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Showing posts from October, 2008

Shibui Returns From Kunming 'Satisfied' translated by Brett Larner On Oct. 29 Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) returned with a teammates from a three-week training camp in Kunming, China. Shibui is in preparation for the Nov. 16 Tokyo International Women's Marathon. "I did everything [on the practice menu]," she commented. "I'm satisfied." Shibui saw news of Naoko Takahashi's retirement on TV. "It takes a lot of courage to say you're going to retire. It gave me many things to think about." Shibui also talked about her teammate Reiko Tosa, who dropped out of the Beijing Olympics marathon with a foot injury. "She basically back to regular jogging. Her foot doesn't really hurt any more," said Shibui. Both runners plan to compete in December's All-Japan Jitsugyodan Women's Ekiden. Translator's note: Last year Shibui returned from Kunming and ran a stage record on the 10 km anchor l

National University Ekiden Championships - Preview

by Brett Larner The late fall and early winter ekiden season is the cornerstone of the Japanese running year, and nowhere is this more true than in university men's running. The university season comprises a series of 3 major ekidens culminating in the Biwako University Ekiden for schools from western Japan and the Hakone Ekiden for those in eastern Japan. It's one of the peculiarities of the Japanese distance running world that the major race of the season for university men is a regional event which takes place after the National Championships. There's no question that Hakone is the most important distance running event in Japan, but November's All-Japan University Men's Ekiden Championships offer a rare opportunity to see schools from other areas of Japan take on the famed powerhouses of eastern Japan. The National Ekiden covers an 8 stage, 106.8 km course from Nagoya in Aichi Prefecture to Ise in Mie Prefecture. October's Izumo Ekiden offers the season&#

Reiko Tosa Now Hopes to Run A Final Marathon Before Retirement translated by Brett Larner Reiko Tosa (32, Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo), who after failing to finish the Beijing Olympics marathon announced her intent to retire, returned to Japan on Oct. 29 from a high altitude training camp in Kunming, China, telling reporters at the airport that she now wants to run one last marathon. "I want to have one more go [at 42.195 km]," Tosa said. She does not want her last memory of her running to be that of having dropped out of the Olympic marathon after injuring her foot, but hopes to make a more fitting end to her career. Tosa is not planning to run in a major international race but will most likely return to her roots and run her hometown Ehime Marathon in February, a race she won in her marathon debut in 1998. Asked for comments about Sydney Olympics marathon gold medalist Naoko Takahashi's retirement this week, Tosa replied, "I was really surprised. She is the pioneer of t

Tokyo International Women's Marathon Announces Elite Field For Its Final Running

by Brett Larner On Oct. 28 the Tokyo International Women's Marathon announced the elite field for the event's 30th and final running, to take place Nov. 16. Top domestic runners Yoko Shibui, Yuri Kano, Yoshimi Ozaki and others will face off for slots on the 2009 Berlin World Track and Field Championships marathon team while competing against foreign competition including 2008 Osaka International Women's Marathon winner Mara Yamauchi of the U.K., 2007 Tokyo IWM runner-up Salina Kosgei of Kenya, and 2008 London Marathon runner-up Russian Svetlana Zakharova. Aging Ethiopians Derartu Tulu and Elfenesh Alemu are also on the entry list along with newcomers Tetyana Filonyuk of Ukraine and Kenyan Magdaline Chemjor. Former marathon national record holder Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) had a career-worst run at last year's Tokyo but afterwards went on to experience a rebirth on the track, running the kind of performances not seen since her glory days over five years ago and

Coach Koide Regrets Takahashi's Retirement as 'Such a Waste' translated by Brett Larner Sydney Olympics women's marathon gold medalist Naoko Takahashi (36, Team Phiten) held a press conference in Tokyo on Oct. 28 to announce her retirement from professional running. Sakura AC head coach Yoshio Koide (69), the man who led her to greatness, still has not 100% accepted the news. "I didn't think she would quit," Koide regretfully told reporters in the arrivals lobby of Tokyo's Narita Airport after returning from a training camp in Kunming, China on Oct. 28. "Maybe she is just worn out. It's such a waste...." Koide and Takahashi were together for ten years, from her early days with Team Recruit in 1995 until 2005. That year Takahashi, expressing a desire for independence, relocated to Boulder, Colorado in 2005 to continue training without a coach. At the time she commented of Boulder, "I have to admit that I love it there." But the bond be

The Tasks Ahead for Noguchi to Reach London translated by Brett Larner Athens Olympics women's marathon champion Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex), who withdrew from the Beijing Olympics after sustaining an injury to her left thigh, plans to make the 2012 London Olympics the main goal over the next few years. In four years she will be 34. "Age doesn't matter," Noguchi believes. "I have to tell my coaches about my condition more often and control myself better from now on." Noguchi will listen more carefully to what her body is telling her in order to catch potential injuries and an early stage. 38 year old Constantina Tomescu-Dita (Romania) won the Beijing Olympic Marathon. Looking at keeping her motivation as time goes on, Noguchi says, "The more I run the marathon the more interesting it becomes." Her 150 cm-tall body has always looked full of power when she runs, the kind of power which won her the gold medal in Athens

Naoko Takahashi's Statement From Her Retirement Press Conference and NHK 6:00 News broadcast, 10/28/08 translated and edited by Brett Larner On the afternoon of Oct. 28, Sydney Olympic marathon gold medalist and former world record holder Takahashi gave a press conference at Tokyo's Grand Prince Hotel to announce her retirement. A portion of Takahashi's statement follows. "Hello, I am Naoko Takahashi. I planned to run the Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka International Women's Marathons but have to give it up. To the fans, staff and sponsors who supported me I offer my sincerest apologies. I had this goal to run these three races as a thank you or goodbye to everyone but now I find that I've spent everything my body has, that I've done all I can and am left with just a peaceful feeling. It's not that something happened, I just can't do the kind of training I need in order to stand in front of you all as the Pro Naoko Takahashi, the kind of running I can be proud of

A Brief Look Back at Naoko Takahashi

by Brett Larner With Naoko Takahashi's abrupt announcement of her retirement today less than three weeks before her planned entry in the Tokyo International Women's Marathon it's worth taking a minute to look back at some of the achievements which made her Japan's greatest marathon runner, male or female, and one of its most beloved public figures. Gold Medal - Sydney Olympics 9/24/00 By far the accomplishment for which Takahashi is most respected in Japan is winning the country's first-ever Olympic marathon gold medal. Japan had scored several men's and women's silver and bronze Olympic marathon medals over the years, but until Sept. 24, 2000 no Japanese runner had ever taken the top position. Takahashi, accompanied partway by teammates Ari Ichihashi and Eri Yamaguchi, dominated the race, setting an Olympic record of 2:23:14 which still stands. She became an instant icon in Japan, achieving unprecedented respect for a woman in the public eye and winning the

Naoko Takahashi Retires translated and edited by Brett Larner 2000 Sydney Olympics women's marathon gold medalist and former marathon world record holder Naoko Takahashi (36, Team Phiten) retired from professional running on Oct. 28. Takahashi planned to run three marathons this season, November's Tokyo International Women's Marathon, January's Osaka International Women's Marathon, and March's Nagoya International Women's Marathon, and has been at her training camp in Boulder, Colorado since May in preparation. Despite winning three races during this period, including a course record at the Mt. Evans mountain race in June, Takahashi couldn't meet the targets in her training plan and cancelled the rest of the camp and her three-marathon season, returning to Japan in secret a short time ago. She is scheduled to give a press conference later i

Ritsumeikan Takes Third Straight National Ekiden Title

by Brett Larner After a slow start which saw two-time defending champion Ritsumeikan University in 7th at the end of the first stage of the 38.6 km, six-stage National University Women's Ekiden Championships , also known as the Morinomiyako Ekiden, the school moved up through the field through the following three stages to take first the lead and then its third consecutive national title and fifth national win in six years. Buoyed by a stellar stage-record performance by third-year star Kazue Kojima on the third leg, Ritsumeikan runners clocked stage records on the fourth and fifth legs as well and won in 2:06:53, just off the course record which Ritsumeikan set last year. Rivals Bukkyo University once again had to settle for 2nd, finishing 1:15 behind the winner in 2:08:08. 2005 winner Meijo University rounded out the podium positions with a 2:08:47 finish in 3rd. Ritsumeikan's win essentially amounted to a simple display of power. Despite five of the six members of last ye

National University Women's Ekiden - Preview pt. II: The Top Five Contenders

translated and edited by Brett Larner The 26th All-Japan University Women's Ekiden, also known as the Morinomiyako Ekiden, takes place Oct. 26 in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. Two-time defending champion Ritsumeikan University is set to win a third-straight title, with four schools presenting potential challenges. Brief profiles of each school follow. Ritsumeikan University Ritsumeikan University, alma mater of professionals including 2008 Sapporo International Half Marathon winner Yuri Kano (Second Wind AC), is the dominant women's running school in Japan, winning the Western Japan Regional Ekiden title every year since 2003 and the National Invitational Ekiden all five years of the event's existence thus far. Ritsumeikan won the 2003 and 2004 National University Women's Ekiden titles but in trying to become the second school in Morinomiyako history to win a third consecutive championship lost out to rivals Meijo University in 2005. Ritsumeikan came back to win in 2006,

National University Women's Ekiden - Preview pt. I

by Brett Larner The 26th All-Japan University Women's Ekiden championship race, also known as the Morinomiyako Ekiden, takes place on Oct. 26 in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. Ritsumeikan University is poised to extend its winning streak to a third consecutive year, a feat so far accomplished only once in the event's history by Kyoto Sangyo University in the 1990's. Ritsumeikan will face strong challenges from last year's runner-up Bukkyo University as well as from 2005 winners Meijo University. The Morinomiyako Ekiden began in 1983 as an international university women's ekiden competition held in Osaka on the last Monday of November, a national holiday in Japan. The ekiden consisted of six stages covering a total of 39 km. U.C.S.D. (U.S.A.) won the inaugural event, with other schools from Germany, England, Australia, The U.S.S.R., Korea, Brazil, China, and Italy taking part each year. In 1999 the race's format changed and it became the national championship ekiden

The Captain and the First-Year Ace Lead Fukushi University's Northern Girls to National Ekiden Championships translated by Brett Larner On Oct. 26, teams from across the country will run the 26th Morinomiyako Ekiden, the National University Women's Ekiden Championships, on a six-stage, 38.6 km course stretching from the Miyagi Track and Field Grounds to Sendai City Hall. Three teams from the Tohoku [northeastern] region of Japan will represent all northern girls. Along with the Tohoku Regional University Select Team will be Fukushima University, making its third consecutive and tenth total appearance, and Fukushi University, competing for the second consecutive and sixth total time. Running on Fukushi's team for the first time are captain Shoko Mori (fourth year) and ace recruit Makiko Ishiyama (first year). Shoko Mori - Fourth Year Going to the Morinomiyako Ekiden for the first time as a senior and as captain, Mori's enthusiasm and focus are at a peak. "We're representing all of Tohoku," she says.

Jobu University Qualifies for its First Hakone Ekiden translated by Brett Larner At the Oct. 18 Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai [Qualification Race], Jobu University's ekiden team finished 3rd to qualify for the 85th Hakone Ekiden in only the team's 5th year of existence. On Oct. 20 Takasaki city mayor Yukio Matsuura held a reception in the Jobu ekiden team's honor, heartily congratulating them and urging the team on to success in the Jan. 2-3 main event. Head coach Katsuhiko Hanada and 20 runners from the team appeared at the reception. Mayor Matsuura addressed them, smiling as he told them, "You are the first [team] from Gunma Prefecture to run the Hakone Ekiden. Show us all something special when we see you on TV." Coach Hanada discussed the team's performance at the Yosenkai and its goals for Hakone, saying, "Our runners believed in themselves, and they ran outstandingly. We're aiming for the seeded bracket [top 10] in Hakone, and

Meijo University Ready for National University Women's Ekiden translated by Brett Larner On Oct. 16, Nagoya's Meijo University held a support rally for its women's ekiden team which will be competing at the 26th National University Women's Ekiden Championships, the Morinomiyako Ekiden, in Sendai on Oct. 26. Meijo last won a national title in 2005; it finished 2nd in 2006 and was 3rd last year. Senior captain Eri Sato (22), told supporters, "Our goal is to win, but whatever happens we want to be able to say we came out of Nationals having exceeded our own expectations. Our biggest rivals are ourselves." Meijo University will host a viewing of the Morinomiyako Ekiden at its Nakamura-ku Meieki campus.

Tokai's Yuki Sato to Join Team Nissin Shokuhin translated by Brett Larner On Oct. 18, Rikuren's long distance bureau announced that Tokai University senior Yuki Sato will join Tokyo-based Team Nissin Shokuhin after his graduation next spring. With regard to his decision to join the top-ranked ekiden team, Sato commented, "If I'm on a high-level team then I can improve my own level and develop my potential." Sato has set new stage records all three years that he has thus far run the Hakone Ekiden. Translator's note: Nissin is one of the best pro ekiden teams in Japan. Besides top-ranked runners such as Toshinari Suwa, Julius Gitahi and Gideon Ngatuny, Nissin has in the last few years pulled in several of the best graduating university students including Satoru Kitamura, Bene Zama, and Sato's former Tokai teammate Keizo Maruyama.

Tomoya Onishi Defends Takashimadaira 20 km Title

by Brett Larner Less than a week after a brilliant run in the Izumo Ekiden, Toyo University senior Tomoya Onishi barely missed becoming the second university student to break the hour mark on the Takashimadaira Road Race's 20 km course, winning his second straight Takashimadaira title in 1:00:05. Takashimadaira serves as an early-season tuneup for Tokyo-area universities, with three or four schools sending a mix of ace runners wanting a controlled time trial effort on the roads and B-squad members who did not run in either the previous week's Izumo Ekiden or the previous day's Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai [Qualifying] 20 km but still have a chance of making the final team for Hakone. Toyo fielded a full squad including half its team from the Oct. 13 Izumo Ekiden, but gave star first-year Ryuji Kashiwabara and Izumo team members Hiroyuki Uno and Masaya Mori a rest. Izumo Ekiden runner-up Komazawa University sent a smaller group, none of whom had run Izumo. Kanagawa University and

Takeyasu Makes Top 10 in Beijing Marathon

by Brett Larner Team Chudenko's Masahiko Takeyasu ran the Oct. 19 Beijing Marathon, placing 9th in his second marathon in a modest 2:15:10. Takeyasu debuted at February's Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon where he was 4th in 2:14:18. He was the lone Japanese runner to make the top ten as no elite Japanese women placed. As in Beppu-Oita, Takeyasu was beaten by Morroco's Rachid Kisri, who in Beijing was 4th in 2:11:31. Also finishing ahead of Takeyasu was Chinese national record holder Longyun Ren, who ran 2:14:27 to finish 7th this year after a memorable national record 2:08:15 while finishing 2nd at last year's Beijing Marathon. Kenyans took the top three positions, with Benjamin Kiptoo winning in 2:10:14. Chinese teenager Xue Bai won the women's race in 2:26:37. (c) 2008 Brett Larner all rights reserved

Josai Wins 2nd Straight Hakone Ekiden Qualification Race

by Brett Larner Relative newcomer Josai University had a strong showing at the 2008 Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai , a 20 km road race held Oct. 18 in western Tokyo's Showa Kinen Park to select non-seeded teams for the 2009 Hakone Ekiden. Josai won the Yosenkai for the 2nd year in a row despite a mediocre run by its ace, 3rd year Yuta Takahashi. 12 other teams likewise qualified for January's Hakone, the Kanto regional men's university 2-day ekiden championships and the most popular race in Japan. In a typical year, Hakone features 19 university teams and 1 select team made up of top runners from Kanto-area schools which failed to qualify. The top 10 finishing schools are seeded for the following year's Hakone with the remaining teams having to run the Yosenkai to requalify. In the Yosenkai, universities may field teams of up to 12 runners. All runners run an open 20 km race, with the aggregate time of a school's top 10 finishers determining the team finishing order. For th

Takao Watanabe Resigns From Coaching Sendai Ikuei to Train Kinukawa Full-time in Leadup to London Olympics translated and edited by Brett Larner A day after his prodigy Megumi Kinukawa (19, Team Mizuno) returned from prolonged illness to set a new women's junior national record of 31:23.21 in the 10000 m at the Oct. 13 Niigata Big Festa meet, Sendai Ikuei High School head coach Takao Watanabe (61) announced that he was resigning his position after 9 years with the school in order to focus on Kinukawa's development full-time over the next 4 years leading up to the 2012 London Olympics marathon and thanked the school warmly. "I'm very grateful for having had the opportunity to coach from my heart." After taking over as head coach in 1999, Watanabe led the boy's ekiden team to 6 national title victories in the National High School Ekiden Championships, making Sendai Ikuei the top running high school in Japan. He also brought half maratho

Two Kenyan Pros Abandoned by Their Sponsor Teams Imprisoned in Nagoya and Facing Deportation translated by Brett Larner update: I've received some inquiries about how to help Munyi and Kamau since posting this article yesterday. Please contact Takahide Watanabe of the Owari Asahi Running Club . The club's message board discussion about the situation here , and a copy of the documents Watanabe has filed with the Immigration Bureau protesting the Kenyans' pending imprisonment and outlining their legitimacy as runners is here . Fired by their sponsoring jitsugyodan teams after sustaining injuries and given shelter by a sympathetic small independent local car parts manufacturer, two elite Kenyan runners living in Nagoya were arrested early this month and imprisoned in the Nagoya Immigration Violation Detention Center. The two are facing deportation, but a group of local supporters is attempting to fight the Immigration Bureau's action, saying, "These two men are truly talented athletes

Fukushi and Nakamura to Battle at Awajishima Women's Ekiden translated and edited by Brett Larner The entry lists for the Nov. 3rd Awajishima Women's Ekiden were released at an Osaka press conference on Oct. 15. Heading the list are Beijing Olympians Kayoko Fukushi (26, Team Wacoal), who finished 11th in the 10000 m, and Yurika Nakamura (22, Team Tenmaya), who was 13th in the marathon. The two are expected to run against each other on the ekiden's longest stage, the 11.78 km 3rd leg. The dangerous road racer Nakamura is considering another shot at the marathon. There is a possibility that Fukushi, who debuted at the marathon in January's Osaka International Women's Marathon, may also give the distance another try later in the season, but at last weekend's Niigata Big Festa track and field meet Fukushi herself said only, "I'm getting ready for ekiden season." Team Wacoal head coach Tadayuki

Murai, the Man Who Made Tosa, Leads Matsuyama University to First National Championship Ekiden translated by Brett Larner At the All-Japan University Women's Ekiden on Oct. 26 in Sendai, Beijing Olympic marathoner Reiko Tosa's alma mater Matsuyama University, will represent central Shikoku in its first-ever appearance at the national championship ekiden. The team's assistant coach is Keiichi Murai (34), Matsuyama alumnus and coach and husband to Tosa. In a classic example of a running marriage, Murai cultivated a winning athlete. The day before the Sept. 23 qualification race for All-Japan, Murai held a meeting with his runners at Matsuyama. "When I told Reiko that I thought we would definitely make All-Japan she said that I shouldn't say that. 'You don't know what'll happen, especially in such a high-pressure situation. As the coach you should be more careful about what you say.'" Understanding the tension his runners would be feeling and trying to help them relax such words of wisdo

Noguchi: "I'll Be in the London Olympics"

Originally published 10/12/08 in the Nikkei Newspaper translated by Brett Larner Mizuki Noguchi (30, Team Sysmex), who pulled out of the Beijing Olympics women's marathon after an injury to her left thigh, took part in a panel discussion at an event in Sado, Niigata Prefecture on Oct. 11, telling the audience through her tears, "I sincerely apologize [for pulling out of the race]. My big goal now is to be ready to run the London Olympics." It was Noguchi's first public appearance since her injury, and she sent a positive message with her mention of plans four years in the future. The panel discussion was part of an event organized by Noguchi's coach Nobuyuki Fujita. "Fujita Running Academy" is a program designed to support and develop elementary and junior high school student runners. Appearing as a special guest, Noguchi spoke publically about her injury for the first time while addressing the student audience. "Getting hurt was my own fault.

Nihon University's Gitau Steals Izumo Ekiden Victory From Komazawa (updated)

by Brett Larner The 2008-2009 university ekiden season officially got underway on Oct. 13 with the 20th anniversary edition of the Izumo Ekiden . Twenty-two teams competed over the six stage, 44 km course, including the top teams from the Kanto regional championship Hakone Ekiden, strong schools from other regions of Japan, and a select team of ace runners from the American Ivy League. Tokai Unversity had won the previous three years at Izumo on the strength of its two stars Hideaki Date and Yuki Sato, but with the loss of Date to graduation Tokai faced a tough challenge in its quest for a first-ever fourth straight title from 2008 Hakone Ekiden winners Komazawa University. Komazawa’s runners have traditionally relied on sheer strength over speed to make it the top running school in Japan, but this year Komazawa comes to ekiden season with six runners under 14 minutes for 5000 m for the first time in its history. Waseda University, with 5000 and 10000 m Olympian Kensuke Takezawa and a