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Showing posts from May, 2020

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: The current state of Japan's 27 main marathons, those with 5,000 or more finishers or elite-…

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…

Today's Race - 2018 National High School Boys Ekiden

Highlights from the 69th National High School Boys Ekiden Championships in December, 2018.

On Making a National Record - Part 1

Last month Hitomi Niiya published her training log for the 100 days leading up to her national record at January's Houston Half Marathonn on her coach Masato Yokota's blog in three parts. Receiving dozens of questions about it after posting, the two of them took a stab at answering some of them in an Ekiden News-moderated Q&A format on the same blog. JRN will be publishing it in translation over the next four days.

Q. What were the main differences in reaction from elite athletes and amateur runners to what you posted?

Coach: Top-level athletes pretty much never publish their training programs in detail, so there was a lot of interest, both inside Japan and elsewhere.

Q. Daichi Seimei corporate team coach Sachiko Yamashita said thanks for Twitter for posting it.

Coach: I replied and told her reading it would cost her, but in all seriousness I'd like to hear what people thought of it. In particular, I wonder what corporate league and Hakone Ekiden coaches think of it. Maybe…

Today's Race - 1982 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon

Bob Hodge becomes the first non-Japanese and only American to ever win the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon at its 1982 race.

Today's Race - 1982 Fukuoka International Marathon

Paul Ballinger becomes the fourth and final New Zealand man to win Japan's premier marathon at the 1982 Fukuoka International Marathon.

Today's Race - Women's World Record at 2001 Berlin Marathon

It's the perfect time for a classic. Fresh off her Olympic gold medal in Sydney, at the 2001 Berlin Marathon Naoko Takahashi becomes the first woman in history to break the 2:20 barrier.

November's Yokohama Marathon Canceled

In view of the continued development of the coronavirus crisis, the Yokohama Marathon organizing committee has decided to cancel the 2020 Yokohama Marathon, originally scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 1.

Despite uncertainty about the future development of the disease, the organizing committee believed that the situation would improve in time for this year's race and opened entries on Apr. 1. But with the extension of the national declaration of emergency announced earlier this week, the organizing committee consulted a wide range of experts on whether an event with 28,000 runners, more than 8,000 volunteers, and many more roadside supporters could safely be held in November.

The consensus was that at the present time it is not possible to plan adequate safety measures, recruit volunteers, or guarantee provision of on-site sanitation measures to combat the virus. Even if the coronavirus situation were to improve by November, due to the nature of the mass-participation marathon the view …

85% of Athletes Targeting Tokyo Paralympics Unable to Train at Usual Facilities

A study by a sports governing body has found that 85% of athletes in track and field targeting the Tokyo Paralympics are currently unable to train at their usual facilities as a consequence of the coronavirus crisis.

Amid the closure of training facilities and government calls for self-restraint after its declaration of a state of emergency, the Japan Para Athletics Federation conducted a survey of 37 designated Paralympic team contenders and 12 developmental athletes for the two weeks leading up to Apr. 25. With regard to training facilities, over 85% of the athletes reported being unable to use their normal training bases. More than half also said that they had been unable to secure alternative facilities and that this had significantly impacted their training volume and quality.

Although many of the athletes are training from home and using nearby roads and steps, many reported having to reduce their training time and frequency in order to avoid irritating their neighbors and to r…

Today's Race - 2016 National Corporate Half Marathon Championships

Pre-Rio de Janeiro Olympics edition of the National Corporate Half Marathon Championships.

"I Can Still Progress" - Kasumi Nishihara Makes it 10 Years at Yamada Denki

One of the central support pillars for Gunma's top women's long distance team Yamada Denki, Kasumi Nishihara has begun her tenth year with the team. With two 10000 m national titles and representation of Japan at the World Championships to her name, Nishihara has led the team on the road in the ekiden as well. A veteran at age 31, Nishihara is still full of motivation, saying, "People talk about age, but I can still progress. More than anything else, I still think running is fun." She is excited to try to make the Tokyo Olympic team on the track, and to finally make a long-awaited marathon debut.

Nishihara joined Yamada Denki in 2011 after graduating from Bukkyo University. She won the 10000 m national title twice, in 2014 and 2015. In 2014 she was 8th in the 10000 m at the Incheon Asian Games, and a year later ran at the Beijing World Championships. From 2014 through 2016 she also won the National Sports Festival 5000 m three years in a row. She also had her share …

Today's Race - 2004 National Corporate Half Marathon Championships

Pre-Athens Olympics edition of the National Corporate Half Marathon Championships.

Kansai Region Qualifier for November's National University Ekiden Canceled

Regarding the Cancelation of the 52nd National University Ekiden Championships Kansai Region Qualifier On Apr. 23 the Inter-Collegiate Athletics Association of Kansai announced its planned policy with regard to the Kansai Region Qualifier for the 52nd National University Men's Ekiden Championships. However, due to the continued spread of the novel coronavirus, on Monday, May 4 the national government announced an extension of its declaration of a national emergency until Sunday, May 31.

Because this situation mets the previously-announced criteria under which the June 13 Kansai Region Qualifier would be canceled, we regret to inform all ICAAK member schools that we are hereby canceling it. Our high performance committee is exploring an alternative method for selecting teams, and once it has been determined it will be announced on the ICAAK website. This selection method will be used to name three teams to October's Izumo Ekiden and four to November's National Championship…