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Showing posts from January, 2023

Weekend Road Race Roundup

It was another busy weekend with marathons in Osaka, Ibaraki and Chiba, a half marathon in Osaka, and post-season ekidens across the country. The Osaka International Women's Marathon was the major one of the bunch, if not an especially memorable race. On a new course that saw the addition of at least two hills and the start and finish point downgraded from the spectacular Yanmar Stadium Nagai to its exterior warmup track, it was basically a race of attrition that saw people fall off the sub-2:20 pace set by the pacers until only three athletes, Ethiopians Haven Hailu Desse and Meseret Gola Sisay and top-ranked Japanese woman Yuka Ando (Wacoal) were left. Desse surged the hardest at 30 km, running on unchallenged from there to win in 2:21:13. Sisay was next in 2:22:12, with Ando 3rd in 2:22:59. More memorable were two mid-race incidents. Just past 5 km, Reia Iwade (Denso) clipped Sayaka Sato (Sekisui Kagaku) from behind and both went down. Sato got the worst of it, bloody in b

Osaka Women's Marathon and Osaka Half Preview and Streaming

Fresh off the announcement of the Tokyo Marathon elite field yesterday, Japan's first major marathon of the year takes place Sunday with the Osaka International Women's Marathon . Fuji TV will broadcast it live starting at noon local time, with streaming on TVer . With a reworked course that's hillier but which organizers hope will somehow still be faster, Osaka Women's is positioned for a 2:20 race with three women, Kenya's Maurine Chepkemoi and Ethiopians Haven Haile Desse and Sisay Meseret Gola at that level. The top tier of Japanese women, Sayaka Sato , Yuka Ando and Mao Uesugi , all ran 2:22 last year, so it'll be a jump up for them to stay with the front group. There's also a high-potential debut from 1:09:14 half marathoner Sakiho Tsutsui , who so far has looked to be stronger as the distance increases. Sato, Ando and Uesugi have all already qualified for October's Olympic marathon trials, so their being in the race raises the bar for anyon

Tokyo Marathon Elite Field

The Tokyo Marathon is back to holding its race in the same year as its name, and it's got pretty good fields on both the women's and men's sides. The women's race draws pretty heavily on last fall's Berlin Marathon, with Japan-based Rosemary Wanjiru leading 3 of Berlin's top 4 alongside 2021 Tokyo runner-up Ashete Bekere , 2022 Seoul winner Joan Chelimo Melly , and 2022 Amsterdam 3rd-placer Tsehay Gemechu .  That group of 6 is all in the 2:17:58~2:18:59 range, exactly where the JAAF would like to see the top Japanese woman. Even with super shoes nobody has touched Mizuki Noguchi 's 2:19:12 NR in the almost 18 years since it was set, not that women-only NR holder Mao Ichiyama and last year's Osaka International Women's Marathon winner Mizuki Matsuda haven't tried. Maybe this'll be the year. Maybe not. Tokyo race director Tad Hayano generally hasn't cared at all about having internationals beyond that top tier, but this year there'

Hiroshi Inoue Named New Head Coach At Takushoku University After Two-Straight Hakone Misses

On Jan. 25 Takushoku University announced that Hiroshi Inoue , 60, will take over as head coach of its track and field program at the start of the new academic year on Apr. 1. Previous head coach Takuro Yamashita will step down at the end of March. A graduate of Komazawa University , Inoue ran the Hakone Ekiden all four years of his college career before going on to the Yasukawa Denki corporate team. Following his retirement as an athlete he became head coach at Oita Tomei H.S. , where he led the boys' and girls' teams to National High School Ekiden prominence for 34 years. Former Raffine corporate team head coach Kenichi Jiromaru , also a Komazawa graduate, will join Inoue as assistant coach at Takushoku. Takushoku failed to qualify for the Hakone Ekiden for the last two editions, but hopes are high that Inoue can return the team to its former strength. source article: translated and edited by Bre

37-Year-Old Rikkyo University Head Coach Ueno Anchors Nagano to National Men's Ekiden CR

There's a first time for everything. In the last major ekiden of the season, 37-year-old Yuichiro Ueno , head coach of the Rikkyo University team that ran the Hakone Ekiden three weeks ago, anchored the Nagano prefecture team to a second-straight course record win at the 28th National Men's Ekiden in Hiroshima. Nagano's Soma Nagahara got things off to a solid start, going one-on-one with favorite Sonata Nagashima of Hyogo on the 7.0 km 1st leg, both going under the old stage CR with Nagashima 1st in 19:39 and Nagahara only 2 seconds back. Over the next two stages Nagano dropped to 4th 20 seconds off the lead, but a pair of new CR from 4th and 5th runners and Saku Chosei H.S. teammates Shunpei Yamaguchi and Hiroto Yoshioka put the team 37 seconds ahead. 6th runner Riku Kobayashi extended that to 49 seconds, giving Ueno a margin of error of just over 3 sec/km on the 13.0 km anchor stage. Ueno first ran the National Men's Ekiden 20 years ago, passing 17 people on

Panasonic and Kamimura Gakuen H.S. Win Kitakyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden

The last major women's ekiden of the season happened north of Fukuoka Sunday at the 34th Kitakyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden . Top high school, university and corporate league teams run head-to-head at Kitakyushu, with the longest stage split into two for the high school division. 7th at November's National Corporate Women's Ekiden , Panasonic was first across the finish line after running down 2019 and 2020 high school division winner Kamimura Gakuen H.S. mid-race. After a good start from Panasonic's Nanami Watanabe , Kamimura Gakuen's Brenda Jepchirchir ran down Panasonic's Sakiko Naito on the 3.8 km 2nd stage. But Kaori Morita was quick to turn it back around for the Panasonic on the stage, turning a 2-second deficit into a 33-second lead in just 3.9 km. Morita handed off to her twin sister Shiori Morita , and from there the corporate leaguers ran unchallenged, winning for first time in 1:28:14. Kamimura Gakuen, 3rd at December's National Hig

Tokyo Kokusai University Head Coach Yuji Oshida Resigns After Team Misses Hakone Podium

After finishing 11th at the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden's 99th edition to end its 3-year streak of making the 10-deep podium, Tokyo Kokusai University announced on Jan. 18 that head coach Yuji Oshida , 60, will resign. After also finishing 8th at October's Izumo Ekiden and 11th at November's National University Ekiden Oshida's resignation came as a way of taking personal responsibility for the program's drop in competitive level. He will be replaced by veteran coach Saburo Yokomizo , 83. A graduate of Chuo University , where he won Hakone's 8th leg during his senior year, Oshida was the gold medalist in the 1500 m at the 1986 Asian Games. After working as assistant coach at Honda and Chuo, including for Chuo's 1996 Hakone Ekiden win, he has been head coach at Tokyo Kokusai since the program's inception in 2011, building it up from zero in consultation with fellow Chuo alumnus Yokomizo. Tokyo Kokusai first qualified for the Hakone Ekiden in 2016. In 2020 i

Matsuda Anchors Osaka to National Women's Ekiden Title, Junior High Schooler Drury 9:02 For 3 km

The top Japanese woman in the marathon at last summer's Oregon World Championships, Mizuki Matsuda went from 3rd to 1st on the anchor stage to give the Osaka team its fourth national title Sunday at the National Women's Ekiden in Kyoto. Osaka was 4th after the 6.0 km 1st leg and was never worse that than. 2nd runner Saya Nakajima put them in the lead, where they stayed for the next five of the 42.195 km race's nine stages except for a brief drop back to 4th when its fourth runner Chihiro Sato struggled. Fifth runner Yua Tsukamoto turned it back around, but with only a 1-second lead at the start of her stage junior high schooler Rio Kawamura couldn't hold off Fukuoka 's Shiina Sugahara and Tokyo 's Yuna Oki and dropped to 3rd. Matsuda started only 5 seconds out of 1st and had no trouble overtaking Tokyo anchor Yuri Karasawa and Fukuoka's Wakana Itsuki to go back out front. Matsuda turned in the fastest run on the 10.0 km anchor stage, 31:22, to br

Hashimoto and Ichiyama Win Okukuma Half Marathon

The 9th Okukuma Road Race , a JAAF-certified half marathon, took place Jan. 15 across the towns of Mizukami, Yunomae and Taragi in rural Kumamoto. In its first edition in 3 years after pandemic-era cancelations in 2021 and 2022, a total of 364 people finished in the event's 6 categories. In the men's half marathon, Hiroko Hashimoto (SG Holdings) won in 1:02:19, the fastest time ever at the race by a Japanese athlete. Former Hakone Ekiden uphill star Daichi Kamino (Cell Source) also ran, finishing 23rd in 1:06:11. Tokyo Olympics women's marathon 8th-placer and course record holder Mao Ichiyama (Shiseido) won the women's half marathon in 1:12:34. "I want to keep getting back into good shape and to earn my ticket to the Paris Olympics," she said post-race. Rio Olympics 5000 m finalist Miyuki Uehara (Kagoshima Ginko) was 12th in 1:22:27. 9th Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon Kumamoto, 15 Jan. 2023 complete results Men 1. Hiroki Hashimoto (SG Holdings) - 1:02:19

Fuwa Not On Starting List For National Women's Ekiden - Coach Says "Now's Not the Time to Overdo It"

The 9-stage, 42.195 km National Women's Ekiden takes place Jan. 15 in Kyoto starting and finishing at Takebishi Stadium. Absent from the stage entry list published Jan. 14 was the Gunma prefecture team's Seira Fuwa , 19, the collegiate 10000 m national record holder and a 2nd-year at Takushoku University . Her high school coach Hatsuo Kitada is serving as the Gunma team's coach this year. "We're looking toward her future," he said. "Now's not the time to overdo it." At last year's National Women's Ekiden Fuwa passed 13 people on the 4.0 km 4th leg, breaking its course record. Following that performance she sustained an Achilles tendon injury that kept her out of competition for most of 2022. In October she won her stage at the Morinomiyako Ekiden, but in order to ensure her continued recovery she did not run in December's Mt. Fuji Women's Ekiden national championships. Wakana Kabasawa of 2022 National Corporate Women's Eki

Honami Maeda and Madoka Nakano Withdraw From Osaka International Women's Marathon

On Jan. 13 the organizers of the Jan. 29 Osaka International Women's Marathon announced that 2021 Tokyo Olympian and 30 km NR holder Honami Maeda (Tenmaya) has withdrawn due to pain around her left ankle. It was to have been her first marathon since the Olympics. Maeda has yet to qualify for the Oct. 15 Paris Olympic marathon trials race in Tokyo. While working to rehabilitate her ankle she will look for an alternative race at which to qualify. 2019 Doha World Championships marathon team member Madoka Nakano (Iwatani Sangyo) has also withdrawn after straining a muscle in her left thigh. source article: translated by Brett Larner

Tsukuba University Track Facing Decertification, Lacking Funding to Meet JAAF Renovation Demands

Tsukuba University 's track in Tsukuba, Ibaraki may lose its certification from the JAAF as an officially-certfed facility due to wear and tear on the track surface and other shortcomings. The track is used to hold meets for local high school and junior high school students, but without official certification the future of these meets would be in question. The university is seeking funding of over 30 million yen [~$230,000 USD] in order to update and maintain the city's only certified track. Track certification is divided into four categories that determine the level of competition that can be held at a facility. Certification depends on factors such as the number of lanes, seating capacity, and presence or absence of a warmup track. The Tsukuba University track is certified as a level three facility, meaning it is suitable for regional competitions. Built in 1973, the Tsukuba University track is one of only eight certified facilities in the prefecture of Ibaraki. It is mostl

Hakone Ekiden 1st Leg Breakaway Leader Hayate Nitta Visits Hometown City Hall

Gaining attention nationwide for soloing the lead on the Hakone Ekiden's 1st leg until its very final meters, Ikuei University 4th-year Hayate Nitta returned to his hometown of Yamaga, Kumamoto. A graduate of Chiharadai H.S. , Nitta paid a visit to Yamaga City Hall to tell mayor Junichi Hayata and other city officials about his success. Nitta was captain of the Kanto Region Student Alliance select team at Hakone this year, a team made up of top individuals from universities that did not qualify for Hakone as a team. Nitta broke away from the pack early in the 1st leg and led by over a minute and a half at one point. "I locked into my rhythm early on and it felt good, so I just enjoyed the sounds of the crowd and ran with it," he said. Nitta brought the tasuki that he and the the other team members actually used in the Hakone Ekiden and let mayor Hayata try it on. In high school Nitta never made it to the starting lineup at a national-level ekiden. Throughout universi

National Women's Ekiden Returns to Kyoto This Sunday

The Kyoto new year's tradition of female athletes handing off the tasuki returns with the National Women's Ekiden . The entry list has been released, and some of the country's top athletes with international experience will run their first races of the new year there. The National Women's Ekiden starts and finishes at Kyoto's Takebishi Stadium on Sunday, Jan. 15 covering a marathon-distance course divided into nine legs, with teams from each prefecture made up of athletes from junior high school students to the corporate leagues. 2022 Oregon World Championships marathon 9th-placer Mizuki Matsuda will run for the Osaka team, with Nozomi Tanaka running for Hyogo after having participated in three track events in Oregon. Wrapping up her first year at national champion Meijo University , N anaka Yonezawa will run for her high school-era home of Miyagi. Having played an important role in Nagano Higashi H.S. 's first-ever National High School Ekiden win in Kyoto

63 Tasuki for National Men's Ekiden Exorcised, Blessed at Itsukushima Shrine

In preparation for the Jan. 22 National Men's Ekiden in Hiroshima, on Jan. 5 representatives of the race organizers visited Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima to pray for the athletes' safety. Yuji Kono , head of the Hiroshima Track and Field Association, and Atsushi Eguchi , an executive with the Chugoku Newspaper who serves as the race's director, brought a total of 63 tasuki sashes to be used in the race, including extras and those to be used for white sash starts. After having the tasuki exorcised, they prayed for a successful and safe event. After pandemic-related cancelations the last two years, the race is scheduled to go ahead for the first time since 2020. "I'm nervous like this is the first time again," said Kono. "The ekiden is an event built on course side crowd support. I hope that the runners will have a lot of people cheering them on and that they will all finish safely." Teams representing each of Japan's 47 prefectures will wear th

The 2023 Hakone Ekiden By The Numbers

Results at the 99th Hakone Ekiden on Jan. 2 and 3 this year showed that the high level seen over the last few years hasn't slowed down at all. Eleven university teams cleared 11:00:00 for the complete 10-leg, 217.1 km course, tying last year's record numbers . Before 2020, when ten teams did it, there had never been more than three in a single edition. Winner Komazawa University 's time was the 3rd-fastest ever, with runner-up Chuo University running the 5th-fastest ever and 3rd-placer Aoyama Gakuin University the 9th-fastest. Komazawa and Chuo were both in the all-time top ten for both the Day One and Day Two segments, with overall 7th-placer Hosei University the 10th-fastest ever for Day Two. Both Komazawa and Chuo went under the 3:00/km barrier for average pace over the entire course, which includes a stage that climbs to 874 m elevation and another that drops back down. At the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden corporate men's national championships, where teams run 100.

4th Leg CR Breaker Vincent Yegon Named Hakone Ekiden MVP for Second Time

Tokyo Kokusai University 4th-year Vincent Yegon was named MVP of the 2023 Hakone Ekiden for his course record-breaking run on Hakone's 4th leg on Jan. 2 . Originally an alternate, Yegon was swapped in for fellow 4th-year Luka Musembi on race morning. Yegon ran 1:00:00 for the 20.9 km 4th leg, taking 30 seconds off the previous CR of 1:00:30 set by Yuya Yoshida of Aoyama Gakuin University in 2020. As a 1st-year Yegon broke the CR on Hakone's 3rd leg, following up with a CR on the competitive 2nd leg as a 2nd-year. That run earned him his first Hakone MVP award , making him the only non-Japanese athlete ever to receive the distinction. With his 4th leg CR this year Yegon now holds the records for the 2nd through 4th legs. "Thank you very much. I'm happy," he commented in Japanese. As a team Tokyo Kokusai University ultimately placed 11th , falling 1:32 behind 10th-placer Toyo University . It was Tokyo Kokusai's first time missing the 10-deep podium and a g

2023 Hakone Ekiden TV Broadcast Viewership Hits Peak Rating of 35.0%

A New Year tradition, the Nippon TV live broadcast of the 99th Hakone Ekiden earned an average viewership rating of 27.5% for the Day One broadcast from 7:50 a.m. to 2:05 p.m. on Jan. 2, and 29.6% for the Day Two broadcast from 7:50 a.m. to 2:18 p.m. on Jan. 3, an overall average of 28.6% according to data analyzed by Video Research, Inc .  Last year's broadcast earned an average rating of 26.2% for Day One, 28.4% for Day Two, and 27.3% overall. Two years ago at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic when fans were asked not to come watch the race along its course, Day One earned ratings of 31.0%, Day Two of 33.7%, and the overall broadcast 32.3%, record highs in all three categories since the Nippon TV broadcast began in 1987. Peak viewership on Day One this year was 31.9% at 9:04 a.m. when the race's first exchange was happening, and on Day Two 35.0% at 1:24 p.m. when Komazawa University  anchor Hibiki Aogaki  brought the team home to win the Hakone Ekiden for the 8th tim

Komazawa University Takes Overall Hakone Win for First-Ever Triple Crown Ekiden Season Sweep

Riding the momentum of its Day One win yesterday, Komazawa University dominated Day Two of the 99th Hakone Ekiden for the overall win. Combined with its CR wins at the Izumo Ekiden and National University Ekiden, the Hakone victory made Komazawa only the 5th school to score the triple crown of major ekiden wins in a single season. It was the first triple crown of head coach Hiroaki Oyagi 's career, his biggest achievement at the biggest road race in the world, the one that has eluded him for decades. And, with his post-race announcement that he will step back from his role as head coach, it was his last. Komazawa started Day Two with a 30-second lead over last year's 6th-placer Chuo University and 2:03 over 2022 Hakone champ Aoyama Gakuin University . Following the success of 1st-year Takuma Yamakawa on the uphill 5th leg yesterday, Oyagi opted to put 1st-year Aoi Ito on the steep downhill 6th leg. Ito excelled, outrunning Chuo's Haruto Wakabayashi by 17 seconds to

Komazawa University One Step Away From Perfect Season With Hakone Ekiden Day One Win

Already the course record-breaker at the Izumo Ekiden and National University Ekiden this season, 2021 Hakone Ekiden champion Komazawa University came one step away from its first-ever triple crown of single-season ekiden wins as it won a highly competitive 2023 Hakone Ekiden Day One over defending champ Aoyama Gakuin University and last year's 6th placer Chuo University . Things got off to an unexpected start when Select Team runner Hayate Nitta of non-qualifier Ikuei University decided to take his one and only Hakone shot and run it up to his ability on the 21.3 km 1st leg even though the rest of the field opted to jog. At one point Nitta had a lead of almost a minute and a half, but as beautiful as it would have been for him to pull it off, Meiji University 's Shunpei Tomita and Komazawa's Kensuke Tsubura still managed to run him down in the final kilometer. Tomita took the stage win in 1:02:44, 1:02:08 half marathon pace vs. his 1:02:10 PB despite the slow s