Skip to main content


Showing posts from January, 2024

2024 Tokyo Marathon Elite Field

The Tokyo Marathon is back for its 2024 race with deep fields of ten sub-2:20 women and eleven sub-2:05 men led by 2023 winners Rosemary Wanjiru and Chalu Deso Gelmisa , 2023 world champions  Amane Beriso Shankule and Victor Kiplangat , and top-ranked Sifan Hassan and Eliud Kipchoge . Last year's top three wheelchair women Manuel Schar , Tsubasa Kina and Madison de Rosario all return, with men's 2nd and 3rd-placers Tomoki Suzuki and Sho Watanabe both back in the absence of winner Marcel Hug . Hassan is the only one of the top five-ranked women who hasn't run Tokyo before, but that's probably not going to give her much of a competitive disadvantage. Budapest gold medalist Amane is her toughest competition on paper, but while Wanjiru was only 6th in Budapest the possibility of a late-race battle between any combination of Hassan, Amane and Wanjiru is pretty exciting. Tokyo doesn't count in Olympic team qualification for women, so it's a slight surprise tha

Ando Breaks Osaka Half CR, Bizarre DQ of Men's Winner

Yuka Ando (Wacoal) and Desta Burka (Denso) raced each other to a new Osaka Half Marathon course record, while the men's race saw a very strange apparent DQ of winner Taiyo Iwasaki (JFE Steel). Running with Wacoal male coaching staff member Seiya Morimoto as pacer, Ando set out on pace to go sub-68 with the goal of bettering her 1:08:13 PB from the 2022 National Corporate Half. Burka, who had only run 1:09:31 once in 2021, was right there next to her the entire time as the pace held steady through 15 km. But as Ando started to fade over the next 5 km Burka dropped her and opened a small lead. It looked like the win and CR would be hers, but over the last km Ando fought back and passed her on the track to score the win by 2 seconds in a 1:08:18 CR. "My goal was to beat my PB, but I'm glad I got close," she said post-race. Burka's 1:08:20 was also well under the old CR of 1:09:43 and a PB by over a minute. The men's race saw 42-year-old Mongolian Ser-Od Bat-

Edesa Wins Osaka Women's Marathon, Maeda 2:18:59 NR

Workenesh Edesa and Honami Maeda made history at the Osaka International Women's Marathon , both going under 2:19 and Maeda breaking the 2005-era Japanese women's national record. Five pacers took the lead group of Edesa, Maeda, Stella Chesang , Mizuki Matsuda and Sayaka Sato through halfway in 1:09:46, well under pace for the 2:21:41 time the top Japanese woman would need to replace Olympic marathon trials 3rd-placer Ai Hosoda on the Paris team but 10 seconds behind pace to hit Mizuki Noguchi 's 2:19:12 NR from the 2005 Berlin Marathon when the three Japanese women up front were still in elementary school. Right at halfway Maeda, the 30 km NR holder, threw in a brash 3:11 km to open up on the pacers and rest of the pack, and it was pretty clear she had something special in mind. As the rest of the pack tried to change gears and catch back up Matsuda lost touch. Maeda went through 25 km with a projected finish time of 2:19:08, but the pack still regained ground. Then

Keita Sato Breaks Indoor 5000 m NR by 18 Seconds at BU John Thomas Terrier Classic

Three weeks after running a 59:22 half marathon equivalent at the Hakone Ekiden, Komazawa University 2nd-year Keita Sato became only the second Japanese man ever to break 13:10 for 5000, taking over 18 seconds off the indoor 5000 m NR with a 13:09.45 for 10th at Boston University's John Thomas Terrier Classic . After Hakone on Jan. 2 Sato took a week off to recover from what had been his first race longer than 11 km. Phasing back into training the week after that during exams, on Jan. 18 he flew to Boulder, Colorado for six weeks of training with OAC . On Jan. 22 he celebrated his 20th birthday, and on Jan. 24 the group flew to Boston. Throughout the race he stayed near the middle of the front pack, splitting 2:38.24-2:37:17-2:38.76-2:38.01-2:37.28 en route. His 3000 m split of 7:54.16 was 2 seconds faster than the only other indoor race he had ever run, a 7:56.41 for silver at last spring's Asian Indoor Championships. Sato had been totally focused on building volume for his

National Corporate Half Marathon and 10 km Championships Entry List Highlights

Entry lists are out for the Feb. 11 N ational Corporate Half Marathon and 10 km Championships in Yamaguchi. The third big half marathon in 3 weeks following Osaka and Marugame, entries are thin on the women's side with no recent sub-1:10 entrants in the half. Rinka Hida (Daiichi Seimei) has the best recent time at 1:10:10 from Osaka last year, with Ikumi Fukura (Otsuka Seiyaku) and Wakana Itsuki (Kyudenko) both coming in under 1:10:30. Momoka Kawaguchi (Uniqlo) is the best in women's 10 km with a track 10000 m best of 31:57.81. Last year's 3rd-placer Ryota Kondo (Mitsubishi Juko) is one of four men on the list with recent bests under 1:01, his 1:00:32 having come at last year's National Corporate Half along with those from Keijiro Mogi (Asahi Kasei) and Takashi Nanba (Toenec). 2:06 marathoner Kazuya Nishiyama (Toyota) is also in the mix with a 1:00:41 here two years ago. Shunsuke Shikama (Logisteed) and New Year Ekiden First Stage winner Naoki Ota (Yakult) ha

Osaka International Women's Marathon Leads Weekend Action (updated)

Championship ekiden season wrapped last weekend, but there's still a lot going on this weekend. First up, Keita Sato (Komazawa Univ.), who holds five U20 national records from 1500 m through 10000 m and ran a 59:22 half marathon equivalent at the Hakone Ekiden just over 3 weeks ago, tunes up for February's Millrose Games 2-mile with an indoor 5000 m at the Boston University Terrier Classic Friday night in his first race since turning 20. Sato has only run one indoor race before, a 3000 m silver medal at last year's Asian Indoor Championships, but the indoor NR of 13:27.81 is sure to be a target. The quick transition from Hakone isn't easy, but based on his 27:28.50 10000 m in November, the Asian indoor AR of 13:08.41 could be in range too. Three big road races dominate the horizon on Sunday. First up is the Katsuta Marathon in Ibaraki. Now in its 71st year, Katsuta has a mass participation field of 10000 with another 5000 m in its 10 km. Although it's got a hilly

Sony Signs 3-Year Sponsorship Contract with World Athletics

At a signing ceremony in Tokyo on Jan. 23, Sony announced that it will enter into a sponsorship agreement with World Athletics for 2024 through 2026. Beginning with the Glasgow World Indoor Championships on Mar. 1 and running until the end of 2026, Sony will provide sponsorship support for all events in the World Athletics Series. Sony subsidiary Hawk-Eye will provide services to assist in referees' decision making, contributing to fair and impartial competition management. At the signing ceremony Sony president Hiroki Totoki commented, "Through the integration of World Athletics' knowledge and know-how with Sony technology we will bring all the excitement of athletics to a wider range of people than ever before, from hardcore fans to the kids." World Athletics top Sebastian Coe added, "It brings me great pleasure to announce signing this deal with one of the leaders in the history of technology and innovation. Thank you for believing in the sport of athletics

Paralympic Guide Runner Kengo Yajima Leaves Chuo Hatsujo

The Chuo Hatsujo corporate team has announced on its social media that Kengo Yajima is leaving its team. Born in 1996, Yajima is 27 years old. At Chiba's Shiritsu Funabashi H.S. he made the National High School Championships 5000 m and ran the Third Stage at the National High School Ekiden, contributing to Funabashi's 6th place finish. At Hosei University he ran both the Izumo Ekiden and Hakone Ekiden, anchoring Hosei at Hakone his 3rd year to bring them in for 6th overall. Joining Chuo Hatsujo in 2019, he ran 5000 m and 10000 m PBs of 14:15.09 and 29:12.15. He ran the New Year Ekiden national championships twice, placing 29th on the Fifth Stage in 2020 and 27th on the Seventh Stage in 2021. Most notably, he ran as a guide runner for blind corporate league athlete Shinya Wada , helping Wada break the marathon national record and medal on the track in the 2021 Tokyo Paralympics. "The last four years on the team have been a great and valuable experience," Yajima sa

Half Marathon Weekend Roundup

The fastest Japanese men's half marathon time of the weekend came overseas, where 2018 Fukuoka International Marathon winner Yuma Hattori followed up his New Year Ekiden-winning anchor run for Toyota with a 1:02:49 for 6th at the Santa Pola International Half Marathon in Spain almost 3 minutes behind winner Andamlak Belihu of Ethiopia. In a bit of synchronicity, 2020 Fukuoka winner Yuya Yoshida ran the fastest time of the weekend on home soil, outrunning GMO teammate Yuta Shimoda by 16 seconds to win Kumamoto's Okukuma Half Marathon in 1:03:07. Kazuto Kawabata (SGH) was 3rd in 1:03:26 as the only other runner to clear 64 minutes. Ibusuki Nanohana Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi (ANDS) was in 27th at 5 km in 15:08 and faded a minute per 5 km from there to end up 37th in 1:10:17. Close behind him, women-only marathon NR holder Mao Ichiyama (Shiseido) had a surprisingly narrow win over relative unknown Yukari Nagatomo (Memolead) 1:12:26 to 1:12:38, Ichiyama's 3rd-st

Nagano Breaks National Men's Ekiden CR for Third Time in a Row

Running with three returning members of last year's course record-breaking team, Nagano pulled off another CR to win its 3rd-straight National Men's Ekiden title Sunday in Hiroshima thanks in large part to a stellar run from anchor Mebuki Suzuki from Komazawa University . Last year's opening leg 3rd-placer Ryuto Kawahara of Nagasaki got things started with a 2:44 opening km on the 7.0 km First Stage, then let 2023 National High School Ekiden First Stage winner Sota Orita of Hyogo take over. Orita did most of the work through the middle part of the stage, then with 1.5 km to go Kawahara attacked and pulled away to break the 19:39 CR set by Sonata Nagashima last year by 8 seconds. It was one of those runs that makes the National Men's Ekiden great, with someone from a high school that isn't good enough to make Nationals taking down one of the big stars whose team did. In a four-way sprint for 2nd Nagano's Yamato Hamaguchi was 4th and Orita 5th, both one s

National Champion Kamimura Gakuen H.S. Girls Win Kitakyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden

The 2023 National High School Ekiden champion Kamimura Gakuen H.S. girls ended their season with another win, taking 1st at the 35th Kitakyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden Sunday in Fukuoka. Running against corporate league competition like 2023 Queens Ekiden winner Sekisui Kagaku and high school Nationals 3rd and 4th placers Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. and Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S. , Kamimura Gakuen got off to a slow start when leading runner Rina Kurokami was only 13th on her stage and 24 seconds off the lead. But having delivered Kamimura Gakuen the national title last month with an incredible anchor stage run, its second runner Caroline Kariba showed again that she's a budding international-level talent, chopping 18 seconds off the 3.8 km Second Stage CR, an amazing 47 seconds fastest than the previous record by a high school athlete. That was enough to put Kamimura Gakuen out front by 18 seconds over the Kyocera corporate team and 42 seconds ahead of Kunei Joshi Gakuin. Its

Championship Ekiden Season Wraps Sunday

Championship ekiden season wraps up Sunday with its last two big events. In Kitakyushu, the 35th Kitakyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden brings together top high school, college and corporate league teams to race a short 27.2 km in five stages, with the longest leg split in two for the high school teams. University teams are absent this time except for one select team made up of women from the area, while the corporate league division has nine teams and the high school division 22 plus another select team. 2023 Queens Ekiden national champion Sekisui Kagaku is the top seed, its entry roster including members of its national title-winning lineup, Yuma Yamamoto , Rina Sasaki and Chikako Mori . Its closest competition is Queens 8th-placer Iwatani Sangyo , which has five of its six runners from the national championships entered including Kaede Kawamura , winner of the anchor stage at last weekend's National Women's Ekiden . 2023 National High School Ekiden winner Kamimura

Three Japanese Men Running 128th Boston Marathon

Back in Japan's golden years Boston was a big draw for its top talent in the marathon, but for a long time it was off the list of first-choice marathons as the preoccupation shifted to times. That started changing again in 2017 when 5000 m NR holder Suguru Osako made his debut there with a 2:10:28 for 3rd, following in the footsteps of other Waseda University alum who ran well in Boston including two-time winner Toshihiko Seko and the late Tomoyuki Taniguchi . Osako was 3rd at October's Paris Olympic marathon trials, putting him in position to be on the Paris team unless someone runs 2:05:50 or better at February's Osaka Marathon or March's Tokyo Marathon. Having run 2:06:13 in Tokyo last year but beaten by two Japanese men who both went under 2:06, there wasn't really any upside to Osako doing Tokyo this time. Osaka seemed like the logical choice, but like he has for most of his life Osako is following his own motivations and opting to return to the 128th Boston

Kokai Runs Anchor Stage Turnaround to Give Miyagi First National Women's Ekiden Title in 29 Years

Fresh off a sub-31 PB at last month's 10000 m National Championships, Haruka Kokai ran down Kotona Ota of longtime leader Hyogo on the anchor stage to give the Miyagi prefecture team its first National Women's Ekiden title in 29 years. Women-only half marathon NR holder Rino Goshima went out hard to put earthquake and tsunami-hit Ishikawa in the lead by 35 seconds on the 6.0 km First Stage, but a Second Stage win by 1500 m and 5000 m NR holder Nozomi Tanaka put Hyogo into a lead it held until midway through the final stage. Shizuoka and Chiba both spent time in 2nd and at times closed on Hyogo only to get dropped again. The 4.1075 km Fifth Stage was especially good, with sub-32 collegian Risa Yamazaki of Chiba running down high school 1st-year Kairi Ikeno for the lead only to get retaken by Ikeno, with both breaking the 1995-era CR for the stage. Behind them, Miyagi was working its way up through the field, improving its position every stage except the Third until Y

Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon Elite Field

Sheila Chepkirui is the favorite in the Feb. 4 Marugame Half Marathon women's race, at 1:04:36 about three minutes up on her closest competition, Japan-based Kenyans Pauline Kamulu (Route Inn Hotels) and Dolphine Omare Nyaboke (U.S.E.). Ayuko Suzuki (Japan Post) leads the Japanese women at 1:08:53, but the most interesting person on the entry list is her teammate Ririka Hironaka , all-time Japanese #2 for 5000 m and 10000 m and making her half marathon debut here. When Hitomi Niiya set the current NR of 1:06:38 in early 2020 it seemed like a mark that would last a long time, but with a better understanding of how much shoe tech has inflated road times since then that has to be a realistic goal for Hironaka, if not this time then next. Sub-58 man Alexander Mutiso (ND Software) has a recent best of 58:48 that puts him just ahead of Charles Langat , ranked #2 at 58:53. Cleophas Kandie (Mitsubishi Juko) is the only other runner under 60 minutes with a best of 59:18 from Marugame

Why Aoyama Gakuin University Grads Never Make National Teams

The important thing to ask yourself is, "What comes next?" On January 10th the organizers of the Feb. 4 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon announced their field for this year's race. Among the general division entrants is Aoi Ota , the Aoyama Gakuin University 3rd-year who ran down leader Komazawa University on the Hakone Ekiden's Third Stage to play a critical role in Aoyama Gakuin's upset win. Head coach Susumu Hara has floated the possibility of Ota running 2:04 at Beppu-Oita. This was the 7th Hakone title in the last ten years for AGU, but what's strange is that not a single member of those champion teams has gone on to make a Japanese national team at the two Olympics or five World Championships that have happened since AGU's era began. One recent example is Shungo Yokota , now of the JR Higashi Corporate Team . Just before his graduation from AGU last year, Yokota was 4th overall and 2nd Japanese at the 2023 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon in a collegiat

Heavy Kuroda Family Representation at National Women's Ekiden and National Men's Ekiden

On Jan. 11 Asahi Kuroda , winner of the highly competitive Second Stage for overall champion Aoyama Gakuin University at the 100th Hakone Ekiden on Jan. 2, announced that his next race will be the Jan. 21 National Men's Ekiden in Hiroshima. At the seven-stage, 48.0 km race he said he hopes to be on a stage adjacent to the one his younger brother Zen Kuroda of Tamano Mitsunan H.S. runs so that they can hand off the tasuki together. Two stages at the National Men's Ekiden are for collegiate and corporate league runners, three are reserved for high schoolers, and two for junior high school athletes. Representing Okayama prefecture, the older Kuroda brother is scheduled to run the 8.5 km Third Stage, with the younger brother, who will enter the Aoyama Gakuin team in April, is set to run the 5.0 km Fourth Stage. "This will be the first time we've run an ekiden together since I was in my third year of high school and he was in his first," said Asahi. "I'm

Hakone Ekiden 4th-Placer Toyo University Recruits Strong Incoming Class

4th overall at the 100th Hakone Ekiden on Jan. 2nd and 3rd, Toyo University has recruited a strong incoming class featuring the 2nd and 3rd-placers on the 10.0 km First Stage at December's National High School Ekiden , Kaito Matsui (Saitama Sakae H.S.) and Yu Miyazaki (Toyo Ushiku H.S.). At the National High School Ekiden, Sota Orita (Suma Gakuen H.S.) ran 28:48 to tie the fastest-ever Japanese time on the stage set in 2019 by Yachiyo Shoin H.S. athlete Issei Sato , now a member of Aoyama Gakuin University 's 2024 Hakone Ekiden champion team. Right with Orita until the very last straight, Matsui and Miyazaki ran excellent times of 28:54 and 28:57. Matsui and Miyazaki preceded that performance with a 1-2 on the 10.0 km First Stage at November's Kanto Region High School Ekiden, Matsui in 29:10 and Miyazaki in 29:16. Third on the same stage in that race, Yu Uchibori (Koma H.S.) is also Toyo-bound, a major recruiting coup for Toyo to pull in the top three. At both Gakuho

Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon Entry List (updated)

Entry lists are out for the Feb. 4 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon . There's no separate women's entry list, but last year's 2nd and 3rd-placers Rieko Koshi and Hisae Yoshimatsu are both back and will probably go 1-2. The men's race has a small international contingent of Moroccans Mohamed Reda El Aaraby and Ayoub Dardar , Ethiopians Aychew Bantie and Workneh Derese , and Canadian Ben Preisner , with El Aaraby and Bantie setting up a potential 2:07 race for the Japanese crowd. Six Japanese men at the 2:07 to 2:08 level who have a realistic view of their chances of hitting the 2:05:50 standard to steal the 3rd spot on the Paris Olympic team in Osaka or Tokyo are on the list for Beppu-Oita, where a good run will earn them a trip to October's Chicago Marathon. Fumihiro Maruyama (Asahi Kasei) and Yuta Koyama (Toenec) are the fastest at 2:07:55 and 2:07:57 in Osaka the last two years, with Yuta Shimoda (GMO) leading the 2:08 quartet in 2:08:00 from Lake Biwa 2021. Su