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Showing posts from 2023

A Late Update on Niigata, Matsue and Tokushima

A late update on last weekend's main domestic Japanese road results. At the Niigata Half Marathon , Meiji University 's Shota Morishita dominated with a win by 34 seconds over teammate Hibiki Kikkawa in the men's race, clocking 1:03:26. Ayami Hirano of the Noritz corporate team had an even bigger margin of victory in the women's race, running 1:14:28 and finishing 1:14 up on 2nd-placer Mayuka Fujita from Route Inn Hotels . Complete results . The Matsue Ladies Half Marathon , which doubles as the National University Women's Half Marathon, saw one of the tightest finishes in its history after three-straight years of pandemic-era cancelations. Panasonic 's Yuki Nakamura beat top collegian Hikaru Kitagawa of Osaka Geijutsu University by 2 seconds to win in 1:10:48. A corporate leaguer also took the 10 km division, with Yuna Takahashi from the Shimamura team winning by over 6 minutes in 33:47. Surprisingly, Kitagawa's time of 1:10:50 was the fastest-ev

The 2023 Hakone Ekiden Champs Komazawa University at the United Airlines NYC Half

2023 Hakone Ekiden champion Komazawa University 's 1st and 8th runners from its winning team Kensuke Tsubura  and Yuto Akahoshi were at the United Airlines NYC Half Sunday with head coach Hiroaki Oyagi and his wife Kyoko Oyagi as part of the partnership between race organizers NYRR and November's Ageo City Half Marathon set up by JRN in 2012. For both athletes it was the first time for them to ever go outside Japan. Akahoshi, a 3rd-year at Komazawa who ran his PB of 1:02:00 at Ageo last fall, lasted longer in the main pack, staying with the group that ended up filling 4th through 14th after the breakaway move up the East Side by world record holders Jacob Kiplimo and Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda and Moroccan Zouhair Talbi . In the last 5 km he dropped back to finish 14th in 1:03:49, just behind 2022 Fukuoka International Marathon winner Maru Teferi of Israel. "My goal was to come here and try to stay with some of the best athletes in the world, so I'm pretty disap

Where Japan's Paris Olympic Marathon Trials Qualification Is At

Last Sunday's Nagoya Women's Marathon was the last of the main chances for Japanese marathoners to qualify for the Oct. 15 MGC Race, the country's official marathon trials for the 2024 Paris Olympics. At the trials the top 2 finishers will be named to the Olympic team, with the 3rd finisher provisionally in and the 4th and 5th placers named provisional alternates. After that it's one last turn through the winter 2023-24 season of the big domestic races where people will have the chance to steal the 3rd spot on the team and bump the 3rd-placer at the trials down to alternate. The deadline for qualifying for the trials is May 31, and there are still a few smaller domestic races like this Sunday's Tokushima Marathon and April's Nagano Marathon, and overseas races with a World Athletics elite label or better where those who haven't qualified yet can try to make a miracle happen. But for the most part, almost all the real contenders are already in. 62 men and 29

Shinohara Wins National University Half Marathon, 215 Go Sub-1:06

Fresh off becoming the fastest-ever Japanese-born collegiate half marathoner with a 1:00:11 in Marugame last month, 2023 Hakone Ekiden champ Komazawa University 2nd-year Kotaro Shinohara won the National University Half Marathon Sunday in Tokyo's western suburb of Tachikawa. In warm conditions the dense lead group ran relatively conservatively, on track to go just under 63 minutes. But entering Tachikawa's Showa Kinen Park for a final 5 km of undulations and sharp turns Shinohara turned it on to pull away, winning easily in 1:02:16. Another of the pre-race favorites, sub-28 10000 m runner Reishi Yoshida of Hakone non-qualifier Chuo Gakuin University was 2nd in 1:02:29. Another Hakone non-qualifier, Tokyo Nogyo University 's Neo Namiki looked set to take 3rd. But in the last km Rei Matsunaga of Hosei University , famed for trying to run away with last year's Kanto Regionals 5000 m versus 3000 m SC NR holder Ryuji Miura , came up to pass Namiki, stealing 3rd in 1:0

Ruth Chepngetich Repeats in Nagoya With Solo 2:18:08

With temps in the high teens the Nagoya Women's Marathon was warmer than ideal, but that didn't stop the expected protagonists from dominating, and in fast times. 2022 winner Ruth Chepngetich soloed the race the entire way, going ahead of the pacers in the first kilometer and splitting between 16:14 and 16:19 for five of the six 5 km splits up to 30 km. She couldn't quite hold it together enough over the last 10 km to give her 2:17:18 CR from last year a serious go, fading from 1:08:47 at halfway to a 2:18:08 for 1st. But that was still enough for her to win by over a kilometer and take home another $250,000. The main chase group of over a dozen skimmed just under 17 minutes per 5 km through a 1:11:20 half split before top-ranked Japan woman Ayuko Suzuki took off when the last pacer stopped. Deshun Zhang and Mao Uesugi initially went with her but soon lost touch, leaving Suzuki to drop an impressive 48-second negative split for a 2:21:52 PB, 10 seconds better than her

Nagoya and the National University Half - Weekend Preview

Two big races cap Sunday's road racing action in Japan. First up is the Nagoya Women's Marathon , where last year's winner Ruth Chepngetich is back saying at the pre-race press conference that she's ready to break the course record. Although she's still listed in the field on the English section of the Nagoya site, oddly she has been dropped from the Japanese section's field listing . She wasn't included in yesterday's announcement of the withdrawal of Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist Molly Seidel and Germany's Katharina Steinruck , either language version, so it's possible her absence from the field listing on the Japanese site is a mistake. But it's very odd. Either way, the world's largest women-only marathon has a relatively thin elite field , even thinner with Seidel and Steinruck out. 2021 Valencia winner Nancy Jelagat is the only sub-2:20 runner in the field apart from Chepngetich, with the next tier solidly at the 2:22-2:23 and

H.S. 5000 m NR Holder Hiroto Yoshioka Recovering From World XC Collapse

13:22.99 high school boys' 5000 m national record holder Hiroto Yoshioka , a 3rd-year at Nagano's Saku Chosei H.S. , talked to the media for the first time after returning from the Feb. 18 World Cross Country Championships in Bathurst, Australia. "I can't say everything is back to normal, but I'm getting better bit by bit," he said. In high temperatures at World XC Yoshioka ran an aggressive race against the international field, only to collapse right before the finish. "I was really flying, a lot more than usual, and I could feel it was really physically demanding," he said. "I thought I had crossed the finish line, but the line where I collapsed was actually the start line. People around me were shouting, 'You're not done!'" Unable to move his legs, he used his arms to inch forward feet-first. He instinctively felt he had reached the finish line and collapsed again, this time for good. But, he admitted, "Since I was goin

Seidel and Steinruck Withdraw From Nagoya Women's Marathon

On Mar. 8 the organizers of Sunday's Nagoya Women's Marathon announced that American Olympic medalist Molly Seidel and German Katharina Steinruck have withdrawn from the race. According to the organizers, Seidel has sustained an injury to her right hip while Steinruck was described as suffering from acute sinusitis. More here . © 2023 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Rio Olympian Kitajima Retires from Yasukawa Denki as London Olympian Nakamoto Becomes Head Coach

The Yasukawa Denki men's corporate team has announced that four of its members including 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics marathoner Hisanori Kitajima , 38, are retiring. Kitajima won the Hakone Ekiden's Eighth Stage his fourth year at Toyo University . He finished 2nd as the top Japanese man at the 2016 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon to qualify for the Rio Olympics, where he placed 94th. In comments Kitajima said, "The last few years I've felt my body deteriorating day by day, and it was frustrating not to be able to do the kind of training and aggressive racing I used to. But that made me change the way I approached racing, and to approach it with more thought and craft. I learned new things and changed my way of thinking, and as I got older I found a new kind of enjoyment and satisfaction in racing. Part of that was being called a veteran, which felt like some kind of persona. It made me want to compete with the 'veterans' from other teams, and that came to be a m

Wanjiru Runs World Lead, Deso Wins 3-Way Sprint Finish, Levins Breaks Canadian NR, and More - Tokyo Marathon 2023

The Tokyo Marathon delivered on quality and exciting races, if not the record-breaking depth its entry lists promised. Swiss power duo Manuela Schar and Marcel Hug broke the course records in the wheelchair races, Schar soloing a 1:36:43 CR to win the women's race by more than 6 minutes over Japanese NR holder Tsubasa Kina . Hug worked together with Japanese men's NR holder Tomoki Suzuki for the first 25 km before hammering on the bridge over the Sumida River just before 30 km to put him away. Hug opened more than 3 1/2 minutes on Suzuki from there to the finish, winning in a new CR of 1:20:57. Based in Japan since 2010, first at Aomori Yamada H.S. and then at the Starts corporate team, Rosemary Wanjiru came to the Tokyo Marathon women's race ranked #2 in the field after a 2:18:00 debut for 2nd in Berlin last fall. Running a lead quartet with Ethiopians Tsehay Gemechu , Worknesh Edesa and last year's runner-up Ashete Bekere , Wanjiru was calm and relaxed until th

Tokyo Marathon Preview

Riding the wave of the massive results at last weekend’s Osaka Marathon, the Tokyo Marathon is back this Sunday with what looks set to be the deepest-ever men’s marathon and strong women’s and wheelchair races in the works. Conditions are looking ideal, with the current forecast predicting temperatures of 8˚C at the start rising to 9˚C by the finish, cloud cover, and gentle 2 m/s winds. Fuji TV’s international broadcast will be available worldwide , with leaderboard and athlete tracking here . In the men’s race, an incredible 56 men on the entry list have run sub-2:10 since 2020. The deepest-ever marathon, the 2021 Lake Biwa Marathon, produced 42 sub-2:10 performances. Given that Osaka last week had 32 recent sub-2:10 runners on its list and produced 35 sub-2:10s on a tougher course than Tokyo’s, expect things to go big. With a 2:03:36 in 2019 in Berlin, 2021 London winner Sisay Lemma is the only one in the field to have run sub-2:04. But after a sub-par year in 2022 he’s vulnerable

More Records

Shinya Wada 's T11 marathon world record, 24-year-old duo Kazuya Nishiyama and Yohei Ikeda running the two fastest Japanese debut marathons ever, and South African Stephen Mokoka and Mongolian Jamsran Olonbayar each coming within 10 seconds of their NR made the Osaka Marathon something special this year. But they weren't the only records and near-misses on the Japanese scene this weekend. In Spain, women-only half marathon NR holder Rino Goshima of 2022 National Corporate Women's Ekiden champ team Shiseido ran a 30:55 road 10 km NR for 3rd in the Maraton de Castellon's mixed-gender 10 km race . With the previous record having stood at just 31:44 for a women-only race and 31:49 for a mixed race it was a pretty soft record to break, but given how often top-level Japanese women run under that, even under 31 minutes, on the long stages at ekidens it was good to see someone take a serious swing at putting a quality mark in the books. Her teammates Tomoka Kimura and

National Cross Country Championships Results

The favorites took the top spots in most of the races at Sunday's National Cross Country Championships in Fukuoka. The front end of the U20 women's 6 km was like a replay of the 6.0 km First Stage at December's National High School Ekiden, and it couldn't have been closer. Both Kanoko Nawa , leadoff runner for ekiden winner Nagano Higashi H.S. , and Akari Matsumoto , the first runner from 7th-place Chikushi Joshi Gakuen H.S. , clocked 20:20 with Nawa getting the win in the photo finish. Narumi Okumoto , first runner from ekiden 8th-placer Kojokan H.S. , was 3rd in 20:23, and Aya Kotajima , first runner from 5th-place Hakuho Joshi H.S. , was 4th in 20:28. Soma Nagahara , the first runner from Saku Chosei H.S. ' runner-up team at the National High School Ekiden, won the U20 men's 8 km in another photo finish, both he and Sota Yamasaki , first runner from 12th-place Yamaguchi Kenritsu Saikyo H.S. , clocking 24:01. Sota Orita (Suma Gakuen H.S.) was a close 3rd

A Record-Breaking Day at the Osaka Marathon

With five 180˚ turnaround points and serious hills in its last 12 km the Osaka Marathon course isn't the fastest around, but that didn't hold back record-breaking runs in both the women's and men's races. Great conditions, 5˚~7˚C, light clouds and very light winds definitely helped. The women's race went steadily on 2:22 pace, an early group of six shaking down to just four, Japan's Momoko Watanabe (Tenmaya), favorite Vivian Kiplagat (Kenya) and Ethiopian duo Helen Bekele Tola and Beyenu Degefa , by 30 km with Australian a few seconds behind. Bekele made the winning break, pulling away to win in a course record 2:22:16. Watanabe, who came into the race with a best of only 2:30:42 PB, led Degefa in the home straight but lost out in the last kick. Degefa was 2nd in 2:23:07 and Watanabe 2:23:08 for 3rd, clearing the 2:24:00 auto-qualifying standard for MGC Race Olympic marathon trials qualification. Only getting faster with age, the 43-year-old Weightman ran K

National XC and Osaka Marathon - Weekend Preview

Two big events cap the weekend's Japanese schedule. Just a week after the World Cross Country Championships, the National Cross Country Championships happen Sunday in Fukuoka. At the U20 level most of the top talent ran Worlds last week or is entered in the senior races, leaving deep but not especially strong fields in the U20 women's 6 km and U20 men's 8 km races. 2022 National High School Ekiden girls' winner Nagano Higashi H.S. has its two leading runners from its national title-winning team entered, Kanoko Nawa and Mai Kubota . Boys' runner-up Saku Chosei H.S. , one of the first programs to incorporate cross country training as a major part of its regimen, is a notable presence in the U20 men's race with 25 athletes entered including ekiden team members Soma Nagahara , Shumpei Yamaguchi and Kazuma Shino . Boys' national champ Kurashiki H.S. is giving it a miss. The senior women's race is thin on top-tier talent, the biggest names being Chika Ko

Former Sendai Ikuei H.S. Coach Junichi Seino Named Teikyo Teika University Women's Head Coach

On Feb. 21 Teikyo Teika University announced that former Sendai Ikuei H.S. head coach and Juntendo University alum Junichi Seino , 38, will take over as the new head coach of its women's ekiden team starting Mar. 1. As an athlete Seino was a member of Sendai Ikuei's winning team at the 2001 National High School Ekiden during his second year, and of Juntendo's winning team at the 2007 Hakone Ekiden his fourth year there. After graduating from Juntendo he served as head coach at Sendai Ikuei from 2008 to 20012, then as assistant coach at the Sekisui Kagaku women's corporate team from 2014 to 2018. Following that he worked in sales for home builder Sekisui Heim. With a proven record of achievement as a coach and athlete and business experience outside athletics, Teikyo Teika felt that Seino was the ideal choice to lead its women's ekiden team, launched in 2018, to its first National University Women's Ekiden appearance. Located in Adachi ward, Tokyo, the school