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Showing posts from October, 2013

Komazawa the Favorite for Sunday's National University Ekiden

by Brett Larner

Defending national champion Komazawa University returns as the favorite for Sunday's 45th edition of the National University Men's Ekiden Championships, eight stages of road action covering the 106.8 km from Nagoya to Ise.  Last year Komazawa set a new course record of 5:12:43 to take a record tenth national title under head coach Hiroaki Oyagi.  This year its chances of adding to that legacy look good after a course record win three weeks ago at the first of the Big Three university ekidens, the Izumo Ekiden.  At that point all Komazawa's cylinders looked to be firing, and with longer average stage lengths Nationals should again play to the champions' strengths if the team has maintained peak fitness and can complement its Izumo squad with two more equally strong members.

Its main competition is a familiar group of schools led by Toyo University, runner-up at both the 2012 Nationals and this year's Izumo with 2013 Hakone Ekiden champion Nittai Univ…
New York City: Look out there's a monster coming.
photo (c) 2013 Arata Fujiwara
all rights reserved

Daihatsu Sets West Japan Corporate Women's Ekiden Course Record

http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/20131027/ath13102715490003-n1.html

translated by Brett Larner

The six-stage, 42.195 km West Japan Corporate Women's Ekiden took place Oct. 27 in Munakata, Fukuoka.  Team Daihatsu ran a course record 2:17:23 to claim its first title in three years.  Team leader Ryoko Kizaki, 4th in the marathon at August's Moscow World Championships, led off with a win on the 6.7 km First Stage, with three more of the team's athletes winning their stages.

Team Otsuka Seiyaku was a close 2nd in 2:17:59, with Team Noritz 3rd.  With Moscow bronze medalist Kayoko Fukushi on board, last year's winner Team Wacoal could do no better than 7th, while the Mizuki Noguchi-led Team Sysmex was only 8th.

The top eight teams at the West Japan event qualified for December's National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships in Sendai, along with any teams 9th or lower who broke 2:23:00.  Altogether twelve teams made the grade.

Ritsumeikan University Takes Eighth National University Women's Ekiden Title

by Brett Larner

Defending national champion Ritsumeikan University added an eighth title to its legacy Oct. 27 in Sendai, winning the 31st National University Women's Ekiden Championships after leading start to finish.  First Stage runner Natsuki Omori got things off by winning the 6.4 km opening leg by a second over Ayumi Uehara of Matsuyama University despite a fall midway through the stage, and from there the Ritsumeikan women never looked back.  Ritsumeikan runners won five of the day's six stages, only Juntendo University's Nanaka Izawa spoiling their day with a win on the 9.2 km Fifth Stage.

With the Kansai region typically seen as the center of collegiate women's distance running, four of this year's top ten schools were from the Kanto region, better known for the strength of its men's programs.  Daito Bunka University was the top Kanto school, 2nd overall on the strength of quality runs from its identical twins Eri and Mari Tayama. Coached by Keiichi …

Gebremariam, Gitau, Mathathi, Fujiwara and Kawauchi Headline Fukuoka Field

by Brett Larner

The Fukuoka International Marathon has released the entry list for its 67th running on Dec. 1 and it's a familiar story line: one marquee African athlete and a half-dozen other foreign athletes in range of the best Japanese men on the list.  Even more so this year, with its top-end list of seven names identical to last year's field save for the substitution of Ethiopian great Gebre Gebremariam for Ethiopian greater Haile Gebreselassie.  Gebremariam gets the official number one seed from Fukuoka organizers due to his heavily aided 2:04:53 from the 2011 Boston Marathon with no note on the entry list of that time being aided, but with a legitimate best of only 2:08:00 from the 2011 New York City Marathon he has just the sixth-fastest PB in the field.  The true top seed goes to bib #21, defending champion Joseph Gitau (Kenya/Team JFE Steel), the only man in the field with a genuine sub-2:07 to his name.  Joining him again are last year's 3rd-placer and Polish n…

Ngandu Outkicks Kawauchi for Takashimadaira 20k Title

by Brett Larner
photo by paul

A day after the Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai brought world record-setting depth to the 20 km distance, Tokyo played host to another 20 km road race packed with collegiate talent, the Takashimadaira Road Race.  Up front, former Nihon University ace Benjamin Ngandu (Kenya/Team Monteroza),Aoyama Gakuin University's Shunsuke Ishida and, seven days after running 2:11:40 for 2nd at the Melbourne Marathon, the indefatigable Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) traded the lead not far off course record pace through the first three loops of Takashimadaira's perfectly flat four-corner 5 km course.  Ishida lost on the last loop, leaving Ngandu and Kawauchi to battle it out.  In the last km the bar chain-sponsored Ngandu's kick proved too much as he pulled away for the win in 59:14.  Kawauchi was close behind in 59:17, with Ishida falling back to 59:33 for 3rd.  Kawauchi time, which tied the top Japanese time at the Yosenkai, translates to close to 1:02:30 fo…

Omwamba Over Kitonyi in 57:57 to Win Record-Setting Hakone Ekiden Qualifier As Tokyo Nogyo University Takes Team Title

by Brett Larner



Japan's biggest sporting event of the year is the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden, a ten-stage university men's road relay which each runner covering roughly a half marathon distance in front of a live nationwide TV audience of 40 million and millions more cheering courseside.  Each year the top ten of the twenty teams in the Hakone field are seeded to run again the next year, also running October's Izumo Ekiden.  The remaining schools are sent back to run the Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai, a 20 km road race qualifier in Tokyo's Showa Kinen Park, along with dozens of other schools from around the Kanto Region hopeful of earning the honor of a place on the starting line at Hakone come Jan. 2.

Monday's Izumo Ekiden saw an overall course record for the third time in the last four years, with individual stage records on three of its six legs.  In a sign of the continued explosively rapid rate of growth in Japanese men's collegiate athletics, Saturday's Yosenkai …

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon to Be Streamed Live on Ekiden News

Sunday's Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, featuring Kokushikan University alumnus Takashi Horiguchi (Team Honda), former Team Uniqlo ringer Danielle Filomena Cheyech (Kenya), 59+ world record holder Yoshihisa Hosaka (Natural Foods AC) and many more, will be streamed live worldwide.  For the first time, Japanese hosting of the webcast will be provided courtesy of Ekiden News.  Click here to follow the webcast starting at 9:30 p.m. Japan time on Sunday, Oct. 20.

University Ekiden Season Rolls On With Saturday's Hakone Ekiden Qualifier

by Brett Larner

Following Monday's Izumo Ekiden, university ekiden season rolls on this Saturday with the Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai qualifier 20 km road race in Tokyo's Showa Kinen Park.  Each year the top ten schools at the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden, the ten-stage, twenty-team university road relay that is Japan's largest sporting and TV event, win seeded places at the following year's race.  The remaining ten teams and other hopeful universities in the Kanto Region line up the third Saturday in October to try to earn the privilege of a starting place at the prestigious Hakone.  Any readers in the Tokyo area should join the thousands of fans who go out to Showa Kinen Park on the 19th to soak in the atmosphere of a race packed with university bands, cheerleader squads and booster clubs.  For those elsewhere, for the first time this year's Yosenkai will be broadcast live instead of on tape delay.  Try Keyhole TV to catch Nihon TV's broadcast starting at 9:30 a.m. Japa…

Yokohama International Women's Marathon Elite Field

by Brett Larner

The organizers of the Nov. 17 Yokohama International Women's Marathon have released this year's elite field and it is looking pretty okay.  2012 Nagoya Women's Marathon winner Albina Mayorova (Russia) is back in Japan for more and leads the way among the internationals with her 2:23:52 best from Nagoya, joined at the 2:24 level by Yamanashi Gakuin graduate and longtime Hokuren corporate team member Philes Ongori (Kenya) and Jessica Augusto (Portugal).  Top Japanese elite Remi Nakazato (Team Daihatsu) with a best of 2:24:28 is something of a question mark after bailing on last month's Berlin Marathon.

Should she falter, #3-ranked domestic woman Mizuho Nasukawa (Team Univ. Ent.), the top Japanese woman last year in an anaemic performance that saw her left off the Moscow World Championships team in favor of an empty seat, is the best bet to pick up the reins.  Azusa Nojiri (Hiratsuka Lease) and Eri Okubo (Miki House), both athletes swelling the growing ra…

Kawauchi Visits Sister High School in Melbourne

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/p-sp-tp0-20131015-1204370.html

translated by Brett Larner

After finishing 2nd in Sunday's Melbourne Marathon, Yuki Kawauchi (26, Saitama Pref. Gov't) visited Melbourne High School on Oct. 14.  Melbourne High School has had a sister school relationship with Kasukabe High School, where Kawauchi is employed, for fourteen years, sending exchange students to each other every year, and his visit to the school came through that connection.  Among its graduates, Melbourne High School counts 1964 Tokyo Olympics 10000 m bronze medalist Ron Clarke.

After running 15 km early in the morning, Kawauchi was greeted at the school by principal Jeremy Ludowyck and Kasukabe H.S. exchange student Mao Kato.  "I'm honored to find out that the place I work has a relationship with a school with such a long tradition," Kawauchi commented.  "I feel that the students who go to school here are very fortunate."

Komazawa University Smashes Izumo Ekiden CR With Near-Perfect Performance

by Brett Larner



2012 National Champion Komazawa University came out swinging at the start of university ekiden season, winning the Izumo Ekiden for the first time in 15 years with a 2:09:11 course record at the six stage, 44.5 km event's 25th running on Oct. 14.  2013 National University Half Marathon champion Shogo Nakamura got the race off on the right foot, surging halfway into the 8.0 km First Stage to give the #1-seeded Komazawa a 20-second lead that only grew as each stage went by.  Sub-29 first-year Keisuke Nakatani added a few seconds to the lead over the 5.8 km Second Stage, but it was a spectacular 22:36 course record by star junior Kenta Murayama on the 7.9 km Third Stage, a full 12 seconds better than the old record set by Japan's current #1 distance runner, Komazawa alum Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta) that blew the race apart for the rest of the field.  Murayama evidently learned something in his long conversation with Bernard Lagat (U.S.A.) following this …

Chicago Marathon - Japanese Results

by Brett Larner
photos by Collin Winter and Dr. Helmut Winter

In the distance behind Kenyan winners Dennis Kimetto and Rita Jeptoo, Japanese runners Hiroaki Sano (Team Honda) and Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) each took 7th at the 2013 Chicago Marathon, Sano running almost dead even half splits for a 2:10:29 PB and Akaba fading to 2:27:49 after starting out among the leaders.  Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) also sneaked into the men's top ten, dropping dropping American Matt Tegenkamp in the last 3 km to take 9th in 2:11:29.

Oda started out on 2:10-flat pace, with Sano and other 2:12~2:13 Japanese entrants Kenji Higashino (Team Asahi Kasei), Norihide Fujimori (Team Chugoku Denryoku), Hiroki Tanaka (Team Chugoku Denryoku) and Yoshiki Otsuka (Team Aichi Seiko) running in Tegenkamp's group with Alistair Cragg (Ireland) and Michael Shelley (Australia) at 2:11:30 pace.  As the pace gradually increased toward 2:10 first Oda was absorbed, then the group of Japanese men began to fall away.

Ondoro Over Kawauchi at Melbourne Marathon

by Brett Larner
photo by Melinda Jacobsen

2013 Tiberias Marathon winner Dominic Ondoro (Kenya) proved too much for Japanese hopeful Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't), breaking away after 30 km to win the Medibank Melbourne Marathon in a course record 2:10:47 by nearly a minute and thwart Kawauchi's bid to win all three of Australia's main marathons. The women's race also saw a course record, with Lisa Jane Weightman running a PB 2:26:05 to clock the fastest time ever by an Australian woman on home soil.

Ondoro and Kawauchi ran in a pack with 2013 Brighton Marathon winner Dominic Kimwetich Kangor (Kenya), defending champion Jonathan Kipchirchir Chesoo (Kenya), 2012 Xiamen Marathon winner Peter Kamais (Kenya) and others through 30 km, Kawauchi, in his eighth of eleven planned marathons this year, doing much of the leading with relatively steady 10 km splits centered around 31:20.  At 30 km Ondoro went to work, dropping the pace from 3:08/km to 3:01/km as he clocked 30:…

A Few Words on Chicago

by Brett Larner
photos by Dr. Helmut Winter

Chicago comes at a tough time for Japan's corporate leagues, just before the start of the fall ekiden season's regional qualifiers.  Although just about every team has more than enough people to fill their lineups for these relatively minor events, head coaches will usually not let their better athletes do an October marathon, whether because of the limited recovery time in the event that they decide a big gun has to run in a qualifier, or because it would give them the hassle of explaining to the parent corporation why a star is off doing his or her own thing instead of being there for the team.  As a result you typically only see Japanese runners at Chicago when they are looking to drop something big, as with Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) and Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) this year, or, like the block of  Japanese men at 2:12~2:13, as part of a corporate federation junket for promising third-tier men to get the experience of running in …

Kawauchi Confident of Melbourne Victory: "I'm Going There to Win"

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20131010-OHT1T00190.htm

translated by Brett Larner

Yuki Kawauchi (26, Saitama Pref. Gov't) left Narita Airport Oct. 10 on a plane bound for Australia, where he will race the Oct. 13 Medibank Melbourne Marathon.  Kasukabe H.S. where Kawauchi works has a sister school relationship with a high school in Melbourne, giving him extra impetus to run there, but his main motivation is to add the Melbourne title to his wins last year in Sydney and at Gold Coast in July to complete his Australian triple crown.  "Some 2:07 athletes will be there, so I'm really looking forward to it," he said with confidence.  "I'm going there to win."

After Melbourne Kawauchi will run the ING New York City Marathon on Nov. 3 and the Fukuoka International Marathon on Dec. 1, making it three straight months of marathoning.  "New York has nothing but world-class people, so my focus there will be on competing for place.  In Fukuoka the focu…

Izumo Ekiden Preview - The Best Line Up for University Ekiden Season

by Brett Larner



University ekiden season kicks off in style Monday, October 14 as the world’s best collegiate teams take to the roads for the 25th running of the Izumo Ekiden. The first of the nationally-televised Big Three University Ekidens and a prelude to November’s National University Ekiden Championships, the six-stage Izumo is something of an anomaly with an average stage length of only 7.42 km, a race with an emphasis on speed over the kind of stamina required at the season-ending Hakone Ekiden.

Japanese university men’s distance running has seen an explosion in talent and performance over the last five years, something made clear by looking over the rosters of the top bracket of the twenty-two teams entered for this year’s Izumo. With only ten full-strength teams from the Kanto Region, six of them feature a six-man 5000 m average under 14:00 and five a six-man 10000 m average under 29:00. Two schools include under-23 Japanese men with 5000 m bests better than 13:30, two …

Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. Head Coach Disgraced for Use of Corporal Punishment Still Coaching Team on Volunteer Basis

http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20131009k0000m040146000c.html

translated by Brett Larner

On Oct. 8 the Aichi Prefectural Board of Education confirmed that a 50-year-old male coach who officially left his position with the national-level Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. ekiden team in April after revelations of his systematic use of corporal punishment against male and female team members is still active in coaching the team at the present time.  According to Board officials, the former employee began working with the team again on a volunteer basis in May, overseeing 14 of the 27 team members.  A Board member commented, "Former employees are free to volunteer their guidance, but we don't like to see a team divided into two parts like this."  Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. vice principal Shigeyuki Furui told the Mainichi Newspaper, "We'd like to see him formally coaching official practice sessions."

The former coach developed Toyokawa Kogyo into one of the country's strongest hig…

Hoshi and Shimizu Add to Gold Medal Haul at East Asian Games

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20131008-OHT1T00074.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On the third day of competition at the 2013 East Asian Games in Tianjin, China, 5000 m national champion Sota Hoshi (Team Fujitsu) won gold in the men's 5000 m in 14:25.00. Developing off a slow early pace, Hoshi shook free of his Korean competition in the very late stages of the race. In the women's 10000 m, Yuko Shimizu (Team Sekisui Kagaku) ran a strong 32:50.42 to claim gold alongside Hoshi and women's 5000 m champion Riko Matsuzaki (Team Sekisui Kagaku), completing a Japanese sweep of the distance events.

Matsuzaki Wins Japan's First Gold at East Asian Games

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2013/10/07/kiji/K20131007006765350.html

translated by Brett Larner

As the 6th East Asian Games got underway Oct. 7 in Tianjin, China, 20-year-old Riko Matsuzaki (Team Sekisui Kagaku) ran 16:09.72 to win Japan's first gold medal in the Games' first final, the women's 5000 m. Matsuzaki surged away from the rest of the field of five near 3000 m, opening a gap of 26 seconds on the 2nd-place runner from North Korea. "This was a good experience-builder," she said post-race. "My goal was to win and I achieved that. I was expecting the pace to get slow, so when I did I was ready for it and didn't get nervous or impatient."

In other events, London Olympian Seito Yamamoto (Chukyo Univ.) cleared 5.50 m to win the men's pole vault with teammate Hiroki Ogita (Mizuno) 3rd in 5.30 m.

Weekend Track and Road Roundup

by Brett Larner
video by akuy125

Domestic Japanese action this weekend focused on the annual National Sports Festival and on three competitive half marathons.  Women's 5000 m Japanese year leader Misaki Onishi (Team Sekisui Kagaku) started the weekend off with a win in 15:43.03 in a close pack race at the National Sports Festival 5000 m.  2013 World University Games 10000 m gold medalist Ayuko Suzuki (Nagoya Univ.) was next across the line in 15:46.30, with 3rd through 9th all finishing within less than two seconds of her.  Kenyan Charles Ndungu (Sapporo Yamanote H.S.) had an easier time in the junior men's 5000 m, winning by nearly 20 seconds in 13:56.27 over Suguru Hirosue (Kobayashi H.S.).

Course record holder Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) enjoyed an even greater level of domination in winning his third Ichinoseki International Half Marathon, improving on his time last year in clocking 1:02:11.  Runner-up Yuta Koyama (Komazawa University) was more than four minu…

44 Universities to Bid for 13 Places at Oct. 19 Hakone Ekiden Qualifier

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20131003-00000926-yom-spo

translated and edited by Brett Larner



On Oct. 3 the Inter-University Athletic Union of Kanto[KGRR] announced the entry list for the Oct. 19 Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai qualifier road race in Tokyo's Showa Kinen Park.  Forty-four universities led by 2013 Hakone Ekiden 11th-placer Yamanashi Gakuin University will compete for places at the Hakone Ekiden's 90th running on Jan. 2-3, 2014.  In honor of Hakone's 90th anniversary its field size has been increased from the traditional twenty to twenty-three teams, meaning that the top thirteen schools at the Yosenkai will have the honor of competing in Japan's most prestigious sporting event alongside the ten schools that earned seeded places by finishing in the top ten at Hakone this year.



Each athlete at the Yosenkai runs 20 km, with his team's score determined by the cumulative time of its top ten finishers.  Up to this year the scores for the 7th-place and below team…

Takahashi to Lead New Japan Post Women's Corporate Team

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20131001-00000000-spnavi-spo

translated by Brett Larner

The Japan Post Group held a press conference Oct. 1 in Tokyo to formally launch its new women's distance running team.  Masahiko Takahashi, who helped train Sydney Olympics women's marathon gold medalist and former world record holder Naoko Takahashi and two-time Olympic marathon medalist Yuko Arimori, was named to the team's leadership position along with the announcement of an initial lineup of five female athletes headed by 2013 World University Games 10000 m gold medalist Ayuko Suzuki (Nagoya Univ.).

Scheduled to get underway at the start of the new fiscal year on April 1, 2014, the women's distance team is the first fully sports-oriented team that the Japan Post Group has sponsored since its founding.  The strong and deep parallel between the postal service's mission of faithfully delivering letters and the ekiden's ideal of passing on the tasuki to those yet to come w…

Historic Himeji Castle 10-Miler to Fold in Favor of Full Marathon Format

http://www.kobe-np.co.jp/news/sports/201309/0006363197.shtml

translated by Brett Larner

A favorite of athletes from junior high to the corporate leagues, Hyogo prefecture's Himeji Castle Road Race is set to be discontinued after February's 54th running.  With a new Himeji Castle World Heritage Site Marathon set to be launched in 2015, the 10-miler's race organization committee will be dismantled and the event's long history of hosting many of the country's best athletes will come to an end.

According to the Hyogo Prefecture Track and Field Association's 50th anniversary commemorative magazine, in 1948 there was a move to inaugurate a series of 10-mile road races in January in all the major cities of the country, but in 1960 the series came to a halt.  With Hyogo's event having been held at Himeji Castle since 1954 and having already developed a reputation as a fast course, it was relaunched in 1961 as the first Himeji Castle Road Race with a certified course…