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Showing posts from March, 2014

Kawauchi's "First Choice" of a Run Commute Comes True translated and edited by Brett Larner The stars have aligned to bring the civil servant runner the perfect training situation. Ahead of September's Asian Games marathon, the Saitama Prefectural Board of Education announced on Mar. 29 that national team member Yuki Kawauchi  (27, Saitama Pref. Gov't) will be transferred from Kasukabe H.S. to his hometown Kuki H.S. at the start of the new fiscal year on April 1. Kawauchi began working for the Saitama government in 2009, and for five years he has worked as an administrative staff member at Kasukabe H.S.  With a work schedule that allowed him to train in mornings and run races on weekends, he rose at all once to the top class of Japanese marathoning.  The transfer is the first in his employment history, but at Kuki H.S. his position will be the same as his current clerical work.  Additionally, as a resident of Kuki the move will allow him to run

Japanese Women Score Team Bronze at World Half Marathon Championships

by Brett Larner The Japanese women's team came through at the Mar. 29 World Half Marathon Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, narrowly outrunning a strong Italian squad for the team bronze medal.  Top-placing Japanese woman Sayo Nomura  (Team Daiichi Seimei) started slow, nearly 15 seconds behind the lead pack at 5 km, but ran steadily to move up through the pack and overtake teammates Chieko Kido  (Canon AC Kyushu), Reia Iwade  (Team Noritz) and Risa Takenaka  (Team Shiseido) for 15th place overall. Both Takenaka and Iwade finished within 30 seconds of Nomura to overcome Italian Valeria Straneo 's strong 8th-place finish in 1:08:55 and give Japan the team bronze by just 24 seconds. Further up front, Kyushu-based Sally Chepyego  (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) took the individual bronze in a 1:07:52 PB, with Aomori Yamada H.S. graduate and former Suzuki runner Lucy Kabuu  4th in 1:08:37. In the men's race, Komazawa University's Kenta Murayama  and Shogo Nakamura  ran up

Toyo University's Shitara Twins Throw Out First Pitch at Lions-Eagles Game

In their last appearance as members of Toyo University 's 2014 Hakone Ekiden-winning team, graduating identical twins Keita Shitara  (27:51.54, 1:01:45, 1st on 2014 Hakone Ekiden Fifth Stage) and Yuta Shitara  (27:54.82, 1:01:48, 1st on 2014 Hakone Ekiden Third Stage) threw out the first pitch at the Mar. 28 Seibu Lions - Rakuten Eagles baseball game.  Next month the twins go separate ways, Keita joining 2013 and 2014 New Year Ekiden champion Konica Minolta , with Yuta staying in Saitama with the Honda  corporate team.

Five-Time National Champion Toyokawa High School Head Coach Yasuhiko Mori Announces Retirement translated by Brett Larner Having led Aichi prefecture's Toyokawa High School boys and girls teams to a combined five National High School Ekiden titles, head coach Yasuhiko Mori , 52, held a press conference on Mar. 27 at Toyokawa City Hall to announce that he is retiring both as head coach and from the school at the end of march.  He declined to give specific comment on his future plans, but with regard to the corporate leagues and the like he commented, "I want to go to the next level." In December the Toyokawa girls won a fourth national title at the National High School Ekiden Championships, the most wins ever by a single school.  After that, said Mori, "I thought about a lot of different things."  In January he told the school, "I'm finished with high school ekidens," informing them of his intent to retire. Mori became head coach of the Toyokawa girls in 2006, and in his thir

Murayama and Iwade Lead Japanese Teams at Copenhagen World Half Marathon Championships

by Brett Larner photo by Kazuyuki Sugimatsu Running against the wind,  Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.)  at the 2013 Hakone Ekiden. Japan is sending two strong squads to the Mar. 29 World Half Marathon Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, both led by their youngest member and each with a good chance of going home with hardware. There's a lot of buzz domestically about the young and talented men's team, four of its five members between 21 and 23 years old, three of them university runners and three students at or graduates of three-time defending National University Ekiden champion Komazawa University .  Much of the buzz is focused on Komazawa third-year  Kenta Murayama , freshly 21 and on a rapid rise to the very top of the Japanese distance world. Last year at age 19 he cracked the all-time Japanese half marathon top ten with a 1:01:19 in Marugame, following up a month later in 1:02:02 for 10th at the NYC Half Marathon.  This year, just before his 21st birthday, Mur

2008 Gold Coast Marathon Winner Kazuo Ietani Retires translated and edited by Brett Larner With a list of accomplishments over his 18-year career on the track and roads including a gold medal at the 2001 East Asian Men's Half Marathon, Kazuo Ietani  (36, Team Sanyo Tokushu Seikyo) has announced that he is retiring from competition.  Beginning in April he will focus on his work with the Sanyo corporation.  The Mar. 2 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon will remain as his final race. Ietani was born in Tatsuno, Hyogo.  After graduating from Tatsuno Higashi J.H.S. he attended Himeji Shogyo H.S., where he made a name on the ekiden circuit.  At Sanyo Tokushu Seiko he was the team's backbone, running the longest stage reserved for the best Japanese athletes at the New Year Ekiden. He also had a wealth of international experience running on the Japanese National Team, sharing a joint men's-women's win with Mizuki Noguchi  (Team Sysmex, then Team Globally) at the 2001 E

Monument Honoring Japan's First Women's Marathon Unveiled translated by Brett Larner The winner of Japan's first women's marathon and other dignitaries took part in a ceremony at Lake Tama in Higashiyamato, Tokyo on Mar. 21 unveiling a monument commemorating the race held at the site 36 years ago.  According to city officials, the first women-only full marathon, the "First National Women's Turtle Marathon Race" took place in April, 1978, sponsored by the Japan Turtle Association .  On a course covering three laps around the banks of Lake Tama, 49 women started the race, the oldest among them 71 years old.  46 finished. The Higashiyamato city government planned the monument in connection with its sports promotion and local revitalization initiatives.  Including the base the monument measures 1.8 m tall, with a width of 0.5 m.  According to Musashino Art University lecturer Yasuyuki Nishio , 47, tying the monument's design to its locati

World University Cross Country Championships Results - Japan Takes Team Silver and Bronze

by Brett Larner A local Ugandan newspaper as tweeted by WUCCC organizers FISU . Hosts Uganda  dominated the 19th edition of the World University Cross Country Championships Mar. 22 in Entebbe, winning both individual gold medals and the women's team gold.  The women's race, four laps of a roughly 1.5 km loop, went out as a race between Uganda and neighboring Kenya , with Kenya's Sheila Kandie leading Uganda's Winnie Nanyondo  and Dorcus Ajok through the first lap before Nanyondo moved to the front.  Uganda's third woman, Prim Twikiriza , sat a few seconds back in the chase back with Japan's Ayumi Uehara , Fuyuka Kimura  and Natsumi Ozawa . On the third lap Nanyondo surged, covering it in 4:56.24, to drop both Kandie and Ajok, and from there she ran alone all the way to the finish to claim gold by a margin of nearly 30 seconds.  Ajok also got clear of Kandie on the third lap for silver, but on the fourth lap she was nearly run down by Twikiriza who sur

Toyo University Spends $50,000 on New Downhill Track to Help Kiryu Achieve 9-Second Speed translated by Brett Larner With Japan's big hope for its first 9-second 100 m, Yoshihide Kiryu  (18, Rakunan H.S.), set to enroll in April, Toyo University  announced on Mar. 19 that it is building an inclined track, proven effective in building speed, at its campus in Kawagoe, Saitama.  With a 1% decline over its 60 m length, the track facilitates athletes experiencing running at sub-10 speed, moving Kiryu one step closer to realizing his dream.  Toyo's 2014 Hakone Ekiden champion long-distance team will also use the new track. Dropping 60 cm over the course of 60 m, with just a 1% grade the track will serve as the jet-powered Kiryu's "runway."  "This track allows you to learn how to move your legs and contact the ground at 9-second speed," said Toyo sprint coach Michiaki Kajiwara , 60, explaining the new facility's potential impact on training.  "The 1% slope is the key.

'Karoki Makes Outstanding Half Marathon Debut With 59:58 Win in Lisbon' Bedan Karoki is based in Tokyo where he runs for the DeNA Running Club corporate team coached by marathon legend Toshihiko Seko .  7th-placer Paul Tanui runs for the Kyushu-based Kyudenko Team alongside 2:08:00 marathoner Kazuhiro Maeda .  London Olympian Ryo Yamamoto  (Team SGH Group Sagawa) was 20th in a weak 1:05:50 .

Yufu and Ichida Run Strong in New York, Hagiwara and Okuno Top Matsue and University Women's Half

by Brett Larner 2013 National University 1500 m champion  Ikuto Yufu (Komazawa University) and 2013 Ageo City Half Marathon winner Takashi Ichida (Daito Bunka University) made their U.S. half marathon debuts at this 2014 NYC Half Marathon, invited through a partnership between Ageo and the NYC Half.  Running in frigid, windy conditions, both Yufu and Ichida sat in the second pack through much of the race, gradually increasing the pace and splitting 15:18, 14:50 and 14:45 for the first three 5 km splits as the course came out of Central Park's hills and picked up a tailwind. As the race got going in the final 5 km Ichida, hoping to break 62 minutes for the first time, fell behind, but in the final race of his collegiate career Yufu ran head-to-head with 2014 U.S.A. half marathon champion Meb Keflezighi  and American Jacob Riley  until the final corner at 21 km when he kicked away to take 9th in 1:02:50.  Yufu's time was just four seconds off his best and improved on

Ichida and Yufu Represent Japan's University Men at NYC Half (updated)

update: The NYRR posted its own story on Takashi Ichida (Daito Bunka Univ.) and Ikuto Yufu (Komazawa Univ.) this morning.   Click here to read it . by Brett Larner November's Ageo City Half Marathon has been in an arms race with March's National University Men's Half Marathon Championships for the last few years, both races riding a swell in Japanese university men's distance running to battle for the title of world's deepest half marathon.   Two weeks ago the National University Half became the first race to break the 200 sub-66 barrier , but competition up front in Ageo remains thicker with a sub-62 course record and nearly twice as many men going sub-63 as at the National University Half. Driving the race up front in Ageo this time was, for the third year in a row, the chance for the two top Japanese collegiates to run the NYC Half Marathon in a relationship set up between the two races by JRN. Two years ago Yuta Shitara  and Kento Otsu of Hakone Ekid

University Runners Feature in Rest of March's Races

by Brett Larner With Japan's fiscal and academic year wrapping up at the end of March the majority of the country's corporate runners are in a holding pattern until track season gets underway in April.  Collegiate runners dominate what's left of the season, with Sunday's National University Women's Half Marathon Championships, held in conjunction with the Matsue Ladies' Half Marathon and 10 km , marking the last major domestic race of the season. Winning times at the National Championships have been in the 71-minute range the last few years.  The lack of a World University Games this year could bring down that leading edge, but if the record-setting depth at last week's National University Men's Half Marathon Championships was any indication the women's race should still be deeply competitive. 2013 Ageo City Half Marathon winner Takashi Ichida  (Daito Bunka University) and 2013 National University Track and Field Championships 1500 m winner Ikut

Federation Announces Marathon Team for 17th Asian Games translated by Brett Larner The Japan Association of Athletics Federations is pleased to announce the nomination of the following athletes to the Japanese National Team for this fall's 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. Men Kohei Matsumura Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki, Nagasaki Asian Games debut PB: 2:08:09 (2014 Tokyo Marathon) Yuki Kawauchi Saitama Prefectural Government, Saitama Asian Games debut PB: 2:08:14 (2013 Seoul International Marathon) Women Ryoko Kizaki Team Daihatsu, Osaka second Asian Games appearance; ran 5000 m at 2010 Asian Games PB: 2:23:34 (2013 Nagoya Women's Marathon) Eri Hayakawa Team Toto, Tokyo Asian Games debut PB: 2:25:31 (2014 Nagoya Women's Marathon) The formal confirmation of the athletes on the National Team will be made by the Japanese Olympic Committee, the official organizers of the Asian Games team.  The Asian Games will take place from Sept. 27 to Oct. 3.

Beijing Olympics Marathoner Yurika Nakamura and Teammate Kaori Urata Announce Retirement translated and edited by Brett Larner On Mar. 10, Beijing Olympics women's marathoner Yurika Nakamura , 27 announced her intent to retire at the end of March.  The announcement came via her corporate team sponsor Tenmaya.  Following her retirement she plans to focus on her work at the company. Nakamura is a native of Hyogo prefecture.  After graduating from Nishinomiya H.S. she joined the Tenmaya team in 2004.  She won her marathon debut at the 2008 Nagoya International Women's Marathon to qualify for the Beijing Olympics where she placed 13th, the only Japanese woman to finish the race.  In the 2009 Berlin World Championships 10000 m she placed 7th, the top Japanese finisher.  After her last race in January, 2013 she took a leave of absence from competition to rest and recuperate.  "After re-examining myself I came to the conclusion that it was time to retire," she said in her statement. Nakamura&#

Konovalova Wins Nagoya Women's Marathon in 2:23:43, Westcott Over Kawauchi in Half

by Brett Larner In a familiar sight on the Japanese women's marathon circuit, a late-30's Eastern European woman negative-splitted her way to the win of the world's largest women-only marathon, the Nagoya Women's Marathon .  39-year-old Russian Mariya Konovalova  led virtually start to finish, more than often than not ahead of the lone Kenyan pacer as she progressively ground down the competition.  A lead pack of 21 at 10 km was down to 14 by halfway, which Konovalova crossed in 1:12:34.  Most of the burnoff happened between there and 25 km, with only defending champion and Moscow World Championships marathon 4th-placer Ryoko Kizaki  (Team Daihatsu), 2005 Osaka International Women's Marathon winner Jelena Prokopcuka  (Lativa), debuting National Corporate Half Marathon champion Tomomi Tanaka  (Team Daiichi Seimei), the idiosyncratic Eri Hayakawa  (Team Toto), Ethiopian Ashete Dido  and the pacer able to match Konovalova's pace. Kenyan Agnes Kiprop  managed to

'Can Kizaki Retain Her Nagoya Women's Marathon Title?' The last of Japan's major winter/early spring marathons, the Nagoya Women's Marathon kicks off at 9:00 a.m. Japan time on Sunday, Mar. 9.  JRN will cover the race live on Twitter @JRNLive .  Overseas viewers should be able to watch Fuji TV's live broadcast via Keyhole TV , for which a premium key is recommended for reliable quality.  Unofficial live streaming may be available on any of a number of overseas streaming sites . Also newsworthy is Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) in the mass-participation Nagoya Half Marathon that accompanies the women-only marathon.  Kawauchi entered the half through the regular online lottery and was among those who won places in the field. 2014 Nagoya Women's Marathon Nagoya, 3/9/14 click here for detailed field listing 1. Mariya Konovalova (Russia) - 2:22:46 (Chicago 2013) 2. Jelena Prokopcuka (Latvia) - 2:22:56 (Osaka Women's 2

Shizuoka to Again Host Mount Fuji University Women's Ekiden Championships translated by Brett Larner At the Shizuoka Prefectural Assembly's regular meeting on Mar. 6, Governor Heita Kawakatsu  confirmed that the Mount Fuji Women's Ekiden , first held last December, will be held again at the end of this year.  The news came in response to a question from Assembly representative Sakae Endo (Jimin Kaikaku Kaigi Party, Fuji City). The ekiden commemorates Mount Fuji's registration as a World Heritage Site and served as the National Women's Invitational Ekiden Championships, the first time that event has been staged in Shizuoka.  At the first running twenty teams from across the country raced over a seven-stage, 43.4 km course in the foothills of Mount Fuji. Governor Kawakatsu commented, "With 80,000 spectators having turned out to cheer along the course and impeccable race organization, we gave the event a very high evaluation.  TV viewership ratings within Shizuok

With Regard to the Kanto Region University Student United Team translated and edited by Brett Larner Note: These blog posts were written by an athlete who ran on the Hakone Ekiden's Kanto Region University Select Team twice before going on to become one of Japan's most prominent distance runners and all-time great marathoners.  He semi-anonymously runs a blog called "The Former Hakone Ekiden Kanto Region University Select Team Member Blog" dedicated to preserving the Select Team from elimination by the powers that be. These posts are in response to the KGRR 's decision to reintroduce the Select Team to Hakone in 2015 under a different name without counting its results . According to the news on the net, the "Kanto Regional University Select Team" is going to be resurrected next year with its name changed to "Kanto Region University Student United Team.&qu

Hakone Ekiden Kanto Select Team to Return Without Results Being Counted translated and edited by Brett Larner On Mar. 4 the Inter-University Athletic Union of Kanto   [KGRR]  announced rule changes for the 91st Hakone Ekiden on Jan. 2-3, 2015 regarding the Kanto Region University Select Team, made up of top-placing individuals at October's Yosenkai 20 km Road Race from universities that do not qualify for Hakone as teams.  The Select Team was eliminated for this year's 90th Hakone Ekiden but will return next year with its name changed to the Kanto Region University Student United Team.  Along with the name, changes include: only one runner is allowed from any single university people may run on the team a maximum of twice the team's results will not count in the official Hakone Ekiden team standings individua

'2014 NYC Half to Feature Top American and International Fields for March 16 Race' 2013 Ageo City Half Marathon winner  Takashi Ichida  (1:02:36, Daito Bunka University) and four-time National University Ekiden stage winner Ikuto Yufu  (1:02:46, Komazawa University) are running the NYC Half Marathon with support from JRN after placing in Ageo last November. 8th NYC Half Marathon Elite Field New York, NY, 3/16/14 Men Geoffrey Mutai (Kenya) - 58:58 (Ras Al Khaimah 2013) Mo Farah (U.K.) - 1:00:10a (Great North Run 2013) Stephen Sambu (Kenya) - 1:00:41 (Boston 2013) Meb Keflezighi (U.S.A.) - 1:01:00 (Rock 'n' Roll San Jose 2009) Wesley Korir (Kenya) - 1:01:19 (New York 2012) Juan Luis Barrios (Mexico) - 1:01:21 (New York 2013) Kevin Chelimo (Kenya) - 1:01:21 (New York 2012) Luke Puskedra (U.S.A.) - 1:01:36 (Houston 2012) Matt Tegenkamp (U.S.A.) - 58:30 (New Haven 20 km 2012) Jason Hartmann (U.S.A.) - 1:01:

Ahouchar and Kim Set Course Records at New Taipei City Wanjinshi Marathon

by Brett Larner Bringing in a broadly international field of elite athletes from nine countries in a bid for recognition as an IAAF bronze label race, the Mar. 2 New Taipei City Wanjinshi International Marathon was rewarded with new course records in both the men's and women's races despite unforgiving weather. Men's winner Hassane Ahouchar. With strong headwinds and rain in the first half of the seaside out-and-back course, the men's lead pack went through a leisurely first half just over 1:11 before rounding the turnaround point and turning it on to take advantage of the tailwind.  The men with the two fastest PBs in the field, Gudisa Shentema  (Ethiopia) and Hassane Ahouchar (Morocco), burned off Kenyans Wilson Kibet  and Geoffrey Birgen  and North Korea's Yong Ho Ri  to make it a duel.  Shentema led by a stride on the final uphill to the finish but Ahouchar's kick proved too strong as he took the win in 2:17:17, almost two minutes better than the