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Showing posts from December, 2016

Toyota Tries For Three In a Row - 2017 New Year Ekiden Preview

by Brett Larner



The New Year Ekiden is the peak of the year for corporate league men, their national championship race with 37 teams of seven squaring off over a total of 100 km in front of a live TV audience.  At 61 runnings it is still a newcomer compared to the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden and has long struggled to approach Hakone's popularity.  The upswing in talent at the university level over the last few years has brought more fans to the New Year Ekiden as one after another of the biggest Hakone stars have graduated and entered the corporate machine.

Last year Toyota scored a second-straight New Year Ekiden title with a very young team that averaged 23 years old.  This year its roster is bolstered by the addition of one of the most popular and talented 2016 graduates, 30 km collegiate national record holder Yuma Hattori, formerly of Toyo University. Hattori will tackle the New Year Ekiden's longest stage, the 22.0 km Fourth Stage, and with much of last year's lineup ret…

2017 Hakone Ekiden Starting Lists and Preview

by Brett Larner



It's almost time for the two greatest days of the year, Japan's biggest and best road race, the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden.  Starting lists for each of the twenty-one teams' sixteen-man rosters at Hakone's 93rd edition are out, and below JRN gives you an early look at how the race is shaping up.  Follow @JRNLive for live English-language coverage of one of the sport's truly great events.

Hakone is a road relay run over two days, ten stages of around a half marathon in length each, five from downtown Tokyo up to the mountain town of Hakone on Jan. 2 and five more running back down on Jan. 3.  There is simply nothing else like it anywhere in the world, in quality, in presentation, in popularity.  It's a cultural phenomenon that shows the best of what long distance running can be, even if the cost can be high.

Twenty university men's teams from around the greater Tokyo area and one select team make up the field, each with an entry roster of sixteen…

Ritsumeikan University Wins Fourth-Straight Mount Fuji Women's Ekiden, National Champ Matsuyama University Third

http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/20161230/ath16123013030006-n1.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

【富士山女子駅伝】
スタートしました!#富士山女子駅伝pic.twitter.com/sx0ES9dPE0 — 日本学生陸上競技連合 (@iuauj) December 30, 2016
Running through the foothills of Mt. Fuji on a seven-stage, 43.8 km course from Fujisan Hongu Sengen Shrine to Fuji Sports Park Field in Shizuoka, on Dec. 30 Kyoto's Ritsumeikan University won a fourth-straight Mount Fuji Women's Ekiden in 2:25:43.  It was Ritsumeikan's tenth National University Women's Invitational Ekiden Championships title and left the school undefeated since the National Championships moved to the hilly Mt. Fuji course in 2013.  Meijo University was 2nd, with 2016 National University Women's Ekiden championMatsuyama University taking 3rd.

Conditions at the start were good, with 10-degree temperatures, 44% humidity and a gentle north wind.  Running the First Stage on a new course circling Sengen Shrine, Matsuayama's Rio de Janeiro 3000 m steeple…

Kawauchi in 2016

Yuki Kawauchi's 2016 race results. Click any result for report, photos and video.

Jan. 10: Ibusuki Nanohana Marathon, Kagoshima: 2:15:14 - 1st - CR
Jan. 17: Okukuma Road Race half marathon, Kumamoto: 1:04:00 - 2nd
Jan. 31: Okumusashi Ekiden Second Stage (5.1 km), Saitama: 16:45 - 2nd
Feb. 7: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama: 37:36 - 3rd
Feb. 14: Karatsu 10-Miler, Saga: 48:09 - 13th
Feb. 21: Ome 30 km, Tokyo: 1:32:40 - 3rd
Mar. 6: Biwako Mainichi Marathon, Shiga: 2:11:53 - 7th
Mar. 13: Kuki Half Marathon, Saitama: 1:06:42 - 3rd (wearing a full suit)
Mar. 20: New Taipei City Wanjinshi Marathon, Taiwan: 2:14:12 - 2nd
Mar. 27: Nerima Kobushi Half Marathon, Tokyo: 1:05:32 - 1st
Apr. 2: Kanaguri Memorial Meet 1500 m Heat 1, Kumamoto: 3:54.60 - 6th
Apr. 10: Yaizu Minato Half Marathon, Shizuoka: 1:03:47 - 1st
Apr. 17: Challenge Meet in Kumagaya 1500 m Heat 11, Kumagaya: 3:59.70 - 6th
Apr. 24: Zurich Marathon, Switzerland: 2:12:04 - 1st
Apr. 30: Kawauchi no Sato Kaeru Half M…

The Top Ten Japanese Women of 2016

by Brett Larner

After outperforming their men for over a decade, Japanese women have been on a downward trend for much of the last 8 years even as depth and quality improved dramatically among the men.  In 2016 the trend reversed again, with the men's depth and quality dropping somewhat and the women's fortunes improving.  The good:

Half marathon national record holder Kayoko Fukushi breaking through with an all-time Japanese #7 mark of 2:22:17 in Osaka.
Team bronze at the World Half Marathon Championships.A 12 km national record by Risa Takenaka.An 8 km national record by Tomomi Tanaka.A course record win over solid competition at the Gold Coast Airport Marathon by Misato Horie.Confident frontrunning from Miyuki Uehara to make the 5000 m final at the Rio Olympics.First-time national titles by relatively young, innovative teams Matsuyama University and Japan Post at the National University Women's Ekiden and National Corporate Ekiden.Team gold at the 100 km World Championshi…

The Top Ten Japanese Men of 2016

by Brett Larner

It was a rough year for Japanese men.  Lots to be positive about:

One of the fastest-ever half marathons by a Japanese man, 1:00:54, courtesy of Keijiro Mogi.Four Japanese men sub-2:10 in a single marathon.A national record and nearly a world record for 50 km by Yuki Kawauchi.A sub-8 minute 3000 m high school national record by Hyuga Endo, who also dropped one of the fastest-ever high school 1500 m.The first-ever top 5 finish, almost top 3, by a Japanese man at the TCS New York City Marathon, by Hiroyuki Yamamoto.A national record for 12 km by Yuki Yagi.World record-setting depth for 10 miles and half marathon.A 100 km World Championships gold medal by Hideaki Yamauchi.
But the shortcomings were clear.  More Japanese men broke 1:02:00 for the half marathon than ever before, but overall depth at the front end was down for 5000 m, 10000 m, the half and the marathon, and the fastest times for those distances were generally the slowest in the last six years despite it being…

JRN's Top Ten Most-Read Articles of 2016

From Farah to Fukushi to Kawauchi, Ageo to Hakone to New York and back, JRN's ten most-read articles of the year.

川内優輝さん!スーツ姿で爆走中‼︎ pic.twitter.com/GcOwRWrXlN — ▽・x・▽ tru2 (@M31007) March 13, 2016
1.Kawauchi Breaks World Record for Half Marathon in a Suit by 18 Minutes - Mar. 13
A week after running 2:11:53 at the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran his hometown Kuki Half Marathon dressed in his work clothes, a full three-piece suit including tie, belt and dress socks.  Kawauchi ran 1:06:42 for 3rd to beat the official Guinness World Record by 18 minutes, but because Kuki is not a certified course his time was not ratified as a new record.

2.Tsegay Over Makau for Fukuoka Win, Miracle-Worker Kawauchi 3rd - Dec. 4
2015 World Championships silver medalist Yemane Tsegay (Ethiopia) stopped former world record holder Patrick Makau (Kenya) from claiming a third-straight Fukuoka title.  Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) overcame injuries to bo…

Maximizing Hakone Ekiden Performance With Low Pressure Chamber Training and Adaptive Data

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/hakone-ekiden/2017/feature/20161222-OYT8T50092.html

translated by Brett Larner

Tokai University's Shonan campus features a "low pressure chamber."  With 20 cm-thick walls it is like a room on a submarine.  In preparation for the Hakone Ekiden, twice a week the school's athletes work out in the chamber on running machines and other equipment.  According to Tamotsu Terao, professor of exercise physiology at Tokai University's Sports Medical Science Laboratory, the interior of the 24 square meter, 3 meter-tall room can replicate altitude conditions ranging from 0 to 4000 m, and by adjusting temperature and humidity it is also simulate a variety of weather conditions.  "By setting it to 3000 m you create a situation that replicates running at Mt. Fuji's eighth stage," said Prof. Terao.  It is said that training in a low pressure, low oxygen environment increases the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, which improves the enduran…

Kurashiki H.S. Runs All-Time #5 Time to Win Its First-Ever National High School Boys Ekiden Title

by Brett Larner
highlights video courtesy of broadcaster NHK
click here for National High School Girls Ekiden results

Having run the National High School Boys Ekiden 38 times without ever winning, Kurashiki H.S. staged a classic battle against the fastest-ever all-Japanese team Saku Chosei H.S. to take the national title for the first time.

Saku Chosei, alma mater of Suguru Osako (Nike Oregon Project) and many of today's other top Japanese men, was out front early with stage wins from its first two men Ryota Natori and Sakito Matsuzaki.  At the start of the 8.1075 km Third Stage it was 21 seconds up on Kurashiki which sat 4th behind last year's runner-up Kyushu Gakuin H.S. and Iga Hakuho H.S.  Saku Chosei's third man Yuhi Nakaya said pre-race that if he could hold the lead until 5 km then he would be able to stay with whatever Kenyans caught him. He more than lived up to those words.

Kurashiki's Joel Mwaura set off in pursuit of Nakaya on course record pace, but as the …

Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S. Wins Second National High School Girls Ekiden Title in Three Years

by Brett Larner
highlights video courtesy of race broadcaster NHK
click here for National High School Boys Ekiden results

2014 national champion Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S. ran one of the fastest times in National High School Girls Ekiden history, breaking its school record to win its second national title in three years.

Osaka Kunei got off to a relatively slow start, its leading runner Kanami Sagayama just 10th on the 6.0 km First Stage behind defending champ Sera H.S., last-year's runner-up Tokiwa H.S., powerhouse Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S. and others.  Osaka Kunei's star runner Tomomi Musembi Takamatsu, with an 8:58.86 best for 3000 m while still just 16 years old, got the team back in the game, running the second-fastest time on the 4.0975 km Second Stage to put Osaka Kunei into 1st.

Third and fourth runners Ayaka Murao and Saya Nakajima both won their stages, giving Osaka Kunei a 26-second lead over the relatively unheralded Nagano Higashi H.S. heading onto the 5.0 km anchor …

Ohara and Wanjiru Negative Split Way to Wins at 35th Anniversary Sanyo Ladies Road Race

by Brett Larner

山陽女子ロードレース大会 ハーフマラソンの部 優勝 小原怜選手(天満屋) 1時間10分04秒 pic.twitter.com/TcCK4fVuTz — M.Kawaguchi (@rikujolove) December 23, 2016
Japan's Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya) and Kenyan Rosemary Wanjiru (Team Starts) went it alone to win the 35th anniversary Sanyo Ladies' Road Race half marathon and 10 km divisions with strong negative split runs.

After a slow 17:00 first 5 km in the half Ohara got to work, covering the next 5 km in 16:24 and opening a 16-second lead over a pack of nine led by Rio Olympics marathoner Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku).  From there she never faltered, her pace holding steady all the way to a 1:10:03 win.  38 seconds behind, Misaki Kato (Team Kyudenko) took 2nd in 1:10:42 with relative newcomer Ayaka Fujimoto (Team Kyocera) 3rd in 1:11:20.  Ito faded to 5th in 1:11:39 just ahead of London Olympics marathoner Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya).  Invited Australians Eloise Wellings and Cassie Fien were both DNFs, Fien dropping out before 5 km and Wellings before…

Rio Olympian Ito Leads Osaka International Women's Marathon Field

by Brett Larner

Rio Olympics marathoner Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) leads the elite field of domestic hopefuls for the 2017 World Championships team at the Jan. 29 Osaka International Women's Marathon.  On the home front she faces London Olympian Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya), the last two Gold Coast Airport Marathon winners Misato Horie (Team Noritz) and Risa Takenaka (Team Shiseido), and the debuting Hanae Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei), a training partner of Ito's Rio teammate Tomomi Tanaka.

Ethiopian-born Shitaye Habtegebrel (Bahrain) presents the toughest international competition to Ito with a PB just under a minute slower than Ito's 2:24:42 best.  Iwona Lewandowska (Poland), Muluhabt Tsega (Ethiopia), Serena Burla (U.S.A.), Cassie Fien (Australia), Ling-Ling Jin (China) and Munkhzaya Bayartsogt (Mongolia) round out the international contingent.

Further down the field, Japan's current top three amateur women Yoshiko Sakamoto (YWC), Yumiko Kinoshita (SWAC) and His…