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The Greatest Day in Japanese Men's Marathoning History

This isn't going to be a race recap. Past Tokyo Marathon champs Dickson Chumba of Kenya and Birhane Dibaba of Ethiopia running smart races, working hard after 30 km to each score a second Tokyo title, Dibaba negative splitting her way to a 2:19:51 PB just 4 seconds off the course record and Chumba running away to win in 2:05:30. London World Championships bronze medalist Amy Cragg living up to her pre-race vow to make the top three in PB time, taking 3rd in 2:21:42. Cancer survivor Satoru Kasuya delivering his best performance since almost dying five years ago, an emotional 2:14:37 for 30th.

What this is about is today, the day, the one that's been coming. Yuta Shitara getting it right, strong, unafraid, in control when he needed to be, finding what he needed when it counted, breaking the 16-year-old Japanese national record in 2:06:11 and winning a million dollar bonus for it. But not just him. Hiroto Inoue, just as strong, just as in control, never giving up even when Shita…
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Hironaka and Nakaya Win National XC Junior Races, Kimura and Osako Take Senior Titles

Top-ranked high schoolers Ririka Hironaka (Nagasaki Shogyo H.S.) and Yuhi Nakaya (Saku Chosei H.S.) won the junior titles at Saturday's National Cross-Country Championships in Fukuoka's Umi no Nakamichi Kaihin Park.

With some of her main competition including Nozomi Tanaka (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) on a training camp in Australia, Hironaka's primary challenge in the U20 Women's 6 km came from Tomomi Musembi Takamatsu (Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S.) who pushed her throughout the race but couldn't keep up in the later stages. Hironaka won in 19:50 by a margin of 8 seconds over Takamatsu, the pair the only ones to break 20 minutes.

Nakaya, star runner of 2017 National High School Ekiden champ Saku Chosei H.S. with accomplishments including a 13:47.22 best for 5000 m last October, outclassed the field to win the U20 Men's 8 km in 24:05 by 12 seconds over Takuro Miura (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.). His Saku Chosei teammates Sakito Matsuzaki and Keita Honma took 3rd and 5th f…

Kipsang Talking Loud and Aga Mumbling Bold - Tokyo Marathon Preview

After stepping up to the big leagues last year with course records in the 2:03 and 2:19 range, the Tokyo Marathon hopes to go one better this year. Men's course record setter Wilson Kipsang (Kenya) is back, stepping up from a 2:03:50 prediction for Tokyo in January to a 2:02:50 world record prediction at Friday's pre-race press conference. In the unmentioned absence of women's course record breaker Sarah Chepchirchir the top-ranked woman is Ruti Aga (Ethiopia), coming in hot off a 1:06:39 win last month in Houston and turning heads at the press conference with a boldly mumbled 2:18:00 prediction.

Management for both Kipsang and Aga were skeptical to JRN of their athletes' predictions, people from each camp saying times two minutes slower would be more likely, one minute slower in a best-case scenario. But whatever the prediction, Kipsang was clear to fellow past champs Feyisa Lilesa (Ethiopia) and Dickson Chumba (Kenya) about one thing: he wants a more conservative fi…

Kenyans Kabuu, Jemeli and Cheyech Lead Nagoya Women's Marathon Field

The Nagoya Women's Marathon is the largest women-only marathon in the world, one with a long history as an elite race and adapting to the times with a mass-participation field of 20,000. The last few years it has seen a series of dynamic, high-level performances by top Japanese women, from Sairi Maeda's 2:22:48 in 2015 to the 2:23:19 to 2:23:20 sprint finish battle between Tomomi Tanaka and Rei Ohara in 2016 to Yuka Ando's stellar 2:21:36 debut and teammate Mao Kiyota's 2:23:47 breakthrough last year.

Maeda, Ohara and Kiyota all return this year to face the Kenyan trio of Lucy Kabuu, Valary Jemeli and Flomena Cheyech Daniel. Kabuu went to high school in Japan before moving on to the big leagues, but she hasn't finished a marathon since her 2:20:21 in Dubai 2015. Cheyech also used to be based in Japan as is a familiar face here, winning the last two Saitama International Marathons. Jemeli is making her Japanese debut, and with a 2:21:57 win in Prague and a 2:20:53 …

Kawauchi Takes Six Minutes Off Kitakyushu Marathon Course Record to Lead Weekend Results

After a seven-week break from the marathon, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) scored his third-straight marathon win, second-straight course record and came just shy of a third-straight negative split as he ran a completely solo 2:11:46 to take almost six minutes off the Kitakyushu Marathon course record. Following up on negative split wins at December's Hofu Yomiuri Marathon and January's Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, the latter a course record by half an hour, Kawauchi was on his own in the first 100 m in Kitakyushu and never looked back.

In the hilly first 10 km his pace fluctuated from high-2:12 to high-2:10, but once Kawauchi got into the flatter section of the course he settled out on track for a high-2:11 to low-2:12 time. After a 1:05:51 split at halfway he slowed slightly on the outbound trip to the turnaround near 31 km, but picking it up again after 35 km he marked a 6:34 from 40 km to the finish to stop the clock at 2:11:46,  a 1:05:55 second half …

Nikko Irohazaka Women's Ekiden Discontinued Due to Falling Participation

Organized by the city of Nikko every November since 2014, the all-uhill Nikko Irohazaka Women's Ekiden has been discontinued. Likewise, the mass-participation Nikko Highway Marathon running up Nikko's famous tree-lined Nikko-Utsunomiya Road has also been discontinued. For both races, participation rates have been lower than expected and on a downward trend.

According to organizers and the city government, the Nikko Irohazaka Women's Ekiden was created with the intention of it becoming a high-profile event for university women like the Hakone Ekiden is for university men, but fewer top-level universities than expected showed interest in running it. The number of teams peaked at 18 in 2015, but last year it fell to record low levels with only 13 teams from 12 schools.

The Nikko Highway Marathon was billed as featuring a course normally accessible only by car. The field size was set at a maximum of 8000, but in its first edition in 2014 it had only 3400 runners. This fell to…

Kobe Marathon Elevated to IAAF Bronze Label Status

The organizers of the Kobe Marathon announced on Feb. 13 that the race has been awarded IAAF Bronze Label status ahead of its 8th edition this November. The distinction is a mark of international recognition of the organizers' efforts to put on a world-class event that at last year's 7th running featured an international-quality elite field and was supported by 7500 volunteers. According to organizers and the JAAF, Kobe is the tenth event in Japan to acquire a label. It is the first mass-participation marathon without strict entry standards in Western Japan to earn the honor.

The IAAF awards three labels, Gold, Silver and Bronze, to marathons, half marathons and other road races. Requirements for label status include a specified number of international athletes in the elite field, strict anti-doping testing, adequate aid stations, and prompt publication of results and other information in English. Organizers cited the Gold Label London Marathon (U.K.), the Silver Label Daegu …