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Track Returns to Japan July 4 at Hokuren Distance Challenge

On June 11 the JAAF announced that the Japanese track season will get back underway next month with the return of the annual Hokuren Distance Challenge series in Hokkaido. Originally planned as a five-meet series over the course of two weeks, this year's Hokuren Distance Challenge will happen on a reduced scale with priority going to high-level athletes.

The first two meets, July 4 in Shibetsu and July 8 in Fukagawa, will take place with short programs, limited fields, and no spectators. The third meet in Kitami has been canceled, while the fourth and fifth meets in Abashiri and Chitose are planned for July 15 and July 18.

The July 4 Shibetsu meet will host 1500 m, 3000 m and 5000 m for both men and women. A total of up to 175 men and 125 women will be accepted, with a max of 10 women accepted for the 1500 m and no more than 25 athletes in a single heat for any other distance.

The July 8 Fukagawa meet will have men's 5000 m and 10000 m races, with 3000 m, 5000 m, 10000 m and 3000 m steeplechase on the women's schedule. Total numbers will again be up to 175 men and 125 women, with the steeple limited to 12 entrants. In both meets, priority will be given to JAAF-designated international-level athletes and those already named to the national teams for the Tokyo Olympics and 2020 World Half Marathon Championships.

Abashiri will likewise focus on 5000 m and 10000 m for men, with women competing over 1500 m, 3000 m, 5000 m and 10000 m. Chitose will have 1500 m, 5000 m, 10000 m and 3000 m steeplechase for men, plus 3000 m and 5000 m for women. Field sizes are planned to be the same as at the first two meets, 175 men and 125 women, with a max of 25 per heat and limited fields for 1500 m and the steeple.

Complete series information is available here in Japanese. The Hokuren Distance Challenge series is usually live streamed on the JAAF site. More information on following it live as the series gets closer.

© 2020 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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