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Showing posts from March, 2021

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

Tokyo Marathon Plans to Go Ahead in October With Reduced Field of 25,000 - Entries Open Monday

The organizers of the Tokyo Marathon held a special board meeting Mar. 19 to discuss plans for staging this year's race on Oct. 17. As a measure to combat the spread of the coronavirus, the decision was made to reduce the field size from 38,000 to 25,000 participants. The race's slogan will be "The Day When Tokyo Once Again Becomes One." Entries will be open Mar. 22 to 31. Rough guidelines were also established for the process by which the final decision on whether the race can go ahead will be made. If a state of emergency is declared within a month prior to the marathon, it will be canceled at that time. "Holding a safe and secure event is our number one priority," commented an official.  International entries will be accepted. Because the 2020 edition of the race was held with only elite athletes, mass-participation runners were given the option of transferring their entries to either the 2021 or 2022 editions. Roughly 7,000 people opted to run 2021, mea

AIMS Now Carrying JRN Content

AIMS, the Association of International Marathons and Road Races , is now carrying JRN content in the news section of its site. One of AIMS' objectives is to exchange information, knowledge and expertise among the more than 400 road races worldwide that make up its membership, and we're pleased to contribute to that by continuing to try to provide a window into some of what's happening behind the wall surrounding Japan and its running world.

Incehon Asian Games Silver Medalist Kohei Matsumura Retires

On Mar. 16 the Mitsubishi Juko corporate team announced that 2014 Incheon Asian Games men's marathon silver medalist Kohei Matsumura , 34, has retired. Last year he became part of the team's coaching staff while continuing to compete as an athlete, but he will now shift focus to coaching full-time. His final race was last month's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon , where he was 156th in 2:18:44. Head coach Jun Kuroki  commented, "He was the first athlete on our team to make a national team and the first to go sub-2:10 in the marathon. I hope he will help shape our next generation of marathoners and help them to become even stronger."  A native of Takatsuki, Osaka, he was captain of Yamanashi Gakuin University's ekiden team, running the Hakone Ekiden's First Stage his 3rd and 4th years. He joined Mitsubishi Juko after graduating. At the 2014 Tokyo Marathon he ran his PB of 2:08:09. Later the same year he won the silver medal in the matathon at the Incheon Asia

Kamata and Kobayashi Win National University Half Marathon Titles

Even windier and warmer than in Nagoya , the airfield runway in Tokyo's western suburbs offered no shade or shelter to the men and women competing in the National University Half Marathon Championships Sunday in Tachikawa, keeping times slower than usual and more people in the race late. In the men's race, Koki Kamata  (Hosei Univ.) repeated his run on the Hakone Ekiden's First Stage back in January, kicking hard to drop a pack in the final straight for the win in 1:03:00. Hakone champ Komazawa University 's star first-year Mebuki Suzuki  was 2nd in 1:03:07 with Yoshinori Shimazaki  (Koku Gakuin Univ.) 3rd in 1:03:08 a step ahead of teammate Kota Fujiki  and Komazawa 4th-year Ayumu Kobayashi , 4th and 5th in 1:03:09. Kamata, Suzuki and Shimazaki all scored places on the Japanese team for this summer's Chengdu World University Games . The women's race was even closer up front. 2020 National University Women's Ekiden champion Meijo University  teammates Naru

Matsuda Wins Windy Nagoya in 2:21:51

Going ahead where every other race its level has canceled or postponed, the Nagoya Women's Marathon went off as planned with an elite race, mass-participation field of 5,000, and 9,000 more in the accompanying half marathon. Strong winds reported as high as 14 m/s along the course held back the kind of times organizers had hoped for, but that didn't stop 2020 Osaka International Women's Marathon winner Mizuki Matsuda  (Daihatsu) from taking a serious swing at the women-only national record of 2:20:29 set in Nagoya last year by Mao Ichiyama  (Wacoal). Matsuda, 25 km national record co-holder Sayaka Sato  (Sekisui Kagaku), 2:24:52 runner  Mao Uesugi  (Starts) and debuting Ikumi Fukura  (Otsuka Seiyaku) were the only ones to go out with a quartet of pacers on sub-2:20 pace. By 13 km that was down to only one pacer, half marathon great Rosemary Wanjiru  (Starts), and just after hitting halfway in 1:10:23 only Wanjiru and Matsuda were left. Matsuda stuck with Wanjiru until the

Weekend Preview - Nagoya and the National University Half

Looking at what's coming up Sunday it kind of almost sort of feels like things are starting to get back toward normalish. Down to the south you've got the Nagoya Women's Marathon stepping up as the first WA Platinum Label Race worldwide to go ahead with a combined elite and mass-participation race since the pandemic started. It's a much smaller field than usual with just 5,000 in the mass-participation race plus elites, but they're actually going to do it. Can you believe it? We're still having a hard time. The elite race should be good, even with the withdrawal of Tokyo Olympics marathon team member Ayuko Suzuki  (Japan Post) with another injury. You've still got Olympic team alternate Rei Ohara  (Tenmaya), last year's Osaka International winner Mizuki Matsuda  (Daihatsu) and 25 km national record co-holder Sayaka Sato  (Sekisui Kagaku), with Matsuda kicking around the possibility of a new NR. That sounds pretty good. There's even a chance of a ne

Remembering 3/11

Ten years go by quickly these days. Living in central Tokyo Mika and I didn't suffer any of the worst of the aftereffects of the Mar. 11, 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, and her parents on the Ibaraki coast just south of the Fukushima border were OK. The roads in their area were pitted and warped and their house had enough damage that they slept in their car for days without heat or running water, but despite being in their 70s they stubbornly refused to leave and come stay with us in Tokyo. It took the bait of a one-night stay in a central Tokyo luxury hotel that I won at a charity race a week later to lure them away. They were a lot luckier than most of the people just a few minutes to the north. At the time the earthquake happened, 2:46 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, Mika and I were on the Yamanote Line, the busy train line that circles central Tokyo, en route to meet with a travel agent in Shinbashi we had started to work with in conjunction with the Venice Marathon

Nagoya Women’s Marathon 2021 is First Mass-Participation Race Held in Japan During Covid-19 Pandemic

a press release from the Nagoya Women's Marathon organizers The Nagoya Women’s Marathon is delighted to announce that the Nagoya Women’s Marathon 2021 will be staged in Nagoya city, Japan on Sunday, March 14, 2021 as planned. Nagoya will be the first mass participation distance race to be held in Japan since the coronavirus started to spread. Even on a global level, it will be the first World Athletics Platinum label road race to be held in person with both elite and non-elite runners on this scale. The Nagoya Women's Marathon 2021, to be held in the ‘new normal’ way this weekend, will serve as a ‘new start’ and pave the way for the return of full-scale marathon races in the future.  Launched in 2012, the Nagoya Women’s Marathon is the world’s largest women’s marathon and is celebrating its 10th Anniversary this year after having hosted a total of 160,000 women runners under the theme ‘the day women play the starring role’. The event is known for the exclusive Tiffany &

'Meet the 62-Year-Old Japanese Woman Who Ran a 2:52 Marathon'

JRN talked to women's 60+ marathon world record holder Mariko Yugeta for Runner's World ahead of her planned shot at breaking her own record at this weekend's Nagoya Women's Marathon. Read it here: photo © 2021 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Olympic Marathon and Race Walk Test Event to Go Ahead May 5th

On Mar. 8 the organizing committee of the Hokkaido Sapporo Marathon Festival 2021 formally decided the final details for the May 5 event, which will serve as the test event for the Tokyo Olympics marathons and race walks. The half marathon will feature a total of around 80 men and women from Japan and abroad including those scheduled to compete in the Olympics, while the 10 km will be geared toward mass participation entrants, with a field of 2500. The 10 km will be conducted according to guidelines prepared under the supervision of experts, with coronavirus measures including 1 m separation between participants. With regard to spectators along the course, Yasuo Mori , the event's deputy director, commented, "If we want people to stay away from the course we have to communicate that to them, so we must make a final decision by the end of March or early April. It's very important to minimize any concerns or fears the local people may have." Online entries for mass pa

Letting Go of Preconceived Ideas - Australian Melissa Duncan on Her Time in the Corporate Leagues

Australian Melissa Duncan , the 2019 Oceanian 5000 m champion, is one of only a handful of non-African foreign athletes ever to run in the Japanese corporate team system. From early 2019 to January, 2021 she ran for the Shiseido corporate team, responsible for handling the international stage for the team at both the 2019 and 2020 Queens Ekiden, the corporate women’s national championship race. Now back home, she looked back on the highs and lows of her experience.  Update: We've reached out to a party involved with the team for comment but have not received a response. We will update further should there be one. I’ll never forget my first team meeting after joining the Shiseido Running Club.  The staff were revealing the training for the following day. “Morning training will be..., 11 a.m. training is..., For afternoon training….” I thought to myself, “I’m sorry...What? We’re training three times tomorrow?!” I thought it was a little excessive, but when I learnt that this schedul

Tokyo Olympic Marathon Team Member Suzuki Withdraws From Nagoya With Injury

On Mar. 5 the organizers of the Mar. 14 Nagoya Women's Marathon announced that invited athlete Ayuko Suzuki  (Japan Post), a member of Japan's marathon team for this summer's Tokyo Olympics,  has withdrawn due to inflammation of a tendon in her left leg. Nagoya was to be Suzuki's first marathon since finishing 2nd at the September, 2019 Marathon Grand Championship Olympic trials race. Suzuki suffered injury last year as well but was able to run the 5th Stage at November's National Corporate Women's Ekiden, helping lead Japan Post to a second national title. Translator's note: The other two members of the Tokyo Olympics women's marathon squad, trials winner  Honami Maeda  (Tenmaya) and women-only marathon NR holder Mao Ichiyama  (Wacoal) both ran Osaka in January. On the men's side trials winner  Shogo Nakamura (Fujitsu) withdrew from last weekend's Lake Biwa Marathon with injury and 2nd placer Yuma Hattori (Toyota) withdrew from December's

How to Get to Lake Biwa A piece I wrote for PodiumRunner  looking at how Japan produced the incredible depth seen at last weekend's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon , where a record 42 men went under 2:10. The part estimating a 2-minute shoe effect was originally longer but cut back for reasons of overall length.   As Paul Gains details , Cornell University researchers estimated an impact of from 2 to 4 minutes depending on the individual. Applying that to the field as a whole, as I wrote a 2-minute effect would be equivalent to a 2:06:56 winning time in Lake Biwa, 4 men in 2:08, and 10 in 2:09, a pretty reasonable estimate based on past Japanese results. A 3-minute effect would give a 2:07:56 winning time, 4 men in 2:09, and a whole lot of people in the 2:10~12 range. Considering that Fukuoka 2003 had 3 Japanese men in 2:07, 2 in 2:08 and 1 in 2:09, this seems too conservative as it would suggest no progression in almost 20  y