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Kipruto, Worku, Gitau and Kawauchi - Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon Preview

by Brett Larner

It’s still early in the year, but the Japanese men’s major domestic spring marathon season is already reaching its peak with Sunday’s Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon. Lake Biwa was Japan’s first IAAF gold label marathon and is one of its oldest continuous races, but with last weekend’s Tokyo Marathon having joined the Fukuoka International Marathon in 2:05 course record territory it is due for an improvement on Wilson Kipsang’s 2:06:13 course record. To get there it has enlisted defending champion and Daegu World Championships silver medalist Vincent Kipruto (Kenya) and former junior world record holder Bazu Worku (Ethiopia), both with 2:05 bests. The pair’s duel, or teamwork, up front should be one of this year’s main story lines.

Another is Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) and his quest for a 2:07. Kawauchi is the lone A-list Japanese man in the field this year, at Lake Biwa for the sole purpose of joining Japan’s sub-2:08 club. Since his world record-setting pai…

Matsumoto, Shimizu and Yoshizumi Feature in New Taipei City Marathon

by Brett Larner


Along with the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, the National University Half Marathon Championships and other domestic action, this weekend, one overseas features noteworthy elite Japanese athletes. In pursuit of an IAAF bronze label and the goal of becoming one of Asia’s premier spring marathons the New Taipei City Wanjinshi International Marathon has expanded its international field this year to include runners from nine countries, among them independents Sho Matsumoto and Yuri Yoshizumi, both running with support from JRN, and corporate league runner Shoko Shimizu (Team Aichi Denki).  A surprise addition to the field is Hokkaido Marathon course record holder Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC), appearing via race sponsor Mizuno.

Three men in the field have bests under 2:09, Gudisa Shentema (Ethiopia), Hassane Ahouchar (Morocco) and Paul Kosgei (Kenya), but with none of them having approached that level in the last three years the favorite is likely David Kiprono (Kenya) …

National University Half Marathon Championships Entry List

by Brett Larner

The Inter-University Athletic Union of Japan has released the entry lists for Sunday's National University Half Marathon Championships in western Tokyo's Showa Kinen Park. With the rapidly increasing level of Japanese university men's distance running the once-minor half marathon championships have taken on increasing importance, three of the last four years seeing winning times under 63 minutes and 2012's race setting world records for depth with 193 men under 66 minutes.  1389 men are entered for this year's race, and with a consistent pattern of large numbers running aggressive paces throughout the season since Tokyo secured the 2020 Olympics this year's race could be the fastest and deepest yet.

On Feb. 2 Hiroto Inoue (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) ran the fastest half marathon ever by a Japanese 21-year-old, 1:01:39, and with that time he heads the entry list.  Inoue is on the Japanese national team for the Mar. 29 World Half Marathon Championsh…

Inter-University Athletic Union Announces Japanese Team for World University XC

http://www.iuau.jp/news/2014/19wuxc_delegate.pdf

Following the selection race at last weekend's Fukuoka International Cross Country Meet, the IUAU has announced the Japanese men's and women's team lineups for the Mar. 22 World University Cross Country Championships in Entebbe, Uganda.  Hiroshi Ichida (Daito Bunka Univ.) is the only returning member of Japan's 2012 World University XC team, where Yuta Shitara (Toyo Univ.) and Daichi Motomura (Tokai Univ.) won silver and bronze medals respectively.  Ichida was 24th.  A week before this year's Worlds his identical twin brother Takashi Ichida (Daito Bunka Univ.) will run the New York City Half Marathon with support from JRN.

19th World University Cross Country Championships
Entebbe, Uganda, 3/22/14

Men's 10 km
Masaya Kakihara (3rd yr., Kanagawa University) - 28:33.50
Hiroshi Ichida (3rd yr., Daito Bunka University) - 28:53.98
Mitsunori Asaoka (3rd yr., Tokyo Nogyo University) - 29:16.89
Shota Baba (2nd yr., Komazawa Un…

Migita, Sonota and Taguchi Win at Inuyama and Yutoku Half Marathons

http://www.saga-s.co.jp/news/saga_sports.0.2638394.article.html
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/aomori/news/20140223-OYT8T00881.htm
http://www.komaspo.com/4630
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/kyoto/news/20140223-OYT8T00902.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

A total of 1700 men and women of all ages ran in the half marathon, 10 km, 3 km and 2 km divisions at the 63rd running of the Kashima Yutoku Half Marathon on Feb. 23.  In the men's open half marathon division, Masaya Taguchi (Toyo University) took 47 seconds off the course record to win in 1:03:05.  Taguchi was responsible for getting Toyo off to a good start on the First Stage at last month's Hakone Ekiden, playing a big part in the team's win.  Bringing the same intensity to his course record run, he thoroughly dominated the men's half marathon.

Olympian and university 5000 m national record holder Kensuke Takezawa (Team Sumitomo Kaijo) was also in the race.  "He has been an inspiration since I was in ju…

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Committee President Mori Booed by Runners During Speech at Start of Tokyo Marathon

http://www.j-cast.com/2014/02/24197482.html

translated by Brett Larner

Beginning at Tokyo City Hall and finishing 42.195 km later at Tokyo Big Sight, the 2014 Tokyo Marathon took place on Feb. 23.  During the opening ceremonies before the start of the race, Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics Organizing Committee President and former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, 76, was introduced and gave a speech.  Mori caused controversy last week when he criticized figure skater Mao Asada, the Vancouver Olympics silver medalist, saying, "She always falls when it counts the most."  According to the Twitter feeds of runners taking part in the race and other sources, when Mori appeared the crowd of runners in the starting area began booing.

Chumba and Tsegaye Set Tokyo Marathon CRs as Five Japanese Men Break 2:10

by Brett Larner

You couldn't ask for much better conditions than the Tokyo Marathon had today, and when you have fields with eight to eleven athletes with best times faster than your course records, those records are bound to fall.  Dickson Chumba (Kenya) and Tirfi Tsegaye (Ethiopia) came through to beat the favorites, Chumba running a PB 2:05:42 to get the Tokyo men's course record and Tsegaye cutting more than three minutes off the women's record with the win in 2:22:23.  For Japanese men it was either the second or third-greatest marathon in history depending on your metric, five of them clearing 2:10, four for the first time, led by Kohei Matsumura (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) in 2:08:09.

Daegu World Championships marathoner Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) led the women's race through a relatively conservative first 10 km in 34:18 before the pace began to quicken.  Still in the lead at 20 km, she split 33:47 for the second 10 km before giving up the lead to Tsegay…

Asian Cross-Country Championships Results

by Brett Larner

The 28th Fukuoka International Cross Country Meet played host to this year's Asian Cross Country Championships, the international championship races held within Fukuoka's regular senior men's 10 km, senior women's 6 km, junior men's 8 km and junior women's 6 km races.  In the senior men's 10 km, Japan-based Kenyan Jeremiah Karemi (Team Toyota Kyushu), two-time winner of Fukuoka's junior race, ran tough against an all-African Bahraini squad, outkicking its Aweke Yimer by 9 seconds for the win in 28:43.  Karemi's continuing development over the last year is especially noteworthy given that the last time Toyota Kyushu head coach Koichi Morishita, the Barcelona Olympics marathon silver medalist, took on a Kenyan it was future Beijing Olympics gold medalist Samuel Wanjiru. 2nd overall, Yimer took the Asian Championships gold medal with teammates Isaac Korir and Alemu Bekele taking silver and gold.  2010 5000 m national champion Yuki Mats…

Arata Fujiwara Running Tokyo Marathon Despite Influenza

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20140222-OHT1T00031.htm

translated by Brett Larner

London Olympian Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) appeared at the Feb. 21 pre-Tokyo Marathon press conference.  Fujiwara revealed that he is running Tokyo on Sunday despite still feeling the effects of influenza he contracted in early February.  "I don't have good training behind me this time.  My goal is to run 2:10," he said, moderating expectations.  At the Feb. 2 Marugame Half he slowed badly and finished in 1:09:09 due to the influenza.  "I haven't caught a cold since I was in junior high school," he said.  With a fever of 38 degrees Fujiwara didn't run for an entire week and thought about pulling out of Tokyo, but taking a positive view of the situation he said, "A break from training means my body is fresh."

At December's Fukuoka International Marathon Fujiwara dropped out partway through due to hip pain, meaning he does not have a place on the Ja…

Discarding Hakone Dreams in a Straight Shot for the Olympics, the Next Generation's Next Big Thing Chihiro Miyawaki Ready for Marathon Debut

http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/event/tokyomarathon/list/CK2014022002000195.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Running from City Hall to Tokyo Big Sight, the Tokyo Marathon takes place on Feb. 23.  A part of the world's ultimate series, the World Marathon Majors, and the biggest marathon in Asia, Tokyo attracts the best from around the world.  Highly anticipated to be the "golden boy" of the buildup to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, 22-year-old Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota), already all-time Japanese #4 for the half marathon and #7 for 10000 m, will make his marathon debut in Tokyo.  Having gone straight into the jitsugyodan corporate team world after graduating from high school without passing through the Hakone Ekiden he is something of a secret weapon, but on the streets of the Japanese capital he is now ready to throw off the veil.

Miyawaki's gentle, meek smile conceals the tenacity of an underdog's soul.  He is a runner with a modern, multifacet…

Asian XC Championships Lead Weekend Action

by Brett Larner

It's yet another busy weekend in Japan with at least four quality events on the calendar. It's not every day that an international championships takes place on Japanese soil, and Saturday's Asian Cross-Country Championships, held in conjunction with the annual Fukuoka International Cross-Country Meet, tops the list in that respect.  Fresh off a bronze medal between two Qataris in the 3000 m at last weekend's Asian Indoor Championships, Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Team Asahi Kasei) leads the Japanese senior men's team alongside 2013 5000 m national champion Sota Hoshi (Team Fujitsu), who ran a PB 1:01:18 just last weekend at the National Corporate Half Marathon Championships, and 13:28.79 junior Genki Yagisawa (Meiji Univ.).  No Qataris are on the entry list, but Bahrain is sending a squad of five Kenyan and Ethiopian-born athletes led by Olympian Bilisuma Shugi who should provide the main competition.  Also noteworthy is 2013 Southeast Asian Games marathon …

Moscow World Championships 5th-Place Nakamoto and Others Withdraw From Tokyo Marathon

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20140220-OHT1T00082.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

A representative of Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki), 5th in the Moscow World Championships marathon and 6th in the London Olympics marathon, announced on Feb. 20 that he has withdrawn from the Feb. 23 Tokyo Marathon, a selection race for this fall's Asian Games marathon in South Korea.  According to the team spokesperson, Nakamoto caught the flu in early February and has not fully recovered.  He is not entered in the final Asian Games selection race, the Mar. 2 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, meaning that Nakamoto will not be able to run the marathon at the Asian Games.

Also withdrawing are 2013 10000 m national champion and London Olympian Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin), former Aoyama Gakuin University captain Takehiro Deki (Team Chugoku Denryoku) and 2008 Tokyo winner Viktor Rothlin (Switzerland).

Nagoya Women's Marathon Elite Field

by Brett Larner

The Nagoya Women's Marathon continues on in its new format as the world's largest women-only marathon, having added a mass-participation field to its longstanding small elite race to stay relevant in the booming Japanese amateur marathon market.  This year sports one of the better elite fields in Nagoya history, with five sub-2:24 women, a solid sub-2:30 second pack, and a small group of noteworthy first-timers.

The #1 seed is Russian Mariya Konovalova with a best of 2:22:46 Chicago 2013, and it looks pretty clear that she and Kenyan trio Helena Kirop, Agnes Kiprop and Agnes Barsosio are there to pull Moscow World Championships 4th-placer Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) along to something better than her 2:23:34 winning time from last year. There's a gap back to the next group at the 2:25-2:27 level, where Jelena Prokopcuka (Latvia), the eyebrow-raising Zivile Balciunaite (Lithuania), Miranda Boonstra (Netherlands) and Ashete Dido (Ethiopia) are ideally posit…

Fukaya City Half Marathon Cancelled Due to Impossibility of Clearing Course

http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/saitama/20140220/CK2014022002000146.html

translated by Brett Larner

Scheduled for Feb. 23 in Fukaya, Saitama, the 8th running of the Fukaya City Half Marathon has been cancelled due to the impact of last weekend's heavy snow.  The event's organizing committee made the decision to cancel on Feb. 19.  According to a committee spokesperson, the cancellation is due to the impossibility of clearing the entire course of snow to guarantee a safe path for runners and to parking lots at the start and finish area not yet being cleared either.  Entry fees will not be returned, but entrants will be sent the race program and souvenir towels and notepads.  For more information contact the Fukaya City Lifelong Education Division at 048 (572) 9581.

Murayama Leads World Half Marathon Team

http://www.daily.co.jp/newsflash/general/2014/02/18/0006719014.shtml

translated by Brett Larner

On Feb. 18 the Japanese Federation announced Kenta Murayama (Komazawa University), 20,  and the other nine members of the Japanese national team for the Mar. 29 World Half Marathon Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Note: 2011-2013 National University Ekiden champion Komazawa's Ikuto Yufu, the 2013 National University 1500 m champion and 1:02:51 at November's Ageo City Half Marathon, has also joined the Mar. 16 New York City Half Marathon field.

World Half Marathon Championships - Japanese Team
Copenhagen, Denmark, Mar. 29, 2014

Men
Kenta Murayama (Komazawa University) - 1:00:50 (Marugame Half 2014) - all-time Japanese #3
Masato Kikuchi (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:01:17 (National Corporate Half 2014)
Sota Hoshi (Team Fujitsu) - 1:01:18 - (National Corporate Half 2014) 2013 national champion, 5000 m
Hiroto Inoue (Yamanashi Gakuin University) - 1:01:39 (Marugame Half 2014)
Shogo Nakamura …

World Championships Marathoner Nakazato Quits Daihatsu Team

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2014/02/18/kiji/K20140218007615820.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The Daihatsu women's corporate team, based in Ikeda, Osaka, announced on Feb. 18 that 2011 Daegu World Championships marathoner Remi Nakazato (25) will quit the team at the end of the month to become an amateur runner.  According to Daihatsu, the decision to leave the team was Nakazato's.  She plans to be based in her native Gunma Prefecture.

A graduate of Ota Shogyo High School in Gunma, Nakazato finished 12th in her debut marathon at the 2010 Nagoya International Women's Marathon.  At the 2011 Yokohama International Women's Marathon she was 2nd, going on to finish 10th at the Daegu World Championships and running her PB of 2:24:28 the following spring back in Nagoya.  She finished only 10th at last year's Yokohama.

Hattori Sets 30 km Collegiate National Record, Kawauchi Gets CR in Kumamoto

by Brett Larner
photos by t_tsuki

While Tokyo's Ome 30 km fell victim to the major snowstorm that hit the north half of Japan on Friday, the Kumanichi 30 km near the southernmost tip of the southern island of Kyushu picked up another piece of history on Sunday.

After a spectacular four-way battle last year saw a new course record of 1:29:31 from Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) and a university national record of 1:29:55 by Toyo University's Keita Shitara, this year's race was billed as a shot at Shitara's national record.  Over a half dozen of Japan's top collegiates, including 2014 Hakone Ekiden champion Toyo's Yuma Hattori and Ryu Takaku, 2013 National University Half Marathon champion Shogo Nakamura and outgoing team captain Shinobu Kubota of 2013 National University Ekiden champion Komazawa University, 2012 National University Half Marathon champion Toshikatsu Ebina (Teikyo Univ.) and ace Takumi Honda of 2012 Hakone winner Nittai University, lined u…

Gitau, Tanaka and Nishihara Take National Corporate Road Titles

by Brett Larner
photos by rikujolove

A month earlier than usual due to March's World Half Marathon Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, this year's 42nd running of the National Corporate Half Marathon and 10 km Championships was fast all around, with PB times from virtually everyone in the top in all three divisions.  The men's and women's half marathons played out with very similar plot lines.

In the men's race, Aoyama Gakuin University graduate Ryotaro Otani (Team Toyota Boshoku), running in a plain yellow Adidas sleeveless T-shirt and matching shorts and shoes after forgetting his kit bag at home, took the race out near 61-flat pace, frontrunning through 5 km before Kenyans Daniel Gitau (Team Fujitsu) and Jacob Wanjuki (Team Aichi Seiko) and 2014 New Year Ekiden national chmpion team Konica Minolta member Masato Kikuchi took over.  Gitau was quick to press ahead, opening a 25-second lead by 10 km with his teammate and 2013 national 5000 m champion Sota Hoshi (Tea…

American Tapia, Caught by Ome Cancellation, Says "I'll Never Forget This"

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20140215-OHT1T00233.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Due to heavy snowfall on Feb. 14, the organizers of the 48th Ome Road Race were unable to complete their preparations for the race and were forced to cancel it on Feb. 15.  Ome had previously been cancelled in 1996 and 2008, but this was the first time it was cancelled the day before the race.  With no substitute date on the schedule, the 49th running will take place next year on Feb. 15.  Invited elite athlete Daniel Tapia, 27, a member of the U.S.A. national team in the 2013 Moscow World Championships marathon, couldn't hide his surprise at how much snow fell.

Tapia was scheduled to run the 30 km at Ome.  In response to hearing that the news of the race's cancellation at around 9 a.m., he said, "And I came all the way to Japan to run...," his shoulders dropping in disappointment.  Tapia arrived in Japan on Feb. 13 and did a test run on the Ome course as snow fell…

Ome Road Race Cancelled Due to Difficulty of Clearing Heavy Snow From Course

http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASG2H315SG2HUTIL017.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The organizers of the Ome 30 km and 10 km Road Race, scheduled for Feb. 16 in western Tokyo's Ome area, have announced that the race has been cancelled due to the difficulty of clearing the heavy snow accumulation from yesterday's record-setting snowstorm from the course.  According to organizers, a total of 20,000 people were entered in the 10 km and 30 km divisions.  This year was to be Ome's 48th edition.  It has been cancelled due to snow twice before in its history, in 1996 and in 2008.

Current conditions in Ome:

https://twitter.com/Ome_aruaru/status/434654631998676992/photo/1

https://twitter.com/0300314/status/434465604930531328/photo/1

https://twitter.com/ssymg/status/434482889120419840/photo/1

https://twitter.com/chitbmp123/status/434487823052185600/photo/1


National Corporate Half Marathon Championships, a National Record Shot, Kawauchi's 2014 Marathon Debut and More - Weekend Preview

by Brett Larner

Three races fill out a busy weekend across Japan.  The biggest is the National Corporate Half Marathon Championships, bumped from its regular home in mid-March by this year's World Half Marathon Championships and serving as the last selection race for the men's and women's teams in Copenhagen.  Corporate-league Kenyans Jacob Wanjuki (Team Aichi Seiko) and Daniel Gitau (Team Fujitsu) for the top group of some of Japan's best current half-marathoners, including sub-62 men Takuya Fukatsu (Team Asahi Kasei), Yuki Iwai (Team Asahi Kasei), Tomoya Onishi (Team Asahi Kasei).  For the last few years it has taken a run into the all-time Japanese top ten to be the first Japanese man across the line at the Corporate Championships, and with Komazawa University junior Kenta Murayama having run an all-time #3 1:00:50 to make the Copenhagen team two weeks ago in Marugame it's a good bet that the best of the corporate system will be looking to go one better.  Click …

Kipruto, Worku, Gitau and Kawauchi Headline Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon

http://www.jiji.com/jc/c?g=spo_30&k=2014021300784
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/news/20140213-OYT1T01083.htm
http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2014/02/13/kiji/K20140213007581080.html
http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/p-sp-tp0-20140214-1257340.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On Feb. 13 the organizers of the Mar. 2 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon announced the sixteen invited elites for this year's 69th running.  Defending champion Vincent Kipruto (Kenya) returns, with his toughest overseas competition coming from 2:05:25 man Bazu Worku (Ethiopia) and 2012 Fukuoka International Marathon winner Joseph Gitau (Kenya/Team JFE Steel). 3rd at the most recent Fukuoka, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) leads the Japanese field along with his 2011 Daegu World Championships marathon teammate Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota).

Lake Biwa is a selection race for the Japanese national team for this fall's Asian Games marathon in South Korea.  Kawauchi's 2:09…