Sunday, December 4, 2016

Tsegay Over Makau for Fukuoka Win, Miracle-Worker Kawauchi 3rd

complete report coming shortly

70th Fukuoka International Marathon
Fukuoka, 12/4/16
click here for splits, results and photos

1. Yemane Tsegay (Ethiopia) - 2:08:48
2. Patrick Makau (Kenya) - 2:08:57
3. Yuki Kawauchi (Japan/Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 2:09:11
4. Hayato Sonoda (Japan/Kurosaki Harima) - 2:10:40 - PB
5. Amanuel Mesel (Eritrea) - 2:10:48
6. Henryk Szost (Poland) - 2:10:53
7. Reid Coolsaet (Canada) - 2:10:55
8. Dmytro Baranovskyy (Ukraine) - 2:11:39
9. Yared Asmerom (Eritrea/SEISA) - 2:11:57
10. Kazuhiro Maeda (Japan/Kyudenko) - 2:12:19
11. Melaku Abera (Ethiopia/Kurosaki Harima) - 2:12:43
12. Hiroki Yamagishi (Japan/GMO Athletes) - 2:12:44
13. Michael Githae (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:12:59
14. Chiharu Takada (Japan/JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:13:27
-----
DNF - James Kwambai (Kenya)

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Friday, December 2, 2016

Kawauchi Determined to Run Fukuoka - "Everyone is Telling Me Not To"

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20161202-00000125-spnannex-spo
http://www.sankei.com/west/news/161202/wst1612020056-n1.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The civil servant runner is dead set on starting.

The top invited athletes for Sunday's 70th anniversary Fukuoka International Marathon, a selection race for the Japanese team for next summer's London World Championships, appeared at a press conference in Fukuoka on Dec. 2. Yuki Kawauchi (29, Saitama Pref. Gov't), the fastest Japanese man so far in 2016, was passionate as he said, "When I was worried about whether to run or not everyone around me was telling me, 'Don't do it.'  But that's not what this is about.  I want to run the best I can, to finish even one place higher, one second faster."

Kawauchi injured his right calf while training on Nov. 12.  In his final tuneup race for Fukuoka, the Nov. 20 Ageo City Half Marathon, he could do nothing more than a slow jogging pace.  "I don't know what I can do in Fukuoka," he said.  "How far can you go on limited training?  It will be very tough."  But even so, he is determined to stand on the starting line.  "I don't want to be selected," he said.  "My goal is to compete."  For Kawauchi, the London World Championships will be his last time trying to make a Japanese national team. The civil servant runner will be on the attack for one last chance to wear the Rising Sun on the big stage.

Click here for JRN's Fukuoka International Marathon preview.  Follow @JRNLive for race day coverage.

'Reid Coolsaet: "Not Sure I'm in Shape" to Break Canadian Marathon Mark'

http://www.cbc.ca/sports/olympics/summer/trackandfield/reid-coolsaet-fukuoka-marathon-preview-1.3877249

Feeling the Weight of 70 Years - Fukuoka International Marathon Preview

by Brett Larner

This Sunday the Fukuoka International Marathon celebrates its 70th running.  Once upon a time playing the role of the men's marathon world championships in a day before there were World Championships, Fukuoka has seen its importance worldwide dwindle in the face of modernity and the changes it has brought in the sport.  It still manages to put together good-quality, interesting fields from a spectrum of nationalities, but it has been a while since Fukuoka could really pull in the type of talent who now head to the World Marathon Majors.  On the home front too, despite serving as the first of three main selection races for Japanese national teams at the major international championships, its timing a bit less than four weeks before the increasingly important New Year Ekiden corporate men's national championships means that more and more top level Japanese man now pass it over in favor of February's Tokyo Marathon or March's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon. Fukuoka has looked at moving to a February date, and with additional pressure from the new mass-participation Fukuoka Marathon held just three weeks earlier its historical position is increasingly precarious.  But change doesn't come easy, especially with the inertia of 70 years of history behind it.

The field up front reflects these issues.  The marquee athlete this year is 2015 World Championships silver medalist Yemane Tsegay (Ethiopia), who along with 2014-15 Fukuoka winner Patrick Makau (Kenya) and James Kwambai (Kenya) has run under 2:05 in the past but nowhere near that in the last few years. Makau has the best recent time with his 2:08:18 Fukuoka win last year, but has DNFd in two of his last three marathons.  Another win would make him just the third man to win Fukuoka three years in a row after legends Frank Shorter and Toshihiko Seko.  Barring a spectacular debut from last year's sub-60 Marugame Half winner Paul Kuira (Kenya/Team Konica Minolta) or an equally spectacular second marathon from Tariku Bekele (Ethiopia) it looks likely to be a 2:08 race, maybe 2:07 if all goes well.  There's no shortage of other people like Amanuel Mesel (Eritrea) around the 2:08 level, but even a 2:07 falls short of the JAAF's sub-2:07 requirement for the London World Championships team.

The JAAF is saying that it might not send complete three-runner teams to London if people don't run fast enough, but who in the domestic field has the potential to run that kind of time?  Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) is the fastest Japanese man this year with a 2:09:01 at July's Gold Coast Airport Marathon, but a calf injury three weeks ago has seriously eaten into his preparations and it would take a miracle for him to be competitive.  Tomoya Adachi (Team Asahi Kasei) is the only other Japanese man in the field to have broken 2:10 in the last three years, barely, with a 2:09:59 in Fukuoka two years ago.  Chiharu Takada (Team JR Higashi Nihon) was the next Japanese man behind Kawauchi at Gold Coast in 2:10:43 and has run 2:10 marathons four times without being able to break through.  Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) has the best PB among the Japanese men, 2:08:00, but his fastest marathon in the last three years is only a 2:11:46 last year at Lake Biwa and a terrible performance at September's Great North Run was not encouraging.

The depth of Japanese distance running means that people can and often do unexpectedly drop breakthrough performances, so there is a good chance the top Japanese man could be a relative unknown.  But without at least a 2:08 there's an equally good chance the JAAF may play hardball and leave him home next summer.  Not having its top man on the team could only hurt Fukuoka's position.  Regardless of how fast it goes Fukuoka almost always delivers an interesting race, and this year looks more unpredictable than usual. Conditions are looking good right now so let's hope for the best.  Follow @JRNLive for English-language coverage during the live TV broadcast starting at 12:10 p.m. Japan time.

70th Fukuoka International Marathon Elite Field
Fukuoka, 12/4/16
click here for complete field listing
times listed are best within last 3 years except where noted
last-minute withdrawal announcements pending

Yemane Tsegay (Ethiopia) - 2:06:51 (Daegu 2014)
James Kwambai (Kenya) - 2:07:38 (Seoul 2014)
Patrick Makau (Kenya) - 2:08:18 (Fukuoka Int'l 2015)
Amanuel Mesel (Eritrea) - 2:08:18 (Warsaw 2015)
Henryk Szost (Poland) - 2:08:55 (Warsaw 2014)
Joseph Gitau (Kenya/JFE Steel) - 2:09:00 (Fukuoka Int'l 2013)
Yuki Kawauchi (Japan/Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 2:09:01 (Gold Coast 2016)
Benjamin Ngandu (Kenya/Monteroza) - 2:09:18 (Tokyo 2015)
Melaku Abera (Ethiopia/Kurosaki Harima) - 2:09:27 (Beppu-Oita 2016)
Yared Asmerom (Eritrea/SEISA) - 2:09:41 (Tokyo 2015)
Cuthbert Nyasango (Zimbabwe) - 2:09:52 (Prague 2014)
Tomoya Adachi (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 2:09:59 (Fukuoka Int'l 2014)
Chiharu Takada (Japan/JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:10:03 (Fukuoka Int'l 2014)
Reid Coolsaet (Canada) - 2:10:28 (Berlin 2015)
Yoshiki Otsuka (Japan/Aichi Seiko) - 2:11:40 (Fukuoka Int'l 2014)
Kazuhiro Maeda (Japan/Kyudenko) - 2:11:46 (Biwako 2015)
Noriaki Takahashi (Japan/DeNA) - 2:12:00 (Fukuoka Int'l 2014)
Hiroki Yamagishi (Japan/GMO Athletes) - 2:12:27 (Tokyo 2016)
Dmytro Baranovskyy (Ukraine) - 2:12:40 (Warsaw 2014)
Ryo Ishita (Japan/SDF Academy) - 2:13:52 (Nobeoka 2014)
Bunta Kuroki (Japan/Yasukawa Denki) - 2:14:27 (Warsaw 2014)
Michael Githae (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:14:29 (Shizuoka 2016)
Sho Matsumoto (Japan/Nikkei Business Service) - 2:14:54 (Osaka 2014)
Kenta Iinuma (Japan/SGH Group) - 2:15:05 (Biwako 2014)
Saeki Makino (Japan/DNP Logistics) - 2:15:22 (Seoul 2015)
Tomoya Shirayanagi (Japan/Toyota Boshoku) - 2:15:56 (Shizuoka 2016)

Trying Again
Tariku Bekele (Ethiopia) - 1:01:39 (Great North Run Half Marathon 2014)
Aritaka Kajiwara (Japan/Atsugi T&F Assoc) - 1:02:45 (Takanezawa Half Marathon 2016)

Debut
Paul Kuira (Kenya/Konica Minolta) - 59:47 (Marugame Half Marathon 2015)
John Kariuki (Kenya/Hiramatsu Byoin) - 28:38.16 for 10000 m, Hokuren DC Abashiri 2016)

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Thursday, December 1, 2016

With Large Way to Go to Overtake Japan, Chinese Media Asks How Far Behind China is in the Marathon

http://www.excite.co.jp/News/chn_soc/20161201/Recordchina_20161201005.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On Nov. 29 the Chinese media outlet Tencent published a column examining why China is not the equal of Japan in the marathon.  At the Nov. 20 Ageo City Half Marathon in Saitama, Japan, 196 men, all Japanese and most university students, ran faster than 1 hour 6 minutes.  No Chinese men have cleared that time this year.  Even going back two years, only a total of two have done it.

According the the Tencent column, Japan far surpasses China in distance running because "Japan's running boom has been happening for 40 years, and what keeps its fire lit is its women.  A large number of housewives run to relieve stress, and it is said that a sport that tests patience and mental power like the marathon is ideal for the Japanese woman.  On the other hand, few Chinese women run to relieve stress, with many instead involved in community plaza dances, large groups of middle-aged women who dance together in parks.

The article also pointed to inadequate physical education programs as part of school curricula, the relatively small number of races and the lack of interest and participation in them.  Sounding a positive note about current trends, however, it said, "As health awareness increases within China, its running boom is also expanding.  The marathon is becoming a popular sport for Chinese people but the difference with Japan is still considerable."

Translator's note:  As JRN documented earlier this year, China has grown into the world's third-largest marathon market behind Japan and the United States.  While it is still far behind the two leaders in terms of quality and quantity it will be no surprise to see it overtake both in the foreseeable future. The Abbott World Marathon Majors have already discussed adding a Chinese race, either the Beijing Marathon or Shanghai Marathon, to the series to reflect the growth in an economically important and rapidly developing market.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

46 Heats of 5000 m in 14 Hours This Sunday at Nittai University Time Trials

by Brett Larner

Yokohama's Nippon Taiiku University, Nittai for short, is the site of Japan's biggest long distance track time trial series.  Held eight or nine weekends a year, Saturdays typically feature everything except the men's 5000 m, sometimes including middle distance but usually men's and women's 3000 m, women's 5000 m and men's 10000 m races.  Sundays are usually devoted exclusively to the men's 5000 m, and this Sunday's 255th edition may set a new record for sheer organizational ability.

Heat 1 begins at 7:30 a.m. sharp.  Fourteen hours and four minutes later, the fastest heat, Heat 46, is scheduled to start at 9:34 p.m.  46 heats with 45~55 runners apiece finely graded by target time, starting under 19 minutes apart on average.  Near the end of the day that's down to 17 minutes apart.  There's zero room for error on the organizers' side, but you can be sure that it will go off with the same clockwork precision as the Tokyo train system.  You can be sure too that there will be zero sympathy for runners who don't know exactly where and when they are supposed to be.  Let's hope that Nittai University shares its logistical acumen with the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee over the next three and a half years.  So far it looks like they need it.

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Monday, November 28, 2016

Karemi Wins Third-Straight Kumamoto Kosa 10-Miler, Kamino Over Imai and Kashiwabara for 2nd

http://www.daily.co.jp/general/2016/11/28/0009704327.shtml

translated and edited by Brett Larner


The 41st running of the Kumamoto Kosa 10 Mile Road Race took place Nov. 27 on a course starting and finishing in front of Kosa Town Hall.  Two-time winner Jeremiah Karemi Thuku (Team Toyota Kyushu) made it three-straight wins as he braved cold and rainy conditions to break the tape in 46:19.

All three of the Hakone Ekiden uphill Fifth Stage's superstar "Gods of the Mountain" raced, with the most recent of the troika, 2016 Aoyama Gakuin University graduate Daichi Kamino (Team Konica Minolta) outrunning the first runner to bear that title, Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu), by 8 seconds for 2nd.  Toyo University graduate Ryuji Kashiwabara (Team Fujitsu) dropped out partway.

The showdown went to the youngest of the three.  In just his first pro season, Kamino was elated to have beaten the original God of the Mountain Imai, who has gone on to great success in the marathon with a 2:07:39 at last year's Tokyo Marathon.  "Beating Imai is a major confidence booster," Kamino smiled in obvious happiness.

Before the race Kamino had relaxed goals, aiming "just to make top three."  But once he was on the starting line he was itching to race, and what he delivered was unchanged from the aggression he showed in his Hakone uphill heroics in university.  Kamino dueled with Japan-based Kenyans Karemi and Edward Waweru (Team NTN), ultimately taking 2nd.

The day before the race Kamino did his final tuneups near Kumamoto Castle.  "I got a feeling for how much damage there really was in the Kumamoto Earthquake," he said.  "I hope that the affected people can find some inspiration and courage in my running."

Following the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden national corporate men's championships he will run February's Ome 30 km Road Race with his marathon debut planned next season.  "I'm aiming to be ready to go for the Japanese national record my first time out," he said.

41st Kumamoto Kosa 10 Mile Road Race
Kosa, Kumamoto, 11/27/16
click here for complete results

Men's 10 Miles
1. Jeremiah Karemi Thuku (Toyota Kyushu) - 46:19
2. Daichi Kamino (Konica Minolta) - 46:38
3. Edward Waweru (NTN) - 46:44
4. Masato Imai (Toyota Kyushu) - 46:46
5. Ryo Kiname (Mitsubishi HPS) - 46:47
6. Yuki Oshikawa (Toyota Kyushu) - 46:50
7. Hiroto Inoue (Mitsubishi HPS) - 46:51
8. Kiyoshi Koga (Yasukawa Denki) - 46:51
9. Kazuya Shiojiri (Juntendo Univ.) - 46:55
10. Masaya Taguchi (Honda) - 46:57
-----
25. Yuma Eda (Toyota Kyushu) - 47:21
50. Shuhei Yamaguchi (Asahi Kasei) - 47:56
75. Toshiaki NIshizawa (SGH Group) - 48:43
100. Masahiro Uchida (Press Kogyo) - 49:41
-----
DNF - Ryuji Kashiwabara (Fujitsu)

Daito Bunka University Defends Nikko Irohazaka Women's Ekiden Title

http://mainichi.jp/articles/20161128/ddl/k09/050/090000c

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The 3rd edition of the Nikko Irohazaka Women's Ekiden took place Nov. 27 in Nikko, Tochigi.  Fifteen teams from fourteen universities six stage, 23.4 km course with 875 m net elevation gain, with Daito Bunka University winning for the second year in a row in 1:32:41.  Hakuoh University was the top Tochigi team at 7th. Daito Bunka started slow, in 8th at the end of the First Stage but its second runner Kasumi Yamaguchi setting a new stage record. Daito Bunka moved up gradually through the field from there, finally going from 2nd to 1st on the anchor stage.  Osaka Geijutsu University was 2nd, with the Tokyo Nogyo University A-team taking 3rd.

The Nikko Irohazaka Women's Ekiden is organized by local businesses and the Nikko city government, who together aim to earn a name for Nikko as "The runner's holy land."  The ekiden was established in 2014 with the hope of creating a "women's Hakone Ekiden."  Its course begins at 410 m elevation at Nikko Daiyagawa Park, passing the World Heritage Site shrines of Nikko before climbing up the Irohazaka ascent to Nikko Futarasan Shrine at 1285 m elevation.  According to organizers, with an almost entirely uphill route it is one of Japan's best mountain race courses.

Translator's note: The Nikko Irohazaka course almost perfectly matches the length and elevation gain of the Hakone Ekiden's legendary Fifth Stage. However, while one university man on a ten-man team runs Hakone's Fifth, Nikko Irohazaka divides it into six short sections with no woman running longer than 5.2 km.

3rd Nikko Irohazaka Women's Ekiden
Nikko, Tochigi, 11/27/16
15 teams, 6 stages, 23.4 km
click here for complete results


Top Team Results
1. Daito Bunka Univ. - 1:32:41
2. Osaka Geijutsu Univ - 1:33:06
3. Tokyo Nogyo Univ. A - 1:33:36
4. Kansai Gaikokugo Univ. - 1:33:47
5. Chuo Univ. - 1:34:47
6. Tokyo Nogyo Univ. B - 1:37:32
7. Hakuoh Univ. - 1:37:43
8. Toyo Univ. - 1:38:33
9. Seitoku Univ. - 1:38:35
10. Nihon Joshi Taiiku Univ. - 1:39:08

Stage Best Performances

First Stage (4.7 km, ~100 m ascent)  
1. Rino Goshima (Chuo Univ.) - 16:55

Second Stage (5.2 km, ~200 m ascent) 
1. Kasumi Yamaguchi (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 18:11 -  CR

Third Stage (3.5 km, ~100 m ascent) 
1. Ayano Morita (Osaka Geijutsu Univ.) - 14:53

Fourth Stage (3.0 km, ~100 m ascent) 
1. Noe Ito (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 13:30

Fifth Stage (3.5 km, ~400 m ascent) 
1. Nana Ogawa (Tokyo Nogyo Univ. A) - 14:40

Sixth Stage (3.5 km, ~25 m descent) 
1. Saki Minakawa (Tokyo Nogyo Univ. B) - 12:10

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved