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Showing posts from March, 2008

Peter Snell Lectures at Tokyo Kaiyo University

by Brett Larner 1964 Tokyo Olympic 800 and 1500 m gold medalist Peter Snell of New Zealand delivered a lecture at Tokyo Kaiyo University on Mar. 27 as part of a lecture tour of Japan to promote his research into the physiologocial basis of the training system designed by Snell's coach and mentor Arthur Lydiard. Audience members in the full auditorium included marathon great Masako Chiba, Japanese men's 1500 m national record holder Fumikazu Kobayashi, national 800 m champion Masato Yokota, and a variety of coaches and other athletes. After an introduction by the Lydiard Foundation's Nobby Hashizume, Snell gave his lecture, then fielded questions from audience members including Kobayashi and Yokota. His exchange with Yokota turned into an extended debate over the merits of jogging as part of a middle distance runner's training. Snell's tour was scheduled to continue over the weekend in Gunma Prefecture with a workshop featuring panelists such as Olympic marathoner T

On to the Next Dream: Naoko Takahashi to Run All 3 Elite Women's Marathons Next Winter translated and edited by Brett Larner 2 weeks after finishing 27th in the Nagoya International Women's Marathon and missing her chance for the Beijing Olympics, Sydney Olympics women's marathon gold medalist Naoko Takahashi (35, Team Phiten) has found a new dream: she intends to run and win all three of the major elite women's marathons in Japan during next winter's season. Speaking at a press conference on Mar. 24, Takahashi announced that she plans to race the Tokyo International Women's Marathon on Nov. 16 this year, the Osaka International Women's Marathon on Jan. 25 next year, and the Nagoya International Women's Marathon on Mar. 8, also next year. She told reporters that she will be running to win each of the races. It may seem reckless for one person to try to run three marathons within four months, but Japan Rikuren has gi

Hachioji Wins Tokyo Championship Ekiden

by Brett Larner The team from Tokyo's western suburb of Hachioji showed the value of solid teamwork, winning the 61st Tokyo Tomin Ekiden on Mar. 23 in Tokyo's Komazawa Park without the benefit of an ace runner. Professional, university and talented amateur runners alike competed as 24 teams representing Tokyo's wards and suburbs faced off in the annual metropolitan championship. Each of the six runners on a team covered two laps of a rolling 2.6 km course beginning and ending in Komazawa Stadium. Several days of rain ended just in time for the race to take place under warm, sunny skies free of the cedar pollen which blankets Tokyo each spring. 1st Stage Leading the pack from the start was Shibuya's Yuhei Tomioka, a former Josai University runner who ran the 9th stage of the 2004 Hakone Ekiden. After the first lap the lead pack had whittled down to three, with Tomioka trailed by fellow Hakone alumnus Keishi Nomura of Fuchu and Hachioji's Sadakazu Saito. Tomioka

Yukiko Akaba Returns From Birth Stronger Than Ever

by Brett Larner Six months ago Yukiko Akaba was just an ace runner on a corporate team, a strong athlete with some a few good results in university but nothing truly noteworthy other than continuing to run after giving birth in August, 2006. When the 2007 fall and winter season came around, the 28 year old Akaba suddenly let loose with a string of impressive performances and major PBs culminating in last weekend's Jitsugyodan Half Marathon , where she ran a 3 minute 12 second PB of 1:08:11 to break Mizuki Noguchi's course record and become the 3rd-fastest Japanese woman of all time in the half marathon behind former national record holder Noguchi and current national record holder Kayoko Fukushi. Her time is also the 2nd-fastest in the world so far this year, and her intention to run the 10000 m in the Beijing Olympics and to debut in the marathon next winter marks her as a runner to watch on the world scene. Akaba was born in 1979 in Tochigi Prefecture. She attended Josai Uni

Japan to Send Squad of 26 to 36th World Cross Country Championships translated by Brett Larner Rikuren has announced the squad of 26 Japanese runners to be sent to the 36th World Cross Country Championships scheduled for Mar. 30 in Edinburgh, Scotland. In the Senior Men's 12 km event, the team of 8 is led by Makoto Tobimatsu (Team Yasukawa Denki), the top Japanese finisher in both the Chiba International and Fukuoka International Cross Country meets, along with Satoru Kitamura (Nittai University), the 2nd Japanese in Chiba and 3rd Japanese in Fukuoka. Appearing for the 4th time and 3rd consecutive year is Yoshitaka Iwamizu (Team Toyota Jidosha). The team of 6 for the Senior Women's 8 km race is jointly led by Chiba International Cross Country top Japanese finisher Kazuka Wakatsuki (Team Toto) and Fukuoka International Cross Country top Japanese finisher Aya Manome (Team Shimamura). Joining the team for the 3rd straight year is Aimi Horikoshi (Team Yamada Denki). The Junio

Atsushi Sato Honored in Ceremony at His High School translated by Brett Larner Beijing Olympics men's marathon team member Atsushi Sato (29, Team Chugoku Denryoku, Waseda University), a native of Aizu Wakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture, was honored in a ceremony at Aizu High School on March 14. Sato is the first marathoner from Fukushima Prefecture to make the Olympic team since Kokichi Tsuburaya 44 years ago* and received the warm support of the students and younger runners in his hometown. Principal Shinichiro Komori addressed Sato, "Seeing you make the Olympics has been a tremendous motivation for all our students. You are the pride of our school." Following a tradition, Sato wrote four kanji representing the words which best reflect his essence on a large card to present to the school. He wrote a phrase meaning, "An honest heart capable of feeling sorrow." More than 200 students gave Sato their support. 2nd year class president Takehiro Sato (17), spoke on

Reiko Tosa Happy to Run Matsue Ladies 10 km as Guest Runner, But Admits to Being Out of Condition translated by Brett Larner Beijing Olympics women's marathon team member Reiko Tosa (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) ran as a guest runner in the 10 km competition at the Matsue Ladies Half Marathon on March 16. Although Tosa was not racing the event, it was her first appearance in a race of any kind since winning the bronze medal at last summer's Osaka World Championships marathon. Tosa reached the goal in 33:30. Afterwards she smiled, "Wow, my legs are soft and lifeless. I have a long way to go to get in shape for Beijing." In May Tosa will be heading to a training camp in Boulder, Colorado for the first time in 7 years. "Coach Suzuki thought I should go back to the place where I first became fast," she explained. By returning to her roots, Tosa hopes to move on to a medal. Translator's note: As this article mentions, Tosa has not raced since the World Championships last summer. She suffered from

Nagano Marathon to Introduce Random Doping Tests translated by Brett Larner The organizing committee of the Nagano Olympic Commemorative Nagano Marathon announced at its general meeting on March 13 that the event will introduce random doping tests of elite athletes at this year's 10th anniversary event on April 20. The Nagano Marathon decided to add the doping controls after receiving a 'silver' rating last December in the IAAF's worldwide ranking of international marathons and other road races. 6 male and 6 female athletes will be randomly selected from among the invited and jitsugyodan competitors to receive the tests. This year's race will feature 8352 entrants from 25 countries. The event includes a marathon clinic the day before the race as well as a 'marathon town' international expo in Minami Nagano Athletic Park on race day. The Nagano Marathon will also be part of Rikuren's 'Green Project' to make races more environme

Takahashi Reveals She Had Knee Surgery in August (updated)

by Brett Larner A documentary aired on Mar. 16 revealed that Sydney Olympics marathon gold medalist and former world record holder Naoko Takahashi, who ran 2:44:18 at last week's Nagoya International Women's Marathon while trying to qualify for the Beijing Olympics, had serious knee surgery in the United States in early August, 2007. Takahashi developed problems with the mensicus in her right knee while training in the first half of 2007; the corrective surgery required extensive rehabilitation and represented a major disruption to Takahashi's training. Takahashi's management firm Team Q successfully concealed this surgery from media. Her subsequent ferocious altitude training in Kunming, China attracted large-scale media coverage, and her Nagoya run was presented as a serious bid. Nagoya attracted viewer ratings of over 20% as the nation tuned in to watch its most respected marathoner try to realize a dream, but in interviews shortly after the race she admitted that he

Akaba Breaks Noguchi's Course Record at Jitsugyodan Half Marathon

by Brett Larner The last major race of the Japanese running year, the 36th Jitsugyodan Half Marathon championships, took place Mar. 16 in Yamaguchi. Warm, somewhat windy weather made for more difficult conditions than usual and the absence of entered big names such as course record holders Mizuki Noguchi and Toshinari Takaoka marginally reduced the excitement of this year's event, but both women's and men's races nevertheless featured impressive performances. The Men's Race Coming at the end of the professional Japanese marathon season in an Olympic selection year, the Jitsugyodan Half Marathon was absent many of the top runners. Advertised entrants including Takaoka, Yu Mitsuya and Masato Imai did not appear, leaving the field dominated by recent recruits. Among these, Team Toyota's Tomohiko Sumi took the lead from the gun, running 2:45 for the 1st km with a substantial gap over the rest of the field. It was a replay of his three runs as a Nittai University student

Noguchi Withdraws From Jitsugyodan Half Marathon After Developing Rash in Kunming translated and edited by Brett Larner Mizuki Noguchi (29, Team Sysmex), who this summer in Beijing will attempt to become the first woman to win two Olympic marathon gold medals, left for a training camp on Amami Oshima on Mar. 13. Noguchi withdrew from this Sunday's Jitsugyodan Half Marathon championship after contracting a skin rash while training at altitude in Kunming, China. Noguchi decided to leave Kunming and return to Japan on Mar. 6 for extensive health testing. After her final examination on Mar. 12, Noguchi told reporters, "It was nothing. I am completely fine," while smiling in apparent perfect health. Two doctors who examined Noguchi said that the rash may have been a reaction to China's notorious yellow sandstorms. They said there is no danger of lingering effects or of an impact upon her performance in this summer's Be

Imperial Crown Prince Hironomiya Runs Outside Akasaka Palace translated by Brett Larner Jogging enthusiast Imperial Crown Prince Hironomiya ran outside the Akasaka Imperial Grounds in Tokyo's Minato Ward on Mar. 11, running two laps in 33 minutes. Translator's note: One lap of the course which the prince ran is 3.34 km and includes two considerable uphills. 5 min / km is quite respectable there. The prince seems to be allowed out to run once a year or so, and, when it is reported, consistently turns in a decent pace.

Japanese National Marathon Record Holders Noguchi and Takaoka to Run Jitsugyodan Half Marathon (updated) translated and edited by Brett Larner The Japan Jitsugyodan Track and Field Association has announced the field for this year's 36th edition of the All-Japan Jitsugyodan Half Marathon Championships , to be held March 16 in Yamaguchi. This year's race will feature women's full marathon national record holder and Beijing Olympic marathon team member Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) as well as men's full marathon national record Toshinari Takaoka (Team Kanebo), who also holds the course record of 1:01:07. The women's field includes 10000 m national record holder Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo), looking for revenge for last year's Olympic marathon selection race, as well as 'Japan's Fastest Mama,' Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren), who ran an Olympic A-standard 10000 m la

Japanese Olympic Marathon Teams Announced

by Brett Larner The big news in Japanese distance running today was the announcement of the Japanese women’s and men’s marathon teams for the Beijing Olympics. There were four contenders for each team, both including a tough decision. The results were, for better or worse, unsurprising. On the women’s side, two of the three slots were taken by Reiko Tosa of Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo, who was guaranteed when she won a bronze medal at the Osaka World Championships last summer, and defending Olympic gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi of Team Sysmex, who had an incredible course record win at the Tokyo International Women’s marathon in November to effectively seal a position. The last slot was a toss-up between Tenmaya teammates Tomo Morimoto, top Japanese but 2nd overall in January’s Osaka International Women’s Marathon where she ran 2:25:34, and 21-year old Yurika Nakamura, who won her marathon debut yesterday at the Nagoya International Women’s Marathon in 2:25:51. While the experienced Mori

Ikeda and Fujikawa Win Kyoto City Half Marathon translated by Brett Larner Komazawa University's Soji Ikeda won the 15th Kyoto City Half Marathon on Mar. 9, starting in front of Kyoto's Heianjingu and breaking the tape on the 21.0975 km course in 1:02:10. Aki Fujikawa of Team Shiseido won the women's race in a time of 1:10:41. Together with Kazuo Ietani (Team Sanyo Tokushu Seiko), Ikeda broke away from the lead pack of six runners at the 15 km point but could not drop Ietani until the last km, winning by 8 seconds. Kyoto residents Tsukasa Morita (Team Sanyo Tokusho Seiko, Kyoto Sangyo University) and Takahiko Onishi (Kyoto Sangyo University) were 4th and 8th respectively. Fujikawa had a more commanding win in the women's race, running alone after the halfway point. She was 24 seconds ahead of 2nd place finisher Yui Sakai (Josai University), while last year's winner Ryoko Kisaki (Bukkyo University) was 3rd. Hiroaki Nishihara (Mi

Photos From the Nagoya International Women's Marathon

JRN's Mika Tokairin ran the Nagoya International Marathon. Below are photos she took before the race and at the post-race award ceremony and reception. Competitors in Mizuho Stadium before the race. Naoko Takaha shi warming up. Naoko Sakamoto getting last-minute advice from her coach. Har umi Hiroyama warming up. Naoko Takahashi comes around the track again. The top 8 finishers at the award ceremony. Winner Yurika Na kamura. Top 4 finishers Yurika Nakamura, Yoshimi Ozaki, Yuri Kano and Yumiko Hara, L-R. Yurika Nakamura talking to Rikuren officials. Naoko Takahashi at the reception. all photos (c) 2008 Mika Tokairin all rights reserved

Koide Prescient: Yurika Nakamura Wins Nagoya in 2:25:51 Debut

by Brett Larner Of all the scenarios forecast for the final selection race for the Japanese women's marathon team at the Beijing Olympics, run today at the Nagoya International Women's Marathon , few included 21 year old first-time marathoner Yurika Nakamura of Team Tenmaya. A longshot with a half marathon PB of only 1:10:03, Nakamura's sole vote of confidence came from a knowledgeable source, legendary coach Yoshio Koide. Koide had picked Nakamura as the most likely contender after Sydney Olympics gold medalist Naoko Takahashi. Takahashi faded after only 9 km, but with an extremely slow and tactical 1st half of 1:14:43 it looked as though the winner would be irrelevant as the time needed to make the Beijing Olympics, faster than the 2:25:34 run by Tenmaya's Tomo Morimoto in January's Osaka International Women's Marathon, was all but out of reach. Nakamura had other ideas. After Team Shiseido's Yumi Hirata and Harumi Hiroyama pushed the pace in the 2nd half,

Nagoya Extravaganza

There are too many articles about tomorrow's Nagoya International Women's Marathon to translate. Here are a few of the more interesting ones. Click here on race day for live updates every 5 km. The race begins at 12:10 p.m. All the previous winners along with Kenyan Joice Kirui at the pre-race presss conference . Yoshio Koide says debutante Yurika Nakamura will be Naoko Takahashi's main competition. Two histories of Naoko Takahashi's career . Team Suzuki's Kaori Akagawa and Yoko Yagi excited for their marathon debuts. Profile of Yuri Kano . Profile of veteran Harumi Hiroyama . Two profiles of Kiyoko Shimahara . Naoko Sakamoto back in one piece . Chika Horie looking forward to running with former teammate Naoko Takahashi. Takami Ominami running on home ground. Takahashi's sponsor Phiten collects 90,000 messages of support for her from fans. 5 former Nagoya winners to compete (published prior to Yasuko Hashimoto's withdrawal). There was also an art

Nagoya: The Last Piece of the Puzzle

by Brett Larner Of all the Japanese men's and women's selection races for the Beijing Olympics marathon teams, none has been as eagerly anticipated as the final event, this Sunday's Nagoya International Women's Marathon . Of the three slots on the women's team, one was taken by Reiko Tosa via her bronze medal performance at last summer's World Championships in Osaka. Another was all but settled in November with defending Olympic gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi's course record win at the Tokyo International Women's Marathon. Barring at least two more truly spectacular performances, the final slot would be determined between the top Japanese finishers in January's Osaka International Women's Marathon and Nagoya. Tomo Morimoto was the top Japanese in Osaka, finishing 2nd overall. A good result, but her time of 2:25:34, unremarkable among Japanese women, leaves a very strong chance for one of the Nagoya runners to take the spot on the Olympic team away.

4 Years After Missing Athens, Osaki Hopeful for a Beijing Spot translated and edited by Brett Larner and Mika Tokairin Clenching his fists, Satoshi Osaki took the top Japanese spot in finishing 3rd overall at the Biwako Mainichi Marathon. He became highly emotional during his post-race interview, weeping openly. "I didn't want to show my emotions....It wasn't easy to keep control until today, though." Osaki's strength in the marathon lies in his stamina, but he has never been confident about his speed. Throughout the first half of the race, the pace was 3 minutes per km, very fast for him. Around the halfway point he considered letting go of the lead pack. His face at the time showed the strain. "If I had let them I go, all the effort I put into preparing for the race would have turned to nothing." He forced himself to keep it together, going

Four Men in Contention for Japanese Olympic Marathon Team

by Brett Larner The last selection race for the team Japan will send to compete in the Beijing Olympics men's marathon took place on Mar. 2 at the Biwako Mainichi Marathon. Unlike the American one-race-one-chance system, Japan uses 3 domestic selection races to decide its Olympic marathon teams, December's Fukuoka International Marathon, February's Tokyo Marathon, and Biwako, with last summer’s World Championships also factoring in to this year's selection process. Japanese men have a respectable history of Olympic and World Championships medals, but no Japanese man has ever won gold at the Olympic level. Naoko Takahashi and Mizuki Noguchi’s gold medals at the Sydney and Athens Olympics have created the impression in Japan that its men are not up to the same level as its women. Media commentators bemoan the 'inadequacy' of Japanese men and the absence of any new stars on the horizon. The pressure is on for Japan’s male marathoners to excel. Atsushi Sato is the b

Satoshi Osaki 3rd in 2:08:36 at Biwako (updated)

by Brett Larner Satoshi Osaki of Team NTT Nishi Nihon, 6th place finisher at the 2007 World Championships and 2006 Asia Games bronze medalist, ran a 10-second PB of 2:08:36 to take 3rd at the 2008 Biwako Mainichi Marathon and likely make the 2008 Beijing Olympics team, close behind World Championships silver medalist Mubarak Hassan Shami of Qatar, the winner in 2:08:23, and World Championships 4th place finisher Yared Asmeron who ran a 7-minute PB of 2:08:34 to take 2nd. Osaki was himself followed closely by Team Nissin Shokuhin's Yuzo Onishi, who ran an impressive 4-minute PB of 2:08:54. Biwako was the final selection race for the Japanese men's marathon team to be sent to Beijing Olympics. The top Japanese finisher needed to break Arata Fujiwara's 2:08:40 mark from the Tokyo Marathon and be one of the top overall finishers to have any chance of being selected. Conditions at the start were 10 degrees and sunny with intermittent wind. The race was planned to begin with

'Kuira, Konovalova Prevail at Fukuoka Cross Country' From an observer's standpoint, one of the interesting things about this meet was that the two senior races were broadcast live nationally on network television. Somewhat unusual even by Japanese standards, but then the meet was also advertised on Tokyo subways.

Kenji Noguchi Goes for the Top in Biwako Mainichi Marathon translated by Brett Larner For those who want to make the Beijing Olympics men's marathon team, Sunday's Biwako Mainichi Marathon is the last chance. Team Chugoku Denryoku's Tsuyoshi Ogata, who was 5th at last summer's World Championships, and Atsushi Sato, who was 3rd at December's Fukuoka International Marathon, are both likely to be picked for the team. After these runners remained 2 races to decide the 3rd man. At the Tokyo Marathon, Arata Fujiwara (Team JR East Japan) ran 2:08:40 to finish 2nd and make Biwako the object of intense observation. The favorite for top Japanese in Biwako is Satoshi Osaki (Team NTT West Japan). At the World Championships last summer he was 6th, leading some to advise him to sit out the selection races and hope for a slot. Having finished in the top 3 in 6 of his 8 marathons, Osaki was unsatsified with his World Championships result and went back into trainin

One Last Chance For the Olympics: The Biwako Mainichi Marathon (updated) translated and edited by Brett Larner The organizing committee of final selection race for the Beijing Olympics men's marathon team, the Mar. 2nd Biwako Mainichi Marathon , on Feb. 19 announced the field for this year's race. Headlining the field with a 2:08:46 PB is Osaka World Championships 6th place finisher and 2006 Asian Games bronze medalist Satoshi Osaki (Team NTT Nishi Nihon). Joining him are Osaka World Championships teammates Tomoyuki Sato and Mitsuru Kubota, both of Team Asahi Kasei. Overseas competitors include Osaka World Championships silver medalist Mubarak Hassan Shami (Qatar) and 4th place finisher Yared Asmeron (Eritrea), as well as 2-time Biwako winner Jose Rios (Spain) and past Fukuoka International Marathon winner Dmytro Baranovsky (Ukraine) who holds a PB of 2:07:15. 2007 Fukuoka 3rd place finisher Atsushi Sato leads the standings to