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Time Trials Japanese Style Pt. II: The National Long Distance Meet in Tokyo

by Brett Larner


Jonathan Ndiku, Kazuhiro Maeda and Martin Mukule battle in the Pro A heat.

With the ekiden season drawing to a close, jitsugyodan and university teams across Japan are in the process of finalizing their lineups for the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden and the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden. Massive track time trials are common this time of year; last week JRN detailed the 199th Nittai University Time Trials meet. This week on Nov. 29 Team Konica Minolta hosted the National Long Distance Meet series of 10000 m time trials at Tokyo's National Stadium. Not a public meet in the usual sense of something publicized to attract fans, the National Long Distance Meet is in fact a day-long set of 19 heats of men's time trials, 13 for university students and 6 for jitsugyodan runners and a select few university aces, along with one 5000 m heat for university women. All 6 of the professional heats featured top Kenyans as pacemakers, most notably 2:06:16 marathoner Daniel Njenga (Team Yakult). …

Megumi Seike Wins Shanghai Half Marathon

by Brett Larner

Megumi Seike (Team Sysmex) won the half marathon competition at the Nov. 30 Shanghai International Marathon, running a PB of 1:10:15 to outclass her competitors. For Seike, a teammate of marathon great Mizuki Noguchi, it was the best result in a year which saw her make her overseas debut when she ran on the Japanese national team at March's World Cross Country Championships in Edinburgh, Scotland.

A longer article detailing the marathon results is available here.

Photo by Eugene Hoshiko. Click here for additional pictures of Seike in Shanghai.

Yoshida Leads Japanese Contingent With 4th Place Finish in Great Australian Run

by Brett Larner photo of Kaori Yoshida in Albuquerque courtesy of John Schrup
In training for the Dec. 14 Honolulu Marathon, Kaori Yoshida (Second Wind AC) was the top-placing Japanese competitor at the Nov. 30 Great Australian Run in Melbourne, Australia, a new 15 km road event which attracted some of the top names in international distance running. Yoshida led a chase pack of four behind Olympic marathon silver medalist Catherine Ndereba of Kenya through 10 km in 34:26 before falling behind Kiwi Alica Mason and Australian Lisa Weightman. Ndereba took the win in 50:43, Yoshida clocking 51:44. Yoshida beat Olympic marathon gold medalist Constantina Dita of Romania by 48 seconds. Further back, Megumi Oshima (Team Shimamura) was 11th in 56:13.

In the men's competition, Team Honda fielded two runners, ace Seigo Ikegami and captain Suehiro Ishikawa. Ikegami spent most of the race in the third pack, while Ishikawa sat in the fourth pack. Marathon world record holder Haile Gebrselassie of …

Jobu University's Five-Year Road From Zero to Hakone Began With a Single Email Message

http://mainichi.jp/area/gunma/news/20081113ddlk10050045000c.html

translated by Mika Tokairin and Brett Larner

"I want to nurture athletes who can compete on the national level." --Jobu University Head Coach Katsuhiko HanadaIn qualifying for the ultimate stage in university distance running, the Hakone Ekiden, Jobu University's ekiden team, the first from Gunma Prefecture to make Hakone, has become an inspiration for high school and junior high school distance runners who hope to make it to the national level. This incredible achievement, coming less than five years since the team's establishment in 2004, is due to the leadership provided by head coach Katsuhiko Hanada (37) and to the dedication of Jobu's athletes. "I want to nurture athletes who can compete in the top class of national races," says Hanada. His team shares this dream.

"Would you coach us?"

In 2004, Daisuke Ono (24), the first captain of Jobu's ekiden team, send an email to Hana…

Japanese Citizen Stephen Mayaka Dreams of Returning to Hakone Ekiden

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/flash/KFullFlash20081114001.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Samuel Wanjiru (L) and Stephen Mayaka (R)

Stephen Mayaka, who came to Japan from Kenya in the 1990's and dominated the Hakone Ekiden while running for Yamanashi Gakuin University, is in pursuit of his 'second dream.' Having become a Japanese citizen three years ago and taken a Japanese name, Mayaka, 35, is now head coach of the track and field team at Sozo Gakuen University in Gunma Prefecture.

This year Sozo Gakuen's team ran October's Hakone Ekiden qualifying race for the first time, finishing 28th and missing Mayaka's mark of reaching the main Hakone race. Considering that less than two years ago there were only two runners on the team, however, Mayaka is not discouraged. "This year we have twenty athletes," he nods. "There is a lot to look forward to." Not least of which is undoubtedly the chance for him to resume his rivalry with his univ…

Gideon Ngatuny Sets 1:00:11 Course Record in Nagoya Half Marathon

http://news.livedoor.com/article/detail/3912832/
https://www.nissinfoods.co.jp/csr/social/sports/athlete/blog/index.html?ym=2008-11&id=773

translated and edited by Brett Larner
photo courtesy of Nissin Shokuhin

Kenyan Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin) won the Nov. 24 Nagoya Half Marathon, setting a new course record of 1:00:11 for the 21.0975 km race beginning at Nagoya's Mizuho Park Track and Field Grounds. Satoru Kasuya (Team Toyota Boshoku) was the top Japanese finisher, 3rd overall.

Hiromi Ominami (Team Toyota Shatai) won the women's race in 1:09:31, with her identical twin sister Takami (Team Toyota Shatai) finishing 2nd.

Translator's note: Nagoya was Gideon Ngatuny's half marathon debut. Satoru Kasuya is running his marathon debut at the Dec. 21 Hofu Yomiuri Marathon.

2008 Nagoya Half Marathon Top Finishers
Men
1. Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 1:00:11 - new course record
2. Samuel Ndungu (Team Aichi Steel) - 1:01:17
3. Satoru Kasuya (Team Toyota Boshoku) -…

Ugachi Leads Komazawa to Fuchu Tamagawa Half Marathon Sweep

by Brett Larner

Komazawa University's Tsuyoshi Ugachi led the school's team to a near sweep of the 2008 Fuchu Tamagawa Half Marathon on Nov. 23, winning with a time of 1:04:08 and a margin of 50 seconds over teammate Yusuke Takabayashi. Running in perfect conditions, Komazawa runners, who typically dominate the race held near the university's training grounds, took the top 3 positions and 7 of the top 10 places. Kenyan Daniel Mwangi (Team JAL Ground Service) provided the only serious challenge to the national champion and defending Hakone Ekiden champion Komazawa runners, 4th in 1:06:02 after just outleaning Komazawa's Yukinori Ota and Toru Takahashi. Aoyama Gakuin University ekiden team members Soichiro Nishio and Keisuke Ichioka, preparing for their school's first Hakone appearance in 33 years, were 7th and 10th respectively. Nishio and Ichioka will next meet up with Ugachi and the rest of the Komazawa squad on Jan. 2 and 3 in the 2009 Hakone Ekiden.

2008 Fuchu Tam…

Julia Mumbi Repeats In Kobe Half; Noguchi Runs 10k

http://www.kahoku.co.jp/news/2008/11/2008112401000237.htm
http://www.kahoku.co.jp/news/2008/11/2008112401000231.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Running in cool, rainy conditions on Nov. 24, Julia Mumbi of Team Aruze won the Kobe All-Japan Women's Half Marathon for the 2nd straight year, covering the course stretching from the HAT Kobe Center to Kobe Harborland in a time of 1:09:45. Team Toyota Jidoshoki's Akane Wakita was 12 seconds behind in 2nd place, with Team Kyocera's Maki Suzawa a distant 3rd in her half marathon debut. Right from the start it was a match race between Mumbi and Wakita, but when Mumbi attacked at 15 km she was easily able to pull away for the win.

Somewhat overshadowing Mumbi's victory was the surprise appearance of Athens Olympics marathon gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) as a guest runner in the 10 km race, her first public run since withdrawing from the Beijing Olympics marathon with an injury. Noguchi was scheduled to appear at…

Ueno and Kinoshita Win Ohtawara 10 km Road Race

by Brett Larner

Former Chuo University standout Yuichiro Ueno, an Olympic-class runner who joined Team S&B in April after his graduation and promptly disappeared with injuries, marked his true professional debut with a 29:13 victory in perfect conditions at the Nov. 23 Ohtawara 10 km road race in Tochigi Prefecture. Ueno had a wide margin of victory over Norihito Watanabe (Team Yanagawa Seiki), 2nd in 30:22, and, in a rare road appearance, 1000 m, 1500 m and 2000 m national record holder Fumikazu Kobayashi (Team NTN) who finished 3rd in 31:07.

In the women's race Yumiko Kinoshita (Second Wind AC), teammate of last week's Tokyo International Women's Marathon runner-up Yuri Kano, outclassed the rest of the field, running 34:50 to finish over 2 1/2 minutes ahead of two-time Mt. Fuji Mountain Race winner Yuri Kanbara (Namban Rengo AC), who clocked 37:31.

The Ohtawara 10 km is held every Nov. 23 in conjunction with the amateur-level Ohtawara Marathon. Complete results are avai…

Teenaged Ethiopian Squad Breaks International Chiba Ekiden Course Record

by Brett Larner

An Ethiopian team comprised mostly of teenagers outside their home country for the first time defeated defending champion Japan to win the 2008 International Chiba Ekiden in the event's second year featuring mixed-gender teams. The Ethiopian team covered the six stage, 42.195 km course in a record time of 2:05:27, taking four of the six stage best titles and setting two individual stage records. Japan was 2nd in 2:06:39.


Just past 1 km into the 1st stage.

Forecast rain began just moments before the start of the ekiden, with conditions deteriorating to a steady downpour and gusting wind by race's end. Ethiopia's Ali Abdosh ran 13:34 to open a 7-second gap on Japan's Yusei Nakao over the 5 km 1st stage, but Japanese women's 1500 m record holder Yuriko Kobayashi, running the last race of her teens, made up the difference on the 5 km 2nd stage, finishing 2 seconds ahead of Ethiopia's Sule Utura and clocking 15:08 to break 5000 m national record holder …

Time Trials Japanese Style: The 199th Nittai University Kirokukai

by Brett Larner



Several universities around Tokyo hold monthly open time trials. Anyone from beginner joggers to Olympians is free to run distances from 1500 m to 10000 m in heats seeded by personal best time. The Nihon Taiku University* Kirokukai series of time trials is perhaps the most popular. The November 22nd edition, the 199th in Nittai's series, focused on the 5000 m, with 26 heats of 5000 m and 4 heats of women's 3000 m stretched out over 12 hours from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. 30 to 45 runners ran in each heat, some of which included designated pacemakers. Heats early in the day were slower and featured mostly amateurs, while the later heats were filled with high school, university and jitsugyodan professionals tuning up for their championship ekidens.



Among the noteworthy runners on hand was Arata Fujiwara (Team JR Higashi Nihon), a 2:08:40 marathoner who was the alternate for the Beijing Olympics men's marathon team. Fujiwara is competing in the Fukuoka Internationa…

Nara Plans New Marathon As Part of 1300th Anniversary Celebrations

http://www.nara-np.co.jp/n_all/081114/all081114b.shtml

translated by Brett Larner

The Nara Prefectural Track and Field Association held a press conference Nov. 13 at the head offices of the Nara Newspapers Group to announce that, with the support of Rikuren director Yohei Kono, it will stage a new marathon beginning in 2010 as part of the celebrations for the 1300th anniversary of Nara's status as the ancient capital of Japan.

The Nara Marathon aims both to generate increased involvement in sports within Nara Prefecture and to attract the interest of those outside the prefecture in Nara's 1300 years of history. Nara T&F director Masahiro Morioka said that a race committee was in the process of being assembled and that it would hold its first meeting by the end of the year with the purpose of making preliminary decisions on the course and other basic organizational elements.

Sawaki to Head New 'Long Distance and Road Racing' Rikuren Division

published in the Nikkei Newspaper, 11/20/08

translated by Mika Tokairin and Brett Larner

Rikuren [JAAF] announced today that it has created a new 'Long Distance and Road Racing Special Committee' to separate oversight of Japanese long distance and marathon runners from other track and field events in an effort to strengthen Japanese distance running. The new division is to be headed by Rikuren executive board member Keisuke Sawaki. The committee responsible for sprints and field events will be headed by current Rikuren track and field director Susumu Takano.

The final decision on creating the new division was made by Rikuren executive director Yohei Kono. "It was extremely embarrassing to see the result of the Beijing Olympic marathons," commented Kono. "Considering the size of our organization some might think setting up this new committee might be outrageous and too specific to one event, but our feeling is that this is necessary to deal with the current crisis.&…

Biwako Mainichi Marathon's Future in Doubt After Loss of Main Sponsor Rohm

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/life/trend/081113/trd0811130131001-n1.htm

translated by Brett Larner

Kyoto-based electronics company Rohm announced on Nov. 12 that it will end its long-standing sponsorship of the elite Biwako Mainichi Marathon after next March's edition of the race. The Shiga Prefecture Track and Field Association, which administers the marathon, issued a statement saying, "We want this event to continue and are looking for a new sponsor," but the shock of losing the source of half its funding has race organizers reeling.

The operating costs for the Biwako Mainichi Marathon stand at approximately $1,840,000 per year, of which about $920,000 comes from Rohm's financial support. The remainder is funded by the Shiga prefectural government, the Otsu municipal government, and other sources. In making the announcement of Rohm's withdrawal from sponsorship next year, the Shiga Prefectural Track and Field Association went on to further say, "The withdrawal of…

Megumi Seike to Headline Shanghai Marathon's Half Marathon

http://www.toray.co.jp/news/event/nr081107.html

translated by Brett Larner

Japanese runner Megumi Seike (Team Sysmex) is scheduled to compete in the half marathon event at the 2008 Shanghai Marathon, one of China's four large international marathons. A teammate of Mizuki Noguchi, Seike is a notable young runner, one of eleven female runners supported by the Sysmex company. Team Sysmex head coach Nobuyuki Fujita will accompany Seike to Shanghai to observe her performance.

A number of athletes who ran in the Beijing Olympics men's and women's marathons will compete in the full marathon event. The women's field includes 7th place finisher Irina Timofeeva of Russia and 11th place finisher Zivile Balciunaite of Lithuania. The men's field includes 7th place finisher Gashaw Asfaw of Ethiopia and 60th place finisher Lee Troop of Australia. Also in the men's field is Kenyan Joshua Chelanga, who was ranked 30th in the world in 2007.

Q-Chan 'Feels Strange' After Appearing at Arts Event

http://dailynews.yahoo.co.jp/fc/sports/takahashi_naoko/?1226906024

translated by Brett Larner

After retiring from professional running in October, 2000 Sydney Olympic women's marathon gold medalist Naoko Takahashi appeared at a Nov. 17 event in Tokyo to promote the release of the 'Chronicles of the Narnia Pt. II: The Tale of Prince Caspian' DVD. The previous day Takahashi made her debut as a television announcer at the Tokyo International Women's Marathon; her appearance at the Narnia promotion marked her first turn as a celebrity personality at an 'arts event.' "It's strange to see myself being discussed on the celebrity gossip shows," Takahashi commented. She views her new career as a fresh start, saying, "Outside of running, I'm a rookie at everything. I want to find something that only I can do."
Japan Running News has hit 500 posts. I started this blog just over a year ago and hope that it is achieving its goal of making some of the incredible running that happens here more visible to the rest of the world. I want to thank everyone who has helped me, the athletes, coaches and agents I've met through this work, and all the readers who have taken the time to contact me or leave comments.
In the next year I hope to expand JRN's scale to include more premium content and to work toward realizing some of the opportunities which came up this year both for Japanese runners to run overseas and for foreign runners to race here. I will also be moving toward increased legibility in format for those who do not like contrast. Thanks again.
Brett Larner

Felix Limo, Tsegaye Kebede and Tsuyoshi Ogata Headline 2008 Fukuoka International Marathon - updated

by Brett Larner

The Fukuoka International Marathon announced on Nov. 18 the elite field for this year's race, scheduled for Dec. 7. The first of the four domestic selection races for the 2009 Berlin World Championships men's marathon team, the domestic field features 2005 World Championships bronze medalist and 2008 Beijing Olympics marathoner Tsuyoshi Ogata (Team Chugoku Denryoku), 2004 Athens Olympics marathon 5th place finisher Shigeru Aburaya (Team Chugoku Denryoku), and 2008 Tokyo Marathon runner up and Beijing Olympic team alternate Arata Fujiwara (Team JR Higashi Nihon), along with a variety of other sub-2:10 countrymen.

The competitive foreign field stars Beijing Olympics bronze medalist Tsegaye Kebede (Ethiopia), London, Chicago and Rotterdam winner Felix Limo (Kenya), and two-time Olympic 4th-place finisher Jon Brown (Canada). Kebede and Limo's appearances continue Fukuoka's re-emergence as a world-class race, the 2006, 2007 and 2008 races having featured the t…

Deeper and Deeper Goes The Greatest Half Marathon in the World - Ageo 2008

by Brett Larner
photos courtesy of TecNet

Everyone not wearing a hat will run under 70 minutes.

The Ageo City Half Marathon is the best-kept secret in Japanese distance running. On the surface it is nothing more than a local race in a small town, just one of a half dozen half marathons to choose from near Tokyo on the same day. Like most others it has scoring categories for age groups, gender, Rikuren-registered runners, and a category for university student runners. What sets Ageo apart is that the students come. All of them.

Ageo is six weeks before the Hakone Ekiden, a championship event for universities in eastern Japan's Kanto region and the country's most popular and prestigious race. After a grueling ekiden season university coaches know who their star runners are. These athletes' places on their schools' 10-member Hakone teams are secure, but the second-tier runners must still demonstrate that they are worthier of being in Hakone than teammates who may have peaked …

Yoshimi Ozaki Wins Final Tokyo International Women's Marathon in 2:23:30

by Brett Larner

photo by Shoji Shimomitsu

Little-known Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei) ran a race of genius in only her 2nd marathon, coming up from 4th place to overtake favorites Mara Yamauchi (U.K.), Yuri Kano (Second Wind AC) and Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) for a 2:23:30 victory in the 30th and final edition of the Tokyo International Women's Marathon. Ozaki missed being selected for the Beijing Olympics after running 2:26:19 to finish 2nd in her debut, March's Nagoya International Women's Marathon, but her Tokyo victory gives her the honor of being the 1st woman to secure a spot on the Japanese women's team for the 2009 Berlin World Championships marathon and her time puts her into the all-time Japanese women's top 10.


photo by Kazuo Chiba

In their own ways, all of the top 4 women ran brilliant races, aided by overnight and early morning rain which brought misty conditions on race morning with average temperatures of 15 degrees and almost no wind.…

Daiichi Kogyo University Takes Western Japan Ekiden Championship

by Brett Larner

Buoyed by its finishes as the top-placing western Japan university at October's Izumo Ekiden and the National University Ekiden Championships earlier this month, #3-ranked Daiichi Kogyo University upset defending champion Ritsumeikan University at the Nov. 15 Biwako University Ekiden (alternate site here), western Japan's equivalent to eastern Japan's Hakone Ekiden. 22 teams competed in the 8-stage, 84.3 km championship. Ritsumeikan, which has not finished out of the top 2 since 2001, when it was 3rd, could never close the gap on Daiichi Kogyo's runners after trailing its rival by 6 seconds on the 11.1 km 1st stage.

Nara Sangyo University Tanzanian Jackson Kwarai scored the stage best of 33:07 on the opening leg, with Daiichi Kogyo's Shoto Atsuchi 3 seconds behind and Ritsumeikan's Takuya Kawakami another 6 seconds back. Despite running only 1 of its 2 Kenyans and missing ace Ryohei Nakano, Daiichi Kogyo took stage best titles on 4 of the remainin…

Wanjiru Signs $3 Million Sponsorship Deal With Savas Sports Supplement Maker

http://www.asahi.com/sports/update/1111/SEB200811110022.html

translated by Brett Larner

Management for Beijing Olympics men's marathon gold medalist Samuel Wanjiru (22, Kenya) announced on Nov. 11 that Wanjiru has signed a sponsorship deal with Meiji Seika, makers of the sports supplement Savas. The two parties signed a contract extending from Nov. 1 through Nov. 2009 but have an agreement for the company's sponsorship to continue until 2018, a period covering the 2016 Olympics, with a total value of USD $3 million over this ten year span. The sponsorship deal frees Wanjiru to focus on his goals of a world record in the marathon and a second Olympic gold medal. In return Wanjiru will wear the Savas logo on his uniform, an arrangement similar to Savas' sponsorship of Japan's top soccer team, the J1 League Urawa Reds.

Wanjiru graduated from Miyagi Prefecture's Sendai Ikuei High School and joined Team Toyota Kyushu is 2005. Just before this summer's Beijing Olympics …

The Final Tokyo International Women's Marathon - updated

by Brett Larner

The 30th and final edition of the Tokyo International Women's Marathon takes place this Sunday, Nov. 16, starting and finishing at Tokyo's National Stadium. TIWM was the world's first women-only elite marathon at the time of its inception in 1979, a time when Japan's male marathoners were among the most dominant in the world and there were no world-class Japanese women in the marathon scene. 30 years, two Olympic gold medals and a world record later, Japan's women are its most respected distance runners both domestically and worldwide. The list of TIWM winners contains many of the sport's great names, historical and modern. Joyce Smith, Katrin Doerre, Rosa Mota, Valentina Yegorova, Joyce Chepchumba, Derartu Tulu, Elfenesh Alemu, Naoko Takahashi, Reiko Tosa and Mizuki Noguchi all won. The birth of the Tokyo Marathon in 2007 brought the big city major marathon to Japan; with the addition of an elite women's field for the 2009 Tokyo Marathon, th…

Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon to be Included Among 2009 World Championships Selection Races

http://www.e-obs.com/obs-news/genko/DD11130007778.html

translated by Brett Larner

On Nov. 13 the Kyushu Track and Field Association met in Oita for its first meeting of the season. The meeting also served to open proceedings for the 58th Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, to be held on Feb. 1. At the top of the meeting's agenda was confirmation that Beppu-Oita will be used as one of the official selection races for next summer's Berlin World Championships men's marathon team. The Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon will be broadcast live nationwide on JNN.

Translator's note: The other selection races for Berlin at the current time are December's Fukuoka International Marathon, March's Biwako Mainichi Marathon, and March's Tokyo Marathon.

Alemu Withdraws From Tokyo International Women's Marathon

http://www.jiji.com/jc/c?g=spo_30&k=2008111300642

translated by Brett Larner

The Tokyo International Women's Marathon announced on Nov. 13 that elite overseas entrant Elfenesh Alemu (Ethiopia) has withdrawn from this year's race, scheduled to take place Nov. 16 at Tokyo's National Stadium, after sustaining an injury to her left buttock. Alemu defeated Naoko Takahashi to win the 2003 edition of the Tokyo International Women's Marathon.

'Italy and Russia Dominate - IAU 100km World Cup' - updated

http://www.iaaf.org/news/kind=100/newsid=48243.html


100km degli etruschi (1)- Campionato mondiale 2008
Uploaded by alterego62
The Japanese women's team finished 3rd behind Russia and the U.S.A. with two runners in the top eight. My Harriers teammate Shinji Nakadai, the runner at 0:59 in the video above, was the 4th Japanese finisher on the men's team. おめでとうございます。The video and others at the same site were sent to me by a JRN reader. Thank you.

Another reader sent this link to photos of the World Cup including two of the Japanese men. Thanks as well.

Preliminary Elite Fields for Fukuoka and Hofu Marathons

by Brett Larner

December will see two of Japan's elite marathons take place in the country's deep south, the A-list Fukuoka International Marathon on Dec. 7 and the developmental Hofu Yomiuri Marathon on Dec. 21. Official entry lists for the two races have not been released, but a number of athletes have declared their intentions to compete in either or Fukuoka or Hofu.

This year Fukuoka is particularly significant in that it is the first of the domestic selection races for the 2009 Berlin World Championships men's marathon team. Headlining Fukuoka thus far is Arata Fujiwara, who finished 2nd at last February's Tokyo Marathon and was selected as the alternate for the Beijing Olympics men's marathon team. Fujiwara ran an atrocious race at October's Chicago Marathon and will run Fukuoka to make up for his failed international debut. His chief competition thus far is Yuko Matsumiya, the slightly less talented identical twin brother of Beijing Olympian Takayuki Matsu…

International Chiba Ekiden to Feature Tomescu-Dita, Fukushi, Browne and Other Olympians

by Brett Larner

On Nov. 10 the International Chiba Ekiden released the entry lists for the 2008 edition of the race, to take place Nov. 24 just east of Tokyo in central Chiba Prefecture.

In the second year of the Chiba Ekiden's mixed team format Japan will once again field a team of Olympians and national record holders including Kayoko Fukushi, Yuriko Kobayashi and Takayuki Matsumiya. Other countries competing in this year's Chiba Ekiden include Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Ethiopia, Great Britain, Romania, Russia, Sweden and the United States, along with a team representing hosts Chiba Prefecture and another made up of top Japanese university runners. Notably absent is Kenya, which has in the past typically fielded teams made up of professionals living in Japan.

The biggest name in the field is undoubtedly Beijing Olympics women's marathon gold medalist Constantina Tomescu-Dita of Romania. Several others countries are fielding runners with Olympic and world-level cred…

Fukuoka Wins 72-Stage, 1056.2 km Kyushu Isshu Ekiden

http://www.nishinippon.co.jp/movie/20081109/20081109_0001.shtml

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Click here for video highlights of each prefectural team's finish.

The 57th Nishi Nihon Interprefectural Kyushu Isshu Ekiden, a 10 day, 72 stage, 1056.2 km competition around the edge of Japan's southernmost main island, wrapped up on Nov. 9 with the Fukuoka Prefectural team taking its 4th consecutive victory. At the end of the previous day Fukuoka was ahead of rival Miyazaki Prefecture in cumulative time and had won 7 of the 9 individual day titles. Fukuoka led the final day for the first of its 7 stages totalling 98.1 km, but Miyazaki ran all out to take the daily lead away, holding down 1st place for the 2nd through 6th stages. Only on the 7th stage did Fukuoka come back to retake the lead, coming to the finish in front of Fukuoka's Nishi Nihon Newspaper Group Head Office in the top spot to tie up 8 of the 10 day victory titles. Fukuoka won its 4th consecutive overall vict…

Naoko Takahashi Runs First Race As An Amateur

http://dailynews.yahoo.co.jp/fc/sports/takahashi_naoko/?1226216697

translated by Brett Larner

Sydney Olympics women's marathon gold medalist Naoko Takahashi (36, Team Phiten), ran in a half marathon in Ibigawa, Gifu Prefecture on Nov. 9, her first race since retiring from professional running last month. Takahashi acted as the guest starter for the event's full marathon and was scheduled to run the first 2 km runners of the half marathon as a ceremonial lead runner, but once at the event she decided to wanted to more than just put in face time and ran the whole distance. Her participation was greeted with joyous cheers at the start and she received shouts of thanks for all of her achievements from supporters along the course. Takahashi ran among the ranks of the other amateur runners and completed the race in a time around 1 and a half hours. After finishing she ran back out on the course to cheer on the other runners, an enjoyable start to her new post-professional career.

Mai Tagami Wins Athens Classic Marathon

by Brett Larner

Mai Tagami, a protege of legendary coach Yoshio Koide, won the 2008 Athens Classic Marathon on Nov. 9, breaking away early in the second half to win by a margin of nearly four minutes. An early pack of five runners ran together for the first quarter of the race. By the halfway point the lead pack was down to only Tagami and Russian Elena Tikhonova, both of whom clocked 1:19:17 for the half marathon split. Tagami attacked shortly thereafter, pulling away from Tikhonova, who was in turn overtaken by Greece's top runner of the day, Georgia Ampatzidou. Tagami had a lead of 25 seconds over Ampatzidou at 30 km, with Tikhonova another 21 seconds back. Tagami ran a negative split to finish in 2:36:58, far off Mizuki Noguchi's course record of 2:26:20 from the Athens Olympics but sufficient to defeat her European rivals. Tikhonova rallied to retake Ampatzidou, finishing eight seconds ahead of the Greek in 2:40:45.

In the men's race, Yoshiyuki Suetsugu ran in the lead …

Tokyo Repeats in East Japan Women's Ekiden

by Brett Larner

The team representing Tokyo won its 2nd straight victory at the East Japan Women's Ekiden in Fukushima Prefecture on Nov. 9, outlasting a surprise challenge from the Niigata Prefectural team to take the 2008 title. The East Japan Women's Ekiden features a 9-stage, 42.195 km course and teams made up of star professional, university, high school and junior high school runners from the 18 prefectures in eastern Japan and is one of a series of regional precursors to January's All-Japan Interprefectural Women's Ekiden.

Tokyo won comfortably last year but this year was threatened over the entire course by the Niigata team, which had never placed higher than 8th in the event's 23 previous runnings. Niigata's Chiaki Takagi wore down Tokyo's Rie Takayoshi to win the 6 km 1st stage, breaking away at 4 km. Takagi finished the stage in 19:08 to Takayoshi's 19:11.

Tokyo's Chisa Nishio overtook Niigata's Moeno Nakamura with 1 km to go on the 4 km…