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Sang, Simon Win 27,000-Strong Inaugural Osaka Marathon

http://www.pjnews.net/news/291/20111030_2

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Stretching from Osaka City Hall to the south part of Osaka Bay, 27,000 runners took part in Kansai's first mass-participation marathon, the Oct. 30 Osaka Marathon.  With a surge at 30 km Elijah Sang (Kenya) became the race's first champion, winning in 2:12:43.  In post-race comments Sang told the media, "I think this will be a very fast course.  The cheering was incredibly loud, so I never got tired or had to back off.  Things went as planned and I made a move at 30 km.  I was able to win because I was running for the win."

Veteran Lidia Simon (Romania) won the women's race in 2:32:48.  "The course is an easy one without any difficult sections," she said, "but I had trouble maintaining my speed after the turnaround.  I wasn't able to hit my target of a sub-2:30 time, but I did manage to achieve my other goal of winning.  My next goal will be to run in London for my f…

Komazawa Adds Another 28-Minute Man to Roster

by Brett Larner

A week out from the National University Ekiden Championships, the Kanto region men's scene became even more complicated as Izumo Ekiden runner-up Komazawa University, already holding ten men with sub-14 PBs for 5000 m, six of them with 10000 m bests under 29 minutes, added another name to its top ranks.  Junior Toshiaki Nishizawa took nearly a minute off his 10000 m PB as he finished 13th in the Nittai Univ. Time Trials 10000 m A-heat in 28:51.05 to give Komazawa crucial depth beyond the ten men necessary for January's Hakone Ekiden.  Nishizawa's step up puts further pressure on defending national and Hakone champ Waseda University and on this year's Izumo winner Toyo University.

The injury-plagued Waseda's chances did take a turn for the better as sub-29 senior Takuya Nakayama, son of former 10000 m and marathon national record holder Takeyuki Nakayama, returned to competition after sitting out most of his sophomore and junior years.  Nakayama fin…

The 2011 Venice Marathon in Video and Pictures

by Brett Larner

photos by Mika Tokairin
elite race video by Alberto Stretti
running video by Brett Larner

For the third straight year JRN was on-hand to cover the Venice Marathon, this year helping to host Courir Magazine editor-in-chief Yukiya Higuchi who ran the race for a feature article in the November issue of Courir.  After several days of rain the entire race weekend saw excellent conditions on the cool side with sunny skies at the start outside Villa Pisani on the banks of the Brenta in Stra.



The excellent weather was conducive to good times in the elite races, where Kenyan Helen Kiroptook nearly four minutes off the Venice record with an outstanding 2:23:37 and Ethiopian Tadese Tolosa Aredo led three men under 2:10 with a 2:09:13 win. Defending champions Harun Makda Haji (Ethiopia) and Simon Mukun (Kenya) both finished 2nd.





At last year's 25th anniversary race the Venice city council had for the first time granted permission for the race course to pass through Venice's …

Mizuki Noguchi Wins W. Japan Ekiden Stage, Will Run Osaka International Women's Marathon

by Brett Larner

note: International travel resulted in a delay to posting these results.  Apologies.

Three big road races produced noteworthy results across Japan over the past weekend.  At last year's Takashimadaira Road Race 20 km, the completely unknown Takehiro Deki (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) exploded onto the Kanto region university men's distance scene by tying the course record of 58:51 while winning by a margin of 1:30.  This year as a more established name Deki successfully repeated, winning Takashimadaira again in warm conditions in 59:44 by a margin of 1:13.  Veteran Yoshimi Hoshino (eAthletes AC) took her fifth win in the women's division, running 1:15:12, while five-time women's 10 km division winner Maki Inami (Kita AC) made it six as she won in 34:50.  Komazawa University graduate Akinori Iida (Team Honda) won the men's 10 km in 29:59.

Further north in Sendai, Ritsumeikan University scored a major upset as it beat rival and defending champion Bukkyo Univer…

Charles Ndirangu 13:15.44 National High School Record at Oita Challenge 5000 m

by Brett Larner

Sera High School’s scouts are on top of their game.First Sera’s Bitan Karoki (Team S&B) came a hairsbreadth from cracking Samuel Wanjiru's legendary National High School Ekiden stage record his senior year before going on to impress this year at the Cardinal Invitational, Kenyan Championships and the Africa Games. Then as a junior last year current Sera senior Charles Ndirangu likewise missed Wanjiru’s record by the slimmest of margins. Now Ndirangu has come through.

Seemingly unaware of the international declaration of the end of track season last month, Ndirangu rocketed a 13:15.44 at the Oct. 22 Oita Prefecture Challenge Games track meet to break the Japanese national high school 5000 m record. Officially called a new Japanese high school international student record, Ndirangu’s time is a full 16 seconds better than the best ever run by a Japanese high school student.  In comparison, past Kenyan national XC champion Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin) ran…

JRN On Location: 2011 Venice Marathon

JRN and Courir Magazine editor-in-chief Yukiya Higuchi are on location at the 2011 Venice Marathon. Look for our coverage with exclusive photos and video over the weekend.

photo (c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Kinukawa Wins Amsterdam Half Marathon

by Brett Larner

click here for photos and video of Kinukawa's win at the Amsterdam Half Marathon

5000 m national champion Megumi Kinukawa (Team Mizuno) made a low-key return to racing last weekend after her disappointing World Championships track performances.  Unannounced to the Japanese media, Kinukawa ran Sunday's Amsterdam Half Marathon, the second half marathon of her career after debuting at July's Sapporo International Half Marathon.  In the absence of any professional-level competition Kinukawa won in a leisurely 1:17:08, surely a training run or fun run effort.  Does another half at this stage point toward a marathon debut this winter and the fact that she did it in a European race toward a test run for getting used to the kind of time difference she would face at the London Olympics?  We'll find out soon enough.

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Sendai Ikuei H.S., Toyota Jidoshokki, Chugoku Denryoku Dominate Regional Ekidens

by Brett Larner

The local titans dominated three significant regional ekidens over the weekend.  In disaster-hit Miyagi, Sendai Ikuei H.S., alma mater of the late Samuel Wanjiru and 5000 m national champion Megumi Kinukawa (Team Mizuno), had superb runs in both the boys' and girls' races to sweep the National High School Ekiden Championships Miyagi Prefecture Qualifier.  Running on a modified course due to lasting tsunami damage, Sendai Ikuei runners won every stage in both the six-stage, 42.1 km boys' race and five-stage, 21 km girls' race.  Particularly dominant boys included the Hattori twins, Yuma and Hazuma, who won the 8.1 km Third Stage and 8 km Fourth Stage by margins of 2:18 and 1:38, Kenyan first-year Hiram Ngatia, who won the 5 km Sixth Stage by 1:11 in his ekiden debut, and anchor Tadashi Isshiki who clocked 13:55 for the 5 km road course to win by over one minute.  The boys' team totalled 2:02:17 versus second-place Rifu H.S.' 2:10:36, putting them…

Weekend Track Roundup - Miyawaki Becomes Tenth Japanese Man to Clear 10000 m Olympic Standard

by Brett Larner

Another weekend, another round of massive track time trials.  The Shizuoka Long-Distance Time Trials meet, always the site of the fastest 10000 m of the fall season, had a tight race up front as Edward Waweru (Kenya/Team NTN) outkicked John Thuo (Kenya/Team Toyota) for the win, 27:23.82 to 27:24.41.  Patrick Muwaka (Kenya/Team Aisan Kogyo) also cleared the 27:45 Olympic A-standard, 3rd in 27:33.14.

A large selection of top young Japanese talent ran the same heat to shoot for the A-standard, but the only new athlete to achieve an Olympic mark was 20-year-old Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota) who ran a PB of 28:01.00, the tenth Japanese man this year to clear the London A- or B-standard.  Only five days after a disastrous university debut at the Izumo Ekiden where he was 13th on his stage, 18-year old Komazawa University first-year Kenta Murayama was the second Japanese finisher, outkicking pro Takuya Fukatsu (Team Asahi Kasei) and Tokai University ace Akinobu Murasawa and …

Okubo Sets Course Record at Ichinoseki International Half Marathon

by Brett Larner
photo (c) 2011 Dr. Helmut Winter

Just three weeks after running a PB of 2:28:49 at the Berlin Marathon, Eri Okubo (Second Wind AC) continued her outstanding year by lopping 3 minutes off her half marathon best with a 1:11:22 course record win at the 30th Ichinoseki International Half Marathon in Ichinoseki, Iwate.  Rain until shortly before the start of the race had little impact on the otherwise good conditions as Okubo clocked the fourth-fastest half of the year by a Japanese woman, admittedly in a year which saw the cancellation of the spring half marathon season following the March disasters.  Okubo's rapid progress this year ranks her as the top member of the Second Wind club following the departure of ace Yuri Kano.

In the men's race, Komazawa University's Takahiro Gunji had a narrow win in 1:06:01 over Koku Gakuin University's Nozomu Hashisaka and pro Kazuyoshi Tokumoto (Team Nissin Shokuhin) who went 1:06:04, and Hashizaka's teammate Shinobu A…

Kawauchi's Brother Makes University Debut

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20111015-850392.html

translated by Brett Larner

Koki Kawauchi (Takasaki Keizai Univ.), younger brother of Daegu World Championships marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (24, Saitama Pref.), made his university debut at the Oct. 15 Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai 20 km qualifier road race.  At the start of the race one of the younger Kawauchi's shoes unluckily came off, but he nevertheless was able to run a tenacious race, finishing 302nd in 1:06:48, the 2nd finisher from his team.  Along the way he heard his older brother's cheers.  "He's got a high voice, so I knew right away it was him," said Koki with a smile.  His goal is to make the Hakone Ekiden Select Team, on which his brother ran Hakone's Sixth Stage twice.  "If I can run Hakone then I want to do the Sixth Stage," he said, revealing his dreams of the future of his university career.

Jobu University Surprises With Hakone Ekiden Qualifier Win

by Brett Larner
photos by Daniel Seite




One of three current teams coached by members of Waseda University's record-setting mid-90's team, Jobu University pulled off a surprise win at this year's Hakone Ekiden Qualifier, a 20 km road race in and around Tokyo's Showa Kinen Park that determines the second tier of teams to join the ten already seeded for January's main event.  The youngest team in the field, under head coach Katsuhiko Hanada Jobu has developed a heavy emphasis on overall quality and team running rather than relying on individual aces, a trait that served has served it well in the past and was again the key to its success this year.  Ranked only 5th coming into the race Jobu ran consistently, outside the top ten for the first half, 5th at 15 km, and on top by the end.  It was one of only two schools to put two runners into the top ten, one of them courtesy of a very nice run from first-year Shun Sato.  By contrast, top-ranked Josai University, coached b…

Watch the Hakone Ekiden Qualifier Online

The Hakone Ekiden Qualifier, the world's deepest 20 km road race, takes place tomorrow, Oct. 15, in Tokyo's Showa Kinen Park.  JRN will be on-site to cover the race and will be doing live English-language commentary via Twitter @JRNLive during the tape-delayed broadcast on Nihon TV from 3:30-5:00 p.m. Japan time on the 15th.  Overseas viewers can watch online via Keyhole TV.  Click here for JRN's preview of the race.

TEPCO Ekiden Team Suspension Continues With No Sign of Return to Activity

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/news/f-sp-tp0-20111013-849436.html

translated by Brett Larner

On Oct. 13 TEPCO announced that as a consequence of the ongoing situation at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant the suspension of its men's long distance and ekiden team will continue indefinitely.  There are no plans for the team to compete in corporate league competition and, at the present time, it cannot take part in the fall and winter ekiden season.

Following March's earthquake and tsunami disaster the TEPCO team's athletes and coaching staff have all been sent to work in Fukushima.  A team representative commented, "We have no restrictions on them running races independently."

Translator's note: In reality, many of the team's athletes, including aces Yoshihiro Wakamatsu and Tomohiro Shiiya, have quit TEPCO since the announcement that they would be sent to work on Fukushima cleanup efforts and have been hired by other teams.  Wakamatsu now runs for …

Long Weekend Track Roundup - Olympic B-Standards Abound

by Brett Larner

Fall track season continued over the National Sports Day long weekend with three large meets.  The National Sports Festival in Yamaguchi produced a women's 5000 m Olympic B-standard PB from this year's national corporate 10000 m champion Kasumi Nishihara (Team Yamada Denki), who ran 15:23.80 to win by six seconds.  The junior women's 3000 m saw the top four high schoolers break 9:10, with Tomoka Kimura (Chikushi Joshi Gakuen H.S.) winning in 9:05.81 over rival Miki Sakakibara (Hamakita Nishi H.S.) after losing to Sakakibara in the heats.

The Niigata Time Trials meet also produced two Olympic B-standard performances.  2010 national 5000 m champion Yuki Matsuoka (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) ran a PB 28:03.46 to win the 10000 m and clear the London B-standard.  Five-time national 1500 m champion Mika Yoshikawa (Team Panasonic) continued her successful transition to longer distances this year by breaking 32 in a virtually solo 10000 m, qualifying for the Olympics with…

Toyo University Takes First-Ever Izumo Ekiden Win (updated)

by Brett Larner

Updated by request with top ten times per stage.


Keita Shitara anchors Toyo University in for its first-ever Izumo Ekiden win. Click photo to enlarge.

2009 and 2010 Hakone Ekiden champion Toyo University, always weak in the early season in past years, came out swinging at the start of the university men's ekiden season to take down defending champion and course record holder Waseda University and top-ranked Komazawa University for its first-ever win at the Izumo Ekiden Oct. 10 in Izumo, Shimane.

With Waseda hampered by injuries and missing three members of last year's winning squad it was always near the front but never held a clear lead.  Komazawa spent the entire race digging itself out after star first-year Kenta Murayama blew his university ekiden debut and finished only 13th out of 21 on the 8.0 km First Stage.  Toyo ace Ryuji Kashiwabara's opening run was actually its weakest of the day as he finished only sixth.  Toyo Second Stage runner Ryohei Kawak…

Fukushi 3rd at Chicago Marathon

by Brett Larner

Fukushi at 26 miles. Photo (c) 2011 Dr. Helmut Winter

Multiple national record holder Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) ran a solid performance at her second marathon, running a promising 2:24:38 for 3rd at the 2011 Chicago Marathon.  Fukushi ran the first half of the race shadowing eventual winner Liliya Shobukhova (Russia) at Japanese national record pace but faded after 25 km, slowing dramatically in the final kilometers.  Nevertheless she still finished with the fourth-best time of the year by a Japanese woman and the third-fastest time ever run by a Japanese woman within the United States..  In so doing she also became the 20th Japanese woman to break 2:25 and the 50th to break 2:27.

In post-race comments to Jiji.com Fukushi said, "It was a 2:24, so it was good.  I wanted to take it as far as I could.  I couldn't have done any better.  I was able to move my legs a bit after 30 km.  If I can run more comfortably than this [at the Olympic selection race next year…

Kano Makes Debut Back in Shiseido Uniform

by Brett Larner

2010 Nagoya International Women's Marathon winner Yuri Kano (Team Shiseido) ran her first race since leaving Second Wind AC and career-long coach Manabu Kawagoe at the end of the summer to return to her previous sponsor, Shiseido.  Wearing the new Shiseido uniform for the first time, Kano placed 4th in the women's 5000 m A-heat, at 15:57.80 the fastest Shiseido runner of the night ahead of marathoner Yoshiko Fujinaga who won the B-heat in 15:59.63.  Kano hopes to make Japan's marathon squad for next summer's London Olympics.

National champion Bukkyo University's Mai Ishibashi won the A-heat in a solid 15:37.56, with Bukkyo first-year Risa Shibuya likewise strong as she finished 3rd in 15:46.53.  The team's chances for defending its title at the upcoming National University Women's Ekiden Championships continue to look better and better.

In the men's and women's 10000 m A-heats both Tomomi Itakura (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) and Kumi Ogura …

Izumo Ekiden: Komazawa vs. Waseda vs.....U.S.A.?

by Brett Larner

The first of this season's Big Three university men's ekidens, the Izumo Ekiden, takes place on the Oct. 10 National Sports Day public holiday.  With six stages covering 44.6 km, the longest stage only 10.2 km, Izumo is the shortest and fastest of the Big Three, lending itself to a different kind of race from November's National University Ekiden Championships and January's Hakone Ekiden.

Last year Waseda University set an Izumo course record to kick off an unprecedented season of victory.  Waseda returns a tough squad this year, with seven men holding sub-14 and/or sub-29 PBs led by sophomore Suguru Osako, the Asian junior area half marathon record holder, World University Games 10000 m champion and 1500 m national university champion.  Waseda is missing two of its key players from last year, senior Yuki Yagi and sophomore Fuminori Shikata, but while there are few cracks in the armor Waseda doesn't come in as the favorite.

Komazawa University has bu…

'Fukushi Puts Faith in Coach for Chicago Marathon'

Half-marathon national record holders Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) and Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) at the 2011 Chicago Marathon press conference. 


Photo (c) 2011 Dr. Helmut Winter

http://www.letsrun.com/2011/fukushi-1006.php

A good piece on Kayoko Fukushi by Race Results Weekly's David Monti ahead of Fukushi's highly anticipated run at Sunday's Chicago Marathon.  Here's hoping we don't see this again:

Before:


After:


Click here for a documentary on Fukushi's debut at the 2008 Osaka International Women's Marathon.

Nishihara With Another Big Win at National Sports Festival 5000 m

by Brett Larner

2011 national corporate 10000 m champion Kasumi Nishihara (Team Yamada Denki) continued her unbeaten streak in her first year on the pro circuit, winning the National Sports Festival senior women's 5000 m Oct. 7 in Yamaguchi.  Nishihara ran in a tight pack that included collegiate 10000 m national record holder and former teammate Hikari Yoshimoto (Bukkyo Univ.) and Japan's top woman at the Daegu World Championships 5000 m, Hitomi Niiya (Sakura AC) before surging away in the last km to take the win in a new PB of 15:23.80.  Also continuing a strong season, Hiroko Shoi (Team Nihon ChemiCon) outran the rest of the pack for 2nd in 15:29.69, with Yoshimoto 3rd in 15:30.94.

The junior men's 5000 m was a closer race, the top four finishing within roughly three seconds of each other with a gap of ten seconds over the rest of the field.  Ken Yokote (Sakushin Gakuin H.S.) took the win in 14:04.49 over three members of top-ranked high schools, Kazuma Kubota (Kyushu G…

Eight Japanese Runners Lining Up at Chicago Marathon

by Brett Larner

Half-marathon national record holders Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) and Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) at the 2011 Chicago Marathon press conference. 


Photo (c) 2011 Dr. Helmut Winter




Since Toshihiko Seko's 2:08:27 win in 1986 the Chicago Marathon has been kind to Japan's elite marathoners, with four of the five sub-2:10s by Japanese men in the U.S. and three of the five fastest Japanese women's performances in the U.S. run on the Chicago course.  This year sees a large contingent of one woman and seven men lining up to go for strong times ahead of the winter Olympic selection race cycle.

The biggest news is the return to the marathon of multiple women's national record holder Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal), her first marathon since her spectacularly failed debut in 2008. Fukushi has had a difficult year, going through both the Christchurch and Tohoku earthquakes and having foot surgery and minor injury troubles in the summer, but this is offset by an …