Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2021

Kengo Suzuki 2:04:56 National Record to Win Final Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon

Set to be absorbed into the mass-participation Osaka Marathon as its elite men's field next year the same way the old Tokyo International Marathon was swallowed whole by the Tokyo Marathon, the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon wrapped its 76 years as a freestanding event with a bang, a big one, Sunday in Otsu.  Everything was on. The conditions were good, light clouds, 7˚C, 57% humidity and light breezes at the start. The field was good, 24 men having run sub-2:10 in the last three years and 52 sub-2:12. The pacing was good, the lead trio of pacers hitting almost every split within a couple of seconds of the target 2:58/km and the second group pacers even closer to the 3:00/km target. The shoes were good, across brands. 30 or so people went out on pace to go under the 2:05:29 national record in the first group, with what looked like about a hundred on mid-2:06 pace in the second group. Everything went smoothly and steadily, nature taking its course and whittling down both groups until

Hagitani and Miura Win Senior Titles at National XC Championships

  20-year-old Kaede Hagitani  (Edion) and the just-turned-19 Ryuji Miura (Juntendo Univ.) took the senior titles at the 2021 National Cross-Country Championships Saturday in Fukuoka. Hagitani ran away with it, outclassing a tight chase trio to win the Senior Women's 8 km by 26 seconds in 25:54. High schooler Miku Sakai  (Kitakyushu Municipal H.S.) was an impressive 2nd in 26:20.  Like Sakai opting for the senior race, Miura, the U20 national record holder for 3000 m steeplechase and half marathon, had a tougher race on his hands in the Senior Men's 10 km, just getting two-time 5000 m national champion Hiroki Matsueda  (Fujitsu) at the line for the win in 29:10 with the next four finishers, including past national champ Kazuki Tamura  (Sumitomo Denko), all within 10 seconds. 36-year-old Hakone Ekiden legend and 2:07:39 marathoner Masato Imai  (Toyota Kyushu) showed there's still life in his legs, a surprising 11th in 29:30. The junior races were both blowouts at the same

Weekend Preview - National XC Championships and Lake Biwa

Two big events happen this weekend in western Japan. Saturday in Fukuoka are the National Cross-Country Championships . The list of withdrawals is pretty long, but the four races on the schedule are still set to pull in good talent, especially in the senior races where wins can score people without the qualifying standard places in the National Track and Field Championships 10000 m. Click the race distance for entry lists: Senior Men's 10 km , Senior Women's 8 km , U20 men's 8 km , U20 women's 6 km . TBS will be broadcasting the senior races on delay starting at 3:30 p.m. Japan time. Sunday is the final edition of the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon before it moves back to Osaka next year. The entry list  is super deep, with 25 men who've run under 2:10 in the last 3 years and 53 sub-2:12, and at this point the only major withdrawal looks to be Olympic marathon trials winner Shogo Nakamura . Expect Lake Biwa to go out with a bang. NHK will broadcast the entire race

Locals Reflect on the End of the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon

For half a century, the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon has been held along the shores of Lake Biwa in Otsu, Shiga. Locals have long given it their full support, turning out as volunteers and to cheer. We talked to them about their memories of the historic race ahead of its final running before moving back to its original home in Osaka. Kikuji Kawamura , 85, a former Otsu municipal employee who has been a part of the race's operational team for decades, is known locally as a living encyclopedia of every aspect of the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon. In 1965, the year after the Tokyo Olympics, a friend asked him to help accurately measure the course's 42.195 km distance. The winner that year for the second time was two-time Olympic marathon gold medalist and famed barefoot runner Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia. Kawamura has vivid recollections of talking to Bikila there. "Before the race Abebe was warming up in the stadium and I noticed how skinny his legs were," Kawamura says. &q

Olympic Trials Winner Nakamura a DNS for Lake Biwa

After experiencing mild pain in the outer ankle of his left foot and being diagnosed with peroneal tendonitis, Tokyo Olympics men's marathon trials winner Shogo Nakamura  (Fujitsu) has made the decision to withdraw from the Feb. 28 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon . Nakamura will take a few days off to rest and plans to resume light jogging next week. However, in combination with not meeting his performance goals at an intensive training camp last month, he has decided to err on the side of caution and withdraw. Comments from Nakamura: Lake Biwa was going to be my first race since the New Year Ekiden and my first marathon in a long time, so I'd been looking forward to it. The pain has already faded and doesn't look like it will get in the way of training, but after looking carefully at the situation we decided not to risk more serious injury and to withdraw in favor of being ready for the Tokyo Olympics.  I apologize to everyone who had been expecting to see me run. My first pri

Nagoya Women's Marathon Elite Field

The Mar. 14 Nagoya Women's Marathon announced this year's field yesterday, the same day that vaccinations officially began in Japan. It's another domestic-only race, but it has a great potential trio up front and looks to be going ahead with a mass-participation race. Up front are last year's Osaka International Women's Marathon winner Mizuki Matsuda , 25 km national record co-holder Sayaka Sato , and Tokyo Olympics marathon team member Ayuko Suzuki . Suzuki is only 9th by recent time, but with a half marathon best of 1:07:55 and this being her first shot at a fast marathon she's definitely got the potential to stay with Matsuda and Sato. Reia Iwade  and Rei Ohara  have both run 2:23 but neither has been near that level in the last few years, Iwade in particular having dropped out of Osaka last month and only running 1:13:10 last weekend at the National Corporate Half. Mao Uesugi , Haruka Yamaguchi  and Mirai Waku  all ran Osaka too, so whether they start and h

Mathenge Breaks National Corporate Half Marathon Course Record

Patrick Mathenge Wambui  (NTT Nishi Nihon) ran a PB of nearly a minute to win the 2021 National Corporate Half Marathon Championships men's race Sunday in Yamaguchi. Wambui had pressure until almost 20 km from 2016 national cross-country champion  Takashi Ichida  (Asahi Kasei) before kicking away for the win, crossing the line in a world-leading 1:00:12 to take 6 seconds off the course record. Ichida was next in 1:00:19, a PB by almost two minutes, the fastest Japanese time on the corporate nationals course by 13 seconds, and the fourth-fastest ever by a Japanese man.  Benard Kimani  (Comody Iida) was the only other man under 61 minutes at 1:00:30 for 3rd, with the top 26 all breaking 62 minutes. Further back, 48-year-old Satoshi Emoto  (Mitsubishi Okazaki) ran 1:06:28, bettering Martin Rees '  age 48 world record by 1 second. Last year's Nagoya Women's Marathon runner-up Yuka Ando  (Wacoal) dominated the women's race, running each 5 km split progressively faster

'Torch Relay Runner Withdraws Over Mori Remark'

Coverage of the fallout from Tokyo Olympics organizing committee head Yoshiro Mori saying the quiet part out loud with regard to most Japanese men's opinion of women. Japan is ranked 121st out of 153 countries worldwide on gender equality. Torch Relay Runner Withdraws Over Mori Remark More Volunteers Withdraw Over Mori's Remarks London Boots Comedian Quits Torch Relay Over Remarks by Mori

Elite Field for Final Lake Biwa Marathon

As the only game in town for its final running before being swallowed up by the Osaka Marathon 's platinum ambitions, the Feb. 28 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon has put together the best field in its history. Times in the last three years don't mean what they used to, but even so Lake Biwa has 2 men sub-2:07, 7 sub-2:08, 13 sub-2:09, 25 sub-2:10, 40 sub-2:11 and 53 sub-2:12, all Japanese but one, Japan-based Kenyan Simon Kariuki  (Togami Denki).  Among them are 2:06 men Ryu Takaku  (Yakult) and Hiroto Inoue  (Mitsubishi Juko), half marathon national record holder Yusuke Ogura  (Yakult), 2019 Fukuoka winner Taku Fujimoto  (Toyota), Tokyo Olympics marathon trials winner Shogo Nakamura  (Fujitsu), 100 km world record holder Nao Kazami (Aisan Kogyo) and many, many more. And there are at least another 7 men with half marathon bests under 62 minutes making debuts or trying to finish a marathon for the first time, notably university ekiden star Shunya Kikuchi (Josai Univ.) and 2017 Wo

April's Kasumigaura Marathon Canceled

The organizing committee of the 31st Kasumigaura Marathon and International Blind Marathon has been working hard to develop safety and health protocols adequate to mitigate the risk of spreading the coronavirus at the event. But with increased case numbers in recent months and a number of prefectures remaining under an extended state of emergency declaration, the future outlook for the organizers' ability to hold the race safely remains uncertain. As a result, the decision has been made to cancel this year's race, originally scheduled for Apr. 18. The popular Kasumigaura Walking event held in tandem with the marathon has also been canceled due to the pandemic situation. We thank you for your understanding.  Translator's note: The Kasumigaura Marathon had 10,096 finishers in its last running in 2019. Its cancelation follows those of March's Tokushima Marathon and April's Nagano Marathon  earlier this week. The only major spring Japanese marathons still on the calen

March's Tokushima Marathon Canceled

On Feb. 3 the organizing committee for the Tokushima Marathon announced that this year's race, scheduled for Mar. 28, has been canceled. The second year in a row that the event has been called off, the committee's decision to cancel was unanimous. With the national government's decision to extend the state of emergency in ten prefectures and the impending demands of vaccine distribution, the organizing committee felt that it was important to prioritize society's needs and not to ask medical staff to put time and energy toward a marathon.  The 2300 people already entered will their entry fees completely refunded. They and others will also have the option to run a virtual 42.195 km race whenever they like using the race's official app. With regard to next year's race, prefectural officials commented, "We will monitor the situation surrounding the virus moving forward and evaluate whether the race can be held." Translator's note: With 11,010 finisher

A Month Ago Today

One month ago today . Wasn't this great? Time goes by so quickly these days.

60+ World Record Holder Yugeta Plans to Run Nagoya in March

At Sunday's Osaka International Women's Marathon  62-year-old Mariko Yugeta ran 2:52:13 for 48th, massively improving her own women's 60+ world record of 2:56:54. "It was hard, but I'm glad I could improve my best," she said post-race.  photo: Yugeta, in pink hat, at around 15 km in Osaka. Yugeta's training load is incredible. In the summer she runs 800 km per month, and she typically runs a marathon every month. Her new record was the result of hard work. Where she has had problems with slowing down after 20 km in the past, this time that didn't happen. But at the same time she experienced fatigue in her build-up to the race, and on Jan. 3 she felt pain in her right gluteus maximus. For two weeks she had acupuncture treatments and went to hot springs to try to take care of the problems. For the race she also used taping, and she was able to run it pain-free. Yugeta is entered in the Mar. 14 Nagoya Women's Marathon. Ever ambitious, of her goals fo

Ichiyama Wins Osaka in 2:21:11 Event Record, Yugeta Crushes Own 60+ World Record

Running almost 15 laps of Osaka's Nagai Park behind a pair of male pacers right up to the entrance to the track finish, Mao Ichiyama  (Wacoal) came up two minutes short of Mizuki Noguchi 's 2:19:12 national record but clipped 7 seconds off Noguchi's event record to win Sunday's Osaka International Women's Marathon in a world-leading 2:21:11.  Her Tokyo Olympics marathon teammate Honami Maeda  (Tenmaya) was the only other woman to try to go with her, dropping off NR pace before 15 km but hanging on for an 18-second PB of 2:23:30 for 2nd with the help of another male pacer who stayed with her right to the start of the track finish. Ichiyama only made it through halfway on NR pace before she fell off, but she did manage to rally in the last few km to get under Noguchi's event record, even though Osaka organizers announced post-race that Ichiyama's mark would be listed as a mixed race record alongside Noguchi's women-only record in the hereafter.  Next up

Osaka International Women's Marathon Happening Sunday

The Osaka International Women's Marathon happens Sunday in the middle of an officially declared state of emergency. Round and round and round they're going to go around the 2.8 km road loop inside Osaka's Nagai Park before finishing on the track in Yanmar Stadium Nagai, the first time we know of that an elite-level Japanese marathon has been done on a short circuit course. There are a bit fewer than 100 people entered, not a single international athlete among them, but really it all comes down to the two up front going for Mizuki Noguchi 's 2:19:12 national record, women-only marathon and 25 km national record holder Mao Ichiyama  (Wacoal) and 30 km national record holder Honami Maeda  (Tenmaya).  They may or may not have an Olympics this summer, but they've got this chance here. Why not take it? They've got the goal, they're in their prime, they say they're in shape to go for it, they've got a super-fast course, male pacers, good weather in the f

Lake Biwa Tightens Entry Standards After Closing Entries

Entries for the Feb. 28 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon closed on Jan. 22. With most other races having canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus crisis, this year we received nearly double our normal number of applications for entry. We extend our deepest thanks to everyone who applied.   We have explored options for putting on the race with such a large field but have determined that it would not be possible to safely execute all of our planned coronavirus countermeasures. As a result, we have introduced the following revised entry standards based on World Athletics scoring points: 10000 m: 30:40.00 half marathon: 1:07:29 marathon: 2:27:30 After checking proof of qualification from each entrant, on Jan. 25 we sent notification to all those who were unable to participate under these standards. Information regarding refund of entry fees was included. Those eligible to participate will be notified around Feb. 5, on which date we will hold a virtual press conference to announce the elite

Comparing Kazami and Walmsley's Runs

American Jim Walmsley  gave the men's world record set two and a half years ago by Japan's Nao Kazami  a serious scare this weekend at the Project Carbon X 2 100 km. A quick look at their splits shows two different race strategies, Kazami essentially going out hard and slowing the second half and Walmsley running the first half more conservatively and then trying to negative split. Both had relatively slow starts before zeroing in on their first half target pace, Kazami settling in around 36:20 per 10 km and Walmsley around 36:50 until they hit halfway. At that point Kazami was projecting a 6:04:10 world record, with Walmsley's 50 km split projecting to a record of 6:08:30. From there they swapped, Kazami going 36:52 from 50 km to 60 km and Walmsley 36:22. That proved Walmsley's fastest split of the day, as although he stayed close to that pace through 80 km  he began to slow for every remaining 10 km split until the finish. In Kazami's case he hit a rough patch bet

Cancelation of Olympics Would Result in Estimated $43.5 Billion Loss, 1% of Japanese GDP

After being postponed for a year, there are just six months to go until the start of the Tokyo Olympics. The coronavirus continues to spread, and with no signs of it slowing down the possibility of the worst case scenario, the Olympics' cancelation, has become more than just a possibility. Kansai University professor emeritus Katsuhiro Miyamoto , 76, has estimated that the cancelation of the Games would result in an economic loss of over 4.5 trillion yen [$43.5 billion USD] . The one-year postponement from last year has already resulted in a 640.8 billion yen loss [46.2 billion USD] . Should the Games go ahead? Another postponement? Cancel them? There is also the option being explored by the Organizing Committee of staging the Olympics without spectators.  Government sources say that with the loss that another postponement would incur to local governments, it is not a realistic option. Tokyo has projected a direct economic effect of over 5.2 trillion yen  [$49.4 billion USD[  in

Osaka Women's Marathon to be Run on 2.8 km Loop Inside Nagai Park

On Jan. 17 it was learned that the Jan. 31 Osaka International Women's Marathon will be run on a multi-lap loop course inside Nagai Park. Some of the athletes scheduled to run were notified last week of the likelihood of the change from Osaka's traditional road course, a change made as a result of the continued spread of the coronavirus. It is the first time the race will be run on a circuit course in the years since its first running in 1982.  Tokyo Olympics women's marathon team members Mao Ichiyama  (23, Wacoal) and Honami Maeda  (24, Tenmaya) had planned to try to break the 2:19:12 national record in Osaka, but the impact of the change on times run there remains unclear at this point. Osaka organizers have recruited male pacers, a first for a domestic women's marathon, to help chase the record, but with the government's declaration of a state of emergency last week they had no choice but to make the last-minute course change.  Most road races over the last yea

16-Year-Old Sato Runs 8:00.09 U18 NR in Kyoto

Already Japan's third-fastest high schooler ever over 3000 m, 16-year-old Keita Sato  (Rakunan H.S.) took another 5 seconds off his best with a 8:00.09 win at Saturday's Kyoto Time Trials meet. A second-year at Rakunan and set to turn 17 later this week, Sato bettered the U18 national record held by Hyuga Endo by almost two seconds, moved up to #2 behind Endo on the all-time high school rankings, and to #3 on the U20 list behind Endo and Athens Olympian Ryuji Ono . Post-race he tweeted, "One step away from 7 minutes! So disappointing. I don't know when the next time I can race is but 7 minutes is definitely coming!" 3000m→8'00"09 7分台まであと一歩だったのでめちゃくちゃ悔しいです😭次はいつ走れるか分かりませんが絶対に7分台出します! — 佐藤圭汰 (@0rx2k) January 17, 2021 © 2021 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

High School National Record Holders Fujihara and Ishida to Enter Toyo University in Spring

Two high school national record holders are set to join Toyo University  at the start of the new academic year in April, Koki Fujihara  (Rakunan H.S.), holder of the 8.12 m long jump record, and Kosuke Ishida  (Tokyo Nogyo Daini H.S.), holder of the 13:34.74 record for 5000 m. Fujihara was the first high school boy to go over 8 m in the long jump, setting his record of 8.12 m (+1.7 m/s) at the August, 2019 National High School Championships as a second-year. It was the first time the high school long jump record had been broken in 30 years and bettered the old mark by 16 cm, enough to rank him all-time #9 among all Japanese athletes. Fujihara is currently 190 cm tall and is still growing, both physically and as an athlete. He follows in the footsteps of prominent Toyo alumni outside the distance events, including Japan's first sub-10 man in the 100 m and fellow Rakunan H.S. grad Yoshihide Kiryu  and 8.23 m long jumper Hibiki Tsuha .  But with a 3rd-place finish at this year's