Skip to main content


Showing posts from December, 2018

Meijo Breaks Mount Fuji Women's Ekiden Course Record to Beat Five-Time Champion Ritsumeikan

In the last big Japanese race of the year 2018 Morinomiyako Ekiden winner Meijo University ran an almost perfect team performance to break the course record at the Mount Fuji Women’s Ekiden , the 2018 National University Women’s Invitational Ekiden Championships. Under clear blue skies in the foothills of Mount Fuji Meijo got off to a good start, 2nd from the gun behind the National University Select Team made up of top runners from schools that didn’t qualify for Mount Fuji as a team. The Select Team’s first three runners all won their stages with its second runner Rino Goshima of Chuo University running 20:50 to set a new course record for her 6.8 km stage. But Meijo was never far behind, just 28 seconds off the Select Team by the end of the Third Stage with four more to go. Graduating senior Kana Matsuura , who had announced Mount Fuji as her final race, put Meijo into the lead with a winning time on the Fourth Stage, and from there Meijo was never in danger. Its next two

Final 2018 Japanese Distance Rankings

JRN's 2018 Japanese track and road distance running rankings. Overall rankings are calculated using runners' times and placings in races over 5000 m, 10000 m, half-marathon and marathon and the strength of these performances relative to others in the top ten in each category. Click any image to enlarge. Past years: 2017  ・  2016  ・   2015  ・  2014  ・  2013  ・  2012  ・  2011 © 2018 Brett Larner,  all rights reserved

Kariuki Wins Year-End Half Marathon

2017 Ageo City Half Marathon winner Simon Kariuki (Nihon Yakka Univ.) ended 2018 with another win, beating former Aoyama Gakuin University and current GMO corporate team stars Tadashi Isshiki and Yuta Shimoda to win the 2nd edition of the Year-End Half Marathon . A new event started last year to give people whose teams missed out on the New Year and Hakone Ekidens something to do with their fitness, the Year-End Half Marathon course consisted of a short loop followed by four laps of around 5 km each inside western Tokyo's hilly Showa Kinen Park. Initially starting in a pack with others from the GMO and Raffine corporate teams and a few university men from Chuo, Asia and Meiji Gakuin, Kariuki and Shimoda pulled away over the second lap of the park with Isshiki trailing in a chase pack of four. Over the third lap Shimoda lost touch, then was overtaken by Isshiki midway through the final lap. Kariuki took the win with ease in 1:02:42, nearly two minutes better than last year&

Championship Ekiden Season is Here - Preview of the New Year's Biggest Races

For decades the New Year in Japan has been the best three days of racing n the year, with the New Year Ekiden corporate men's national championships on Jan. 1 and the university men's season-capping Hakone Ekiden on Jan. 2 and 3. In the last few years it's gotten even better thanks to the Mount Fuji Women's Ekiden , the university women's season ender, moving to Dec. 30. Last year Ritsumeikan University overcame a loss to Meijo University at October's Morinomiyako Ekiden to claim a fifth-straight Mount Fuji national title. This year the top three at Morinomiyako were the same as last time around, Meijo in the top spot and Daito Bunka University just edging out Ritsumeikan for 3rd with Tokyo Nogyo University , 2nd at Mount Fuji last year, just a few seconds behind Ritsumeikan in 4th. With all four teams returning we're pretty likely to see them all out front again, the main question being whether Meijo can translate its early-season success into a nat

Dark Side of the Rising Sun

For all the good things that happened this year, just like anywhere else Japan had its share of problems. In sports, speed skater Kei Saito 's doping suspension at the Pyeongchang Olympics, the harassment case around coach Kazuhito Sakae and Olympic gold medalist wrestler Kaori Icho , and the Nihon University football scandal involving head coach Masato Uchida directing a player to deliberately take out the opposing team's quarterback were some of the bigger stories, but in athletics as well there was no shortage of problems. From actions ranging from the individual to the systemic and societal, from doping to corruption to abuse and harassment, a quick list of the year's lows two years out from Tokyo 2020. Drugs and Injections 'Top Canoeist Suspended for Framing Rival for Doping' Why is the Number of Doping Offenders Growing in Once-Upon-a-Time Clean Japan? National Corporate Women's Ekiden Champion Team to be Stripped of Title After Member Tests

JRN's Ten Most-Read Stories of 2018

JRN's ten most-read stories in the best year in Japanese men's marathoning history and one of the best for Japanese women . 1. How it Happened - Apr. 20 Inside the first Japanese men's  Boston Marathon  win in 31 years. JRN's all-time most-read story. Based on actual events. Preview . 2. Kazami Breaks 100 km World Record at Lake Saroma - June 24 Nao Kazami (Aisan Kogyo) broke the longstanding men's 100 km world record on the same course where it had been set previously. The top five all broke 6:30, with 3rd and 4th-placers Takehiro Gyoba and Hideaki Yamauchi going on to medal at the 100 km World Championships . 3. Kawauchi Breaks Sub-2:20 World Record in Sub-Zero Temperatures - Jan. 1 Running solo in below-freezing temperatures, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) became the first person to run under 2:20 in the marathon 76 times with a 2:18:59 course record win at the Marshfield Road Runners New Year's Day Marathon. 4. Guinness Certifi

Also a Good Year for the Japanese Women

With the men really getting up to speed this year nobody really noticed that it was one of the best in history for the women too. A first-ever world-level distance gold medal on the track, all-time top 10 marks over 5000 m, 10000 m and the marathon and a top 15 mark in the half marathon, and the fastest average of its 10 best marathon performances since back in the golden years of 2005. Rina Nabeshima (Japan Post) topped the 5000 m rankings with a 15:10.91 PB at the Prefontaine Classic in May. It's rare to see Japanese athletes in the Diamond League, but Nabeshima took multiple swings that delivered both her 5000 m time and an 8:48:21 in London , the second-fastest Japanese time ever and less than 4 seconds off the national record. Nozomi Tanaka (ND 28 AC), who won the gold medal over the summer in the World U20 Championships 3000 m, also made the all-time Japanese top 25 for 5000 m with a 15:15.80 in October , the only Japanese woman to date to have cleared the 2019 Do

Maeda Solos Sanyo Ladies Half Marathon Win, Kimanzi Equals 10 km Course Record

The 37th Sanyo Ladies Road Race took place Dec. 23 in Okayama on a course starting and finishing at City Lights Stadium. In the half marathon division, MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials qualifier Honami Maeda (Tenmaya) won her first Sanyo title in 1:09:12, the fastest time by a Japanese woman in over 5 years. Dropping the lead pack just a kilometer into the race, Maeda ran solo the entire way to become the only Japanese woman under 1:10 this year. Australian Ellie Pashley was 2nd in 1:09:20, with Maeda's teammate and fellow MGC qualifier Rei Ohara (Tenmaya) 3rd in 1:10:37. National record holder Kayoko Fukushi (Wacoal) was 6th in 1:11:32. Both Ohara and Fukushi are scheduled to run January's Osaka International Women's Marathon . In the 10 km division, Kenyan Grace Kimanzi (Starts) equalled the 31:54 course record set in 2007 by future Olympic marathon gold medalist Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia. Tenmaya runners Sara Miyake and Mai Nishiwaki were a distant 2nd

Kamimura Gakuen Girls Win First-Ever National High School Ekiden Title, Kurashiki Boys Make in Two

video highlights by NHK The National High School Ekiden Championships took place Dec. 23 in Kyoto on a course starting and finishing at Nishi Kyogoku Field. Kagoshima's Kamimura Gakuen H.S. won its first national title in the 30th anniversary edition girls' race, covering the five-stage, 21.0975 km course in 1:07:25. Okayama's Kurashiki H.S. won the seven-stage, 42.195 km boys' race in 2:02:09, its second national title in the event's 69-year history. Starting the 5.0 km Fifth Stage in 5th place and 31 seconds back from leader Sendai Ikuei H.S. anchor Chinatsu Takeda , Kamimura Gakuen 's Tabitha Kamau blasted a 15:06 just two seconds off the ten-year-old stage record to put Kamimura Gakuen 26 seconds ahead by the finish and all-time #9 in the record books. In the home straight Nagano Higashi H.S. anchor Narumi Kobayashi overtook Takeda to take 2nd in 1:07:51, knocking the defending national champions back to 3rd. Kurashiki took the lead on the

'Planning for Spectator Thermal Comfort And Health in the Face of Extreme Heat: the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Marathons' Previous stories on this topic: An Endless Heat Wave - Will the Olympics Really Be OK? Running the 2020 Olympic Marathon Course Part Two - The Women's Marathon Running the 2020 Olympic Marathon Course Part Three - The Men's Marathon and Racewalks

National Corporate Federation Under Investigation for Violation of Antitrust Law in Restriction on Athletes Changing Teams

On Dec. 20 it was learned that the Japan Fair Trade Commission  (JFTC) has launched an investigation into the Japan Industrial Track and Field Association (JITA), organizers of the New Year Ekiden corporate men's national championships and other major events, for possible violation of antitrust law in its policy of indefinitely barring athletes whose original team do not consent to grant them release. Under the JITA policy, a team may issue a departing athlete a certificate of amicable release designating the athlete as eligible for transfer. Athletes with this designation may sign with another team, but without it they cannot register with another team and are not allowed to compete in events organized by the JITA. Its policy also stipulates that athletes who try to transfer without having a certificate of amicable release may be subject to having their personal JITA registration deleted and being suspended from competing. The JFTC believes that these restrictions may

Osaka International Women's Marathon Elite Field

The elite field is out for the Jan. 27 Osaka International Women's Marathon , one of the last chances for Japanese women to qualify for the MGC Race 2020 Olympic trials. Absent are last year's debut winner Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) and anyone else likely to have the same kind of breakthrough, the domestic field instead heavy on people who were running well in 2016 and 2017. Cf. 2016 winner Kayoko Fukushi (Wacoal), who will be running her first marathon since the Rio Olympics, and the duo of Tomomi Tanaka (Daichi Seimei) and Rei Ohara (Tenmaya), who went head-to-end until the final meters of the 2016 Nagoya Women's Marathon. Ohara is already in for the MGC Race, but the rest of the home crowd will have to be under 2:28:00 if among the top three Japanese women and under 2:27:00 if in the next three. Hanae Tanaka (Shiseido) has a slightly easier route, only needing to clear 2:28:20 to get in via the two-race sub-2:28:00 average the same way Ohara did in Berlin this ye

JAAF Cracking Down on Iron Injection Abuse, to Require Blood Testing at National High School Ekiden

On Dec. 19 it was learned that the JAAF is formulating guidelines to be released next spring that strongly urge coaches and athletes to refrain from taking the iron injections that are believed to be common practice at some top high schools to enhance their athletes' performances in the name of treatment for anemia. The JAAF will encourage other anemia treatments such as taking iron supplements orally. Accumulation of iron in the body can have a negative impact on physical health, including damage to the liver. The JAAF has previously requested coaches refrain from resorting to injections, but as the practice continues as a method of performance enhancement the JAAF is determined to take a stronger position. The determination of whether an iron injection is necessary or not is currently left to the judgment of an athletes' doctor. From now on the facile use of iron injections, even in the name of therapeutic use, will be restricted to severe cases of anemia where oral intak

A Pretty Good Year for Japanese Men

It was a pretty good year for the Japanese men, in the marathon at least. Not so much on the track and less so in the half marathon, but very decent in the marathon. On the track, the fastest 5000 m time was only 13:29.11 by national record holder Suguru Osako (Nike Oregon Project) and in the 10000 m 27:55.85 by all-time #2 man Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Asahi Kasei). With the IAAF announcing 13:22.50 and 27:40.00 standards for next year's Doha World Championships after doing an about-face on its plans to base everything on world rankings it's pretty likely that, for the second World Championships in a row, there won't be a single Japanese man running either distance. Of the 4 still-active Japanese men to have ever bettered the 5000 m standard nobody has done it in the 3 and 1/2 years since Osako and Yoroizaka did in July, 2015. Likewise in the 10000 m, where none of the 5 currently active men to have cracked 27:40 has done it since 2015. Neither distance saw any me

JAAF Announces Revised Selection Policy for 2019 Doha World Championships Track and Field Events

At its Dec. 17 board of directors meeting  the JAAF finalized its revised selection policy for track and field events at the 2019 Doha World Championships. Athletes who have cleared the IAAF's newly released entry standards and win their event at the National Championships to be held in Fukuoka in late June will be named to the national team. Gold medalists at April's Doha Asian Championships who also win at the National Championships will likewise be named to the team. National Championships winners who do not have the standard will have until Sept. 15 to hit it in order to join the final team roster. Up to three athletes can qualify per event. Selection of additional athletes beyond National Championships winners will be based on the following criteria: The highest-ranked Japanese athlete in the Sept. 16 edition of the IAAF world rankings to have cleared the entry standard in their event. Doha Asian Championships gold medalists who have cleared the entry standard in

Kyoto's Katsura Boys and Girls Win National Junior High School Ekiden Titles

The 26th National Junior High School Ekiden took place Dec. 16 in Shiga's Hikarigaoka Bunka Park. Kyoto's Katsura J.H.S. girls ran 41:34 to win the five-stage, 12.0 km girls' race, becoming the first team ever to win the national title five years in a row. The Katsura J.H.S. boys ran a 56:33 course record to win the six-stage, 18.0 km boys' race, becoming the first team from Kyoto to win the boys' title and making Katsura the first school in event history to take both the boys' and girls' titles. The champion teams from each of Japan's 47 prefectures took part, with hosts Shiga fielding two teams to make in a field of 48 teams in both the boys' and girls' races. In the girls' race Katsura's Koko Kamada took the lead late on the First Stage, and after that the team held that position until the Fifth Stage. The Shizuoka J.H.S. team nearly caught anchor Momoka Sano, but Sano was able to fight them off to win by a margin of just 3 seco

Niiya Returns From Australia With World Championships Qualifying Mark

5th in the women's 10000 m at the 2013 Moscow World Championships, Hitomi Niiya (30, Nike Tokyo TC) returned to Japan on Dec. 15 from Melbourne, Australia. In her first track 10000 m since Moscow over five years ago Niiya won the Zatopek:10 in 31:32.50 to clear the 2019 Doha World Championships entry standard of 31:50.00. "I just barely cleared my minimum goal," she said of her performance. In the Zatopek:10 race Niiya showed that her aggressive style lives on. Taking off from the lead group after only 2000 m she ran the entire rest of the way to the win alone. "The last 3000 m were hard," she said. "I understood that I'm not doing enough distance in training." Asked to compare her performance to her golden years in Moscow, where she ran an all-time Japanese #3 mark of 30:56.70 she rated Zatopek "50-60%." In just her fifth race since starting to make a comeback in the spring from five years of retirement Niiya cleared the World Ch

Kawauchi's 2018 Race Results

A year of highs and lows for Kawauchi. More off than on following his stab at an ultra over 70 km in May but pulling his running back together in late November and December to close to the kind of strength he showed in the first four months of the year after hitting rock bottom in October. Will his self-styled "pro" move in April, quitting his job and the approach that has taken him this far, be successful? If there's one truth in life it's that there are no right decisions, only different outcomes. Time will tell what it holds in store for the soon to be former Civil Servant Runner. 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