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Weekend Road Racing in Review

by Brett Larner
Sakamoto photo c/o Yichen Ding

The 100th Japanese National Track and Field Championships were the weekend's main event, but there was no shortage of road racing action at home and abroad.  The Hakodate Half Marathon was the most major, this year featuring the addition of a full marathon division for the first time.  2015 Marugame Half Marathon winner Paul Kuira (Konica Minolta) took another Japanese half title, pushing through rain and winds for the win in 1:03:14 over a small pack including Charles Ndungu (Komori Corp.), defending champion Michael Githae (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and Tomohiro Tanigawa (Konica Minolta).  Just a week after setting the 50 km national record, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) pushed up through the field late in the race to pass ten people in the last 5 km for 5th overall in 1:04:24.  Sayo Nomura (Daiichi Seimei) took the women's half in 1:13:02, while Tokyo-based amateur Takehiko Gyoba became Hakodate's first marathon champ …

Japan Announces Rio Olympic Team

by Brett Larner

Following the weekend's National Championships, earlier today the JAAF announced the preliminary 56-member lineup for its team for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.  The list follows the earlier marathon and race walk team announcements and is still pending additions as athletes chase standards up to the July 11 deadline, but based on the results at Nationals there were virtually no surprises or controversial calls.  The only possibly controversial decision was the omission of Shota Hara (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), with a 20.33 PB for 3rd in the men's 200 m final, in favor of Kenji Fujimitsu (Zenrin) who was only 6th in 20.77.  However, having met the tougher 20.28 JAAF standard earlier in the qualifying window Fujimitsu's top 8 finish meant the JAAF was within its latitude to pick him under the published selection protocol.  More surprising were the selection of Miyuki Uehara (Daiichi Seimei) in the women's 5000 m, 5th at Nationals but the third-fastest finisher…

Fukushima Breaks 200 m National Record - 100th National Championships Day Three

by Brett Larner
videos c/o JAAF
click here for Day One results, video and report
click here for Day Two results, video and report




With over 16,000 fans in attendance Japan celebrated the end of its 100th National Track and Field Championships with a new national record in the second-to-last event of the day Sunday at Nagoya's Paloma Mizuho Stadium, sunshine and temperatures near 30 degrees following two days of rain.  Taking advantage of a strong but legal 1.8 m/s tailwind, national record holder Chisato Fukushima (Hokkaido Hi-Tech AC) shaved 0.01 off her 6-year-old 200 m national record with a 22.88 win, adding the 200 m to her schedule for August's Rio de Janeiro Olympics.  Two more records came from runner-up Ami Saito (Kurashiki Chuo H.S.), whose 23.46 broke both the national junior and high school records if short of the 23.20 Rio standard.



The men's 200 m, the final event of the championships, also came up fast with the same 1.8 m/s tailwind.  2010 World Junior Champion…

Takamizawa and Walsh Go Beyond to Find Way to Rio - 100th National Championships Day Two

by Brett Larner
videos c/o JAAF
click here for Day One results, video and report
click here for Day Three results, video and report

The prospect of seeing Japan's first sub-10 100 m packed the house on the second day of the Japanese National Championships, an almost sold-out crowd of over 26,000 braving rain to fill Nagoya's mostly uncovered Paloma Mizuho Stadium.  Athletes in the other events responded to the energy, and two university students went beyond themselves to find what it took to make it to Rio.



The race of the day was the women's 3000 m steeplechase.  Right from the gun collegiate and junior national record holder Anju Takamizawa (Matsuyama Univ.) was out fast, going through 1000 m in 3:08 with a sizable lead over a chase group of four.  Chikako Mori (Sekisui Kagaku), winner of last month's East Japan Corporate Championships 3000 mSC, dropped the pack to chase Takamizawa down over the next 1000 m, making contact right at 2000 m in 6:24.  The 9:45.00 Rio stan…

Suzuki, Osako and Murayama Score Places on Rio Olympic Team - 100th National Championships Day One

by Brett Larner
videos c/o JAAF
click here for Day Two results, video and report 
click here for Day Three results, video and report

The 100th edition of the Japanese National Track and Field Championships kicked off Friday at Nagoya's Paloma Mizuho Stadium amid on and off rain, the chance to make the Rio de Janeiro Olympic team there for the top end of the field.



The race of the day was the women's 10000 m, where Japan Post teammates Ayuko Suzuki and Hanami Sekine worked together to both break the JAAF's tough selection standards.  The only woman in the field to have already broken the JAAF's 31:23.17 standard, Suzuki pushed the pace just under JAAF standard territory from the start.  Sekine, with a 31:48.90 best, alternated the lead, the two of them keeping it skimming just under standard pace and taking over when the other slowed.  The rest of the field disappeared one by one, 31:37.32 runner Yuka Takashima, in her debut in the Shiseido team uniform, the last to hang o…

100th National Championships Schedule and Highlights

Paloma Mizuho Stadium, Nagoya, June 24-26
click here for complete timetable
click here for entry list highlights
events in bold include athletes with Rio Olympic standard marks

The 100th National Track and Field Championships, Japan's primary Olympic Trials, will be broadcast live on NHK Sogo and BS1.  Follow @JRNHeadlines and @JRNLive for live coverage.

Friday, June 24
14:30 - Women's High Jump Final
15:00 - Women's Hammer Throw Final
17:00 - Men's Pole Vault Final
18:20 - Women's Long Jump Final 
18:30 - Men's Hammer Throw Final
18:45 - Women's 10000 m Final
19:48 - Men's 10000 m Final

Saturday, June 25
14:15 - Women's Triple Jump Final
14:30 - Women's Javelin Throw Final
14:45 - Women's Shot Put Final
17:30 - Women's Pole Vault Final
17:45 - Women's 3000 mSC Final
18:00 - Men's Long Jump Final
18:05 - Women's 1500 m Final
18:20 - Men's 1500 m Final
18:30 - Men's Javelin Throw Final
19:10 - Men's 800 m Final
19:20 - W…

Rio Olympics Marathoner Fukushi Pulls Out of Sunday's Hakodate Half With Foot Pain, Coach Denies Stress Fracture (updated)

http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASJ6Q3JD3J6QKTQ2006.html

translated by Brett Larner

On June 22 the organizers of the June 26 Hakodate Half Marathon announced that Rio Olympics women's marathon team member Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) has pulled out of Sunday's race due to pain in her right foot.  After returning mid-month from a training camp in the U.S.A. Fukushi went to the hospital to undergo examination before making the decision to withdraw.

The details are not clear, but there is a possibility of a stress fracture and the team has opted to take it seriously.  Wacoal head coach Tadayuki Nagayama was cautious looking toward August's main event, commenting, "We really have to watch our step here, but training will continue."  He indicated that Fukushi plans to race abroad in July as a tuneup for Rio.

Update:

http://www.daily.co.jp/newsflash/general/2016/06/22/0009212045.shtml

In response to reports that Rio de Janeiro Olympics women's marathon team member Kayok…

Kawauchi Takes Over Three Minutes Off Own 50 km National Record at Okinoshima Ultra

by Brett Larner

Continuing a season that seems to show him returning to his best form, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) took over three minutes off his own national record as he won the hilly Okinoshima Ultramarathon's 50 km division in 2:44:07.  Run on the island where Kawauchi's late father was born, the Okinoshima Ultra is a Father's Day fixture on Kawauchi's calendar.  The course features a relatively flat first 10 km, three 100 m+ tall ups and downs between 10 and 30 km, and an undulating last 20 km capped by one more major hill with 5 km to go.


"The weather conditions were better than usual, so I decided to go for the course record," Kawauchi told JRN post-race.  Where he has typically opened the first 10 km in 33-34 minutes in past years, this year he went out red-hot, splitting 31:07, 2:11 marathon pace, before hitting the hills.  Over the next 20 km he was slightly slower than in the last two years, but even so with a 1:38:21 split at 30 km pr…

Yamanashi Gakuin University Tops Kanto Region Qualifier for November's National University Men's Ekiden

by Brett Larner

November's National University Men's Ekiden is the second of the Big Three University Ekidens, midway in distance and prestige between October's season-opening Izumo Ekiden and January's legendary Hakone Ekiden.  Schools that finished outside the seeded bracket at last year's Nationals have to requalify this month, with the toughest of the qualifying races, the Kanto Region qualifier, happening yesterday in Urawa, Saitama.  Twenty Kanto Region schools fielded eight runners, two from each school in four heats of 10000 m on the track.  The total times of all eight runners are combined to determine the team standings, with the fastest nine schools going on to the national race come November.

Despite not winning a single heat, Yamanashi Gakuin University took the top spot in 4:03:52.82 with runner-up placings in heats 2, 3 and 4 from Junya Uemura, Kenta Ueda and Dominic NyairoNihon University was next in 4:05:20.92 thanks in part to Patrick Wambui wi…

Grandma's Marathon - Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

Suehiro Ishikawa, Yusei Nakao, host family Jamie and Kenji Ogura and crew post-race.

Rio Olympics men's marathon team member Suehiro Ishikawa (Team Honda) took 2nd in the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon at Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota, a solid tuneup performance ahead of August's main event.  Ishikawa finished less than 30 seconds behind winner Macdonald Ondara (Kenya).

Making his international full marathon debut at Grandma's, Yusei Nakao (Smiley Angel AC), the top Japanese man at May's Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon, struggled to deal with temperatures that climbed to 24 degrees, dropping from the lead pack before halfway and fading to 17th overall. 

Elisha Barno (Kenya) won in 2:11:26.  Sarah Kiptoo (Kenya) won the women's race in 2:33:28, with Ethiopian Simegn Abnet Yeshanbel breaking up the Kenyan domination as she won the women's half in 1:13:22.

40th Grandma's Marathon
Duluth, MN, U.S.A., 6/18/16
click here for complete results

Gar…

100th Japanese National Track and Field Championships Entry List Highlights

by Brett Larner

Next weekend marks the 100th edition of the Japanese National Track and Field Championships, all the more important in their role as the primary trials event for the Rio de Janeiro Olympic team.  The JAAF's standards and Olympic qualification protocol are byzantine and labyrinthine, requiring four pages of detailed explanation, but at the risk of oversimplifying to the point fans can more or less follow it they basically boil down to the following:

Anyone who has hit the JAAF's standards by the end of the National Championships and is the top athlete with the JAAF standard in the top 8 in their event at Nationals is on the Rio team.Anyone who has hit the Rio Olympics standards by the end of Nationals and wins their event is on the Rio team.Anyone who has hit the JAAF's standards by the end of Nationals and makes the top 8 will get first consideration for whatever spots remain. Anyone who has hit the Rio Olympic standards by the end of the National Championsh…

Portland Track Festival - Japanese Results

Lewis and Clark College, Portland, OR, U.S.A., 6/12/16
click here for complete results

Men's 1500 m Heat 2
1. Weston Strum (unattached) - 3:39.89
2. Eric Avila (Hoka One One) - 3:40.21
3. Chris Sandoval (Zatopek) - 3:40.36
4. Travis Burkstrand (Brooks ID) - 3:40.60
5. Suguru Osako (Nike Oregon Project) - 3:40.99

Women's 1500 m Heat 4
1. Millie Paladino (West Virginia) - 4:23.15
2. Morgan Mosby (unattached) - 4:23.79
3. Nozomi Musembi Takamatsu (Nike Oregon Project) - 4:24.43
4. Annie Will (unattached) - 4:24.50
5. Nicole Hutchinson (Hershey Harriers) - 4:26.50

Nakamura and Imura Break Hida Takayama 100 km Course Records

by Brett Larner


Gifu's Hida Takayama Ultramarathon celebrated its fifth running with new records in both its men's and women's 100 km despite higher than predicted heat.  The Takayama area is the kind of environment you probably imagine when you think of old Japan: World Heritage Site villages along narrow, winding roads between steep-sided green mountains, a stellar location for a race without too much focus on time.  The 100 km and 71 km divisions both include their fair share of mountains, the largest an 800 m-high climb that peaks between 35 and 40 km before dropping back down.


Last year saw course records in all four divisions. Temperatures at the pre-dawn start this year were cool but predicted to hit 29 degrees mid-afternoon.  Despite cloud cover that rolled in early in the morning they actually reached 32 degrees, combining with the hills to produce very challenging conditions mid-morning.  This was clear in the 71 km where defending women's winner Yuko Kanemo…