Skip to main content


Showing posts from October, 2023

Marathon Weekend Roundup

This was one of the busiest weekends of the year for Japanese marathons, with at least five big races across the country. The fastest was the Kanazawa Marathon with a field of 13,000, with Kenta Fukumura winning for the second year in a row in 2:16:51 and Chifumi Ito  running an almost 9-minute PB of 2:34:45 to break the women's course record. At the 10,000-runner Mito Komon Manyu Marathon in Ibaraki, Japan-based Kenyan Benjamin Ngandu won in 2:19:10, the only man to go under 2:20. Kana Numata won the women's race in 2:46:09, Honoka Kurosaki taking 2nd in 2:48:24 and Akiko Maruichi 3rd in 2:49:48. A total of 6,847 people ran the Shimada Oigawa Marathon in Shizuoka. Shunsuke Matsui won the men's race in 2:22:34, with local Natsumi Yamauchi winning the women's race in 3:00:16. With a field of 25,000 the Yokohama Marathon was the biggest, if not the fastest of the weekend. Rikuto Okubo won the men's race in 2:23:45, with former corporate leaguer Yukari Yasu

Meijo Beats the Odds for Record-Breaking 7th-Straight National University Women's Ekiden Title

Six-time defending national champion Meijo University came to Sunday's Morinomiyako Ekiden national university women's championships with the weakest team since before its reign started in 2017, but with a flawless team performance that saw all six women on the team make top 4 on their stage Meijo beat the odds to go home with a record-breaking 7th-straight national title. Previous dynasty Ritsumeikan University came out hard with stage wins on the first two legs of the 38.0 km race, but a win on the 5.8 km Third Stage by Meijo 2nd-year Asuka Ishimatsu on her 20th birthday turned a 6-second deficit to Ritsumeikan into a 31-second lead. That closed to 15 seconds by the end of the Fifth Stage, but another stage win from anchor Nanase Tanimoto was enough to give Meijo the win by 52 seconds. 2nd eight times in the last 10 years, Daito Bunka University landed there again thanks to a stage win on the 9.2 km Fifth Stage by Sarah Wanjiru and a wicked kick over the last 100 m on

'A Breakthrough Performance for Hugo Milner with Gold in Miyazaki' Hugo Milner  ran the Izumo Ekiden 3 weeks ago for the Ivy League Select Team , finishing 2nd on the 8.0 km First Stage in 22:53, 8 seconds behind 1:00:11 half marathoner Kotaro Shinohara  of overall winner Komazawa University .

Meijo Going for 7-Straight - National University Women's Ekiden Preview and Streaming

The thing about dynasties is that sooner or later they're going to end. From 2003 to 2016 Kyoto's Ritsumeikan University won the Morinomiyako National University Women's Ekiden ten times and took 2nd the four times they didn't. But in 2017 Nagoya's Meijo University arrived on the scene and has won every year since then, its current streak of six national titles longer than Ritsumeikan's longest uninterrupted streak. Meijo holds the overall record of 2:02:57 for the 6-stage, 38.1 km course, slightly edited to 38.0 km this year, and its runners hold four of the six individual stage records. It keeps graduating top talent, most recently joint Third Stage CR record holders Narumi Kobayashi and Yuma Yamamoto , but head coach Katsuro Yoneda just keeps finding the top talent and helping it develop. But this season Meijo has been looking a little shaky. Out of last year's lineup, Fourth Stage CR breaker Nanase Tanimoto was 7th in last month's National Univ

Iwatani Sangyo Wins Princess Ekiden

The main sponsor of the Princess Ekiden , the official qualifying event for next month's Queens Ekiden national corporate women's championship race, the Iwatani Sangyo women won Sunday's 6-stage 42.195 km race for the first time. Out strong in 2nd with good runs from first two runners Kaede Kawamura and Rino Maeda , Iwatani Sangyo went into 1st on the 10.7 km Third Stage thanks to Rio Wakai and stayed there the rest of the way, ultimately winning by 45 seconds over Route Inn Hotels . 5th runner Madoka Nakano even scored a stage win, playing a big part in the team's runaway victory. With the Olympic marathon trials having happened only a week earlier, a rule was in place this time that any team that had had someone qualify for the trials only had to finish the Princess Ekiden to make Nationals regardless of whether they made the qualifying bracket of the top 16 places. That changed the dynamic of the race a bit, with historically higher-tier teams like Tenmaya and U

Princess Ekiden Preview and Streaming

The Princess Ekiden , the official qualifying race for November's Queens Ekiden national corporate women's championships, happens Sunday in rural Fukuoka. 31 teams of 6 women will be racing 42.195 km in pursuit of 16 places at Queens alongside the top tier of podium placers from last year's national championships. TBS will be streaming the race live on Youtube starting at 12:10 p.m., and if you've got a VPN you should be all set. Live results will be posted here . There's a general sense that Japanese women aren't where they used to be, but counter to that trend are a lot of new women's ekiden teams trying to get off the ground. Along with some of the long-established powers like past national champions Universal Entertainment , Tenmaya and Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo , there are relatively young teams like Nitori , Senko and Tokyo Metro trying to qualify for the first time, and newcomers like Bears Camellia making their debuts. Next year expect to see at leas

What Did We Learn at the MGC?

Last weekend's Marathon Grand Championships produced what is at least pretty likely to be the final lineup for Japan's marathon teams at next summer's Paris Olympics. On the one hand it was a big success from the fans' point of view and produced strong, well-balanced, teams with a mix of newcomers and proven veterans. On the other, you could ask who cares? Despite the JAAF's single-minded prioritizing of times in the MGC qualification process, while there's a lot of depth in Japan the front-end times aren't exactly special these days. Kengo Suzuki 's men's NR of 2:04:56 is tied for 10th-fastest NR worldwide, and Mizuki Noguchi 's museum piece 2:19:12 NR is only 9th-fastest. Not exactly resounding evidence that this system is going to get Japan back into the medals, especially with a general willingness these days to celebrate a top 8 finish as if it's as a good as medaling. MGC women's runner-up  Mao Ichiyama  (Shiseido) and 3rd-placer A

100th Hakone Ekiden Field

  Saturday's Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai half marathon was the official qualifying race for January's 100th edition of t he world's biggest and best road race , and with it the 23-team field is set. Led by defending champion Komazawa University , the top 10 at the 2023 Hakone Ekiden auto-qualified for the 100th on Jan. 2-3, 2024. The other 13 teams came from the Yosenkai, led by Daito Bunka University , 3 more than usual in honor of the 100th running but absent the usual select team made up of top-placing individuals at the Yosenkai from schools that didn't make the cut as a team. The complete field: Komazawa University 58th appearance, 58th-straight appearance, 8 wins most recent win: 2023 Chuo University 97th appearance, 7th-straight appearance, 14 wins most recent win: 1996 Aoyama Gakuin University 29th appearance, 16th-straight appearance, 6 wins most recent win: 2022 Koku Gakuin University 17th appearance, 8th-straight appearance, best placing: 3rd (2020) Juntendo Univ

Evans Keitany and Gladys Chepkurui Win Tokyo Legacy Half

  The Tokyo Legacy Half Marathon took place Oct. 15 alongside the Marathon Grand Championship Olympic marathon trials, starting and finishing at Tokyo's National Stadium. In the men's race, Evans Keitany (Toyota Boshoku) ran down leader Bedan Karoki (Toyota) and holding off Benard Kimeli (Fujitsu) to take the win in 1:01:10. In his first pro season Aoyama Gakuin University graduate Kotaro Kondo (SG Holdings) was the top Japanese finisher in 1:01:26. In the women's race, Gladys Chepkurui (Kenya) broke the course record with a 1:08:03 for the win. Dolphine Nyaboke Omare (U.S.E.) was also under the old CR in 1:08:13 for 2nd. The top Japanese woman was Natsuki Ogawa (Suzuki AC) in 1:14:34 for 4th. Tomoki Suzuki won the men's wheelchair race in 43:40, with Tsubasa Kina winning a photo finish with Wakako Tsuchida in the women's race, both athletes clocked at 52:45. Tokyo Legacy Half Marathon Tokyo, 15 Oct. 2023 complete results Men 1. Evans Keitany (Toyota Bo

Suzuki, Ichiyama, Koyama and Akasaki Paris-Bound - Japan's Olympic Marathon Trials

The second edition of the Marathon Grand Championship race, Japan's marathon trials for the 2024 Paris Olympics, happened Sunday in less than ideal conditions in Tokyo, with heavy rain throughout the race, temps in the mid-teens, and even a tornado warning in Chiba east of the city as the race went on. The top two in each race earned guaranteed spots on the Paris team, with the 3rd-placers earning provisional places and a target on their backs in the upcoming winter domestic marathon season. The winner at the first MGC in 2019, Honami Maeda (Tenmaya) took the race out on 2:23 pace with a pack of 14 in tow. Most of the favorites were there, including her Tokyo Olympics teammates Mao Ichiyama (Shiseido) and Ayuko Suzuki (Japan Post), newcomers Ai Hosoda (Edion) and Rika Kaseda (Daihatsu) and more. One surprise was that Maeda's Tenmaya teammates Natsuki Matsushita and Mizuki Tanimoto , both sub-2:23:15 runners, hung back in the second pack in the early going, and it wasn

Daito Bunka University Wins 100th Hakone Ekiden Qualifier, With >500 Sub-70

Despite losing Kenyan Peter Wanjiru late in the race, favorite Daito Bunka University repeated as winner to lead the qualifiers for January's 100th Hakone Ekiden at Saturday's Yosenkai Half Marathon in western Tokyo's Showa Kinen Park. Collegiate 5000 m and 10000 m record holder Richard Etir of Tokyo Kokusai University led the first 8.5 km in his debut at the distance with a pack of around including lone Japanese man Reishi Yoshida of Chuo Gakuin University right behind. Just before 8.5 km Etir was clipped from behind by Nihon Yakka University 's Dennis Kipruto and turned around to tell him off. A few steps later Kipruto clipped him again hard enough that Etir went airborne horizontal before crashing to the pavement. The favorite for the individual win, Etir never regained contact with the front of the race. And that ended up having profound consequences for Tokyo Kokusai. In Etir's absence Nihon University 's took over at 10 km, quickly getting rid of e

MGC 2023 - Your 2024 Olympic Marathon Trials Viewing Guide

  Could this be the biggest weekend of road racing Tokyo has ever seen? Maybe. Saturday is the qualifying half marathon for the 100th Hakone Ekiden . Sunday is the Tokyo Legacy Half Marathon , but that’s just a minor counterpoint running simultaneously with the main event, the 2nd Marathon Grand Championship race , Japan’s marathon trials for the 2024 Paris Olympics. TBS will show the men’s race starting at 8:00 a.m. local time with streaming on  TVer , which should be viewable internationally with a VPN. NHK is handling the women’s race ad-free at 8:10 a.m., with streaming on NHK+ . You can try and too. JRN will cover it all live on @JRNLive . Japan first held a single-race Olympic trials race in 2019 ahead of the home soil Tokyo Olympics, and it was the toughest marathon ever to qualify for. The basic standards were the same for women this year, sub-2:24:00 or two races averaging 2:28:00, but even tougher for men, sub-2:08:00 or two races averaging sub-2:10

A Once-in-a-Century Chance for Glory - 100th Hakone Ekiden Qualifier Preview

In January the Hakone Ekiden celebrates its 100th running, and it’s going to be the biggest road race in history. The university men’s ekiden season kicked off Monday with the season-opening Izumo Ekiden, where course record holder Komazawa University followed up last year’s triple crown of wins at all three major university ekidens with a CR-breaking title defense . Saturday is the next important race, the Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai qualifying half marathon at Tokyo’s Showa Kinen Park, and being the top 13 there is everything. The top 10 teams at the 2023 Hakone Ekiden, Komazawa, Chuo University , Aoyama Gakuin University , Koku Gakuin University , Juntendo University , Waseda University , Hosei University , Soka University , Josai University and Toyo University , secured their places at the 100th. On Saturday 57 other universities will compete for the remaining 13 places at Hakone. It’s an extremely big deal to be in the field at the 100th, with schools like Rikkyo University , Keio

Rikkyo University Fires Head Coach Yuichiro Ueno Days Before Hakone Qualifier After Gossip Magazine Suggests Relationship With Female Team Member

On Oct. 11 Rikkyo University announced that it has suspended Yuichiro Ueno , 38, head coach of its men's ekiden team, as of the 10th. A statement from the university's public relations department stated, "His department has determined that he is unsuitable to serve as a leader." Earlier on the 11th, the gossip magazine site Daily Shincho published an online article including a dozen photos suggesting that Ueno, who has been married since 2009 and has three children, was having an inappropriate relationship with a female member of the team. The PR department's statement said, "The university intends to consider disciplinary action after interviewing the parties involved, including the coach himself." The Rikkyo team is scheduled to compete in Saturday's qualifying race for the prestigious 100th running of the Hakone Ekiden. Ueno will not attend. After hiring the highly popular former national champion at the end of 2018 specifically to rebuild it

Komazawa Kicks Off Double Triple Crown Campaign With Second-Straight Izumo Ekiden Course Record Win (updated)

It's no secret that Japan's university ekiden season is the pinnacle of the road racing year, and with the pinnacle of that pinnacle celebrating its 100th running this season it's now more than ever. Last year Komazawa University became one of the few schools ever to win all three of the big university men's ekidens, October's Izumo Ekiden , November's National University Ekiden and January's Hakone Ekiden. Popular opinion held that the loss of key seniors to graduation, especially fastest-ever Japanese-born collegiate 10000 m runner Ren Tazawa , would hurt its chances this season, but at Izumo today Komazawa came out to lay waste to that opinion. Iconic head coach Hiroaki Oyagi chose Komazawa's Hakone win this January to announce he was stepping back to an advisory role to allow former marathon NR breaker Atsushi Fujita to step forward as head coach, and in his high-pressure college ekiden debut in that role Fujita struck a tone of erudition in sayin