Sunday, April 23, 2017

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 Women's Marathon, running 1:12:12 for 3rd, with her London teammate-to-be Mao Kiyota (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC)  5th in 1:12:41.  Returning to Japan after breaking 2:30 for the first time at Feburary's Tokyo Marathon, Sara Hall (U.S.A.) took 7th in 1:14:40.

Despite a solid international men's field to celebrate Gifu's first edition as the first IAAF gold label half marathon in Japan, Japan-based Kenyans dominated the overseas and domestic competition.  An almost all-African lead pack of at least fifteen went through 5 km in 14:26, shaking off Japanese runners Takafumi Kikuchi (Team SGH Holdings) and Ayumu Hisaibaru (Team Kurosaki Harima) and a few others to whittle down to eleven as they hit 10 km in 29:05.  By 15 km that was down to five, and over the last five km the Japan-based pair of Alexander Mutiso (Kenya/Team ND Software) and Macharia Ndirangu (Kenya/Aichi Seiko) pulled away.  Battling all the way to the finish line, both clocked 1:00:57 with Mutiso given the win.  Last year's Marugame Half winner Paul Kuira (Kenya/Team Konica Minolta) took 3rd in 1:01:19.

With lower temperatures thanks to a move from May to April and the absence of perennial Gifu top Japanese man Yusei Nakao (Smiley Angel AC), Kawauchi was optimistic of scoring the top Japanese position for the first time.  Leading the second pack the entire way he ran down early front pack runner Hisaibaru but came up short of catching Kikuchi.  Kikuchi took 14th in 1:03:50 with Kawauchi 15th in 1:04:06.

Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon Top Results
Gifu, 4/23/17

Women
1. Joyciline Jepkosgei (Kenya) - 1:07:44 - CR
2. Belaynesh Oljira (Ethiopia) - 1:08:19 (CR)
3. Yuka Ando (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:12:12
4. Mimi Belete (Bahrain) - 1:12:22
5. Mao Kiyota (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:12:41
6. Sayo Nomura (Uniqlo) - 1:12:51
7. Sara Hall (U.S.A.) - 1:14:40
8. Marie Imada (Iwatani Sangyo) - 1:15:03
9. Yuko Mizuguchi (Denso) - 1:16:49
10. Rina Asano (Aichi Denki) - 1:17:33
11. Kie Watanabe (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:17:51
12. Lillian Partridge (Great Britain) - 1:18:14

Men
1. Alexander Mutiso (Kenya/ND Software) - 1:00:57
2. Macharia Ndirangu (Kenya/Aichi Seiko) - 1:00:57
3. Paul Kuira (Kenya/Konica Minolta) - 1:01:19
4. Bernard Kipyego (Kenya) - 1:01:27
5. Kenneth Keter (Kenya) - 1:01:48
6. Teklemariam Medhin (Eritrea) - 1:02:26
7. Goitom Kifle (Eritrea) - 1:02:27
8. Joel Mwaura (Kenya/Kurosaki Harima) - 1:02:32
9. Melaku Abera (Ethiopia/Kurosaki Harima) - 1:02:33
10. Patrick Muendo Mwaka (Kenya/Aisan Kogyo) - 1:03:27
11. James Rungaru (Kenya/Chuo Hatsujo) - 1:03:45
12. Charles Ndungu (Kenya/Komori Corp.) - 1:03:48
13. Michael Githae (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:03:49
14. Takafumi Kikuchi (SGH Holdings) - 1:03:50
15. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 1:04:06

© 2017 Brett Larner
all rights reserved


Thursday, April 20, 2017

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 and 38th Osaka International Women's Marathon
               ・Nagoya Women's Marathon 2018 and 2019
               ・Hokkaido Marathon 2017 and 2018

     ( 3 ) MGC Final Challenge

          1 ) Men
               ・73rd Fukuoka International Marathon
               ・Tokyo Marathon 2020
               ・75th Biwako Mainichi Marathon

          2 ) Women
               ・5th Saitama International Marathon
               ・39th Osaka International Women's Marathon
               ・Nagoya Women's Marathon 2020
               ・Hokkaido Marathon 2017 and 2018

3. Selection Criteria

Based on the above organization policy, Japanese national representatives will be selected in the following order of priority.

     ( 1 ) Winner of the MGC Race.

     ( 2 ) From among the 2nd and 3rd place finishers in the MGC Race, the higher-placing finisher who has cleared the MGC Race Selection Time Standard.

     ( 3 ) If no athletes meet selection criterion ( 2 ), the 2nd-place finisher in the MGC Race.

     ( 4 ) The highest-ranked competitor from among athletes who clear the MGC Final Challenge Selection Time Standard.  However, this is subject to having run in (finished) MGC Series races or having qualified for the MGC Race.

     ( 5 ) If no athletes meet selection criterion (4 ), the 2nd or 3rd-place finishers in the MGC Race not meeting selection criterion ( 2 ).

4. Selection Procedure

     ( 1 ) Selection according to selection criteria ( 1 ), ( 2 ) and ( 3 ) will be immediate upon the completion of the MGC Race.

     ( 2 ) Selection according to selection criteria ( 4 ) and ( 5 ) will be immediate upon the completion of all designated men's and women's MGC Final Challenge races.

5. Selection Time Standards

     ( 1 ) MGC Race Selection Time Standard
          time:     Men: 2:05:30     women: 2:21:00
          eligible period:     Aug. 1, 2017 to Apr. 30, 2019
          eligible competitions:     Races certified by the IAAF as world record-elligible.

     ( 2 ) MGC Final Challenge Selection Time Standard
          time:     To be determined by the Development Committee following the closure of qualification for the MGC Race.  Scheduled to be announced in May, 2019.
          eligible competitions:     MGC Final Challenge

6. Alternate Athletes

     ( 1 ) In the event that an athlete is selected according to selection criterion ( 4 ), the 2nd or 3rd-place finisher in the MGC Race who was not selected to the Olympic Team and the 4th-place finisher will be selected as alternates.

     ( 2 ) In the event that no athlete is selected according to selection criterion (4 ), the 4th and 5th-place finishers in the MGC Race will be selected as alternates.

7. MGC Race Qualification

Athletes who meet the following conditions will be granted qualification for the MGC Race.

     ( 1 ) MGC Series (2017 and 2018 fiscal years)
          Athletes who satisfy the following requirements for Japanese finisher placing and time in the specified races.  Athletes who have already qualified for the MGC Race will not be included in the Japanese finisher placings.  [click to enlarge]

          1 ) Men


          2 ) Women


     ( 2 ) Wildcard

          1 ) Athletes who meet either of the following two criteria in any competition certified by the IAAF as world record-eligible between Aug. 1, 2017 and Apr. 30, 2019.

               (1) Men who run faster than 2:08:30 and women who run faster than 2:24:00.

               (2) Men who average faster than 2:11:00 and women who average faster than 2:28:00 in their two fastest marathons within the eligible period above.

          2 ) Athletes who finish in the top 8 at the 16th World Championships (London, 2017)

          3 ) Athletes who finish in the top 3 at the 18th Asian Games (Jakarta, 2018)

          4 ) If not a single athlete meets the MGC Race qualifying standards due to weather or other conditions in any MGC Series competition, the Development Committee may designate individual athletes as having run the equivalent of the standards.

8. Other

     ( 1 ) In the event that any selected athlete is unable to demonstrate adequate fitness prior to the Olympic Games due to injury or other issues, they will be replaced on the National Team by designated alternates.

     ( 2 ) The above selection requirements will be confirmed pending finalization of the Olympic participation qualifications stipulated by the IOC and IAAF.

     ( 3 ) The Olympic Games marathons will be held in Tokyo between July 31 and Aug. 9, 2020.


ENDS

Commetary: 

This is the JAAF's attempt to move toward a U.S.-style one-shot Olympic Trials race for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  To summarize, within the next two years Japanese athletes have to run sub-2:11 or sub-2:28, tweaked for a few tougher races, in major domestic marathons, sub-2:08:30 or sub-2:24 in overseas marathons, or place well at the 2017 London World Championships or 2018 Jakarta Asian Games in order to get into the Olympic Trials race, aka the MGC Race.  With a few provisions for fast times, basically the top two at the MGC Race will be named to the Olympic team.  

The timing of the MGC Race during the 2019-20 winter season means that the existing series of selection races, designated above as the MGC Final Challenge, would be made irrelevant to 2020 selection.  Given that the JAAF relies heavily on those races for sponsor income, they've inserted a wildcard option for the third spot on each team to keep that season's races meaningful. Anyone who clears TBA standards that season in the MGC Final Challenge races will pick up the third spot, which will go to the 3rd-placer at the MGC Race if nobody runs fast enough.

A few observations:
  1. The Tokyo Marathon, the fastest women's marathon in Japan, remains mostly excluded as an option for Japanese women to make national teams.  This year the top Japanese woman in Tokyo, Ayaka Fujimoto, was 4th overall in 2:27:08, a performance that would meet the qualifying standards for any of the four women's MGC Series races.  However, while it has been impossible for Japanese women to make a national team in Tokyo, the new procedure does introduce a window: if a Japanese woman clears 2:24:00 in Tokyo, a record-eligible course, or averages under 2:28:00 between Tokyo and one other race, she will qualify for the MGC Race under the wildcard provisions.
  2. Overseas races are also largely excluded from the selection process.  Although Japanese athletes can theoretically qualify for the MGC Race by running sub-2:08:30 or sub-2:24:00 at record-eligible overseas races, only eight Japanese men and five Japanese women have ever run those times abroad, the most recent being Yuki Kawauchi at the 2013 Seoul International Marathon and Mizuki Noguchi at the 2005 Berlin Marathon.
  3. If run during the eligible period, high-level World Marathon Major performances such as Yukiko Akaba's 3rd-place finish at the 2013 London Marathon in 2:24:43 or Suguru Osako's 3rd-place debut earlier this week at the Boston Marathon in 2:10:28 would not by themselves qualify the athletes for the MGC Race under the wildcard criteria, not being fast enough or, in Osako's case, not having been run on a record-elligible course.  For the same reason Osako's time would also not count toward the two-race average option.
  4. There is a wild disparity in the men's and women's time standards.  The Japanese men's NR is 2:06:16, 3:19 off the WR.  The women's NR is 2:19:12, 3:47 off the WR.  Three Japanese men have run 2:06 times and three Japanese women 2:19, showing that the records are reasonably equivalent.  To qualify for the MGC Race, men must run within 4:44 of the NR, while in the main races women only have to run within 9:48 of the NR.  For the MGC Race Selection Time Standard Japanese men have to run more than 46 seconds faster than the NR, a time no non-African-born runner has ever run on a record-elligible course, while women have to run within 1:48 of the NR.  Given the lower numbers of female athletes this is no doubt intended to produce roughly equal numbers of competitors in the men's and women's MGC Races, but the fact remains that the barrier to making the Olympic team has been set far higher for Japanese men.
  5. While the qualifying standards for the U.S. Olympic Trials are arguably over-inclusive, the MGC Race standards will result in very small fields of around fifteen men and fifteen women.  In the last two-year period equivalent to the above window of eligibility, sixteen men and fifteen women met the qualifying standards.  Applying the same window to the 2016 Rio Olympics, fourteen men and twelve women qualified.  
  6. Dependent upon the TBA MGC Final Challenge Selection Time Standard, Hisanori Kitajima, the last-placing member of the Rio men's team, would not have made the Olympic team or even qualified for the MGC Race under the new procedure.  The new system is designed in part to keep inexperienced athletes like Kitajima who make a breakthrough in the Olympic year off the team.
  7. The exclusion of the 2019 Doha World Championships from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics selection procedure makes running on the national team at Doha a major minus for any top-level Japanese athletes.  Given that a strong performance in heat in Doha might be a good indicator of success in the Tokyo heat a year later it seems reasonable that there might be provisions for being named to the Tokyo team, or, as is the case for the Jakarta Asian Games at least the MGC Race, in the event of medalling in Doha, or for wildcard qualification for the MGC Race for a top eight finish in Doha the same way that has been designated for London. As a result, the Doha marathon teams may be weakest Japanese marathon squads in modern history.
  8. The MGC Race is likely be held on the Tokyo Olympics course during the winter.  The U.S. Trials for Rio in L.A. did a good job of finding people who could perform in similarly warm and sunny conditions at the Olympics.  The JAAF could stand to learn from that example and hold the MGC Race somewhere warm like Okinawa, Honolulu or Guam.  Like the U.S. Trials, pairing it with Okinawa's ~15,000-runner Naha Marathon or the ~20,000 runner Honolulu Marathon, holding the MGC Race on Saturday on a loop course so that the people running the mass-participation race the next day can come out to cheer, would go a long way toward maximizing the event's popularity along with allowing an approximation of the conditions runners will face at the Olympics.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Boston Marathon - Japanese Results


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 in 1981 and 2:10:13 runner-up finish in 1979.  Given the heat of the day it was an encouraging step toward representing Japan at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Running his second marathon, Hiroki Sugawa, coached by Seko at the DeNA corporate team, ran with Osako through 10 km before dropping out.  Fellow sub-elites Kaito Iwasa (Chuo Univ.) and Hiroki Kai (Team Raffine) were non-factors, well off their bests in 2:27:11 and 2:35:51.

Sub-elite women Kana Kurosawa (Team Hitachi) and Ami Utsunomiya (Canon AC Kyushu), like the three sub-elite men appearing through the Boston Marathon's partnership with the Katsuta Marathon and Ome 30 km, went out with the lead group of women during the slow early miles before dropping back.  Running Boston for the second year in a row, Kurosawa missed her PB by 15 seconds as she finished in 2:43:18 for 25th, still a five-minute improvement over her time last year.  Utsunomiya, a 1:13:39 half-marathoner, was totally unprepared for the big leagues, finishing in 3:06:49.

121st Boston Marathon
Boston, U.S.A., 4/17/17
click here for complete results

Men
1. Geoffrey Kirui (Kenya) - 2:09:37
2. Galen Rupp (U.S.A.) - 2:09:58
3. Suguru Osako (Japan) - 2:10:28 - debut
4. Shadrack Biwott (U.S.A.) - 2:12:08
5. Wilson Chebet (Kenya) - 2:12:35
6. Abdi Abdirahman (U.S.A.) - 2:12:45
7. Augustus Maiyo (U.S.A.) - 2:13:16
8. Dino Sefir (Ethiopia) - 2:14:26
9. Luke Puskedra (U.S.A.) - 2:14:45
10. Jared Ward (U.S.A.) - 2:15:28
-----
39. Kaito Iwasa (Japan) - 2:27:11
94. Hiroki Kai (Japan) - 2:35:51
DNF - Hiroki Sugawa (Japan)

Women
1. Edna Kiplagat (Kenya) - 2:21:52
2. Rose Chelimo (Kenya) - 2:22:51
3. Jordan Hasay (U.S.A.) - 2:23:00
4. Desiree Linden (U.S.A.) - 2:25:06
5. Gladys Cherono (Kenya) - 2:27:20
6. Valentine Kipketer (Kenya) - 2:29:35
7. Buzunesh Deba (Ethiopia) - 2:30:58
8. Brigid Kosgei (Kenya) - 2:31:48
9. Diane Nukuri (Burundi) - 2:32:24
10. Ruti Aga (Ethiopia) - 2:33:26
-----
25. Kana Kurosawa (Japan) - 2:43:18
158. Ami Utsunomiya (Japan) - 3:06:49 - debut

© 2017 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Sunday, April 16, 2017

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 being competitive racers internationally as a whole.  Correlation, not causation, but it's hard to deny the history.

Osako being in the U.S. means he has other voices whispering in his ear, one of them a past Boston winner, so it's not that surprising to see him pick the United States' premier marathon for his debut.  He's got a solid cross country background, always a plus on the Boston course, going back all the way to his days at Saku Chosei H.S. under progressive head coach Hayashi Morozumi, and showed potential for longer distances with an Asian junior half marathon area record 1:01:47 win at the Ageo City Half Marathon his first year at Waseda University and some brilliant runs at the Hakone Ekiden in the next few years after that. A 1:01:13 PB at February's Marugame Half Marathon, his first half since his 2010 Ageo win, was encouraging.  How could he do in Boston?  It's tempting to read his last pre-Boston race, a 1:04:12 win at an amateur-level half marathon mid-March, as a marathon pace run, but looking again toward history, this is how the top ten Japanese performances in Boston and top ten Japanese marathon debuts line up:

All-time Japanese Boston Marathon Top Ten
  1. 2:09:27 - Toshihiko Seko, 1st, 1981
  2. 2:10:13 - Toshihiko Seko, 2nd, 1979
  3. 2:11:02 - Hiromi Taniguchi, 4th, 1993
  4. 2:11:32 - Kenjiro Jitsui, 6th, 2006
  5. 2:11:50 - Toshihiko Seko, 1st, 1987
  6. 2:13:15 - Takayuki Inubushi, 10th, 1998
  7. 2:13:40 - Tomoyuki Taniguchi, 5th, 1987
  8. 2:13:49 - Yoshiaki Unetani, 1st, 1969
  9. 2:13:55 - Akinori Kuramata, 11th, 1998
  10. 2:14:10 - Futoshi Shinohara, 9th, 1990

All-time Japanese Debut Marathon Top Ten
  1. 2:08:12 - Masakazu Fujiwara, 3rd, Lake Biwa 2003
  2. 2:08:53 - Koichi Morishita, 1st, Beppu-Oita 1991
  3. 2:09:03 - Yoshinori Oda, 4th, Tokyo 2011
  4. 2:09:12 - Tomoyuki Morita, 5th, Lake Biwa 2012
  5. 2:09:23 - Tomoya Shimizu, 5th, Lake Biwa 2008
  6. 2:09:27 - Yuta Shitara, 11th, Tokyo 2017
  7. 2:09:38 - Noriaki Igarashi, 4th, Fukuoka 1998
  8. 2:09:39 - Fumihiro Maruyama, 6th, Lake Biwa 2016
  9. 2:09:41 - Toshinari Takaoka, 3rd, Fukuoka 2001
  10. 2:09:50 - Atsushi Sato, 4th, Lake Biwa 2000

Historically speaking, anything under 2:14 would be a pretty solid performance in Boston for Osako. Under 2:12 would put him near the top of the ladder.  Only one Japanese man, fellow Waseda grad Toshihiko Seko, has ever gone sub-2:10 in Boston.  No Japanese man has ever debuted sub-2:10 outside Japan, but then again none of the ones who ran that fast the first time out was based in the States.  He's in something of a lose-lose situation; if he fails one contingent back home will say, "You see?"  If he succeeds the same people will say, "It doesn't count."  Let's hope he's got it in him not to care in the slightest either way.

© 2017 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

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 moving.  Hamasaki and Shioya opened their lead to more than 30 seconds by 20 km, but at halfway Mongolian national record holder Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Team NTN) spearheaded a move to catch back up to them.  By 25 km he had overtaken both, while the rest of the chase group remained 15 seconds behind.  At 30 km Bat-Ochir had a 32-second lead over the chase pack led by serial marathoner Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and the debuting Kazuki Onishi (Team Kanebo).  Ito began to close, and just before 40 km he overtook Bat-Ochir for the lead and the win in 2:14:39, just the second Japanese man in Nagano history to take the top spot.  Bat-Ochir faded to 2nd in 2:15:12, with the Koichi Morishita-coached Yuki Oshikawa (Team Toyota Kyushu) 3rd in 2:15:27.

19th Nagano Marathon
Nagano, 4/16/17
click here for complete results

Women
1. Racheal Jemutai Mutgaa (Kenya) - 2:33:00
2. Fantu Eticha (Ethiopia) - 2:37:10
3. Mirriam Wangari (Kenya) - 2:38:29
4. Aki Otagiri (Japan/Tenmaya) - 2:41:26
5. Mayumi Uchiyama (Japan/Nitori) - 2:44:58

Men
1. Taiga Ito (Japan/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:14:39
2. Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Mongolia/NTN) - 2:15:12
3. Yuki Oshikawa (Japan/Toyota Kyushu) - 2:15:27
4. Kazuki Onishi (Japan/Kanebo) - 2:15:39 - debut
5. Tatsunori Hamasaki (Japan/Nanjo City Hall) - 2:15:49

© 2017 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Saturday, April 15, 2017

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 (Univ. of Toronto) - 15:39.16
4. Marie Lawrence (Oiselle) - 15:40.26
5. Brenda Flores (Mexico) - 15:41.28
6. Muriel Coneo Paredes (Equipo Porvenir) - 15:41.55
7. Anne-Marie Blaney (UCF) - 15:43.61
8. Rachel Cliff (Canada) - 15:46.25
9. Kristen Findley (Big Bear TC) - 15:53.02
10. Tatiane Roberta Da Carva (Posso Sports) - 15:53.72

Men's 3000 mSC Open
1. Emmanuel Rotich (Tulane) - 8:48.32
2. Yusuke Uchikoshi (Boise State) - 8:48.88
3. Clayson Shumway (BYU) - 8:48.95
4. Craig Buff (San Jose St.) - 8:53.03
5. Gareth Hadfield (unattached) - 8:54.91

Friday, April 14, 2017

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 in Australia.

Like Utsunomiya, half marathon Asian junior record holder Suguru Osako (Nike Oregon Project) will be making his marathon debut in Boston.  Osako ran his 1:01:47 Asian Jr. record in winning the 2010 Ageo City Half Marathon, afterward avoiding the distance in favor of the track until this year when he shaved his PB down to 1:01:13 in Marugame in February and won March's Portland Shamrock Run in an easy 1:04:12.  If he clears Futoshi Shinohara's 2:14:10 from 1990 Osako will break into the all-time Japanese top ten on the Boston course.

Women
Kana Kurosawa (Hitachi) - 2:43:03 (Katsuta Marathon 2017)
Ami Utsunomiya (Canon AC Kyushu) - debut - 1:13:39 (Marugame Half 2017)

Men
Hiroki Kai (Raffine) - 2:18:17 (Tokyo Marathon 2017)
Hiroki Sugawa (DeNA RC) - 2:24:14 (Gold Coast Airport Marathon 2014)
Kaito Iwasa (Chuo Univ.) - 2:25:17 (Katsuta Marathon 2017)
Suguru Osako (Nike Oregon Project) - debut - 1:01:13 (Marugame Half 2017)

© 2017 Brett Larner
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