Skip to main content

Ninja Runner Yuka Ando Leads Japanese Women's Marathon Team in London: "I Want to Go For It"

Her form has been dubbed "ninja running." Both arms held straight down with almost no movement. That idiosyncratic style carried Yuka Ando, 23, to the fastest-ever marathon debut by a Japanese woman, 2:21:36, at March's Nagoya Women's Marathon to land at #4 on the all-time Japanese lists. All at once Ando found herself catapulted to the top level of women's marathoning, a candidate for Japan's next great marathoner.

When she was younger Ando ran moving her arms like other runners, but she had a bad habit of moving robotically, her upper body and lower body not working in sync. The turning point came in 2014 when she joined Suzuki Hamamatsu AC. Working there with coach Masayuki Satouchi to eliminate the faults in her form, the pair arrived at the ninja running style that let her run relaxed. "Other people keep asking me, "Isn't it hard to run like that?" but for me it's comfortable," she said. The efficient form helped her maintain her stamina and run head to head with Rio Olympics silver medalist Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) over the second half of the race.

Inspired by her fellow Gifu native Naoko Takahashi's gold medal run at the 2000 Sydney Olympics Ando began running in junior high school. At Aichi's Toyokawa H.S. she led the team to two National High School Ekiden titles. Last year she was named to the Japanese national team for the World Half Marathon Championships. The 3rd placer in Nagoya, Mao Kiyota, 23, is her teammate at both Suzuki Hamamatsu and on the World Championships women's marathon squad. "Having a strong training partner around helps give me confidence," Ando said.

London will be Ando's second marathon. If she makes the top eight her place in the fall, 2019 qualifying race for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic team will be guaranteed. "In Nagoya I felt that if I went with the leaders then everything would work out," she said. "If I can run like I did in Nagoya then I really want to go for it." The three women ahead of her on the all-time list, Mizuki Noguchi, Yoko Shibui and Naoko Takahashi, all hailed from the same era. Hopes are high that this 23-year-old can help Japanese women's marathoning break free from treading water. The London World Championships women's marathon starts at 22:00 Japan time on Sunday, August 6.

source article: https://mainichi.jp/articles/20170731/mog/00m/050/004000c
translated by Brett Larner

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kawauchi Wins 7th-Straight Okinoshima 50 km

Running the Okinoshima 50 km Ultramarathon on his late father's home island of Oki for the eighth year in a row, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran 2:52:55 to win it for the seventh straight time. Starting strong on the relatively flat first 10 km where he clocked 33:26, low-2:47 pace, Kawauchi slowed to just over 2:50 pace on the course's toughest hills between 10 and 30 km. A sub-2:50 was still in range at that point, but over the last 20 km he faded further to finish in the second-slowest of his Okinoshima wins.



The day before the race Kawauchi paced children in Okinoshima's kids' run. Following that he greeted participants and local supporters at an expo event where he was hailed onstage as the Boston Marathon winner. As per his usual routine, his next race will be the July 1 Gold Coast Marathon in Australia.

© 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Kipchirchir and Chebii Take on Three Gold Coast Winners

The men's race at Australia's Gold Coast Marathon is usually a Kenya-Japan head-to-head, Kenya taking six wins and Japan three in the last ten years. With not a single Ethiopian in the field for this year's 40th edition it looks set for it to happen yet again.

Sub-2:10 Kenyans Victor Kipchirchir, Douglas Chebii, Philip Sanga and the Japan-based Michael Githae will line up to take on three of the race's last four winners, 2017 champ Takuya Noguchi (Konica Minolta), 2015-16 winner and course record holder Kenneth Mungara (Kenya) and 2013 champ and perpetual top three placer Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't). Give the advantage to team Kenya in this bout, but as Noguchi and Kawauchi have proven Gold Coast is a race where Japanese men are legit contenders.

With the window for getting qualifying times for next year's MGC Race 2020 Olympic trials starting to close, the powers that be in Japan have taken note of the success of Noguchi and Kawauchi on the Gold Coast…

The Kawauchi Counter

Yuki Kawauchi's 2018 race results: Jan. 1: Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, U.S.A.: 2:18:59 - 1st - CR
Jan. 14: Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:03:28 - 7th
Jan. 21: Yashio Isshu Ekiden, Saitama: 1:01:03 - 1st - ran entire 20.0 km ekiden solo and beat all 103 teams of 6 runners each
Jan. 28: Okumusashi Ekiden First Stage (9.9 km), Saitama - 29:41 - 6th
Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
Feb. 11: Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon, Shimane - cancelled due to heavy snow
Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama - 1:04:26 - 1st
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:04:49 - 12th
Mar. 11: Yoshinogawa Riverside Half Marathon, Tokushima - 1:05:50 - 1st - CR
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan - 2:14:12 - 1st
Mar. 24: Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials, Saitama
              5000 m Heat 4: 14:53.95 - 1st
              5000 m Heat 6: 14:36.58 - 2nd
           …