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Showing posts from February, 2019

Japan Announces Team of 22 for Aarhus World XC Championships

Following last Saturday's National Cross Country Championships , the JAAF has announced the rosters for next month's World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark. The always-strong U20 Women's squad and sometimes-strong U20 Men's squad are solid, each featuring the top six from its race at Nationals led by junior national champions Ririka Hironaka (Nagasaki Shogyo H.S.) and Jun Kasai (Kansai Soka H.S.). The Senior Men's team is one of the better in recent years, with only Nationals 2nd-placer Kazuki Tamura (Sumitomo Denko) and 6th-placer Shota Onizuka (Tokai Univ.) giving the team a miss. In their places will run 7th-place Kosei Yamaguchi (Asian Kogyo), a steeplechase specialist, and Yusuke Nishiyama (Toyota), the fastest man on the team with a track 10000 m PB of 28:29.23. But the Senior Women's lineup is thin. Six of the top eight placers at Nationals were already on the Japanese national team for April's Doha Asian Championships , a

Hakone Ekiden Hopeful Kanto Gakuin University Appoints Female Coach

On Mar. 26 it was learned that Kanto Gakuin University , which last qualified for the Hakone Ekiden in 2004, has hired female IAAF-certified coach Akari Kishikawa , 33, to join its coaching staff beginning Apr. 1. The Daiichi Seimei women's corporate team is led by head coach Sachiko Yamashita , 54, and the Ritsumeikan University and Josai University women's ekiden teams by assistant coaches Miyuki Tokura , 45, and Yukiko Akaba , 39, but it is virtually unheard of for a woman to be appointed to a university men's ekiden program staff. Kishikawa, who is qualified as a senior psychology counselor among other things, has a proven track record with two national titles to her name in the 800 m in 2010 and 2011. She will support Kanto Gakuin head coach Yoshitaka Nakagawa , 43, and is expected to play a key role in shaping a stronger team. At last October's Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai qualifying race Kanto Gakuin University finished only 23rd. Missing a qualifying spot b

Arai Breaks Asian Record at BU Last Chance Invitational

Running at the same meet where 2019 Hakone Ekiden champion Tokai University 's  Ryoji Tatezawa  broke the indoor mile national record last year, Tokai graduate  Nanami Arai (Honda) ran an Asian area record 3:56.60 for the win at Sunday's Boston University Last Chance Invitational. A teammate of half marathon national record holder Yuta Shtiara , Arai outkicked Olympic medalist Nick Willis  to record the fastest-ever mile indoor or outdoor by a Japanese athlete and take 0.45 off the Asian indoor record set way back in 1993 by Qatar's Mohamed Suleiman . Yasunari Kusu (Ami AC) was 11th in 4:07.21. Returning to the B.U. track two weeks after breaking the 5000 m indoor national record at the David Hemery Valentine Invitational , Hyuga Endo (Sumitomo Denko) came up well short of Suguru Osako 's 3000 m indoor NR of 7:45.62, running 8:02.43 for 3rd. Boston University Last Chance Invitational Boston, U.S.A., 2/24/19 complete results Men's Mile 1. Nanami Arai (H

Rodgers Breaks Shizuoka CR - Weekend Road Race Roundup

The National Cross-Country Championships were the weekend's most competitive race, but half marathons were the main source of road action. Takumi Obara (Komazawa Univ.) ran the fastest time of the day to win the 41st Inuyama Half Marathon in 1:03:52, outrunning Shoya Kawase (Seigakkan Univ.) by two seconds. Kawase's run was a rare sub-64 from a university man outside the Kanto Region, holding off 3rd placer Shota Ezomori (Waseda Univ.) by four seconds. Honoka Sugiura (Chukyo Univ.) dominated the women's race by nearly a minute to win in 1:13:31. Daiji Kawai (Toenec) won Inuyama's 10 km division in a strong 29:01, with Honoka Wada (Nagano Higashi H.S.) the fastest woman at 33:50. At the 68th Kashima Yutoku Half Marathon , Ryuichi Hashimoto (Juntendo Univ.) won the men's race in 1:04:40, with Hiroko Yoshitomi (Memolead) taking the women's race in 1:15:01. Hikaru Kumagai (Raffine) ran almost the identical time to Hashimoto to win the 13th Fukaya City

Bando and Tanaka Win National XC Titles, Kasai and Hironaka Take Junior Races

Japan held its 2019 National Cross Country Championships Saturday in Fukuoka, its primary selection race for next month's Aarhus World Cross-Country Championships . In the senior men's race, heavy favorite Kazuya Shiojiri (Juntendo Univ.) broke away from the field early, only to be run down midway by the 190-cm Yuta Bando (Hosei Univ.), who quickly broke Shiojiri and went ahead in the lead. With just a lap to go he was caught by brothers Kazuki Tamura (Sumitomo Denko) and Yusuke Tamura (Kurosaki Harima). With Kazuki Tamura constantly turning to call encouragement to his younger brother over his shoulder Bando had just enough downtime to attack in the last kilometer and get away for the win in 29:36. Kazuki Tamura was 2nd in 29:40 with Yusuke 3rd in 29:41. Waseda University first-year Yuhi Nakaya was 4th, with Yohei Komatsu and Shota Onizuka , two of the star members of 2019 Hakone Ekiden winner Tokai University , rounding out the top six and probable Aarhus senior me

'Nine Olympians and Nine Paralympians to Lead Star-Studded Professional Athlete Field as All Four Defending Champions Return for 2019 United Airlines NYC Half' Japan's Ken Nakayama (Chuo Univ.) and Genki Kaneko (Josai Univ.) will run the Mar. 17 United Airlines NYC Half after taking the top two Japanese collegiate spots at November's Ageo City Half Marathon in school records of 1:01:32 and 1:02:16. photo © 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

The Biggest Year Ever for the World's Biggest Women-Only Marathon - Nagoya Women's Marathon Elite Field

Hot on the heels of the announcement of the field for the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon , the organizers of the Nagoya Women's Marathon have put out the entry list for this year's race, the last domestic chance for Japanese women to qualify for the MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials. With the impending imperial succession the Tokyo Marathon moves this year from the last weekend of February to Lake Biwa's traditional date of the first weekend of March, forcing Lake Biwa to move a week later. That puts it the same day as Nagoya, with Nagoya starting three hours earlier. Logistical challenges aside, Nagoya is set to be a big race. While 24 men have qualified for September's MGC Race to date, only nine women have done it. A few will be trying to make it in Tokyo, but dozens are lining up in Nagoya to try to pick up one of the six spots available for sure. The top three Japanese women will qualify if under 2:28:00, with up to three more qualifying if under 2:27:00. The

Kenenisa Bekele Withdraws from Tokyo Marathon with Stress Fracture

The Tokyo Marathon Foundation announced on Feb. 20 that 5000 m and 10000 m world record holder Kenenisa Bekele (Ethiopia) has withdrawn from the Mar. 3 Tokyo Marathon 2019 due to injury. The statement read, "He has a stress fracture that is going to take a little more time to heal. His motivation to recover and set his sights on a new goal is high, but unfortunately it seems that is still going to take a while." #2-ranked Marius Kipserem (Kenya) has also withdrawn with injuries. On the domestic front, Kengo Suzuki (23, Fujitsu) has pulled out due to his condition. Yohei Suzuki (24, Aisan Kogyo) and Shinobu Kubota (27, Toyota) have also sustained injuries that will prevent them from starting. In the women's race, 2017 London World Championships team member Yuka Ando , 24, who earlier this month transferred from the Suzuki Hamamatsu AC team to the Wacoal corporate team, is also out with injury. source article:

Last Chance for Tokyo 2020? - Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon Elite Field

With just under three weeks to go the organizers of the Mar. 10 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon 's 74th running have finally released the elite field. For Japanese men it's the last chance - almost - to qualify for September's MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials, the last domestic race with up to six spots up for grabs for anyone under 2:11:00 or 2:10:00 and more for anyone else under 2:08:30 or averaging under 2:11:00 between Lake Biwa and another marathon in the last year and a half. The window on that last two-race option runs through April 30th so there will still be a few chances left, but realistically for most of the men at Lake Biwa this is it, all or nothing for a home soil Olympic team. There's a good international field of twelve African-born runners of eight nationalities at the 2:06 to 2:09 level to help pull the Japanese men to hit those times. Last year's winner Macharia Ndirangu (Kenya/Aichi Seiko) is back, ranked 6th in a field led by 2:06 men De

Cheboitibin Breaks Seko's Course Record at Ome 30 km

One of Japan's longest-standing course records at its elite races fell Sunday as Kenyan Ezekiel Cheboitibin (Sunbelx) beat the great Toshihiko Seko 's 38-year-old Ome 30 km Road Race record by almost 30 seconds. Tough and hilly with a net climb in the first half and descent on the return trip, Ome is a standard spring marathon prep run and a natural partner for April's Boston Marathon, with which it has a longstanding athlete exchange program. The 2017 Ome winner, this time out Cheboitibin was gunning for Seko's record from the start, hitting the mostly uphill 10 km completely solo in 29:47, 20 km midway through the return trip in 59:30, and saving his fastest 10 km split for the end as he crossed the finish line in 1:29:06. Seko's 1:29:32 just two months before his first Boston win had made him the only man in Ome history to break 90 minutes. With the best performance of his career Cheboitibin turned the page on that history. With the withdrawal of Fukuok

Shimokado and Imada Scratch From Sunday's Ome 30 km

Following the earlier announcement of the withdrawals of Yuma Hattori (Toyota) and Ayuko Suzuk i (Japan Post), on Feb. 15 the organizers of the 53rd Ome 30 km Road Race announced that two more athletes have pulled out of the women's 30 km division of Sunday's race. Miharu Shimokado (28, Brooks) has withdrawn due to a pulled muscle in her right calf, while Marie Imad a (29, Iwatani Sangyo) is suffering from inflammation in her right foot. Both Shimokado and Imada ran December's Saitama International Women's Marathon. Imada broke her PB by 2 minutes and 25 seconds to take the top Japanese position at 4th in 2:29:35 but missed qualifying for the MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials by 35 seconds. The last race in the MGC qualifying series is the Mar. 10 Nagoya Women's Marathon, with the wildcard qualifying window running until Apr. 30. Waseda University 3rd-year Kosuke Magara has also withdrawn from the men's 30 km division. source article: https://h

Beppu-Oita Marathon to Review Staff Training After Interpreter Refers to African Athletes as "Chimpanzees"

On Feb. 14 the organizers of the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon confirmed that a local woman in her fifties who served as an interpreter at this year's race had published a blog post in which she referred to the African athletes on whose behalf she had worked as "chimpanzees." The woman said she had no malicious or racist intent behind her comments, but a spokesperson for the organizers called her choice of words "inappropriate." Organizers plan to review their training and guidance procedures for all race management staff members. The Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon took place in the two cities on Feb. 3. According to the spokesperson, the blog to which the woman posted the comments is for members of a sports club to which she belongs to report on what they have been doing. On Feb. 10 she wrote about her work with the African athletes, posting it with public access so that anyone could read it. She described the struggle of talking to the African athletes, sayi

Japan Names National Team for 23rd Asian Athletics Championships

Japan has named a team featuring ten individual medalists from the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games to get an early taste of this year's World Championships  at April's Doha Asian Athletics Championships . Along with its gold medal-winning men's 4x100 m team, standouts include Jakarta gold medalists Yuki Koike (Sumitomo Denko) in the men's 200 m, Seito Yamamoto (Toyota) in the men's pole vault and Keisuke Ushiro (Kokushin Univ. AC) in the decathlon. The women's long distance roster is strong, led by 2018 World U20 Championships 3000 m gold medalist Nozomi Tanaka (ND28 AC) in the 5000 m and the resurgent Hitomi Niiya (Nike Tokyo TC) in the 10000 m, while the most interesting name among the men is Jakarta 3000 m steeplechase bronze medalist Kazuya Shiojiri (Juntendo Univ.). 23rd Asian Athletics Championships Japanese National Team Doha, Qatar, Apr. 21-24, 2019 complete team listing underlined athletes are 2018 Asian Games medalists Women Sprints Chisat

Hattori and Suzuki Scratch From Ome 30 km

The organizers of the Ome 30 km Road Race announced on Feb. 10 that both of its feature invited elite athletes Yuma Hattori (Toyota) and Ayuko Suzuki (Japan Post) have scratched from the Feb. 17 race. Hattori won December's Fukuoka International Marathon in a strong 2:07:27 to position himself as a leading candidate for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and its trials event, September's MGC Race. He is reportedly not feeling well currently. In the organizers' statement he commented, "I'm simply not in the best condition to run Ome, and thinking about the future I've decided not to do it. I'm very sorry to disappoint everyone who was looking forward to Ome. I will do everything I can to be on the starting line of the MGC Race in perfect condition and ask for your continued support." Suzuki ran an all-time Japanese #3 time of 1:07:55 at the Feb. 3 Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon, demonstrating the potential to make the podium at the Tokyo Olym

Toyota On Fire - Weekend Road Race Roundup

Everything right now in Japanese distance is about qualifying for September's MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials. On the men's side Toyota  currently leads the way, Yuma Hattori running 2:07:27, Taku Fujimoto 2:07:57 and Chihiro Miyawaki 2:08:45 last year to qualify. Five more Toyota runners ran big today to set up some exciting last-shot bids at qualifying in Tokyo and Lake Biwa. The National Corporate Half Marathon men's race went out relatively conservatively with a pack of 30 rolling through 10 km in 29:28. A series of runners including 35-year-old full-time-working amateur Takahiro Nakamura (Kyocera Kagoshima) took turns trying to get it moving before Amos Kurgat (Chudenko) took off for good to win unchallenged in 1:01:06. Along with Kenyans Paul Kuira (Konica Minolta) and Patrick Muendo Mwaka (Aisan Kogyo) Toyota's trio of Hideyuki Tanaka , Tsubasa Hayakawa and Minato Oishi emerged at the front of a chase group of 14. As the pace picked up over

Endo and Matsuzaki Break National Records in Boston

Indoor track is pretty much non-existant in Japan, but in the last few years more Japanese athletes have been heading to the States after ekiden season to give it a go and coming back with national records. Two more records fell at Friday's David Hemery Valentine Invitational in Boston. First up, in his indoor debut 20-year-old Hyuga Endo (Sumitomo Denko) ran 13:27.81 to break the indoor 5000 m national record set five years ago in New York by Suguru Osako by 0.19. Endo was one of Japan's all-time best high schoolers. Now in his second year in the corporate leagues after opting to skip university he is coached by Yasuyuki Watanabe , Osako's former coach at Waseda University. Also in the same race, Hiroki Matsueda (Fujitsu) was 6th in 13:47.64. Three hours later, Riko Matsuzaki (Sekisui Kagaku) ran 9:00.86 in the women's 3000 m, taking 0.53 off the national record set way back in 1999 by Akiko Kawashima at the Maebashi World Indoor Championships. Matsuzaki is

Tokyo Marathon Course Record Holder Sarah Chepchirchir Provisionally Suspended for Doping Offenses

A training partner of disgraced Rio Olympics gold medalist Jemima Sumgong , Tokyo Marathon course record holder and Japan all-comers' record holder Sarah Chepchirchir of Kenya has been provisionally suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit for use of prohibited substances or methods. Chepchirchir's suspension follows the announcement last month of an eight-year suspension for Sumgong for doping-related offenses and an attempted coverup. Both Chepchirchir and Sumgong are represented by agent Federico Rosa , whose other Kenyan clients include two-time Commonwealth Games medalist Lucy Kabuu , suspended last month for two years for doping, former Boston Marathon course record holder Rita Jeptoo , who lost her title and record with a four-year doping suspension , and former Olympic 1500 m gold medalist Asbel Kiprop , found to have tested positive for EPO . Rosa is scheduled to have athletes including 2018 Abu Dhabi Marathon winners Marius Kipserem (Kenya) and  Ababel Yes

National Corporate Half Marathon, Nobeoka Marathon and More - Weekend Preview

It's a relatively quiet weekend ahead in the middle of Japan's busiest road racing season, but there are still four important races going on in the southern part of the country. The biggest is the National Corporate Half Marathon and 10 km Championships in Yamaguchi.  Men's national record holder Yuta Shitara (Honda) is entered in what would be his first race since catching the flu post-Fukuoka and leads the domestic component of a field that includes nine men with recent sub-1:02 times and a million more right on the cusp. If he runs his main competition is sub-60 man Paul Kuira (Konica Minolta). 61:30ish runners Keisuke Nakatani (Nissin Shokuhin) and Kengo Suzuki (Fujitsu) will be looking to make comebacks after long periods of injury. The women's field is split between the half marathon and 10 km . Only three women in the half have broken 70 minutes before, Miho Shimizu (Hokuren) doing it the most recently with a 1:09:27 at Nationals in 2016. Shiori Yano

Hattori and Suzuki Lead National Cross Country Championships Entry Lists

Entry lists were announced Feb. 6 for the 2019 National Cross Country Championships , to be held Feb. 23 in Fukuoka's Uminonakamichi Kaihin Park. The senior men's 10 km field of 165 is led by last year's 5000 m national champion Hazuma Hattori (Toenec), 2019 Marugame Half Marathon 4th-placer and new Aoyama Gakuin University captain Takato Suzuki , and Fukuoka native Shota Onizuka who ran the First Stage on 2019 Hakone Ekiden champion Tokai University's winning team. The senior women's 8 km features Yuka Hori , Fifth Stage record breaker at last year's National Corporate Women's Ekiden for national champion Panasonic, her teammate and Third Stage winner Nanami Watanabe and 2018 Asian Games 5000 m 6th-placer Minami Yamanouchi (Kyocera). 102 women are scheduled to run. The national championships will also include junior men's 8 km and junior women's 6 km races. JAAF marathon development project leader Toshihiko Seko commented, "The

Okayama Marathon Has Record-Breaking Economic Impact on Local Community

On Feb. 5 the organizing committee of last November's 2018 Okayama Marathon announced that the event brought a record 1,580,000,000 yen [~$14.5 million USD]  into the local economy. Compared to the 2017 edition the race's economic impact increased by 110,000.000 yen  [~$14.5 million USD]  thanks in part to a larger number of runners from overseas and beautiful weather that brought out more spectators along the course. The race's 5th running is scheduled for Nov. 10 this year. 16,547 runners took part in last year's Okayama Marathon and fun run, and factoring in visitors to the event venue, volunteers and others, a total of roughly 293,000 people participated, an increase of 8000 over 2017. Based on 2065 valid responses to a participants' survey, runners spent a total of 1,040,000,000 yen  [~$9.5 million USD]  locally on food and accommodations, an increase of 80,000,000 yen  [~$750,000 USD] . Visitors from outside Okayama prefecture spent an average of 23,624

Andrew Epperson on His Beppu-Oita Breakthrough (updated)

Sunday’s Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon , the top-level race in Japan’s second tier of elite men’s marathons, saw some historic results, with fourteen men breaking 2:12, ten of them Japanese. Given last year’s Tokyo Marathon , where nine Japanese men went sub-2:10, that might not seem like a big deal. But there were virtually no A-list Japanese men in the race, most of the ten who broke 2:12 heading into the race with PBs in only the 2:12 to 2:15 range and a few of them guys who never made their university ekiden teams’ starting rosters. For perspective, the United States has never had ten men under 2:12  in an entire year  on record-eligible courses, and even including ineligible ones the only time it has ever happened was thanks to the tailwind-aided 1983 Boston Marathon. It’s pretty clear that something special happened in Beppu. One of the runners who benefited from that special something was American Andrew Epperson . An assistant coach at Colorado State University, Epperson