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Showing posts from September, 2008

Japan's Marathon Women Begin Lining Up for World Championships Selection Races

by Brett Larner In the wake of the retirement of Olympic marathoner Reiko Tosa (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) from the marathon distance and the announcement that injured Athens Olympics marathon champion Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) would not run another marathon before next fall at the earliest, Japan’s top marathon women have begun to declare their intentions to compete in the three selection races for next summer’s Berlin World Championships marathon team. The selection races to choose the five-member team take place this November at the final Tokyo International Women’s Marathon, in January, 2009 at the Osaka International Women’s Marathon, and in March at the Nagoya International Women’s Marathon. The only Japanese woman to complete the Beijing Olympics marathon, Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya) announced that she will not run any of the selection races, thereby giving up her chance for a World Championships berth. Nakamura’s coach Yutaka Taketomi said that she will spend the spring

Mwaniki Defends, Nojiri Takes First Win at Hakodate Half Marathon translated and edited by Brett Larner Joseph Mwaniki (Team Konica Minolta) defended his title at the 2008 Hakodate Half Marathon in Hakodate, Hokkaido Prefecture on Sept. 28, covering the Rikuren-certified course in 1:02:08. Mwaniki took the lead at the seaside 11 km turnaround, finishing over a minute ahead of 2nd place finisher Kenta Oshima (Team Nissin Shokuhin), who ran 1:03:29. Nissin runners Bene Zama and Kazuyoshi Tokumoto took 3rd and 4th, both clocking PBs. Azusa Nojiri (Team Daiichi Seimei) won the women's race in 1:14:12, her first victory in the Hakodate Half. Nojiri attacked over a hilly section of the course near the 5 km point, breaking apart rival Mizuho Kishi (Team Yamada Denki) to win by a wide margin. 1545 entrants including 218 women took part in the 18th edition of the race. Temperatures at the start were 15.5 degrees.

Ota and Tominaga Take Ichinoseki International Half Marathon Wins tra nslated and edited by Brett Larner The 27th Ichinoseki International Half Marathon took place Sept. 28 in Ichinoseki, Iwate Prefecture, starting outside Ichinoseki city hall and covering a 21.0975 km course. Komazawa University senior Yukinori Ota won the men's race in 1:04:26 after breaking from the lead pack with 4 km to go in the race. Komazawa alumnus Akira Fujii, now of Team Aisan, was 2nd in 1:04:52. Kyoko Fukunaga of Amino Vital AC won the women's race in 1:17:15. Leading a pack of four at the 16 km mark, Fujii launched a spurt to break away. Ota commented afterwards that at this point he had thought, "If I fall behind now it's over." He picked up his pace in response to Fujii's move, increasing from 3 min/km to 2:50/km and taking the lead at 17 km. Fujii could not match his speed and finished 26 seconds behind. Ota, who anchored

National Corporate Track and Field Championships - Results (updated)

by Brett Larner The 56th annual National Corporate Track and Field Championships took place Sept. 26-28 in Yamagata Prefecture, the last major meet before the fall ekiden season. The biggest result of the distance events was 35 year old women's steeplechase national record holder Minori Hayakari's solo run to a meet record 9:56.37. Hayakari's record-setting run capped a fantastic season which saw her win yet another national championship, set a new national record of 9:33.63, and run in her first Olympic Games. Another big moment in the championships came with the surprise appearance by Megumi Kinukawa in the women's 5000 m. Kinukawa, who ran the 10000 m at the 2007 World Championships as a high school senior, was expected to be multiple national record holder Kayoko Fukushi's successor as the dominant runner of her generation but has been out of competition since last winter after contracting a virus which caused a continuous series of injuries and secondary illne

The Man Who Couldn’t Win: Toshinari Suwa Defeated by Coach Kenjiro Jitsui at Berlin Marathon

by Brett Larner Far from the spotlight of Haile Gebreselassie’s historic 2:03:59 world record run, Japan’s two entrants in the Berlin Marathon, Team Nissin Shokuhin runner Toshihari Suwa and Team Nissin Shokuhin coach Kenjiro Jitsui, also achieved results which were in opposing ways noteworthy. Suwa is one of Japan’s best-ever marathoners, with a PB of 2:07:55, a 6th-place finish in the 2004 Athens Olympics marathon and a 7th-place finish in the 2007 Osaka World Championships marathon among his credentials and at 31 still young enough to have a future. At the same time, he is cursed: since his debut at the 2001 Nagano Marathon Suwa has never, not even in his 2:07 run, been the top Japanese finisher in a marathon when other Japanese were running. Jitsui is a true veteran, having run his PB of 2:08:50 in 1996 while qualifying for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics marathon where he finished 93rd. Although he afterwards faded into the relative anonymity of the Japanese corporate running world, J

Noguchi's Coach Says She Will Aim For Marathon Comeback Next Fall translated by Brett Larner Nobuyuki Fujita, head coach of Athens Olympics women's marathon gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) who withdrew from the Beijing Olympics marathon after an injury to her left thigh, said that Noguchi will likely target a comeback at an overseas marathon in the autumn next year. Noguchi had hoped to return in time for the Berlin World Championships next August, but to make the team she would need to run in one of the Japanese selection races this winter and in her current condition this does not look to be a realistic option. Noguchi had returned to a program of light jogging, but as her injury persisted through mid-September she backed off and concentrated on receiving proper medical treatment. With her future training a blank slate, coach Fujita speculated about possible plans. "We think that the best course of action would be for her to run a PB attempt at Berlin or Chicago nex

'Gebrselassie, Mikitenko In the Berlin Spotlight on Sunday – Berlin Marathon Preview' Includes comments by Japanese runner Toshinari Suwa of Team Nissin Shokuhin. Strangely, Suwa is mistaken. He ran against Haile Gebrselassie at the 2006 Fukuoka International Marathon, which the Ethiopian won in 2:06:52 to Suwa's 2:08:52 5th-place finish. Suwa's teammate Kenjiro Jitsui, a veteran of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, will also be running in Berlin.

Nobuharu Asahara Bows Out to Full House at Super Meet in Kawasaki

by Brett Larner event videos listed at bottom The 36 year old anchor of Japan's Beijing Olympics bronze medal-winning men's 4 x 100 m relay team, Nobuharu Asahara (Team Osaka Gas), was the main attraction at the 2008 Seiko Super Track and Field Meet in Kawasaki , a near sellout crowd filling Kawasaki's Todoroki Stadium to witness Asahara's final run before his retirement. Despite the cancellation of several stars including men's 110 m hurdles world record holder Dayron Robles, Japanese fans were treated to a bonus in the unpublicized surprise guest appearance by Jamaican sprint star Usain Bolt, who came out to greet fans during the opening ceremonies. Usain Bolt and the Japanese Olympic men's 4 x 100 m team. In the field events, women's long jump national record holder Kumiko Ikeda (Team Suzuki) fouled on her first three jumps before finally getting on the scoreboard. She ultimately finished 2nd behind Russian Tatiana Lebedeva, a two-time Olympic medalist an

Asahara Ready for Final Race trans lated and edited by Brett Larner Japan's Olympic bronze medal-winning 4 x 100 m team reunited at the Seiko Super Track and Field Meet in Kawasaki pre-meet press conference on Sept. 22. The four athletes, all of whom will compete in the meet, struck a group baton pass pose for photographers. From left to right are Nobuharu Asahara (Team Osaka Gas), Shinji Takahira (Team Fujitsu), Shingo Suetsugu (Team Mizuno) and Naoki Tsukahara (Team Fujitsu). The meet will be the 36 year-old Asahara's final race before his retirement.

Arata Fujiwara to Run Chicago Marathon

by Brett Larner Arata Fujiwara (Team JR Higashi Nihon), who finished 2nd in a time of 2:08:40 behind 2007 World Championships bronze medalist Viktor Rothlin (Switzerland) in this past February's Tokyo Marathon, is scheduled to make his international marathon debut at October's Chicago Marathon. Fujiwara was an unknown in Tokyo but delivered an inspiring performance in only his second marathon, running a personal best by thirty minutes and holding off Kenyan Olympian Julius Gitahi (Team Nissin Shokuhin) in the final kilometers despite leg cramps which almost forced him to stop. Fujiwara's time in Tokyo appeared to give him an excellent chance for the Beijing Olympics team, but he was reduced to alternate status a few weeks later after Satoshi Osaki (Team NTT Nishi Nihon) ran 2:08:36 at the Biwako Mainichi Marathon. Fujiwara is training at altitude in Kunming, China throughout September in preparation for Chicago. His motivation to make a mark will be high after not making

Marathoner Takahashi Calls Beijing Paralympics' Combination of Blind and Visually-Impaired Classes "Nonsense" Takahashi's comments broadcast on NHK TV 9/18/08 translated and edited by Brett Larner Yuichi Takahashi, 43, originally of Yokote, Akita Prefecture, ran the Beijing Paralympics men's marathon on Sept. 17. Takahashi, the gold medalist in the T11 blind division at the Athens Paralympics, was seeking to win his second straight gold medal and had trained to run a world record 2:30 pace. After running 1:15 for the first half of the Beijing marathon he experienced difficulties and began to slow. Takahashi finished in 2:43:38, faster than his Athens winning time of 2:44:24. He was 2nd in the T11 completely blind division behind Italian Andrea Cionna's 2:36:43 but did not receive a silver medal. While in past Paralympics the T11 class has been scored separately from the T12 visually impaired division, the Beijing Paralympics chose to combine the two classes in the scoring for medals, forcing Cionna, Takahashi and othe

Japanese Athletes Finish Behind World Record Performances in Beijing Paralympics Marathon

by Brett Larner World records fell in three of the five divisions of the Sept. 17 Beijing Paralympics Marathon on the final day of competition. The 95 athletes from the combined five classes began together in Tiananmen Square at 7:30 a.m. local time. First to reach the Bird's Nest were the men's wheelchair competitors, with ten athletes entering the tunnel in a dense pack. Defending gold medalist Kurt Fearnley of Australia, Japan's Hiroki Sasahara and South Africa's Ernst Van Dyk battled for the medal positions, with Fearnley and Sasahara clocking identical times of 1:23:17, a PB for the Australian and SB for the Japanese. Fearnley was awarded the gold in the photo finish, Sasahara receiving the silver and Van Dyk the bronze after finishing just one second back. Japanese athletes in the lead pack also finished 5th, 6th and 7th. Veteran world record holder Heinz Frei of Switzerland, now in his 50's, was 14th in a creditable 1:25:43. Next to finish were the women'

Start Lists for Beijing Paralympics Marathon

by Brett Larner Japan will field three athletes in the visually impaired division of the Sept. 17 Beijing Paralympics Marathon and eight in the two wheelchair divisions. Leading the team is visually impaired division defending gold medalist Yuichi Takahashi. Takahashi has said his target is 2:30 but will face serious competition from world record holder Henry Wanyoike of Kenya, who ran 2:31:31 earlier this season, as well as from Tunisia's Abderrahim Zhiou, 2:32:52, and Italy's Fabrizio Cocchi, 2:33:20. Visually Impaired Division - T12 Yuichi Takahashi, 43, SB: 2:39:02 Masahito Niino, 51, SB: 2:49:05 Hiroaki Kajisa, 34, SB: 2:56:51 Wheelchair Division - T54 Masazumi Soejima, 38, SB: 1:21:23 Hiroki Sasahara, 34, SB: 1:29:12 Kota Hokinoue, 34, SB: 1:29:42 Hiroyuki Yamamoto, 42, SB: 1:30:40 Choke Yasuoka, 35, SB: 1:37:14 Jun Hiromichi, 34, SB: 1:39:37 Impaired Limb Mobility Wheelchair Division - T52 Toshihiro Takada, 43, SB: 1:44:04 Hirokazu Ueyonabaru, 37, SB: 1:44:55 Complete st

National University Track and Field Championships - Results

by Brett Larner The 77th Japanese National University Track and Field Championships took place Sept. 12-14 at Tokyo's National Stadium. Nihon University's Daniel Gitau delivered the biggest shock of the meet, beating Yamanashi Gakuin University star Mekubo Mogusu in both the men's 5000 m and 10000 m after having been soundly defeated by Mogusu in May's Kanto Regional University Track and Field Championships where Mogusu set the 10000 m national university record. Kenyan 'exchange students' rounded out the top three in the 10000 m with Hiroshima University of Economics' Samuel Ganga, who set the 5000 m meet record at June's National University Track and Field Individual Championships, narrowly beating out Meiji University's Yudai Matsumoto to take 3rd. Three ace Japanese runners battled for 3rd in the 5000 m, with Josai University's Yuta Takahashi edging out Juntendo University's Hiroyuki Ono, famous for his gutsy but unsuccessful run on the

Blind Paralympian Yuichi Takahashi Ready for Second Marathon Gold translated and edited by Brett Larner "I'm in better shape than I was four years ago. I'm ready to run 2:30." So says Yuichi Takahashi, the Athens Paralympics men's marathon gold medalist who will look to defend his title at the Beijing Paralympics marathon on Sept. 17. Takahashi is completely blind. He and other blind marathoners are allowed to employ two guide runners, one in the first half of the race and one in the second. Guides' left hands are tied to blind runners' right hands, communicating directions through subtle movements of the lead rope as they traverse the 42.195 km course. Takahashi managed to secure exceptional guide runners this time, capable athletes he trusts completely.* His daily training has gone well and he is full of confidence. Takahashi was born June 12, 1965 in Yokote, Akita Prefecture. Born sighted, he carries the burden of memories of the vi

Five Japan-Based Kenyans Named to World Half Marathon Championships Squad

by Brett Larner Five athletes based in Japan were named to the preliminary lineup of the Kenyan national team for October's World Half Marathon Championships in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. The men's contingent includes half marathon world record holder and Olympic marathon gold medalist Samuel Wanjiru, who until last month ran for Team Toyota Kyushu but resigned just prior to the Beijing Olympics to found his own unit, Team Sam, and Yamanashi Gakuin University senior Mekubo Mogusu, who broke one hour for the half marathon three times in 2007, all in solo efforts. The women's squad includes Team Hokuren's Philes Ongori, holder of the fastest time in the world so far this year with her 1:07:57 win at February's Marugame Half Marathon, Julia Mumbi of Team Aruze, and Danielle Filomena Cheyech of Team Uniqlo. Confirmation of the team's lineup is expected next week. For a complete listing of the preliminary roster, click here . (c) 2008 Brett Larner all rights reserved

Rock and Roll Half Marathon - Results

by Brett Larner Six Japanese runners competed in the elite field of the 2008 Virginia Beach Rock and Roll Half Marathon on Aug. 31. Each year the 5th and 6th place male and female Japanese finishers in March's All-Japan Jitsugyodan Half Marathon Championships are invited to run the Rock and Roll Half Marathon, the higher-tier Japanese finishers being selected for other races including the World Half Marathon Championships. This year the invited men were Team Konica Minolta's Kazuyuki Maeda, 7th overall at the 2008 Jitsugyodan Half in 1:02:50, and Team Asahi Kasei's Takaaki Koda, 8th at the Jitsugyodan Half in 1:02:52. The invited women were Team Tenmaya's Kei Terada, 7th overall at the Jitsugyodan Half with a 1:12:11, and Team Sysmex's Megumi Seike, 9th at the Jitsugyodan Half in 1:12:25. Two other Japanese women, Team Shimamura's Aya Manome and Team Wacoal's Miho Notagashira, also ran the Rock and Roll Half Marathon. Maeda ran 1:05:18 to take 4th in the men

Who Goes Where

by Brett Larner A quick list of elite Japanese runners who are scheduled to race overseas and in major domestic races in the upcoming season. Beijing Paralympics Marathon - 9/17/08 men - Yuichi Takahashi; guide: Shinji Kawashima, Toyo University coach Super Track and Field Meet in Kawasaki - 9/23/08 men's 100m - Nobuharu Asahara last run, and others Berlin Marathon - 9/28/08 men - Toshinari Suwa, Team Nissin Shokuhin Chicago Marathon - 10/12/08 women - Kiyoko Shimahara, Second Wind AC World Half Marathon Championships, Rio de Janiero - 10/12/08 Japanese team: women - Yukiko Akaba, Team Hokuren, and others men - Masato Kihara, Chuo Gakuin Univ., and others Kenyan team: women - Philes Ongori, Team Hokuren, and others men - Mekubo Mogusu, Yamanashi Gakuin Univ., and others Tokyo International Women's Marathon - 11/16/08 Yuri Kano, Second Wind AC Naoko Takahashi, Team Phiten, and others Osaka International Women's Marathon - 1/25/09 Naoko Takahashi, Team Phiten, and others Nago

Still Unable to Run, Mizuki Noguchi's Chances for Berlin World Championships Comeback Unclear translated by Brett Larner On Sept. 2, Athens Olympics women's marathon gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi (30, Team Sysmex) went for her first public run since pulling out of the Beijing Olympics women's marathon shortly before the race with an injury to her left thigh. Feeling that she is not yet healed, Noguchi withdrew from her planned participation in the October 12 World Half Marathon Championships in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. The run marked the first time the marathon queen has shown herself in public since returning from Switzerland, jogging slowly for two hours on the afternoon of Sept. 2. Approached for an interview at the end of her run, Noguchi brushed reporters aside, saying, "Excuse me, I'm still practicing." Noguchi injured her biceps femoris and semitendinosus on July 25 while training in St. Moritz, Switzerland. She cut the Swiss training camp short to return to Japan for medical treatment

Noguchi Withdraws From October World Half Marathon Championships translated by Brett Larner Rikuren announced on Sept. 3 that Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) has notified them of her withdrawal from this year's World Half Marathon Championships, to be held Oct. 12 in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. Noguchi previously withdrew from the Beijing Olympics women's marathon after injuring her left thigh. She made the decision to withdraw on the basis of not feeling that she will be able to accumulate enough training to justify participating. Noguchi qualified for the World Half by winning May's Sendai International Half Marathon. In response to Rikuren's notification of their permission for her to run, Noguchi commented at the time, "They asked for a prompt reply, so I told them it was OK to say I would do it."

Sydney Olympian Kawashima to Run Beijing Paralympics Marathon as Guide Runner for Defending Gold Medalist Takahashi translated by Brett Larner The 2008 Beijing Paralympics take place in Beijing, China from Sept. 9 through 17. Competing for his second consecutive gold medal in the final day's men's marathon is Yuichi Takahashi, 43. His guide runner in Beijing will be Sydney Olympics men's marathon competitor and Toyo University head track and field coach Shinji Kawashima, 42. Motivated by Takahashi's passion, it is an Olympic rebirth for Kawashima. "In Beijing if I can recover what I lost in Sydney then maybe the Rising Sun will be raised high on the center pole." The two runners share and Olympic dream of a gold medal. Takahashi was stricken with the degenerative retinal condition retinitis punctata albescens at the age of 16 and was completely blind by 33. Having run track and field in junior high school, Takahashi became interested in running and made the marathon his main target when he was 30. He rapidl

Olympic 4x100m Relay Anchor Asahara Tells Company Supporters "The Baton's Whereabouts Are Unknown. Somebody Please Find It." translated by Brett Larner Beijing Olympics men's 4 x 100 m relay bronze medal winner Nobuharu Asahara (36, Team Osaka Gas) appeared at a press conference at Osaka Gas' head office on Sept. 1, joyfully telling reporters, "It was 10 seconds of the purest satisfaction in my life, my greatest Olympics."* After watching the race again on a large screen at the press conference, Asahara spoke to the packed crowd of over 500 Osaka Gas employees and journalists. Asked about the widely-televised scene of Asahara throwing the team's baton into the air in joy the moment the results appeared and Japan's bronze medal was secured, he laughingly appealed to the public, saying "[Japan's gold-medal] softball team's winning ball came back with them, but the baton's whereabouts are unknown. If somebody finds it please get in touch." * Translator's note: Asahara is a four-time Olympian.

High School Teacher and Teenager Win Hokkaido Marathon

by Brett Larner The 2008 Hokkaido Marathon saw suprise winners in both the men's and women's races, with retired professional runner turned high school teacher Masaru Takamizawa running a PB of 2:12:10 in the heat to take the men's win and tiny 19 year-old Yukari Sahaku, a disciple of Naoko Takahashi's former coach Yoshio Koide, running to victory with a 2:31:50 marathon debut. Takamizawa, 27, is a former member of Team Nissin Shokuhin and a graduate of Yamanashi Gakuin University where he ran the Hakone Ekiden's second stage, its most competitive. In March this year he retired from the jitsugyodan world to take a job teaching information technology at Nagano's Saku Chosei High School, which he had attended as a student. Not coincidentally Saku Chosei is one of Japan's top running high schools, and Takamizawa also took on duties as an assistant coach for the school's ekiden team under his own high school-era head coach Hayashi Morozumi. Since taking the