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World Leads at Lake Saroma Ultra As Federation Cancels Team Selection for World Championships

by Brett Larner

The 28th edition of Japan's premier ultra, the Lake Saroma 100 km and 50 km Ultramarathon, took place June 30 along the northeastern shore of Hokkaido.  Lake Saroma was to have been the official selection race for the Japanese team for this year's IAU 100 km World Championships, but on Friday organizers posted a notice on the race website informing top-ranked participants that due to uncertainty surrounding South Africa's readiness to host the World Championships this October the team selection would be cancelled.

Despite both this disappointment and hot temperatures, both the men's and women's 100 km races saw world-leading performances.  In the men's 100 km division, 2009 winner Hideo Nojo (New Balance) improved on his 2nd-place finish last year with a world-leading 6:37:16 for this year's title, 4 1/2 minutes ahead of 2:18 marathoner Takayoshi Shigemi (Urugimura).  Two-time Olympic medalist and 2010 Lake Saroma champion Erick Wainaina (Ke…

Omwamba Leads Yamanashi Gakuin to Top of National University Ekiden Qualifier

by Brett Larner

Triple 2013 Kanto Region 1500 m, 5000 m and 10000 m champion Enock Omwamba led Yamanashi Gakuin University through the woods to take the top position at the National University Ekiden Championships Kanto Region Qualifier June 30 at Tokyo's National Stadium.  One of the most interesting meets on the Kanto circuit, the Kanto Region qualifier features twenty second-tier teams vying for seven spots at November's National University Ekiden Championships, every team with two men in each of four heats and the team's standing determined by the accumulated time of all eight men.  Team supporters line the track making noise and creating a high-energy environment.

Heading into the fourth and final heat, Yamanashi Gakuin had a lead of less than 7 seconds over rival Hosei University.  Omwamba led start to finish, dropping his trailers one by one to finish in 28:18.77, beating Hosei ace Kazuto Nishiike by almost 47 seconds and making hefty donation to the cause.  Yamanas…

Barsoton Over Karemi in Fukagawa

by Brett Larner
photo by Kazuyuki Sugimatsu

2013 World Cross-Country Championships junior silver medalist Leonard Barsoton (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) made a solid debut over 10000 m on June 29 at the Hokuren Distance Challenge Fukagawa meet, narrowly winning the A-heat in 27:33.13 after leading much of the race. Less than a stride behind, former Sera H.S. star Jeremiah Karemi (Team Toyota Kyushu) took nearly a minute off his best as he finished in 27:33.38.  Now coached by Barcelona Olympics marathon silver medalist Koichi Morishita, Karemi is one of two Kenyans to pick where late Beijing Olympics marathon gold medalist Samuel Wanjiru left off at the Toyota Kyushu team.

21-year-old Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota), in the all-time Japanese top ten over both 10000 m and half marathon, was 7th in 28:02.36 to lead the Japanese contingent in the unusually deep heat, where 26 men broke 29 minutes.  Miyawaki raised eyebrows by announcing post-race that he plans to make his marathon debut i…

Hokuren Distance Challenge Kicks Off in Shibetsu

by Brett Larner

Rain and wind greeted the first in the 2013 Hokuren Distance Challenge series June 26 in Shibetsu, Hokkaido, combining with a shortage of top-tier domestic names to produce few noteworthy results.  NTN Kenyan Edward Waweru's 7:47.02 win the men's 3000 m was the most competitive run of the day, ranking him just outside the top ten worldwide this year with the Koichi Morishita-coached Jeremiah Karemi (Kenya/Team Toyota Kyushu) just behind in 7:48.31.  2012 national 5000 m champion Kazuya Deguchi (Team Asahi Kasei) was 4th in 8:06.39.

Little-known William Malel (Kenya/Team Honda), brought to Japan last year by coach Stephen Mayaka to run for tiny Sozo Gakuin University before jumping ship for the corporate leagues this year, had a win the men's 5000 m A-heat over the likes of 2011 World XC silver medalist Paul Tanui (Kenya/Team Kyudenko).

This year's 1500 m national champion Yuki Akimoto (Team Sanyo Tokushu Seiko) partially redeemed his 4:02.32 winning tim…

'Marathon Everyman'

"Yuki Kawauchi is a world-class athlete, a full-time government clerk, and a Japanese national hero. Could he change the way we think about running?"

http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/sports_nut/2013/06/yuki_kawauchi_meet_the_marathon_running_government_clerk_who_s_a_national.html

Kawauchi's 2013 race schedule so far: Nineteen races run, twelve wins, six course records, three PBs, one all-comers' record.

Jan. 13: Mari Tanigawa Half Marathon, Tokyo: 1:05:31, 1st
Jan. 18: Egyptian Marathon, Luxor: 2:12:24 - ACR/CR, 1st
Jan. 20: Saitama Ekiden 3rd Stage (11.9k), Saitama: 36:54, 2nd
Jan. 27: Okumusashi Ekiden 4th Stage (4.679k), Hanno: 13:00 - CR, 1st
Feb. 3: Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, Oita: 2:08:15 - CR/PB, 1st
Feb. 17: Kumanichi 30 km, Kumamoto: 1:29:31 - CR/PB, 1st
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Tamana: 1:03:12, 2nd
Mar. 17: Seoul Int'l Marathon, Seoul: 2:08:14 - PB, 4th
Mar. 24: Saitama City Half Marathon, Saitama: 1:05:52, 1st
Apr. 7: Satte Sakur…

Japan's Main Summer Track Series Starts Tomorrow in Shibetsu

by Brett Larner

Japan's late-June and early-July Hokkaido-based Hokuren Distance Challenge time trial series gets underway tomorrow in Shibetsu.  Formerly a six-part series, the Distance Challenge now includes only four meets, June 26 in Shibetsu, June 29 in Fukagawa, July 3 in Abashiri and wrapping up July 6 in Kitami.  Given the series' timing its focus is often on improving marks ahead of international championships and Japanese athletes often produce their best track times of the year at one of the four races.

Shibetsu features mens' and womens' 1500 m, 3000 m and 5000 m distances.  On the women's side where the most notable names are 2013 London Marathon 7th-place finisher Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) and 2013 National Championships 5000 m 3rd-placer Riko Matsuzaki (Team Sekisui Kagaku) in the women's 3000 m A-heat, with Ayumi Hagiwara (Team Uniqlo), 3rd in this year's Payton Jordan 10000 m, looking like the favorite in the 5000 m A-heat.

5000 m natio…

Kiptoo Sets Grandma's Marathon Course Record

by Brett Larner
photo by Kenji Ogura

Japan's #3 independent runnerSho Matsumoto (Nikkei Business Service) made his international debut  June 22 at the 37th running of Grandma's Marathon.  Appearing through an invite from outgoing race director Scott Keenan and support from JRN after running a 2:13:38 best at February's Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon, Matsumoto ran comfortably in the lead pack on mid-2:12 pace until eventual winner Bazu Worku (Ethiopia) made his race-breaking move near 30 km.  Worku went on to record the fifth-fastest winning time in Grandma's history, 2:11:14, with Kenyans Ernest Kebenei and Eliud Ngetich joining him under 2:12.  A total of 22 men ran sub-2:20 thanks in part to strong tailwinds throughout much of the point-to-point race.

Unable to follow Worku's play, Matsumoto lost ground and struggled over the final 5 km, ultimately finishing 17th in 2:17:53.  "I should have been able to make the podium," he told JRN post-race.  "I…

Noguchi and Fukushi Back From Altitude Training in the U.S.

http://www.chunichi.co.jp/s/article/2013062101002337.html

translated by Brett Larner

2013 Moscow World Championships women's marathon team members Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) and Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) landed at Tokyo's Narita Airport on June 21, returning home after altitude training in Boulder, Colorado. Noguchi, 34, said, "This got me going at a nice pace for what comes next." Fukushi, 31, added, "Fatigue isn't bothering me. Everything's normal."

According to Athens Olympics gold medalist Noguchi, the two of them did almost the same training.  Watching Fukushi, whose track credentials far outweigh her own, Noguchi said, "Her rhythmical way of moving is different from mine.  I learned a lot."  Including the third member of the World Championships training camp, Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu), Noguchi nodded as she said, "It was really motivating to be able to share advice and ideas with each other."

Matsumoto Faces Tough Challenge in Best-Ever Grandma's Marathon Field

by Brett Larner
photos by Kenji and Jamie Ogura

With 22 men on its entry list having run under 2:14 in the last four years, 11 of them sub-2:12 and an unprecented sub-2:10 contingent led by former marathon junior world record holder Bazu Worku (Ethiopia), in its final year under the helm of race director Scott Keenan the 37th running of Grandma's Marathon may, if the weather cooperates, see a serious shot at the historic 2:09:37 set in 1981 by the great Dick Beardsley.  Only one athlete among the top 22 hails from a country other than Kenya or Ethiopia, 27-year-old Japanese independent Sho Matsumoto (Nikkei Business Services).  Appearing at Grandma's with support from JRN after a recommendation from Japan's most famous independent, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't), Matsumoto faces a tough challenge in climbing up through the ranks toward the front end of the field.

A graduate of running-oriented Kobayashi H.S. where he ran the National High School Ekiden Championship…

Bunting Over Neko at Phnom Penh International Half Marathon

http://www.nikkansports.com/entertainment/news/f-et-tp0-20130616-1143679.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The Phnom Penh International Half Marathon took place June 16 in the Cambodian capitol of Phnom Penh.  Having taken Cambodian citizenship in 2011 in a bid to make the London Olympics, Japanese-born comedian Hiroshi Neko, (born Kuniaki Takizaki), 35, ran the half marathon but was beaten by his rival, the native-born Hem Bunting, 27.  Bunting, the Cambodian marathon national record holder and a Beijing Olympian, won in 1:15:34. Neko, 2nd in 1:17:04, said post-race, "I couldn't keep me speed up in the second half the way I expected."

Neko became a Cambodian citizen in October, 2011 and was selected for the Cambodian Olympic team in the marathon in March last year.  However, citing factors including that Neko had not fulfilled the minimum one-year waiting period following his transfer of citizenship, the IAAF ruled that he was not elligible to run.  In addition…

Kawauchi Wins Second-Straight Okinoshima Ultra in Late Father's Hometown; Rushed to Hospital

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20130616-1143588.html
http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20130615-OHT1T00207.htm
http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2013/06/16/kiji/K20130616006025620.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The 8th annual Okinoshima Ultramarathon took place June 16 on the island of Okinoshima.  452 runners took part, including 141 women.  First among them in the event's 50 km division was Moscow World Championships marathon team member and defending champion Yuki Kawauchi (26, Saitama Pref. Gov't), who crossed the line in 2:57:28.  Kawauchi's father Ashio Kawauchi, who passed away in 2005 at age 59, was a native of Okinoshima, giving the Father's Day race a special significance for the younger Kawauchi.

It was his third-straight year running the Okinoshima Ultramarathon 50 km, with a DNF after collapsing with heat exhaustion in the final kilometers of 2011's race and a 2:51:45 course record last year.  At this y…

Kiryu Breaks High School 200 m National Record in 20.41 Nineteen Years After Old Record was Set

http://www.jiji.com/jc/zc?k=201306/2013061500237&g=spo

translated by Brett Larner



With a time of 10.01 already making him the all-time #2 Japanese man over 100 m, Yoshihide Kiryu (17, Rakunan H.S.) ran 20.41 (+0.5) to break the 200 m high school national record June 15 at the Kinki Region National High School Championships Qualifier at Nara's Konoike Field. The previous record of 20.57 was set at the same meet in 1994 by Kazuhiro Takahashi (Soekami H.S.). Having eclipsed that record by a margin of 0.16 seconds nineteen years after it was set, Kiryu now holds both the 100 m and 200 m high school national records.

Kiryu ran 21.81 in the heats and 21.05 in the semifinals, the fastest times in each round. Despite rain at the time of the final he ran perfectly, winning by a gap of more than one second over his nearest competitor.

Translator's note: Kiryu is Japan's eighth man to hit the 2013 World Championships A-standard of 20.52 this season.  The top four, including him,…

Uehara Sets 1500 m Meet Record for Second-Straight Southern Kyushu High School Championships Title

http://www.nishinippon.co.jp/nsp/item/369574

translated by Brett Larner

On the second day of the Southern Kyushu Regional High School Track and Field Championships at Kumamoto's Umakana Yokana Stadium, defending girls' 1500 m champion Miyuki Uehara (3rd yr., Kagoshima Joshi H.S.) won again in a meet record 4:22.08.  In the boys' 4x100 m relay, Naha Nishi H.S. (Okinawa) set a meet record of 40.85 to take the title.  Yumi Nobayashi (Kyushu Gakuin H.S.) took her third-straight girls' 100 m victory in 11.98.

Sweaty Kiryu Easily Powers Team to Final: "It's Hot Out Here"

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2013/06/14/kiji/K20130614006009060.html

translated by Brett Larner

Neither heat nor fatigue bothers this 17-year-old.  With a 100 m best of 10.01, Yoshihide Kiryu (17, Rakunan H.S.) ran at Nara's Konoike Field with his team's 4x100 m relay in the qualifying heats for the National High School Track and Field Championships. With temperatures in Nara peaking at 35 degrees, sweat was pouring down Kiryu's face even just moving from the warmup track to the main ground.  "It's hot out here," he said with a smile.  With three straight races on deck, Kiryu anchored his team through the heats and semifinals to the final, where they are ranked first.  "I'm not tired at all," he said with conviction.  "I ran comfortably and feeling good."  With the final due up soon, it's another busy day on the road to Kiryu's quest for Japan's first 9-second 100 m.

Federation Announces National Teams for Asian Athletics Championships and East Asian Games

by Brett Larner

Alongside its post-National Championships announcement of the 41-member Japanese team for August's Moscow World Championships, the Japanese Federation announced the teams it has selected for July's Asian Athletics Championships in Pune, India and October's East Asian Games in Tianjin, China.

26 men and 26 women will make up the Asian Athletics Championships team, with sprinters Chisato Fukushima (Hokkaido Hi-Tec AC), Yuzo Kanemaru (Team Otsuka Seiyaku), Yuichi Kobayashi (Team NTN) and Kei Takase (Team Fujitsu), hurdlers Yasuhiro Fueki (Team Aima), Satomi Kubokura (Niigata Albirex RC) and Hitomi Shimura (Saga T&F Assoc.) and high jumper Miyuki Fukumoto (Konan Gakuen AC) doubling there and in Moscow.

The East Asian Games team includes 30 men and 28 women, led by 2013 national champions Yuki Ebhiara (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), Sota Hoshi (Team Fujitsu), Shota Iizuka (Chuo Univ.), Sho Kawamoto (Nihon Univ.), Keisuke Ushiro (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), Ryota Yamagata

26 Names Added to Japanese World Championships Team

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20130610-00000001-spnavi-spo

translated and edited by Brett Larner

At a Tokyo-area press conference on June 10, the Japanese Federation announced 26 more names for the Japanese national team for this summer's Moscow World Championships which kick off August 10.  On the men's side, sprinters Yoshihide Kiryu (Rakunan H.S.), Ryota Yamagata (Keio Univ.) and Shota Iizuka (Chuo Univ.) feature in the lineup.  Hitomi Niiya (Team Univ. Ent.) leads the women's additions after lapping the entire field in the women's 10000 m at the National Championships over the weekend.  Women's javelin national record holder Yuki Ebihara (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and 200 m national record holder Chisato Fukushima (Hokkaido Hi-Tec AC) were also among those chosen.

In addition to the marathon and racewalk teams previously announced on April 25, the newly announced members bring the national team up to 41 athletes including 8 national record holders.  More athletes…

Iizuka and Kishimoto Set Places on Moscow Team on Final Day of Japanese National Championships

by Brett Larner

2010 World Junior Championships men's 200 m gold medalist Shota Iizuka (Chuo Univ.) and London 400 m hurdles Olympian Takayuki Kishimoto (Team Fujitsu) joined the small ranks of athletes to earn guaranteed places on the Japanese team for the Moscow World Championships, winning their events with A-standard times on the final day of the 2013 Japanese National Track and Field Championships.

Iizuka led five men under the 20.52 A-standard, winning in 20.31 (+0.9) to secure his position.  Yuichi Kobayashi (Team NTN) ran a PB 20.46 in 2nd and Kei Takase (Team Fujitsu) clocked 20.48 for 3rd, both putting themselves into solid consideration for the team.  Kishimoto had a mid-race scare from the ascendant Yasuhiro Fueki (Team Aima) who overtook him on the back curve only to fall victim to Kishimoto's closing speed.  Kishimoto took 1st in 49.08 with Fueki 2nd in an A-standard PB 49.31, like Kobayashi and Takase getting onto the shortlist for Moscow team membership.

Three ot…

Sato Over Osako, Yamagata Over Kiryu, Murakami Over Dean, Shimura Over Kimura: Japanese Nationals Day Two

by Brett Larner

Day Two of the 2013 Japanese National Track and Field Championships was packed with great one-on-one matchups as the country's best went after positions on the Moscow World Championships team.

In the men's 10000 m, the pace faded after starting out on track for a national record thanks to eventual last-place finisher Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku).  #4-ranked Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota) took over from Okamoto after falling at 3000 m, but the pace continued to slip.  The only two A-standard men, defending champion Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) and Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.) reeled it out to a sprint finish for the second year in a row, and once again Sato proved the stronger over the final 50 m as he secured his place with a slower-than-expected 28:24.94 win to Osako's 28:25.84 runner-up finish. 2011's fastest Japanese 10000 m runner, Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta) took 3rd, but absent an A-standard mark he will stay home come August…

National Championships Day Two Preview

by Brett Larner

Following the women's 10000 m meet record set yesterday by Hitomi Niiya (Team Univ. Ent.) and Seito Yamamoto (Chukyo Univ.) joining her on the Moscow World Championships team, the 97th Japanese National Track and Field Championships continue today at western Tokyo's Ajinomoto Stadium.  Below is a quick guide to some of the day's best events, with the men's 10000 m, 100 m and javelin leading the way. JRN will be on-site to cover the meet live.

Men's 10000 m- June 8
There's been some momentum in the men's 10000 m this year, with three collegiates going sub-28 and two men hitting the 27:40.00 World Championships A-standard.  All of them are on the list for today's 10000 m, led by Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.) in 27:38.31 and defending national champion Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) with a 27:38.25 best and a 27:39.50 mark this year.  Sato outkicked Osako for the win and an Olympic spot last year, and as the only two men with an A-standard …

Niiya Tears It Up With Solo 31:06.67 National Championships Meet Record

by Brett Larner
photos by Mika Tokairin
videos by okukon

Reaching all-time Japanese #3 for 10000 m with a 30:59.19 at the London Olympics, last year's 5000 m women's national champion Hitomi Niiya (Team Universal Ent.) took her first 10000 m national title in aggressive style June 7 at the first day of the Japanese National Track and Field Championships, lapping the entire field as she soloed a meet record 31:06.67 to secure a place on the Moscow World Championships team and earn the #2 spot in the world so far this year, less than two seconds behind Beijing Olympics bronze medalist Shalane Flanagan's 31:04.85.

Running in the lead pack through 3000 m in 9:32, Niiya dropped a 3:00 split for the fourth km to blow the race apart and go it alone.  Pushing on, she ran alone right on national record pace for the final 7000 m split, picking off the rest of the field one by one and, in the home straight, kicking past eventual 2nd, 3rd and 4th-place finishers Yuko Shimizu (Team Sekisui…

National Track and Field Championships Start Today

by Brett Larner

The 2013 Japanese National Track and Field Championships kick off today at western Tokyo's Ajinomoto Stadium, three days of top-level domestic action with places on the national team for August's Moscow World Championships at stake.  The Federation set multi-tiered standards for Worlds qualification this year.  Any athlete with an A-standard mark who wins their event will automatically be on the team.  Likewise for any athlete clearing an ambitious set of special qualifying marks, in many cases better than the Japanese national records, and finishes in the top eight.  Any other A or B-standard athlete who makes the top three will also be given consideration.

Below is a quick guide to the Day One finals with the best head-to-head competitions and the most people likely to go on to Moscow.  Click here for complete entry lists.  JRN will be on-site to cover the meet each day, so check back for detailed coverage as the weekend progresses.

Women's 10000 m- June …

Naoko Takahashi Makes First Appearance As Federation Executive Board Member

http://www.hokkaido-np.co.jp/news/sports/471674.html
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20130605-00000060-nksports-spo

translated and edited by Brett Larner

2000 Sydney Olympics women's marathon gold medalist and former world record holder Naoko Takahashi, 41, named to the JAAF's board of directors, took part in a Federation executive board meeting for the first time June 5 in Tokyo.  "I hope that my 23 years of experience in athletics will help to nurture and develop the next generation of junior athletes," she told reporters.  Takahashi made reference to issues of intimidation and sexual harassment in Japanese athletics, saying, "I think there are people who don't have anyone they can talk to and don't know what to do.  I'd like to be there for them, nearby and accessible, someone who could be a friend our female athletes could turn to as if I were an older sister."

She also indicated that she plans to get married before the end of the year.  In …

Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Half Marathon Results

San Diego, U.S.A., 6/2/13
click here for complete results

Women
1. Edna Kiplagat (Kenya) - 1:08:56
2. Georgina Rono (Kenya) - 1:09:03
3. Firehiwot Dado (Ethiopia) - 1:09:46
4. Embet Bedada (Ethiopia) - 1:09:56
5. Paskalia Kipkoech (Kenya) - 1:10:14
6. Asami Kato (Japan/Team Panasonic) - 1:10:49
7. Yuko Watanabe (Japan/Team Edion) - 1:11:40
8. Lidia Simon (Romania) - 1:12:36
9. Deena Kastor (U.S.A.) - 1:15:51
10. Joanne Zeiger (U.S.A.) - 1:16:45

Kawauchi Scores Huge Win on Gravel Road Marathon Course

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20130602-1136884.html

translated by Brett Larner

Moscow World Championships marathon team member Yuki Kawauchi (26, Saitama Pref. Gov't) won the 33rd edition of the Chitose JAL International Marathon June 2 in a course record 2:18:29.  His time improved the course record, set 25 years ago, by one minute and 32 seconds, beating the 2nd-place finisher by more than nine minutes.  With more than 80% of the course consisting of gravel and dirt roads and an elevation difference of more than 150 m Kawauchi more than overcame whatever doubts he may have had about the World Championships.

In May Kawauchi ran five half marathons.  Post-race he told reporters, "My time wasn't bad, but it's been a long time [sic, 6 weeks] since my last marathon so my legs weren't moving well.  I wanted to run a little bit better than this."

33rd Chitose JAL International Marathon
Chitose, 6/2/13
click here for complete results

Men
1. …