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Showing posts from April, 2021

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.