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Showing posts from January, 2022

Kayoko Fukushi Hangs Them Up

It's the end of an era, really. Two months shy of her 40th birthday, Kayoko Fukushi  retired yesterday after running the Osaka Half Marathon . Five of the other legends of Japanese women's long distance, Akemi Masuda , Yuko Arimori , Naoko Takahashi , Masako Chiba  and Mizuki Noguchi , were there to celebrate a career spanning national records that have stood for over 20 years, still-standing championship ekiden stage records, possibly the most spectacular elite marathon debut in history, a World Championships marathon medal , and four-straight Olympic appearances.  For all that success, it always seemed to be there in the background that she wasn't able to break Yoko Shibui 's 10000 m NR, and she seemed like a reluctant marathoner, at least until it was too late. In interviews Fukushi was always interesting, dropping in her sharp, dry wit whenever she could, and with any luck we'll be getting more of that in the commentary booth for years to come. Since the start

Matsuda Breaks Osaka CR in 2:20:52

Beating the odds as race after race cancels amid rising COVID numbers, the Osaka International Women's Marathon went ahead as planned Sunday in great conditions along with its partner Osaka Half Marathon . Osaka local and favorite Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) proved unstoppable again, running with three male pacers on mid-2:19 pace most of the way, dropping lone competitor Mao Uesugi (Starts) with a surge at 25 km, fading over the final 10 km but hanging on to break the course record with a PB 2:20:52 that moved her up to all-time Japanese #5. In six marathon starts to date Matsuda has won Osaka three times, Nagoya once, and placed 5th in Berlin, all between 2:20:52 and 2:22:44. Not many people have that kind of record of success, anywhere. With this performance she's all but a lock to be named to the Oregon World Championships team, where she'll get a chance to show what she can do against real international competition. But having been in the same position for the Tokyo

Inoue and Adachi Win Osaka Half Marathon as Fukushi Bows Out

Just about the only mass-participation race not to have canceled as Japan's COVID numbers hit record-breaking levels every day, the  Osaka Half Marathon happened Sunday alongside the Osaka International Women's Marathon . 3,572 people finished the half, making it the biggest in Japan so far this year. 2:06 marathoner Hiroto Inoue (Mitsubishi Juko) ran a PB to win the men's race in a 1:01:14 course record as part of his buildup for a shot at the 2:04:56 marathon national record at March's Tokyo Marathon, if it happens. Chugoku Denryoku corporate teammates Joseph Waweru Nganga , Takumi Kiyotani and Naoki Okamoto did most of the work leading the race, with Inoue not taking over until around 15 km, which he split in 43:22. When he made his break for it Kiyohito Akiyama (Aichi Seiko) was the only one to go with him, but Akiyama soon let go and settled back into a small chase group with Nganga, Okamoto and Akira Tomiyasu (Raffine). Inoue was unchallenged over the final

Osaka International Women's Marathon and Osaka Half Marathon Preview

Despite Osaka being named to a preliminary state of emergency as Japan goes deeper into its omicron wave, this weekend's Osaka International Women's Marathon and Osaka Half Marathon are going ahead on their traditional public road courses. Osaka Women's is Japan's last remaining purely elite marathon, and with the mass-participation Osaka Marathon moving to the last weekend of February this year and targeting WA platinum label status the writing has to be on the wall for its future. It just doesn't seem sustainable to have this race four weeks before the start of a three-week run of platinum label races, one in the same city, one in Tokyo and one in Nagoya. But for this year, at least, Osaka Women's clearly has the support up top in the local government to keep moving, and that counts for something. Like the 2021 race, despite its name it's a Japanese-only field with male pacers, kind of inevitably on the first point given Japan's ongoing border fortif

Ultra Runner Osada Does 50 Ascents of Mount Takao in Three Days (updated)

Best-known for taking on a solo 100-miler around a single tree along a riverbank near his home in the early weeks of the pandemic, ultra runner Goshi Osada  was back at it this week with another solo challenge. This time Osada tackled western Tokyo's Mount Takao, a popular recreational trail hike peaking out at 599 m.  Starting on Monday, Osada attempted 50 consecutive round trips of a 4 km loop up and down the mountain, starting at around 240 m, going to the summit, and back down. Running through the night and covering each lap of the partially snow-covered course in about 50 minutes, he completed the 50th lap late Wednesday night for a total distance of 200 km with 18,000 m total climb and double that for total elevation change.  Osada estimated that he slept for a total of 5 hours over the three days and burned over 21,000 kcal. "I was constantly refueling," he said. Post-run he told JRN, "Over the last two years all the races I'd been targeting were canceled

Feb. 20 Kochi Ryoma Marathon Canceled

We regret to announce that the Feb. 20, 2022 Kochi Ryoma Marathon has been canceled. To meet the expectations of all those who had trained through the pandemic and everyone else who supports our event, the organizing committee had thoroughly explored and planned measures that would allow the race to go ahead. But with new coronavirus cases expanding rapidly across the country and the difficulties created in securing the services of staff necessary to put on the event, despite the short amount of time left until the race the organizing committee has decided that it would not be possible to hold the race in a way that would be safe for participants, staff, and the citizens of Kochi prefecture. We are very sorry for all the runners who believed in our race and trained to be ready for it, for all the staff, volunteers and other stakeholders already in the process of preparing for the event, and all the others who support the Ryoma Marathon. Thank you for understanding this decision. Part

Mar. 6 Kagoshima Marathon Canceled

The Kagoshima Marathon organizing committee regrets to announce that this year's race scheduled for Mar. 6 has been officially canceled.  The organizing committee had made careful preparations to hold the event for the first time since 2019 with COVID-safe protocols in order to meet the hopes of all the runners, volunteers and others who had been eagerly looking forward to its return, and to bring the local community something that would inspire it. But with the current explosive 6th-wave spread of new coronavirus cases throughout the prefecture and nationwide fueled by the highly infectious omicron variant, the situation is now one in which it is no longer possible to know for certain where or when someone was infected. In consideration of this, we decided that we could no longer hold the race in a way that would ensure the safety of all participants, staff, volunteers and local residents, and with great regret have been forced to cancel it. We are painfully aware that this will

National Corporate Half Marathon to Accept Collegiate Runners After Marugame Cancels

Following the cancelation of the Feb. 6 Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon , JITA has announced that it will give special permission for top collegiate athletes who had been entered in Marugame to run in the Feb. 13 National Corporate Half Marathon in Yamaguchi instead.  Top collegiate athletes from the Kanto Region have often taken a week or two off after the Hakone Ekiden, then delivered excellent performances at Marugame. Last week it was announced that this year's Marugame has been canceled due to an explosive resurgence in coronavirus cases, its second-straight cancelation.  With that opportunity now gone, JITA created the special opportunity for top university athletes to compete at the National Corporate Half a week after they would have raced in Marugame. But with the field at the National Corporate Half already at is maximum capacity, JITA has limited the number of collegians it will accept to around 10. A complication is that Yamaguchi prefecture's current p

Kayoko Fukushi to Publish Book After Retiring This Month

Set to retire after running the Jan. 30 Osaka Half Marathon, Kayoko Fukushi  (39, Wacoal) will publish a book through Kyoto's Iroha Publishing . Its title will be simply "Kayoko Fukushi."  The book will give an autobiographical account of the many achievements throughout her career, from setting multiple national records to four-straight Olympic teams to her unforgettable debut at the Osaka International Women's Marathon where she fell repeatedly late in the race. Contributors to the book include her parents, teachers, and other athletes including her Wacoal teammate and Tokyo Olympian Mao Ichiyama . Publication is scheduled for Feb. 19, with reservations for autographed copies open now via Sankei iD. source article: translated by Brett Larner

Denso and Chikushi Joshi Gakuen Win Kitakyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden

One of the only races to resist the pressure to cancel as Japan's COVID numbers break new ground, the Kitakyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden took place Sunday in northern Fukuoka with top high school, college, club and corporate teams racing a short 27.2 km course through cold rain.  Only 21 of the 40 teams on the entry list started, but among them was defending open division champ Denso . Denso took the lead on the 3.8 km Second Stage with another course record run from CR holder Husan Zeyituna and held on through midway on the 10.4 km Fifth Stage, when anchor Yuka Matsumoto was caught by Nozomi Tanaka of the non-scoring Meijo/Toyota Select Team . The Meijo/Toyota hybrid crossed the line first in 1:28:05, Denso 51 seconds back to score 1st in the open division and claim a 2nd-straight win. But they were actually 3rd across the line. The local Chikushi Joshi Gakuen H.S. team led the high school division from the start, falling back a bit on the Second Stage but clocking t

Cancelations Hit Beppu-Oita and Nobeoka Marathons

The latest wave of race cancelations sweeping Japan as its coronavirus case numbers climb to record highs hit two elite-level marathons Friday, the Feb. 6 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon and Feb. 13 Nobeoka Nishi Nihon Marathon . Planned as a full-sized race with 4,184 entrants, with just two weeks to go Beppu-Oita announced that in an effort to cope with the worsening situation it was limiting its field to those with sub-2:30 times and their pacers, IPC athletes, and local entrants, all required to be fully vaccinated and tested within a short period before the race. Its new limited field of 543 takes Beppu-Oita back to its roots as an elite-only race, but the remaining 3600+ entrants find themselves out of luck. Just down the coast, Nobeoka took an even more conservative approach. Planned with a field size of only 200 plus an invited athlete field of what would probably have been another 8 or 10, the city government announced on Friday that the race has been canceled outright. In th

Feb. 20 Kitakyushu Marathon Canceled

After having been canceled last year, we have been taking precautions against the coronavirus pandemic and been preparing to hold the Kitakyushu Marathon again on Feb. 20 this year. But with the rapid spread of the omicron variant since the beginning of the year, the increasing infection numbers all across the country, and no sign of passing the peak yet in sight, we feel that it would now be difficult to ensure the safety of all runners, volunteers, medical personal and race officials. As a result, we regret to inform you that we must cancel this year's race. Please read this Q&A PDF for more information regarding the cancelation. Translator's note: In its last edition in 2020 the Kitakyushu Marathon had 9,485 finishers. source article: translated by Brett Larner

Feb. 20 Shonan International Marathon Canceled

Scheduled for Feb. 20, 2022, the 16th Shonan International Marathon has been officially canceled. For everyone who has borne hope through the coronavirus crisis and worked together to bring back mass-participation marathons, we had set as our goal the task of staging an event where everyone could participate safely even in the midst of the pandemic. To that end we were requiring a negative PCR test and full vaccination for all runners, volunteers and staff members, and we are deeply disappointed not to be able to follow through for all of those who understood the need for these requirements and made the brave decision to support them. Our initial plan for implementing the race safely was based on these two requirements and additional countermeasures against the spread of the virus. But with the outbreak of the omicron variant, which has a very short incubation period from infection to expression of the disease that decreases the reliability of PCR testing in the three days before the

Kipchoge to Run Tokyo Marathon If It Happens and He Can Get Into Country

On Jan. 19 it was learned that men's marathon world record holder and two-time Olympic marathon gold medalist Eliud Kipchoge , 37, may run the Mar. 6 Tokyo Marathon. Multiple sources involved in the situation said that the Tokyo Marathon organizers have extended an offer to Kipchoge for his participation. If he does run, there is a strong possibility that he will break both the course and all-comers' records of 2:03:58 set in 2017 by Wilson Kipsang  by a wide margin. At the same time, the Omicron coronavirus variant is likely to have a significant impact on the event's chances. The government has banned all non-resident foreigners from entering the country since Nov. 30 last year. Tokyo and other areas of the country are set to enter a partial state of emergency on Jan. 21. And the Tokyo Marathon organizers have established the policy that they will cancel the race if after Feb. 6 the government asks large-scale events to refrain from going forward and it meets the criteria

Kyoto Wins 2nd-Straight National Women's Ekiden

The 40th National Women's Ekiden took place Jan. 16, starting and finishing at Kyoto's Takebishi Stadium and covering 42.195 km in 9 stages. The race having been canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 winner Kyoto took the top spot again in 2:15:05 to strengthen its position as the winningest team in event history with 18 national titles. Fukuoka scored 2nd, with Miyagi taking 3rd. Following up on her superb 31:28 CR on the National Corporate Women's Ekiden 's 10.0 km Fifth Stage in November, Shiseido corporate runner Rino Goshima put the Ishikawa prefecture team out front on the 6.0 km opening leg, beating members of the Tokyo Olympic team and finishing in 18:41, just 2 seconds behind the CR held by 5000 m NR holder Ririka Hironaka . Kyoto's Sakiho Tsutsui was only 9th, but over the next three stages the team worked its way toward the front of the field along with Fukuoka and Miyagi. On the race's Eighth Stage, 3.0 km reserved for juni

Feb. 6 Marugame Half Marathon Canceled

The city of Marugame in Kagawa has announced that February's Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon has been postponed for one year. Mayor Kyoji Matsunaga  explained the decision, saying, "Due to the rapid rise in coronavirus infections since the beginning of the year, we made the decision to postpone the race a year." The Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon had been scheduled for Feb. 6. Every year it has welcomed 10,000 runners from over 20 countries, but due to the coronavirus pandemic the 2021 was postponed a year to 2022. Around 8,000 people from across the country had entered the 2022 race, but in light of the explosion in new coronavirus cases they now find themselves in the situation of having the race postponed another year. The 2023 edition is scheduled for Feb. 5. Translator's note: This comes just a few days after the cancelation of next weekend's National Men's Ekiden and other late-January races. Expect more cancelations shortly.

Uchida 4th at Chevron Houston Marathon

Making his international debut with support from JRN, Kenta Uchida (SID Group) took 4th in the Chevron Houston Marathon in a tight pack race to the end. The debuting Frank Lara  (U.S.A.) did most of the work throughout the race, leading the front group through halfway in 1:05:30 before things slowed to mid-2:12 territory. When another first-timer, Luke Caldwell (Great Britain) caught up just after 25 km and went right by into the lead the pace picked up, but at 40 km it was still a group of 6 all right together. James Ngandu (Kenya), yet another runner doing his first marathon, had the strongest kick, finishing in 2:11:03 to run almost even splits. 2nd placer Abdi Abdo (Bahrain) was 8 seconds behind by the end, but just 9 seconds separated him from 5th. Elisha Barno (Kenya) edged Uchida for 3rd by 3 seconds 2:11:16 to 2:11:19, with 2020 winner Kelkile Gezahegn (Ethiopia) another second behind Uchida. Both Lara and Caldwell cleared 2:12 in 6th and 7th. "For his first time rac

Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon Elite Field

Other races have started canceling as Japan's COVID-19 numbers climb again, but the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon is set to return this year on Feb 6, announcing its elite field on Jan 14. The front end is heavily dominated by people who part of the Miracle in Lake Biwa last year, Shuho Dairokuno  (Asahi Kasei) and Tsubasa Ichiyama  (Komori Corp.) leading the way at 2:07:12 and 2:07:41 from that race. Four others on the list have run 2:08 recently, three at Lake Biwa, with two 2:09 veterans rounding out a sub-2:10 club that's as good as in any past year at Beppu-Oita, even without an international field. Well, there is one Ethiopian in the race, 2019 Fukuoka 3rd-placer Derese Workneh (Hiramatsu Byoin), but he's locally-based in Kyushu. But where this year's field really stands out is in its list of first-timers. Sub-61 half marathoners Kiyoshi Koga  (Yasukawa Denki) and Yusuke Nishiyama (Toyota) are there fresh off good runs on the New Year Ekiden 's longest stag

Jan. 23 National Men's Ekiden Canceled Amid Resurgent COVID-19 Numbers

The JAAF has announced that due to the rapid increase in coronavirus infections in Hiroshima, the National Men's Ekiden scheduled to take place there on Jan. 23 has been canceled. It is the second year in a row for the event to be canceled because of the pandemic. The National Men's Ekiden starts and finishes at Hiroshima's Peace Park, with teams from each of Japan's 47 prefectures made up of 7 athletes ranging from junior high school students to top pros covering a 48.0 km course through the city and neighboring Hatsukaichi. Including coaches and team staff, roughly 600 people from across the country had been scheduled to take part. Athletes entered this year represented the best of multiple generations, including 6 members of the Tokyo Olympic team , 9 members of Aoyama Gakuin University 's 2022 Hakone Ekiden champion team, and many of the top people from December's National High School Ekiden . But since the start of the new year COVID-19 infections have s

'Defending Champions Return to Mark 50th Anniversary of Chevron Houston Marathon' Kenta Uchida (SID Group) will be making his international debut at the Chevron Houston Marathon with support from JRN after running a 2:08:12 PB at last year's record-breaking Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon .

Hakone Champ Aoyama Gakuin Alternate Sekiguchi Wins Hi-Tech Half Marathon

20 runners from  Aoyama Gakuin University  who were not among the school's 10 starting members in its course record win at last week's Hakone Ekiden ran the Hi-Tech Half Marathon Sunday in Tokyo. 3rd-year Takehiro Sekiguchi , who had been scheduled to run Hakone's 20.9 km Fourth Stage but was swapped out on race morning by head coach Susumu Hara , won in 1:02:26, the fastest time this school year by a Japanese-born college student. "I've got one year of school left," said Sekiguchi post-race. "Next season I want to build on the momentum of this win." Including Sekiguchi, a total of 5 AGU runners who had been on the team's 16-man Hakone entry list but not among its 10 starters ran the half marathon. It was a week after the main event, but the race, nicknamed the "Eleventh Stage" by the team, gave them the chance to do something with the fitness they'd built through hard training for Hakone.  Traditionally AGU has run its non-starti

Atsushi Sato Named Head Coach of Chugoku Denryoku Corporate Team

Beijing Olympic marathoner and former team member Atsushi Sato , 43, has been named head coach of the Chugoku Denryoku  men's corporate team as of the beginning of this month. Coming back to the team after 8 years, Sato is a strong choice to succeed Yasushi Sakaguchi  and return it to its previous position as a leading producer of top-level athletes. "I'm very happy to be a part of helping the team I belonged to develop," Sato said. "I want it to evolve and grow, not just make a comeback." Sato is a native of Fukushima. A graduate of Aizu H.S.  and Waseda University , he joined Chugoku Denryoku in 2001. With his main focus on the marathon he ran 2:07:13 at the 2007 Fukuoka International Marathon , at the time the 4th-fastest ever by a Japanese man. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics he finished in last place in 76th, but a year later he came back and made 6th at the 2009 Berlin World Championships . He retired following the 2013 Fukuoka International Marathon ,

Nationals Runner-Up Rakunan H.S. Training in Kochi With Support From Medical Science University Students

17 members of Kyoto's  Rakunan H.S.  boys' ekiden team are currently on a training camp at Kochi's Haruno Sports Park. At the Dec. 26 National High School Ekiden Rakunan became the first all-Japanese team to break 2:02 for the 42.195 km course, finishing 2nd overall. After training in Kochi last year, this camp is the team's second time there. "It's warmer here than in Kyoto so it seems easier to move, even when we're doing hard workouts," said 2nd-year Yuichiro Kojima .  In addition to their regular training workouts, on this camp the runners are also working with students from Kochi Professional University of Rehabilitation . The university students are providing medical science support across a range of areas such as measurements of lactic acid, an indication of physical fatigue levels. "In school we're learning a lot of highly specialized information," commented one of the students, Shogo Nakayama . "I expected it to be difficul

Hakone Ekiden 2nd Stage Winner Ren Tazawa Honored at Hometown City Hall

A native of Hachinohe, Aomori, Komazawa University  ekiden team member Ren Tazawa  was honored at Hachinohe city hall on Jan. 5 for winning the Hakone Ekiden's Second Stage . Tazawa visited city hall with his junior high school-era coach Kiyoshi Kazahari  of Korekawa J.H.S. and talked with mayor Yuichi Kumagai  about his win on Hakone's most competitive leg.  A third-year at Komazawa, Tazawa served as team captain in the year leading up to the 2022 Hakone Ekiden. Komazawa fell short of a second-straight overall Hakone win , but its 3rd-place finish was buoyed by Tazawa's superb run on the Second Stage. Tazawa will return to Tokyo on Jan. 6, and on Jan. 7 he will begin training for May's National Championships 10000 m. source article: translated by Brett Larner

The 2022 Hakone Ekiden By the Numbers

The level at the Hakone Ekiden just keeps going up and up.  Every year it seems like it can't go any further, and then it does. 3 stages this year had new course records, 9 out of 10 legs had at least one all-time top 10 mark, and 4 stages had 4 times inside their best-ever 10. In the absolute sense, shoes have played a part in that over the last few years, but in a relative sense the best college teams have at least equalled the top of the corporate leagues, and the teams behind them are getting closer and closer to the same level. At this year's 98th running on Jan. 2 and 3  Aoyama Gakuin University broke its own course record to make it 6 wins in 8 years. AGU clocked 10:43:42 for the complete 10-stage, 217.1 km course, an average of 2:57.9/km the entire way. How does that compare to Honda , which won the New Year Ekiden corporate men's championships on Jan. 1? Honda ran 4:51:04 for the 7-stage, 100.0 km course, averaging 2:54.6/km over an average 14.3 km stage lengt