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Showing posts from August, 2020

New Okukuma Ekiden's First Running Canceled

On Aug. 31 the organizers of the new Okukuma Ekiden announced that this year's first running on Oct. 4 has been postponed one year due to the ongoing coronavirus saga. The 42.195 event was to bring together top high school, university and corporate league teams for the ultimate showdown with all teams starting together, collegiate and corporate runners covering the distance in four stages and high schoolers in seven. The new race was announced in late April and gained attention following the cancelation of the Oct. 11 Izumo Ekiden, the traditional start of university men's ekiden season, when several top university programs voiced plans to instead run Okukuma to begin their seasons. But following discussions with representatives from the four towns involved in the race, the decision to move the inaugural race to 2021 was finalized. A spokesperson for the organizers commented, "We apologize for not being able to meet the expectations of the athletes, coaches, officia

Racing Takes Another Step Back Toward Normal With Events in Nagano and Sapporo

Moderately-sized events in Nagano and Sapporo over the weekend marked a step back toward regular racing. Trail and mountain running have been going strong for a couple of months now, with all the main events featured staggered starts with runners starting one at a time in 30-second intervals. Saturday's Nozawa Trail Fes in Nagano featured groups of 30 runners starting every 3 minutes, socially distanced while in the starting corral. Between the 33 km long course, 19.5 km short course and Sunday's kids' run, about 850 people took part. Top-ranked Japanese mountain runner Ruy Ueda won the men's long course , which had 1850 m elevation difference, in 3:02:18, putting more than 16 minutes on runner-up Masato Kamishohara . National team member Yuri Yoshizumi had almost the same margin of victory in the women's long course race, running 3:28:25 to 2nd-placer Takako Takamura 's 3:44:13. Jinnosuke Omi took the men's short course in 2:01:30 by just 20 secon

Tokyo Marathon Denies It Is Looking at Going Ahead as Elite-Only Race Again in 2021

On Aug. 27 it was learned from an involved source that due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis the Tokyo Marathon Foundation is looking at holding next year's Tokyo Marathon, scheduled for Mar. 7, as an elite-only race for the second year in a row following the cancelation of this year's 38,000-runner mass participation race. A final decision is expected in early September. The Tokyo Marathon began in 2007 and has the largest field size in Japan. After the onset of the coronavirus crisis early this year the mass-participation race was canceled for the first time ever, with only the elite field running. Spectators were asked not to come out to cheer along the course. With the elite race serving as a qualifying event for the Japanese Olympic team, Suguru Osako (Nike) finished 4th overall in a new national record of 2:05:29, securing his place at the Olympics. Following the cancelation of this year's mass-participation race the Tokyo Marathon Foundation told entrants that

2021 Himeji Castle Marathon Canceled

With regard to the next running of the Himeji Castle Marathon , scheduled for Feb. 28, 2021, while it is very important to us that the race happen, in view of the continued spread of the coronavirus and in consideration of the health and safety of the runners, medical and safety personnel, volunteers, race staff and local fans along the course who together help make our event what it is every year, it is with great regret that we must announce that next year's marathon will not be held. We apologize deeply that we have to cancel the marathon for the second year in a row due to the coronavirus, and in particular we extend our apologies to everyone who had entered the 2020 race and been given priority for entry in 2021. To them, to everyone who had looked forward to the 2021 race, and to everyone involved in making the race happen, we can only ask for your understanding of the situation. Please rest assured that everyone on the priority list for 2021 will still have priority for

Kasumigaura Marathon Plans to Go Ahead Next April

On Aug. 25 the organizing committee of the 31st Kasumigaura Marathon in Tsuchiura, Ibaraki announced that they are planning for the race to take place on its regular weekend date on Apr. 18, 2021. Based on prefectural directives, the race will be held with a limited field size. A final decision as to whether it will go ahead will be made in February based on the coronavirus situation at that point. In its last running in 2019 Kasumigaura had 10,096 finishers, with thousands more in its 10 mile and 5 km divisions. source article: translated and edited by Brett Larner

Seiryo High School Team Contracts to Do Low-Oxygen Training at Local Fitness Club

Kanazawa's Seiryo High School ekiden team has signed a contract with local fitness club Aim to train in the "Hi-Arch" high-altitude simulation room at Aim's Skyship facility. Training for 30 minutes in a low-oxygen altitude training simulation room is said to produce the results of two hours' worth of regular training. With few opportunities to travel for training in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, the facility provides an efficient way for athletes to improve their fitness. Three Aim branches in Kanazawa feature the Hi-Arch room, and Seiryo is the first high school to contract for its use. At sea level the normal concentration of oxygen in the air is 21%, but in the room it is adjusted to 15%, about the same level as at 3000 m elevation. Doing aerobic training in that kind of environment increases the body's efficiency of oxygen uptake, improving endurance and making it easier for the athlete to become leaner. The Seiryo team couldn't train f

Tokyo Kokusai University Took Advantage of Online Classes to Start Summer Training Early

One of the things they say about the Hakone Ekiden is that the one who dominates the summer dominates Hakone. A rising power in the university ekiden world, Tokyo Kokusai University got its summer training camp off to an early start this year. The coronavirus crisis has forced many universities to hold classes online. The TKU ekiden team took advantage of this opportunity to attend classes from afar, heading to the Sugadaira highlands of Nagano about two weeks earlier than usual to train in the cool environment there between 1300 and 1500 m altitude. The team's athletes didn't skip out on their studies. During usual summer training they do three workouts a day, running the early morning, in the late morning, and in the afternoon. This year it's two workouts a day, one in the early morning and one in the evening. During the day they attend online classes from their wifi-equipped accommodations. In Nagano the TKU athletes travel by team bus, avoiding public transport

Some Races Aren't Canceling

It seems like the only news about Japanese road racing these days is that all the races are shutting down, already all the way until mid-March at this point. But there are a few races that have offered some hope by going ahead or planning to. The June 20  Arakawa Smile Marathon was the first one to happen since early March this year, a small amateur event along a Tokyo riverbank with a variety of distances up to 30 km. It followed up July 4 with another edition. At this point it has editions planned monthly until January , with an extra running planned in Shizuoka in October. Last weekend the Hokkaido University Ekiden also took place on a short loop course in a Sapporo park with five men's teams and four women's teams. And that's it so far. Looking forward, along with the Smile event's upcoming editions, the elite-level Okukuma Ekiden  on Oct. 4 insists that it will go ahead with its first running despite the coronavirus crisis and large-scale flood damage in

Fujitsu Corporate Team Athlete Tests Positive for Coronavirus at Hokkaido Training Camp

On Aug. 20 a spokesperson for the Fujitsu corporate team, which counts Tokyo Olympics marathon trials winner Shogo Nakamura , 27, among its members, revealed that a team member in their 20s had tested positive for the coronavirus while on a team training camp in Hokkaido. Nakamura was not part of the training camp and could not have been among those to have come in close contact with the infected athlete. According to Hokkaido officials and other sources, the infected athlete fell ill on Aug. 3. Complaining of a sore throat and of feeling tired, the athlete was found to have a fever of 37.2˚C and was taken to a hospital. The positive test result came back on Aug. 5. The athlete was hospitalized, but with only mild symptoms has already been discharged. Translator's note: Fujitsu's Naoki Tsukahara was the first high-profile athlete in Japan to test positive for the coronavirus back in March. Like this case, after being hospitalized he was later discharged without proble

Karatsu 10-Miler Canceled for First Time in 61-Year History

Amid the continued spread of the coronavirus, the 61st edition of the Karatsu 10-Mile Road Race , scheduled for Feb. 14 next year in Saga prefecture, has been canceled. According to city officials it is the first time the race has ever been canceled. The event's organizing committee met on Aug. 11 to discuss the possibility of staging the race but decided that with a large number of runners coming from across the country and the risk of spreading the virus among locals watching along the course it would not be advisable to move forward. Known for its start and finish at the municipal track and field grounds and for passing through nationally-recognized scenic areas, the Karatsu 10-Miler attracts top corporate league and collegiate runners every year. A record 1035 people entered last February's 60th anniversary edition. Translator's note: Karatsu joins the Marugame Half, Ome 30 km, Kumanichi 30 km, and nine large marathons among major events in the first quarter of 20

2021 Ehime Marathon Canceled

The Ehime Marathon has been making preparations to face the challenges presented by the spread of the novel coronavirus, but having come to the conclusion that it would not be possible to ensure the safety and well-being of runners, volunteers, medical staff, local residents and everyone else involved in the race, we have had to make the unfortunate decision to postpone next year's 59th edition by one year. We explored every option available to avoid this outcome, but the current situation and outlook moving forward are dire enough that we had no choice but to give up on holding the race this coming February. We on the organizing committee will do everything we can to hold the race in 2022. We are announcing this decision in August prior to the opening of registrations in order to minimize the inconvenience caused to participants and those who help make the race possible. Every day we see runners out training in the early morning and in the evenings. We extend our apologies

2021 Okinawa Marathon Canceled

In light of the continued development of the coronavirus crisis, the organizing committee of the 29th Okinawa Marathon scheduled for Feb. 21, 2021 has decided to postpone the race for one year out of concern for the safety and well-being of the participants and volunteers who help make our event possible, for the local spectators along the course, and for everyone else involved in the race. The new date for the 29th running will be Feb. 20, 2022. The organizing committee had explored options and began preparations for holding the race, but the following are the reality of the current situation in relation to the coronavirus: 1. Eliminating the risk of infection among 15,000 participants, staff and volunteers is not possible. 2. In the event of second and third waves of infection it would not be possible to establish adequate emergency medical services to deal with coronavirus infections, making it impossible to ensure the safety of the race. 3. Due to the nature of the maratho

Kanto Region University Women to Qualify for National Ekiden On the Track

Following the cancelation of the Kanto Region University Women's Ekiden, on Aug. 18 the Inter-University Athletic Union of Kanto announced that the teams it will send to the Oct. 25 National University Women's Ekiden will instead be chosen based on the results at a series of 5000 m track races to be held Sept. 26 at Juntendo University in Inzai, Chiba. Each team vying for Nationals will field six runners, with the four schools with the lowest combined times for their six women earning places. Due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the meet will be held without spectators. The top eight teams at last year's Nationals have already qualified for the return trip this year, among them the Kanto region programs Daito Bunka University , Nittai University and Josai University . Translator's note: This news follows the Hokkaido region holding its usual qualifying ekiden this past Saturday, the first elite-level road race in Japan since March 8. The qualifying method

Nagano Higashi Girls Regroup Under Leadership of New Ekiden Coach

After the departure of their longtime coach, top high school girls' ekiden program Nagano Higashi H.S. has regrouped and set off in pursuit of a place at Nationals. Training starts in the early morning. A highly ranked program nationally, Nagano Higashi has finished 2nd two years in a row at the National High School Ekiden, but last year the team finished only 9th. "We really tasted disappointment," said captain Kyoka Gomi . "But that disappointment is what's driving us now." This year the team's coaching staff has changed dramatically. After having developed the Nagano Higashi program into a national-level power, head coach Ryoji Tamaki departed to take over at Nittai University . Taking his place is Fumio Yokouchi , a coach with experience at the high school level elsewhere in Nagano. Coach Yokouchi is also director of the Nagano Athletics Association's promotional committee. "I'm fortunate to inherit a superb team with a group of we

Sapporo Kokusai Women and Sapporo Gakuin Men Win Hokkaido University Ekiden

The 32nd Hokkaido University Ekiden took place Aug. 15 on a 3.26 km loop course inside Sapporo's Moerenuma Park. In the six-stage, 35.86 km women's race, which served as the regional qualifier for the Oct. 25 Morinomiyako Ekiden national championships in Sendai, Sapporo Kokusai University swept all six stage bests to win in a new event record of 2:06:13. Overcoming the challenges of the coronavirus era, it was Sapporo Kokusai's fourth-straight win. Captain Reo Aoyama  lit the fuse when she took the lead on the 6.52 km First Stage. At last year's Nationals she was responsible for the First Stage but finished last in 25th, the team only managing to pull itself up to 22nd by the end of the race. "I wanted to get rid of last year's disappointment with this run and get our season off the ground with some momentum," she said. Aoyama succeeded in that goal, handing off with a margin of almost 4 minutes on 2nd place. Head coach since the team was founded,

20,000-Runner Ome 30 km Road Race Canceled

On Aug. 14 the organizers of the Ome 30 km Road Race announced that next year's 55th edition scheduled for Feb. 21 would not be held, with the next planned running bumped back one year. Organizers cited the difficulty in ensuring safety and security during the ongoing coronavirus crisis. "We have carefully discussed the situation with the different organizations involved, but given the nature of a large-scale event with 20,000 participants we decided that it would not be possible to do it in a safe and secure way at this point," they explained. The organizers are planning an alternate event. This year's race this past February was held amid concerns that it should be canceled in the midst of the initial spread of the coronavirus in Tokyo, but with measures including the use of masks and disinfectants and a ban on high-fiving it was held without incident. Tokyo Olympics women's marathon trials winner Honami Maeda (Tenmaya) won in an Asian record time of 1:38

Dec. 20 Hofu Marathon to Go Ahead On Reduced Scale

A rare bit of good news about the Japanese marathon circuit. On Aug. 12 the organizers of the Dec. 20 Hofu Yomiuri Marathon announced that they will go ahead with this year's race as planned with a limited field size. A second-tier elite race with a small mass-participation field, Hofu typically has around 3000 runners in a normal year. This year it will happen with a field size of between 400 and 450. Hofu's invited elite field is usually a dozen Japan-based male athletes. Along with them, this year's race will include around 100 men and women with Japanese Corporate League Federation registration for 2020, up to 200 male and female residents of Yamaguchi prefecture, where the race takes place, who have cleared four hours in the marathon in the last three years, and up to 100 people who live, work, or go to school in the city of Hofu and who have cleared four hours since 2017. An important race on the para sports circuit, Hofu will also accept an unspecified number of

Mizuno Issues Sole Thickness Correction to July 1 Press Release for New Wave Duel Neo Shoe

On Aug. 11 Mizuno issued corrections to  a press release originally dated July 1 announcing that its all-white prototype model containing the new Mizuno Enerzy foam was being released under the name Wave Duel Neo. On its third page the updated press release corrected specifications for the shoes' sole thickness. The company apologized for any inconvenience caused by inaccurate specifications in the previous versions of the release. On July 28, World Athletics announced new regulations governing the sole thickness of shoes used in track and field competition. The new rules specified the method by which sole thickness was to be measured. Previously, sole thickness was measured from the outsole to the midsole. The new World Athletics regulations specified that in addition to the outsole and midsole, the inner sole and insert were also to be included in measurements of thickness. In accordance with the new regulations, Mizuno amended the specifications of both the Wave Duel Neo

World Athletics' Rapid About-Face on Shoe Regulations Leaves Runners in Confusion: "It's Like They're Playing With a Stacked Deck"

On Aug. 10 World Athletics announced that revised regulations on competition footwear that it had released on July 28 had already gone into effect on that date for track events. At the time of the new regulations' announcement WA had initially said that they would take effect on Dec. 1. The regulations effectively ban the use of thick-soled shoes Nike's dominant Vaporfly and Alphafly on the track and disallow any performances run in them. WA's July 28 announcement of revised regulations was made in preparation for the postponed Tokyo Olympic Games. The new regulations specify the thickness of the sole that may be use in shoes for various disciplines, with field events apart from the triple jump and track events up to 400 m limited to 20 mm, the triple jump, track events 800 m and longer, and cross-country up to 22 mm. Nike's current models, which dominate the long distance market, have thicknesses of 36 mm for the Vaporfly and 39.5 mm for the Alphafly. The r

Ueda Dominates Tsumagoi Skyrun

2019 Skyrunner World Series men's champ Ruy Ueda won both days of the Tsumagoi Skyrun , a new trail race held in the mountains of Gunma over the weekend with 41 men and 11 women starting each race individually at 30-second intervals. In Saturday's Vertical Race , elite entrants had to do two runs up a 3.8 km trail with 600 m of climb starting at 1470 m elevation, with their final finishing ranking based on the combined times from both runs. On his first attempt Ueda clocked 23:45, beating Mt. Kosha Vertical Kilometer winner Ryunosuke Omi by almost two minutes. On his second run he went even faster, clocking 23:01 to seal up 1st with a total time of 46:46. Omi was 2nd in 50:57, with Shoma Otagiri 3rd in 52:20. Skyrunning national team member Yuri Yoshizumi took the women's race, one of the few people in the elite race not to negative split as she opened with an aggressive 30:49 only to follow up in 31:20 for a total time of 1:02:09. Mt. Kosha winner Takako Takamur

Running The Original 2020 Tokyo Olympics Marathon Course Part Two - Men's Marathon

Pre-corona, today would have been the men's marathon at the Tokyo Olympics, originally in Tokyo, then bumped off to Sapporo. For the sake of completion, for the third year in a row I ran most of the Tokyo course at the time that the race would have happened, starting at 6:00 a.m., taking temperature and humidity measurements every 30 minutes, and finishing back at the Olympic Stadium at 8:15 a.m. around the time that many of the top men would have been coming in. Like last week's run at the original time of the women's marathon, conditions today wouldn't have been a problem for anyone who had done any kind of preparation to run a summertime marathon. Counter to the forecast, which predicted sunny skies the whole way, right before the schedule start time cloud cover rolled in over the city, helping to keep temperatures down. Humidity was high, but as per the forecast the temperature actually went down over the first 90 minutes. The humidity rose in relation to th

Fukuoka Winner Hattori Does Test Run on Sapporo Olympic Course

One year before the Tokyo Olympics women's marathon, men's team member Yuma Hattori (26, Toyota) did a test run on the Olympic course in Sapporo. Hattori began at the Olympic marathon course's start point in Odori Park at 7:00 a.m., the same time the main event will kick off, looking focused, serious and silent. He seemed to concentrate on visualizing the event a year distant. After the run, in a telephone interview Hattori's coach Toshinobu Sato commented, "There are a lot of corners and a lot of tight, narrow spots. We'll have to take care about getting tripped up and falling, especially if it's a slow first half." Partway through the run Hattori's hat was blown off by strong winds caused by a cool low pressure system. "The weather is irregular," said Sato of the conditions in Sapporo. "If it's over 20˚C it'll be in the hot weather marathon category. It's not just the ordinary heat of midsummer. It's somethi

Study Finds 63.9% of Elite Japanese Track and Field Athletes Use Supplements

The degree to which elite-level Japanese track and field athletes utilize supplements has become clearer. Nearly 2/3 of athletes regularly use a supplement, with higher usage among women than men, higher usage among seniors than juniors, and higher usage in long distance than in other disciplines. Those are the findings of a paper by Shogo Tabata of the Keio University Sports Medicine Center published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Supplement usage is higher among athletes than in the general population, with some studies suggesting a typical usage level of about 60%. There are a wide variety of supplements such as vitamins and minerals, but few have clear evidence of efficacy. At the same time, some products have been known to include banned substances, creating the risk of "unintentional doping" by those who use them carelessly. Although the number of reported cases of Japanese athletes caught for doping is small, the proportion of t

National University Track and Field Championships to Go Ahead Without Spectators

Thank you for your continued support of the development of Japanese university athletics. In order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the Inter-Union Athletics Union of Japan (IUAU) is announcing that this year's 89th National University Track and Field Championships , scheduled for Sept. 11-13 at Niigata's Denka Big Swan Stadium, will not be open to spectators from the general public. As the organizers we are deeply concerned by the resurgent nationwide spread of the virus since July, and as a consequence of those circumstances we have arrived at the conclusion that the meet must be held in a closed environment. We regret that this will disappoint and cause inconvenience for all those involved, including team members, alumni and alumnae, and family members who had planned to attend in support of their athletes, but this measure is necessary in order for the meet to take place at all under the current social situation and we ask for your understanding and cooperat