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Wanjiru Runs World-Leading Time to Break Oda Memorial 5000 m Meet Record

by Brett Larner

Kenyan Rosemary Wanjiru (Team Starts) bettered her own world leading marks to break the Oda Memorial Meet women's 5000 m meet record Saturday in Hiroshima.  With an early lead from Ethiopian Shuru Bulo (Team Toto), Wanjiru took over in the second half of the race to win in 15:11.48, two seconds under both the old meet record and her previous world leading mark from the Kanaguri Memorial Meet earlier this month.  Bulo also cleared the old meet record, 2nd in 15:12.13.  Tomoka Kimura (Team Universal Entertainment) was 3rd in 15:27.68, coming up short of the London World Championships qualifying standard.  Already the fifth-fastest Japanese high school ever, Shuri Ogasawara (Yamanashi Gakuin Prep H.S.) confirmed that position was a 15:31.46 to beat top university placer Natsuki Sekiya (Daito Bunka Univ.) by almost 10 seconds.  Sekiya led the qualifiers for the Japanese team for August's Taipei World University Games.

In the men's 5000 m, Rio Olympics 10000 m s…

An Update on Eastern European Women in Japan

by Brett Larner

Yesterday it was announced that Russian Albina Mayorova has received a four-year suspension after testing positive for elevated testosterone. Mayorova was a four-time winner of Japan's major women's marathons and a regular at the Tokyo Marathon. Her suspension follows that of a number of other Eastern European women to have won Japanese marathons in the last ten years, including Inga Abitova, Tatiana Aryasova, Mariya Konovalova, and Tetiana Gamera-Shmyrko, all five represented by Russian agent Andrey Baranov and his Spartanik agency. What impact have these and other women from former Soviet nations had on the domestic Japanese women's marathon circuit?

Below is a list of every time one has finished in the top three in one of Japan's five main women's marathons in the last 20 years plus other results by those who later tested positive. During this period, women from former Soviet nations have won Japanese marathons 21 times. Of those, thirteen were …

'Russian Marathon Runner Mayorova Banned for Doping’

http://www.wyff4.com/article/russian-marathon-runner-mayorova-banned-for-doping/9549591

Albina Mayorova won the 2005 and 2006 Nagano Marathon, the 2012 Nagoya Women's Marathon, and the 2013 Yokohama International Women's Marathon. The runners-up in Nagoya and Yokohama were Yoshimi Ozaki and Azusa Nojiri, both of whom had been coached by 1991 Tokyo World Championships silver medalist Sachiko Yamashita. Ozaki, the 2009 Berlin World Championships silver medalist, made the London Olympic team in Nagoya. A victory there might have put her in more of a winner's mindset going into the Olympic Games, where she ran badly. After not making the London Olympics Nojiri left the Daiichi Seimei corporate team to go the private sponsor route. A win in Yokohama would have had an enormous impact on her sponsorship opportunities and could have led to her running for Japan at the 2014 Asian Games.

At the time of Mayorova's Nagoya win over five years ago, JRN wrote:
Russian veteran Albina M…

Ndiku Over Tanui, a World-Leader From Ekarare, and More - Weekend Track Roundup

by Brett Larner

Along with the weekend's road action there were high-level track meets and time trials all across the country.  The biggest was the two-day Hyogo Relay Carnival in Kobe.  Highlights from Hyogo:

In Saturday's Asics Challenge men's 10000 m, Simon Kariuki (Nihon Yakka Univ.) ran 27:55.10 to outrun Hakone Ekiden star Dominic Nyairo (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) for the win.  Ken Yokote (Team Fujitsu) delivered the fastest Japanese time so far in 2017, running 28:04.51 for 3rd.  In his first race since running 1:00:57 at last month's United Airlines NYC Half, Kenta Murayama (Team Asahi Kasei) was 6th in 28:24.13.  Samuel Mwangi (Team Konica Minolta) stopped mid-race and was carried off the track on a stretcher.Two-time World Junior Championships gold medalist Jonathan Ndiku (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) outkicked Rio Olympic silver medalist Paul Tanui (Team Kyudenko) to win Sunday's Grand Prix men's 10000 m in 27:39.40.  Tanui was 2nd in 27:45.85, holding off 20…

Jepkosgei Breaks Gifu Seiryu Half Course Record

by Brett Larner

Just three weeks after her world record run at the Prague Half Marathon, Joyclinie Jepkosgei blew apart the Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon with one of the fastest women's half marathons ever run on Japanese soil.  Solo from the start, Jepkosgei hit 5 km in 15:08, just 12 seconds behind the second men's pack led by London World Championships marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't).  As in her WR run Jepkosgei faded progressively the rest of the way, but with a lead of over a minute at 10 km there was never any danger of her being caught.

Jepkosgei became the first woman to break 68 minutes in hilly Gifu, setting a new course record of 1:07:44.  Running the race a little more evenly, runner-up Belaynesh Oljira (Ethiopia) was also under the old course record, 2nd in 1:08:19.  London World Championships women's marathon team leader Yuka Ando (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) returned to the roads for the first time since her 2:21:36 debut at last month's Nagoya W…

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Marathon Japanese National Team Selection Policy

http://www.jaaf.or.jp/files/article/document/10127-0.pdf

translated by Brett Larner

April 18, 2017 Japan Association of Athletics Federations
1. Selection Policy

With the aim of winning medals at the Olympic Games, we will select a Japanese national team comprised of athletes who have demonstrated the capability to perform at the maximum of their abilities in key race situations and who possess the speed necessary to compete at the world level.

2. Selection Competitions

     ( 1 ) Marathon Grand Champion Race (referred to hereafter as MGC Race), scheduled to be held Sept. 2019 or later

     ( 2 ) MGC Series

          1 ) Men
               ・71st and 72nd Fukuoka International Marathon
               ・Tokyo Marathon 2018 and 2019
               ・73rd and 74th Biwako Mainichi Marathon                ・67th and 68th Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon
               ・Hokkaido Marathon 2017 and 2018
          2 ) Women
               ・3rd and 4th Saitama International Marathon
               ・37th…

Kurosawa and Osako Top Japanese Results at Boston Marathon

by Brett Larner

大迫選手、ボストンマラソンで2:10:28で3位。ボストンで日本人歴代3記録。Osako 2:10:28 debut for 3rd at #BostonMarathonpic.twitter.com/eP9AKOlteI — Japan Running News (@JRNHeadlines) April 17, 2017
Asian junior half marathon record holder Suguru Osako (Nike Oregon Project) made a successful transition to the marathon at the Boston Marathon, finishing 3rd in 2:10:28 in his debut over the distance.  Always hanging near the rear of the lead pack, Osako appeared relaxed and never stressed when the pace changed, taking his time in catching back up whenever one of the frontline men threw in a surge.  Osako lost touch during the final battle between eventual winner Geoffrey Kirui (Kenya) and NOP teammate Galen Rupp but pushed on to keep 3rd, Kirui breaking the tape in 2:09:37 and Rupp 2nd in 2:09:58.

Osako's 2:10:28 was the third-fastest ever by a Japanese man on the Boston course and made him just the second to break 2:11 in Boston after fellow Waseda University graduate Toshihiko Seko's 2:09:37 win…

On Osako in Boston

by Brett Larner

U.S.-based for the last few years as part of the Nike Oregon Project, Suguru Osako makes his marathon debut at tomorrow's Boston Marathon.  It's had the Japanese media and other critics clucking that the choice of Boston "goes against the conventional wisdom of Japanese long distance" and that Boston's one-way, net downhill course means that he's more likely to run a fast time but that it "won't count."  The idea that Boston is a waste of time for Japanese runners because it's not record-elligible is a relatively recent one.  There's a pretty good argument to be made that the era of Japan's greatest strength as a marathon power lined up reasonably well with when the best Japanese marathoners were regularly in Boston and winning or placing, that once the powers that be decided Boston was off-limits to the best due to the risk of "wasting" a good one on a record-inelligible course Japanese marathoners stopped …

Daichi Kamino Out of Gifu Seiryu Half With Achilles Injury After JAAF Marathon Training Camp

https://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20170414-00000013-sph-spo

translated by Brett Larner

Former Hakone Ekiden uphill star Daichi Kamino (23, Team Konica Minolta) has withdrawn from next week's Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon with pain in his right Achilles tendon after attending a JAAF marathon training camp in Nelson, New Zealand focused toward developing high-potential candidates for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics men's marathon team.  Kamino went to the training camp on Mar. 22 along with this year's Hakone Ekiden Second Stage winner Kengo Suzuki (21, Kanagawa Univ.) and other young talent.  Under JAAF direction they did marathon-specific training such as 50 km runs, but near the end of the camp Kamino sustained the injury.  He returned to Japan on Apr. 14 as originally scheduled.  Kamino will try to recover in time for his planned marathon debut at December's Fukuoka International Marathon.

Ito and Mutgaa Win Nagano Marathon

by Brett Larner

Sunny and unseasonably warm conditions meant slower than usual times at the Nagano Marathon's 19th running.  Racheal Jemutai Mutgaa took the women's race out in 17:55 for the first 5 km,  on track for a low 2:31, with early company from fellow Kenyan Mirriam Wangari and Ethiopian Fantu Eticha. By 10 km Mutgaa was on her own, sailing on unchallenged to win in 2:33:00. Wangari and Eticha stayed together until near 30 km when Eticha launched a surge that put her into 2nd.  Wangari responded and in turn opened on Eticha before 35 km, but by 40 km it had turned around one more time.  Eticha took 2nd in 2:37:10, Wangari 3rd over a minute behind in 2:38:29.  Aki Otagiri (Team Tenmaya) was the top Japanese woman at 4th in 2:41:26.

The men's pack went out comparatively slower, the large lead group running just sub-2:17 pace for the first 5 km before a breakaway surge from Tatsunori Hamasaki (Nanjo City Hall) and Junichi Shioya (Takigahara SDF Base) got things movi…

Fukuda Leads Mt. SAC Women's 5000 m

by Brett Larner

2017 national corporate road 10 km champion Yui Fukuda (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) dominated the women's 5000 m A-heat at Friday's Mt. SAC Relays, winning by 16 seconds in a PB of 15:23.48.  Her first time going under 15:30, Fukuda's time was a big step forward in quality but came up painfully short of the 15:22.00 standard for August's London World Championships.

Running for Boise State University, the U.S.-based Yusuke Uchikoshi also ran Mt. SAC, turning up in the collegiate 3000 m steeplechase.  Part of a three-way sprint finish, Uchikoshi came up 0.56 seconds short of the win as Emmanuel Rotich (Tulane Univ.) took the top spot in 8:48.32.  Uchikoshi was next in 8:48.88, just holding off Clayson Shumway (BYU) who was 3rd in 8:48.95.

Mt. SAC Relays
El Camino College, U.S.A., 4/13~15/17
click here for complete results

Women's 5000 m INV Elite
1. Yui Fukuda (Toyota Jidoshokki) - 15:23.48 - PB
2. Jessica Tonn (Brooks Beasts) - 15:39.46
3. Sasha Gollish (Uni…

Asian Junior Record Holder Osako Leads Japanese Contingent at Boston Marathon

by Brett Larner

Through two long-standing race partnerships, a group of sub-elite Japanese runners will again be part of this year's Boston Marathon field.  In the women's race, two-time Katsuta Marathon winner Kana Kurosawa (Team Hitachi) returns to Boston after running a PB 2:43:03 to win this year's Katsuta.  Making her marathon debut alongside Kurosawa is Ome 30 km Road Race winner Ami Utsunomiya (Canon AC Kyushu), with a 1:13:39 half marathon best at Feburary's Marugame Half Marathon.

On the men's side, Katsuta winner Hiroki Kai (Team Raffine) and 3rd-placer Kaito Iwasa (Chuo Univ.) will be running, Kai in his third marathon of the year following his Katsuta title in January and 2:18:07 PB in Tokyo in February. Earning his spot in Boston with a 5th-place finish in Ome and coached by two-time Boston winner Toshihiko Seko, Hiroki Sugawa (DeNA RC), will also line up in his second career marathon after debuting in 2:24:14 at the 2014 Gold Coast Airport Marathon i…

The Best of His Generation, Hyuga Endo Passes Over Hakone in Pursuit of Medal at Tokyo Olympics

https://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20170411-00000009-sph-spo

translated by Brett Larner

Long distance runner Hyuga Endo, 18, joined the Sumitomo Denko corporate team this month after graduating from Fukushima's Gakuho Ishikawa H.S.  Endo won the National Sports Festival 3000 m his first year of high school and the 5000 m both his second and third years.  A leading candidate to become the star of the next generation, Endo has suppressed the desire to run the Hakone Ekiden and instead chosen to go the corporate road in a quest "to win a medal" at the Tokyo Olympics.  Sumitomo Denko head coach Yasuyuki Watanabe, 43, is planning in the long-term, saying, "I want him to have a long career."

Wearing a brand-new suit, Endo took part in the company's entrance ceremony for new employees.  "I'm glad that's over," he laughed afterward. Thanks to a phenomenal last kick, Endo was undefeated at the National Sports Festival all three years of high school…

Oita Fire Department on Trying to Become First FD Team to Make the New Year Ekiden: "This is Our Big Chance"

http://www.oita-press.co.jp/1010000000/2017/04/11/JD0055648052

translated by Brett Larner

The Oita Fire Department ekiden team is targeting the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden corporate men's national championships.  Thanks to the Miyazaki-based Asahi Kasei team's win at the 2017 New Year Ekiden, the number of spots available at the 2018 race to Kyushu region teams will increase by one to eight teams.  "This is our big chance," said OFD head coach Masakazu Mishiro, 40.  Police Department and Self-Defense Force teams have made the New Year Ekiden in the past, but to date no Fire Department team has ever qualified.

To make it to the biggest stage in Japan it's a constant struggle to balance a busy work schedule and training.  The OFD team has around 20 members, half of them full-on serious runners who competed in university, and with the addition of three new members at the start of the fiscal year in April its strength has only grown.  Forming the team's core are star …

London World Championships Marathoners Kawauchi and Nakamoto Headline Sendai International Half Marathon

http://sp.kahoku.co.jp/tohokunews/201704/20170411_14037.html

translated by Brett Larner

The organizers of the 27th Sendai International Half Marathon on May 14 have announced the field of four domestic invited elite athletes.  Former Hakone Ekiden  star Masato Imai (33, Team Toyota Kyushu) and civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi (30, Saitama Pref. Gov't) top the list.

During his days at Juntendo University Imai was crowned "God of the Mountain" after winning the Hakone Ekiden's uphill Fifth Stage three years in a row.  In the marathon he went on to run 2:07:39 two years ago to become the sixth-fastest Japanese man ever.  He won the Sendai International Half Marathon for the first time last year.

Kawauchi is running Sendai for the sixth year in a row.  A member of the 2011 and 2013 World Championships marathon teams, Kawauchi won the bronze medal at the 2014 Asian Games.  Named to the 2017 London World Championships team alongside Kawauchi, Kentaro Nakamoto (34, Team Y…

National Champion Asahi Kasei Team Recruits Kenyans for First Time

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20170408-OHT1T50191.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

A long distance and marathon powerhouse, the 2017 New Year Ekiden national champion Asahi Kasei team has recruited Kenyan athletes for the first time. Surpassing even the 10000 m national record of 27:29.69 set by Asahi Kasei's Kota Murayama, 24, the pair of Kenyans includes a 32-year-old veteran who has run sub-27 and a young 23-year-old.  With experience coaching Kenyans at the Aisan Kogyo corporate team through the end of March, Isamu Sennai has also joined the Asahi Kasei staff in preparation for the Kenyans' arrival.

At this year's New Year Ekiden corporate men's national championships, 30 of the 37 teams in the field featured foreign athletes.  In the midst of such a field, Asahi Kasei scored the first win by a Japanese-only team in 18 years.  Founded in 1946, Asahi Kasei produced greats including twins Shigeru and Takeshi Soh, 1991 World Championships marathon gold m…

Weekend Overseas Road Race Roundup

by Brett Larner

Japanese runners turned up at three international races over the weekend.  Every year top-placing finishers at November's Ohtawara Marathon get send to the Paris Marathon.  Having turned down the 2016 trip after the Paris terror attacks, two-time Ohtawara women's winner Hiroko Yoshitomi went this time, taking 9th in 2:38:46 in her fifth marathon of 2017.  Men's winner Takahiro Gunji went under 2:20 for the first time, 21st in a PB 2:19:01 just behind Kansuke Morihashi, who took 20th in 2:18:22.

At the Hannover Marathon, Hideyuki Ikegami, a young independent who has received support from London Olympian Arata Fujiwara in recent years, made his marathon debut.  A 1:03:09 half marathoner, Ikegami came into Hannover with a 1:31:53 win at the Osaka 30 km in December and altitude training in Kenya with Fujiwara after that behind him, but despite starting out at an ambitious 2:10 pace Ikegami slowed progressively.  Between 25 and 30 km he ran into serious trouble,…

Muia Wins Japanese Debut in Setagaya

by Brett Larner

2017 Kenyan Prisons XC champion Bernard Muia (Team Toyota Boshoku) made a strong Japanese debut at Saturday's Setagaya Time Trials meet in western Tokyo, outrunning teammate Amos Kirui to win the 3000 m A-heat in a PB 7:50.68.  Kirui also set a PB, running 7:51.48.  Taking 3rd, former 1500 m and 5000 m national champion Yuichiro Ueno (DeNA RC) was a fraction of a section of his university-era PB dating back to 2006 as he ran 7:58.03.

Kenyan teammates also went 1-2 in the women's 3000 m A-heat.  Rosemary Wanjiru (Team Starts) ran one of the better times of her career to win in 8:51.61.  Her teammate Grace Kimanzi was well back in 2nd in 9:12.45, with high schooler Shuri Ogasawara (Yamanashi Gakuin Prep H.S.) not far behind in 3rd in 9:18.37.

The men's 5000 m A-heat turned out to be a Kenya-Ethiopia duel.  Up front, Alfred Ngeno (Team Nissin Shokuhin) took 1st in 13:35.29 less than half a second ahead of Abiyot Abinet (Team Yachiyo Kogyo).  Futher back, Rodge…

Women's Marathon Program to Do Summer Training in Tokyo to Work on Hydration and Other Issues

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/1803811.html

translated by Brett Larner

On Apr. 6 the JAAF announced that it will hold a women's marathoning development training camp within Tokyo in late August.  Looking toward the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the camp will be held in similar summer heat and will focus on exploring hydration timing and other measures for dealing with the hot conditions.  Long distance runs will be carried out as part of the camp starting at around 7:00 a.m., the expected start time of the Olympic marathon.  The brains behind the project, JAAF women's marathoning development coach Sachiko Yamashita commented, "You can't get experience running in heat without daring to actually do it.  We have to try everything that we can."

World Record Breaker Jepkosgei Leads Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon Elite Field

by Brett Larner

In its seventh edition the Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon celebrates its promotion to its new status as the only IAAF gold label half marathon in Japan with a move a month earlier to a hopefully cooler mid-April date.  Newly-crowned women's half marathon world record holder Joyciline Jepkosgei (Kenya) leads the women's entries for what should be an easy win should she actually run another half marathon three weeks after breaking the world record.  Mimi Belete (Bahrain) and London World Championships marathon team member Yuka Ando (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) are the only other women in the field with recent sub-70 times, Belete with a 1:09:15 earlier this year in Verona and Ando with a 1:09:51 at the 2015 Sanyo Ladies Road Race.  Ando's London teammate Mao Kiyota (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) is also on the short women's list rounded out by Sara Hall (U.S.A.), Belaynesh Oljira (Ethiopia), Lillian Partridge (Great Britain) and formerly Japan-based Philes Ongori (Kenya).

201…

Former Hakone Star Benjamin Ngandu Looking at Japanese Citizenship

https://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20170405-01802669-nksports-spo

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Will a man born in the marathon kingdom of Kenya be the one to save the sadly depleted Japanese marathon scene???  On April 4 Benjamin Ngandu (25, Team Fujitsu), well-rememberd for passing 12 people on the way to winning the Hakone Ekiden's ultracompetitive Second Stage his senior year at Nihon Univesity, revealed that he is exploring obtaining Japanese citizenship. Speaking about the 2020 Tokyo Olympics during an interview in Chiba on the occasion of his joining the Fujitsu corporate team, Ngandu, a longtime Japan resident, said, "I'm thinking about whether to run for Kenya or the Japanese team."  He plans to make a final decision by 2018.  If he chooses Japan he could become a totally outside-the-box catalyst that nobody could have foreseen for the revitalization of Japanese men's marathoning.

Translator's note: With the Project Exceed million dollar bonus…

Nagano Marathon Elite Field

by Brett Larner

The organizers of the Nagano Marathon have announced their IAAF bronze label elite field for next week's 19th edition.  Japan-based Mongolian national record holder Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Team NTN), serial marathoner Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) fresh off a PB 2:10:52 at February's Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, and, newly relocated from the corporate leagues to a civil servant runner position in Okinawa, Tatsunori Hamasaki (Nanjo City Hall) top the men's field.  Kenyans Henry Sugut and Cyrus Njui, Ugandan Moses Kibet and debuting Eritrean Okubay Tsegay provide the veneer of internationalism, Sugut the strongest of the lot with a 2:06:58 PB and a recent best of 2:12:40.  Nagano has only had a Japanese male winner once in its history, Yuki Kawauchi's 2013 title, but a solid run from Ito or Hamasaki could be enough to add another to the record books.

It's true that only one Japanese woman has won Nagano as well, but that doesn't look likely to change…

Ryuji Kashiwabara on Retirement

http://f-trackfield.cocolog-nifty.com/blog/2017/04/post-6808.html

translated by Brett Larner



Future 2:07 marathoner Masato Imai was the first modern star of Japan's biggest sporting event, the two-day Hakone Ekiden university men's road relay, the first to earn the moniker "God of the Mountain" for annihilating preconceptions of what was possible on Hakone's brutal uphill Fifth Stage. But nobody catalyzed and symbolized the birth of the modern university ekiden and everything associated with it, the transformation of college kids into national celebrities, more than the man who replaced him, Ryuji Kashiwabara.

As a first-year at Toyo University Kashiwabara caught national attention when, pre-debut at the 2009 Hakone Ekiden, he said with calm but brash self-assurance that he was going to break Imai's Fifth Stage record.  And the entire country watched open-mouthed as he did it, the sight of him crying as he ran the last kilometer still etched in the minds and he…