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Star of the North Miho Shimizu Makes Her First World Cross Country Team

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20150225-OHT1T50141.html

translated by Brett Larner

This week the Federation announced the Japanese national team for the Mar. 28 World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China.  Making the senior women's 8 km squad for the first time is the Star of the North, Hokkaido's native daughter Miho Shimizu (24, Team Hokuren).  Her first time making a Japanese national team, Shimizu was hopeful as she said, "It's a great honor.  I want to run an aggressive race, experience the level and strength of the world's top athlete and apply what I learn there to track season."

At the first of the two selection races, the Feb. 8 Chiba International Cross Country Meet she ran 29:30 for 8 km to place 5th overall as the 4th Japanese woman.  At the second selection race, the Feb. 21 Fukuoka International Cross Country Meet, she took 3rd overall in the 6th in 20:02, scoring her place on the team by finishing as the 2nd Japanese woman.

After gra…

Japanese Men's World Championships Qualification Wraps Up at Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon - preview

by Brett Larner

It's a great luxury to get to watch a live marathon broadcast with no commercials, but that's just what you get with the 70th edition of the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon this Sunday.  Japan's first IAAF gold label race, Biwako as it is called here features a live ad-free nationwide broadcast on NHK starting at 12:15 p.m. Japan time with the race kicking off at 12:30.  Overseas viewers can follow @JRNLive for live coverage throughout the race if NHK is not available in your area.

And what does the race hold?  It's the last of the selection races for the Japanese team for the Beijing World Championships.  At Tokyo last week the Federation seemed to have backed off its sub-2:06:30 requirement for auto team selection, with more talk about the top Japanese position in the selection races and deserving praise for the 2:07:39 scored in Tokyo by Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu).  Imai is a clear favorite to make the team, with Fukuoka's top Japanese finisher…

Imperial Crown Prince Allowed to Run Outside in Public for First Time in 7 Years

http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASH2T4R9BH2TUTIL01G.html

translated by Brett Larner

Imperial Crown Prince Hironomiya enjoyed jogging a loop of the popular running course around the outside of the Imperial Palace on Feb. 25.  The Prince runs daily inside the grounds of the Crown Prince's Palace in Akasaka, Tokyo, but this was the first time he was allowed to run out in public in 7 years.

Accompanied by Imperial Household Agency officials, the Prince began his run around 3:20 p.m. from Kikyo Gate on the Tokyo Station side of the Palace.  Under cloudy skies he completed the 5 km course in 27:20.  After finishing he smiled as he commented, "It was neither too cold nor too hot.  It was a truly comfortable run."

No announcement about the run was made beforehand, so pedestrians and other runners on the course were caught by surprise.  One woman called out, "Your Majesty!" to which the Crown Prince responded with a wave.  The Prince last ran the loop around the Imperial Pa…

Japan Names Team of 21 for 2015 World Cross Country Championships

by Brett Larner

Japan will send a team of 21 athletes to next month's World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China.  As always, its strongest contingent is its junior women, in this case led by 9:00.89 high schooler Azusa Sumi, undefeated since 2013, and teammate Yuka Sarumida of Toyokawa H.S.  The junior men's team features three athletes with 5000 m bests under 14 minutes including 2014 World Junior Championships team member Shota Onizuka (Omuta H.S.).

2015 Fukuoka International Cross Country Meet winner Mai Shoji (Chukyo Univ.) leads the senior women's squad which also includes her collegiate rival Maki Izumida (Ritsumeikan Univ.).  Once again this year, Japan's senior men are largely giving World Cross a miss, with only three entered versus six on the each of the other three squads.  Corporate runners are completely absent, with 2015 Hakone Ekiden winner Aoyama Gakuin University's Kazuma Kubota the biggest name of the three and Juntendo University teamma…

Kamino and Yokote Lead National University Men's Half Marathon Entries

by Brett Larner
video by Ekiden News

The record-setting 2014 National University Half Marathon finish.

Thanks to an average stage length of 21.7 km at the ten-stage Hakone Ekiden every Jan. 2-3 the half marathon is the distance Japan's collegiate men focus on and the one at which they excel more than any other.  Sub-63 half marathon bests have become commonplace on the Kanto university circuit and sub-62, even sub-61, the new standard for the top Hakone stars.  This Sunday's National University Half Marathon is no exception, with at least 25 men on the entry list having sub-63 PBs led by Hakone Ekiden Fifth Stage course record setter Daichi Kamino (3rd yr., Aoyama Gakuin University) in 1:01:21 and National University Men's Ekiden Fifth Stage course record setter Ken Yokote (3rd yr., Meiji Univ.) in 1:01:37.

Last year's National University Half, held as always in conjunction with Tokyo's Tachikawa City Half Marathon, saw both a new course record of 1:02:09 from Hideto…

Asian Games Silver Medalist Matsumura a Disappointing 25th at Tokyo Marathon

http://www.sankei.com/sports/news/150222/spo1502220024-n1.html

translated by Brett Larner

Just over 30 minutes into the Tokyo Marathon, 2014 Asian Games silver medalist Kohei Matsumura (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) was already showing strain on his face.  Around 12 km he suddenly fell back from the lead group never to return, finishing 25th in 2:16:25.  "Am I shocked?  I guess so..." he said in a thin voice post-race.  "I felt it in my legs right from the start."  In past races he has been able to pick it up partway through, but this time he was unable to focus and get into a steady rhythm.  "I just couldn't get it together today," he said.

Last year Matsumura was the top Japanese finisher in Tokyo, 8th in 2:08:09.  At the Asian Games he won the silver medal in the marathon.  Aware of his status as Japan's top current marathon, pre-race he enthusiastically said, "My goal is 2:07.  I want to live up to expectations."  But those same expe…

Fujiwara Says "I'll Give It One More Year" After Tokyo Marathon

http://www.jiji.com/jc/zc?k=201502/2015022200087&g=spo

translated by Brett Larner

Having had one timely comeback to make the London Olympics team, Arata Fujiwara, now 33, fell to 37th at the Tokyo Marathon.  Around 20 km his legs began to grow heavy.  "I gave it my best, but my body just wouldn't move," he said, shoulders dropping.  "It felt like I was running in water."

Unable to pull out of his slump even in the familiar environment of a race where he had twice run PBs in the past, he said, "It feels like my competitive edge in the race has gone dull."  Asked about his future plans he indicated his drive to make the Rio de Janeiro Olympic team is undiminished, earnestly responding, "In terms of what's inside me, I'm going to give it everything I've got for one more year."

Kawauchi May Take a Break After Calf Pain in Half Marathon

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2015/02/22/kiji/K20150222009856070.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi (27, Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran the 9th Fukaya City Half Marathon on Feb. 22, but after experiencing pain in his left calf he finished 43rd in a personal worst 1:13:36.  Coming onto the track at the end Kawauchi ran with a limp, dragging his left foot a bit as he made it to the finish line, and after finishing he had an expression of pain as he held his left calf.

Disappointed with the result, he stayed in the back of the race organizers' area to avoid the public eye.  "I need to take a break," he said, raising the possibility of a long rest and recovery period.  During the Feb. 15 Kochi Ryoma Marathon his left calf "felt like it was going to cramp up," and with lingering twinges he ran Fukaya with a calf support sleeve on his left leg.  He began to feel pain around 5 km, and near 8 km he lost touch with the lea…

Ethiopians Negesse and Dibaba Double, Imai 2:07:39 at Tokyo Marathon

by Brett Larner
photos by rikujolove and Dr. Helmut Winter, video by naoki620



Endeshaw Negesse and Birhane Dibaba scored the first-ever Ethiopian double at the Tokyo Marathon, both close to the course records as they won in 2:06:00 and 2:23:15.  Former Hakone Ekiden uphill star Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) made it a show for the home crowd with a 2:07:39 PB for 7th, making him the all-time #6 Japanese man and fastest-ever on the Tokyo course.

With decent weather conditions the massive lead pack went out slower than the 1:02:35 first half planned to get them in range of Ethiopian Tsegay Kebede's 2:05:18 Japanese all-comers' record, Kebede among those up front as they went through half in 1:03:08.  Early casualties included last year's top Japanese man and 2014 Asian Games silver medalist Kohei Matsumura (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki), 2012 Tokyo winner Michael Kipyego (Kenya), debuting great Tariku Bekele (Ethiopia), 2012 Fukuoka International Marathon winner Joseph Gita…

Birmingham Indoor Grand Prix - Japanese Results

Birmingham, U.K., 2/21/15
click here for complete results

Men's 2 Miles
1. Mo Farah (Great Britain) - 8:03.40 - WR
2. Paul Koech (Kenya) - 8:13.46
3. Bernard Lagat (U.S.A.) - 8:17.05
4. Suguru Osako (Japan/Nissin Shokuhin) - 8:25.76
5. Thomas Farrell (Great Britain) - 8:26.01
6. Philip Hurst (Great Britain) - 8:26.56
7. Tom Lancashire (Great Britain) - 8:30.79
8. Jonny Hay (Great Britain) -  8:31.69
9. Rob Mullett (Great Britain) - 8:32.50
10. Florian Carvalho (France) - 8:32.87
DNF - Dale Clutterbuck (Great Britain)

Ndiku Over Murayama, Shoji Outkicks Lacaze at Fukuoka XC

by Brett Larner
photos by rikujoulove

Japan's two-race cross-country season wrapped up Saturday with the 29th Fukuoka International Cross-Country Meet, the last chance for Japanese athletes to make this year's World Cross-Country Championships team.  Two-time world junior 3000 mSC champion Jonathan Ndiku (Kenya/Team Hitachi Butsuryu) easily beat #1-ranked collegiate Kenta Murayama (Komazawa University) in the senior men's 10 km, surging on a corner mid-race to break free and win by a margin of 9 seconds in 29:22.  Murayama, in his last race wearing the Komazawa uniform, dueled with New Year Ekiden Fourth Stage course record setter Yuta Shitara (Team Honda) before kicking away for 2nd in 29:31, Shitara 4 seconds behind.

Corporate runner Yuta Takahashi (DeNA RC) outkicked 2014 Ageo City Half Marathon winner Koki Takada (Waseda Univ) for 4th in 29:36, with 2013 Ageo winner Takashi Ichida (Daito Bunka Univ.) closing fast but coming up short of catching his high school teammate …

Police Search for Suspicious Objects Ahead of Tokyo Marathon

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20150219/k10015583221000.html

translated by Brett Larner

As part of the counter-terrorism operations surrounding the Feb. 22 Tokyo Marathon, police officers and local residents patrolled part of the course in Ginza looking for suspicious objects.  Roughly 50 officers from the Tsukiji Police Station and members of the local merchants' association took part in the Ginza patrol, examining the area around the course to make sure there were no suspicious objects.  Afterward they handed out pamphlets to passersby on which was written, "If you see any suspicious people or objects, call the police at #110," asking for citizens' help in ensuring a safe race.

With 36,000 runners Sunday's Tokyo Marathon is the largest marathon in the country.  In response to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, beginning last year police and organizers have increased their counter-terrorism efforts.  This year 4500 police officers will be on duty at the race, wi…

Fukuoka XC, Osako on the Track, Three Half Marathons, A New Mass-Participation Marathon and Tokyo - Weekend Preview (updated)

by Brett Larner

It's another busy weekend in Japan, with at least six big races across the country and one important one overseas.  Saturday kicks off with the second of the two-meet Japanese cross country season as the Fukuoka International Cross Country Meet plays host to Japanese athletes hoping to join the National Team for this year's World Cross Country Championships.  With a total of four foreign athletes led by the Japan-based Jonathan Ndiku (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) in the senior men's 10 km there isn't much of an international component, but bigger Japanese names on the entry lists include #1-ranked collegiate runner Kenta Murayama making his last appearance in the Komazawa University uniform before his graduation next month and United Airlines NYC Half-bound Koki Takada (Waseda University) and Takashi Ichida (Daito Bunka University) in the senior men's 10 km, Chiba International XC runner-up Maki Izumida (Rikkyo Univ.) in the senior women's 6 km, Chiba…

Tokyo Marathon to Conduct Unprecedented Security Measures Against Runners

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/20150219-OYT1T50059.html
http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXLASDG17HCV_Y5A210C1CC0000/

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Click here for the above article's graphic showing a runner in the Tokyo Marathon being followed by police and surveillance cameras above pictures and a list of banned items and activities including plastic bottles, glass bottles, cans, poison, explosives, scissors, box cutters, tear gas, clothing bearing advertising, clothing that might upset others, and music and dancing on the course.

Over fears generated by the Islamic State kidnapping of Japanese citizens and the rising threat of terrorism worldwide, participants in the Feb. 22 Tokyo Marathon will be subjected to unprecedented security measures.  The 36,000 participants will be prohibited from bringing plastic sports drink bottles to the start and will each be screened with metal detectors.  Police have more than doubled the number of surveillance cameras monitoring runners…

Kirwa Vs. Kizaki Rematch at Nagoya Women's Marathon

by Brett Larner

The Nagoya Women's Marathon, the world's largest women-only marathon, features a good matchup for this year's race on Mar. 8, bringing back together 2014 Asian Games marathon gold medalist Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain, nominally) and silver medalist Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu).  The pair's battle was one of the highlights of the Asian Games, and with any luck Nagoya will get a replay.  Their main competition is 40-year-old Mariya Konovalova, with a 2:22:46 PB at age 39 one of the seemingly few elite Russians to have escaped current doping revelations so far.

One of the notable things about the field for is its evenness, with a steady progression of PBs all the way from Kirwa's 2:21:41 to the 2:31 level.  Aheza Kiros (Ethiopia), Anna Incerti (Italy), Olena Burkovska (Ukraine) and others fill out the international component, but evenly mixed in with them is the best Japanese women's field in any of the three Beijing World Championships races and certain…

Survey Says Most Teens Don't Care About Tokyo Marathon

http://news.mynavi.jp/news/2015/02/18/148/

translated by Brett Larner

If you think about cold season sports, the marathon immediately comes to mind.  These days the number of amateur marathons run through the closed-off streets of big cities keeps going up.  Chief among these amateur races is of course February's Tokyo Marathon which sees hundreds of thousands of people applying every year.  What do the nation's teens think about this hugely popular event?  We asked 428 JOL teen readers, "Are you interested in the Tokyo Marathon?"

Are you interested in the Tokyo Marathon?
#1 - No, I'm not interested: 325 people (75.9%)
#2 - Yes, I'll go to watch and cheer: 17 people (4.0%)
#3 - Yes, friends or family members are running: 13 people (3.0%)
#4 - No, it's irritating because the roads are blocked: 12 people (2.8%)
#5 - Yes, I'm running: 8 people (1.9%)
#5 - Yes, I wanted to run but didn't get in: 8 people: (1.9%)

In #1, 325 people answered, "No, I&#…

2015 United Airlines NYC Half to Feature Elite American and International Men’s Fields for Sunday, March 15, Race

A New York Runners Press Release

Olympic silver medalist Meb Keflezighi and three-time Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein will lead the American charge, while top returning entrant Stephen Sambu and distance running star Wesley Korir, both of Kenya, headline a deep and diverse international lineup.

Race will air live in New York on ABC7 and stream live on WatchABC, 7online, and ESPN3 via WatchESPN.

New York, February 18, 2015—Defending Boston Marathon champion Meb Keflezighi and compatriot Dathan Ritzenhein, running the half-marathon distance for the first time since the 2013 NYC Half, will lead a resilient field of American men against a strong international contingent highlighted by last year’s third-place finisher Stephen Sambu and 2012 Boston Marathon champion Wesley Korir at the 2015 United Airlines NYC Half on March 15, 2015, it was announced today by Mary Wittenberg, president and CEO of New York Road Runners.

“From Meb and Dathan to Stephen and Wesley, the 2015 United Airlines NYC Half…

Officer Yukitomo Aiming for the Podium at Himeji Castle Marathon

http://www.kobe-np.co.jp/news/shakai/201502/0007744581.shtml

translated by Brett Larner

At the first edition of the Himeji Castle World Heritage Site Marathon on Feb. 22, senior patrol officer Makoto Yukitomo, 33, of Suma Police Station Department 3 will run as an invited elite athlete.  In his student days at Senshu University Officer Yukitomo ran the most competitive stage at the prestigious Hakone Ekiden, the Second Stage, two years in a row.  As a rookie police officer living in the Himeji police dormitory his regular running course was around Himeji Castle.  "It's fun to run on familiar old ground," he said in anticipation of the starting gun.

Officer Yukitomo was born in Yanai, Yamaguchi.  A member of his junior high school's kendo club, at a school sports day running event he caught the eye of the track coach who convinced him to become a long distance runner.  With a good track record of results in hard training he was recommended to and accepted by the sports…

30 km National University Record Holder Hattori Withdraws from Tokyo Marathon with Achilles Injury

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20150214-OHT1T50310.html

translated by Brett Larner

30 km national university record holder Yuma Hattori, a third-year at Toyo University, has withdrawn from his planned debut at the Feb. 22 Tokyo Marathon due to pain in his right Achilles tendon.  Hattori notified race organizers of his withdrawal on Feb. 14.

On Jan. 2 Hattori won the Hakone Ekiden's most competitive stage, the Second Stage, but injured his right thigh in the last part of that run.  After taking a week off to recover he returned to full training including two 40 km runs but began experiencing pain in his right Achilles.  Carefully considering his future, he made the tough decision to withdraw.

The decision means that Hattori has given up on his plans for the "shortest route" to the Olympics that were to have started at the Tokyo Marathon, but his goal of making the Rio de Janeiro Olympics has not changed.  He still plans to run next year's Tokyo Marathon to take a &q…

Takeyuki Nakayama Breaks Three Hours at Senshu Marathon

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20150215-OHT1T50273.html

translated by Brett Larner

4th in the marathon at the Seoul Olympics and Barcelona Olympics, Takeyuki Nakayama, 55, ran Sunday's Senshu International Marathon as a specially invited guest.  Nakayama ran 2:54:26, finishing 19th in the general men's division and far surpassing his goal of 3:30.  "I started up front, so I went out at a faster pace than I was planning," he said with a smile.  "I figured that if I kept running like that I'd break 3 hours, so that's what I did."

In 1985 Nakayama set the then Japanese national record of 2:08:15.  Along with Toshihiko Seko and twins Shigeru Soh and Takeshi Soh he was one of the leaders of the Japanese marathon world.  Nakayama won the Senshu International Marathon in 1996 in 2:17:28.  "There was a headwind the whole way," he recalled.  "When I saw the bridge [at 40 km] I was totally exhausted."

These days the freelance Nakayama ma…

National, World and Course Records Everywhere - Weekend Summary

Collegiates Kimura and Noda Win Kumanichi 30 km, Hasegawa and Amako Take Ome

by Brett Larner

On a busy weekend the Japanese racing calendar featured not one but two elite 30 km road races.  In western Japan, the Kumanichi 30 km staged its 59th running, its fourth edition since adding a mass-participation marathon to help keep the small elite-level 30 km afloat.

The men's 30 km featured a pack of five up front featuring corporate teammates Sota Hoshi and Shota Yamaguchi (Team Fujitsu) and collegiates Shin Kimura (Meiji Univ.),  Shohei Otsuka (Komazawa Univ.) and Hazuma Hattori (Toyo Univ.), the younger brother of last year's winner Yuma Hattori (Toyo Univ.).  Kimura did most of the early leading before making a two-man break with Minato Oishi (Team Toyota) at 10 km, opening a 15-second lead by 15 km but swallowed back up by 20 km.  The pace slowed and the race turned tactical, and in a five-way sprint finish Kimura again pulled to the front for the win in 1:31:27, just ahead of 2013 national 5000 m champion Hoshi who clocked the same time and Yamaguchi …

Kawauchi Breaks Two World Records With Kochi Ryoma Marathon Win

by Brett Larner

Running marathons on back-to-back weekends for the first time, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) improved on his 2:15:16 8th-place finish at last weekend's Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon with a 2:15:06 win at the 69th edition of the Kochi Ryoma Marathon.

Still recovering the fitness lost to a month off serious training after spraining his ankle in late December, Kawauchi found an unexpected challenge from Tatsuya Itagaki (Team JP Post), a 2:22:19 marathoner who went through halfway right next to him on 2:12 marathon pace.  Things slowed down in the uphill second half, Itagaki lasting until 27 km before a surge from Kawauchi put him away. From there Kawauchi was free all the way to the end, his 2:15:06 missing the course record by 42 seconds.  Itagaki was rewarded for a brave first half with a new best of 2:18:56.

Kawauchi's win marked his 35th career sub-2:16 marathon and 37th sub-2:17.  Both marks surpassed the world records held by Ethiopian great Abebe …

Ndirangu and Numata Win National Corporate Half Marathon, Kikuchi Just Misses National Record in 1:00:32

by Brett Larner

A week after winning a muddy Chiba XC, Charles Ndirangu (Kenya/Team JFE Steel) was back for his half marathon debut at the National Corporate Half Marathon Championships.  The successor to 2015 Kenyan national XC champion Bedan Karoki (DeNA RC) at Hiroshima's Sera H.S., Ndirangu sat near the rear of the lead pack through a relatively conservative 14:29 opening split on the 30 m uphill first 5 km.  As the downhill started Masato Kikuchi (Team Konica Minolta), the top non-African at last year's World Half Marathon Championships who ran an all-time Japanese #5 1:00:57 two weeks ago in Marugame, began to push the pace, covering the next 5 km in 14:19.  Ndirangu temporarily lost contact with the lead group in Kikuchi's wake but came back in a hurry, surging at 11 km to go to the front and break up the pack.

Initially only Kikuchi and his teammate Keita Shitara (Team Konica Minolta), who likewise ran a PB 1:01:20 in Marugame two weeks ago, followed, but when they…