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Showing posts from March, 2009

Kagoshima Bank Launches New Women's Team translated and edited by Brett Larner Kyushu-based Kagoshima Bank announced on Mar. 27 that it will begin sponsoring a new professional women's track and field team beginning in April. The new Team Kagoshima Ginko's starting lineup will feature six athletes aged 18-29, four who graduated from high school in March and two experienced professional runners. Kagoshima Bank director Fumiharu Nagata told members of the press, "We want to do our part to help support talented athletes who wish to remain in their hometowns after graduating from high school and to help strengthen the local sports world." Team Kagoshima Ginko's head coach will be Yoshinobu Uchida, a man with experience guiding long distance athletes since his student days. Uchida will be assisted by Natsuko Tatesako, while Kenji Arim

Niihara and Miyauchi Twins Go To Team Kyocera translated by Brett Larner Team Kyocera announced on Mar. 27 that following the departure of head coach Kunio Omori at the end of the month Yasunori Niihara (53), currently of Team Oki, will take over as the team's head coach. Niihara is a native of Kagoshima Prefecture and graduated from Juntendo University. He served as head coach of Team YKK and elsewhere before being hired by Team Oki in 2008. Team Oki will disband at the end of March, freeing up the team's aces, identical twin sisters Hiroko and Yoko Miyauchi to follow Niihara to Team Kyocera where they will replace departing runners Yumiko Hara and Kiyomi Ogawa.

Junior Women Score Bronze Medal at World XC

by Brett Larner Click here for a gallery of photos from the 2009 World Cross Country Championships. Once again, Japan's junior women's squad led the way at the 2009 World Cross Country Championships in Amman, Jordan, scoring the overall team bronze medal while the Japanese teams in the other three races came up empty-handed. Junior woman Nanaka Izawa had the strongest individual finish of the day, 17th, followed closely by scoring members Erika Ikeda, Asami Kato and Aki Otagiri, and by 5th runner Chitose Shibata. The senior men's and women's squads had modest improvements over last year , the men finishing 11th despite missing ace Yuta Takahashi, and the women 8th, led by Yuko Shimizu's strong 18th place finish. Only the junior men showed a decline, the three members of 2008 National High School Ekiden champions Saku Chosei H.S. and aces Wataru Ueno, Kazuto Nishiike and Yutaro Fukushi coming in only 8th after last year's 4th place finish. Star runner Akinobu M

Ueno 3rd in Stanford Invitational 5000 m

by Brett Larner I missed this result at the time. Thanks to Jason Lawrence for pointing it out. Former Chuo University Hakone Ekiden star Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B) continued his comeback from serious illness throughout 2008, beginning his spring track season at the Stanford University Invitational in California on Mar. 27. Ueno was 3rd in the men's 5000 m A-heat, clocking 13:39.42. His time was far off his PB of 13:21.49 from 2007 but represented a step forward in his recovery as he works toward June's National Track and Field Championships and August's World Championships in Berlin. Complete Stanford results are available here . (c) 2009 Brett Larner all rights reserved

Nittai University Marijuana Investigation Uncovers Counterfeit Money translated by Brett Larner On Mar. 26 the Kanagawa Prefectural Police announced that a search of track and field training facilities at Nihon Taiku [Nittai] University in Yokohama's Aoba Ward on Mar. 2 as part of an investigation of suspected marijuana violations had uncovered a cache of counterfeit money. Police are investigating the origin of the counterfeit bills. Nittai University's men's ekiden team have won the Hakone Ekiden nine times, and the school counts among its alumni world-class marathoners Hiromi Taniguchi and Yuko Arimori. Kanagawa Prefectural Police officers found three types of counterfeit bills in denominations of 1000, 5000 and 10000 yen along with incomplete one-sided bills. The bills appeared to have been produced using a color photocopier but will be subject to a detailed examination. Police are questioning the residents of the room in which the money was discovered to find out mor

Hara, Ogawa and Coach Omori Quit Team Kyocera translated and edited by Brett Larner Kunio Omori, 64, head coach of women's jitsugyodan powerhouse Team Kyocera, announced on Mar. 26 that he is leaving the team at the end of the month along with 2005 and 2007 World Championships marathoner Yumiko Hara and 2009 Nagoya International Women's Marathon 5th place finisher Kiyomi Ogawa. The trio's future plans are as yet uncertain, but they intend to look for a new sponsor and to continue on in athletics. Omori has been head coach of Team Kyocera since 1998, coaching team member Miho Sato (nee Sugimori) to the women's 800 m national record and on to the Athens Olympics. Prior to that he was head coach of Saitama Sakae High School where he lead the women's team to three straight National High School Ekiden Championship titles beginning in 1995. Omori commented, "After eleven years as head of Team Kyo

Nittai University Coaching Staff Resigns After Track Athlete Expelled for Pot translated by Brett Larner On Mar. 23 Nihon Taiku [Nittai] University announced that Track and Field director Takashi Ishii, head coach Masahiko Mizuno and assistant coach Fumiaki Kobayashi had resigned their positions to take personal responsibility following the expulsion of a student on the men's team over suspicion of violating Japan's anti-marijuana laws. According to a press release from the university, Ishii, Mizuno and Kobayashi resigned from their positions of leadership on Mar. 5. The press released stated that further details could not be discussed "due to the case still being under investigation," but did mention that the team's training camp facilities had been searched by police on Mar. 2. The student has not been arrested because there are doubts about his alleged cultivation and use of marijuana. On Mar. 3 Rikuren released an 'Offical Policy Pertaining to Drugs' which stated, &quo

The Man in the Wig Speaks

translated and edited by Brett Larner Osaka-based amateur runner Nobuaki Takata (32, Hirakata Masters AC ) came to national attention on Mar. 22 when he ran the Tokyo Marathon wearing a comedy wig featuring an oversized forehead and eyebrows and curly black hair. And he ran well. Qualified for Tokyo's elite division after running 2:19:31 at December's Fukuoka International Marathon, Takata came to the race having finished 9th at the Feb. 7 Hong Kong Marathon in 2:23:31 and having won the Mar. 1 Sasayama Marathon in 2:20:59. He ran with the lead pack for the first 5 km before relaxing his pace, eventually finishing next to women's winner Mizuho Nasukawa (Team Aruze) in 2:25:38. Takata returned home to find himself a sensation. His entertaining blog How to Run a Marathon Under 2:20 - Jogging is All You Need went from 92 hits the day before the race to over 100,000 hits the next. On Mar. 25 Takata added his account of his run, translated below along with some earlier blog ent

Still in Shock From Car Accident, Mogusu Has No Plans to Restart His Running translated and edited by Brett Larner Hakone Ekiden star Mekubo Mogusu (22) and Yamanashi Gakuin University head coach Masahito Ueda held a press conference at the school's Kofu campus on Mar. 13 to discuss the details of the car accident in which Mogusu was involved last month in his native Kenya. On Feb. 9 Mogusu was driving to a practice ground when he struck an oncoming vehicle head-on while pulling out to pass a parked car. Mogusu and fellow runners Daniel Gitau (Nihon Univ.) and Cosmas Ondiba (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) were uninjured, but Team Aidem coach Sho Kimura (26), riding in the front passenger seat, struck his head hard and fell unconscious. Kimura is now in a hospital in Wakayama Prefecture where he has regained consciousness and is able to respond to his name. Mogusu is still suffering from the shock of the accident and is unable to train.

Yukiko Akaba Aiming for 2:22 in Second Marathon translated and edited by Brett Larner Japan's toughest mother, Beijing Olympics track runner Yukiko Akaba (29, Team Hokuren), is staking everything on Berlin. Having placed 2nd in January's Osaka International Women's Marathon in her first attempt at the distance, Akaba is now on the provisional list for the August 15-23 Berlin World Championships women's marathon team. At a press conference in Sapporo on Mar. 17, Akaba told members of the media that if she is not chosen for the World Championships team she will instead run the Sept. 20 Berlin Marathon. In either case, her goal in her second marathon is a time of 2:22, a mark which would put her into the all-time Japanese women's top ten. Following her Osaka run, Akaba said at the time, "I'm not thinking about anything but the marathon now. I'm certain I will run [on t

Yoshimi Ozaki to Run Berlin Half Marathon translated and edited by Brett Larner 2009 Berlin World Championships marathoner and 2008 Tokyo International Women's Marathon winner Yoshimi Ozaki (27, Team Daiichi Seimei) returned to Japan from a month-long training camp in New Zealand, arriving at Tokyo's Narita Airport on Mar. 18. The first two weeks of the training camp were as part of Rikuren's first national marathon training camp program while the second part was sponsored by her team Daiichi Seimei. "I did a lot of work on the roads," Ozaki told reporters. "It went much better than we expected." As part of her preparations for the World Championships Ozaki plans to run the Berlin Half Marathon on Apr. 5. In May Rikuren is planning a training camp in Boulder, U.S.A. for the members of the World Championships marathon team. Ozaki had originally planned to take part b

'Ryan Hall: One Month Until Boston' Marathon legend Toshihiko Seko visits American star Ryan Hall at Hall's training base in Mammoth Lakes, California. The first of a few articles I didn't put up last week in the buildup to the Tokyo Marathon.

Rikuren Announces Provisional World Championships Marathon Team Lineup translated and edited by Brett Larner At a general meeting in Tokyo on Mar. 23 Rikuren announced the provisional lineups of the men's and women's national teams for August's World Championships marathon in Berlin. Four members of each of the five-person teams have now been officially named. The top Japanese finishers in each of the major selection races, men Satoshi Irifune (Team Kanebo), Masaya Shimizu (Team Asahi Kasei) and Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) and women Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei), Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) and Yoshiko Fujinaga (Team Shiseido) were already pre-selected for the team. Added to the official roster for the men is Fukuoka International Marathon 3rd place finisher Arata Fujiwara (Team JR Higashi Nihon) and for the women Tokyo International Women's Marathon runner-up Yuri Kano (Second Wind AC). Other athletes have until Apr. 30 to make a bid for the fifth spot on ea

Kipsang Takes Tokyo - Nasukawa and Maeda Bring New Blood

by Brett Larner Sammy Korir leads the pack at 30 km. Photo by Christian Sommer. Nearly gale-force winds throughout the race, including a headwind from 28 km to the finish, kept times slow, but Kenya's Salim Kipsang persevered to take the 2009 Tokyo Marathon in 2:10:27. Despite a PB of only 2:11:52, little-known Kensuke Takahashi (Team Toyota) made the first big move of the race with an attack after 30 km. Kipsang and Sammy Korir (Kenya) came after Takahashi, and the three ran as a group over the next 5 km. Lost alone in no-man's land between the breakaway trio and the remnants of the lead pack was first-time marathoner Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko), a 2007 World Championships 10000 m runner. Losing ground after a water station mishap at 35 km, Kipsang came back to pass Korir and Takahashi at 37 km, pushing on to the finish. Maeda came on strong in the last stage of the race, likewise passing Korir and Takahashi and closing with a 7:14 split for the final 2.195 km, the fastes

Race Day in Tokyo

It's about 2 1/2 hours til the start of the Tokyo Marathon. I don't think it's going to be a fast day - it's 14 degrees C and cloudy , but winds are about 35 km/hr and from the south so on the course there will be a headwind from 8 to 15 km and again most of the way from ~27.5 km to the end. There's supposed to be a storm later in the day, but before that it's going to get warmer and windier. 頑張りたいと思います。よろしくお願いたします。

Tomescu, Mota, Taniguchi and More in Tokyo as Guest Runners

by Brett Larner Once again this year, the Tokyo Marathon has invited an all-star lineup of major international names current and historic to take part in the event's 10 km and marathon divisions as special guest runners. A listing of this year's scheduled guests: Marathon Keizo Yamada - 1953 Boston Marathon winner and 1953 Olympics marathoner Kenji Kimihara - 1968 Olympics marathon silver medalist and 1966 Boston Marathon winner Hideki Kita - 1981 Tokyo International Marathon winner and 1980 Olympics track runner Hiromi Taniguchi - 1991 World Championships marathon gold medalist and 1992 Olympics marathoner Eriko Asai - 1988 Olympics and 1987 World Championships marathoner Mari Tanigawa - 1991 Tokyo International Women's Marathon winner 10 km Constantina Tomescu-Dita (Romania) - 2008 Olympics marathon gold medalist Rosa Mota (Portugal) - 1988 Olympics marathon gold medalist Kaori Icho - 2004 and 2008 Olympics freestyle wrestling 63 kg. gold medalist Chiharu Icho - 2004 and

Gitahi and Chen Withdraw From Tokyo Marathon

by Brett Larner The Tokyo Marathon office reported on Mar. 20 that last year's 3rd place finisher Julius Gitahi (Team Nissin Shokuhin/Kenya) has withdrawn from tomorrow's race with an unspecified injury. Women's invited elite Rong Chen (China) has also withdrawn after sustaining an injury while training on Mar. 18. The following general elite division runners have also withdrawn: Men James Mwangi (Team NTN/Kenya) Toshiya Katayama (Team NTT Nishi Nihon) Naoki Mishiro (Team Fujitsu) Manabu Nishida (Team NTT Nishi Nihon) Masatoshi Ibata (Team Aisan Kogyo) Tsuyoshi Igarashi (Team JR Higashi Nihon) Kazuyoshi Tokumoto (Team Nissin Shokuhin) Women Yuka Aikawa (Team Acom) Rei Miura (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) Atsuko Higo (eAthletes Tochigi AC) (c) 2009 Brett Larner all rights reserved

Watch the Tokyo Marathon Online

The 2009 Tokyo Marathon will be broadcast live nationwide on Fuji TV beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Mar. 22. Coverage of the elite men's and women's races will go until approximately noon, with extended coverage continuing until 4:25 p.m. International viewers should be able to watch online through one of the sites listed here .

Tokyo Marathon - Women's Preview (updated)

by Brett Larner Updated 3/21/09 to reflect athlete withdrawals. In an effort to bring the Tokyo Marathon into line with IAAF Gold Label status criteria, this year's third running is the first to feature a full international invited elite women's field. Although the women's race is not included among the selection races for the Berlin World Championships, the substantial prize money this year has attracted a competitive field both domestic and foreign rivaling that of many of the world's best events. The overseas field is truly international, with four women from four nations, and well-matched with all but one of the women having run their best times within the last two years and less than 1 minute 20 seconds separating their times. Alevtina Biktimirova (Russia) was 2nd in both Boston and Chicago last year, the former with a memorable sprint finish in a time only 15 seconds off her best despite the challenging course. She weakened in Honolulu in December but should be

Tokyo Marathon - Men's Preview (updated)

by Brett Larner Updated 3/21/09 to reflect athlete withdrawals. The 2009 Tokyo Marathon is the first marathon in Japan to publicly announce significant prize money, the first A-level marathon to host both elite men's and women's fields, and the final domestic selection race for the 2009 World Championships men's marathon team. On paper the men's race has attracted a respectable field, with four runners posting best times under 2:07 and ten under 2:09. The reality is that almost all are aging veterans, with only four runners in the field having broken 2:10 within the last two years. The chance may be there for a first-timer or little-known name to step up for the win. Among the overseas entrants, most eyes will be on Sammy Korir (Kenya). Korir is the third-fastest man ever in the marathon with a PB of 2:04:56 from Berlin 2003. A past winner of the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, he ran the 2007 Tokyo Marathon but dropped out near 16 km, sitting out the rest of the year w

A Mature New Atsushi Fujita, Resurrected and Loving Life - Tokyo Marathon translated and edited by Brett Larner At age 32, former men's marathon national record holder Atsushi Fujita (Team Fujitsu) will be running the Tokyo Marathon for the first time in a bid to make the national team for August's World Championships in Berlin. Long since having lost his record, he doesn't want to end up in obscurity. "My goal isn't just to be the top Japanese finisher," he says with a champion's resolve. "I'm going to make the World Championships team by taking down all the strong international guys and winning." When Fujita was 24 he set the previous national record of 2:06:51 at the 2000 Fukuoka International Marathon, becoming and remaining the only Japanese man to run 2:06 within the country. Coming in the wake of the disastrous showing by the Japanese men's team in the Sydney Olympics he was hail

Thoroughbred Nakao's Tokyo Run Born From the Seeds of Failure translated and edited by Brett Larner Yusei Nakao (25, Team Toyota Boshoku) keeps a notebook of his failures. In it is written the memory of his greatest loss, his second attempt at the marathon at last year's Biwako Mainichi Marathon. Running as a general division entrant, Nakao began to develop blisters from his shoes after only 5 km. He thought partway through the race of dropping out but told himself, "If you don't finish then you won't be able to next time either." Slogging his way on through the full 42.195 km, he finished 124th. Nakao keeps the memory alive as a warning to himself. "It's still paying me dividends," he says, marking that day as the true start of his career as a marathon runner. For Nakao, bitterness is as important as sweetness in shaping his life and training as a professional runner. "

Kyushu Boys Tomoyuki Sato and Kazuhiro Maeda Tackle Tokyo translated by Brett Larner Among the top runners at this year's Tokyo Marathon are two hailing from the Kyushu region, Tomoyuki Sato (Team Asahi Kasei) and Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko). 28 year old Tomoyuki Sato was born in Fukuoka. At the first Tokyo Marathon in 2007 he was the top Japanese finisher and 2nd overall, earning himself a spot on the team for the 2007 Osaka World Championships where he was 13th in the marathon. "I always wanted to do the marathon," Sato says of his decision 10 years ago to join the powerful Team Asahi Kasei straight out of high school. April will mark the start of his eleventh year with the team. Departing from the 'Kyushu Boy' stereotype, Sato is soft-spoken and comes across as gentle and calm. Throughout the interview he is critical of himself, dropping phrases like "I completely failed," and "I'm not trying hard enough," in passing

Umeki Has Everything in Order for Tokyo Marathon translated by Brett Larner One more domestic selection race for August's World Championships in Berlin remains, the Mar. 22 Tokyo Marathon . Team Chugoku Denryoku Olympian Tsuyoshi Ogata may be bathing in the spotlight, but his teammate Kurao Umeki , who finished 6th last year in Tokyo, will also be lining up for his 15th marathon. At age 33 Umeki is trying to capture the prize which has thus far eluded his grasp, a place on the national team. Umeki debuted at the 2000 Tokyo International Marathon. In 2003 he set his PB of 2:09:52 at the Berlin Marathon and was 3rd in Berlin in 2006, but he has never been able to put together a good performance in a national team selection race. In the 2007 Biwako Mainichi Marathon he dropped out of the race. "I think I've been too focused..." he trails off. At last year's Tokyo Marathon he ran his best-ever time within Japan, 2:11:00, but he fell behind the leaders in the lat

Reiko Tosa's "Homemade" Training for Tokyo Finale translated by Brett Larner "I'm kind of in a slump right now, you know. I haven't been feeling very good and I've been a bit mean to my husband," joked marathoner Reiko Tosa (32, Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) in early March. To help put her in the right state of mind as she gets ready to race the Tokyo Marathon Tosa is training in her hometown of Matsuyama, but it's not going the way she expected. She just can't seem to get back into good shape. At the end of February she ran as a guest runner in a 30 km race in Chiba, but her time was more than 8 minutes slower than her best. At the start of her preparations for the Tokyo Marathon, Tosa's husband Keiichi Murai (35) told her, "Remember how you felt in the good times, and let's try to go after that feeling." For Tosa herself, however, in her heart all she can feel is the difference between her current condition and when sh

Tokyo-Bound Maeda Shooting for Sub-2:10 Debut translated by Brett Larner 2007 Osaka World Championships men's 10000 m runner Kazuhiro Maeda (27, Team Kyudenko) is about to tackle 42.195 km for the first time. Maeda hopes to make the Berlin World Championships marathon team when he runs the Mar. 22 Tokyo Marathon . Only six Japanese men have ever broken 2:10 in their debut, but Maeda hopes to add his name to this exclusive list as he books his ticket out into the world. It's a highly anticipated debut. Maeda has been up against the world's best on the track, but for Berlin he is targeting the marathon. "That's what I want to go for this time," he nods. To make the team he'll have to take at least the top Japanese position in Tokyo, a flashy debut to be sure. "I want to break 2:10," he says enthusiastically, "and if things go well, under [2 hours] 9:30." Of all the Japanese marathoners in history, only six have run under 2:10. A 2:09:30 wo

Ogata Wants World Champs Spot in Tokyo Marathon translated and edited by Brett Larner Beijing Olympics marathoner Tsuyoshi Ogata (35, Team Chugoku Denryoku) held a press conference in Hiroshima on Mar. 10 to talk about his plans for the Mar. 22 Tokyo Marathon, where he will try to earn a place on his fourth-straight World Championships team. "I want to make this [World Championships] team clearly and without any ambiguity," he said, revealing that he still has the ambition to think about winning. The Tokyo Marathon will be Ogata's first race since finishing 13th in the Beijing Olympics marathon. Discussing his condition, Ogata showed some uncertainty as he admitted, "Things haven't been going smoothly, but I feel like it's coming together now. I'll be ready just in time, but you never know what's going to happen." Nevertheless, he was determined as he said, "I'm running this because I want to win. I want it to be a ra