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Collegiate 10000 m Record Holder Yoshimoto Quits Team Yamada Denki to Take Time Off From Sport

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/sports/news/130130/oth13013022310003-n1.htm

translated by Brett Larner

The management of the Yamada Denki corporate women's team announced on Jan. 30 that 2011 World Championships 10000 m runner Hikari Yoshimoto, 23, quit the team on Jan. 29.  According to an involved party, Yoshimoto will return home to Kumamoto to take an indefinite leave of absence from competitive running.

Yoshimoto was the star of the Bukkyo University women's ekiden team, leading them to two-straight National University Women's Ekiden Championships titles in 2009 and 2010. In April, 2010 she broke the 15 year old 10000 m national collegiate record with a new mark of 31:30.92, and in the fall the same year she finished 5th in the Asian Games.  After graduating from Bukkyo last spring she followed her longtime coach Kenichi Morikawa to Yamada Denki but was unable to make the Olympic team for London.

First Wave of Foreign Elites Arrives in Oita

http://www.e-obs.com/obs-news/genko/DD01300022268.html

translated by Brett Larner

The first wave of invited foreign athletes for the Feb. 3 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon arrived in Oita on Jan. 30.  This year's Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon will feature a total of five invited athletes from abroad.  Greeted at the race hotel on Feb. 3 by race officials were Poland's Adam Draczynski, 12th at last year's race, and, making his Beppu-Oita debut, Abdelkrim Boubker of Morocco.

The Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon starts at noon on Feb. 3 in front of Umitamago near Mt. Takasaki. This year's race promises to be white-hot.

New Generation of Japanese Mass-Participation Marathons Waking Up to Reality

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20130125-00000301-yomidr-soci
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/life/news/130125/trd13012505000000-n1.htm
http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/chiba/20130126/CK2013012602000123.html
http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXNZO50998060V20C13A1L71000/

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Since the start of Japan's record-breaking running boom countless city and prefectural governments have started organizing new mass-participation marathons.  However, the widespread use of the standardized operation model employed by the Tokyo Marathon and Osaka Marathon has landed many of the new races deeply in red ink.  The issue of adapting race management to suit local conditions has begun to become of critical importance.

At the 2nd edition of the Osaka Marathon last Nov. 25, Yokohama Metropolitan Sports Promotion Division Director Yuji Nishiyama was in attendance to observe the event's operations.  "If they can do this here, why not in Yokohama?" he said.  And not onl…

35000 Fans Turn Out for Nittai University's Hakone Ekiden Victory Parade

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20130127-OHT1T00211.htm

translated by Brett Larner



On Jan. 27, 2013 Hakone Ekiden winners Nittai University held a victory parade in Aoba, Yokohama to celebrate their first Hakone title in 30 years.  35000 fans, the most ever for a Hakone victory parade, turned out to share the team's joy.  All ten members of this year's winning team including captain Shota Hattori road in three open cars along with head coach Kenji Beppu, with the Nittai brass band and cheerleaders riding behind the team in two four-ton trucks and the Booster Club in a bus.  People were lined up six-deep along both sides of the road for the entire 3.1 km parade route from Aobadai Station to the university's Kenshidai campus.  An organizer laughed, "There are so many people it's like a replay of the Hakone Ekiden.  I'm totally surprised.  Things are going to get out of hand!"

Riding in the lead car and carrying the victory banner, Hattori vowed t…

Nakamoto's Goal in Beppu-Oita: "A PB and My First Win"

http://kyushu.yomiuri.co.jp/news/national/20130129-OYS1T00326.htm

translated by Brett Larner

London Olympics marathon 6th-place finisher Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) will run the Feb. 3 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon.  Of his first marathon since the Olympics he says with resolve, "My goal is to win a marathon for the first time.  I'm aiming to break my PB."

Beppu-Oita is one of the selection races for August's Moscow World Championships marathon team.  With a sub-2:08 necessary for a guaranteed place on the team the 2:08:53-best Nakamoto's theme in his preparations has been speed.  Up to now he has always taken the approach of running a steady pace, picking off people falling off the lead pack late in the race.  This time he is planning an active, aggressive run, saying, "After 30 km I want the action to be coming from me."

In order to achieve that target Nakamoto has changed his training methodology. Reducing the number of 40 km training runs …

Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. to Run Sunday's Meigi Ekiden Despite Ongoing Corporal Punishment Scandal

http://www.tonichi.net/news/index.php?id=27076
http://www.fnn-news.com/news/headlines/articles/CONN00239441.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Translator's note: Click here and here for background on this story.  Toyokawa Kogyo's head coach is Masaaki Watanabe.

Despite an ongoing scandal involved allegations of the repeated use of corporal punishment by Toyokawa Kogyo H.S.'s 50-year-old male ekiden head coach against team members, principal Yoshihisa Takemoto has confirmed that the team is continuing to train and is scheduled to run in the Feb. 3 Meigi Ekiden.

Over the weekend the school grounds were quiet and empty without the usual club activities.  The streets around the school have been crowded with local residents peering into the school grounds as they pass by.  A group of men calling themselves alumni of Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. have been gathered near the front gate of the school's grounds, shouting at members of the media and telling them go away.  A male loca…

Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon Announces 51st Elite Field

by Brett Larner

The organizers of the Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon released the elite field on Jan. 28 for this year's 51st running, scheduled for Feb. 10.  Traditionally an elite developmental race for first- or second-time marathoners, this year's race is capped by 2010 Asian Games marathon silver medalist and 2011 World Championships marathoner Yukihiro Kitaoka (Team NTN).  Kitaoka has been mostly injured since 2010 and will be seeking a return to the kind of form he showed that year.  His main challengers among the marathoners are the Koichi Morishita-coached Kenji Takeuchi (Team Toyota Kyushu) and Etsu Miyata (Team Fujitsu), a teammate of former national record holder Atsushi Fujita.

This year's race is heavy on people making their debuts.  Chief among them are sub-63 men Ayumu Sato (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) with a 1:02:33 best from last year's Marugama Half and Nittai University grad Kazuya Deguchi (Team Nissin Shokuhin) with a best of 1:02:46.  2009 Ome …

Ekiden Weekend Roundup

http://www.chugoku-np.co.jp/News/Tn201301280004.html
http://www.komaspo.com/4210
http://mainichi.jp/area/saitama/news/20130128ddlk11050143000c.html
http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20130127-1077441.html
http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20130127-OHT1T00214.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Three late-season ekidens took place this weekend.  Amid light snow in Yamaguchi, 48 teams took part in the 76th running of the Chugoku Yamaguchi Ekiden on a 7-stage, 84.4 km course from Ube City Hall to Shunan City Hall.  In the elite division, after an exciting Sixth Stage that saw 2012 Fukuoka International Marathon winner Joseph Gitau (Kenya/Team JFE Steel) cover the 15.9 km stage in 46:11 to move his team up into 1st, Team Chugoku Denryoku retook the lead on the anchor stage and claimed its eleventh Chugoku Yamaguchi title and first in two years in a time of 4:06:44.  Saikyo High School's A team won the high school division in 4:18:58 after leading all …

Gamera-Shmyrko Over Fukushi for Osaka Women's Win in 2:23:58

by Brett Larner

London Olympics marathon 5th-place Tetyana Gamera-Shmyrko (Ukraine) once again put on a show of her astounding finishing speed, running down race leader Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) in the final km to break her best for the third time in the last year as she won the 2013 Osaka International Women's Marathon in 2:23:58.  Fukushi managed a PB of 2:24:21 for 2nd, just missing the Federation's sub-2:24 requirement for a guaranteed place on the Moscow World Championships team, with 25-year-old Yuko Watanabe (Team Edion) coming through with a 3 1/2 minute best for 3rd in 2:25:56.

A cold and sunny day and the carrot provided by the Federation's time goal meant a quick race.  After a rocky and erratic start the pace settled into a steady mid-to-low-2:23 groove, with Gamera-Shmyrko, Fukushi, Watanabe, 10000 m national record holder Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) and, in her first marathon since giving birth, Mari Ozaki (Team Noritz) making up a steady pack…

12 Members of Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. Ekiden Team Confirmed Beaten by Head Coach, 2 Leaving School as Consequence

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20130126-00000066-mai-soci

translated by Brett Larner

Translator's note: Click here for more background on this story, which comes shortly after the suicide of a national-level high school basketball team's 17-year-old captain following beatings by the team's coach.  Although none of the Japanese media reports on this story mention the head coach by name, Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. is coached by Masaaki Watanabe.  Yesterday the Aichi Prefecture Government website featured an interview with Watanabe in a series titled "Shining Stars," but as of this morning the interview, #24 in a series, has been deleted.

At a special session at Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. on Jan. 26 addressing allegations of the use of corporal punishment on student athletes by the 50-year-old male head coach of the school's national-level ekiden team after requests from the Aichi Prefectural Board of Education for him to exert more self-control in his leadership, Board offi…

Corporal Punishment Uncovered at Ekiden Powerhouse Toyokawa Kogyo H.S.

http://sp.mainichi.jp/m/news.html?cid=20130126k0000e040235000c&inb=sns

translated by Brett Larner

An official with renowned high school ekiden powerhouse Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. in Aichi Prefecture revealed during an interview that the teacher serving as the team's head coach, 50, had repeatedly beaten and performed other acts of corporal punishment on team members.  On Jan. 25 the Prefectural Board of Education instructed the coach to exercise more self-control and restraint in his leadership of the ekiden team.  On the afternoon of Jan. 26 the Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. administration will hold a meeting with school club coaches and other adult guardians to explain its policies.

According to the Prefectural Board of Education and other associated parties, the coach frequently hit team members, including across the face with an open hand.  On Jan. 11 in response to accumulating rumors of the use of corporal punishment at Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. the Board opened an investigation at the school…

Dubai Marathon Women's Results

Dubai, 1/25/13
click here for complete results

1. Tirfi Tsegaye Beyene (Ethiopia) - 2:23:23
2. Ehitu Kiros Reda (Ethiopia) - 2:23:39
3. Amane Gobena Gemeda (Ethiopia) - 2:23:50
4. Aheza Kiros Abeye (Ethiopia) - 2:24:30
5. Belaynesh Olijira Jemama (Ethiopia) - 2:25:01
6. Shitaye Bedasa Ordofa (Ethiopia) - 2:25:47
7. Isabellah Andersson (Sweden) - 2:26:05
8. Abebech Afework Bekele (Ethiopia) - 2:27:08
9. Beata Naigambo (Namibia) - 2:27:54
10. Misaki Katsumata (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 2:30:42

photo (c) 2013 Dr. Helmut Winter
all rights reserved

Mizuki Noguchi and Two Others Withdraw From Osaka International Women's Marathon

http://sportsnavi.yahoo.co.jp/sports/athletic/headlines/article/20130125-00000028-dal

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The organizers of the Jan. 27 Osaka International Women's Marathon announced on Jan. 25 that three members of its domestic elite field, Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya), Madoka Ogi (Team Juhachi Ginko) and national record holder Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) have all withdrawn from Sunday's race, Nakamura with plantar fasciitis in her right foot and Ogi with a stress fracture of one of her toes.  Noguchi has withdrawn due to lingering effects of the sudden stomach illness that kept her out of the National Women's Ekiden two weeks ago.

In a statement via the race organizers Noguchi said, "I've been training for the Osaka International Women's Marathon since November, but just a little while ago I suffered some bad stomach problems.  It has taken some time to recover from them and in my current circumstances I know that I wouldn't be able t…

Osaka International Women's Marathon Preview

by Brett Larner

Update: Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya) Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) and Madoka Ogi (Team Juhachi Ginko) have all withdrawn.

The first major Japanese marathon of the year takes place this Sunday with the Osaka International Women's Marathon.  A small, elite-only event with an accompanying mass-participation half marathon, Osaka Women's is the second of three chances for Japanese women to make the 2013 World Championships team on home ground.  The race will be broadcast live by Fuji TV starting at noon and should be available to international viewers by using Keyhole TV.  JRN will also once again cover the race live on Twitter.

Last year the Japanese federation declared ambitious standards for the World Championships team, sub-2:08 for men and sub-2:24 for women.  Last year's Osaka Women's winner Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) did it, but only fourteen Japanese women have ever cleared that standard and only two in the last five years.  Amid a distinct sense…

Tokyo Marathon Releases 2013 Elite Field

by Brett Larner

Tokyo makes a decent entry into the Majors with an elite field including four 2:04 men and six with 2:06 bests, and a women's field featuring three under 2:21.  Defending champions Michael Kipkorir Kipyego (Kenya) and Atsede Habtamu (Ethiopia) return but are not shown the courtesy of the #1 bibs in their divisions, those going to 2012 Berlin Marathon runner-up Dennis Kipruto Kimetto (Kenya) and 2:19:19 runner Irina Mikitenko (Germany). Mikitenko seems bound to fall prey to Ethiopians Bezunesh Bekele and Aberu Kebede with 2011 Boston champion Caroline Cheptonui Kilel also in the top group of competion.  Kipruto is up against the resurgent James Kwambai (Kenya) and two components of last year's Miracle in Dubai, Dino Sefir and Jonathan Kiplimo Maiyo (Kenya). If Kipruto feels motivated to go for the win this time he is the sure favorite, and it is certainly worth his while.  The combination of 1st place and a course record are worth around $120,000 U.S. and Worl…

Athletes' Village Opens Ahead of Jan. 27 Osaka International Women's Marathon

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/west/west_sports/news/130122/wsp13012216420008-n1.htm

translated by Brett Larner



On Jan. 22 the athletes' village for Sunday's Osaka International Women's Marathon opened at Hotel New Otani in central Osaka.  Already in Japan, the first athlete to arrive was overseas elite Karolina Jarzynska (Poland).  Full of smiles, Jarzynska received a large bouquet of flowers from hotel staff.

With an elite field of five foreigners and eight Japanese, Osaka International's entry list of 554 is the largest in event history.  Among the domestic elites, 2004 Athens Olympics gold medalist and national record holder Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex), 10000 m and former marathon national record holder Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) and half marathon national record holder and London Olympics 10000 m 10th-place finisher Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) are scheduled to run.

The Osaka International Women's Marathon starts and finishes at Nagai Stadium in Higash…

Victory Parade Scheduled for Sunday in Yokohama to Celebrate Nittai University's Hakone Ekiden Win

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20130122-OHT1T00194.htm

translated by Brett Larner

Nittai University, who earlier this month scored their first Hakone Ekiden win in 30 years, announced on Jan. 22 that it will hold a victory parade in Yokohama this Sunday, Jan. 27.  Beginning at 1:00 p.m. at Aobadai Station on the Tokyu Denentoshi line, the parade will cover a 3 km course to the university's Kenshidai campus and will feature three open cars, two four-ton trucks.  The Nittai University Booster Club, the university brass band and cheerleader squad will help create a spectacular atmosphere, with uphill Fifth Stage star and team captain Shota Hattori leading the team in showing their appreciation of fans' support.  After the parade there will be a party on the university campus celebrating the team's win, with a ceremonial cracking open of a sake barrel, pounding of mochi, and each team member talking about his goals and ambitions for 2013-14.

Olympic Marathoner Naoko Sakamoto Retires

http://www.asahi.com/sports/update/0120/SEB201301200008.html?tr=pc

translated by Brett Larner

Naoko Sakamoto (32, Team Tenmaya), 7th at the 2004 Athens Olympics, announced her retirement from competition on Jan. 20 after running her final race, the Kita-Kyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden, where she placed 7th on the opening stage.  "I still have the urge to get back to the top, but I just can't do the training I need to get there anymore," she said.  "I decided that it's time to stop.  I'm sad that I couldn't end it with a marathon."

Sakamoto graduated from Nishinomiya H.S. in Hyogo and joined the Tenmaya corporate team in 1999.  In 2003 she ran 2:21:51 at the Osaka International Women's Marathon, the Japanese debut marathon record.  Later the same year she was 4th in the Paris World Championships marathon, then won the 2004 Osaka International Women's Marathon to make the Athens Olympics.  Following Athens a series of injuries kept her fr…

Hyogo Defends National Men's Ekiden Title With Perfect Team Performance

by Brett Larner

Click photo for video highlights via race broadcaster NHK.

Hyogo Prefecture took its second-straight National Men's Ekiden title Jan. 20 in Hiroshima with a perfect team performance that held off rivals Tokyo and Aichi Prefecture. With anchor Satoru Kitamura (Team Nissin Shokuhin) ailing after potentially career-ending injuries last year and a disastrous performance three weeks ago at the New Year Ekiden the rest of the Hyogo team knew that they needed a margin of at least a minute by the start of the anchor stage to have a chance at holding off  Tokyo and Aichi anchors Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B) and Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota), and, aided by ideal conditions, they timed it perfectly.

Last year's First Stage winner Keisuke Nakatani (Hyogo/Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) took it out fast and accelerated each km on the 7.0 km leg, just missing the course record but giving Hyogo a 2-second lead.  3.0 km Second Stage runner Chikashi Ikeda (Hyogo/Kakogawa Yamate J.H.S.) …

2012 National High School Champion Ritsumeikan Uji H.S. Sets Kita-Kyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden Course Record

by Brett Larner

At the Jan. 20 Kita-Kyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden, 2012 National High School Ekiden championsRitsumeikan Uji H.S. outran all competition to break the existing 32.8 km course record by 41 seconds.  Kita-Kyushu features an interesting format that sees top high school team running against pro teams with the open division's 11.7 km final stage divided into two for the younger high school division teams.

Locals Team Kyudenko led through the first three stages, with Kenyan ace Sally Chepyego scoring a course record 18:11 for the 5.9 km Second Stage.  2012 National Corporate Ekiden champions Team Universal Entertainment and Ritsumeikan Uji just a second behind dueled for 2nd before the high school champions pulled ahead on the Third Stage thanks to a stage win by the team's star Nanako Kanno.  Ritsumeikan Uji's fourth runner Mai Hirota delivered another stage win to bring the team even with Kyudenko at the handoff to the Fifth Stage.

For Kyudenko, Univer…

Kawauchi Runs Saitama Ekiden Less than 48 Hours After Egypt Marathon Win

http://sportsnavi.yahoo.co.jp/sports/athletic/headlines/article/20130120-00000028-dal
http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20130120-1074433.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) ran the Jan. 20 Saitama Ekiden on the Saitama Prefecture Government team, finishing 2nd on the 11.9 km Third Stage in 36:54. On Jan. 18 Kawauchi ran the Egyptian Marathon, winning in a course record time.  He spent only two nights in Egypt.  "It was kind of a rushed trip," he said.  "I didn't get enough sleep so I was a little tired, but I was in good shape for the run."  He was satisfied with his ekiden performance, saying, "Even in the middle of marathon training I haven't lost my ekiden speed.  I wasn't fatigued at all."

National Men's Ekiden Preview - Updated

by Brett Larner

updated 1/19/13 with start list

The partner event to last weekend's National Women's Ekiden, the final men's championship ekiden of the season takes place this Sunday with the 18th National Men's Ekiden in Hiroshima.  Like the women's event, the National Men's Ekiden features 47 teams from each of Japan's prefectures made up of top junior high school, high school, university and corporate-league runners.  Although there is less cross-division competition than in the National Women's Ekiden, the three high school stages and two junior high school stages in the National Men's Ekiden have often been the site of the first national appearance of future stars while the 8.5 km Third Stage and 13.0 km anchor stage always feature the rare sight of the top New Year Ekiden pros and Hakone Ekiden collegiate runners going head to head.  The National Men's Ekiden is broadcast live nationwide and commercial-free on NHK starting at 12:15 p.m. and…

Shiseido Head Coach Tsutomu Hiroyama to Retire - "It's Disappointing When I Haven't Achieved My Ambitions Yet"

http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/20130117/ath13011720530000-n1.html

translated by Brett Larner

The Shiseido corporation has announced that women's long distance team head coach Tsutomu Hiroyama, 46, will retire from the team at the end of March.  The announcement comes partly as a consequence of the Shiseido team's 13th place finish at December's National Corporate Women's Ekiden, the latest in a series of increasingly shaky results in recent years.  Hiroyama's wife Harumi Hiroyama, 44, who beginning with the 1996 Atlanta Olympics made three straight Olympic teams in track distance events, has been serving as an assistant coach and according to the announcement will also retire from the team.  Following their departure current coaching staff member Toshitaka Andoji, 47, will be promoted.

Tsutomu joined Shiseido in 1989, switching the focus of his own career as an athlete to coaching and helping to develop Harumi and others.  The couple's stoic character and una…

Kawauchi Takes Over Ten Minutes Off Egyptian Marathon Course Record

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20130118-OHT1T00141.htm

translated by Brett Larner

According to the organizers of the Jan. 18 Egyptian Marathon in Luxor, civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) won in a course record 2:12:24.  Going out alone right from the beginning he built a large lead by the time he crossed the finish line.  "This was the 20th anniversary of this race and my 20th marathon.  It felt like fate," he said with satisfaction.

Kawauchi missed his originally-scheduled flight from Japan after forgetting his passport at home and ended up buying a replacement ticket himself.  "I kind of panicked over my own mistake, and that has given me something to reflect on," he said.  "But it seems like I was able to turn that feeling into something I could use in my running."

To try to earn a place on the Japanese marathon team for August's Moscow World Championships Kawauchi plans to run the Feb. 3 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon and…

1:00:53 Man Chihiro Miyawaki Leads Kumanichi 30 km Field

http://kumanichi.com/fsports/marathon/2013/kiji/20130117001.xhtml

translated by Brett Larner

On Jan. 16 the organizers of the Feb. 17 Kumamoto-jo Marathon released the names of the 15 invited athletes for the 57th running of the event's accompanying elite-level Kumanichi 30 km Road Race.

The most-watched athlete is bound to be civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.), who will be running Kumanichi as a tuneup for the Mar. 3 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, the final domestic selection race for the Japanese national team for this summer's Moscow World Championships.  Kawauchi's main competition will come from 21-year-old Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota), whose win on the First Stage of this year's New Year Ekiden and 2012 bests of 27:41.57 and 1:00:53 rank him as the #1 man in the country right now in a class of speed that Kawauchi cannot hope to match.  Kenyan Daniel Gitau (Team Fujitsu) also outranks Kawauchi on pure speed.

Two runners from 2013 Hakone Ekiden 2nd-…

Meiji University Captain Kikuchi Joining National Champion Team Konica Minolta En Route to Rio

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/hokkaido/sports/news/20130110-OHT1T00068.htm

translated by Brett Larner

After a 7th-place finish at the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden, Masato Kikuchi, captain of one of the pre-race favorites Meiji University, announced that following his graduation this spring he will join the top corporate team, 2013 New Year Ekiden national champion Konica Minolta, in pursuit of a place on the Japanese national team for the 2016 Rio Olympics.  We talked to him about his burning ambition for the future.

At this year's Hakone Ekiden Meiji University finished 7th.  As captain, what were your impressions of the team's performance?
Last year we were 3rd, so having been looking to improve on that and go for the overall win it was really disappointing.  But given the problems on the Ninth Stage [where Tomoya Matsui experienced serious dehydration issues] the fact that we didn't drop out and were able to carry the tasuki the whole way and still make the seeded bracket was good…