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Showing posts from December, 2012

Four Years in One Hour

A retrospective video somebody put together on the college career of Toyo University's Ryuji Kashiwabara .  Kashiwabara won the Hakone Ekiden Fifth Stage, 23.4 km with almost 900 m of continuous climb between 5 km and 18.5 km followed by 150 m of downhill in less than 2 km, all four years at Toyo, setting new stage records every time except his junior year.  2013 will be the first Hakone since his graduation.  He is scheduled to make his corporate league debut on the Sixth Stage of the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden . "The most important newcomer...Kashiwabara looks poised for the most impressive Hakone debut [in years]."    -JRN, 12/27/08

Three Record-Setters Face Off for Hakone Ekiden Glory

by Brett Larner It's almost time for Japan's biggest and best sports event, the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden , the Kanto region university men's championships.  It seems like every year I've come on here and said, "This is going to be the greatest Hakone ever," but it's true.  Things have been accelerating very rapidly in Kanto collegiate distance running.  There have been course records at Hakone the last two years, and this fall the other two Big Three University Ekidens, the Izumo Ekiden and National University Ekiden Championships, also saw course records.  Two years ago 15 athletes in Hakone's field had bests at the sub-13:40, sub-28:30 and sub-1:03:00 level.  Last year there were 19.  This year there are 32, from 15 of the 20 schools in the field.  Where is it going to end?  The battle between the three course record-setting schools this year, Toyo University , Komazawa University  and Aoyama Gakuin University , looks set to be one for the ages.

On Making the New Year Ekiden translated by Brett Larner A member of the Press Kogyo corporate team posted this interesting entry on the team's blog ahead of their run at the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden . Hello.  In just a little time now the New Year Ekiden will kick off.  This will be kind of out of nowhere, but I want to talk about the distribution of places for the New Year Ekiden.  Most of you probably know that there's some variability in the number of places available for teams trying to make the New Year Ekiden.  The number of teams from any given region depends on the results from the previous year's New Year Ekiden.  The total number of teams that can run the New Year Ekiden is set at 37, with teams coming from 6 different regions: East Japan, Chubu, Hokuriku, Kansai, Chugoku and Kyushu.  To determine the number of teams from each region they use the following algorithm: Starting with a given region's number of teams that year, the region will los

New Year Ekiden Preview

by Brett Larner The raison d'être for the Japanese men's corporate team comes bright and early every Jan. 1 with the New Year Ekiden national corporate men's championships.  37 teams from 6 regions square off over 100 km in a race that sees most of the athletes bringing their peak performance of the year; at the 2012 New Year Ekiden, winner Team Nissin Shokuhin ace Yuki Sato 's record of 1:02:51 for the 22.0 km Fourth Stage was equivalent to a 1:00:16 half marathon, faster than the Japanese national record.  TBS will broadcast the race live starting at 8:30 a.m.  Overseas viewers should be able to watch online with Keyhole TV , with coverage also available via Twitter @JRNLive . Nissin Shokuhin comes to the 2013 New Year Ekiden in range of a title defense, but much of its chances depend on Sato.  At November's East Japan regional qualifier he was only 4th on his stage, contributing to the team's loss to the Tsuyoshi Ugachi -led Team Konica Minolta .  It

Notification of the Termination of the Sapporo International Half Marathon translated by Mika Tokairin and edited by Brett Larner Having brought some of the world's best runners to race in Sapporo for the last 55 years, it has been decided that the 2012 edition of the Sapporo International Half Marathon will be its final running. The Sapporo International Half Marathon, starting and finishing at Maruyama Field, passing through the streets of downtown Sapporo and Odori Park and turning around at Shiraishi in East Sapporo, is known to be a race that produces good times due both to its course and to favorable weather.  In recent years it has served as a selection race for the Japanese team at the World Half Marathon Championships.  At this year's 55th running on July 1st, a total of 323 runners including both men and women started the race, with a very high 98% finisher rate. At the 43rd running in 2000, Naoko Takahashi  won the women's race as a step toward her gold medal at the Sydney Olympics later that

The Top Ten Japanese Men of 2012

by Brett Larner Japanese men are back on track. 2012 saw all-time Japanese top ten performances over 10000 m, half-marathon and the marathon, and overall depth at those distances has almost never been better.  Just two years ago there was only one sub-2:10 marathon by a Japanese man, but in 2012 there ten, including a 2:07 and four 2:08's.  Apart from Japan only Kenya and Ethiopia have ever had ten or more in one year.  University men continued to reach unprecedented heights, with course records at all three major university ekidens and collegiates making the 2012 top ten lists for 5000 m, 10000 m, half-marathon and even the marathon. Quality over 5000 m and shorter is still an issue and there is still a long way to go at the longer distances, as well as a major problem with Japanese men's ability to show up at major international competitions and compete.  Apart from London Olympics marathon 6th-placer Kentaro Nakamoto  (Team Yasukawa Denki) the entire Japanese men's

The Top Ten Japanese Women of 2012

by Brett Larner 2012 was not a great year for Japanese women's distance running.  Despite a few outstanding top-end performances, including all-time Japanese top ten marks by Hitomi Niiya  (Team Univ. Ent.) and Risa Shigetomo  (Team Tenmaya) and a slight improvement over recent years in marathon depth, overall the year showed a decline.  The death of Japanese women's half-marathoning has been the most puzzling trend; ten years ago over a half dozen Japanese women running times in the 67 to 69 minute range was a given, but this year only two broke 70 minutes, barely.  Depth was also down over 5000 m and 10000 m.  While the men seem to have turned the corner and have regained some upward momentum and positivity, Japanese women are still on the downhill. It wasn't all bad, though.  London Olympics track runners Kayoko Fukushi  (Team Wacoal), Niiya and Mika Yoshikawa  (Team Panasonic) were a credit to the country, saying to their competitors, "This is the Olympics.  W

Waseda Ace Osako to Join Salazar's Nike Oregon Project translated and edited by Brett Larner In a Dec. 25 interview about the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden , Waseda University junior Suguru Osako , Japan's #1 collegiate runner and one of the brightest hopes of Japanese men's distance running, revealed that he will join the 2012 national champion Nissin Shokuhin team following his graduation in 2014.  Osako's long list of achievements includes the 2011 National University Championships 1500 m title, the 2011 World University Games 10000 m gold medal, and the Asian junior half marathon record.  He chose the Nissin team, he said, "because they are going to give me the freedom to do what I want to do."  According to Waseda head coach Yasuyuki Watanabe , Osako plans to move to Portland, Oregon to be coached by one of marathon legend  Toshihiko Seko 's great rivals, American Albe

2012 As Seen By JRN Readers

JRN's most-read articles of 2012 by month: January Toyo University takes eight minutes off Hakone Ekiden course record in historic win. -  Jan. 3 Russian Tatyana Aryasova stripped of 2011 Tokyo Marathon title after testing positive for masking agent. - Jan. 24 February Kisorio wins deepest-ever Marugame International Half-Marathon. - Feb. 5 2012 Tokyo Marathon preview.   - Feb. 23 Kipyego, Habtumu win Tokyo Marathon, Fujiwara back with 2:07:48. - Feb. 26 Kawauchi, 14th in 2:12:52: "I do not think I will be picked" for Olympics; shaves head. - Feb. 27 Gebrselassie gives words of support to Kawauchi. - Feb. 28 Fujiwara's high school coach, hometown supporters delighted with Tokyo performance. - Feb. 28 March Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon preview. - Mar. 2 Takehiro Deki ahead of Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon debut: "That's where my talent is." - Mar. 2 Ndungu wins debut at Lake Biwa, Szost 2:07:39 sets Polish NR, Yamamoto takes probabl