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Beppu-Oita Marathon and Marugame Half Elite Fields

The Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon and Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon both happen Feb. 1, and in the last couple of days each has announced its elite field for this year's race.

Primarily a men's race, Beppu-Oita has a small international field of five at the 2:08 to 2:10 level, fronted by last year's runner-up Abdela Godana (Ethiopia), with Mongolian duo Byambajav Tseverrnravdan and Munkhbayar Narandulam and a trio of Japan-based Kenyans and Ethiopians, Alex Mwangi (YKK), Abayneh Degu (Yasukawa Denki) and Joel Mwaura (Kurosaki Harima) bumping up the international numbers.

Three sub-2:10 Japanese men, all at the 2:10 to 2:11 level in 2019, lead the home crowd. Rio Olympian Satoru Sasaki (Asahi Kasei) leads the way off an excellent 3rd-place finish at September's Sydney Marathon, with teammate Takuya Fukatsu (Asahi Kasei) and Jo Fukuda (Nishitetsu) also on board. Former Hakone Ekiden Seventh Stage course record holder Keisuke Hayashi (GMO) will be making his…
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2020 Japanese Distance Rankings

2020 Japanese track and road distance running rankings. Overall rankings are calculated using runners' times and placings in races over 5000 m, 10000 m, half-marathon and marathon and the strength of these performances relative to others in the top ten in each category. Distances will be added as the season progresses. Click any image to enlarge.

Past years:
2019 ・ 2018 ・ 2017 ・ 2016・ 2015 ・ 2014 ・ 2013 ・ 2012 ・ 2011

© 2020 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Kyoto Wins National Women's Ekiden Title for 17th Time

Bringing together everyone from the top junior high school runners to the pros, the National Women's Ekiden took place in Kyoto on Jan. 12. Hosts Kyoto outran Miyagi and Tokyo to win the national title for the 17th time, extending its lead as the winningest team in the National Women's Ekiden 38-year history.

The race started and finished at Kyoto's Takebishi Stadium, covering the full marathon distance in nine stages. Teams from all 47 prefectures competed for the national title. On the First Stage, Nagasaki's Ririka Hironaka, who last month cleared the Tokyo Olympics 5000 m qualifying standard, opened a lead of over 30 seconds on 2nd place and broke the stage record dating back to 2003.

Nagasaki held the lead over the next two stages, but near the end of the Fourth Stage they were run down by Nagano. On the Fifth Stage high school 3rd-year Rina Kimura tied the stage record to take Miyagi from 3rd past Nagano into 1st. But from the Fifth through Seventh stages a trio…

2020 Olympic Marathon Trials Winner Shogo Nakamura Wins First Race of Year in PB Time

2020 Olympic marathon trials winner Shogo Nakamura (27, Fujitsu) ran a course record 1:01:40 to win the Jan. 12 Takanezawa Genki Up Half Marathon in Tochigi. His time bettered his 2016 PB of 1:01:53 by 13 seconds. "I ran pretty much according to plan," he commented afterward.

Nakamura's sponsor team Fujitsu finished 17th at November's East Japan Corporate Ekiden, failing to qualify for the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden national championships. As a result, Takanezawa was his first race of the Olympic year. Alongside him were members of 2020 Hakone Ekiden champion Aoyama Gakuin University, runner-up Tokai University and other top collegiate programs. Most fielded 3rd-year and younger team members who didn't make this year's Hakone lineups, giving them valuable experience for the buildup to next year's 97th running.

Next up Nakamura plans to run in the Mar. 29 World Half Marathon Championships. His coach Hiroaki Oyagi, 61, commented, "At the World Half we wil…

Coming Down From Hakone - This Year's Race in the Cold, Hard Light of Day

Damn, has it already been a week? Time goes by so fast. Times at the HakoneEkiden this year were fast too. Eight guys broke course records on four of the five stages on Day One, and another five broke the records on three of the five stages on Day Two. Two of the three stages that didn't have new records were just seconds off. Four teams broke the Day One course record, two broke the overall course record, and one broke the Day Two record. This all mirrored what happened a day earlier at the New Year Ekiden, where eight men broke the records on four of the seven stages, at least one other missed by seconds, the top two teams broke the official overall course record and two more broke the record for the actual current version of the course.

And not just records. Some of them were historic, epoch-making marks. None more so than Tokyo Kokusai University's Vincent Yegon, who busted the greatest performance in Hakone history, a 59:25 course record for the 21.4 km Third Stage, 2:01…

Aoyama Gakuin Holds Off Defending Champ Tokai on Hakone Ekiden Day Two to Win Overall Title

Day One results and report

After a record-breaking first day, 2015-2018 HakoneEkiden champion Aoyama Gakuin University held off last year's winner Tokai University to take the overall title in course record time. AGU started the return trip to Tokyo with a 3:22 lead over Tokai, enough for Tokai head coach Hayashi Morozumi to express pessimism about his team's chances of making up such a big deficit over Day Two's five stages totaling 109.6 km.

Not that they didn't try. On the day's first stage, the brutal 20.8 km Sixth Stage featuring a steep climb early on and then over 800 m of descent, mostly in the middle 10 km, two-time 1500 m national champion Ryoji Tatezawa broke the course record by 40 seconds to cut over a minute off AGU's lead. Tokai's next two runners Sakito Matsuzaki and Yohei Komatsu cut further into AGU's margin of error, but at the start of the day's longest stage, the 23.1 km Ninth Stage, Tokai was still exactly 2 minutes behind. Its…