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Hitomi Niiya at Retirement Press Conference: "Nothing But Good Memories"

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20140131-00000030-nksports-spo
http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2014/01/31/kiji/K20140131007493260.html
http://mainichi.jp/sports/news/20140201k0000m050027000c.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner



A 2012 London Olympian and 5th in last year's Moscow World Championships 10000 m, Hitomi Niiya (25), announced her retirement Jan. 31 at a press conference at her sponsor Universal Entertainment's head office in Ariake, Tokyo.  With regard to her early retirement at just age 25, Niiya gave the diagnosis of plantar fasciitis in her right foot in November, 2012 as her main reason.  "When I found out the situation with my foot I was so relieved," she said.  "At that moment I thought, 'Now I can get down off this stage and finally quit this sport.'  When they asked if I wanted to keep running to the point of needing surgery my answer came out immediately."  At that point she made the decision that the following year…

Kamimura Gakuen H.S. Girls' Head Coach Suspended for Corporal Punishment Against Team Members

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/affairs/news/140131/crm14013100280001-n1.htm

translated by Brett Larner

In response to questioning on Jan. 30, administration officials from National High School Girls Ekiden Championships regular Kamimura Gakuen H.S. of Ichikikushikino, Kagoshima, admitted that the male head coach of its girls' ekiden team had performed corporal punishment against first-year team members.  Confirming the factual basis of the situation, the school administration apologized to parents and placed the head coach under indefinite suspension.

According to the administration, during a team training camp last August the head coach told a female student, "You need stronger abs," before punching her in the stomach hard twice with his fist.  Earlier this month he told a girl on the team, "Try harder," as he pinched her cheeks.  Administration officials also said that another girl stopped coming to the school this month after the coach told her, "If you keep u…

Beppu-Oita and Marugame Lead Weekend Action

by Brett Larner

Another busy weekend is on the way, with the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon and Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon leading at least five elite road races nationwide. Despite a padding of aging veterans and the withdrawal yesterday of two A-list athletes, Beppu-Oita still sports what may be the best field in its 63-year history, from a domestic standpoint at least as good as what Tokyo has put together this year.  The fastest Japanese marathoner of 2013 with a 2:08:00 in Tokyo and a vocal critic of Beppu-Oita course record holder Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't), Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) is back in Beppu for the first time since 2011 looking to eclipse the 2:08:15 record Kawauchi set last year.  His best competition comes form Mongolian national record holder Ser-Od Bat-Ochir, a high-volume marathoner who beat Kawauchi to win the Hofu Yomiuri Marathon in 2:09:00 seven weeks ago.  If things go well and Bat-Ochir is fully recovered from Hofu the race …

Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon Elite Field

by Brett Larner

With just over a week to go the organizers of the Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon have seen fit to release the elite field for the 52nd edition of their event on Feb. 9.  A developmental race with a focus on first-timers and men at the 2:12 to 2:16 level, Nobeoka has seen the debuts of the likes of Moscow World Championships marathon 5th-placer Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) and serves as a selection race for the annual corporate league junket to the Chicago Marathon.  Last year's winner Hiroaki Sano (Team Honda) debuted in Nobeoka in 2:12:14 before going on to dip under gold label status with a 2:10:29 in Chicago, showing that Nobeoka success can lead to bigger things.

Kohei Ogino (Team Fujitsu) is the fastest man in the field with a 2:13:12 best seven weeks ago at the Hofu Yomiuri Marathon.  If his recovery has gone smoothly he is the favorite, but look for possible challenges from Tadashi Suzuki (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and Yasuaki Kojima (Team Subaru), whose …

Hosaka Running Beppu-Oita This Weekend

59+ marathon world record holder Yoshihisa Hosaka (Natural Foods AC) is running Sunday's Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon in his first marathon at age 65.  In October he ran the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in an attempt on the age 64 world record. The video below includes a few shots of both Hosaka and fellow senior world record holder Ed Whitlock (Canada).

'There's an Incredibly Exciting World Waiting Just a Step Outside Japan'

http://ameblo.jp/1984-0220/entry-11758652352.html

translated by Mika Tokairin and Brett Larner
photo courtesy of race organizers Aravaipa Running

14:16 / 29:44 track runner Tsutomu Nagata, 29, took up ultramarathons after an accident in 2010 left his right arm permanently handicapped.  In 2013 he finished 3rd at the Lake Saroma 100 km in 6:44:33, a time that ranked him 6th in the world for the year.  

Nagata made his 100 mile and international debut Jan. 25 at the Coldwater Rumble 100 Mile Trail Run in the U.S., leading for the first two 20-mile laps before being overtaken by eventual winner Catlow Shipek (U.S.A.). Post-race he wrote about his experience.

Japanese emoticons:

(^-^)/ = happy/waving
(T-T) = crying (embarrassment)
(-_-;) = worried/stress

To begin with I'd like to thank Iwamoto-san and Rina-san from Club My Star for first suggesting this opportunity. Also to everyone in Tokirun, Igarashi-sensei, Seki-sensei, Ota-san and others who supported me, I don't know how to thank …

Ekiden Weekend Roundup

by Brett Larner

National championship ekiden season may be through, but across the country smaller regional and local ekidens continue.  Biggest among the dozen or so noteworthy ekidens this weekend was the 77th running of the Chugoku Yamaguchi Ekiden.  A moderate-length event at 7 stages and 84.4 km, Chugoku Yamaguchi featured six top corporate league teams from the central Japan region along with local universities and clubs.  Despite a one-two punch of 2012 Fukuoka International Marathon winner Joseph Gitau (Kenya) and former Sera H.S. star Charles Ndirangu (Kenya) the JFE Steel team could not hold off rivals Mazda, the lead turning over twice during the course of the race before Mazda anchor Kenji Yamamoto, a member of Toyo University's 2012 Hakone Ekiden course record-setting team, ran down JFE Steel's Yuki Moriwaki to give Mazda the win by 20 seconds in 4:08:54.  Chugoku Denryoku, the top-ranked team in the region after finishing 5th at the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden, was on…

Maeda Sets Collegiate National Record in Debut at Osaka International Women's Marathon

by Brett Larner

Marathons are often surprisingly unpredictable, but while there were a couple of big surprises at the 33rd edition of the Osaka International Women's Marathon, what was most surprising was how predictable three of the big results were.

One surprise was how aggressively Poland's Karolina Jarzynska took the race out.  With a best of just 2:26:45, Jarzynska pushed the first half through in 1:11:30 and by 30 km had a lead of 12 seconds as she clocked a 1:42:22 split.  Not too surprisingly, she tied up in the final 12 km and dropped to 3rd but was rewarded for taking her shot with a new PB of 2:26:31, just short of a new national record.

Two of the predictable elements came from the two women who ran her down.  For the third time, Ukrainian national record holder and defending champion Tetiana Gamera-Shmyrko rocked the Osaka course with the fastest second half and final 2.195 km in the field to take her second Osaka win, coming from 42 seconds behind at halfway to w…

Olympian Hitomi Niiya Announces Retirement

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2014/01/25/kiji/K20140125007456230.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner
photo by Mika Tokairin

On Jan. 25 a representative of Moscow World Championships women's 10000 m 5th-placer Hitomi Niiya (25, Team Universal Entertainment) announced Niiya's retirement.  A press conference to explain the decision is scheduled for Jan. 31.

Born in Okayama, as a student at Kojokan H.S. she won her stage at the National High School Ekiden Championships three years in a row.  In 2006 she joined the Toyota Jidoshoki corporate team, and the following year at age 18 won the first Tokyo Marathon.  In 2011 she left Toyota Jidoshokki to remain with coach Yoshio Koide when the team moved from Chiba to Aichi, qualifying as an independent for the Daegu World Championships where she made the final in the 5000 m.  After joining the Universal Entertainment team she won the 2012 National Championships 5000 m, and at the London Olympics she was 9th in the 10000 m af…

Osaka International Women's Marathon and Osaka Half Marathon Preview

by Brett Larner

Sunday's Osaka International Women's Marathon features an interesting showdown between the race's last three winners, defending champion Tetiana Gamera-Shmyrko (Ukraine), all-time Japanese #9 Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya), and, in her final race before retiring from the jitsugyodan corporate system, Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren). Gamera-Shmyrko won last year's Osaka over future World Championships bronze medalist Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) in a PB 2:23:58 with the kind of miraculously fast second half she and other Eastern European women have produced in recent years, especially at Japanese marathons.  Since then she was a DNF at November's New York City Marathon, where Shigetomo was 11th in 2:31:54.  Shigetomo has never run well in a marathon since her 2:23:23 win at Osaka in 2012, but she has been on top of her game this ekiden season most recently with a 31:50 win on the Jan. 12 National Women's Ekiden's 10 km anchor stage.  Akaba, whose…

Dubai Marathon - Japanese Results

2014 Dubai Marathon
Dubai, 1/24/14
click here for complete results

Men
1. Tsegaye Mekonnen Asefa (Ethiopia) - 2:04:32 - debut
2. Markos Geneti Guteta (Ethiopia) - 2:05:13
3. Girmay Birhanu Gebru (Ethiopia) - 2:05:49 - PB
4. Tamirat Tola Adera (Ethiopia) - 2:06:17 - debut
5. Azmeraw Bekele Molaign (Ethiopia) - 2:07:12 - PB
6. Shumi Dechase Leche (Bahrain) - 2:07:13
7. Abrha Milaw Asefa (Ethiopia) - 2:07:46 - PB
8. Abera Kassw Belay (Ethiopia) - 2:08:18 - debut
9. Abdeimounaim Harroufi (Morocco) - 2:09:11 - debut
10. Belachew Alemayehu Ameta (Ethiopia) - 2:09:50 - PB
-----
17. Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Japan/Team Konica Minolta) - 2:13:41 - debut

Women
1. Mulu Seboka Seyfu (Ethiopia) - 2:25:01
2. Meselech Melkamu Haileyesus (Ethiopia) - 2:25:23
3. Firehiwot Dado Tufy (Ethiopia) - 2:25:53
4. Meseret Hailu Debele (Ethiopia) - 2:26:20
5. Betelhem Moges Cherenet (Ethiopia) - 2:26:42 - debut
6. Amane Gobena Gemeda (Ethiopia) - 2:27:05
7. Fantu Eticha Jimma (Ethiopia) - 2:27:36 - PB
8. Goitetom Haft Tesse…

Ikegami Makes Waves at Half Marathon in Tokyo

http://www.kyoto-np.co.jp/top/article/20140121000033

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Kameoka native and long distance runner Hideyuki Ikegami (20, Kyoto T&F Assoc.), won a half marathon in Tokyo on Jan. 12.  In scoring the win he took down famed "civil servant runner" Yuki Kawauchi (26, Saitama Pref. Gov't).  Ikegami is only a second-year at Kyoto Kyoiku University but is already forging his own way of doing things outside the school's track and field team in pursuit of his dream: "I want to take on the world in the marathon."

At the Jan. 12 Tanigawa Mari Half Marathon, Ikegami took more than two minutes off his PB to run his 1:03:09 winning time.  In the middle part of the race he threw in a long surge to break Kawauchi, opening a convincing 1:08 lead over him.  It was only Ikegami's third half marathon but a major upset, and post-race he was surrounded by reporters. "Kawauchi always looks like he's in pain when he runs," Ikegam…

2014 Tokyo Marathon Elite Field

by Brett Larner

With just a month until the race date, the Tokyo Marathon organizers have released the men's and women's entry lists for Tokyo's second edition since working its way into the World Marathon Majors. Compared to the London and Boston fields it is the very model of a minor Major marathon with Kenyans, Ethiopians and even an Eritrean, but though the best have gone elsewhere the depth and quality are there to bring some overseas interest and make this field one of the best Japan has ever seen.

Tadesse Tola (Ethiopia) leads the way among the men with a sub-2:05 best from Dubai last year, tailed closely by two-time world champion Abel Kirui (Kenya) who returns to Tokyo after a DNF in 2008, Sammy Kitwara (Kenya) and three other men who have broken 2:06 in the last two years.  2011 World Jr. XC champion Geoffrey Kipsang (Kenya), past Tokyo winners Michael Kipyego (Kenya) and Viktor Rothlin (Switzerland) and five other internationals make up the next pack where the to…

Emergency Medical Services Conduct Terrorism Contingency Drills Ahead of February's Tokyo Marathon

http://www.fnn-news.com/news/headlines/articles/CONN00261555.html

translated by Brett Larner
click above link for video of the workshop

Emergency medical services conducted a workshop in preparation for the Feb. 23 Tokyo Marathon.  In light of the terrorist bombing carried out at the 2013 Boston Marathon, the workshop was aimed at preparing doctors and other medical personnel to perform first aid in the event of a similar attack at the Tokyo Marathon.  Using the scenario of an explosion near the finish line, medical staff received triage protocol training for determining the priority of treatment based on the degree of the victim's injuries.

World Championships 5000 m Runner Ueno Plans for Marathon Debut

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20140119-1246211.html

translated by Brett Larner

After his stage-winning run at the Jan. 19 National Men's Ekiden, 2009 World Championships 5000 m runner Yuichiro Ueno (DeNA RC) announced plans for his marathon debut.  "I'm not ready to do it right away, but I plan on doing Tokyo or Lake Biwa next year," he said.  Already beginning his transition to the marathon, Ueno will serve as a pacer at the Feb. 2 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon.

Nagano Becomes First Team to Win Sixth National Men's Ekiden Championship Title

by Brett Larner
click photo for video highlights courtesy of NHK

Five-time national champion Nagano made history at the 19th edition of the National Men's Ekiden Jan. 19 in Hiroshima, anchor Keigo Yano (Nittai Univ.) breaking away to make his team the first in event history to win a sixth national title as he broke the tape in 2:19:20, the third-fastest ever in National Championships history.

Never a clear leader in a pack race throughout the day, Nagano made its first move to the front on the 8.5 km Third Stage when past 1500 m and 5000 m national champion Yuichiro Ueno (DeNA RC) dropped a pack of Hakone Ekiden stars to take the lead.  With the mixed team of junior high, high school, university and pro athletes that makes the National Ekiden format one of the most interesting in national championship ekiden season, Nagano lost ground after Ueno and remained roughly even with a pack of four rivals. Not until halfway through the 13.0 km anchor stage did it gain a clear lead when las…

Oshikawa Over Kawauchi for Okukuma Half Course Record

by Brett Larner



In just its second running the Okukuma Road Race continued to develop into Japan's leading January half marathon, with the Koichi Morishita-coached Yuki Oshikawa (Team Toyota Kyushu) taking nearly a minute off teammate Hayato Ideue's course record to win a tight pack race in 1:03:36.  In a lead group of nine including Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't), 2013 NYC Marathon 6th-place Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu), Hakone Ekiden runners Takahiro Gunji (Komazawa Univ.) and Shota Kai (Nittai Univ.), 2013 Tamana Half Marathon winner Daichi Kato (Team Toyota Kyushu) and more, Oshikawa pushed hard near the race's end to get away from Kawauchi and Gunji, opening a lead of 4 seconds over Kawauchi for the win.

Kawauchi, 2nd at last weekend's Tanigawa Mari Half Marathon, was runner-up again in 1:03:40, taking some consolation from bettering Imai, Kato and 2014 New Year Ekiden anchor stage winner Ryuji Watanabe (Team Toyota Kyushu), all of whom had beaten hi…

Kyudenko Runs Down Ritsumeikan Uji for Win at 25th Kita-Kyushu Women's Ekiden

by Brett Larner

The Kyudenko corporate women's team ran down defending champion Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. thanks to a stage-winning run from anchor Misaki Kato, coming back from a 31-second deficit to win the 25th Kita-Kyushu Invitational Women's Ekiden by 10 seconds. Despite a 18:11 course record run on the 5.9 km Second Stage by Kenyan Sally Chepyego, Kyudenko fell steadily behind Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. over the 32.8 km course's first four stages.  31 seconds behind by the time she started, Kato was obliged to run 11.7 km while the high school teams had the anchor stage split into 4.9 km and 6.8 km sections with two different runners.  Ritsumeikan Uji's Aki Manabe and Yuka Sato both ran the fastest times on those two segments, but Kato, on a steady rise since a sub-71 half marathon debut at last September's Great North Run, was simply too much for them to handle.  Near the end of the race Kato overtook Sato, opening 10 seconds in the home straight to seal Kyudenko'…

Hakone Ekiden Stars Dominate 2014 Kumanichi 30 km Elite Field

https://twitter.com/a_yamako/status/424296422305849344/photo/1

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The organizers of the 58th Kumanichi 30 km and 3rd Kumamoto-jo Marathon on Feb. 16 announced the 20 members of its 2014 elite field on Feb. 2.  Previously-announced Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't), has elected to run the marathon division rather than defend his course record win last year in the 30 km division, but the 30 km will focus on university athletes from the popular Hakone Ekiden, making it one of the freshest young fields in years.  From Hakone winner Toyo University come ace Yuma Hattori who took 3rd on Hakone's Second Stage, its most competitive, and Eighth Stage winner Ryu Takaku. Hakone runner-up Komazawa University sends two of its best men, team captain Shinobu Kubota and 2013 National University Half Marathon champion Shogo Nakamura.  3rd-place Nittai University sends top man Takumi Honda.  2012 National University Half Marathon winner Toshikatsu Ebina is a…

National Men's Ekiden Wraps Up Championship Ekiden Season This Sunday

by Brett Larner

This Sunday's 19th National Men's Ekiden in Hiroshima brings Japan's 2013-2014 national championship ekiden to a close with one of the most entertaining races of them all. Teams from each of Japan's 47 prefectures made up of junior high school, high school, university and pro runners race over 7 stages and 48 km, one of the few chances of the year to see the best of the corporate league's New Year Ekiden men duel with the university circuit's Hakone Ekiden stars and often the first glimpse of upcoming stars running young.  It's all broadcast live nationwide and commercial-free on NHK starting at 12:30 p.m.  As usual, JRN will cover the race live on Twitter @JRNLive.

This year university runners seem to outweigh the pros, with many of the Hakone stage winners and upper-echelon men taking the top positions on a number of teams.  That may in part be due to this year's World Half Marathon Championships being held in March and the National C…

Hakone Ekiden Winner Toyo University Greeted by Throngs of Screaming Fans at Victory Rally

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20140117-OHT1T00043.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Having returned to the victor's stand for the first time in two years, 2014 Hakone Ekiden overall winner Toyo University held a victory rally Jan. 16 at its Hakusan Campus in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo.  Members of the champion team were greeted by deafening cheering from the crowd of university women.  The 700-seat Inoue Enryo Hall was sold out and packed to overflowing, almost entirely by female university students.  When the athletes whose running on the Hakone course wowed the nation Jan. 2 and 3 appeared, the hall was filled with screaming as if it was a pop idol concert.  Head coach Toshiyuki Sakai, 37, told his athletes sternly, "Do not get the wrong idea."

Set to become the team's star runner next season, second-year Yuma Hattori did not betray a smile as he declared Toyo's intent to defend its title, saying, "Next year we will do everything we can to win …

Noguchi Out of Osaka International With Stress Fracture

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20140116-OHT1T00079.htm

translated by Brett Larner

On Jan. 16 the organizing committee of the Jan. 26 Osaka International Women's Marathon announced that 2004 Athens Olympics marathon gold medalist and national record holder Mizuki Noguchi (35, Team Sysmex) has withdrawn from the race after sustaining a stress fracture in the shaft of her right femur.  Now the third year in a row that she has withdrawn from Osaka shortly before the race, Noguchi issued a statement through the organizers saying, "I very strongly want to run this race, but rather than overdoing it now it's more important to let my leg recover and make progress toward another goal.  Once this injury is healed I'd like to set an early spring race as a target and start working on training for that."

Bat-Ochir, Mbote, Imai and Maeda to Face Off at Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon

http://www.jiji.com/jc/c?g=spo&k=2014011500595

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On Jan. 15 the organizers of the 63rd Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon on Feb. 2 announced the names of this year's elite field.  On the domestic men's list are the fastest Japanese marathoner of 2013, Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko), 2013 New York City Marathon 6th-place finisher Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) and Kenichi Shiraishi (Team Asahi Kasei), winner of last weekend's Oita City Half Marathon.  Their top foreign competition comes from 2013 Hofu Yomiuri Marathon winner and 2012 Beppu-Oita runner-up Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Mongolia) and 2:07:37 Kenyan Jason Mbote.

63rd Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon Elite Field
Oita, 2/2/14
click here for complete field listing

Men
Daniel Njenga (Kenya/Team Yakult) - 2:06:16 (Chicago 2002)
Jason Mbote (Kenya) - 2:07:37 (Seoul 2008)
Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) - 2:08:00 (Tokyo 2013)
Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Mongolia) - 2:09:00 (Hofu 2013)
Yuko Matsumiya (Team Hitachi…

Augusto, Birmingham, Fujiwara, Mathathi Headline Marugame Half (updated)

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20140114-OHT1T00116.htm
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/region/news/140115/kgw14011502170000-n1.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On Jan. 14 the organizers of the Feb. 2 Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon announced the 35 men and 12 women making up the domestic and overseas elite fields for the event's 68th running.  London Olympics marathoner Arata Fujiwara (Miki House), 2012 National Corporate Half Marathon champion Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota), Hakone Ekiden Seventh Stage winner Hazuma Hattori of Hakone champion Toyo University, 2013 Izumo Ekiden and National University Ekiden stage record setter Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.) and last month's Fukuoka International Marathon winner Martin Mathathi (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) top the domestic list for the men's race.  This year's race is a selection event for the men's team for March's World Half Marathon Championships in Copenhagen, meaning many top corporate te…

Unknown Runner Emerges, Outruns Kawauchi for Tanigawa Mari Half Course Record (updated)

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20140112-1243077.html
http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20140112-1243078.html
http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20140112-1243079.html
http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20140113-OHT1T00039.htm

translated and edited with additional background information by Brett Larner

At the 15th Tanigawa Mari Half Marathon, Jan. 12 along the Arakawa River in northern Tokyo, unknown university runner Hideyuki Ikegami (20, 2nd-yr., Kyoto Kyoiku Univ.) ran 1:03:09, opening a massive lead over defending champion Yuki Kawauchi (26, Saitama Pref. Gov't) and 2012 winner Kazuyoshi Tokumoto (Team Monteroza) to take the win. Around 10 km he attacked with a series of surges before pulling away to run the final 10 km alone. Thinking, "What do you know, Kawauchi's mortal after all," Ikegami broke the finish line tape with a lead of 1:08, his time a PB by more than two and a half mi…