Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from January, 2016

The Kayoko Show: Fukushi One Step Closer to Rio - Osaka International Women's Marathon and Osaka Half Marathon Results

by Brett Larner

At last.

Eight years after Osaka knocked her to the ground, age 33, her last chance for the Olympics before her, Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) finally threw aside the half-assed smirk, the waving, the smile, the shell of cool aloofness that has surrounded her in just about every race in memory, bearing down in a race that mattered, through halfway in 1:10:28 in a race where she had to run sub-2:22:30, wearing down the lead pack, alone after 30 km, no Eastern Europeans to steal the win and break her heart again, a gaunt, gritting, from the heart expression never before seen on her face as she came onto the track, gunning it when her coach lied to her and told her she was 5 seconds behind target, crossing the line in 2:22:17 and turning to check the clock before pumping her first in the air and shouting, "I DID IT!"  Longtime TV announcer and L.A. Olympian Akemi Masuda weeping on the air.  And crying too, Kayoko Fukushi, crying on the track.  Never seen before.  …

Igarashi Breaks Katsuta Marathon Course Record

by Brett Larner

29-year-old Shingo Igarashi, a former Subaru corporate runner now working as an assistant coach for Josai University's Hakone Ekiden team, ran a PB 2:13:15 to break the 16-year-old course record at the 64th edition of the Katsuta Marathon, one of Japan's biggest marathons.  Igarashi and Naoki Inoue ran alone out front of the field, accompanied a short way by veteran corporate runner Norio Kamijo, but Igarashi, running his third marathon in just over two months, proved to have the best command of the course's hilly sections as he dropped both competitors to seal the win.  Igarashi's time was a PB by 31 seconds and took over a minute and a half off the 2:14:54 course record.  Inoue just missed joining him under the record, taking 2nd in a solid 2:15:05, with Kamijo fading to 2:20:15 for 3rd.

The women's race saw local Hitachi corporate runners go 1-2, Kana Kurosawa getting the win in 2:43:40 over teammate Yuka Mikami, who ran 2:46:22.  Just behind Mik…

The Kayoko Show: Long-Term Consequences of Agonistic Interactions Between Lobsters, and the Osaka Women's Marathon

by Brett Larner

Back during my time at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, at the urging of Dr. David Bodznick I attended a lecture by the great Harvard University neurobiologist Dr. Edward Kravitz on social interaction and competitive behavior between lobsters, and its underlying biochemistry.  "Aggression is a nearly universal feature of the behavior of social animals," Dr. Kravitz said.  He explained how lobsters have a complex social hierarchy based on individual interactions, how when two lobsters meet for the first time they go through a ritualistic series of increasingly aggressive fight behaviors to establish a winner and a loser.  Once that dichotomy is established it doesn't change.  The winner remembers that it is a winner, the loser that it is a loser, they don't forget that relationship, and those roles affect their future chances of winning and losing against other lobsters.  "Memory of status lasts longer in losers of fights than in wi…

Kumanichi 30 km Road Race Elite Field

http://kumanichi.com/fsports/marathon/2016/kiji/20160116001.xhtml
http://kumanichi.com/fsports/marathon/2016/kiji/20160127001.xhtml

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The organizers of the 5th Kumamoto-jo Marathon have announced the elite field for the Feb. 21 Kanaguri Memorial Kumanichi 30 km Road Race, held alongside the Kumamoto-jo Marathon as its elite race. Celebrating Kumanichi's 60th anniversary running, this year’s elite men’s field features strong young athletes who made an impact on the competitive Third and Fourth Stages at the New Year Ekiden corporate men’s national championships on Jan. 1. With university runners having won Kumanichi the last two years the corporate runners’ battle to get back on top will be one of the main draws this year.

The fresh young corporate league contingent is led by two members of the New Year Ekiden runner-up team Konica Minolta, Masato Kikuchi and Keita Shitara, along with local Chiharadai H.S. graduate Kento Otsu of New Year Ekiden 3…

Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon Elite Field

by Brett Larner

The proving ground marathon in Japan's Eugene, Athlete Town Nobeoka's Nishi Nippon Marathon hosts its 54th running on Feb. 14.  Proving among other things that change can come even to the most conservative parts of Japan, for the second year in a row Nobeoka will feature a women's field, small and entry-level but still a sign of positive change.  Like the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon a week earlier, Nobeoka's men's field suffers a bit in the face of the Olympic selection races at Tokyo and Lake Biwa just a few weeks later, but it does feature a large lineup of promising first-timers who should help fulfill Nobeoka's original purpose as the race where future marathoners are made.

The local Asahi Kasei team fields the top three entrants.  Its Ryoichi Matsuo and Taiki Yoshimura lead the way with recent bests of 2:12:11 and 2:13:12, but the most exciting on the list is Asahi Kasei's Fumihiro Maruyama, 1:29:34 at the 2013 Kumanichi 30 km and 1:01…

Aichi Men Make it a National Title Double - National Men's Ekiden Results

by Brett Larner
video highlights courtesy of race broadcaster NHK

The men of Aichi returned from the embarrassment of disqualification for an illegal handoff at last year's National Men's Ekiden to join their women and seal a double national title Sunday in Hiroshima.  Like the women's race last weekend, the National Men's Ekiden featured teams from each of Japan's 47 prefectures, each made up of top junior high school, high school, university and pro runners representing their home ground.

On-and-off snow meant shifting conditions throughout the seven-stage, 48.0 km race.  With corresponding ups and downs in the pacing, the 7.0 km high schooler First Stage was a bloodbath with three separate falls involving at least four teams.  Undefeated against other Japanese runners in the 2015-16 school year, Hyuga Endo (Fukushima) waited until the final sprint to take the lead, handing off 1 second ahead of more well-known rival Shota Onizuka (Fukuoka).  Gunma prefecture too…

Two-Time Olympian Hanada to Step Down as Jobu University Head Coach

http://www.jomo-news.co.jp/ns/2014532978453725/news.html
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20160121-00000179-sph-spo

translated and edited by Brett Larner

After leading Jobu University to eight-straight Hakone Ekiden appearances, head coach Katsuhiko Hanada, 44, has announced that he will step down from his position and leave Jobu University at the end of March following the end of the academic year.  In an interview with the Jomo Newspaper coach Hanada said, "In the future I would like to continue to be involved with developing athletes," but he declined to discuss the reason for his resignation or his specific future plans. Jobu finished last at this year's Hakone Ekiden.

During his time as an athlete at Waseda University Hanada set the stage record on the Hakone Ekiden's Fourth Stage, contributing to Waseda's overall win.  At the S&B corporate team he ran the 10000 m at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and 2000 Sydney Olympics.  After his retirement as an athlete H…

Japan Surpasses U.S. as World's Largest Amateur Marathon Market

by Brett Larner

For more than 50 years the United States has led the world as its largest amateur marathon market, more people from around the world finishing marathons in the U.S. than in any other country.  Always a strong home for elite marathoning, the launch of the Tokyo Marathon in 2007 sparked an incredible amateur running boom in Japan that coincided with a worldwide growth in the popularity of marathons.  The Association of Road Racing Statisticians website tracks the number of marathon finishers by country worldwide, listing all marathons with results it can document.  Below are the total number of marathon finishers worldwide, in the U.S.A. and in Japan over the last ten years using the ARRS numbers.  Totals are number of finishers, not number of unique individuals to finish.  Chinese and Korean races are relatively under-documented. 


During the ten years from 2006 to 2015 the number of marathon finishers worldwide more than doubled from more than a million to well over tw…

Tokyo Marathon Elite Field

by Brett Larner

Hot on the heels of Tuesday's announcement of the elite men's field for April's London Marathon comes the Tokyo Marathon's release of the men's and women's fields for its tenth running at the end of February.  Sporting six men recently under sub-2:06, the world record holder, 2015 world champion and reigning winners of four of the six World Marathon Majors, on paper London's field may be sexier up front than Tokyo's, but with defending Olympic gold medalist Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda), 2015 Chicago Marathon and 2014 Tokyo Marathon winner Dickson Chumba (Kenya), a raft of recent WMM top-3 placers including Kiprotich, Emmanuel Mutai (Kenya), Eliud Kiptanui (Kenya), and Feyisa Lilesa (Ethiopia), two-time defending Amsterdam Marathon winner Bernard Kipyego (Kenya) and the one thing none of the other WMM can deliver, a world-class domestic field, Tokyo more than holds its own.  For the last two years Tokyo has produced more gold label men'…

Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon Elite Field

by Brett Larner

For its 70th edition the Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon has wheeled out another quality field of top-level domestic elites peppered with an international seasoning to meet IAAF labelling requirements.  Like the United States' Houston Half Marathon, Marugame is a surprisingly fast race where many run lifetime bests they never approach again, enough of them to set world records for depth.  For Japanese men this year it serves as one of the selection races for the 2016 World Half Marathon team while for the women it's simply a day at the races.

Five athletes with recent sub-70 marks make up the top tier in the women's race.  2014 Asian Games gold medalist Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) leads the way with a best of 1:08:31, followed closely by Diane Nukuri (Burundi) and the top female Japanese half marathoner of 2015, Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya).  Just under the 70-minute mark with PBs at December's Sanyo Ladies' Half are the promising Yuka Ando (Suzu…

2016 Japanese Distance Rankings

Updated 12/26/16

JRN's 2016 Japanese track and road distance running rankings. Overall rankings are calculated using runners' times and placings in races over 5000 m, 10000 m, half-marathon and marathon and the strength of these performances relative to others in the top ten in each category. Unlisted distances will be added as the season progresses. Click any image to enlarge.


Past years:2015 ・ 2014 ・ 2013 ・ 2012 ・ 2011

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Miwa and Higuchi Win Okukuma Half Marathon

by Brett Larner
videos by you?_yu

奥球磨ロードレース ハーフマラソンスタート❗️ pic.twitter.com/a2lwQy6OGy — you?_yu (@murasuyu) January 17, 2016
In cold conditions corporate runners Shintaro Miwa (Team NTN) and Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) turned in winning runs at the 4th edition of the Okukuma Road Race half marathon in Kumamoto.  In the men's race Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) did most of the leading, pushing the first 10 km through in 30:06 and gradually shaving down the lead pack from 20 to 7.  In the final kilometers he and Miwa broke away, but with a course record win at last weekend's Ibusuki Nanohana Marathon still in his legs Kawauchi couldn't match the fresher Miwa.  Miwa broke the tape in 1:03:58 with Kawauchi two seconds back.  Yuya Ito (Team Toyota) was 3rd in 1:04:06.

奥球磨ハーフゴール pic.twitter.com/20Sds3KEyl — you?_yu (@murasuyu) January 17, 2016
Reflecting Kumamoto's conservative reputation, in its first three runnings the Okukuma Road Race limited women to 5 km with hi…

Suzuki Delivers on Anchor Stage for Aichi Prefecture's First-Ever National Women's Ekiden Win

by Brett Larner
video highlights courtesy of broadcaster NHK

One of the only bright lights for Japanese long distance at last summer's Beijing World Championships, 2015 national corporate 10000 m champion Ayuko Suzuki delivered an incredible anchor run in Kyoto on Sunday, making up more than a minute and a half over 10 km to give Aichi its first-ever National Women's Ekiden title.  The peak of the women's ekiden season, the National Women's Ekiden features teams from each of Japan's 47 prefectures all made up of top local junior high school, high school, university, club and pro runners.

The race got off the track start and onto the roads safely without any falls, but a few km into the 6.0 km First Stage Naoko Koizumi (Niigata), a stage record setter at last month's National Corporate Women's Ekiden, tripped in the front row and went down.  The lead pack went by before Koizumi could get to her feet, but she quickly shot back to the front row in time for the …

Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee Calls WADA Report of Sponsorhip Payments to IAAF "Different From Our Understanding"

http://www.jiji.com/jc/zc?k=201601/2016011500412&g=spo
http://www.jiji.com/jc/zc?k=201601/2016011500418&g=spo

translated by Brett Larner

In response to a statement in a report published by WADA on Jan. 14 saying that Tokyo had paid sponsorship money to the IAAF and others during its bid for the 2020 Olympic Games, Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee spokesperson Hikariko Ono expressed the committee's view that, "What is written [in the report] represents is different from our understanding."  Ono stressed the legitimacy of Tokyo's bid activities, saying, "The plans Tokyo presented were evaluated as the best and that is why the IOC Assembly selected them."

Former JAAF director Katsuyuki Tanaka, who served on the IAAF Council from 2007 until last summer, commented, "There's no doubt that former president [Lamine] Diack was sympathetic to Tokyo from the start, but I don't think what they have written is true."  With a large number of its co…

Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon Elite Field

by Brett Larner

The 65th Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon has announced the elite field for its 65th running on Feb. 7.  Coming just before the second and third selection races for Japan's Olympic marathon team it's small up front but features a solid mid-pack of relatively young runners including some good first-timers.

Evans Ruto (Kenya) leads the internationals with a 2:08:55 at last year's Gold Coast Airport Marathon, with competition from sub-2:10 men Hailu Shume (Ethiopia) and Anthony Maritim (Kenya).  Japan-based Ethiopian Melaku Abera (Team Kurosaki Harima), the course record holder at Oita's Half Marathon, is scheduled to debut and should be another to watch.

On the home front, Kenichi Shiraishi (Team Asahi Kasei) is the only Japanese man on the list sub-2:11 recently with a 2:10:36 in Beppu-Oita two years ago.  High-volume marathoner Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) follows close behind with a 2:11:15 in Tokyo in 2013.  Most interesting among the debuting Japanese …

The Shape of Things to Come: Hakone, Where Things Are and Where They're Going

by Brett Larner
special thanks to Dr. Helmut Winter for assistance with graphics

The Hakone Ekiden, Japan's most watched, most loved, most prestigious road race, grabbed my attention when I first moved to Japan in the late 90's.  I started JRN in the summer of 2007 at the time of the Osaka World Championships, and from the beginning one of its main focuses has been trying to make this race, one that I've come to believe stands next to the Boston Marathon and Comrades ultramarathon as one of the world's three great races, visible and understandable to an outside world that for the most part had never heard of it before.  It's starting to take hold; in the lead-up to and after Aoyama Gakuin University's successful title defense at last week's 2016 Hakone Ekiden, print and web publications in Germany, Poland, Italy, the U.S., the U.K. and elsewhere picked up on JRN's work with coverage of this year's race, one Norwegian journalist even travelling to J…