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Showing posts from October, 2020

National University Men's Ekiden Preview

Ekiden season got off to a rocky start with the cancelation of high-level races like the Izumo Ekiden and East Japan Women's Ekiden. But with the Hakone Ekiden Qualifier and National Corporate Women's Ekiden Qualifier two weeks ago and last weekend's National University Women's Ekiden all going off without any corona-related problems, fears that the whole season would go the way of marathon season have pretty well calmed down. Tomorrow is the next big race, and it's one of the biggest, the National University Men's Ekiden . 25 of the top teams from across the national will compete over eight stages adding up to 106.8 km between Nagoya and Mie, the shortest leg the race's first at 9.5 km and the longest the 19.7 km anchor stage. TV Asahi will be broadcasting the whole thing live starting at 7:45 a.m. Sunday Japan time and running until 13:40. It doesn't look like there's an official live stream, but there are options like ,  iTVer , and 

'Rupp Clocks U.S. 10-Mile Record En Route to Half Marathon Victory' 5000 m and marathon national record holder Suguru Osako (Nike) was just 3 seconds off his PB on a certified course and 15 seconds off his unofficial best at 1:01:16 for 2nd. Winner  Galen Rupp  (Nike) was 11 seconds off the Japanese 15 km national record of 42:36 and 14 seconds off the Japanese 10-mile NR of 45:40.

Kagawa Prefecture Qualifier for National High School Ekiden Moved Due to Invasion of Wild Boars

On Oct. 30 the Kagawa Prefecture High School Sports Association announced that the prefectural qualifying race for December's National High School ekiden, originally scheduled for Nov. 1 in Bannosu Park in Sakaide, has been moved to Yashima Rexxam Field in Takamatsu and rescheduled to the 3rd due to an invasion of wild boars at Bannosu Park. The prefectural qualifying ekiden is held every year on a course starting at Bannosu Park, but on Oct. 28 city officials closed the park when the boars were discovered there. The Prefecture High School Sports Association made the decision to move and reschedule the race in order to ensure the safety of the participating athletes. The rescheduled race will be run on the 400 m track at Yashima Rexxam Field. Each stage will have one start for all its runners, with the team's time being determined by the sum of the individual times. Girls will run five legs totaling roughly 21 km, while boys will run seven legs totaling approximately 42 km. Due

2021 Lake Biwa Marathon to Go Ahead Feb. 28 With International Field

With race after race canceling or postponing, this week the organizers of the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon announced plans for next year's 76th running to go ahead on Feb. 28, 2021. A week earlier that its traditional date due to the Tokyo Marathon's move to March, the planned date comes with the caveat that, "depending on the future situation with regard to COVID-19, there may be changes to the race's operation, including the possibility of cancelation."  But with that said, it looks like the organizers plan no additional restrictions on their event's field beyond the normal qualifying times and requirement for national federation approval. In that past that has typically meant a field of under 200 finishers from Japan and abroad. For the domestic field, with no Beppu-Oita or Tokyo Marathon there's sure to be record-setting depth. as between Beppu-Oita, Tokyo and Lake Biwa this year 29 men went sub-2:10 and 50 sub-2:12. For international men, if it actu

Takaku, Hattori and Fujimoto Headline Fukuoka International Marathon

  With strict limitations on immigration still a reality in Japan, the Dec. 6 Fukuoka International Marathon has announced an almost entirely domestic field of less than 100 that includes only five Japan-based foreign-born athletes plus an all-Japan-based Kenyan pacing crew led by Bedan Karoki (Toyota). Not that the field is hurting for quality. Ryu Takaku (Yakult), 2:06:45 in Tokyo this year, 2018 Fukuoka winner and Tokyo Olympics marathon team member Yuma Hattori (Toyota), and  Taku Fujimoto (Toyota), a bump up to the 2019 Fukuoka winner's position pending after the subsequent suspension of the Moroccan who crossed the line first for biological passport violations, make up the front end of a field that includes eleven current sub-2:10 men and seven of last year's top ten. Hattori has said publicly that he'll be going for Suguru Osako 's 2:05:29 national record, and with pacing support from teammates Karoki and Fujimoto, his former Toyo University teammate Taka

Meijo University Women Break Morinomiyako Ekiden Course Record for Fourth-Straight National Title

Three-time defending Morinomiyako Ekiden champion Meijo University made it four in a row, leading Sunday's National University Women's Ekiden almost start to finish to break its own year-old course record by over a minute and a half. Rival Ritsumeikan University 's leading runner Rinka Hida was the only one to spoil Meijo's party, dropping Meijo's Yuna Wada to win the 6.6 km First Stage by 8 seconds. But on the next stage Yuma Yamamoto put Meijo out front, and with its next three runners all winning their stages, two in stage record time including an impressive 29:14 for the 9.2 km Fifth Stage by 10000 m national collegiate champ Rika Kaseda , its lead only grew. Anchor Tomomi Musembi Takamatsu was 2nd-fastest on her stage, but with a lead of nearly a kilometer she was never in danger of getting caught as she broke the tape in 2:02:57, a full 1:37 under the record for the 6-stage, 38.1 km course that it set last year. Road records might not be worth what the

National University Women's Ekiden Preview

Some of its major events have been canceled, but championship ekiden keeps moving forward. This weekend it's the Morinomiyako Ekiden , the national university women's championships , with 25 teams from around the country 38.1 km in six stages around Sendai. In some ways the national distribution of the top end of the field is more interesting than at next month's National University Ekiden, where schools from the Tokyo-centered Kanto Region dominate the eight-deep podium every year. Since Matsuyama University broke Ritsumeikan University 's near monopoly on the national title in 2016 Meijo University has come up to take Ritsumeikan's place as the top program in collegiate women's long distance, winning Morinomiyako in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Meijo comes to Sendai as the favorite again, with Tomomi Musembi Takamatsu  having won the 1500 m at September's National University Championships and Rika Kaseda taking the 10000 m. Many of its best runners turned in

2021 Sakura Marathon Canceled

With no end in sight to the coronavirus crisis, in the interests of the health and safety of local residents, runners and volunteers, we have made the decision to postpone the 40th anniversary edition of the Sakura Asahi Kenko Marathon scheduled for Mar. 28, 2021.  The organizing committee has carefully studied the options available for the event, but having come to the conclusion that the current circumstances would make it difficult to recruit adequate volunteer and medical personnel, and that the characteristics of a marathon would make it nearly impossible to avoid the kind of crowds associated with elevated risk of transmitting the virus, we have decided not to stage the race in the coming year. The next edition of the marathon is instead planned for Mar. 27, 2022 when we will be able to provide the kind of hospitality runners have come to expect from the Sakura Asahi Kenko Marathon. We sincerely apologize to everyone who had been looking forward to our race and thank you for y

'NAZ Elite Team Runs Away With Win in First Michigan Pro Ekiden' Michigan Pro Ekiden Utica, Michigan, U.S.A., 21 Oct. 2020 7 teams, 6 stages, 42.2 km complete results Team Results 1. Northern Arizone Elite - 2:10:11 2. Hansons ODP A - 2:12:08 3. Minnesota Distance Elite - 2:12:51 4. Roots Running Project - 2:13:03 5. TEAM Boulder - 2:14:20 6. Hansons ODP B - 2:15:06 DNF - Atlanta Track Club Top Individual Stage Performances First Stage (10 km, men) 1. Tyler Day (NAZ) - 28:44 2. Zach Panning (Hansons A) - 28:58 3. Frank Lara (Roots) - 29:26 Sccond Stage   (6.1 km, women) 1. Lauren Paquette (NAZ) - 19:35 2. Anne-Marie Blaney (Hansons A) - 19:45 3. Maggie Montoya (Roots) - 19:53 Third Stage   (5 km, men) 1. Shadrack Biwott (Hansons B) - 14:41 2. Rory Linkletter (NAZ) - 14:48 3. Ben Kendell (Hansons A) - 14:56 Fourth Stage  ( 10 km, women) 1. Annie Frisbie (MDE) - 32:35 2. Kellyn Taylor (NAZ) - 33:05 3. Amy Davis (Hansons B) - 33:19 Fifth Stage   (6.1 km, men) 1. Jake Riley

Ueda and Kinoshita Win Ultra Skyrunning National Titles

by Takuya Fujii The Shiga Kogen Extreme Trail 2020 race took place in Nagano's Shiga Highlands this weekend. I was there working as the official timing director. The pro trail runner Takuya Yamada  organizes this event, which winds through the mountains at around 2000 m above sea level. Over the course of the weekend four different race distances were held, the 54 km long course, the 32 km middle course, the 8 km short course, and a kids' race. The 54 km long course has a total climb of 2850 m. Under the direction of the Japan Skyrunning Association (JSA), this year's event was held as the National Skyrunning Championships. The 54 km long course served as the "Ultra" skyrunning National Championships, with the 32 km middle course division designated the "Sky" skyrunning National Championships. The start and finish of each race was located at the Mt. Yokote Ski Resort. Timing mats were positioned on the ground there. The 54 km long course division start

New Rules to Stop Struggling Athletes Applied at Princess Ekiden

The qualifying race for the Nov. 22 National Corporate Women's Ekiden took place Oct. 18 in Munakata, Fukuoka , with Sekisui Kagaku winning the six-stage, 42.195 km race for the second year in a row in 2:17:03 and the top fourteen teams qualifying. Two-time national champion Daiichi Seimei 's 21-year qualification streak was broken as it finished 15th. As the first national-level road race to take place since the start of the coronavirus crisis, teams were asked not to have their cheering squads along the course and other COVID countermeasures were put in place. On the ekiden's 7.0 km opening stage, Kako Okada , an athlete with the Kyocera team, collapsed less than 100 m from the first exchange zone and was unable to continue. Okada went into full-body convulsions and on-site medical staff called an ambulance. Hearing the news from the First Stage supervisor, the race's chief referee quickly made the decision to officially stop Okada. Two years ago another athlete su

Aizawa Goes Sub-28, Suzuki Returns - Weekend Track Review

Elite road racing returned to Japan this weekend with Saturday's Hakone Ekiden qualifier and Sunday's National Corporate Women's Ekiden qualifier , but there was still a load of track action at every level. Saturday in Miyazaki, one of the stars of this year's Hakone Ekiden, Akira Aizawa made his corporate debut for New Year Ekiden national champ team Asahi Kasei with a 27:55.78 win in the Miyazaki Time Trials 10000 m, his first time going sub-28. His former Toyo University teammate Kazuya Nishiyama was 2nd in 28:03.94, the best time by a Japanese collegiate student so far this year. Asahi Kasei had eleven men in the race under 29 minutes including Rio Olympics marathoner Satoru Sasaki , putting them in good position for another national title defense come Jan. 1. Kyoto's Ritsumeikan University had three men under 29, setting them up as a threat to the Kanto Region's monopoly on the podium at the Nov. 1 National University Men's Ekiden.  Defending co

Sekisui Kagaku Wins Second-Straight Princess Ekiden

In the first major road race held on public roads in Japan since the coronavirus crisis began, the Sekisui Kagaku team won its second-straight Princess Ekiden Sunday in Munakata, Fukuoka to lead the qualifiers for November's National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships. 25 km national record holder Sayaka Sato took things out with a 22:22 CR for the 7.0 km First Stage, setting up a lead that last year's double 800 m and 1500 m national champ Ran Urabe held onto despite only running the third-fastest time on her 3.6 km leg. Urabe handed off to half marathon NR holder Hitomi Niiya , who took an incredible 1:15 off the record for the 10.7 km Third Stage. Niiya's time of 32:43 equated to 30:35 for 10 km, well under the track 10000 m NR, and singlehandedly took Sekisui Kagaku from a 10 second lead to 1:58 out front. Sekisui Kagaku's last three runners had it relatively easy, none of them in the top 8 on their stages but anchor Chikako Mori bringing them home saf

18-Year-Old Miura Breaks Osako's U20 Half Marathon Record to Lead Juntendo University to Hakone Ekiden Qualifier Win

Cold rain couldn't hold back the fast times at Saturday's Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai half marathon, the qualifying race for January's Hakone Ekiden university men's championships and the first major elite-level road race held in Japan during the coronavirus era. Held on a 2.6 km loop around an airbase runway in western Tokyo's Tachikawa suburb, 46 university teams from the greater Tokyo area fielded teams of 10 to 12 runners at the Yosenkai, with each team's 10 fast men scoring and the 10 fastest teams joining the top 10 from this year's Hakone Ekiden to make up the field for next year's Hakone. Temperatures at the start were 12˚C, and with the rain letting up just before the gun conditions were actually pretty good through the first half of the race. Last year's runner-up Vincent Raimoi (Kokushikan Univ.) took an all-Kenyan lead quartet out hard on sub-60 pace, going through 5 km in 14:05 and 10 km in 28:14 before slowing as the rain returned in the

2021 Kagoshima Marathon Canceled

We have studied a variety of options for staging the 2021 Kagoshima Marathon , but with no end to the coronavirus crisis in sight we have come to the unfortunate conclusion, in light of the need to ensure the safety of the runners, event staff and local residents, that it would not be possible to hold the race as planned and that it must be canceled for the second year in a row. We sincerely pray for a swift end to the crisis and that we can once again hold the Kagoshima Marathon as a safe event that will delight runners and locals alike. We will be working hard to make that a reality. With regard to priority entry for those who were entered to run in 2020, we are still studying how we might move forward with improved coronavirus measures in the future, including examining the field size, and do not have a clear answer at this point. We will post that information as soon as it has been determined and thank you for your patience until then. We are planning to hold events including a run

Princess Ekiden Preview

National championship ekiden season looks like it's going to mostly happen, and this will be the first full weekend of qualifying action for the winter's main events. Following Saturday's Hakone Ekiden qualifier is Sunday's Princess Ekiden , the qualifying race for the Nov. 22 National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships. This is the first major ekiden to be held on public streets during the coronavirus era, so there is a lot of attention, good and bad, to how it goes and the organizers have banned cheering groups from the different teams in the race and asked fans not to come cheer along the course. It's a test drive to see how the rest of championship season will go to be sure. Last year's top 8 teams at Nationals are guaranteed the return trip this year, The top 14 teams at the Princess Ekiden will qualify to join them, and with 28 teams entered following scratches from Aichi Denki and Daiso that means a decently competitive race to make it. Last yea

Hakone Ekiden Qualifier Happening Saturday

One of the questions floating around during the coronavirus crisis is what it meant for Japan's biggest sporting event, the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden university men's championships. People have been holding their breath as one major race after another, not least of all the university men's season-opening Izumo Ekiden, has canceled. But they can breathe a little easier now as the Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai , its qualifying half marathon, is set to go ahead this Saturday. At the Yosenkai 46 university men's teams field 10 to 12 runners apiece, with each school's first ten finishers scoring and the top ten teams going on to join the top ten from last year's Hakone to make up the back half of the twenty-deep 2021 Hakone field. There's really nothing else like it. The announcement ceremony is the most dramatic moment in the sport. If you've ever been there for it, you know it's true. This year things will be a bit different. The race will have its usual start on