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Defending Beppu-Oita Champion Adachi to Take On Domestic Rivals Ota and Akiba in Race for World Championships Spot

http://mainichi.jp/enta/sports/general/news/20090129ddm035050096000c.html
http://mainichi.jp/enta/sports/general/news/20090128ddm035050005000c.htmlhttp://mainichi.jp/enta/sports/general/news/20090127ddm035050011000c.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The 58th Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon will be held Feb. 1 on Japan's southernmost main island of Kyushu. As a selection race for the 2009 Berlin World Championships marathon team, this year's Betsudai, as the race is abbreviated, has drawn a large number of domestic contenders along with several top foreign competitors. Chief among the runners vying for a spot on the the Berlin team are defending champion and Oita local Tomoya Adachi (23, Team Asahi Kasei), ekiden ace Takashi Ota (32, Team Konica Minolta) and first-time marathoner Keita Akiba (29, Team Komori Corp.).

Tomoya Adachi
Tomoya Adachi is coming home to win. Taking first last year in his debut marathon, Adachi brought new wind to the sails of Japanese marathoning. Runn…

Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon - Preview

by Brett Larner

The 63rd running of the Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon takes place this Sunday, Feb. 1. This year's race is its first in a new international format, with a small group of four invited overseas men and three women added to the usual strong domestic and Japan-residing African field.

The man to beat is course record holder Mekubo Mogusu (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.), who broke the hour mark for the first time in winning the 2007 Marugame. Mogusu comes to the race this year fresh from breaking his own stage record on the Hakone Ekiden's 2nd stage and will be all but impossible to beat. Only three men in the field have a conceivable chance. One is Mogusu's university rival Daniel Gitau (Nihon Univ.), who has approached Mogusu's level on the track and will be looking for his first legitimate world-class half marathon time. Another is Asian Record holder Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku), whose best time of 1:00:25 is only 37 seconds behind Mogusu'…

Yasushi Sakaguchi's Plan to Rebuild Japanese Men's Marathoning

http://www.asahi.com/sports/column/TKY200901220168.html

translated by Brett Larner

Turning 48 this year, Yasushi Sakaguchi (Team Chugoku Denryoku) faces great change as he enters his fifth Zodiac cycle in 2009. In December he was named director of the men's division of Rikuren's new Long Distance and Road Racing Special Committee. "I fully understand how weighty this is for Japan," he says. A widely-respected coach with three Olympic marathoners to his name, Sakaguchi has been entrusted with rebuilding the wreckage from the Beijing Olympics.

Japanese men's distance running has up until now been focused only on team running. This, says Sakaguchi, has been a mistake. From now on, "The priority is going to be on representing Japan." Team Chugoku Denryoku finished 7th at this year's New Year Ekiden, its worst placing since 2001. The team is in a rebuilding phase with a crop of young runners, but with his naming to the national position Sakaguchi's atte…

Shibui Joins Ozaki on Five-Spot World Championships Team

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2009/01/26/11.html
http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20090127-OHT1T00083.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Three main races will be used to select the five members of the Japanese national women's marathon team for this summer's World Championships marathon in Berlin. The top Japanese finishers at the Tokyo International Women's Marathon, Osaka International Women's Marathon and Nagoya International Women's Marathon are automatically selected for the team, meaning last Sunday's Osaka International winner Yoko Shibui has now secured a place on the team alongside Tokyo International winner Yoshimi Ozaki. Joining them will be the top Japanese finisher at March's Nagoya International, in which 2007 Tokyo Marathon winner Hitomi Niiya and 2002 Rotterdam Marathon winner Takami Ominami are scheduled to compete.

For the remaining two World Championships spots, the runners-up from these three races, thus far Tokyo In…

Shibui vs. Radcliffe and Akaba vs. Goucher

by Brett Larner

Although it is always difficult to compare performances in different races, the results of the top finishers in this past Sunday's Osaka International Women's Marathon had interesting parallels to those from November's New York City Marathon. New York's course is generally perceived as more difficult, but both courses feature significant up-down. Apart from New York's uphill start, both courses' major hills occur on the sections between 13 and 15 km and between 24 and 27 km, with rolling net uphill in the final 5 km. Osaka's course also has a significant hill at 31 km.

The first table below lists the 5 km splits for the two winners, Osaka champion and former national record holder Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo), and New York victor and world record holder Paula Radcliffe (U.K.). The second table lists the 5 km splits for Osaka runner-up Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) and New York 3rd-place finisher Kara Goucher (U.S.A.), both of whom we…

Osaka Award Ceremony Videos

JRN co-editor Mika Tokairin ran the 2009 Osaka International Women's Marathon. Below are some photos and videos she shot on race day.


A 360' shot inside the stadium before the start.


Yoko Shibui and the other top eight finishers at the award ceremony.


The award ceremony continued.


Shibui with the award ceremony MCs.


Shibui, Akaba, Hara, Ohira, Simon, Okunaga and Wanjiru at the post-race party.

Shimahara and Makrioteris Win 2009 Osaka Half Marathon

http://www.sankei-kansai.com/2009/01/26/20090126-005663.html

translated by Brett Larner

4020 runners participated in the 2009 Osaka Half Marathon, an event held in conjunction with the Jan. 25 Osaka International Women's Marathon on a 21.0975 km course from Osaka Stadium to Osaka Castle. Winning the women's division was 2007 Osaka World Championships marathon team member Kiyoko Shimahara (32, Second Wind AC), who clocked 1:13:15 in her second straight Osaka Half appearance, with Mai Kisaki (20, Team Kyocera) 2nd in 1:14:14. In the men's division, Joannis Makrioteris (27, Momoyama Gakuin Univ.) ran 1:08:22 to take his 4th consecutive win.

Shimahara's winning time of 1:13:15 was slower than last year's mark, but she was nevertheless happy to be the top finisher. "I ran according to plan. At 20 km I dropped the people who were chasing me, just like that," she said with evident satisfaction.

Shimahara won this past December's Honolulu Marathon and plans to ru…

Shibui is Back With 2:23:42 Osaka Win

by Brett Larner


Yoko Shibui celebrates her first marathon win in over four years.

Yoko Shibui said she was going to run Osaka like an adult and she kept to her words. After running her last two marathons with 1:10-1:11 first halves only to fall apart each time, Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) sat in the pack for nearly 30 km before going on the offense to take the win in the 2009 Osaka International Women's Marathon, her third victory in eleven attempts. Enduring a 1:13:01 first half, Shibui ran 16:11 between 30 and 35 km and clocked splits as fast as 3:08/km in the final quarter of the race, running a 1:10:41 second half while laughing to supporters along the course to finish in 2:23:42. Shibui covered her final 2.195 km in 7:02; at last month's elite men's Fukuoka International Marathon only winner Tsegaye Kebede (Ethiopia) ran a faster finish, 6:25, as second-fastest finishing man Arata Fujiwara (Team JR Higashi Nihon) clocked 7:03.

Shibui's first win at the 2001 O…

Former Olympic Marathoner Yumi Kokamo Returns to Osaka After 17 Years

http://www.asahi.com/sports/spo/SEB200901210005.html

translated by Brett Larner

Among the field at the Jan. 25 Osaka International Women's Marathon will be an amateur runner with a special memory. Her name is Yumi Matsunaga, 37, formerly the runner known as 1992 Barcelona Olympics marathoner Yumi Kokamo. After her moment of glory in winning Osaka at age 20, her life changed dramatically. Having passed through scores of setbacks and trials, this mother of two comes back to this year's Osaka to take a step forward in her new running life.

Officially entered as an honorary guest runner, this will be Matsunaga's sixth full marathon, but along with her debut at the 1992 Osaka and the Barcelona Olympics it will be only her third time running in 'serious mode.' "I'm going to run as though it were my first marathon," Matsunaga says with a gentle smile.

Seventeen years ago in Osaka Matsunaga, a second-year corporate runner with Team Daihatsu, won her debut maratho…

Watch the 2009 Osaka International Women's Marathon Live Online

The 2009 Osaka International Women's Marathon* will be broadcast live nationwide on Fuji TV on Jan. 25 beginning at 12:00 noon Japan time. International viewers should be able to watch online for free through this site.

Click here for the IAAF's Osaka preview.

*AKA 'Osaka International Ladies` Marathon'

Bringing Back the Classic: Fukushi in Osaka

translated by Mika Tokairin and Brett Larner



It's been a year since 3000 m, 5000 m and half-marathon national record holder Kayoko Fukushi's marathon debut in Osaka, a run which will be remembered as the classic marathon cautionary tale. The video above shows Fukushi's final 500 m. Below is a two-part mini-documentary on her marathon with footage of the earlier stages of the race, alternate footage of her last kilometer not included in the original broadcast, and an interview with Fukushi recorded three weeks after the race. A transcript of Fukushi's comments is included below the two video segments.


Part one of the documentary.


Part two of the documentary.

Transcript of Fukushi's Commentary
I was like Bambi. Everything was new, dehydration and whatnot. I think it was a good experience for me. Maybe it was a curse or something, but I got three DVDs of the TV coverage from friends and they all cut off at the 30 km point! I couldn't see anything that happened after t…

Yumiko Hara to Banish the Past With World Championships Qualification #3 in Osaka

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/sports/other/090120/oth0901201727016-n1.htm

translated by Brett Larner

March, 2008
Having finished 4th at the Nagoya International Women's Marathon and missed out on her chance to make the Beijing Olympic team, Yumiko Hara (Team Kyocera) goes home to her parents' home in Tochigi prefecture to recuperate. She thinks about what races she should target next season. She holds coach Kunio Omori's year-long training schedule and with a steady hand begins to write in her goals.

January, 2009
"Last year I couldn't take a single step forward and it was a disappointment to a lot of people," says Hara. "I want to restore everyone's faith in me the only way I can, so I decided to run Osaka." A year ago Hara had signed up for Osaka as the defending champion to reserve her spot on the Beijing Olympic team. Feeling weak and drained, she withdrew shortly before the race and slid her target to Nagoya. Even that was too much.

The Osaka course w…

Lidia Simon Looking for Osaka Top Three

http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/090121/spg0901210501001-n1.htm

translated by Brett Larner

The 2009 Osaka International Women's Marathon athletes' village officially opened on Jan. 20. Making her first appearance in Osaka, Russian Gulnara Vygovskaya, 28, arrived in the athletes' village together with her coach Volker Wagner, 59, a former coach of men's marathon world record holder Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia.

Also arriving in the athletes' village for her ninth Osaka was three-time winner Lidia Simon of Romania, 35. "I want to break 2:25 and be in the top three," Simon told reporters. As part of the pre-race festivities, runners in the athletes' village took part in a mochi-making ceremony (photo above). Simon professed her love for the traditional pounded rice-paste delicacy.

2009 Osaka International Women's Marathon - Preview

by Brett Larner



The official 2009 Osaka International Women's Marathon preview video.

The third official selection race for Japan's women's marathon team at the 2009 Berlin World Championships takes place this Sunday, Jan. 25, at the Osaka International Women's Marathon. Last year's Olympic selection race edition of Osaka saw the memorable marathon debut of half marathon national record holder Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal), a spectacular failure in which Fukushi ran near 2:20 pace in the first half only to finish in the 2:40's with a bloody face and bruised pride. This year's Osaka promises even more drama: a duel between Fukushi's fellow Beijing 10000 m Olympians, former marathon national record holder and current 10000 m national record holder Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) and, in her marathon debut, Japan's popular 'mama-san' runner Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren).

With the complete failure of Japanese marathoning at the Beijing Olympi…

Kobayashi and Niiya Bring Toyota Jidoshokki Win in Kita-Kyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden

http://iaaf.org/news/kind=100/newsid=48966.html

Scroll to the bottom of the above article for Ken Nakamura's brief report. Along with Nakamura's comments a few things are worth pointing out.

-Team Toyota Jidoshokki's Yuriko Kobayashi broke Yoko Shibui's 7-year old 1st stage record by 7 seconds, clocking 12:59 for the 4.2 km leg. Kobayashi is banned from regular jitsugyodan races due to her status as both a student and professional, so it was a rare moment to see her in an ekiden with Toyota Jidoshokki.

-Toyota Jidoshokki anchor Hitomi Niiya, the 2007 Tokyo Marathon winner, followed up her stage-best anchor run at last week's National Interprefectural Women's Ekiden with another stage-best anchor performance, beating Beijing Olympic marathoner Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya) and 2008 Tokyo International Women's Marathon runner-up Yuri Kano (Second Wind AC) among others.

-Team Shiseido defectors Second Wind AC made an extremely rare ekiden appearance, fielding a t…

Nagano Breaks National Interprefectural Ekiden Course Record; High School Senior Murasawa Runs 23:55 for 8.5 km Stage Record

by Brett Larner


Click picture for video highlights.








Despite anchor Yuichiro Ueno suffering stomach cramps and slowing in the final kilometers of his stage, Nagano Prefecture's 2009 team put together a winning run at the Jan. 18 National Interprefectural Men's Ekiden in Hiroshima, winning its fifth title in six years and covering the 48.0 km course in a record time of 2:18:43. Nagano's Akinobu Murasawa also set a new stage record of 23:55 on the 8.5 km 5th stage, breaking the previous record by 12 seconds. Of the seven members on Nagano's team, three including Murasawa were current students at 2008 National High School Boys Ekiden champion Saku Chosei High School, two were graduates of Saku Chosei, and the remaining two were junior high school students who will undoubtedly go on to attend Saku Chosei.

1st Stage - 7.0 km
Nagano's Kenta Chiba ran patiently at the front of the pack throughout the stage, covering a string of moves by the stage's other high school runner…

Nagano Set For National Interprefectural Ekiden Title Defense

http://www.jiji.com/jc/zc?k=200901/2009011500556&rel=j&g=spo
http://www.jiji.com/jc/c?g=spo_30&k=2009011700250

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The 14th annual National Interprefectural Men's Ekiden takes place Jan. 18, covering a 7-stage, 48-km course starting and finishing at Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park. This year's race looks set to be a battle between defending champion Nagano Prefecture and 2007 winner Hyogo Prefecture.

Last year Nagano took its fourth national title in five years; this year the team is even stronger thanks to the addition of the heart of Nagano's Saku Chosei High School team, the 2008 National High School Boys' Ekiden champion. Saku Chosei's Akinobu Murasawa, Sugeru Osako, Shota Hiraga and Kenta Chiba will all run for Nagano, along with Hakone Ekiden greats Yuki Sato (Tokai Univ.), Kodai Matsumoto (Meiji Univ.) and Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B), all three of whom are Saku Chosei alumni. Barring an accident a repeat win for…

Blind Paralympics Marathon Gold Medalist Yuichi Takahashi to Run Mumbai Marathon

http://www.47news.jp/CN/200901/CN2009011701000376.html

translated by Brett Larner

The site of a string of deadly terror attacks this past November, western India's Mumbai will go ahead as scheduled with its Jan. 18 Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon, the third event in a four-race international relay. Running for a Visually-Impaired All-Star team is Athens Paralympics men's marathon gold medalist Yuichi Takahashi (43). Takahashi feels a special motivation for his participation this year, saying, "I hope that by showing them that I can run even though I've been blinded I can help give the families of Mumbai the courage to get through the damage done by the terrorists."

The Mumbai Marathon is part of the Greatest Race on Earth series of marathons sponsored for the fifth time by London's Standard Chartered Bank. The four-race series takes place in Nairobi, Singapore, Mumbai and Taiwan, with the cumulative times of a team's runners in each race determining the o…

Rikuren's New Overseas Marathon Training Camps

http://www.jiji.com/jc/zc?k=200901/2009011300827

translated by Brett Larner

As part of its efforts to improve the performances of Japan's top distance runners, Rikuren's new Long Distance and Road Racing Special Committee is introducing a series of overseas training camps for both established and developing marathoners. Runners and their support team members will be sent to abroad to Kenya, Ethiopia and the United States to observe the training methods and facilities of top international athletes. Beijing men's 5000 m and 10000 m Olympian Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) will be travelling to Kenya at the end of the month for the first 20 day camp. Concurrently, a women's training camp will take place Feb. 2-26 in Christchurch, New Zealand, and will feature Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex), Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal), Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei), Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya) and five others.

Sato, Mogusu, Yamauchi and Others to Headline Marugame Half Marathon (updated)

http://www.shikoku-np.co.jp/sports/local/article.aspx?id=20090116000122
http://mainichi.jp/area/kagawa/news/20090116ddlk37050500000c.html
http://www.jiji.com/jc/c?g=spo_30&k=2009011500664

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On Jan. 15 the Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon announced the field for its 63rd running on Feb. 1. 49 elite athletes including 31 men, 18 women and 7 invited foreign runners from 6 countries will compete in the first edition of the race's new international format. Beijing Olympics men's marathon national team members Tsuyoshi Ogata and Asian half marathon record holder Atsushi Sato of Team Chugoku Denryoku are scheduled to appear, while Beijing Olympics women's marathon entrant Reiko Tosa (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) will run Marugame as a preparation race for her final marathon before retirement, March's Tokyo Marathon.

Men's course record holder and Hakone Ekiden star Mekubo Mogusu (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) will return to Marugame,…

An Interview With National Champion Saku Chosei High School Aces Kenta Chiba and Shota Hiraga

http://www.nagano-np.co.jp/modules/news/article.php?storyid=13033

translated by Brett Larner

At the 59th National High School Boys' Ekiden on Dec. 21 in Kyoto, Saku Chosei High School of Nagano Prefecture set the Japanese High School Record (excluding marks set by teams with foreign runners) [the original article phrases it this way] of 2:02:18 to take its first national victory. 1st stage runner Kenta Chiba and 4th stage runner Shota Hiraga both clocked stage second-best times to help their team become the best in the country, setting the pair up for equally impressive runs when they attempt to assist Nagano Prefecture in defending its national title at the Jan. 18 National Interprefectural Men's Ekiden in Hiroshima and beyond following their graduation from high school. We listened to the two runners discuss the National High School Ekiden, their strategy for the Interprefectural Ekiden, and their plans for the future.

Kenta Chiba (Minowa JHS)
Q: How did it feel to win your firs…

Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon Names Elite Field for 2009 World Championships Selection Race Edition

http://mainichi.jp/enta/sports/general/track/news/20090115k0000m050021000c.html

translated by Brett Larner

The organizing committee of the 58th Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon (sponsored in part by the Mainichi Newspapers Group and Rikuren), announced the names of this year's elite field on Jan. 14. Defending champion Tomoya Adachi (Team Asahi Kasei), who won last year's race in his marathon debut, will return to headline the field. Keita Akiba (Team Komori Corp.) will make his highly-anticipated marathon debut after a dazzling run at the New Year Ekiden. Times are expected to be fast as runners will be competing not only for the win but also for a place on the 2009 Berlin World Championships marathon team.

The domestic elite field includes 11 invited runners. Since winning last year Adachi has focused on improving his speed, setting a new 10000 m PB later in 2008. He came up a disappointing 3rd in an intense three-way sprint finish on the anchor stage of this year's New Year Ek…

Biwako Mainichi Marathon Becomes Japan's First IAAF Gold Label Race

http://mainichi.jp/enta/sports/general/news/20090110k0000m050038000c.html

translated by Brett Larner

On Jan. 9 the IAAF announced that it has granted the Mar. 1 Biwako Mainichi Marathon (Lake Biwa Marathon) its gold label, making the elite event Japan's first race to receive the international authority's highest ranking. The IAAF upgraded Biwako's status after reviewing last year's events based on field size, elite field, organization and other criteria.

The IAAF's label program began last year, with big-city marathons such as Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York receiving top rankings. Japan's famous races were highly ranked on organizational ability but did not reach the top tier due to problems including the makeup of their elite fields and the lack of international broadcast. This month's Osaka International Women's Marathon, last month's Fukuoka International Marathon and other elite races remain as silver label events due to these issu…