, on May 20 Yamanashi Gakuin University resumed team track training for the first time in a month and a half. Team practice has been suspended since Apr. 6 due to the coronavirus crisis, and since then it has been up to members to run and do strength training on their own.

Thirty athletes, about a third of the team roster, attended the May 20 session at Kawata Sports Park Field in Kofu. Another group trained separately at Midorigaoka Sports Park Field elsewhere in the city. To avoid too many people coming too close together, athletes started and ran at fixed time intervals between each other. Stretching was also done at staggered intervals, and strength training equipment was disinfected between each use.

May's Kanto Region University Track and Field Championships have been canceled, but, said ekiden team head coach Masaaki Iijima, "I want us to prepare so that we're read…

Today's Race - Samuel Wanjiru Rocks the 2004 National High School Ekiden

Future Beijing Olympics marathon gold medalist Samuel Wanjiru runs a still-standing Third Stage course record to lead Sendai Ikuei H.S. to the National High School Boys Ekiden Championships title. The team's winning time, a course record at the time, is still the second-fastest ever.

Today's Race - 2017 National High School Girls Ekiden

Sendai Ikuei H.S. and Nagano Higashi H.S. go after defending champ Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S. at the 2017 National High School Girls Ekiden Championships.

Kanto Region Qualifier for National University Men's Ekiden Canceled

Thank you all for your continued cooperation and support, and our sincere gratitude for your support of the Inter-University Athletics Union of Kanto (KGRR). The KGRR has been busily preparing for its upcoming season of events, but the development of the coronavirus crisis has forced a reevaluation of the schedule.

Given the number of incidents of cluster infections that have contributed to a rapid spread, if such an incident were to occur at the time of one of our events it would cause a significant strain upon the local medical care system. Additionally, the Apr. 7 national declaration of a state of emergency has been extended beyond its original ending date of May 6, restricting many member schools to having its athletes train only on their own on an extracurricular basis.

In such a situation in which athletes are unable to train adequately, we do not feel it is possible to stage competitions in which it is safe for them to compete. Needless to say, the health  and lives of the at…

Inaugural Nagasaki Peace Marathon Postponed One Year

After numerous consultations, the organizing committee of the Nov. 29 Nagasaki Peace Marathon, the first full marathon in the city of Nagasaki and planned as a commemoration of the 75th anniversary year of the U.S. atomic bombing of the city, have determined that it is not possible to estimate when the worldwide coronavirus crisis will end and as such will postpone the race for about one year from its original date. We hope to be able to stage the race next year and will plan accordingly, but the priority before that is for the coronavirus crisis to come to a resolution so that the event can be put on safely. Once that is the case we will examine a new schedule for the event.

We sincerely apologize to all those who had looking forward to the race in anticipation. All runner already entered in this year's race will have their entry fees fully refunded, and we plan do everything we can to give them priority in entering the rescheduled race. Information concerning the postponement a…

Today's Race - 1991 Tokyo World Championships Men's Marathon

Hiromi Taniguchi wins gold at the 1991 Tokyo World Championships, scoring a place on the 1992 Barcelona Olympic team.

Daiso Women's Ekiden Team Ready to Go in Second Season

Sponsored by 100 yen shop chain Daiso Sangyo, in its second season the Hiroshima-based Daiso women's ekiden team has added four new members this season to bring its roster to eight athletes. The team has cleared the minimum number needed to enter the corporate ekiden championships, six, and is ready to go. Despite their training opportunities being limited, with intensive training camps canceled and other restrictions in place, the team members are doing the work needed for the team to make the big jump in its second season.

The Daiso team was founded in April last year under the leadership of Shinya Iwamoto, 54, who lead Sera H.S. to five boys' and one girls' National High School Ekiden Championships titles. The team began with five athletes and from the start was outfitted with a team dormitory featuring the latest training equipment. One of the initial members unfortunately had to leave the team due to illness. But as a new team it hasn't been easy to make quick pr…

Today's Race - 1992 Tokyo International Marathon

Takeyuki Nakayama and Koichi Morishita duel for places on the Barcelona Olympic team at the 1992 Tokyo International Marathon.

Today's Race - 1986 Seoul Asian Games Men's Marathon

Takeyuki Nakayama and Hiromi Taniguchi go out at 2:55/km at the 1986 Seoul Asian Games marathon. Scroll back in the video for other events from the Games.

Today's Race - 2019 National High School Girls Ekiden

The 31st National High School Girls Ekiden Championships in December, 2019.

On Making a National Record - Part 4

Part four in a four-part series of half marathon national record holder Hitomi Niiya and coach Masato Yokota answering questions about her training. Part one herePart two here. Part three here.



Coach: Sorry, can I ask an amateurish question? Is this "locking into a rhythm" thing you're talking about something like a "runner's high?"

Niiya: No, totally different.

Coach: I don't get it at all.

Niiya: If it starts to feel like you could go forever then you're there. The times when you're like, "This is a good rhythm. I can keep rolling in this rhythm."

Coach: I've never had a time like that.

Q. They say marathons go the best if you get into your rhythm in the first 5 km.

Coach: I can't run further than 5 km.

Niiya: If you trained some you'd be able to go up to 30 km. But, there are too many times when I can't find my rhythm, and sometimes when someone is pacing me our rhythms don't match. I think that's way my jogging mo…

Today's Race - 2019 Morinomiyako Ekiden - National University Women's Championships

Daito Bunka University and Ritsumeikan University try to take down two-time defending national champ Meijo University at the 2019 Morinomiyako Ekiden.

On Making a National Record - Part 3

Part three in a four-part series of half marathon national record holder Hitomi Niiya and coach Masato Yokota answering questions about her training. Part one here and part two here.



Q. Looking through the questions you received, a lot of people thought you were setting the bar pretty high with the two starting points you mentioned earlier.

Coach: The kind of person with the mentality to pull them off is someone you have to be careful around.

Niiya: Around the end of October coach told me over dinner, "You're going for the NR in the half." I already knew I'd do a half over the winter to work on strengthening my legs, like when I did a guest run at the Minato City Half Marathon in December, but it seemed like coach had positioned it as a national record shot. I asked him, "Are you serious?" He said he knew we thought differently, but after that I tried to do all my training with full awareness of what we were going for.

Q. Did you feel like you could get the job…

Today's Race - 2018 Morinomiyako Ekiden - National University Women's Championships

Daito Bunka University, Ritsumeikan University and Tokyo Nogyo University try to take down defending national champ Meijo University at the 2018 Morinomiyako Ekiden.

October's Kanazawa Marathon Canceled

Given the difficulty of estimating an end to the coronavirus crisis, the organizing committee of the Oct. 25 Kanazawa Marathon has decided to cancel this year's race as at this stage the safety and security of participants, medical and rescue staff, volunteers, and local supporters cannot be guaranteed. We ask for the understanding of everyone involved, from the runners who had been looking forward to and training for this year's race, to everyone in the local community, to our sponsors and partner companies. We hope that the current situation comes to an end soon and look forward to welcoming runners from Japan and abroad to next year's 7th edition with a smile. Thank you.

Yukiyoshi Yamano
Kanazawa Marathon Organizing Committee Director

Translator's note: Kanazawa was one of the races which had earlier suspended opening registration. Another major fall race, the Dec. 6 Shonan International Marathon with almost 17,000 finishers last year, has also just announced its su…

Today's Race - 2019 National High School Boys Ekiden

The 70th National High School Boys Ekiden Championships in December, 2019.

On Making a National Record - Part 2

Part two in a four-part series of half marathon national record holder Hitomi Niiya and coach Masato Yokota answering questions about her training. Part one here.



Niiya: I didn't think [the national record] would be that hard to break. All I thought about was 3:10/km. When I looked up what Kayoko Fukushi's half marathon national record was it was 3:11/km pace. To get the record I had to go 3:10 pace. Up to 10 km that'd be no problem. The problem was after that. When I'd done a half marathon before my legs were dead in the second half. That worried me, but not the idea of going for the national record or anything in the training program. 10000 m is my specialty, and the pace there is 3:05/km. My coach suggested setting that pace, 74 seconds for a track 400 m, as the basic reference, no faster. That was the only point that was fixed, but while I didn't think it'd be easy I wasn't worried about stepping up the distance.

Q. Was setting that kind of reference a wa…