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Showing posts from October, 2016

Bekele, Kawauchi, Kwambai, Makau and Tsegay Headline Fukuoka Elite Field

by Brett Larner

The Dec. 4 Fukuoka International Marathon released the elite field for this year's 70th running today.  2014-15 winner Patrick Makau (Kenya) returns, looking to follow Frank Shorter and Toshihiko Seko as just the third man to win Fukuoka three years in a row.  Makau's main competition comes from 2015 World Championships silver medalist Yemane Tsegay (Ethiopia), James Kwambai (Kenya) and Amanuel Mesel (Eritrea).  An interesting name that could represent an extra challenge if he shows the same renewed focus as his older brother Kenenisais Tariku Bekele (Ethiopia).  Further back, Reid Coolsaet (Canada) has a shot at breaking the 2:10:09 Canadian national record set in Fukuoka in 1975 by Jerome Drayton.

The large Japan-based African contingent is headed by the debuting Paul Kuira (Kenya/Team Konica Minolta), who won the 2015 Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon in 59:47 in his debut over the distance, 2012 Fukuoka winner Joseph Gitau (Kenya/JFE Steel), 2016 …

Rio Olympian Anju Takamizawa Leads Matsuyama University to First National Title

by Brett Larner

Rio de Janeiro Olympics 3000 m steeplechase runner Anju Takamizawa, the first Japanese university woman to ever make an Olympic team in a distance event, led Matsuyama University to take down five-time defending national champion Ritsumeikan University and become the first school from the Chugoku-Shikoku Region to ever win the National University Women's Ekiden Championships title Sunday in Sendai.

【杜の都駅伝】
松山大学初優勝です! pic.twitter.com/ftXf43wke1 — 日本学生陸上競技連合 (@iuauj) October 30, 2016
3rd last year, Matsuyama lined up against Ritsumeikan, Kanto Region champ and 2015 runner-up Daito Bunka University and 23 other teams at the Morinomiyako Ekiden, as Nationals are popularly called.  Ritsumeikan got off to a rocky start, its lead runner Nanako Kanno eight seconds behind 1500 m national university champion Natsu Hashimoto (Kyoto Sangyo Univ.) in 6th, but for Matsuyama and Daito Bunka the First Stage was a disaster. Matsuyama senior Ayumi Uehara, one of its three best runn…

37-Year-Old Mother of Three Sakamoto Becomes First-Ever Japanese Winner of Osaka Marathon

by Brett Larner

One of the ten biggest marathons in the world, the Osaka Marathon celebrated its first-ever Japanese winner this year.

第六回大阪マラソン 女子の部優勝
坂本喜子選手

浪速区敷津
Canon EOS 1D X
Canon EF 70-200mm 1:2.8L IS Ⅱ USM#写真好きな人と繋がりたい#大阪マラソンpic.twitter.com/5Zmd3Mm6bU — KKMMM (@KkmmmGurkha) October 30, 2016
The Osaka women's race was a one-woman show the whole way.  Amateur runner Yoshiko Sakamoto (Y.W.C.) a 37-year-old mother of three and former high school star who took up marathons at age 32 after not running for more than 10 years, went it alone from the gun.  35 seconds ahead of #1-ranked Nurit Yimam (Ethiopia) at 5 km, Sakamoto fearlessly pushed her pace under 2:30 by 15 km and stretched her lead to almost four minutes as Yimam and top club runner Yumiko Kinoshita (SWAC) held steady to 2:35~36 pace.  With a best of 2:36:29 Sakamoto was bound to pay for it, and after halfway she began to slow.  "After 33 km it felt like my right hamstring was going to cramp up," she told JRN …

'Boise State Men and New Mexico Women Take Home Team Titles at Mountain West Cross Country Championships'

INSTANT HIGHLIGHT: Watch the Finish of the #MWXC Men's 8K https://t.co/a1iJL8Cu7Ppic.twitter.com/9826hfLiwe — Mountain West (@MountainWest) October 28, 2016
http://www.themw.com/news/boise-state-men-and-new-mexico-women-take-home-team-titles-at-mountain-west-cross-country-championships-10-28-2016

Yusuke Uchikoshi (3rd yr., Boise State Univ.) won the Oct. 28 Mountain West XC Championships 8.0 km individual title in 23:48.80.  His win is likely the first NCAA conference XC title for a Japanese athlete.  Click here for complete results.  Uchikoshi ran 13:59.90 for 5000 m in high school before going to the U.S. for university.  His father Tadao Uchikoshi was 2nd in the 1991 Amsterdam Marathon and 5th in the 1993 Stuttgart World Championships marathon.  More footage and interview in the video below starting at 2:05.

#MWN Recap by @Stormy_MWN: @BroncoSportsXC men and @Lobo_Track women take home titles at 2016 #MWXC Championships pic.twitter.com/5r5tpTcgd6 — Mountain West (@MountainWest) O…

Breaking the Ritsumeikan Dynasty - National University Women's Ekiden Preview

by Brett Larner



Ekiden season rolls on this Sunday with the Morinomiyako Ekiden, the 34th edition of the National University Women's Ekiden.  25 university teams and one regional select team will race over 38.0 km in six stages.  Kyoto's Ritsumeikan University has won the national title ten times in the last thirteen years and is in the middle of the longest streak in the championships' history, with five straight wins behind them and looking to add a sixth.  The last team to beat them, Kyoto rivals Bukkyo University, have completely disappeared since the departure of head coach Kenichi Morikawa to take over at the Yamada Denki women's corporate team, while the only other team to beat Ritsumeikan since 2003, 2005 champ Meijo University of Aichi, was 5th last year almost four minutes behind Ritsumeikan.

Ritsumeikan won September's Kansai Region University Women's Ekiden, but its margin over runner-up Kyoto Sangyo University was only 24 seconds over 30 km.  At th…

The Izumo Ekiden - Director's Cut

Last year JRN covered the Izumo Ekiden for Meter, a boutique running magazine published by clothing manufacturer Tracksmith who produced the uniforms for Izumo's Ivy League Select Team.  The article printed in Meter included a number of typos, grammatical errors and other problems not in JRN's original text which its editor declined to correct in the version it published online earlier today.  Below is the original unedited and error-free version of the article with previously unpublished photos.

text and photos by Brett Larner
race photos by Kazuyuki Sugimatsu


Fall, cooler breezes and changing leaves, the country’s runners turning not to the trails and golf courses but to the roads. Ekidens, Japan’s long distance road relays, a century of history backing massive modern popularity. For the best university men it’s a three-month season. October’s Izumo Ekiden, short, fast and sweet. November’s National University Ekiden Championships, longer and more strategic. The peak of …

Gobena and Cheyech Top Field for Nov. 13 Saitama International Marathon

by Brett Larner

In its first running last year the Saitama International Marathon tagged a small elite women's race, the descendant of the defunct Yokohama International Women's Marathon and Tokyo International Women's Marathon, onto a new 3500-runner amateur race.  Tokyo International was a high-profile, high-prestige elite event that served an important role in both the development of women's marathoning worldwide and Japanese national team selection.  The profile and prestige dipped with the move to Yokohama, its 2014 winner Tomomi Tanaka controversially left off the 2015 Beijing World Championships team, and both dropped again last year with the move out to Tokyo's northwestern suburbs in Saitama.

Its legacy as the inheritor of Japan's premier women's race and nominal current role as a women's event are obscured by the co-ed mass marathon, local boy Yuki Kawauchi proudly splashed across the Saitama website's top page for this year's Nov. 13…

Rio Silver Medalist Kiryu Throws First Pitch in Solid Baseball Debut

http://www.fnn-news.com/news/headlines/articles/CONN00340126.html

translated by Brett Larner

The fastest man in Japan, Rio de Janeiro Olympics silver medalist Yoshihide Kiryu, 20, made his baseball debut throwing out the first pitch at a game for his school Toyo University.  In recognition of his dream of running Japan's first 9-second time in the 100 m, Kiryu took the mound wearing uniform #9.

His pitch wasn't fast, but it was good enough to draw cheers from the crowd.  "I have no idea how fast that was, what it might have been.  Hopefully it was over 100 km/h," Kiryu commented.  "Anyway, it wasn't a wild pitch so I'd probably give it a 5/10."

Earlier this month his Rio 4x100 m teammate Ryota Yamagata, 24, threw out the first pitch at a pro baseball game.  Yamagata's pitch bounced once, something Kiryu was aware of.  "I just wanted to make sure mine didn't hit the ground and bounce," he laughed.

Also this week, Chuo University, alma…

In Fourth Season As Team, Kansai Gaikokugo University To Run Its Third National University Women's Ekiden Sunday

http://www.sankeibiz.jp/business/news/161025/prl1610250913005-n1.htm

translated by Brett Larner

The Osaka-based Kansai Gaikokugo University women's ekiden team is set to make its third-straight appearance at the National University Women's Ekiden this Sunday, Oct. 30 in Sendai.  The race will be broadcast live on NTV beginning at noon.  26 teams including eight seeded schools, seventeen top teams from regional qualifiers, and one select team from the Sendai area will compete.

Kansai Gaikokugo University's women's ekiden team finished 5th at September's Kansai Region University Women's Ekiden in 1:41:50 to qualify for the national championship event.  The Kansai Region's share of the national field is six teams this year, down one from last year.  Three seeded teams finished ahead of Kansai Gaikokugo University in the regional race, meaning the school was the second to secure one of the three remaining places.

The Kansai Gaikokugo University women's ekide…

Ngandu and Yimam Lead Osaka Marathon Fields

by Brett Larner

The Osaka Marathon is something of an oddity.  The progeny of the post-Tokyo Marathon mass participation running boom, in its fifth running last year Osaka had nearly 30,000 finishers to rank as the 7th-largest marathon worldwide in 2015.  But along with the United States' Marine Corps Marathon it was one of only two races in the top ten without an IAAF label, an indication that the JAAF has not positioned it as part of Japan's crowded elite race calendar.  And yet, Osaka typically has an invited elite field good enough for at least IAAF bronze medal status if it wanted it, good enough that it has yet to see a Japanese winner male or female.  There's something of an indication there of the tension between tradition and modernity in today's Japanese distance running world, neither purely elite nor purely mass participation.

Whatever the organizers' intentions, Sunday's race features good fields on both the men's and women's sides with six…

Hironaka, Ndiku and Aoyama Gakuin Lead Weekend Track Highlights

by Brett Larner

A week after running 9:00.81 to become the fastest-ever Japanese 10th grade girl over 3000 m, Ririka Hironaka (Nagasaki Shogyo H.S.) was back to break another record.  At Saturday's Challenge Games in Oita Ginko Dome Hironaka ran 15:42.23 to win the women's 5000 m, again the fastest mark ever by a Japanese 10th grader.  10th graders also brought good times in the women's 3000 m and men's 5000 m, where Oita Tomei H.S. resident Kenyans Marta Mokaya and Benuel Mogeni won in 9:06.29 and 13:43.37.  Japanese high schoolers Keita Yoshida (Sera H.S.) and Yuta Kanbayashi (Kyushu Gakuin H.S.) both broke 14 minutes, Yoshida running 13:53.53 for 3rd and Kanbayashi next across the line in 13:59.14.

Faster 5000 m times came Sunday at Yokohama's Nittai University Time Trials, where Jonathan Ndiku (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) came up just short of the fastest 5000 m on Japanese soil so far this year as he won in 13:15.32.  John Maina (Team Fujitsu) and Alfred Ngeno (Team…

Toilet Maker Toto Claims Princess Ekiden Throne to Qualify for National Corporate Women's Ekiden

http://news.tbs.co.jp/newseye/tbs_newseye2898668.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The Princess Ekiden, gateway to the throne of Japan's ekiden queens.  28 teams competed Oct. 23 for the 14 remaining spots at next month's National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships.

The fierce battle to sit atop the throne started right out of the gate.  Its big movement came on the 3.8 km Fourth Stage.  Shuru Bulo, making her debut for toilet and washlet maker Toto, made up a 46-second deficit to put Toto into the lead by 4 seconds.  From there on out Toto sailed on smoothly and without straining to score its first Princess Ekiden title by 45 seconds over rival Noritz.  The win meant a fourth-straight appearance at Nationals for the Toto team.  Can they become the queens of tomorrow?

More drama was to found further back in the field in the race for the 14th and final ticket to Nationals.  In 14th on the second-to-last stage, the Juhachi Ginko team was overtaken by Mitsui Sumit…

Hyuga Endo Breaks 3000 m Japanese High School National Record

by Brett Larner

日本高校記録!
7分59秒18 pic.twitter.com/LxtOmTBsPa — 岡村新也 (@n2GVFoktHb5AuKw) October 16, 2016
Ekiden season is underway but there is plenty of track action along the way as teams get ready for the main road races.  A week after his third-straight National Sports Festival track title, 12th-grader Hyuga Endo (Gakuho Ishikawa H.S.) became the first Japanese high schooler to break 8 minutes for 3000 m when he won Hyogo's Sumitomo Denko Cup in 7:59.18 by a margin of more than 20 seconds.  Opening with a 2:36.82 first 1000 m, Endo slowed to 2:42.50 in the middle of the race, still on track to break 8 overall but behind pace over the next 600 m.  One of Endo's main strengths to date has been his kick over the last lap, and here a 59.92 second last lap was just enough to get him under.  Endo's time was a new high school national record and the second-fastest ever by a Japanese junior.  With a steady string of new PBs from 1500 m to 5000 m over the last two years the new re…

Wambui, Ngandu and Daito Bunka Dominate a Double Dose of 20 km Action

by Brett Larner

This weekend saw Japan's two biggest 20 km road races go down back to back in Tokyo.  Saturday in  Showa Kinen Park fifty Tokyo-area university men's teams lined up at the Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai to try to claim one of the ten remaining places at January's ultra-prestigious Hakone Ekiden.  With at least six Kenyans, one Ethiopian and one Taiwanese runner on the starting line it may have been a record for international participation in the Yosenkai, the official qualification race for Hakone, and it was the internationals who pushed the front end of the field to fast times despite conditions made unseasonably warm by the bright and cloudless skies.

Undefeated in his last seven races on the track and road, Patrick Mathenge Wambui (Nihon Univ.) was the heavy favorite despite his inexperience at such a long distance, but he received a serious challenge from newcomer Josphat Ledama Kisaisa (Obirin Univ.).  Arriving in Japan earlier this fall to run under the coac…

Hakone Ekiden Qualifier Preview

制作枚数700枚以上!!
箱根駅伝予選会PV風アニメーション✨
10月15日(土)9時25分スタートです。
日本大学の応援、宜しくお願い致します🙇🏻

制作→https://t.co/WkRILQ7Jsc#箱根駅伝予選会#日本大学pic.twitter.com/phnHaArOOW — あきば なおと (@AKB7010) October 12, 2016Nihon University third-year Ikki Yamazaki made this animated video using over 700 pieces of paper asking for fans' support for Nihon at Saturday's Hakone Ekiden qualifier.

by Brett Larner

Monday's Izumo Ekiden saw the top ten schools from the 2016 HakoneEkiden get their 2016-17 season started.  For the rest of the universities in the Tokyo area, Saturday's Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai is their gateway to the biggest race of the year.

A 20 km road race, the Yosenkai is the official qualifier for the Hakone Ekiden, the Jan. 2-3 road relay that is a cultural institution in Japan featuring twenty Tokyo-area university teams and one select team.  The top ten finishers in Hakone are seeded for the following year, freeing them up to run Izumo.  The rest line up again at the Yosenkai with all the other Hako…

The Ivy League On Its Izumo Ekiden Experience

Izumo Ekiden Ivy League team out in Shinjuku before flying home. Our incredibly nice waitress made this for the team pic.twitter.com/S1wxH9Ypgc — Japan Running News (@JRNHeadlines) October 11, 2016
A day after its 14th-place finish at the 28th Izumo Ekiden, JRN sat down with the members and staff of the Ivy League Select Team in Shinjuku to talk about their races and experience.  Their own words, in 35 seconds or less:

Henry Sterling(Dartmouth): First Stage (8.0 km) - 24:48 (17th of 20)
スターリング選手(1区):
「思い通り走りできなかった。
しかし、あれくらいのテンションとエネルギーのありスタートは今まで経験なかった。出雲大社宇迦橋大鳥居までの最初の下り坂は本当にすごかった。忘られない気持ちでした。」 pic.twitter.com/x0FJLD611J — Japan Running News (@JRNHeadlines) October 12, 2016
John Gregorek(Columbia): Second Stage (5.8 km) - 18:54 (20th of 20)
グレゴリック選手'2区):
「そんなにうまく行かなかった。区間最低だったと思う。しかし沿道からの応援は素晴らしかった。大事な経験となりました。
やはり日本が好きです!来年リベンジしたい。また2020年にアメリカ代表として来ます!」 pic.twitter.com/EZSMXY8CnD — Japan Running News (@JRNHeadlines) October 12, 2016
Chris Bendtsen(Princeton): Third Stage (8.5 km) -…