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Fujiwara Plans to Seal Up Rio Olympics Spot in Beijing

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20150429-OHT1T50341.html

translated by Brett Larner

2015 Beijing World Championships team member Masakazu Fujiwara (34, Team Honda) ran in the 5000 m at the Apr. 29 Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials meet.  His first race of the season, he finished in 14:22.76.  "That was about what I expected," he said.

Along with World Championships teammates Masato Imai (31, Team Toyota Kyushu) and Kazuhiro Maeda (34, Team Kyudenko), if Fujiwara makes the top 8 in Beijing and is the top Japanese finisher he will be named to the Rio Olympics team.  "I definitely want to seal up a place on the Olympic team in Beijing," he said.  Anticipating a battle between veterans he added, "The other two guys are probably thinking the same thing.  If we don't do it in Beijing it will be hard to make the team.  We're all in our 30s so we can't keep running lots and lots of marathons."

Mathathi, Karoki, Kebede, Kipkoech, Baysa and Kirwa Lead Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon Field

by Brett Larner

Course record holder Bedan Karoki (Kenya/DeNA RC), past champion Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and Fukuoka International Marathon course record holder Tsegaye Kebede (Ethiopia) lead the men's field for the 5th edition of the Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon on May 17, an event that has quickly surpassed the Sendai International Half Marathon as Japan's premier late-spring half marathon.  Former Toyota runner James Rungaru (Kenya) is back and with a 1:00:12 best looks like another contender up front, and Australian 10000 m national record holder Ben St. Lawrence is also in the field.  Japanese entries include sub-1:02 men Kenji Yamamoto (Team Mazda), Kenta Matsumoto (Team Toyota) and Masamichi Shinozaki (Team Hitachi Butsuryu), plus 2014 Asian Games marathon bronze medalist Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't).

On the women's side, Asian Games marathon gold medalist Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) returns to Japan after winning March's Nagoya Women'…

Okayama and Masuda Score Sado Toki Marathon Victories, Kawauchi Wins Half

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2015/04/27/kiji/K20150427010244100.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

2726 people ran the 2015 Sado Toki Marathon on April 26 on a course starting and finishing in front of Ondeko Dome on the island of Sadogashima, Niigata.  In the race's main distance, Haruki Okayama, 20, won the men's marathon in 2:37:16, with Akiko Masuda, 30, winning the women's marathon in 3:05:28.  Appearing as a special guest, 2014 Asian Games marathon bronze medalist Yuki Kawauchi brought prestige and popularity to the event as he was first across the finish line in the half marathon in 1:06:14.

Making his marathon debut, Okayama took the lead at 35 km and opened a margin of 5 minutes 30 seconds over 2nd place.  "I didn't know how I should be pacing myself and it got pretty hot out there, so it was tough," he said.  "I didn't think I could win it."  As a student in Kumamoto Okayama was a member of the Chinzei H.S. ekiden team …

Malel Runs World-Leading 10000 m in Hyogo - Weekend Track Roundup (updated with video)

by Brett Larner
videos by Ekiden News and Tomoyuki Maruyama



Honda's William Malel led the results from the weekend's two big Japanese meets, Kobe's Hyogo Relay Carnival and Yokohama's Nittai University Time Trials, frontrunning to a world-leading 27:42.99 in the Hyogo Grand Prix Men's 10000 m.  Malel and James Mwangi (Kenya/Team NTN) ran together on low-27 pace for the first half of the race, while former Komazawa University star Kenta Murayama (Team Asahi Kasei) ran at the front of a chase pack hoping to hit the 27:45.00 standard for the Beijing World Championships.  The pace in both groups slowed in the second half, and when Mwangi lost touch Murayama was quick to run him down for 2nd in 28:09.28.  Hakone Ekiden champion Aoyama Gakuin University's Tadashi Isshiki, winner of last month's record-setting National University Half Marathon, was the top collegiate runner in 28:37.82.



With Isshiki already leading the World University Games half marathon team than…

'Lemi Berhanu Continues Unbeaten Marathon Streak in Warsaw'

http://www.iaaf.org/news/report/lemi-berhanu-warsaw-marathon

Chiharu Takada (Team JR Higashi Nihon) ran 2:12:27 for 13th in Warsaw, just missing the 2:12:13 run in Zurich last week by Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) as the year's fastest time by a Japanese man outside Japan.Click here for complete results.

Elsewhere, Yuko Watanabe (Team Edion) was an apparent DNF at the Hamburg Marathon.  Click here for complete results.

Big 10000 m on Deck at Hyogo Relay Carnival

by Brett Larner

The first big 10000 m on the Japanese track calendar, this weekend's Hyogo Relay Carnival is geared up to be a shot at World Championships entry standards and World University Games national team places.  The Grand Prix men's 10000 m features sub-27 world-level medalists Kenyans Paul Tanui (Team Kyudenko) and Bedan Karoki (DeNA RC) and four others with sub-27:30 bests to pull the top Japanese men along to clear the 27:45.00 Beijing standard.  The only man to do it so far, Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Team Asahi Kasei) with a 27:38.99 last November in Hachioji, is not in the race, but two others who have cleared that time before, Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta) and Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota) are, along with young stars who have come close like Kenta Murayama (Team Asahi Kasei) and Keita Shitara (Team Konica Minolta).  Especially worth watching is Masato Kikuchi (Team Konica Minolta), who tied the 20 km national record earlier this year on the way to a 1:00:32 ha…

'Why Japan's Incredible Long-Distance Runners Will Never Win the London Marathon'

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/why-japans-incredible-longdistance-runners-will-never-win-the-london-marathon-10182050.html

Two Japanese long distance runners have, in fact, won the London Marathon.  The coach cited in the article, Kenji Takao, is a middle and long distance track coach at Ritsumeikan University, a Kansai Region school in Kyoto that, being outside the Tokyo-centric Kanto Region, does not participate in the Hakone Ekiden.

'Marathonwunder: Hobbyläufer Gehört zu den Besten der Welt' and Marathon Talk Episode 276 - Yuki Kawauchi

Swiss TV SRF Sport's documentary on Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) and his race at Sunday's Zurich Marathon. Click photo for video.

Also click here to listen to the U.K.'s Marathon Talk hosts Tom Williams and Martin Yelling interview Kawauchi in Zurich.

Sakamoto Wins Zurich Marathon in International Debut, Kawauchi 2nd Behind Kiyeng

by Brett Larner
photos by Chris Godfrey, Martin Yelling and Brett Larner

Making her international marathon debut in excellent conditions on an almost perfectly flat course, Yoshiko Sakamoto (Y.W.C.) won the Zurich Marathon with an evenly-paced solo run that put her more than 8 minutes ahead of runner-up Nicola Spirig (Switzerland), the London Olympics triathlon gold medalist.  A 36-year-old mother of three, Sakamoto was a high school star who quit running completely for 9 years before starting again in her early 30s and set a PB 2:36:29 in January this year. Running in Zurich with support from JRN and targeting a 2:34 PB, Sakamoto was slightly off pace from the beginning but never flagged dramatically, going through halfway in 1:18:18 and facing headwinds on the return trip into town before crossing the finish line first in 2:37:47.

Australia's Jane Fardell, a late addition to the field, ran 2nd throughout the race but with a little over a km to go was run down by Spirig, the fas…

A Second Chance to Make the Dream Come True - Yoshiko Sakamoto at the Zurich Marathon

by Brett Larner

What if you could have a second chance?  Drifting toward 40, long out of the game, the chance to make all the things you thought you would do when you were younger happen.  What if you had the chance to answer the question, "What if?"

In the mid-90s Yoshiko Sakamoto, then Yoshiko Akiba, was one of the top high school runners in Japan, beating future marathon national record holders Yoko Shibui and Mizuki Noguchi on the most competitive stage at the National High School Ekiden Championships and setting a still-standing Fukushima prefecture record for 5 km on the roads.  After graduating in 1997 she and Shibui joined the Mitsui Kaijo corporate team alongside two-time World Championships marathon medalist Reiko Tosa, forming the core of a lineup that would make Mitsui Kaijo into one of the most dominant teams of the day.

At Mitsui Kaijo she had a smattering of success, again beating Noguchi on the track at the 1997 National Corporate Championships and going as f…

Kawauchi Leads Invited Athletes for 25th Sendai International Half Marathon

http://www.kahoku.co.jp/tohokunews/201504/20150414_14009.html

translated by Brett Larner

On April 13 the organizers of the May 10 Sendai International Half Marathon announced that the elite field of four specially invited athletes for this year's 25th anniversary edition will be led by civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi (28, Saitama Pref. Gov't), with Athens Olympics women's marathon gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi (36, Team Sysmex) among five additional special guests for the 25th running.

In last fall's Incheon Asian Games men's marathon Kawauchi won the bronze medal.  This year will his fifth time and fourth-straight year running the Sendai International Half Marathon.  Last year he placed 4th in 1:03:23, and this year he is again targeting the podium.  Other domestic invited elites include 2015 Beijing World Championships men's marathon team member Masakazu Fujiwara (34, Team Honda) and women's marathon team members Risa Shigetomo (27, Team Tenmaya) and Sai…

World Championships Marathon Men Preparing for the Worst in Beijing Air Quality

http://www.daily.co.jp/general/2015/04/14/0007915752.shtml

translated by Brett Larner

2015 Beijing World Championships men's marathon team members Masakazu Fujiwara (34, Team Honda), Masato Imai (31, Team Toyota Kyushu) and Kazuhiro Maeda (33, Team Kyudenko) left from Tokyo's Narita Airport on April 13 for a tour of the World Championships race course.  Along with the course, a major concern is the increasingly serious problem of air pollution in Beijing.  Steeling himself for the worst, Imai commented, "There's nothing I as an individual can say that will improve the situation, so you just have to accept it as normal and run.  The conditions will be the same for everybody."

Kawauchi Plans to Retire from National Team Competitions at World Championships: "London Will Make a Good Punctuation Mark"

http://news.livedoor.com/article/detail/9997814/

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The civil servant runner plans to step down from the dream stage where the world's fastest men run.  On April 12 Yuki Kawauchi (28, Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran as a special guest at the local Honjo Waseda no Mori Cross Country Race and Half Marathon in Saitama, winning the half marathon in 1:07:47.  Afterward he told reporters that following the 2017 London World Championships he will "retire" from competing to be on the Japanese national team.  "My plan is to win a medal at the London World Championships and then to really say sayonara to the national team," he said.

At the time of the 2013 Moscow World Championships Kawauchi also suggested he would remove himself from consideration for future world level national teams, but he continues to work hard in anticipation of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.  To Kawauchi, who has struggled in hot weather races in the past, the 201…

'Kuma Gets Maiden Marathon Win in Windy Rotterdam'

http://www.iaaf.org/news/report/abera-kuma-rotterdam-marathon

Evidently Asami Kato (Team Panasonic) was not worth a headline mention and less than a handful of sentences as the winner of the Rotterdam Marathon to the IAAF and writer Cors van den Brink despite having previously won races in both the U.S.A. and Australia.  Likewise, her nationality didn't seem to matter to race broadcasters to whom it was no doubt a given that a non-white winner must be African.  Even the usually-reputable German Road Races website condescended toward Kato's win with the headline "Abera Kuma gewinnt in Rotterdam - Schnellste Frau eine Japanerin," in English "Abera Kuma wins in Rotterdam - The fastest woman a Japanese woman."  The 'invisible Japanese' phenomenon remains a constant source of puzzlement.

Kenyan Marathon Runner Erupe to Enter South Korea Next Week to Begin Naturalization Procedures

http://japanese.donga.com/srv/service.php3?biid=2015041046598

translated by Brett Larner

After shining as the champion of the 2015 Seoul International Marathon, Wilson Loyanae Erupe (Kenya, 27), has taken the first step toward South Korean naturalization.  Serving as Erupe's coach and domestic representative, on April 9 Professor Chang Seok Oh of Baekseok University told reporters, "Erupe signed a contract with the South Chungcheong Provincial Sports Association on April 8 and received a foreign registration number from immigration authorities."

After winning the March 15 Seoul International Marathon in 2:06:11 Erupe indicated that he was interested in transferring his citizenship to South Korea.  He plans to enter South Korea next week on an E-6 Entertainer and Performer visa to begin naturalization procedures with the support of the Korean Association of Athletics Associations (KAAF).  A Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) spokesperson commented, "Above all, the most im…

Police to Employ Drones for Security at Nagano Marathon for First Time

http://www.shinmai.co.jp/news/20150409/KT150408FTI090009000.php

translated by Brett Larner

The Nagano Prefectural Police Department announced this week that for the first time it will employ radio-controlled multicopter drones for security at the 17th running of the Nagano Marathon on April 19.  The drones were introduced in March for functions such as traffic accident site investigation.  At the Nagano Marathon they will play a surveillance role to help detect suspicious people and trouble in its early stages.  Images taken from the sky via the drones' onboard cameras will be transmitted to on-the-ground computers.  As a contingency for any crashes, the police plan to fly the drones high above areas without runners or race officials below.

According to the Prefectural Police Security Division Two, the drones will fly around the start area at Nagano Sports Park in the Yoshida neighborhood of the city and the finish at Nagano Olympic Stadium in the Shinonoitofukuji district. They w…

Why Is There a Track in Narita Airport Terminal 3? Designer Naoki Ito's Concept of Airport Design

http://top.tsite.jp/news/o/23102997/

translated and edited by Brett Larner
photos and images of the Narita Airport Terminal 3 running track design:
image one - image two - image three - image four

A "low-cost carrieresque" design scheme with attention to detail.

Constructed for use by low-cost carrier budget airlines, Narita Airport's new Passenger Terminal 3 opened on April 8, and its overall design concept is now clear.  With a total floor area of 66,000 square meters it is able to handle 50,000 arrivals and departures per year with expected passenger traffic on the scale of 7.5 million people annually.  Apart from just those hard numbers, in details like color-coded foot traffic flow lines in the design of a running track, departure gates featuring wire mesh instead of glass and a 450-seat food court, the new terminal fully embraces its "low-cost carrieresqueness."  We spoke with the person in charge of creative direction for Passenger Terminal 3, Naoki Ito of Cr…

ND Software Programs Men's Running Team Targeting New Year Ekiden

http://yamagata-np.jp/news/201503/13/kj_2015031300287.php

translated by Brett Larner

ND Software, makers of nursing and wellness-related software based in Nanyo, Yamagata, have announced the formation of the ND Software AC men's running team.  Alongside a core lineup of runners transferring in from strong corporate league teams, a number of athletes are transferring to ND Software from the Nanyo City Hall team which qualified for the last two straight New Year Ekiden national championships.  As a corporate team they are set on making the New Year Ekiden.

According to a company spokesperson, the new team was officially launched on April 1.  Plans call for a team of around 10 runners including those who have run the New Year Ekiden with other corporate teams and recent graduates who have experience at the Hakone Ekiden.  Team members will work alongside regular company workers, and recruitment offers have already gone out to top-level athletes across the country.  Kenyan Joseph Onsar…

Nitori to Form Women's Team Featuring Remi Nakazato and Focusing on the Marathon

http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASH4464KHH44UTQP02W.html

translated by Brett Larner

An involved source has revealed that Sapporo-based furniture and interior supplies retailerNitori Holdings is in the process of forming a women's running team.  2011 Daegu World Championships marathoner Remi Nakazato, who quit the Daihatsu team in February last year, will feature prominently on the team, which will be based in Kanto and, with a small number of athletes, will focus on developing marathoners.  The new team's coaching staff will include former Sakura AC assistant coach Katsuhiko Takahashi and former Route Inn Hotels head coach Tsutomu Takahashi.

Yokohama Marathon Course Found to Be Short

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20150407/k10010040411000.html

translated by Brett Larner

It has come to light that the new mass participation Yokohama Marathon held for the first time last month in Yokohama did not receive certification from the JAAF because its course did not cover the complete full marathon distance.  Held on March 15th, the first running of the Yokohama Marathon featured 23,000 runners making it the third-largest in the country behind Tokyo and Osaka.  The scenic course passed many of Yokohama's most famous landmarks such as Chinatown and Yamashita Park, but it has become apparent that its length was less than the full marathon's standard 42.195 km.

According to the organizing committee, on the day of the race they received notification from the JAAF that the official course measurement they had requested indicated that the course was shorter than the full marathon distance by at least several tens of meters, and that the event would be denied certification …

New Sumitomo Denko Head Coach Watanabe: "It is Critical to Reduce the Risk of Injury to Nearly Zero"

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2015/04/07/kiji/K20150407010124520.html

translated by Brett Larner

At a Sumitomo Denko men's corporate team press conference in Osaka, Yasuyuki Watanabe, 41, who took over as the team's head coach at the start of this month, vowed to make eliminating injury among the athletes under his guidance one of the key themes of his tenure as head coach.  Having seen his own career cut short by an Achilles tendon injury while still in his 20s, Watanabe told the media that he wants to tailor his coaching to suit the needs and abilities of the individual athletes, saying, "In Japan we train on the roads and run a lot of races.  It is critical that we reduce the risk of injury to nearly zero.  I want to make it so that athletes can train 365 days a year."  Sumitomo Denko president Masayoshi Matsumoto commented, "Ekidens are interesting but not a worldwide event.  Japan has become like the Galapagos."  Matsumoto indicated his commitme…

Kawauchi Wins Satte Sakura 10-Miler, Talks About Dream Plan for Using $1 Million NR Bonus

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2015/04/06/kiji/K20150406010120930.html

translated by Brett Larner

On April 5 Yuki Kawauchi (28, Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran the Satte Sakura 10-Mile Road Race in Satte, Saitama, finishing 1st in 49:20.  Still recovering fitness from time lost to a sprained ankle he suffered at the end of last year, he said, "I pushed it right on my target pace."  After the race he also ran as a special guest in the 2 km family run.

In interviews post-race Kawauchi talked about his dream plan for using the new 100 million yen bonus [~$1 million USD at normal exchange rates] for a Japanese marathon national record.  "If I won 100 million yen," he said, "I would use it to establish an athlete support fund."  Kawauchi declared that through his funding initiative he would help support talented amateur runners and university students who do not attend powerhouse ekiden schools, saying, "If I helped ten runners with 500,000 yen [~$5000…

Ngatia Runs 5000 m WL at Kanaguri Memorial Meet

by Brett Larner
videos by Ekiden News



Kenyan Hiram Ngatia (Team Toyota) came up with a major PB at Saturday's Kanaguri Memorial Meet, beating Moscow World Championships 10000 m bronze medalist Paul Tanui (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) to win the 5000 m A-heat in a world-leading 13:13.66.  Running on his birthday, Yamanashi Gakuin University star Enock Omwamba (Kenya) likewise PBd in 13:28.41, with Keita Shitara (Team Konica Minolta) edging his twin brother Yuta Shitara (Team Honda) for top Japanese honors at 6th in 13:41.04.

The Shitara twins' former Toyo University teammate Takanori Ichikawa (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) came up with a PB almost identical to theirs to win the B-heat in 13:41.84 just ahead of top collegiate Hironori Tsuetaki (Chuo Gakuin Univ.).  After running last month's United Airline NYC Half with support from JRN, Takashi Ichida (Team Asahi Kasei) and his former Kagoshima Jitsugyo H.S. teammate Koki Takada (Waseda Univ.) both PBd in the B-heat, Ichida 4th in 13:43.38…

Federation Vice Chairman of Development Katsumi Sakai: "Time is More Important Than Winning"

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/1456012.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Following a meeting of the JAAF's Development Committee in Tokyo on Apr. 2, Vice Chairman of Development Katsumi Sakai, 55, commented on the controversy surrounding the selection for the women's marathon team for August's Beijing World Championships.  "You absolutely have to go with the lead group from the beginning.  It's not about winning.  It's about trying to run the target time that we determine.  That is the message we have sent," he said of the Federation's exclusion of Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei), winner of November's Yokohama International Women's Marathon in 2:26:57, in favor of Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya), who ran 2:26:39 for 3rd more than 4 minutes behind winner Tetiana Gamera (Ukraine) after going through halfway with Gamera in 1:11:15, and who is coached by Federation Director of Women's Marathoning Development and Tr…

Kenyans Chanchima, Chirchir and Jepkemboi Lead Nagano Marathon Elite Field

by Brett Larner

Kenyans Jairus Chanchima and Henry Chirchir top the men's entry list for the Apr. 19 Nagano Marathon, with Beatrice Jepkemboi joining them in hope of becoming just the second Kenyan women's champion in Nagano's 17-year history.  Kiflom Sium (Eritera) and Bayron Piedra (Ecuador) round out the small international men's field, 2:11 man Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and debuting 1:01:25 half marathoner Takuya Fukatsu (Team Asahi Kasei) looking like the domestic Japanese favorites.

The women's race features good old-time names like Catherine Ndereba (Kenya), Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC), Eri Okubo (Miki House) and Chihiro Tanaka (Athlec AC), but with Russian women having taken 7 of the last 10 Nagano titles it's safe to say that Nadezhda Leonteva is likely to be Jepkemboi's toughest competition in the women's race despite a difference of over 4 minutes in their bests.  Shoko Mori (Team Otsuka Seiyaku), a training partner of Beijing Wor…

Karoki to Transfer Nationality to Japan (updated)

http://www.fnn-news.com/news/headlines/articles/CONN00289305.html
http://dena.com/running/news/2015/04/04-01.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Karoki and Seko backstage before the announcement.

In the wake of Monday's Japan Industrial Track and Field Association press conference formally announcing the corporate federation's new Project Exceed 100 million yen [~$1 million USD at normal exchange rates] bonus program for a new Japanese marathon national record in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the DeNA corporate team held a press conference Tuesday at the DeNA offices in Shibuya, Tokyo to announce that its star runner, 2015 World Cross Country Championships silver medalist Bedan Karoki, has filed the necessary paperwork to transfer his citizenship from Kenya to Japan.  "Please look kindly upon me as I strive to bring Japan gold," Karoki said.

Appearing at the press conference alongside Karoki were DeNA CEO Isao Moriyasu, executive head coach Toshihiko S…