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Showing posts from January, 2021

Osaka Women's Marathon to be Run on 2.8 km Loop Inside Nagai Park

On Jan. 17 it was learned that the Jan. 31 Osaka International Women's Marathon will be run on a multi-lap loop course inside Nagai Park. Some of the athletes scheduled to run were notified last week of the likelihood of the change from Osaka's traditional road course, a change made as a result of the continued spread of the coronavirus. It is the first time the race will be run on a circuit course in the years since its first running in 1982.  Tokyo Olympics women's marathon team members Mao Ichiyama  (23, Wacoal) and Honami Maeda  (24, Tenmaya) had planned to try to break the 2:19:12 national record in Osaka, but the impact of the change on times run there remains unclear at this point. Osaka organizers have recruited male pacers, a first for a domestic women's marathon, to help chase the record, but with the government's declaration of a state of emergency last week they had no choice but to make the last-minute course change.  Most road races over the last yea

16-Year-Old Sato Runs 8:00.09 U18 NR in Kyoto

Already Japan's third-fastest high schooler ever over 3000 m, 16-year-old Keita Sato  (Rakunan H.S.) took another 5 seconds off his best with a 8:00.09 win at Saturday's Kyoto Time Trials meet. A second-year at Rakunan and set to turn 17 later this week, Sato bettered the U18 national record held by Hyuga Endo by almost two seconds, moved up to #2 behind Endo on the all-time high school rankings, and to #3 on the U20 list behind Endo and Athens Olympian Ryuji Ono . Post-race he tweeted, "One step away from 7 minutes! So disappointing. I don't know when the next time I can race is but 7 minutes is definitely coming!" 3000m→8'00"09 7分台まであと一歩だったのでめちゃくちゃ悔しいです😭次はいつ走れるか分かりませんが絶対に7分台出します! — 佐藤圭汰 (@0rx2k) January 17, 2021 © 2021 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

High School National Record Holders Fujihara and Ishida to Enter Toyo University in Spring

Two high school national record holders are set to join Toyo University  at the start of the new academic year in April, Koki Fujihara  (Rakunan H.S.), holder of the 8.12 m long jump record, and Kosuke Ishida  (Tokyo Nogyo Daini H.S.), holder of the 13:34.74 record for 5000 m. Fujihara was the first high school boy to go over 8 m in the long jump, setting his record of 8.12 m (+1.7 m/s) at the August, 2019 National High School Championships as a second-year. It was the first time the high school long jump record had been broken in 30 years and bettered the old mark by 16 cm, enough to rank him all-time #9 among all Japanese athletes. Fujihara is currently 190 cm tall and is still growing, both physically and as an athlete. He follows in the footsteps of prominent Toyo alumni outside the distance events, including Japan's first sub-10 man in the 100 m and fellow Rakunan H.S. grad Yoshihide Kiryu  and 8.23 m long jumper Hibiki Tsuha .  But with a 3rd-place finish at this year's

Osaka Looks to Go Ahead Despite Pending State of Emergency

Despite the pending declaration of a state of emergency in the greater Osaka area as the coronavirus continues its rapid spread, the organizers of the Jan. 31 Osaka International Women's Marathon intend to go ahead with this year's race, in which Tokyo Olympic marathon team members Mao Ichiyama (23, Wacoal) and Honami Maeda (24, Tenmaya) are entered to run. Last year the JAAF published strict guidelines for the staging of road races amid the coronavirus pandemic. One of the requirements for holding a race is that no declaration of a state of emergency be in place. On Jan. 7 the government issued such a declaration for Tokyo and is surrounding three prefectures of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa. Osaka and neighboring Kyoto and Hyogo have asked to be added to that list. If the terms of the state of emergency are the same as the earlier one for the Tokyo area, it would last until at least Feb. 7. This would put the Osaka International Women's Marathon inside the emergency peri

Some Recent Podcast Appearances

A couple of recent podcasts I've appeared on, both recorded before the new year. Japan Sport Stories , hosted by Mike Salter and Noel Thatcher . Across the Runiverse , hosted by Konstantin Kan . Russian-language version can be had here .

Hakone Ekiden Broadcast Breaks Records With 41.8% Peak Viewership Rating and Audience of 65 Million

According to monitoring data announced by Video Research Ltd. on Jan. 4, Nippon Television's two-day broadcast of the Hakone Ekiden earned average viewership ratings of 31.0% for the first day's broadcast from 7:00 a.m. to 2:05 p.m. on Jan. 2 and 33.7% for the second day from 7:00 a.m. to 2:18 p.m. on Jan. 3. Last year's broadcast earned ratings of 27.5% on the first day and 28.6% on the second. The two-day average of 32.3% for the broadcast was the highest ever recorded since measurement of ratings began in 1987. To help reduce crowding along the course as part of the effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, this year's Hakone Ekiden encouraged people to "cheer from home." This is thought to have resulted in more people that usual watching the TV broadcast. The peak instantaneous viewership rating on the first day of the race, 36.2% came at 1:01 p.m. during the fierce competition for 4th place between Tokai University  and Teikyo University , and agai

Second Stage Course Record Breaker Vincent Yegon Named Hakone Ekiden MVP

Tokyo Kokusai University  2nd-year Vincent Yegon  was awarded the Kanaguri Cup as the MVP of the 2021 Hakone Ekiden for setting a new course record of 1:05:49 for the 23.1 km Second Stage. Yegon took 8 seconds off the record that 10000 m national record holder  Akira Aizawaa  of Toyo University  had set last year, the first new record on Hakone's most competitive stage in 11 years. "It's a great honor to receive this award," said Yegon. "I'm happy. This season this was the best performance I was capable of." Yegon is the first runner from Tokyo Kokusai University and the first non-Japanese athlete to win the Kanaguri Cup. He now holds the records on both the Second and Third Stages, having taken more than two minutes off the Third Stage record at the 2020 race . Motivated for more, he said, " I want to keep trying to break stage course records. Next time my main goal will be to have a good race on the Fourth Stage."   source articles:   http

Komazawa University Pulls Off Last-Second Come-From-Behind Win at 2021 Hakone Ekiden

Where to start, really? Yesterday in just its fourth time running the Hakone Ekiden since it first qualified in 2015 and its second season under head coach Kazutaka Enoki , underdog Soka University  pulled off a seemingly out-of-nowhere Day One win . Soka started the return trip to Tokyo today with a 2:14 lead over heavyweights including perpetual top 3 placer Toyo University , 2020 National University Ekiden champion Komazawa University  and 2019 Hakone winner Tokai University , enough to give it breathing room but not a margin of safety. With 109.6 km ahead of them, their lead translated to just over a second per km. Soka's leadoff Day Two runner Masaki Hamano  handled the Sixth Stage, 20.8 km with over 800 m of descent, well, but behind him Komazawa's Yuki Hanasaki nearly cracked the course record, winning the stage in 57:36 and cutting Soka's lead down to 1:08. Soka's most accomplished Day Two runner, Yoshiki Haratomi  fired back on the 21.3 km Seventh Stage as he

Soka University Wins First-Ever Hakone Ekiden Day One Title

It was a strange sight to see the biggest race of them all run through empty streets mostly stripped of the millions of fans who always line them. But as Japan's coronavirus bill comes due, it was a relief just to see the Hakone Ekiden 's 97th running happen at all. The first km of the 21.3 km First Stage was possibly the slowest in Hakone history, with the entire field practically walking its way through the first 800 m before Kiseki Shiozawa  (Tokai Univ.) got it moving enough to clock a 3:35 opening split. Things quickly picked up to more normal between 2:50 and 2:55/km, but the slow start meant that 18 out of the field of 21 were still together when the pack hit the climb onto the bridge just before 20 km. There and on its downhill end some of the bigger names made moves that broke the pack down, with Shiozawa and Koki Kamata  (Hosei Univ.) pulling away to make it a head-to-head race for the stage title.  Surprisingly Kamata was the one who got away, giving Hosei its first

Fujitsu Wins First New Year Ekiden National Title in 12 Years

Last year's runner-up Toyota  finally achieved its goal of stopping four-time defending New Year Ekiden champ Asahi Kasei  from adding to its dynasty, beating it by 37 seconds thanks in part to the absence of new 10000 m national record holder Akira Aizawa  from Asahi Kasei's starting roster. But Toyota again found itself in the runner-up position, both teams beaten in an almost flawless team run from East Japan region winner Fujitsu . Right from the start all three teams were out front, Hiroki Matsueda  (Fujitsu) taking the First Stage by a second over Keijiro Mogi  (Asahi Kasei) and another second over Hideyuki Tanaka  (Toyota). All three were run down on the mostly Kenyan second stage, Toyota falling to 4th after a surprisingly weak run from star Bedan Karoki , Fujitsu to 6th, and Asahi Kasei to 13th. Richard Kimunyan (Hitachi Butsuryu) and Stanley Waithaka  (Yakult) ran brilliantly to take over the top two spots, but the real star of the stage was Bernard Koech (Kyudenko

Goodbye 2020