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Ichiyama and Kirui Lead Marugame Half Elite Field

Last year's winners Betsy Saina and Edward Waweru, both of Kenya, return to the Feb. 3 Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon, but in both cases they have tough competition. Ranked #1 in the women's race is Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) with a 1:09:14, 3 seconds better than Saina's winning time last year. 3 seconds slower is Sinead Diver (Australia) with a 1:09:20 on home ground last year. Sara Hall (U.S.A.) isn't far behind, and with track star Ayuko Suzuki (Japan Post) making her debut off a brilliant run at last weekend's National Women's Ekiden it should be a solid pack up front.

In the men's race, 2017 marathon world champion Geoffrey Kirui (Kenya) leads the way, his best recent time a 1:00:04 in New Delhi two years ago. Only 2 seconds behind is Shadrack Kiplagat (Kenya), with Evans Cheruiyot (Kenya) and the Japan-based Waweru just over 20 seconds back. Waweru's condition is a question mark after an injury at the New Year Ekiden. Kenta Murayama (Asah…
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2019 Japanese Distance Rankings

JRN's 2019 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:
2018 ・ 2017 ・ 2016 ・2015 ・ 2014 ・ 2013 ・ 2012 ・ 2011

© 2019 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Suzuki Anchors Aichi to National Women's Ekiden Title

video highlights by NHK

Coming back from a win in her marathon debut at last August's Hokkaido Marathon, 2016 10000 m national champion Ayuko Suzuki anchored the Aichi prefecture team to the National Women's Ekiden title in a back-and-forth race with hosts Kyoto. An entertaining format with teams made up of the best junior high school, high school, university and pro runners from each of Japan's 47 prefectures, the National Women's Ekiden and its male counterpart next weekend in Hiroshima make up the peak of championship ekiden season.

Aichi took the lead on the second of the day's nine stages thanks to a stage win by high schooler Yumi Fujinaka and from there to the end was never out of the top two. After a brief challenge from Chiba Aichi didn't get its first real threat until Kyoto pulled up even on the Fifth Stage, both teams handing off simultaneously to the Sixth. Kyoto fell as far as 26 seconds behind over the next two stages, but junior high schooler Ko…

Aoyama Gakuin First Year Takayuki Iida Leads Weekend Half Marathon Action

The National Women's Ekiden was the weekend's biggest race, but across the country four half marathons saw decently competitive men's action.

At Tochigi's Takanezawa Genki Up Half Marathon, as in the last few years Hakone Ekiden runner-up Aoyama Gakuin University ran its B-team of Hakone non-starters, this year with company from the team that beat it, Tokai University. AGU swept the top ten, first-year Takayuki Iida taking the top spot in 1:03:10 with teammate Shuya Iwami also getting under 64 minutes. Tokai seemed to treat the day more as a workout, but head coach Hayashi Morozumi, 52, took the chance to get in on the action too, running the 10 km division in 43:04.

In Tokyo, the High Tech Half Marathon celebrated its 20th running with the edition of a marathon division. Independent Hideyuki Ikegami (Aminosaurus) won the men's half in 1:05:08. Club runner Eri Suzuki (Noshiro Yamamoto T&F Assoc.) ran the fastest women's time of the weekend, 1:19:34, to win…

Nissin Shokuhin to Eliminate All Athletes Except Sato and Murasawa

Two-time New Year Ekiden national champion Nissin Shokuhin Group announced on Jan. 10 that it is making major cuts to its men's ekiden team. With the exception of MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials qualifiers Akinobu Murasawa, 27, and Yuki Sato, 32, it will eliminate its other twelve athletes from the team. It has also canceled contracts with two graduating university fourth-years who were scheduled to join the team in April following their graduation.

The Nissin Shokuhin Group team has been one of the leaders of Japanese long distance, home to top class athletes including current marathon national record holder Suguru Osako, 27. The change in its policies comes suddenly. According to a person involved in the situation, of the team's fourteen members the twelve other than Murasawa and Sato have been asked to leave the team. Those who wish to continue their athletic careers will receive support in transferring to another team, while those who wish to retire will have the op…

Asian Games Gold Medalist Inoue to Run Boston Marathon

2018 Jakarta Asian Games men's marathon gold medalist Hiroto Inoue (26, MHPS) announced Jan. 10 that he this season he will tackle one of the world's highest-level races, April's Boston Marathon. "Not having pacers in a race adds its own kind of stress," he said. "I want to race it seriously as a step toward what's coming up."

The Boston Marathon is famous for its uphills late in the race. September's MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials event also features an uphill at 37 km, and the opportunity to get the same kind of experience was enough to convince him to run. Originally Inoue had been looking at running March's Tokyo Marathon where he ran 2:06:54 last year, but, he said, "I want to run for time when the time comes to run for it. This year is about finding out how competitively I can race."

Inoue made his announcement just before departing for a training camp in New Zealand along with his MHPS teammate Ryo Kiname, 28. Target…

Kohei Arai's Recovery From Hakone Ekiden Fall Expected to Take Half a Year

Daito Bunka University head coach Osamu Nara, 47, spoke with reporters about the condition of 4th-year Kohei Arai. A week ago on Jan. 2 just 200 m into the 21.3 km First Stage of the 2019 Hakone Ekiden Arai twisted his left ankle badly while falling. Arai got up to run the remaining distance of over 21 km on the injured ankle, finishing the stage 8:40 behind the leaders.

Nara told reporters that while there were no broken bones, it is expected to take half a year for Arai to return to competition. Arai is scheduled to join the Sunbelx corporate team in April following his graduation. "In consultation with the team he is joining we have to work to make sure his injury fully heals," said Nara. "We expect that to take around half a year."

At the Hakone Ekiden coaches' pursuit cars do not enter the course until around 10 km into the First Stage. As a result Nara did not see Arai's accident himself and had difficulty judging its severity as the race went on. &qu…