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Showing posts from November, 2009

Weekend Track Results

Results: by Brett Larner Like everywhere track season is over in Japan, but with the major championship ekidens approaching over the next month for high schoolers, university runners and pros many top athletes spent this rare fall weekend without a major road race at one of the many track time trials held across the country. At the Hachioji Long Distance Time Trials in Tokyo's western suburbs, recently-graduated Masato Kihara (Team Kanebo) got back in the ring with a 28:09.38 to finish first in the 10000 m. Kihara joined Kanebo in April but was a DNS in every race he entered throughout the spring and summer. His pro debut came earlier this month with a so-so run at the East Japan Jitsugyodan Ekiden Championships, but with this 10000 m, just 3 seconds off his university-era PB, Kihara showed that he is back in form and ready to make the jump to pro running. In finishing 1st Kihara won by a margin of over 45 seconds and beat the likes of 5000 m and 30

Lateralus (updated)

When I'm not doing fun stuff like compiling 1990's Japanese university half marathon results here's how I spend my Friday nights. Update: Here's another video of the first run-through that morning. A bit faster and tighter although not perfect.

100 Years of Japanese Marathoning in Pictures translated by Brett Larner On March 21, 1909, the first 'marathon' in Japanese history took place. Announcing the race in its February 19, 1909 edition, the Osaka Mainichi Newspaper wrote of the "Great Osaka - Kobe 20 Mile Marathon Run." Describing the upcoming race, the newspaper said, "Such races frequently take place in Europe and America," and went on to describe the historical origins of the marathon in ancient Greece. This race is now considered the birth of Japanese marathoning. The race's course covered 32 km between Osaka and Kobe and had a field of 20 athletes. Okayama Prefecture native Chonosuke Kaneko [featured in the first of the pictures linked above] won the race in 2:10:54. 100 years later, Japanese marathoners are competitive at the Olympic and World Championships and amateur marathons take place regularly across the country. Whether people run for a time goal, for health,

Credit Where Credit is Due: American and Japanese Men Aged 18-22 pt. I

by Brett Larner special thanks to Ken Young at ARRS, the IAAF and All-Time Athletics for their database assistance in preparing this article Last month I published a comparison of the results from the American NCAA Pre-Nationals XC Meet and the Hakone Ekiden Qualifier Road Race which showed that more Japanese university runners were running as fast or faster for a hilly 20 km on the roads than American university runners were running for a hilly 8 km XC. I received a fair amount of response to this comparison, much of it negative and much of it from American university runners, in the comment section, on message boards such as, and in my email inbox. One such letsrun poster asked what was apparently supposed to be a rhetorical question: So how many of these "Rising Sons" have run sub-13:30 at age 18? Yeah. The poster was referring to Americans German Fernandez and Chris Derrick, both of whom achieved this impressive feat in late spring this year, clocking

'Japanese-Trained Douglas Wakiihuri Won New York' A propos of nothing, really, here's a great old article I stumbled across yesterday about pioneering Japan-based Kenyan great Douglas Wakiihuri. I last saw him at the 2006 Ohtawara Marathon near his then-home in Tochigi Prefecture. JRN's Mika Tokairin interviewed him a few months later, describing it as one of the two most interesting she has ever done. After retiring he pursued a music career in Japan and subsequently returned to Kenya where he helped establish the Sotokoto Safari Half Marathon. Strangely enough, if you follow the 'Toshihiko Seko' link in the article it takes you to my YouTube channel to see the videos Mika filmed of Seko playing drums and singing 'Minnie the Moocher' in Japanese at last year's Tokyo Marathon. Update: Here's another SI article from the archives, this one about Toshihiko Seko winning the '87 Boston Marathon.

'Second Wind' An article by Pat Butcher about interesting Tokyo-based club Second Wind. One thing worth noting with regard to Mari Hirata is that the English word 'coach' is used in Japanese more in the sense that we would use 'trainer.' The word 'kantoku' denotes what we think of as the 'coach.' Manabu Kawagoe is the coach, while Hirata is one of the club's trainers. By contrast, 1991 World Championships women's marathon silver medalist Sachiko Yamashita is the coach of Team Daiichi Seimei and its star runner, 2009 World Championships women's marathon silver medalist Yoshimi Ozaki, the younger sister of Second Wind runner Akemi Ozaki.

2908 Run Fuchu Tamagawa Half Marathon translated by Brett Larner The 32nd Fuchu Tamagawa Half Marathon took place Nov. 23. Featuring three events, a 5 km, 10 km and half marathon, this year's Fuchu Tamagawa hosted a total of 2908 runners. Starting from the baseball grounds in Fuchu's Kyodonomori Park, runners ran through the cheers of courseside supporters along the banks of Tokyo's Tama River. Athletes from Aoyama Gakuin University took the top four places. Team member Atsushi Suzuki (20, 3rd yr.) clocked 1:06:37 to take the win. "I need to get my pace down faster to get picked for the [Hakone Ekiden] team," Suzuki commented after the race. "Winning was a good experience." Translator's note: This may not seem very noteworthy, but Fuchu Tamagawa is a long-standing, celebrated race with past winners including Toshihiko Seko, Atsushi Sato, Komazawa Univ. head coach Hiroaki Oyagi and Second Wind AC head coach Manabu Ka

Team Yasukawa Denki Scores First Kyushu Jitsugyodan Ekiden Win in Three Years translated by Brett Larner With just a narrow 4-second margin over defending champion Team Asahi Kasei, Team Yasukawa Denki scored its first Kyushu Jitsugyodan Ekiden win in three years at the 46th running of the seven stage, 78.8 km race from Fukuoka to Kita-Kyushu on Nov. 23. Starting out in 8th place, Yasukawa shot up through the field thanks to Shinji Tateishi's stage best run on the Second Leg, taking the lead on the Sixth Leg. Anchor Ryohei Nakano battled with Team Asahi Kasei's Tomoyuki Sato before dropping him for the win. In 3rd was Team Toyota Kyushu, which was unable to field a full squad for last year's ekiden. Led by Yu Mitsuya and Masato Imai's stage bests on the 4th and 7th legs, Toyota Kyushu was only 21 seconds off the leaders. The Kyushu Jitsugyodan Ekiden served as the qualification race for the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden national corporate championships. Along with the top three, 4th place

Gideon Ngatuny Breaks Own Course Record in Second Nagoya Half Marathon Win (updated) translated by Brett Larner Defending champion Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin) won his second-straight Nagoya Half Marathon on Nov. 23, breaking his own course record with a new PB of 59:50 at the 25th anniversary edition of the Rikuren-certified event. Yoshiki Otsuka (Team Aichi Seiko) was the top Japanese finisher, 6th overall in 1:03:29. Julia Mombi (Team Universal Entertainment) had an easy victory in the women's race, running 1:10:35 to take the win over Maho Matsuno (Chukyo Women's Univ.) who was 2nd in 1:19:12. 2009 Nagoya Half Marathon - Top Finishers Men - click here for complete results 1. Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 59:50 - CR, PB 2. Jacob Wanjuki (Team Aichi Seiko) - 1:01:30 3. Samuel Ndungu (Team Aichi Seiko) - 1:01:32 4. Mekubo Mogusu (Team Aidem) - 1:02:01 5. James Mwangi (Team NTN) - 1:02:35 6. Yoshiki Otsuka (Team Aichi Seiko) - 1:03:29 7. Kiyokatsu Hasegawa (Team JR Higashi Nih

Japanese Juggernaut Rolls Over International Chiba Ekiden

by Brett Larner Japan's excessively stacked national team did the expected, taking the 2009 International Chiba Ekiden over teams from Kenya, the U.S.A, Russia and elsewhere. The team, made up of 1500 m and 5000 m national champion Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B), women's 1500 m national record holder Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshoki), 5000 m and 10000 m national university record holder Kensuke Takezawa (Team S&B), women's 10000 m national champion Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren), half-marathon national record holder Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) and women's 5000 m national champion Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya), all of whom ran in the Berlin World Championships, the Beijing Olympics, or both, took the lead on the 5 km Second Stage and never looked back. Kobayashi, Takezawa, Akaba and Sato all took stage best titles, Akaba tying the 5 km Fourth Stage record of 15:34, but as a whole Japan fell 31 seconds short of breaking the mixed team-format course record

Watch the International Chiba Ekiden Live Online

Fuji TV will broadcast the 2009 International Chiba Ekiden live from 1:00 p.m. to 3:25 p.m. Japan time on Monday, Nov. 23. International viewers should be able to watch online for free using the Keyhole TV software available here . For JRN's Chiba Ekiden preview with links to team rosters and course maps click here . An updated start list with each team's running order is available here . JRN will provide live English commentary during the race. Check back just before the race for more info.

Horie Wins First National Half Marathon Title in Kobe (updated) translated and edited by Brett Larner At the 2009 Kobe National Women's Half Marathon on Nov. 22, Misato Horie (Team Noritz) took her first win on the Rikuren-certified 21.0975 km course from Kobe's Nagisa Park to Kobe Harborland, running a time of 1:13:09. Manami Takemori (Team Sysmex) was 2nd in 1:13:54, with Kaori Yoshida (Amino Vital AC) 3rd and Satoko Uetani (Kobe Gakuin Univ.) 4th. The four women set out together in a pack from the start and stayed together through 15 km. By 17 km Horie had pulled ahead and kept her lead all the way to the finish. A native of Kobe, Horie attended Seiryo High School and Mukogawa Women's University before joining Team Noritz last spring. Along the course she saw many friends and former teachers who turned out to cheer

Ritsumeikan Men Take Biwako University Ekiden

by Brett Larner Picking up the pieces from its women's team's loss to crosstown rivals Bukkyo University at last month's Morinomiyako Ekiden, Ritsumeikan University's men followed through on their strong showing at the Izumo and National University Ekidens with a win at the 71st Biwako University Ekiden on Nov. 21. Western Japan's answer to the mighty Hakone Ekiden, Biwako is the season-ending championship event for university men outside the Kanto region. 19 times raced the eight-stage, 84.3 km event, one of Japan's oldest ekidens. Ritsumeikan, Kyoto Sangyo University and Daiichi Kogyo University were the heavy favorites going in to this year's Biwako, and the three followed expectations. Kyoto Sangyo's Kazuki Hayashi (3rd yr.) took the race out hard, clocking 32:55 for the 11.1 km First Stage. Ritsumeikan and Daiichi Kogyo sat in 4th and 5th behind Nara Sangyo University's Tadaharu Amano (2nd yr.) and Masashi Nakatsu (3rd yr.). Ritsumeikan's

Team Nissin Shokuhin on the Track pt. II

by Brett Larner Nov. 21 was a busy morning at Oda Field, central Tokyo's main public track. Alongside the high school and amateur clubs which had gathered for morning practice, 2009 double 1500 m and 5000 m Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B) ran a solo workout of 400 m repeats to tune up for Monday's International Chiba Ekiden with one of his coaches in attendance. As he ran, members of Team Nissin Shokuhin began to assemble for a group workout. Nissin won the East Japan Corporate Ekiden Championships earlier this month. With a young roster including Gideon Ngatuny, Yuki Sato, Satoru Kitamura and Bene Zama they are the heavy favorites to win the 2010 New Year Ekiden national championships. Their full team including coaches was present at Oda Field, but several members were apparently injured. Ngatuny, originally slated for the International Chiba Ekiden but then left off the entry list, spent the entire workout sitting on the retaining wall and pouring drinks for the other team memb

Kebede to Face Cheruiyot and Mogusu in Fukuoka translated and edited by Brett Larner On Nov. 19 the organizing committee for the 63rd annual Fukuoka International Marathon , a domestic selection race for next November's Asian Games in China, announced the elite field for this year's Dec. 6 race. The seven overseas invited elites are led by last year's winner, Beijing Olympics bronze medalist Tsegaye Kebede (Ethiopia). In Fukuoka last year Kebede set the course and Japanese all-comers' record of 2:06:10. In April he went on to finish 2nd in the London Marathon in a PB of 2:05:20, ranking him at #9 on the all-time list. Among those facing Kebede are 2008 Chicago Marathon winner Evans Cheruiyot (Kenya), 2005 Fukuoka winner Dmytro Baranovskyy (Ukraine) and top Eritrean runner Yonas Kifle. Japan-based Kenyan Mekubo Mogusu (Team Aidem), a popular Hakone Ekiden star while at Yamanashi Gakuin University, will be making his marathon debut off his

The Ageo City Half Marathon - An Almost Complete History

by Brett Larner Click here for photos of the Ageo City Half Marathon course being measured and certified in 2000. Since JRN introduced Japan's little-known Ageo City Half Marathon to the international community with its report on the 2007 race Ageo has become something of a legend, its relatively modest 1:01:26 course record made up for in the sheer depth and power of its field of mostly university runners who run Ageo to vie for a spot on their schools' teams for the prestigious Hakone Ekiden . JRN has now tabulated and transliterated results from the last ten years, the complete lifespan of the race in its current form. Based on JRN's tabulation, next month the Association of Road Racing Statisticians will officially rank Ageo as the world's #1 half marathon held on a consistent course, beaten out for #1 overall only by the World Half Marathon Championships which take place in a different country each year. A summary of the results is given below. Click for a full-s

Loaded Dice - International Chiba Ekiden Preview

by Brett Larner The 2009 International Chiba Ekiden takes place on Monday, Nov. 23. As economic times have continued to grow harder Japan's once-thriving international ekiden circuit has dwindled dramatically. When the Yokohama International Women's Ekiden took a bow in February this year it left Chiba as the lone representative of the format, and even it was scaled back in 2007 from separate men's and women's races to a single, six-stage 42.195 km race featuring mixed men's and women's teams. This wasn't necessarily a bad move, the mixed teams having proved to be popular and interesting. Being the host country, Japan has tended to stack the deck in recent years. This year is no exception as the Japanese national team far outweighs any other in star power: men's half marathon national record holder Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) and women's 1500 m national record holder Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshoki), 2009 men's 1500 m and 500

Hot Times at the Ageo City Half Marathon

by Brett Larner Waseda University first-year Shota Hiraga, a star member of 2008 high school national champion Saku Chosei H.S.'s winning team, continued his excellent season with a 1:03:44 win at the Ageo City Half Marathon on Nov. 15. As the unofficial selection race in which Hakone Ekiden-qualified university teams' rank-and-file runners prove to their coaches that they are worthy of joining their squads' stars in the prestigious January Hakone race, Ageo consistently features the deepest, toughest field of any half marathon in the world. For proof, take a look at JRN's 2008 and 2007 Ageo reports. This year a passing front brought cloudless skies and freak temperatures well over 20 degrees without any of the wind which both cooled and battered the women later in the day at the Yokohama International Women's Marathon. The unseasonal heat affected times across the board. Hiraga's strong 1:03:44 performance was the slowest winning time in Ageo history and onl

Abitova Takes Windy Yokohama Women's Marathon

video stills and text by Brett Larner photos and video by Mika Tokairin As a high-pressure front swept away a week of cold and rain with cloudless morning temperatures of 20 degrees and variable, gusting winds, 2006 European 10000 m champion Inga Abitova of Russia scored her first important marathon win with a 2:27:18 victory at the inaugural Yokohama International Women's Marathon on Nov. 15. As predicted , the race was between Abitova and 2009 Hokkaido Marathon winner Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC), who ran down Beijing Olympics silver medalist and 2007 World Champion Catherine Ndereba of Kenya for 2nd place in 2:28:51. Beijing gold medalist Constantina Dita (Romania), who reported injury troubles shortly before the race, was a distant 11th in 2:36:04. Unseasonably warm conditions at the start played into the hands of Shimahara, an athlete noted for her warm weather skills and her fast finish. Having rehearsed a new fast-starting strategy for winning earlier this season in se

Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon Expecting Fast Times on New Course translated by Mika Tokairin and Brett Larner The office-opening ceremonies for the 59th Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon next Feb. 7 took place Nov. 12 at the Oita Civic Track and Field Grounds. Organizing committee assistant director Toshio Hamamoto, the head of the Oita Athletics Association, hung the race organization's sign on the entrance to the Oita Grounds' facilities to signify that next year's race is now open. The first committee meeting came immediately after the opening ceremony. In his welcoming comments Hamamoto told committee members, "We are making the first major course change in 26 years. We hope the change will attract many talented runners and help them to set fast new times. Please give us your help and support to ensure the success of this event." The new course starts in front of the Umitamago attraction in Oita and travels north along route 10 before turning back at Kamegawa Bypa

Abel Kirui and Catherine Ndereba Lead Kenyan Team at International Chiba Ekiden translated by Brett Larner On Nov. 11 Rikuren announced that the Kenyan team at the six-stage, 42.195 km International Chiba Ekiden on Nov. 23 will include 2009 Berlin World Championships marathon gold medalist Abel Kirui and two-time Olympic silver medalist Catherine Ndereba. Also in the field are Beijing Olympics women's marathon gold medalist Constantina Dita (Romania) and Athens Olympics marathon gold medalist Stefano Baldini (Italy). The Chiba Prefectural team will feature former marathon national record holder Atsushi Fujita (Team Fujitsu). Race-day lineups will include three men and three women on each team. Translator's note: Ndereba and Dita are regulars at the International Chiba Ekiden, which will take place eight days after the pair's appearance at this Sunday's Yokohama International Women's Marathon. Abel Kirui's presence in Japan two weeks before the Fukuoka International Marathon all but guar

The Yokohama International Women's Marathon - An Idea Whose Time Has Passed?

an editorial by Brett Larner The first Yokohama International Women's Marathon takes place this Sunday, Nov. 15. With a small field limited to women under 3:15, an innovative circuit course designed for fast times, a live nationwide TV broadcast, the defending Olympic gold and silver medalists and one of the best-performing domestic women of the year on the starting line organizers and media have hailed Yokohama, the replacement for the Tokyo International Women's Marathon, as a continuation of a proud tradition. Amid the fanfare one question has gone unanswered. Simply, why? When the Tokyo International Women's Marathon (TIWM) began in 1979 it was the world's first IAAF-sanctioned women-only marathon. Women lacked the same opportunities as men to race in large, competitive marathons, not least the Olympics, and Japanese women's marathoning was in a fledgling state. Following the model of the elite Japanese men's marathons such as Fukuoka International, Biwako

Ongori and Fukushi Rock 25th Fukui Ekiden

by Brett Larner Kenyan star Philes Ongori (Team Hokuren) got the 25th anniversary Fukui Super Ladies' Ekiden started in style with a stage record performance on the 6 km 1st leg. After a conservative first kilometer in which she matched paces with fellow Kenyan Danielle Philomena Cheyech (Team Uniqlo) and top university woman Kazue Kojima (Ritsumeikan Univ.), Ongori sped away to clock 18:28, breaking the 12 year-old record by 7 seconds. Cheyech attempted to follow and initially opened a comfortable gap, but the gritty Kojima returned for a sprint finish in which Cheyech prevailed by only a stride, timed at 19:11 to Kojima's 19:12. Hokuren's lead looked formidable as the team ran on course record pace through the end of the 4th stage, but despite a strong showing as anchor at last week's East Japan Jitsugyodan Women's Ekiden 5th leg runner Saori Nejo ran into trouble and lost ground to the chasers. Surprisingly, the team that was running her down was not 10-time cha

Watch the Fukui Ekiden Live Online

by Brett Larner The 2009 Fukui Super Ladies' Ekiden took place Nov. 8. Despite going up against the East Japan Women's Ekiden the same day, Fukui featured 47 corporate and university teams in its field with star individual runners including Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal), Kazue Kojima (Ritsumeikan Univ.), Philes Ongori (Team Hokuren) and Danielle Philomena Cheyech (Team Uniqlo). Fuji TV will broadcast a one-hour highlight version of the six-stage, 30 km race from 2:38 a.m. to 3:38 a.m. on Nov. 12. International viewers should be able to watch online for free using the Keyhole TV software. Click here for more information on online viewing. JRN will publish results of the ekiden following the broadcast. (c) 2009 Brett Larner all rights reserved

The Best of the Year is Still to Come

by Brett Larner With the completion of the New York City Marathon earlier this month the worldwide road racing circuit has begun to wind down for the year. Everywhere, that is, except for Japan, where the best racing of the year still lies ahead. November 15th features two major races in the greater Tokyo area, the Ageo City Half Marathon and the first edition of the Yokohama International Women's Marathon . The coaches of the 20 Tokyo-region university men's teams which have made January's Hakone Ekiden use Ageo as a selection race to pick which members of their squads will join the aces on their 10-man Hakone teams. The result is the deepest, most cutthroat half marathon in the world, with every man gunning strictly for himself and close to 200 men breaking 66 minutes each year. Yokohama replaces the now-defunct Tokyo International Women's Marathon and features the first certified loop course for an elite marathon in Japan. The organizers have brought aging Beijin

Nagano Unseats Tokyo in 25th East Japan Women's Ekiden

by Brett Larner The Nagano Prefecture team staged a coup at Sunday's 25th anniversary East Japan Women's Ekiden in Fukushima, clocking 2:18:36 for the 9-stage, 42.195 km course to beat two-time defending champion Tokyo by over a minute and take its first-ever win at the regional championships. Nagano's Yuko Shimizu, a member of the Japanese national team for the International Chiba Ekiden later this month, got her team off to a strong start with a 2nd-place finish on the 6 km first leg, one second behind Aomori Prefecture's Miho Notagashira in 19:08. Tokyo's Chisa Fujimoto languished far behind, finishing 13th out of 17 in 19:56. While Tokyo spent the rest of the ekiden trying to claw its way back to the front, Nagano's second leg runner Yuka Hakoyama overtook Aomori's Nao Sasaki to build a lead which Nagano never relinquished. The biggest excitement of the day came on the anchor stage where Tokyo's Azusa Nojiri, a former pro XC skier who began running

'Ngetich, Ozaki Prevail in ‘Battle of Marathon’ – Athens Marathon Report' Note: Popular fan website mistakenly states that Athens winner Akemi Ozaki and Second Wind teammate Yuri Kano are coached by a woman. Both are coached by former Team Shiseido head coach Manabu Kawagoe, who is in fact a man. Ozaki's younger sister Yoshimi, the 2009 Berlin World Championships women's marathon silver medalist, is coached by Sachiko Yamashita, a woman and World Championships women's marathon silver medalist in her own right. Men's race 7th place finisher Masaru Takamizawa is engaged to Akemi Ozaki and Yuri Kano's third teammate Kiyoko Shimahara who will run this week's first edition of the Yokohama International Women's Marathon.

Kawauchi Sets Course Record at Guam Half Marathon

Yuki Kawauchi wins the 2009 Guam Half Marathon in a course record 1:09:12. Kawauchi won a trip to the Guam Half Marathon by winning August's Fuji Yoshida Half Marathon in a course record 1:11:01.