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Showing posts from October, 2021

Meijo Wins Fifth-Straight National Title, 18-Year-Old Fuwa Sets Sendai on Fire at National University Women's Ekiden

Meijo University  led almost start-to-finish at Sunday's National University Women's Ekiden, taking five of the six individual stage bests to become only the second school to win five-straight national titles. Opening runner Yuma Yamamoto  waited until the last km of her 6.6 km stage to turn it on, opening a 7-second lead to win it in 21:48. Second runner Tomomi Musembi Takamatsu overcame a bad season to break the record for her stage, running 12:01 for 3.9 km and building Meijo's lead to 23 seconds. Third runner Yuna Wada  added another 56 seconds to the lead with a 21:51 win on her 6.9 km stage, and fourth runner Nanase Tanimoto  turned in a 15:37 stage record for 4.8 km to chalk up another 14 seconds.  10000 m collegiate record holder Narumi Kobayashi  was the weakest link, finishing only 3rd on the 9.2 km Fifth Stage on individual time but still stretching out Meijo's lead to 2:07. Anchor Yuka Masubuchi  had more than enough to work with with only 6.7 km to run, b

National University Women's Ekiden Preview

Earlier this week after the Princess Ekiden my friend Becky asked a couple of good questions. "I'm always curious on why they don't let women run Hakone, and why women-only ekidens are so much shorter," she said. Japan is hopelessly behind on a lot of social issues, especially women's equality. In March this year the World Economic Forum ranked Japan 120th out of 156 countries in gender equality, just over a month after Tokyo Olympics organizing committee head and former prime minister Yoshiro Mori  was forced to, publicly at least, step down from his position after making comments derogatory of women. Which is not to say that that stopped him from turning up at the Olympic Stadium to catch Olympic athletics action and hang with his boys Thomas Bach  and Seb Coe this past summer, of course. On the other hand, things can also be oddly progressive at times. Japan was the first country in the world to put on an annual women-only marathon, way back in 1979 before it

February's Kashima Yutoku Half Marathon Canceled Due to Pandemic and Possibility of Flu Outbreak

The Kashima Civic Sports Association announced on Oct. 27 that the 70th anniversary Kashima Yutoku Road Race scheduled for Feb. 27 next year has been pushed back one year to Feb. 26, 2023. The KCSA cited the uncertainty surrounding the future status of the coronavirus pandemic and the possibility of a seasonal outbreak of influenza in its reasoning for the decision. Every year the Kashima Yutoku Road Race brings together 1500 athletes, including many from the Hakone Ekiden, from both within and without the prefecture  In both the event's half marathon and 5 km divisions, athlete have the chance to take in views Yutoku Inari Shrine and the region's lovely countryside as they compete.  The KCSA had examined the possibility of holding the race on a reduced scale, but taking into account issues including the size of the gymnasium at the start and finish used as a staging ground for runners, and the rate of vaccination among the junior and senior high school students who act as rac

Shiseido Breaks Princess Ekiden Course Record

Coming back from a scandal earlier this year in which a non-Japanese former team member spoke out about abusive behavior by male coaches toward the team's female athletes,  Shiseido  was back with what looked like a more positive team culture, dominating Sunday's Princess Ekiden with a course record win. Shiseido didn't quite lead start-to-finish, but it came close. Tomoka Kimura got it rolling with a 21:44 stage record on the 7.0 km opening leg, 38 seconds under the old record.  Former national champ Daiichi Seimei 's Hibiki Sakuragawa  broke the course record on the Second Stage to put her team 5 seconds ahead of Shiseido, but it didn't last long as on the next stage Shiseido's Naruha Sato  retook the lead and built up a margin that Shiseido's last three runners held. Anchor Kain Maeda  brought the team home in 2:16:41 for the full 42.195 km distance, 21 seconds under the previous course record and securing the team's place at next month's Queen

Meiji University Wins Hakone Ekiden Qualifier Half Marathon

After a surprise finish outside the top 10 at this year's Hakone Ekiden, Meiji University  was back to do the expected, winning the Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai half marathon qualifier Saturday in Tachikawa, Tokyo by over 4 minutes. In windy conditions things went out slowly up front, the lead group of 6 Kenyans hitting the first km in only 3:01. Last year's winner Joseph Lemeteki Razini  (Takushoku Univ.) made a push to get things into gear and Vincent Raimoi (Kokushikan Univ.), James Bunuka  (Surugadai Univ.), Charles Kamau Wanjiku  (Musashino Gakuin Univ.) and Paul Onyiego  (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) all took turns leading, but it wasn't until 14 km for Wanjiku to make a serous move. Running the rest of the way unchallenged, he took 1st in 1:01:23, more than a minute slower than Razini's winning time last year. The only two people in the front group not to take the lead at some point, Samson Ndirangu (Ryutsu Keizai Univ.) and Noah Kiplimo  (Nihon Yakka Univ.) were 2nd an

Championship Ekiden Qualification Weekend

Championship ekiden season is on the way, and this weekend two of the main events will hold their official qualification races. Saturday in Tokyo's western suburb of Tachikawa is the Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai half marathon, a chance for collegiate men to be on the starting line of the world's #1 race this coming January. 10 universities are already qualified for the Hakone Ekiden by having finished in the top 10 at this year's race, and at the Yosenkai another 10 will join them. 41 universities from the greater Tokyo area will run from 10 to 12 men each and are scored on the total time of their first 10 finishers. The fastest 10 teams go on to Hakone, pure and simple. Top individuals from teams that don't qualify will also be named to a select team, as long as they're Japanese citizens, to fill out Hakone's field of 21. NTV will broadcast the race and its tense qualifier announcement ceremony live starting at 9:25 a.m. Saturday local time, with official streami

Hokkaido's Asahikawa Ryukoku H.S. Builds 330 m Greenhouse Indoor Track

Targeting its sixth-straight win at the Oct. 23 Hokkaido Prefecture High School Girls Ekiden, Asahikawa Ryukoku H.S. has complete construction of the Asahikawa Ryukoku Indoor Track, at 330 m in length the nation's largest running-specific circuit course entirelyely enclosed in vinyl greenhouse material. The ceremony marking the track's official completion is scheduled for Oct. 28th. In a part of the country known for heavy snowfall, the hope is that Asahikawa Ryukoku's new year-round training ground will help it make the jump to becoming a factor at the national level. The indoor track was built on the 1650 square meter campus of the former Asahikawa Toei H.S., where Asahikawa Ryukoku H.S. will relocate next summer. Coated in durable vinyl, the massive white torus of the track stands out from its surroundings. Ranging from 5.4 m to 7.2 m in width, the track's housing is wide enough to accommodate four lanes. In the future, two lanes will be covered with artificial turf

2021 Tokyo Marathon Non-Start

As the 2021 Abbott World Marathon Majors go ahead, here's an update on the one that didn't. © 2021 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

February's Ome 30 km Road Race Canceled Due to Pandemic

On Oct. 14 the organizers of Tokyo's Ome 30 km Road Race announced that the popular event's 55th running, scheduled for Feb. 20, 2022, will not go ahead and will instead be postponed a year. Organizers said that due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic they had concerns about being able to stage the event in a way safe for runners, local residents, race staff and volunteers. The Ome 30 km's 55th running was originally scheduled for February, 2021 but was postponed to 2022, meaning the new decision will in effect be a two-year postponement.  The Ome 30 km Road Race was founded in 1967. Starting in the western Tokyo suburb of Ome, the race follows a mountainous route along the upper Tama River gorge and back. Featuring both 30 km and 10 km races, the race seen wins from Olympic gold medalists like Naoko Takahashi  and Mizuki Noguchi , and is one of Japan's most popular races for amateur runners, with over 12,000 finishers every year. In place of the 2022 event, organizers

Kanazawa Marathon to Stop Runners at 21 Locations Due to Election

Due to be held the same day as voting in the upcoming election for the House of Representatives, runners at the Kanazawa Marathon can expect to be stopped at over 20 intersections on the course in order to allow voters on their way to the polls to pass without interference.  Scheduled to be held Oct. 31 after last year's race was canceled, the Kanazawa Marathon will take place while voting polls for the House of Representatives election are open. On race day, road closures for the marathon will be in place for up to 6 hours, but the locations of 14 polling stations on the course mean that voters will need to be able to cross through intersections. 50,000 voters are expected to use these locations, and while city officials are calling for people to utilize early voting or polling stations not affected by road closures then have made the decision to place security personnel at 21 intersections to stop runners when necessary. The Kanazawa Marathon already has this policy in place at

Weekend Overseas Marathon Results

With the Tokyo Marathon having canceled due to guidelines written in the pre-vaccine era some of Japan's top marathoners have had to go overseas this season. Men's national record holder Kengo Suzuki  (Fujitsu) was at Sunday's Chicago Marathon . Suzuki seemed to be staying calm in the lead group, but when the real move came he didn't have the same kind of closing speed he had at March's Lake Biwa Marathon and was left behind by the lead true. Suzuki ended up 4th in 2:08:50, the fastest time by a Japanese outside Japan so far this year. Seifu Tura Abdiwak  (Ethiopia) took 1st in 2:06:12. The next day at the Boston Marathon , Tokyo Paralympics women's gold medalist Misato Michishita  (Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) had a quick turnaround to win Boston's first-ever T11/T12 division race. In the elite women's race Shiho Kaneshige  (GRlab Kanto) tailed the lead pack with America Elaina Tabb through the first half of the race according to plan on sub-2:30 pace. But

Tokyo Kokusai University Wins in Izumo Ekiden Debut

With 2021 Hakone Ekiden MVP Vincent Yegon  set to run anchor,  Tokyo Kokusai University  was expected to be a serious contender for the win in its Izumo Ekiden debut. But as it turned out the team as a whole was strong enough to pull off the win on its own strength, not just his. Some of the hottest temperatures ever recorded at the Izumo Ekiden made for an unpredictable race, but TKU was solid throughout, all six of its runners making the top 5 on their individual stages. Inheriting a 3rd-place position from TKU's first two runners, its third runner Ken Tansho  blew the race apart when he went to the front and opened a 29-second lead over Hakone runner-up Soka University . The teams chasing TKU changed over the next two stages, but its lead held steady around 30 seconds by the time Yegon took over. It was simply too hot for him to rewrite the record books, but Yegon had no problem at all bringing TKU home to the win in its debut, breaking the finish tape in 2:12:10 and clocking t

WR Holder Kazami Wins Shibamata 100 km, Nakata Breaks Women's Course Record

Nao Kazami  (Aisan Kogyo), the undisputed world record holder in the men's 100 km, took another title Saturday in Tokyo with a win at the Shibamata 100 km . Running two laps of a 25 km out-and-back course along the Edo River in high humidity but moderate temperatures, Kazami had company from Hiroki Takashima  (GASC) and the debuting Junpei Yamaguchi  (Eldoreso) through 60 km, all three passing halfway in 3:17 flat and keeping the pace steady for the next 10 km.  Takashima was the first to fall off just after 60 km, and a surge from Kazami just before 65 km was enough to put Yamaguchi away. Kazami covered the 5 km from 65 to 70 km in 18:34, about a minute faster than his splits up to that point, and while he slowed incrementally the rest of the away he still had it in him to drop a negative split of over two minutes to win in 6:31:47.  柴又100K、JP2位でゴールしました!皆様、応援ありがとうございました🙌 — ELDORESO (@eldoreso) October 9, 2021 After getting dropped Yamaguchi, pictured

2021 Izumo Ekiden Preview

It feels good to type that headline. Canceled in 2020 amid the pandemic, the Izumo Ekiden is back to kick off university men's ekiden season this Sunday. Fuji TV will broadcast the race live starting at 12:00 noon local time, with English live tweeting @JRNLive .  Short and fast by Japanese standards, Izumo has 18 university teams from across Japan and 2 regional select teams facing off over 6 stages averaging 7.5 km apiece. That skews the necessary skill set closer to 5000 m than the half marathon distance critical at November's National University Ekiden and January's Hakone Ekiden, and with few half marathon racing opportunities over the last year and a half it's immediately noticeable when you look at the entry lists how much coaches have been focusing on the track instead of the road. Taken together than could mean a very fast race this year. 10 teams in the field are from the Tokyo-area Kanto Region, home of Hakone. 9 of those have top 6 averages under 14 minut

Kanazawa Marathon to Go Ahead on Oct. 31

With special precaution measures having been lifted within the prefecture of Ishikawa, states of emergency having been lifted nationwide including within the major cities, the number of cases of COVID-19 sharply declining both within and without Ishikawa, and the steady rise in vaccinations, the organizers of the Kanazawa Marathon have committed to staging this year's race with adequate precautions on Oct. 31.  The organizers ask all participants to monitor their physical condition for the 14 days prior to the race and to take steps to reduce the risk of contracting the coronavirus in their day-to-day lives. Participants are also encouraged to get vaccinated wherever possible. The general public is asked not to come watch the race in person and instead to show its support by following TV or radio coverage. Please be aware that in the event of situations such as a rapid increase in the number of infections, earthquakes, floods or typhoons in the time shortly before the race, the e

Sato Adds 5000 m High School and U18 Records to His 1500 m and 3000 m Records at Nittai Time Trials

Sunday at the Nittai University Time Trials meet in Kanagawa, 17-year-old  Keita Sato  (Rakunan H.S.) ran a U18 world-leading 13:31.19 in the men's 5000 m Heat 20 to take 3.55 seconds off the high school 5000 m national record of 13:34.74 set in September last year by Kosuke Ishida  (Saitama Sakae H.S.). Sato's time also took 5.38 seconds off the U18 national record of 13:36.57 set last November by Taishi Ito  (Saku Chosei H.S.). In July at the Hokuren Distance Challenge Chitose Meet 1500 m Sato ran 3:37.18, breaking the high school national record of 3:38.49 set in 1999 by Kiyoharu Sato  (Saku Chosei H.S.) and setting a new U18 record. He followed up in January with an 8:00.09 for 3000 m, also a new U18 national record and less than a second off the high school NR.  Sunday was another historic day on his resume. At last December's National High School Ekiden Championships Sato was the top Japanese finisher at 5th on the Third Stage, helping Rakunan H.S.  to finish 3rd ov

Nagoya Women’s Marathon Announces $250,000 USD Prize Money for 2022 Winner

a press release from the Nagoya Women's Marathon The Nagoya Women’s Marathon is delighted to announce that it will increase the prize money for its 2022 race, scheduled on Sunday, March 13, 2022, to $250,000 USD. This will make the Nagoya Women’s Marathon 2022 the highest-prize paying marathon in the world.  A global leader in women’s running as the world’s largest women-only marathon and the sole women’s race with a World Athletics Platinum Label, the Nagoya Women’s Marathon made this decision in pursuit of greater heights. By holding a higher-level race among the fastest women athletes gathered from across the world, the organizers aim to convey to the global audience the wonders of marathons, particularly the talent and outstanding ability of women athletes.  Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, many road races have been forced to cancel or postpone, and athletes’ opportunities have been lost. Thanks to the dedication of medical professionals and the cooperation o