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Tokyo Marathon Announces Major Course Change for 2017

http://www.marathon.tokyo/news-media/news/news_000062.html

translated by Brett Larner
click here for a map of the 2017 Tokyo Marathon course

Thanks to your support, last month the Tokyo Marathon celebrated its tenth edition as an annual event since its first running in 2007.  During those ten years the landscape has changed dramatically, from redevelopment in the city center that has brought about a spectacular new Tokyo cityscape to the evolution of the marathon as a high-speed event and the rise to international prominence of wheelchair racing.  Thus, from the twin perspectives of showing the best of modern Tokyo inside and out and of offering a course capable of producing the fastest times in the world, the Tokyo Marathon will feature a new course beginning with 2017's race.

Translator's note:  Roughly 13-14 km of the 2017 course will cover new and flatter ground, the rest representing a shuffling of current segments.  The new course keeps the same starting point at Tokyo city…

Kawauchi Calls for JAAF Executive Committee to Get Itself Together

http://www.tokyo-sports.co.jp/sports/othersports/523466/

translated by Brett Larner

Marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (29, Saitama Pref. Gov't) has expressed his full withdrawal from future Olympic opportunities.  On March 27 Kawauchi won the Nerima Kobushi Half Marathon in 1:05:32.  Just a week earlier on March 20 he ran Taiwan's Wanjinshi Marathon.  He came down with food poisoning afterward but it didn't seem to impact his run in Nerima. 

Kawauchi believes that he can still make a full comeback and win a medal at next year's London World Championships.  "People might think I'm well past my peak, but I'll only be 30 when the World Championships happen," he said.  On the other hand, he downplayed talk about the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, preemptively raising the white flag given his history running in heat.  "Honestly, in those kinds of temperatures there's no way," he said.  "I don't want to do something where I know I can't compete."…

Hakone Champion Aoyama Gakuin University Graduate Ryotaro Otani Starts Transition to Triathlon in Time for Tokyo 2020

by Brett Larner

Fired from the Toyota Boshoku corporate team last month after asking its head coach for more flexibility, Ryotaro Otani, a 2013 graduate of two-time Hakone Ekiden champion Aoyama Gakuin University, took fans by surprise when he won Sunday's Japan Triathlon Union Qualifying Time Trial in one of the fastest times in the event's history.

先輩が新たなスタートを。認定記録会1位(スイム400m4'40、ラン5000m14'22)#JTU認定記録会#トライアスロンpic.twitter.com/TlhEEar7dz — 高木聖也 (@iinorun) March 27, 2016
Before becoming a runner Otani was a youth swimmer, making it to the national level before switching over to his junior high school's track and field team full-time. Alongside Takehiro Deki, at Aoyama Gakuin he was one of the star runners who helped turn AGU into national names, beating top-level men Yuta Shitara (Toyo Univ.) and Ikuto Yufu (Komazawa Univ.) to break the Fourth Stage course record and pave the way for AGU to score its first-ever Big Three University Ekiden win at the 2012 Izumo Ekid…

Japanese Women Win Team Bronze at Cardiff World Half Marathon Championships

by Brett Larner

Led by a 10th-place overall finish by Yuka Ando (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) with support from top-20 placings by Miho Shimizu (Team Hokuren) and Mizuki Matsuda (Team Daihatsu), the Japanese women narrowly held off Australia to score the team bronze medal at the 2016 World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff.  All three scoring members turned in solid runs, Ando and Matsuda seconds off their bests and Shimizu, the fastest on the team with a PB of 1:09:41 at last month's National Corporate Half Marathon Championships, just over a minute off hers.

Likewise bronze medal quality on paper with one runner with a 1:00:54 best, two under 1:01:30 and a fourth at 1:01:53, the Japanese men left their races at home as they struggled to make the top five.  Komazawa University second-year Naoki Kudo, 5th in last year's World University Games Half Marathon, was the top Japanese man and the only one to break 64 minutes as he finished 22nd in 1:03:41.  The other two scoring members…

Japanese World Half Marathon Championships Roster

by Brett Larner

Japan is sending one of its better teams in recent World Half Marathon Championships history to Saturday's race in Cardiff.  20-year-old Keijiro Mogi, a training partner of 10000 m national record holder Kota Murayama at the Asahi Kasei corporate team, leads the men's roster with a 1:00:54 best.  Hakone Ekiden powerhouse Komazawa University features heavily, with current Komazawa runners Keisuke Nakatani and Naoki Kudo and 2015 graduate Shogo Nakamura (Team Fujitsu) making up the core of the men's team. 

The women's team includes three sub-70 runners led by Miho Shimizu (Team Hokuren) with support from Yuka Ando (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and Mirai Waku (Team Univ. Ent.).  With the exception of Mizuki Matsuda (Team Daihatsu), all will be making their international road debuts.

World Half Marathon Championships
Cardiff, U.K., 3/26/16 
click here for timetable and complete rosters

Men
Keijiro Mogi (Asahi Kasei) - 1:00:54 (Marugame Half 2016)
Keisuke Nakatani (Ko…

Toyo University's Yuma Hattori to Shoot for Rio Olympics on the Track After Missing in Marathon Debut

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20160322-00000175-sph-spo

translated by Brett Larner

After finishing 12th overall as the 4th Japanese man in his debut at the Feb. 28 Tokyo Marathon, 4th-year Yuma Hattori of 2015 National University Ekiden champion Toyo University indicated on Mar. 22 that he plans to run both the 5000 m and the 10000 m at June's National Track and Field Championships, the qualifying event for the Rio Olympic team.

Hattori's 5000 m and 10000 m bests are 13:36.76 and 28:09.02.  The Olympic qualifying marks for those distances are 13:25.00 and 28:00.00.  Along with clearing those times Hattori faces the tough hurdle of winning the National Championships.  "The marathon and the track are totally different so it'll be tough for me to make the Olympic team," he said coolly, "but as long as there's a chance I want to go for it."

Hattori's former Sendai Ikuei H.S. teammate Tadashi Isshiki, a 3rd-year at 2016 Hakone Ekiden winner Aoyama…

Five Years of Japanese University Runners at the NYC Half in Review

Yuta Shitara, Kento Otsu and Coach Sakai at the 2012 NYC Half

Sunday's United Airlines NYC Half marked the fifth year that the NYRR has invited the top two Japanese university finishers from November's Ageo City Half Marathon to run against top international competition in New York, a concept JRN proposed in 2011 and continues to help oversee.  For decades Japan's corporate leagues have sent runners to races like Philadelphia, San Diego and Virginia Beach, but relative to their pro elders the eight university men who have run a total of ten times in New York so far have represented themselves well with consistently serious and fast performances on a course with a challenging first half.

Otsu, Bernard Lagat and Kenta Murayama in 2013

The ten fastest times ever run in the United States by Japanese corporate league runners to date:

1:02:28 - Yasuaki Yamamoto (Tokyo Metro) - Philadelphia 1999
1:02:50 - Yoshinori Oda (Toyota) - Virginia Beach 2007
1:02:59 - Yoichiro Akiyama (Hond…

Shimokado and Obare Win at Matsue Ladies' Half Marathon

http://www.sankei.com/region/news/160321/rgn1603210010-n1.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On a course through the oldest and most scenic parts of town, the Matsue Ladies' Half Marathon held its 37th running on Mar. 20.  Serving as the National University Women's Half Marathon Championships, Matsue hosted 2363 runners from elementary school students to the corporate leagues to the best of the university circuit.  Local supporters turned out all along the course to cheer on the women whose run welcomes spring back to Matsue every year.

The Matsue Ladies Road Race featured four divisions starting one after another, the half marathon followed by the 3.2 km division, a 1.0 km children's race and the 10 km division.  153 women including 94 university runners were entered in the half marathon.  Taking control of the race after just 3 km, invited athlete Miharu Shimokado (Team Shimamura) won in 1:11:48.  "I was able to make it my own race," she said confidently…

Chebor Over Kawauchi for New Taipei City Course Record

by Brett Larner
photos by Mika Tokairin

In hopes of breaking their year-old 2:13:14 course record the organizers of Taiwan's New Taipei City Wanjinshi Marathon brought in three 2:08 men, Kenyans William Chebon Chebor and Julius Ndiritu Karinga and Japan's Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't), to give it a go.  Running to show his support for the victims of last month's Tainan earthquake, Kawauchi took the challenge to heart.  With a tough uphill first 5 km including a long tunnel he pushed things at sub-2:10 pace, unusually aggressive against tough competition and quickly disposing of everybody but Chebor and Karinga.  Both took turns attacking, Chebor in particular matching Kawauchi's aggression with multiple hard surges.  The lead changed countless times between all three but nobody got away cleanly.

At halfway Kawauchi led in 1:05:15, Karinga a second behind and Chebor one more back.  Around 23 km Chebor threw in another hard surge and this time neither Kawauchi …

United Airlines NYC Half - Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

For the last five years JRN has worked with the NYRR to bring the fastest two Japanese university men at November's Ageo City Half Marathon, one of the world's absolute deepest races, to the United Airlines NYC Half.  The program has had a big impact on the runners who have qualified, Yuta Shitara and Kenta Murayama both making the Beijing World Championships last year and Murayama turning some heads with his marathon debut in Tokyo this year, two-time NYC runner Takashi Ichida winning the 2016 Japanese XC national title and Ikuto Yufu, the highest placer in New York to date at 9th, winning the prestigious Karatsu 10-Miler last month.  This year Komazawa University third-year Yusuke Nishiyama and 19-year-old Tokai University first-year Haruki Minatoya made the trip, both running in the U.S.A. for the first time and Nishiyama accompanied by Komazawa coach and former marathon national record holder Atsushi Fujita.

Both chugged along in the main pack through the s…

'Kawauchi v the Kenyans Duel Expected to Feature in the New Taipei City Marathon'

http://www.iaaf.org/competitions/iaaf-label-road-races/news/new-taipei-city-marathon-kawauchi


Chihiro Tanaka, Yuki Kawauchi and Koichiro Yamanaka at the New Taipei City Wanjinshi Marathon press conference with support from JRN.

Livestreaming of the race will be available here starting at 6:00 a.m. local time on Sunday, March 20.  Click here for live splits.

Nishiyama and Minatoya to Make U.S. Debut at United Airlines NYC Half

by Brett Larner
coach Atsushi Fujita, Yusuke Nishiyama and Haruki Minatoya in New York
For the fifth year in a row the NYRR have invited the top two Japanese university finishers at November's Ageo City Half Marathon to make their U.S. debuts at the United Airlines NYC HalfLast year in AgeoKenya Sonota and Yusuke Nishiyama from four-time National University Ekiden champion Komazawa University went 1-2 in 1:02:48 and 1:02:52 to seal up their invites to New York, just outkicking Japan's best first-year Haruki Minatoya of Tokai University.  Three weeks ago Sonota sustained an injury that forced him to withdraw.  19-year-old Minatoya, already entered for the National University Half Marathon, was ready to take over.

In New York with support from JRN and Komazawa coach Atsushi Fujita, the former Japanese marathon national record holder at 2:06:51, Nishiyama was a star runner at Iga Hakuho H.S. with a win on the First Stage at the 2012 National High School Ekiden Championships his…

JAAF Announces Japanese Women's and Men's Marathon Teams for Rio Olympics

by Brett Larner

The JAAF announced the Japanese women's and men's marathon team lineups for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics at a press conference on Mar. 17 streamed live worldwide.  Surprisingly there were no surprises, no controversial calls, the athletes chosen for the team the most likely based on the complicated selection criteria.

The women's team includes 2016 Osaka Women's winner Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal), 2016 Nagoya Women's runner-up Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) and 2015 World Championships 7th-placer Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku).  The men's team is made up of 2015 Fukuoka 3rd-placer Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei), 2015 Lake Biwa runner-up Hisanori Kitajima (Team Yasukawa Denki) and 4th-placer Suehiro Ishikawa (Team Honda).  No alternates were named in the event, likely given recent history, that any of the team members does not make the starting line, and no one was named to the team from two of the selection races, last year's Sait…

Understanding the Japanese Women's Olympic Team Selection Standings

by Brett Larner

Japan's qualification process for the Rio Olympics marathon wrapped up with a bang at yesterday's Nagoya Women's Marathon, with Tomomi Tanaka (Daiichi Seimei) getting payback for being left off of last year's Beijing World Championships team in favor of a runner from the Tenmaya corporate team by beating Tenmaya's Rei Ohara by one second in 2:23:19 to take what is almost definitely the last place on the Rio team.  Last week JRN detailed the situation regarding the Rio men's team candidates.  The women's situation looks more clear-cut but it's worth a quick review to see who the most likely names are for Thursday's Olympic team lineup announcement.  Click any race for detailed results.

Beijing World Championships Women's Marathon, Aug. 30
7. Mai Ito (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:29:48
13. Sairi Maeda (Daihatsu) - 2:31:46
14. Risa Shigetomo (Tenmaya) - 2:32:37

Under the JAAF's selection criteria this time around the only chance Japanese…

Kirwa Defends in Nagoya, Tanaka and Ohara to the Line for Rio Team

by Brett Larner

Again this week, what a race.

Defending champion Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) led the largest women-only marathon field in the world through a tense and thrilling race at today's Nagoya Women's Marathon, tailed closely by a large Japanese group that collectively broke through to new ground in the race for the last spot on the Rio Olympics team.

With some erratic pacing in the early kilometers the race soon settled down in the mid-to-high 2:23 range, slow of the JAAF's sub-2:22:30 Olympic standard but still uncharted territory for almost every Japanese woman in the field.  National record holder and Athens gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex), trying one last time to return to the Olympics, was the first to fall off, losing touch with the lead group after 5 km.  The trickle of stragglers continued as the pace held steady around 2:23:30-40 until a core group of 11 remained behind the pacers when they hit halfway in 1:11:45.

Kenyan Monica Jepkoech was the firs…

Kawauchi Breaks World Record for Half Marathon in a Suit by 18 Minutes

by Brett Larner

川内優輝選手、スーツで快走🏃🏃#久喜#マラソン大会#川内優輝pic.twitter.com/6ZgpHYi7xw — ぴの (@pinobubu) March 13, 2016
A week after his Olympic dreams ended with a 2:11:53 finish at the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) took to the streets of his hometown of Kuki, Saitama to run the Kuki Half Marathon.  A special guest of race organizers, Kawauchi treated local fans by portraying his role as the Civil Servant Runner in a literal way, running the race wearing a full suit including tie, vest, belt and dress socks.

というわけで、久喜マラソン大会(撮りに)行ってきました~Σp[【◎】]ω`*)
スポーツなんて滅多に撮らないので不安でしたが、川内優輝選手のスタートと間近でとゴールのところは撮れたので満足満足~(*´ω`*) #川内優輝#マラソンpic.twitter.com/ZOLcInHWbo — えるる@鷲宮 (@erukuma) March 13, 2016
The official Guinness World Record for a half marathon in a suit is 1:24:41 by American Gihan Amarasiriwardena last December.  Dueling with his longtime friend and rival Saeki Makino (DNPL), runners from Heisei Kokusai University and his younger brothers Yoshiki and Koki, Kawauchi…

World University Cross Country Championships - Results

by Brett Larner

Japan's contingent ran well at Saturday's World University Cross Country Championships in Cassino, Italy, scoring two individual and two team medals in a field made somewhat softer by the absence of South Africa, whose team management reportedly forgot to apply for visas, and the United States which elected not to send a team to compete internationally. 

In the women's 6.2 km, Moeno Shimizu (Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) and Maki Izumida (Rikkyo Univ.) were part of a tight four-way battle for the podium, both outlasting Jennifer Louise Nesbitt (Great Britain) but unable to top winner Sevilay Eytemis (Turkey).  Eytemis scored gold in 21:57, Shimizu taking silver three seconds back and Izumida bronze a stride behind.  With women's team scoring based on the first three of six finishers Japan took the gold thanks to Shimizu, Izumida and Nanako Kanno (Ritsumeikan Univ.), 8th overall in 22:27.  Nesbitt's 4th-place finish led Great Britain to the team silver, with hos…

Asics and Waseda University Announce Partnership Aimed at College Sports Industry

https://www.wwdjapan.com/business/2016/03/03/00019811.html

translated by Brett Larner

Asics has formed a comprehensive partnership with Waseda University, a five-year agreement beginning March 2, 2016.  The three main objectives of the collaboration include research and development in sports products and sports medicine, sports-related human resources development and international exchange, and social contribution actions including volunteer activities and event organization.  The views and opinions of students on Waseda's 44 sports teams including its track and field and rugby programs will be incorporated in designing and developing the training gear and uniforms that they will actually use.

Asics CEO Motoi Oyama enthusiastically commented, "Although we have given partial support in the past, this is the first time that we have formed a partnership with a university as a whole.  Partnering with a school like Waseda University with high name recognition value and organization …

Nagoya Women's Marathon Preview

by Brett Larner

The world's largest women-only marathon, Sunday's Nagoya Women's Marathon is the end of the Japanese Olympic marathon selection saga, if not the end of the drama.  2015 World Championships marathon bronze medalist Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) is back to defend her title, and will, her last race a 1:08:06 win last month at Japan's Marugame Half in national record time.  Formerly-Japan based Betelhem Moges (Ethiopia) is her only real international competition, but it would take an off day from Kirwa for Moges to really stand a chance.

At the 2014 Asian Games Kirwa beat Japan's Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) for gold.  Kizaki comes to Nagoya with the best time in the last three years among Japanese women, 2:23:34 in Nagoya in 2013, but while Kirwa's star has only risen since then Kizaki's hit a brick wall.  In 2015 she only raced once, placing only 13th on her stage at December's National Corporate Women's Marathon.  There's nothing to go o…

Fujiwara Announces Retirement and New Role as Chuo University Head Coach

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/1614520.html
http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/feature/hakone/20160309-OHT1T50065.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Historical Hakone Ekiden powerhouse Chuo University held a press conference on Mar. 9 to announce the retirement of three-time World Championships marathon team member and Chuo alumnus Masakazu Fujiwara, 35, from competition and his naming as new head coach of its ekiden team.  Chuo holds multiple Hakone records including 6-straight wins, 14 wins overall, 87-straight and 90 total Hakone appearances, but under former head coach Haruo Urata, 54, for the last four years it failed to make the seeded top ten.  Fujiwara commented, "I want to get us back into the seeded bracket within two or three years," showing his enthusiasm for returning Chuo to its glory days.

As a first-year at Chuo Fujiwara won the Hakone Ekiden's famed uphill Fifth Stage, placing 2nd and 3rd on the same stage as a second-year and third-…

Deki Announces Retirement at 25: "The Hakone Ekiden Meant the Most"

https://twitter.com/soutarou_t/status/707312990672986112

translated by Brett Larner

With a record of achievement at Aoyama Gakuin University and Team Chugoku Denryoku that made him Nagasaki's star long distance runner, Takehiro Deki, 25, announced on Mar. 8 that last month's Tokyo Marathon was his final race and that he is retiring.

Deki started running during the winter of his first year at Hokuyodai H.S. and grew to become the star runner at Aoyama Gakuin, leading the team to new heights.  His third year at AGU he won the 2012 Hakone Ekiden's most competitive stage, the 23.2 km Second Stage, following up just over a month later with a marathon debut at the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon where he ran 2:10:02, the third-best ever by a Japanese university runner.  Aiming for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics at the Tokyo Marathon last month he finished 26th.

Deki commented, "After entering the corporate leagues I gave my absolute best every single day, but I found that the Olymp…

Winningest Hakone Ekiden Team Chuo University's Head Coach Haruo Urata to Retire

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20160308-OHT1T50212.html

translated by Brett Larner

Chuo University, holder of the records for most Hakone Ekiden wins, 14, and most Hakone appearances, 90, announced on Mar. 8 that head coach Haruo Urata, 54, is retiring.  A Chuo alumnus with international experience as a world-class athlete is expected to be asked to be Urata's successor.

From 1959 to 1964 Chuo achieved a still-unequalled six-straight Hakone Ekiden wins, but in recent years it has fallen on harder times.  Its last Hakone title came in 1996.  This year it was only 15th, missing the seeded top ten for the fourth year in a row.  Chuo hopes that new leadership will help restore its prestige as a Hakone power.

Understanding the Japanese Men's Olympic Team Selection Standings

by Brett Larner

Japan has never been one to have a clear-cut, straightforward Olympic marathon team selection process, the JAAF preferring to put forth a complex, multitiered algebra of seemingly objective criteria that ultimately serve to give it leeway to choose its own favorites for the team.  That's rarely been more true than this time around.  The problems with the Rio selection criteria have been put in the public eye on the women's side thanks to Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal), winner of the second women's selection race, and are a big topic in the media right now.  Women still have one more chance to qualify for the Rio team this Sunday in Nagoya, but for men the candidates are all down following last weekend's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon.

Essentially, men had four chances to qualify for the three spots on the Rio team.  The only option for absolutely 100% making the team was to be the first Japanese man in the top eight in the marathon at the Beijing World Champ…