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Showing posts from 2021

International Athletes at Olympic Test Event Praise COVID-19 Protocols

International athletes who competed in yesterday's Tokyo Olympics test event half marathon in Sapporo gave high marks to the event's coronavirus protocols.  Dutch athlete Bart Van Nunen  said, "The measures against COVID-19 were perfect. I didn't feel there were any problems." International athletes were not allowed to go out in public or use public transportation and were required to eat in their hotel rooms. "I felt that this just showed the kind of measures they were taking," said Van Nunen. Men's winner Hillary Kipkoech  of Kenya commented, "It was very tough with the strong wind, but the course itself was excellent." Translator's note:   In contrast to the athlete comments here, a story published on Saturday by Inside the Games  on COVID-19 countermeasures at Olympic test events this week, which for whatever reason didn't mention the marathon test event, selected only negative quotes from athletes, who were quoted as complai

Ichiyama and Kipkoech Win Sapporo Olympic Test Event Half Marathon

The test event for the Tokyo Olympics marathon went off as planned May 5 in Sapporo on a course more or less mirroring the first half of this summer's Olympic course. Strong winds from the south meant a slow start over the first 8 km, super fast splits from the turn to the north just before 10 km until after 15 km, and a technical finish into the wind over the narrow and winding last few km through the Hokkaido University campus. After a slow first km, Olympic marathon women's team members Ayuko Suzuki (Japan Post) and Mao Ichiyama  (Wacoal) plus alternate Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) took it out hard with pacing courtesy of one of Ichiyama's male coaches. They stayed together on 1:08 pace until almost 18 km before Suzuki slipped away, Ichiyama kicking to win in a 1:08:28 PB and Matsuda closing hard in 1:08:32 for 2nd, likewise a PB. Ichiyama's time moved her up to all-time Japanese #6, with Matsuda picking up the #7 spot and knocking her coach Miwako Yamanaka  out of t

Hironaka, Ando and Ito Score Olympic 10000 m Spots

20-year-old Ririka Hironaka  (Japan Post), marathoner Yuka Ando  (Wacoal) and last year's men's runner-up Tatsuhiko Ito  (Honda) joined the winners of December's 2020 National Championships 10000 m on the Tokyo Olympics team as they took the top spots at today's 2021 National Championships 10000 m in Shizuoka. Hironaka, who debuted over the distance three weeks ago with a 31:30.03, Ando and Kenyan pacer Tabitha Njeri Kamau  (Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) were all about the 31:25.00 Olympic standard, going out on sub-31 pace and burning off all competition, including Kamau. Hironaka took 1st in 31:11.75 with Ando next in 31:18.18, each of them clearing the JAAF's two criteria for Olympic selection, finishing in the top three and hitting the standard, to join 2020 winner Hitomi Niiya  (Sekisui Kagaku) on the Olympic team. No other women broke 32 minutes, 2021 National University Half Marathon champion Narumi Kobayashi  (Meijo Univ.) running 32:08.45, the 8th-fastest Japanese

10000 m National Championships Start Lists

The 10000 m component of this year's National Track and Field Championships happens Monday night in Shizuoka, just 5 months after the rescheduled 2020 edition. One spot each on the men's and women's 10000 m squads for the Tokyo Olympics 10000 m are already occupied by the winners of those races, and to pick up one of the two remaining spots this time around people will need to have the Olympic standard and make top 3.  Tatsuhiko Ito  (Honda), runner-up in December in 27:25.73, is the only one of the 44 Japanese men entered to have already cleared the 27:28.00 standard, so all he needs to worry about is putting himself among the first three. His nearest competition, Daiji Kawai  (Toenec) and  Tetsuya Yoroizaka  (Asahi Kasei), will need to find another 7 or 8 seconds to have have a shot. None of the 23 Japanese women entered has cleared the 31:25.00 standard, but Ririka Hironaka  (Japan Post) came close in her debut last month in 31:30.03 and, along with sub-31:30 runner Ha

Olympic Marathon Trials Winner Nakamura Scratches from Wednesday's Test Event

On May 1 the organizers of the May 5 Sapporo Marathon Festival 2020 Olympic marathon test event announced that Tokyo Olympics men's marathon trials winner Shogo Nakamura  (Fujitsu) has withdrawn from the half marathon. According to Fujitsu, Nakamura is experiencing some pain on the inside of his left foot. A statement on the team's official website stated, "He is currently recovering and expects to get back to training next week." Nakamura had been schedule to run February's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon but withdrew due to tendonitis issues in his left leg. His withdrawal from the Olympic test event marks his second-straight DNS. The Olympic test event half marathon covers a large section of the course for this summer's Olympic marathon. Olympic team members scheduled to compete include men's marathoner Yuma Hattori  (Toyota) and all three members of the women's marathon squad, Honami Maeda  (Tenmaya), Ayuko Suzuki  (Japan Post) and Mao Ichiyama  (Waco

Douglas Wakiihuri Awarded Medal of Honor for Bridging Divide Between Japan and Kenya

Former marathon runner Douglas Wakiihuri  has been awarded Japan's Spring Medal of Honor, an award recognizing individuals who have make exceptional contributions to Japanese society and become role models. Japan has produced a lot of distance runners, but Wakiihuri was the first Kenyan to pass through the Japanese development system.  His contributions to the sports and cultural exchange between Japan and Kenya are held in high esteem. Speaking in fluent Japanese from his home in Nairobi, an ebullient Wakiihuri said, "I am very happy. I owe a longstanding debt to everyone in Japan. The joy I feel is not just mine, but belongs to all of them. I am truly grateful."  Wakiihuri joined the S&B corporate team in 1983. "I was just 19 years old," he recalls. "Japan gave me a chance." Under the leadership of the late coach Kiyoshi Nakamura , Wakiihuri won the gold medal in the marathon at the 1987 Rome World Championships and the silver medal at the 1988

Meet, Youth, Collegiate and National Records - Oda Memorial Meet Highlights

The 55th Oda Memorial Meet went off as scheduled Thursday in Hiroshima with off and on rain leaving a wet track for most of the day.  In the women's 5000 m,  Teresia Muthoni  (Daiso) set a meet record 15:06.76 for the win, with runner-up Naomi Muthoni  (Univ. Ent.) the only other runner under the Olympic standard at 15:08.07. Japan-based Kenyans took five of the top six positions. Kazuna Kanetomo  (Kyocera) won the B-heat in 15:55.24. Kenyans swept the top three spots in the men's 5000 m A-heat, with local high schooler Cosmas Mwangi  (Sera H.S.) taking 1st in 13:22.80. Keita Sato (Rakunan H.S.), who turned 17 in January, was 4th in 13:42.50, the 4th-best time ever by a Japanese high schooler and over 3 seconds under the previous U18 national record. The men's 3000 m also turned out high-level results, with Keisuke Morita (Komori Corp.) leading the top six under 8:00 in a meet record 7:53.01. Another meet record came in the women's 3000 m steeplechase, with collegiat

September's Tango 100 km Canceled

Having examined measures for dealing with the risk of coronavirus exposure, the Tango 100 km Ultramarathon was in preparation to take place this coming September. But with no end to the pandemic in sight, the spread of variant strains of the virus, and the lack of any timetable for vaccinations prior to the race date having been made public, we believe that it would not be possible to guarantee the safety and security of the runners, volunteers, race staff and other parties during the entire event. As such we have decided to cancel this year's race. We extend our sincere apologies to everyone who had been looking forward to returning to the Tango Ultramarathon after its cancelation last year, and we ask for your understanding of why we have had to cancel it for the second year in a row. We will work hard to create a safe and secure environment for the 2022 race and can't wait to welcome  you back to run the Tango 100 km Ultramarathon then.  Although the race is being canceled,

Yamanaka Runs Steeplechase World Leader in Hyogo - Weekend Track Roundup

Even as several big races and meets canceled amid new states of emergency being declared across the country, two big two-day meets went off as planned this weekend. At Kobe's Hyogo Relay Carnival , Yuno Yamanaka  (Ehime Ginko) ran a world-leading 6:19.55 to win the women's 2000 m steeplechase. Both Yamanaka and runner-up Yui Yabuta  (Otsuka Seiyaku) bettered Yabuta's old national best in the little-raced distance, Yabuta more than 7 seconds under her old mark in 6:20.37. The national best mark also fell in the men's 2000 m steeplechase, with 2019's 3000 mSC national champion Ryohei Sakaguchi  (SGH Group) clipping almost 2 seconds off the old mark in 5:29.89. In the women's 5000 m, 2021 national university half marathon champion Narumi Kobayashi  (Meijo Univ.) the only woman to break 16 minutes at 15:57.87. Aoyama Gakuin University  runners took the top three spots in the men's 5000 m, new recruits Masaya Tsurekawa  and Aoi Ota  going 1-2 in 13:55.77 and 13:

Olympic Track and Field Test Event Likely to be Held Without Spectators

Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games Organizing Committee head Seiko Hashimoto  held a press conference in Tokyo on Apr. 23. Tokyo is set to issue a declaration of a new state of emergency which will run from Apr. 25 until May 11.  With regard to the declaration's impact on the May 9 Tokyo Olympics track and field test event at the new Olympic Stadium, Hashimoto commented, "It is still under discussion with relevant parties, but it is likely to be held without spectators. At this and other test events during this period we have to take stronger countermeasures against the coronavirus than ever before. We will do everything we can to ensure that test events go ahead in a way that prioritizes safety and security." source article: translated by Brett Larner

Marathon Great Seko's Son Dies of Hodgkin Lymphoma at Age 34

Subaru Seko , eldest son of JAAF marathon development project leader and former athlete Toshihiko Seko , died of Hodgkin lymphoma on Apr. 13. He was 34. The family announced the news on Apr. 16. They plan to hold a private family funeral led by the elder Seko. The younger Seko was diagnosed in 2012. In March this year he published a book titled, "Leading the Cancer Marathon - Paced by the Crazy Seko Family!" giving an honest look inside his and the Seko family's eight-year struggle against the illness. In a statement the elder Seko said, "Nothing could be more worthy of respect in the eyes of his parents than how he never stopped trying to give courage to others suffering from the same disease he himself was battling. It's my hope that he can now rest peacefully." source article: translated by Brett Larner

Mass-Participation Race at Olympic Test Event to be Canceled

In an interview with a source involved in the situation, on Apr. 15 it was learned that the mass-participation 10 km race planned to take place May 5 in Sapporo, Hokkaido as part of the Sapporo Marathon Festival Olympic test event is to be canceled. The official decision is expected soon. The half marathon Olympic test event, a half marathon on the Olympic course with around 160 elite participants, is still scheduled to go ahead. 2500 amateur runners had been entered in the 10 km, which covered one lap of the 10 km northern half of the course for this summer's Olympic marathon. In response to the increasing numbers of cases of infection with variants of the coronavirus, city and prefectural officials have extended their policy of asking residents of Sapporo to refrain from going out unnecessarily and from traveling to and from other area until May 14. As the Sapporo Marathon Festival's date fell within this period, the decision was made to cancel the mass-participation race. T

Yugeta Betters Own 60+ World Record

Women's 60+ marathon world record holder Mariko Yugeta , 62, bettered her 2:52:13 record Saturday at Tokyo's Itabashi Trial Marathon . Part of the Trial Marathon Series, a nationwide series of professionally-operated uncertified micro-races that has popped up during the coronavirus pandemic, the Itabashi Trial Marathon covered almost 17 laps of a flat 2.5 km course along the Arakawa River on Tokyo's northern border.  Yugeta went out at just under 4:00/km, going through halfway in 1:24:04 and making it to 30 km in 2:00:08 before her pace started to slip. Ultimately she ran 2:52:01, 1st among the 21 female finishers and 14th overall . "That's it for marathons for this season," she told JRN post-race. "I didn't make it to sub-2:50, but I'll be training hard to go for it at the Tokyo Marathon this fall." text and photo © 2021 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Sato Breaks 1500 m U18 National Record - Weekend Track Roundup

It was a busy weekend on the track across Japan. At Saturday's Kanaguri Memorial Meet  in Kumamoto, the biggest news came in the men's 1500 m where 17-year-old Keita Sato (Rakunan H.S.) ran 3:40.36, a new U18 national record, the 2nd-fastest ever by a Japanese high schooler, and 3rd-fastest-ever U20 mark. Sato took 4th after leading the first three laps, with two of the three people who finished ahead of him going under 3:40. Winner Kazuki Kawamura (Toenec) broke into the all-time Japanese top ten at 3:38.83 and Keisuke Morita (Komori Corp.) was 2nd in 3:39.37. Steeplechase specialist Kazuya Shiojiri  (Fujitsu) followed up his 10000 m win last month in Nobeoka with a 5000 m PB at Kanaguri, dropping a Kenyan trio led by Justus Kevasa  (Honda) for the win in 13:22.80. A total of thirteen people broke 13:40 across heats. Joan Kipkemoi  (Kyudenko) led Japan-based Africans to sweep the top five spots in the women's 5000 m in 15:30.45, with Ethiopian Burka Desta  (Denso) taki

25-Year-Old Kyohei Hosoya Targeting Paris Olympics Marathon

It's a fast new world in Japanese men's marathoning, and one of its exciting new stars comes to it straight out of Kyushu. His name is Kyohei Hosoya  (25, Kurosaki Harima). In just his second marathon he ran 2:06:35 for 3rd at February's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon , ranking him at all-time Japanese #6. In college he was mostly sidelined with injury, but since joining the corporate leagues his abilities have come into full flower. Now, with the 2024 Paris Olympics in his sights, he's poised to make another great leap forward. When the race in Lake Biwa began Hosoya was just an unknown 25-year-old, but when he hit the finish line he'd inked his name on the list of top candidates for the Paris Olympics. What once was just a dream is now a realistic goal. "I'd had some vague hopes before about representing Japan," he said, "but now that feeling is burning bright."  Someone who has been involved with Hosoya's athletic career had often told hi

Rio Olympian Satoru Sasaki Joins Asia University Coaching Staff

Aiming to make it back to the Hakone Ekiden for the first time in 12 years, on Apr. 6 Asia University held a press conference in Tokyo to announce the addition of Rio Olympics marathoner Satoru Sasaki , 35, to its coaching staff. "I can feel that expectations of me are very high," Sasaki said. "But it's my hope that I can use that as fuel in helping get Asia back to Hakone." Having retired after last December's Fukuoka International Marathon, Sasaki joined the staff at Asia, the 2006 Hakone champion, on Apr. 1 at the start of the academic year. After leaving the Asahi Kasei  corporate team and relocating from its base in Nobeoka, Miyazaki, Sasaki moved into the team dormitory on Apr. 2 to start living with the athletes. "There are a lot of student athletes here who are running very well, and the times they are chasing in training are high quality," he commented on his impressions of the current Asia team. "What's left is to think with the

High School 5000 m NR Holder Kosuke Ishida Enters Toyo University

Toyo University 's entrance ceremonies for the 2021-22 academic year took place Apr. 6 in Tokyo. Kosuke Ishida , the 5000 m high school boys' national record holder with a best of 13:34.74, was among the incoming first-years. He will be guided by head coach  Toshiyuki Sakai , 44, who at Toyo previously coached 10000 m national record holder Akira Aizawa , former half marathon and marathon national record holder Yuta Shitara , Tokyo Olympics marathon team member Yuma Hattori , 2:06:45 marathoner Ryu Takaku  and many other top-level talents. Through a statement issued by the university, Ishida said that he is aiming to make to the 5000 m at the 2024 Paris Olympics during his senior year. "This spring I've entered Toyo University," Ishida wrote. "The reason I chose Toyo University is that I want to become a world-class athlete, and I wanted head coach Toshiyuki Sakai to help me get there. My goals while a student at Toyo are to make the 5000 m at the 2024 Olymp

7,000 Protest Hokkaido University Banning Student Athletes from Competing While Letting Olympic Marathon Test Event Happen on Campus

Last November, as a measure to combat the spread of the coronavirus Hokkaido University  issued a policy banning all student athletes belonging to the university's sports teams from taking part in competitions. Students at the university are now growing more vocal in their opposition to the decision, saying, "It's way too strict compared to other universities." Students are very upset that the May 5 Sapporo Marathon Festival Olympic marathon test event, which goes through the Hokkaido University campus and will include a mass-participation race, will go ahead, saying, "It makes no sense to let the Olympic test race happen on campus while at the same time banning all students from taking part in any competition." Student leaders will deliver a petition with 7,000 signatures on Apr. 7 demanding a relaxation of the ban on competing. "If you don't race against the top athletes in the country then you can't get your racing sense back," said a m

Sendai International Half Marathon Canceled Again

As a result of the resurgent spread of the coronavirus in Miyagi prefecture, the organizers of the Sendai International Half Marathon announced on Apr. 5 that this year's race, which had been scheduled to take place on a reduced scale in May, has been canceled. An official announcement is due later today. It is the second year in a row that the race has been canceled. Entrants will receive commemorative goods by mail at a later date. Details on refunds of entry fees will be posted on the event website once they have been finalized. In normal years the race is a major event, drawing over 10,000 people from across the country to run through the fresh green streets of the city of trees.  This year's race had been scheduled to have only 4,000, one of the countermeasures planned against the spread of the coronavirus. But with Miyagi prefecture currently leading Japan in number of new infections per capita, most of them in Sendai, the decision was made to cancel. Miyagi was one of t

Ushida and Nakano Win Ome Takamizu Trail Race Long Course, Wilberforce and Koshi Take Short Course Titles

After being canceled last year in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, the Ome Takamizu International Trail Run, one of the most popular trail races in the Tokyo area, returned Sunday for its 23rd edition. Beating the rain that hit the mountainous region of far western Tokyo later in the day, 40-year-old  Miki Ushida  won the men's 32 km long course race by over five minutes in 2:12:29. Women's winner  Sachi Nakano  was even more dominant, winning by more than eight minutes in 3:00:20. A total of 722 people finished the long course race which started in waves of fifty. The men's 19 km short course race was closer, with Tokyo-based British runner  Gary Wilberforce  outrunning local  Koichi Shimazaki  by 27 seconds for the win in 1:01:02. Women's winner  Rieko Koshi , 41, had what was probably the run of the day, placing 9th overall in 1:13:55 and more than eleven minutes ahead of runner-up  Reika Kijima . 681 people finished the short course race, which like the

'Fukuoka Here's to You' Bob Hodge , 5th at the Fukuoka International Marathon in 1982, wrote about the announcement that the race will be discontinued after its 75th running in December this year.

November 21 Kobe Marathon Will Not Accept International Entries

In normal years a World Athletics silver label race with a field of 20,000, the Kobe Marathon has announced that it plans to go ahead with its tenth running on Nov. 21, 2021 with a full-sized field. In contrast to the Tokyo Marathon, which recently announced that it will hold its next running in October and will accept entries from abroad, Kobe will limit its event to residents of Japan and will not accept either mass-participation or elite athletes from abroad, citing the risk from the ongoing coronavirus crisis. It's too early to say whether this announcement has implications for whether the Fukuoka International Marathon two weeks later will be open to international entries for its final running . Fukuoka International typically accepts entries in September, and if they follow last year's process then if Japan's borders are not open at that time then they will not take international entries. The Kobe Marathon's entries open in June. Read Kobe's full announcemen

5,000 Runners Arriving Safely Home from Nagoya, Japan Gives Hope to Runners and Organizers Worldwide

a press release from the Nagoya Women's Marathon organizers - Nagoya Women’s Marathon was the first mass participation event in Japan since the Covid-19 pandemic started  - Organisers implemented a range of measures to prevent the spread and transmission of Covid-19  - 2 weeks after the event, which welcomed 4,704 runners in the marathon, there are no reports of Covid-19 infection or suspected cases  The Nagoya Women’s Marathon 2021 , the largest women’s marathon in the world and a World Athletics Platinum Label road race, was held on Sunday, March 14, 2021 as the first mass participation road race to be held in Japan since the Covid-19 pandemic started. From top elite athletes to general runners, a total of 4,704 women runners participated in the race and had a joy of running on the city streets of Nagoya. Another 4,052 ran the accompanying half marathon. To prevent the spread and transmission of Covid-19, various measures were taken at all event sites throughout the event peri

Ishihara Breaks Into 3000 m All-Time Top Three - Weekend Track Highlights

With the Japanese academic and fiscal year ending Wednesday, this year saw one last blowout with decently competitive track time trial meets across the country. At the Asahi Kasei  corporate team's home track in Nobeoka , 2016 Rio Olympics steepler Kazuya Shiojiri  (Fujitsu) led five men under the 28:16.00 B-standard for May's 10000 m National Championships, winning in 28:09.10. Olympic marathon team alternate Shohei Otsuka  (Kyudenko) had a bad day of it, off the back in the first lap and finishing last in 29:55.91. Keijiro Mogi  (Asahi Kasei) led start to finish in the slower heat to win in 28:48.58. In suburban Tokyo, National University Ekiden and Hakone Ekiden champ Komazawa University  dominated the fast races at the Setagaya Time Trials meet. Komazawa's Takumi Karasawa  won the 5000 m A-heat in 13:40.90, with teammate Mebuki Suzuki  bouncing back from qualifying for the World University Games half marathon two weeks ago to win the 3000 m A-heat in 8:01.83. One of

2021 Fukuoka International Marathon to Be Its Final Running

It has been learned that the Fukuoka International Marathon , a longtime fixture on Fukuoka's December streets, will be discontinued after this year's race. A classic event long given official World Athletics certified status, 2021 will be the race's 75th edition.  According to a source involved with the organization, the JAAF, which is in charge of the event, made the decision that this year would be Fukuoka's last. Reasons cited for the decision include a loss of sponsors and the high cost of producing the television broadcast. The Fukuoka International Marathon has long been known as one of the fastest courses in the world and has been home to many famous athletes . The JAAF plans to make an official announcement of the historic event's termination soon. Translator's note: Following the end of the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon last month, Fukuoka International is the last of the purely elite-only men's marathons left in Japan. Lake Biwa will be incorporated

Juntendo Wins First National Mixed-Gender University Ekiden

The 1st National Mixed-Gender University Invitational Ekiden took place Sunday in Nagai Park, Osaka. The first combined women's and men's team competition on the university ekiden circuit and featuring a six-stage, 20.0 km course, the new event aims to improve development for collegiate middle and long-distance running. Juntendo University  was the new event's first champion, taking the win in 1:01:53. Kyoto Sangyo University  was 36 seconds back in 2nd, with Nittai University  3rd another 15 seconds behind. Osaka University  was the top finisher among public schools, 9th overall in 1:04:42. The race's format saw men passing the tasuki to women and the women on to men. In their first experience of a mixed ekiden Juntendo's Hakone Ekiden team members Sodai Shimizu  and Tatsuya Iyoda  showed their strength despite the rain, the 4th-year Shimizu handling the 3.0 km opening leg and 2nd-year Iyoda the 5.0 km Third Stage. The team's captain, Shimizu smiled as he sai