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Showing posts from 2024

National Cross Country Championships and Osaka Marathon Story Lines

The Inuyama Half Marathon and National Cross Country Championships are happening Sunday, with Japan's team for March's Belgrade World Cross Country Championships to be mostly drawn from top placers in the different divisions at Nationals. It's being streamed above starting at 10:20 local time, with fields including Takuya Hanyu , Ryuto Igawa , Hazuma Hattori , Yuta Bando , Tomonori Yamaguchi and Masato Imai in the senior men's 10 km, Momoka Kawaguchi , Nana Kuraoka and Chika Kosakai in the senior women's 8 km, Sota Orita , Ryuto Kawahara , Tetsu Sasaki , Shunsuke Kuwata and Soma Nagahara in the junior men's 8 km, and Narumi Okumoto and Nodoka Ashida in the junior women's 6 km. But the main race Sunday is the Osaka Marathon . One of the world's biggest mass-participation marathons, Osaka has deep elite fields especially on the men's side. That's not surprising since for Japanese men it's one of the designated races where they have a

Yamaguchi, Matsunaga and Ito to Run United Airlines NYC Half

Waseda University's Tomonori Yamaguchi , Hosei University's Rei Matsunaga and Yamaguchi's Waseda teammate Taishi Ito are part of the men's field for the Mar. 17 United Airlines NYC Half announced today by the New York Road Runners. Yamaguchi and Matsunaga were the top two Japanese collegiate finishers at November's Ageo City Half Marathon , Yamaguchi running 1:01:16 for 3rd overall and Matsunaga 1:01:56 for 4th to score invitations to NYC. Since then Yamaguchi has run particularly well, placing 4th on the Hakone Ekiden's highly competitive 23.1 km Second Stage where he ran the equivalent of a 1:00:45 half marathon, and running a 28:17.87 PB for 10000 m. Ito is also a sub-62 half marathoner, running 1:01:50 at last year's Marugame Half Marathon and setting a 28:37.34 PB for 10000 m in the same January race as Yamaguchi. All three have raced in other parts of Asia and both Yamaguchi and Ito in Europe, but for all of them it will be their first time racing i

Masato Imai to Retire After Sunday's National XC Championships

  On Feb. 21 the Toyota Kyushu corporate team announced that its longtime member Masato Imai , 39, known throughout Japan as the original God of the Mountain for his spectacular runs on the Hakone Ekiden's uphill Fifth Stage in college, will retire from competition. His final race will be Sunday's National Cross Country Championships in Fukuoka. After retirement Imai will remain with Toyota Kyushu and become part of its coaching staff. At Juntendo University , Imai won the Fifth Stage at the Hakone Ekiden in new course records in 2005, 2006 and 2007, taking the top spot in both 2006 and 2007. When he did it during his final Hakone his senior year in 2007, the late Nippon TV announcer Ryo Kawamura shouted the now-legendary words, "Right now, right here, the god of the mountain has descended! His name is Masato Imai!" Imai has been known by that moniker ever since, and the title has become a part of Hakone lore. Since his time it has been given to two other runners w

Ehime Marathon's Local Economic Impact Estimated at $3.1 Million USD

A record-breaking 10,547 people ran the 61st edition of the Ehime Marathon on February 11th, generating a local economic impact of roughly ¥467,000,000 (~$3.1 million USD). The Iyogin Regional Economic Research Center (IRERC) estimated that the marathon generated ¥370,000,000 (~$2.5 million USD) is "direct impact" including organizers' operating expenses and runners' transportation and accommodation costs, with an additional "indirect impact" of ¥161,000,000 (~$1.0 million USD) on the local accommodation and restaurant industries. Factoring in overlap, the total economic benefit to the area was estimated to be ¥467,000,000 (~$3.1 million USD). This exceeded last year's estimated impact, the Ehime Marathon's first edition in 3 years, by ¥28,000,000 (~$190,000 USD). The IRERC cited an increase in the number of spectators this year after the lifting of coronavirus pandemic-era restrictions, and an increase in the cost of accommodations. source article:

Yamamoto 3000 m Gold at Asian Indoor Championships

The Asian Indoor Athletics Championships took place Feb. 17-19 in Tehran, Iran, women's events happening in morning sessions and men's in evening sessions without overlap. The small Japanese team of 14 took four gold medals, four silvers, and one bronze. Asuka Terada got things rolling for the small Japanese team with a silver in the women's 60 mH, running 8.18 to win her heat and then 8.21 in the final behind Indian gold medalist Jyothi Yarraji 's 8.12. China's Zhang Mingkun fouled on 4 of his 6 attempts in the men's, but his 5th attempt of 7.97 m was enough for gold. Japan's Yuto Toriumi and Daiki Oda took silver and bronze at 7.89 m and 7.76 m. Nanako Matsumoto won the women's 400 m final in 55.14 over Iranians Nazanin Fatemeh Eidan and Kazan Rostami , with Haruna Kuboyama 4th in 56.28 almost a second behind Rostami. Yuma Yamamoto had a dominant run for gold in the women's 3000 m, running 9:16.71 to win by almost 10 seconds over India'

Weekend College Results

Tokyo University 's Hiroaki Furukawa and Hakone Ekiden winner Aoyama Gakuin University 's Shota Shiode scored sub-2:20 wins at the Kumamoto Castle Marathon and Kochi Ryoma Marathon, and Hakone runner-up Komazawa University 's Ibuki Kaneko and Kyosuke Hanao had good runs over 30 km , Kaneko 2nd at the Ome 30 km in 1:34:15 and Hanao only 5th at the Kumanichi 30 km but faster in 1:33:14. But there were other big results for Japanese collegiate runners this weekend overseas and at home. At the FISU World University Cross Country Championships in Muscat, Oman, Haruka Ogawa of Rikkyo University was at the front of the pack the entire way through the women's 10 km, unable to hang with eventual gold medalist Maria Karabo Mailula of South Africa over the last 2 km loop and losing touch with Great Britain's Alice Goodall just before the end but hanging on for bronze in 34:22. Ogawa was the only Japanese woman to make the top 10, with Rio Einaga (Osaka Gakuin Univ.)

Weekend Road Race Roundup

Both of the big 30 km races this weekend had some of the fastest winning times in their histories, with the Kumanichi 30 km the faster. Kotaro Kondo (SGH) pushed the pace to grind the competition, splitting 15:02-14:56-14:37-14:31 until only Kyuma Yokota (Toyota Kyushu) was left. Things slowed from 20 to 25 km but Kondo still pulled away, putting over a minute on Yokota over the last 10 km and just missing the CR by 2 seconds in 1:28:54. Yokota was 2nd in 1:30:01, with nobody else clearing 1:32. Mao Kiyota (Suzuki) had an even bigger margin of victory in the women's race, wining in 1:44:39 by nearly 2 minutes. At the Ome 30 km and 10 km Road Race , Paris Olympics marathon team members Akira Akasaki (Kyudenko) and Mao Ichiyama (Shiseido) took the top spots in solo performances. With a strong tailwind in the uphill first half and headwind in the mostly downhill second half Akasaki went out incredibly hard, splitting 28:45 at 10 km, on track to break the NR by 1:45, and 58:35 at

Weekend Preview

It's the only weekend from late January through mid-March without a major Japanese marathon, but there's still a lot going on. Overseas, Shunsuke Yoshii (Chuo Univ.) and Yuma Yamamoto (Sekisui Kagaku) lead a National Team of 14 at the Asian Indoor Championships in Tehran, Iran. Another team of 8 is in Muscat, Oman for Sunday's World University Cross Country Championships , with H.S. 5000 m NR holder Hiroto Yoshioka (Juntendo Univ.) and Asahi Kuroda , a key player in Aoyama Gakuin University 's 2024 Hakone Ekiden win, at the front end of the men's team and 2023 National University Individual Championships 5000 m runner-up Tomo Muramatsu (Ritsumeikan Univ.) leading the women's team. Back home, the 4th edition of the National University Mixed-Gender Ekiden happens at noon Sunday in Osaka, with 20 collegiate teams of 3 women and 3 men each racing short stages of from 2 km to 5 km. Top-tier teams like Ritsumeikan University , Josai University and Toyo Universi

Izumo Ekiden Runner-Up Soka University DQd After Kenyan Kamina Suspended for Nandrolone

On Feb. 15 JADA announced that Soka University 3rd-year Leakaey Kamina of Kenya has been given a 3-year suspension for a doping violation. His period of suspension will date from Oct. 12, 2023, the day he was notified of the test result, and competition results including his performance at the Oct. 9 Izumo Ekiden have been annulled. As a result, Soka will lose its best-ever 2nd-place team result at Izumo, with 3rd-place Josai University and below being elevated one position. According to JADA, Kamina was tested after winning the National University Track and Field Championships 5000 m on Sept. 16 , and his urine sample was found to contain the steroid nandrolone. That performance has also been annulled. A Soka University spokesperson said that Kamina had been back in Kenya from late July until early September immediately before the National University Championships. Kamina told them that he got sick while there and asked a friend to buy medicine for him. He said that he took the me

Nagoya Women's Marathon Elite Field

2022 Oregon World Championships gold medalist and 2023 Budapest World Championships silver medalist Gotytom Gebreslase leads the elite field for the Mar. 10 Nagoya Women's Marathon , the last chance for Japanese women to steal a place on the Paris Olympics team. The last two years Nagoya has had a $250,000 payout for the winner, the biggest in the sport, but with the exchange rate and Japan's economic situation being what it is that's down to $150,000 this year. That's still enough to pull in a big talent like Gebreslase, the only woman in the field positioned to verrrry hypothetically drag one of the Japanese women to the 2:18:58 they'd need to pick up the 3rd Paris team spot. Ai Hosoda was 3rd at October's Olympic trials but was bumped down to 1st alternate by Honami Maeda 's 2:18:59 NR last month in Osaka . Hosoda, Ayuko Suzuki , Rika Kaseda and Yuka Ando have run under or within seconds of the 2:21:41 they needed before Maeda's run, but 2:18 puts

Japanese Team Leaves for Muscat World University XC Championships

The Japanese team left Feb. 13 for this weekend's W orld University Cross Country Championships in Muscat, Oman. The men's team is made up of Hiroto Yoshioka (Juntendo Univ.), Shoya Saito (Josai Univ.), Haruki Sato (Tokyo Kokusai Univ.) and Asahi Kuroda (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.), with the women's team including Nana Miyahara (Fukuoka Univ.), Haruka Ogawa (Rikkyo Univ.), Rio Einaga (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) and Tomo Muramatsu (Ritsumeikan Univ.). Selection to the team was based on performances at last fall's National University Track and Field Championships, 10000 m PBs, and for women results at the 10000 m Collegiate Time Trials meet. As a 1st-year, Yoshioka was the top Japanese finisher at 4th overall in the National University Championships 5000 m. The World University Cross Championships will take place Sunday, Feb. 18 in Muscat, Oman. Both men and women will race 10 km. ◇2024世界大学クロスカントリー選手権大会 オマーン・マスカットで行われる2024世界大学クロスカントリー選手権大会に向け、日本代表選手が出発いたしました🛫 現地または、日本から選手たちへ熱

Short Track National Record Rush

Indoor track isn't really part of the vocabulary for Japanese middle and long distance athletes, but three turned in a string of new national records in the U.S. this weekend. At the BU David Hemery Valentine Invitational on Saturday in Boston, Olympic steepler Ryoma Aoki (Honda) ran a new mile national record of 3:54.84 to finish 4th in Heat 2, taking 1.17 off the previous 3:56.01 NR set in Boston last year by Kazuto Iizawa (Tokai Univ.). Like Iizawa's old mark, as the fastest mile time ever by a Japanese man Aoki's new record will count as both the indoor NR and outright NR. 6th in Heat 4, Keisuke Morita (Subaru) also got under 4 minutes with a 3:59.03, with Nanami Arai (Honda) 9th behind Morita in 4:00.45. Hibiki Obara (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) took the top spot in Heat 12 in 4:01.34. Sunday at the Millrose Games in New York, Nozomi Tanaka (New Balance) beat both her indoor 3000 m NR of 8:45.64 and outdoor NR of 8:40.84, splitting 8:40.05 en route in the women's

Waseda University 3rd-Year Yota Ifuku Breaks Nobeoka Marathon CR in 2:09:26 Debut

The Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon is the least well-known of the four big Japanese men's marathons in five weeks, traditionally a place for debuts and 2nd-tier talent. And for the second year in a row a debuting Waseda University runner took the top spot this time, Yota Ifuku making history as the first runner ever to break 2:11 in Nobeoka with a 2:09:26 school record for the win. 5th on the Hakone Ekiden's Eighth Stage for Waseda six weeks ago, Ifuku was at the front of the pack of 19 at halfway in an ambitious 1:05:02. Just past 25 km he took off with a 15:10 split to 30 km that put him out front by 28 seconds, then went even faster with a 15:06 to 35 km. With a 38-second negative split Ifuku broke the tape in 2:09:26, one minute 39 seconds under the older CR of 2:11:05 set by Yuichi Washio back in 2006. 【 #延岡西日本マラソン  速報】 🥇1位 伊福陽太(3) 2:09:26 (速報) 伊福が早稲田記録の2:09:50を更新する2:09:26で優勝! この記録は大会記録&学生歴代5位!! 昨年の佐藤航希に続き、早稲田勢がこの大会2連覇です #臙脂で染めろ — 早稲田大学競走部 (

Shikama and Kabasawa Take National Corporate Half Marathon Titles

Shunsuke Shikama (Logisteed), Wakana Kabasawa (Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) and Chikako Mori (Sekisui Kagaku) won close races to take the National Corporate Half Marathon and 10 km Championships titles Sunday in Yamaguchi. In the men's race, Shikama was head-to-head with 2024 New Year Ekiden First Stage winner Naoki Ota (Yakult), the entire way, together at 5km, 10km, 20 km, and breaking away together from the rest of the front pack coming into the stadium. In a sprint finish both runners clocked 1:00:41, with Shikama taking the win. Ota joined his older brother Tomoki Ota (Toyota) in breaking 61 minutes for the half, with Koki Kamata (Yakult) 3rd in 1:00:47 and the top 10 breaking 61 minutes. The third major Japanese half marathon in 3 weeks, depth was solid with 37 under 62 minutes, 85 under 63 minutes and 111 under 64. One prominent DNF was 2017 runner-up Joseph Macharia Ndirangu (Aichi Seiko), 14:47 at 5 km and 29:45 at 10 km but not making it to the 15 km mat. The lack of t

High School 1500 m Star Yuya Sawada Set to Go to Louisiana State University

  After placing 6th in the 1500 m final at the Cali 2022 World U20 Championships , a Japanese high school girl is set to go to university in the U.S.A. in pursuit of becoming globally competitive. Initially reluctant to go abroad for school due to the changes in living conditions and high level of competition, she took inspiration from others who are active internationally and decided to take the plunge. The athlete is Yuya Sawada , 17, a 3rd-year at Hamamatsu Shiritsu H.S. At last summer's National Championships she was the only female high schooler to make the 1500 m final, and now she hopes to follow NR holder Nozomi Tanaka in making it to the final in a major championships 1500 m. Sawada was inspired to begin running her third year of junior high school. She had been a member of her school's basketball team, but after quitting the team the summer of her third year she ran in a local ekiden in Shizuoka. With a strong performance she helped her team win. The next year she w

Local Race Organizers Can't Find Solution to Problems of Declining and Aging Population

by Daisuke Tsujioka A road running race in Shonai, Yamagata that used to celebrate the full bloom of the area's cherry blossoms will no longer be held. The race had become a local tradition, but its cancelation is said to be due to a serious problem facing rural areas across the country. The Atsumi Sakura Road Race began in 1986 in hopes of attracting more tourists to the area, home of the famous 1200-year-old Atsumi Onsen hot spring southwest of Tsuruoka. Held in mid to late April, every year over a thousand runners from all parts of Japan take part. Starting and finishing at Atsumi Onsen, the event includes 30 km, 10 km, 5 km and 2 km races, following the cherry blossom-lined banks of the Omni River and giving runners the chance to soak in the atmosphere of the historic hot spring town and the cheers of its local residents. Due to the coronavirus pandemic the race was not held for four years from 2020 to 2023. Pandemic restrictions were lifted last May, but from the early stages

Osaka Marathon Elite Field (updated)

Four of last year's top five women will be back at the Osaka Marathon , with 2023 winner and CR breaker Helen Tola Bekele returning to face runner-up Beyenu Degefa , Lisa Weightman , and new additions Fancy Chemutai , 2:18:11 in Valencia 2022, and Viola Jelgata Kibiwot , 2:22:57 in Frankfurt last fall. Misaki Ichida was the 2nd Japanese woman last year in 2:25:51 for 5th, and she's the top-ranked domestic name this year at 8th in the field. You wouldn't know Osaka is the third of four big men's marathons in Japan in the course of four months, as 49 sub-2:10 men are entered. It's a completely different field from last year, with the top returning runner being Shohei Otsuka , 8th last year in 2:06:57. Japanese men have to run 2:05:50 to have a chance of taking the third Olympic team spot away from Suguru Osako , and top three-ranked Stephen Kissa , Adeladlew Mamo and Yihunilign Adane are all positioned from 2:04:48 to 2:05:53 to help enable that. Realistically, ev

'Lyles Breaks 60 m Meeting Record in Boston with 6.44' Japanese athletes competing in Boston this weekend included Abdul Hakim Sani Brown , 6.60 for 6th in the men's 60 m and  Nozomi Tanaka , 4:08.46 for 9th with an indoor NR in the 1500 m at New Balance , and four men led by Nanami Arai , 3:58.85, in the mile at the Bruce Lehane Scarlet and White Invitational .

Ekiden Alternate Kazusa Takanuma Wins Kanagawa Half Marathon

A large number of universities that raced last month's Hakone Ekiden competed in the 46th Kanagawa Half Marathon Feb. 4 in Yokohama, with Chuo University 3rd-year Kazusa Takanuma taking the win in a PB 1:02:19. A graduate of Shizuoka's Fujieda Meijo H.S. , Takanuma has never made Chuo's starting roster for any of the major university ekidens, his main achievement to date having been a 22nd-place finish in last May's Kanto Regionals half marathon. Before Kanagawa his best was a 1:03:35 from the 2022 Ageo City Half Marathon, and with another 63-minute time last year he showed the potential he has over long distances. His PB in Kanagawa showed the realization of that potential. 2nd in 2023, Chuo had a disappointing 13th-place finish at Hakone this year. Next month star seniors Yamato Yoshii , Shota Nakano and Jin Yuasa will all graduate. On Jan. 30 Takumi Sano was named captain of Chuo's 2024-25 team, and 3rd-years without ekiden experience like Takanuma are expe

Omare Breaks Marugame Half CR by >1 Minute, Etir Takes Collegiate Record

Japan-based Dolphine Nyaboke Omare (U.S.E.) had the best race of her career, breaking 1:04:36 runner Sheila Chepkirui (Kenya) over the second half of the race to win the Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon in 1:06:07, 1:15 under the old course record and a PB by a massive 1:49. Omare was actually on mid-1:05 pace at 15 km as she fought to open ground on the more accomplished Chepkirui, but even though she faded over the last 5 km she still had more than enough room to pick up the ¥3,000,000 CR bonus. Chepkirui was well under the old record too at 1:06:47 for 2nd, and in the other big performance of the women's race Caroline Kariba of 2023 National High School Ekiden champ Kamimura Gakuen H.S. skipped a 10000 m or 10 km debut to jump straight to the half marathon, 14 seconds off the old CR in 1:07:36 for 3rd. Charlotte Purdue (Great Britain) took 4th in a PB 1:08:02, with Ayuko Suzuki (Japan Post) beating her pre-race projection with a 1:08:51 for 5th in a tuneup for