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Showing posts from February, 2016

Hakone Champion Aoyama Gakuin University's Shimoda Breaks Under-20 Record at Tokyo Marathon

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20160229-OHT1T50037.html
http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/20160229/ath16022905020006-n1.html 
http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/20160229/ath16022905030007-n1.html
incorporates additional quotes given in interviews with Nippon TV

青学速いほんとに。#下田裕太pic.twitter.com/KsCY3A4Zw1 — miho (@tanami_01) February 28, 2016translated and edited by Brett Larner

Taking on the marathon for the first time as a second-year at Hakone Ekiden champion Aoyama Gakuin University, Yuta Shimoda, 19, finished 10th overall and 2nd Japanese man at Sunday's Tokyo Marathon in 2:11:34, a new Japanese under-20 record. AGU head coach Susumu Hara, 48, made a strong appeal for Shimoda, already Japan's fastest-ever 18-year-old for the half-marathon, to be named to the Rio Olympics team.  Among the experienced marathoners and other pre-race favorites, Beijing World Championships marathon team member Masato Imai (31, Team Toyota Kyushu), was 13th, the debuting Kenta Murayama (23, Team …

No-Name 28-Year-Old Yuki Takamiya Lands Himself on Rio Stage as Top Japanese Man at Tokyo Marathon

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20160229-OHT1T50026.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

With Sunday's Tokyo Marathon serving as the second selection race for the Japanese men's Rio de Janeiro Olympic team, general elite division entrant Yuki Takamiya (28, Team Yakult) ran a smart and punchy race to finish 8th overall in a PB of 2:10:57 as the top Japanese man.  Running down Beijing World Championships team member Masato Imai (31, Team Toyota Kyushu), Hakone Ekiden ace Tadashi Isshiki (21, Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) and other famous star athletes, Takamiya put himself into contention for the Rio team.  Feyisa Lilesa (26, Ethiopia) won Tokyo for the first time in 2:06:56.

Takamiya was already more than 15 seconds behind the main Japanese pack by 10 km and was over 40 seconds behind at 35 km.  It all came down to the last 2 km, Takamiya's legs turning over with great drive straight from his soul.  Flying past leading Japanese man Yuma Hattori (22, Toyo Univ.), Takamiya punc…

Kiprop Crushes Tokyo Marathon Record, Lilesa Over Chumba for Men's Win

by Brett Larner

2015 Beijing World Championships marathon silver medalist Helah Kiprop (Kenya) delivered the outstanding performance of the 10th Tokyo Marathon, doing all she could to try to deliver a performance that would score her the win in the Abbott World Marathon Majors.  Leading a pack including two-time world champion Edna Kiplagat (Kenya), fellow AWMM title contenders Birhane Dibaba (Ethiopia) and Aberu Kebede (Ethiopia) and three other Ethiopians through halfway in 1:10:41, Kiprop kept it even and ground down the others, never really accelerating or losing pace on the hills in the last 6 km but dropping the competition one by one.

All alone by 40 km it looked like she might take down the fastest marathon ever run by a woman on Japanese soil, Mizuki Noguchi's 2:21:18 in Osaka in 2003, but despite coming up just short Kiprop succeeded in taking nearly a minute off the course record as she won in 2:21:27.  Runner-up Amane Gobena (Ethiopia), a frequent face in Japan, unexpe…

Tokyo Marathon Preview

by Brett Larner

In its tenth edition as a mass-participation race Sunday's Tokyo Marathon comes packed with story lines.  With the weather forecast looking good both the men's and women's course records, 2:05:42 and 2:22:23, are in danger.  The Japanese all-comers' records of 2:05:18 and 2:21:18 may not be safe either.  The Abbott World Marathon Majors wraps up the first iteration of its new one year/seven race +1 format in Tokyo; 2014 Tokyo winner Dickson Chumba (Kenya) stands a chance of tying men's series leader Eliud Kipchoge after winning in Chicago last fall, sending the win to a vote, while on the women's side Birhane Dibaba (Ethiopia), Helah Kiprop (Kenya) and Aberu Kebede (Ethiopia) all have a chance at taking the AWMM title if the win goes their way.  Even 2nd would get Dibaba into the running.

Along with Chumba, Emmanuel Mutai (Kenya) and Eliud Kiptanui (Kenya) will be pushing the race toward record territory with a first half planned in the 1:02:30-…

Nagoya Women's Marathon Elite Field

by Brett Larner

The last chance for Japanese women to make the Rio de Janeiro Olympic team, the Mar. 13 Nagoya Women's Marathon has announced the elites who will front the largest women-only marathon field in the world, more than 17,000-strong in its 2015 edition.  Last year's winner Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) is back with a World Championships bronze medal under her belt, facing formerly Japan-based Betelhem Moges (Ethiopia), Valeria Straneo (Italy) and most of Japan's best.

The controversial selection process for the Japanese Olympic team, in which outside of finishing in the top eight at the previous year's World Championships there is no way to guarantee yourself a place on the team no matter how you run in any of the three domestic selection races, has resulted in the top Japanese women at both of the other selection races, Kaori Yoshida (Runners Pulse), 2nd in November's Saitama International Women's Marathon in 2:28:43, and Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal), winn…

Eritrean National Record Holder Yared Asmerom Meets Local Kindergartners as Part of New Exchange Program Between Kanagawa and Eritrea

http://www.sankei.com/region/news/160224/rgn1602240057-n1.html

translated by Brett Larner

On Feb. 23 Kanagawa prefecture, slated to host the northeastern African country Eritrea's pre-2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games training camps, announced the launch of the Sky Project exchange program.  As the first event in the program, Beijing and London Olympic marathoner Yared Asmerom, 36, participated in an interactive event with local kindergarteners.  Future activities will include similar events and promotion of Eritrea within Kanagawa.

On the 23rd, Yared visited nursery schools and kindergartens in two different locations in the prefecture.  At one, the Seisa Group Aobadai Nursery School and Kindergarten in Aobadai, Yokohama, children enjoyed running together with Yared, who laughed and smiled as he high-fived each student.  Yared told the children, "If you keep practicing seriously, then in sports or whatever other area you pursue, every one of you can become a champion.&q…

JAAF to Fukushi on Nagoya Plans: "Don't Run"

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/1607599.html

translated by Brett Larner

With regard to her entry in the final Rio de Janeiro Olympics women's marathon selection race, the Mar. 13 Nagoya Women's Marathon, on Feb. 21 JAAF Strengthening Committee Chairman Kazunori Asaba, 55, sent a message to Kayoko Fukushi (33, Team Wacoal): "We do not want you to run."

Fukushi won the second Rio selection race, January's Osaka International Women's Marathon, in 2:22:17, one of the fastest times ever run by a Japanese woman, but because the JAAF would not confirm her spot on the Rio team, the next day she indicated that she would run Nagoya as well.  Chairman Asaba seeks to persuade Fukushi that if she hopes to contend for an Olympic medal she should not run Nagoya, but at the same time refuses to change the JAAF's stance that it will not confirm that she is definitely on the Rio team.

Attending the 20 km racewalk national championships in Kobe, Chairman As…

Meter Issue #03 - 'The Ivy League at the Izumo Ekiden'

Meter magazine published an in-depth article on ekidens and the Ivy League Select Team's run at the last Izumo Ekiden in its third issue.  Text by JRN's Brett Larner, photos by Androniki Christodoulou and Kazuyuki Sugimatsu. Order copies here.

A Double 30 km Day: Shitara and Matsumi Win Kumanichi, Oshikawa and Shimokado Take Ome

by Brett Larner
熊日30キロ優勝は設楽啓太くんでした! pic.twitter.com/u4ZG27xFjf — つきこ (@t_tsuki) February 21, 2016Former national university record holder Keita Shitara (Team Konica Minolta) returned to Japan's biggest 30 km, the Kumanichi Road Race, for the first time in three years to pick up the win in Kumanichi's 60th edition.  A graduate of 2014 Hakone Ekiden winner Toyo University, Shitara took the race in hand from the start, leading through 5 km in 14:38 just 2 seconds off the pace for the 1:28:52 course record set in 2014 by Toyo's Yuma Hattori.  Early company included Shitara's Konica Minolta teammate Masato Kikuchi, Toyo grad Kento Otsu (Team Toyota Kyushu) and current Toyo students Ryo Kuchimachi and Shun Sakuraoka.  Over the next 10 km the pack whittled down to just Shitara and Sakuraoka, 20 seconds off CR pace at 15 km in 44:15 with Otsu another 20 seconds back.

Around 21 km Shitara got a few strides on Sakuraoka, who began to fade rapidly and was overtaken by Otsu and ot…

JAAF Names World Half Marathon and Asian XC Teams

http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXLSSXK40674_Y6A210C1000000/

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On Feb. 18 the JAAF named the five men and five women on the Japanese team for the Mar. 26 World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff, U.K.  Additionally, they also announced the lineup for the Feb. 29 Asian Cross-Country Championships in Manama, Bahrain, with Shuho Dairokuno (Team Asahi Kasei) leading the senior men's team.

The World Half Marathon Championships team:

Men
Keijiro Mogi (Asahi Kasei) - 1:00:54 (Marugame Half 2016)
Keisuke Nakatani (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:01:21 (Marugame Half 2016)
Naoki Kudo (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:01:25 (Marugame Half 2016)
Shogo Nakamura (Fujitsu) - 1:01:53 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2016)
Minato Oishi (Toyota) - 1:02:06 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2013)

Women
Miho Shimizu (Hokuren) - 1:09:41 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2016)
Yuka Ando (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:09:51 (Sanyo Ladies Half 2015)
Mirai Waku (Universal Entertainment) - 1:09:56 (Sanyo Ladies Half 2015)
Hisami Ishii…

Police Preparing to Charge Owner of Dog Involved in New Year Ekiden Incident

http://www.jomo-news.co.jp/ns/4514557221513282/news.html

translated by Brett Larner



In a Feb. 17 interview, an official involved with the Takasaki Police Department's investigation of an incident at the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden national corporate men's championships in which a roadside spectator's dog jumped out into the course causing a runner to fall confirmed that police are preparing to file charges against a 69-year-old male resident of Takasaki on suspicion of violating Gunma prefecture's Animal Welfare and Management ordinance with regard to requirements for keeping pets under control.

According to the police official, the incident occurred around 10:00 a.m. on Jan. 1 in the town of Kamiorui roughly 3.6 km into the Second Stage.  Running in the second pack, Paul Kuira (Team Konica Minolta) tripped and fell when a small dog suddenly jumped out into the course directly in front of him.  The owner is suspected of not having had control of the dog at the time, resultin…

An Honest Look at American Marathoning

by Brett Larner
special thanks to Dr. Helmut Winter for assistance with graphics

It's fitting that last weekend's U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials brought American marathoning back to Los Angeles.  In the years leading up to the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics American men and women paved the way as the world's best marathoners, but the L.A. Olympics marked the start of a long decline on both sides that has only recently started to turn around.  With Galen Rupp making a massively anticipated debut and Los Angeles launching its bid for the 2024 Olympics the 2016 L.A. Trials may come to be looked back upon as another turning point.  It's worth taking an honest look at the last 50 years or so of history to understand where that turning point may take American marathoning.

Looking at the average of the ten fastest marathons per year by American men, for the 16 years between the 1968 Mexico City Olympics and the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics American men's marathoning developed at a …

Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon Elite Field

by Brett Larner

The elite field for the Mar. 6 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, the last selection race for the Japanese men's Rio Olympics team, is finally out, and it is a monster.  Fifteen men with sub-2:10 times in the last three years including nine Japanese men.  Tadese Tola leads the six quality internationals with a 2:04:49 at the 2013 Dubai Marathon, with the other five perfectly positioned from 2:06:43 to 2:08:55 to pull the massive Japanese field along to fast times.

2:08 men Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko), Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) and Kentaro Nakamoto (Yasukawa Denki) lead the nine sub-2:10 Japanese men, but there are dozens more one level down from that who could step up including 2015 Sydney Marathon winner Hisanori Kitajima (Team Yasukawa) and 2014 Riga Marathon winner Yu Chiba (Team Honda). 

More potential can be found on the list of runners taking a second shot at the marathon after failed debuts.  Former Hakone Ekiden stars Shinobu Kubota (Team Toyota…

Chiba, Karatsu, Corporate Championships and Nobeoka - Weekend Race Roundup

by Brett Larner

Strong winds made for tough conditions and slow times at most of the weekend's main races.  The newly-formatted X-Run Chiba, a retooling of the longstanding Chiba International Cross-Country Meet, saw Yusuke Nishiyama (Komazawa Univ.) emerge on top of the day's longest race, the university men's 12 km.  Nishiyama outkicked Kenta Ueda, son of Yamanashi Gakuin University head coach Masahito Ueda, by 5 seconds to take the win in 37:48.  Maki Izumida (Rikkyo Univ.) had an even closer win in the university women's 6 km, running 20:54 to beat Ai Hosoda (Nittai Univ.) by just 3 seconds.  Rodgers Chumo Kwemoi (Kenya/Team Aisan Kogyo) won the men's 8 km by nearly a minute in 25:05, Yuki Kanehira (Team Sysmex) joining him at the top of the women's 8 km podium in 29:04.  With the junior high school races now serving as the National Junior High School Cross-Country Championships Maebashi Fujimi J.H.S. easily dominated, taking both the boys' and girls…

Yoshida to Join Fukushi in Nagoya Showdown for Rio

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20160212-OHT1T50034.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On Feb. 11 it was learned that Kaori Yoshida (34, Runners Pulse), the top Japanese woman at 2nd overall in the first Rio Olympics domestic selection race at last November's Saitama International Women's Marathon, has entered the final Rio selection race, the Mar. 13 Nagoya Women's Marathon.  Also entered is Kayoko Fukushi (33, Wacoal), who ran 2:22:17 to break the JAAF-mandated sub-2:22:30 Olympic standard and win the second Rio selection race, January's Osaka International Women's Marathon.  With both already in contention for the Rio team the pair's entries creates a highly unusual situation at the final selection race.

The final selection race for the Olympic women's marathon team looks set to become a one-shot battle.  Appearing as part of a radio event in Tokyo on the 11th, Yoshida said, "I've been planning all along to run either Tokyo or Nagoya, b…

Kawauchi, Asmerom, Nagao and Waku Headline 50th Anniversary Ome 30 km

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20160210-00000045-sph-spo

translated by Brett Larner

On Feb. 10 the Ome Road Race organizing committee announced the elite field and guest starters for its 50th anniversary running on Feb. 21.  The fastest man ever over the historic Ome course, marathon great and DeNA corporate team executive head coach Toshihiko Seko will serve as starter in the 30 km, with former marathon world record holder and Sydney Olympics marathon gold medalist Naoko Takahashi starting the 10 km.  A $30,000 bonus will be offered to any runner who can beat Seko's 1981 winning time of 1:29:32, with $20,000 offered for breaking the all-time second-fastest winning time in Ome history, 1:30:21 by Masaki Ito (Konica Minolta) in 2013.

50th Ome Road Race Elite Field
Ome, Tokyo, 2/21/16

Men's 30 km
Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 1:29:31 (2013 Kumanichi 30 km)
Yared Asmerom (Eritrea) - 1:30:16 (2008 Biwako Mainichi Marathon)
Shota Yamaguchi (Fujitsu) - 1:01:42 (2012 Marug…

Aoyama Gakuin's Isshiki Ready for Tokyo Marathon Debut After Top-Class Double

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20160208-OHT1T50020.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Two-time Hakone Ekiden championAoyama Gakuin University's star third-year Tadashi Isshiki, last year's National University Half Marathon champion and World University Games half marathon silver medalist, won Sunday's Kanagawa Half Marathon in 1:03:03, just two seconds short of his own course record.  In training to make his marathon debut at age 21 at the February 28 Tokyo Marathon in a shot at the Rio Olympic team, Isshiki ran a full marathon time trial just four days before his Kanagawa win, making his time truly top-class for a university athlete.  Aoyama Gakuin head coach Susumu Hara, 48, was full of optimism post-race, saying, "Rio has come into sight."

The first thing Isshiki said after his solid win was, "That was a nice jog out there today."  On Wednesday, Feb. 3 in Futtsu, Chiba he ran a 42.195 km marathon time trial in 2:31:02.  With a 1:02:09 half m…

Saitama Sakae H.S. Takes Both Saitama Ekiden Titles

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/local/saitama/news/20160208-OYTNT50000.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

105 teams competed in four different divisions at the 83rd Saitama Ekiden on Feb. 7.  Saitama Sakae H.S., the overall winner at last weekend's Okumusashi Ekiden, ran the six-stage, 42.195 km men's course in 2:10:14, faster than any of the corporate or university teams in the race, to seal a fourth-straight high school division win.  Following up its Hakone Ekiden debut last month, Tokyo International University was close behind in 2:10:20 to win the general division, with the Saitama T&F Assoc. team winning the local team division.  The Saitama Sakae H.S. girls ran 1:12:59 for the five-stage, 20.5 km women's race to win for the third year in a row.

The Saitama Sakae boys' opening runner Takahisa Mitsui and third runner Ryoji Tatezawa both scored overall stage wins, Tatezawa outran marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) by 31 seconds over 12.1 km.  T…

After Debut Marathon Win in Beppu-Oita Abera Gets Instant Contract Extension: "I Love Japan!"

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/1601917.html

translated by Brett Larner

Smiling after winning his marathon debut, 21-year-old Ethiopian Melaku Abera (Kurosaki Harima) told reporters, "I love Japan!  Thanks to this I can stay here a bit longer."  Running in a lead pack of Kenyans, Ethiopians and other invited international athletes, Abera threw in a surge at 35 km that put him out front alone.  While frontrunning he blew kisses at the TV cameras and talked to them in Japanese.  "I was saying thank you to my coach and teammates," he said, a sign of how much he likes the Kitakyushu-based Kurosaki Harima ekiden team.

Abera came to Japan four years ago to join Kurosaki Harima where he was expected to serve as the ekiden team's ringer, but in the New Year Ekiden and other important races he didn't produce the hoped-for results.  His contract was not renewed, meaning he was scheduled to return to his home in Ethiopia at the end of the fiscal year …

Abera and Yoshitomi Take 65th Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon Wins, Akutsu Gets Ehime Marathon Course Record

by Brett Larner

Shut out of inclusion in the selection races for the Rio Olympics men's team the 65th running of the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon was largely a developmental race, the small international field and large field of second-tier and debuting Japanese men setting out in hopes of sub-2:10 times.  #1 seed Evans Ruto (Kenya), the only athlete in the field to have broken 2:09, was an early casualty, dropping out just past 15 km as the pace accelerated from high 2:09 to low 2:08 territory.  Over a dozen were still in touch at halfway in 1:04:22, including #2 and #3-ranked Shume Hailu (Ethiopia) and Anthony Maritim (Kenya), Japanese men Naohiro Yamada (YKK), Kenichi Shiraishi (Asahi Kasei) and Shogo Kanezane (Chugoku Denryoku), 22-year-old Myeung Jun Son (South Korea) and debuting Melaku Abera (Ethiopia/Kurosaki Harima), Yuki Munakata (Kanebo) and Keisuke Kusaka (Hitachi Butsuryu).

Past the halfway point Kiflom Sium (Eritrea) was the next main casualty, and just after 25 km a…