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Hakone Ekiden Entry Lists

Entry lists are out for Japan's biggest and best road race, the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden. 21 university teams from around the Tokyo area will field ten runners from the sixteen on their entry list, each runner taking on roughly a half marathon length over the ten-stage race.

2017 Izumo Ekiden winner Tokai University is the class of the field, one of only five teams to enter all ten of its best athletes and the only one with ten-runner averages under 14 minutes for 5000 m, under 29 for 10000 m and 1:03 for the half marathon. At all three distances its averages are slightly better than Aoyama Gakuin University's were last year when AGU won its third-straight Hakone title, and no other school even comes closer over the most relevant distance, the half marathon. It has never won Hakone, but this year it's Tokai's race to lose.

AGU has been hit by injury troubles this year, losing in both Izumo and the National University Ekiden and missing several key members from its Hakon…

Tokyo Marathon to Move to March Date Beginning in 2019

At a press conference in Tokyo on Dec. 12, the Tokyo Marathon Foundation announced that beginning in 2019, the Tokyo Marathon will move from its current date on the last Sunday of February to the first Sunday of March. The next Imperial succession is set to take place in 2019, meaning that February 23 will become the Emperor's Birthday national holiday starting in 2020. The race date is being preemptively moved to avoid any potential overlap.

According to the Foundation, setting up and breaking down the facilities necessary to hold the Tokyo Marathon takes several days. With the finish area being positioned in front of the Imperial Palace there were concerns that problems would arise due to the large number of people who would gather in the area to celebrate the Emperor's birthday.

Translator's note: The Tokyo Marathon previously experimented with a March race date in 2009 but abandoned it to return to February the next year. Since 1994 the first Sunday of March has been t…

Saitama International Marathon Top Two's Times Annulled Due to Last-Minute Misdirection by Race Officials

At the Nov. 12 Saitama International Marathon, Kenyan Flomena Cheyech Daniel won a sprint finish over Bahraini Shitaye Habtegebrel by 3 seconds to take her second-straight Saitama title in 2:28:39. On Dec. 11 race organizers announced that both runners' times had been annulled.

In the midst of the pair's battle for the win, race officials misdirected the pair into the righthand lane on the final corner instead of the lefthand lane in which the finish line was located. Both ran over the curb dividing the two lanes and returned to the original course before finishing.

At the time JAAF executive director Mitsugi Ogata said, "This was a mistake by the organizers and the athletes did nothing wrong. There was no effect on the finishing order and no advantage gained in terms of the distance run." After later consultation with JAAF officials, race organizers decided that Cheyech and Habtegebrel had not covered the complete distance and that their times should be annulled. N…

Morita Goes Sub-32 in 10000 m Debut

Running her track 10000 m debut of a 32:27 road 10 km in the spring, Kaori Morita (Panasonic) closed hard off a slow opening pace to win the National Corporate Federation Women's Long Distance Time Trials 10000 m Friday afternoon in Yamaguchi.

A new filler meet to take up space on the calendar following the National Corporate Women's Ekiden's move to November, the Corporate Time Trials meet featured one heat of 3000 m and three 5000 m heats before its main focus, the 10000 m. After a 3:19 first 1000 m Morita's teammate Yuka Hori, winner of the 10.9 km Third Stage at Nationals, took over, leading the field at 3:12 to 3:14 / km pace through 7000 m. Morita, who won the 7.0 km First Stage, went to the front at that point with a 3:14 to 8000 m before taking off.

Clocking her fastest split up to that point with a 3:07 between 8 and 9000 m, Morita closed impressively with a 3:01 final km to dip under 32 minutes as she won in 31:59.94. Steepler Chikako Mori (Sekisui Kagaku) w…

Maeda, Ohara Purdue and Bulo Lead Dec. 30 Sanyo Ladies Road Race

The organizers of the Sanyo Ladies Road Race have announced the elite fields for this year's 36th running on Dec. 23, a selection race for the women's national team for next March's World Half Marathon Championships in Spain. Honami Maeda (21, Tenmaya), winner of August's Hokkaido Marathon, and London World Championships team members Miyuki Uehara (22, Daiichi Seimei) and Mao Kiyota (24, Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) lead the list of young hopefuls for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic team who will grace Okayama's streets.

All three will run the half marathon, where they will face last year's winner Rei Ohara (Tenmaya). Also entered are 2015 Beijing World Championships 5000 m team member Azusa Sumi (21, Univ. Ent.), Ayaka Fujimoto (20, Kyocera) who earlier this year ran 2:27:08 at the Tokyo Marathon to become Japan's fastest-ever teen marathoner, and 2017 World XC Championships team member Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal). London World Championships marathon 13th-placer Charlotte Purdu…

Tough Teens Top Time Trials - Ishida and Endo Reach for Record Runs at Nittai

Along with the Kumamoto Kosa 10-Miler, this weekend's Nittai University Time Trials formed one of the key tuneups for the upcoming National Junior High School Ekiden, National High School Ekiden, New Year Ekiden and Hakone Ekiden championship races. Following up on his 1500 m and 3000 m junior high school national records in September and October, 9th-grader Kosuke Ishida (Asakawa J.H.S.) delivered the biggest news of the meet as he took 4 seconds off the 5000 m junior high school record with a new mark of 14:32.44 for 6th in #39 of Sunday's 45 heats of men's 5000 m.



In Heat 45, Muthoni Muiri (Soka University) added a quality 5000 m time to his 27:38.05 in last weekend's Hachioji Long Distance 10000 m A-heat, winning in a PB of 13:32.42. Former high school star Hyuga Endo (Sumitomo Denko), who turned 19 this year, followed a successful corporate ekiden debut last month with a 13:38.79 PB for 6th, ranking him all-time #5 among Japanese juniors. 17-year-old Ren Tazawa (…

Chiba and Nogami Top Asian Marathon Results

At the same time as Suguru Osako's breakthrough 3rd-place finish at Sunday's Fukuoka International Marathon, his Saku Chosei H.S. teammate Kenta Chiba (Fujitsu) ran the Macao International Marathon. A specialist on the same Hakone Ekiden downhill stage that produced marathon greats Hiromi Taniguchi and Yuki Kawauchi, Chiba took 6th in 2:16:33 in a race won by Kenyan Felix Kiptoo Kirwa in a Macao all-comers record 2:10:01. Chiba's time was the fastest ever by a Japanese man in Macao, taking three minutes off the previous record.

A week earlier at the Asian Marathon Championships held in conjunction with China's Dongguan Marathon, Keiko Nogami (Juhachi Ginko), runner up at the 2015 Gold Coast Marathon and 2017 Hokkaido Marathon, added another 2nd-place finish to her resume as she took the silver medal 30 seconds behind North Korean Hye Gyong Kim. Surprisingly, Nogami's time of 2:29:05 was the fastest ever by a Japanese woman on Chinese soil, bettering the top perfor…

Shitara Wins Kumamoto Kosa 10-Miler

In a year that saw him deliver one of the most memorable debut marathons in history, a half marathon national record, 10000 m and marathon PBs and more, Yuta Shitara (Honda) ended 2017 on a high note, beating three-time defending champion Jeremiah Thuku Karemi (Toyota Kyushu) to win the 42nd Kumamoto Kosa 10-Miler. Shitara, Karemi, London World Championships marathoner Hiroto Inoue (MHPS), Ethiopian Abayneh Degu (Yasukawa Denki) and track ace Shuho Dairokuno (Asahi Kasei) ran together in a lead group through the early going, but Shitara was just too much for the others to handle.

Shitara broke the tape in 45:58, only the fourth Japanese man to ever clear 45 minutes. Karemi was well under last year's winning time but nowhere close to catching Shitara, finishing 2nd in 46:10 and Inoue only 2 seconds behind him. With many corporate and university teams using Kosa to tune up for the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden and Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden, it regularly produces the deepest 10 mile results i…

Norway's Moen Blasts 2:05:48 European Record to Win Fukuoka

More than living up to the promise of his 59:48 Norwegian half marathon record at October's Valencia Half, Sondre Nordtad Moen took down all comers to win the 2017 Fukuoka International Marathon in a European record 2:05:48.

【福岡国際マラソン】

🏆優 勝 モーエン 2:05.48! pic.twitter.com/lpzMUYHfhu — NOBUKI T&F (@nobu_777__tf) December 3, 2017
Superb pacing work took the lead group through 30 km with almost perfect 3:00/km splits along the way, a race of attrition that shaved down the field to a core group of five real contenders. Defending champ Yemane Tsegay (Ethiopia) was the first big name to go, with 2:06 man Lani Rutto (Kenya), the debuting Keita Shitara (Japan/Hitachi Butsuryu) and last year's 3rd-placer Yuki Kawauchi (Japan/Saitama Pref. Gov't) among the other big names to lose touch in the first half, leaving Moen, favorite Bedan Karoki (Kenya/DeNA), London Olympics gold medalist Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda), last year's 5th-placer Amanuel Mesel (Eritrea) and Boston Maratho…

36 Views of Fukuoka - A Preview

Sunday's Fukuoka International Marathon has enough going on to make it one of the most exciting races in decades of its 71-year history. Olympic and world champ Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda). Heir apparent to the Wanjiru memory Bedan Karoki (Kenya/DeNA). Norwegian wonder Sondre Moen. Legend Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) against three scions of the next generation, Asian junior half marathon record holder Suguru Osako (NOP), former Hakone Ekiden uphill specialist Daichi Kamino (Konica Minolta), and Keita Shitara (Hitachi Butsuryu), twin brother of new half marathon national record holder Yuta Shitara. The withdrawal of three top-tier runners, 1:00:01 half marathoner Jake Robertson (New Zealand), two-time world XC medalist Teklemariam Medhin (Eritrea) and sub-2:10 man Fumihiro Maruyama (Asahi Kasei), hurts the depth a bit, but there are still enough story lines going on keep you guessing as to the ultimate plot.

TV Asahi will broadcast the complete race live starting at noon …

Fifteen Straight Marathon Wins At Age 24 - Meet Tomomi Sawahata

Yuki Kawauchi is the undisputed heavyweight champ of high volume marathoning, but there's a new contender on the horizon already blowing minds in Kawauchi's home of Saitama. Meet Tomomi Sawahata.

In sixteen days this month Sawahata, 24, won three marathons, all in course record time, all under 2:42 and two in PBs, to give her a streak of fifteen marathon wins since April, 2015, undefeated after a tentative first step at the 2014 Honolulu Marathon. According to the ARRS database, it's one of greatest marathon win streaks at the elite or sub-elite level in history, male or female. Who in the world is she?

Born in 1993, Sawahata was an ordinary high school runner at Tokorozawa Kita H.S., favoring the 3000 m on the track and finishing 15th on her stage at the Saitama qualifying race for the National High School Ekiden Championships her senior year. After graduating she enrolled at Nippon Veterinary and Life Science University to study veterinary nursing, following in the foot…

Fujiwara Vs. Kawauchi in Hofu Dec. 17

2015 Hofu Yomiuri Marathon winner Arata Fujiwara (Toyama T&F Assoc.) and 2012 / 2014 winner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) return to lead the field for the Dec. 17 edition of the race. Fujiwara comes in three weeks after a win at the Tsukuba Marathon, which itself came just four weeks after a course record win at the Toyama Marathon. Kawauchi cuts it even closer, running both Fukuoka and Hofu as usual but adding a third marathon, the Jan. 1 Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, just two weeks later.

The pair's main competition comes from the Toshinari Takaoka-coached Hiroki Kadota (Kanebo) and former Hakone Ekiden star Tadashi Isshiki (GMO). At least three other members of the elite field will be emulating the past champs' high-volume racing, Tatsunori Hamasaki (Nanjo City Hall) having run the Oct. 15 Buenos Aires Marathon in Argentina, Shogo Kanezane (Chugoku Denryoku) the Nov. 26 Asian Marathon Championships in Dongguan, China, and Yusuke Tobimatsu (Hioki Cit…

'Yuki Kawauchi, l'incroyable Monsieur K'

In October and November France's beIN SPORTS channel filmed a documentary on Japanese marathoner Yuki Kawauchi in Saitama, Hokkaido, Tokyo, Paris and Nice. The program was broadcast on Saturday, Nov. 25. Watch it in its entirety above. Kawauchi next races at Sunday's Fukuoka International Marathon.

Arata Fujiwara Wins Tsukuba Marathon Four Weeks After Breaking Toyama Marathon CR

Priding itself on having one of the flattest courses in the country, the 37th Tsukuba Marathon took place Nov. 26 at Tsukuba University in Ibaraki. Just four weeks after a course record-setting win at the Toyama Marathon, 2012 London Olympics marathoner Arata Fujiwara, 36, won the men's race in 2:18:08.

With a 4th-place finish on the anchor stage of last year's Hakone Ekiden to his name, Akihiro Kaneko led a group of six through 30 km before the action began. "I didn't want to fall apart mid-race, so I was careful to keep it conservative and stay in the group," Fujiwara said post-race. At 39 km he suddenly took off without warning, running alone the rest of the way to the finish line. "I think my last kilometer was about 2:50," he said. His experience showed in the ease with which he put away the 23-year-old Kaneko and other younger athletes. "The time wasn't great, but it gives me hope for the future," Fujiwara smiled.

With regard to the…

Osaka Geijutsu University Takes Nikko Irohazaka Women's Ekiden

13 teams from 12 universities raced the 4th edition of the all-uphill Nikko Irohazaka Women's Ekiden Nov. 26 in Nikko, Tochigi. Osaka Geijutsu University took the top spot for the first time in 1:32:53, with Hakuoh University the top-finishing Tochigi school at 5th.

The first runners in the ekiden started in Nikko's Daiyagawa Park. Running around the Nikkonoshaji UNESCO World Heritage Site, the women in the race handed off the tasuki on the sharp curves leading up the mountain to the finish at Nikko Futarasan Shrine on the shores of Lake Chuzenji. All together the six women on each teach covered 23.4 km with 875 m of net climb, local residents and each school's supporters cheering them on from the roadside the entire way.

Starting the Fourth Stage in 3rd, Osaka Geijutsu fourth-year Riri Shiraishi moved up to 1st, and on the Fifth and Sixth Stages the team increased its lead over the rest of the field. First-year anchor Yumika Nagahama smiled and raised both arms in the ai…

Ghilagabr and Kinoshita Win Osaka Marathon, Cancer Survivor Kasuya Sub-2:20

#1-ranked Kaleab Ghilagabr became the first Eritrean winner in the Osaka Marathon's short seven-year history, leading 29,359 finishers across the line Sunday in a PB 2:12:03, while club runner Yumiko Kinoshita (SWAC) had to run a minute-plus PB 2:34:38 to win an exciting battle between Japan's six best amateur women by 1 second.

Ghilagabr set off accompanied by unsponsored amateur Hideyuki Ikegami, an unusual independent who got attention by beating Yuki Kawauchi in a half marathon in 2014 and went on to be mentored by 2:07:48 Olympian Arata Fujiwara. In April this year Ikegami made his marathon debut at the Hannover Marathon but finished in a disappointing 2:30:15 that didn't reflect the quality suggested by his 1:03:09 half best and 1:31:53 PB for 30 km. 
The pair ran 2:10:30 pace through 15 km, PB pace for both, before Ikegami began to slip. Ghilagabr pushed on alone, holding on to 2:10 pace until well into the second half before beginning to slow. Ikegami was caught b…

Universal Entertainment Scores First National Corporate Women's Ekiden Title Since 2012

2012 national champions Universal Entertainment returned to the top Sunday in Sendai, running down breakaway leader Panasonic late in the race to win the 2017 National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships.

Panasonic was an unexpected highlight, winning the first three stages and building a 42-second lead by the start of the 3.6 km Fourth Stage, the race's shortest leg. There Panasonic's Chiaki Tobe struggled, losing ground to Universal Entertainment, defending national champ Japan Post, and Shiseido, who drew within 10 seconds.

On the 10.0 km Fifth Stage Universal's Moeno Nakamura, a member of its 2012 national champion squad, took her time closing on Panasonic's Shiori Morita, not fully closing the gap until exactly halfway through the stage and then pushing ahead to open a 12-second lead of her own. Behind her, marathon university national record holder Sairi Maeda of the Daihatsu team delivered what was no doubt the run of the day, making a superb comeback fr…

17-Year-Old Biyazen Bests Hachioji in 10000 m Debut

Credited as being only 17 years old, Ethiopian Yeneblo Biyazen (Yachiyo Kogyo) made a big splash in his 10000 m debut, running an under-18 world-leading 27:32.51 to lead 12 men under 28 minutes at Hosei University's Hachioji Long Distance Meet. Biyazen and compatriot teammate Abiyot Abinet ran together throughout the race before Biyazen dropped an incredible kick over the last lap. Abinet couldn't match it, running a PB 27:37.62 to outlast Kenyan Muthoni Muiru (Soka Univ.) for 2nd. Muiru's 27:38.05 PB run ranked him at all-time #3 among sutdent athletes at Japanese universities.

With an overall slow opening pace,  half marathon national record holder Yuta Shitara (Honda), decked out in Nike's Vaporfly 4%, did his share of the heavy lifting up front but was never on for a shot at the 27:29.69 national record set in Hachioji two years ago. Riding the ebbs and flows of the race before losing touch with the lead trio over the last lap he snipped one second off his PB to t…

National Corporate Women's Championships, A Potential National Record and More - Weekend Preview

It's always a busy weekend of racing in Japan, this weekend as much as any. Saturday's main event is the Hachioji Long Distance meet at Tokyo's Hosei University. In the last few years Hachioji has become one of the world's premier track 10,000 m, the site of the current Japanese national record two years ago. The big question mark this year is half marathon national record holder Yuta Shitara (Honda) in the A-heat. After running the 1:00:17 national record and a 2:09:03 PB on back-to-back weekends at the end of September is he ready to tackle the 27:29.69 national record? It'll take a big improvement on his 27:42.71 best, but not as much as what he did in breaking the half marathon record.

Also up Saturday night is the Kanto Region University 10,000 m Time Trials meet at Kanagawa's Keio University. While the very top university men will turn up at Hachioji, most looking to sharpen their times ahead of their coaches' final team selections for the Hakone Eki…