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Showing posts from February, 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