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Gideon Ngatuny Leaves Nissin Shokuhin Team

http://www.nissinfoods-holdings.co.jp/rikujo/weblog/2013/03/2012-6.html

translated by Brett Larner

The Nissin Shokuhin Group men's distance running team wishes to announce that longtime member Gideon Ngatuny will leave the team Mar. 31.  Thank you all for supporting him and cheering for him over the years.  Ngatuny played an instrumental role in winning Nissin Shokuhin's 2010 and 2012 New Year Ekiden national titles.  "Handing off the tasuki to my teammates in ekidens will be my longest-lasting memory of Japan," says Ngatuny.  "Thank you for the last seven years."

Steeplechase NR Holder Iwamizu Retires

http://www.jiji.com/jc/zc?k=201303/2013032900798&g=spo

translated by Brett Larner

The Fujitsu track and field team announced on Mar. 29 that men's 3000 m steeplechase national record holder Yoshitaka Iwamizu, 33, will leave the team at the end of March and retire from competition. Beginning April 1 he will take a position as an assistant coach with the Shiseido women's team. Iwamizu ran in both the Athens and Beijing Olympics. Beginning in 2001 he competed in five-straight World Championships, setting the Japanese national record of 8:18.93 at the 2003 Paris World Championships.

Hakone CR Holder Toyo University Celebrates Opening of New Four-Story Ekiden Team Building

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/feature/sports/hakone/news/20130328-OHT1T00091.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner
click here for a photo of the new running-dedicated Toyo University Kawagoe Training Center

Hakone Ekiden course record holder Toyo University is celebrating the opening of its new running program building at the school's Kawagoe campus.  The four-story reinforced concrete building takes up a spacious 2540 square meters and features dorm rooms for 100 team members, a weight room, training facilities and study rooms.  Until now the running team shared quarters with Toyo's rugby team, but with a 400 m track right outside their new building the school's runners are now in a perfect environment. This year rival Nittai University made off with the Hakone title, but from its state-of-the-art new home Toyo is poised to reclaim its position as Japan's #1 running university.

The new building contains 28 dorm rooms for either 2 or 4 students each.  Altogether 100 pe…

Ota Takes Over as Head Coach of Hokuren Women's Team

http://www.hokkaido-np.co.jp/news/sports/453005.html

translated by Brett Larner

At a Mar. 27 press conference in Sapporo the Hokuren women's distance team announced changes to its lineup for the 2013-14 season.  Tsuyoshi Takita, 49, head coach since 2010, will resign from his position to be replaced by current assistant coach Takashi Ota, 36.  Ota spoke to reporters of his ambitions for the team, saying, "I want to cultivate athletes who will make the national team."

Ota is a Hokkaido native from Shiraoi, Iburi.  After graduating from Tomakomai Minami H.S. he attended Sapporo Gakuin University before going on to a pro career with the NEC team.  In 2003 he transferred to the Konica Minolta team where he had great success at the half marathon and on the ekiden circuit.  He became assistant coach at Hokuren in 2011 following his retirement from competition.

Of his immediate goals for the team Ota said, "We will aim to clear the 2:20:10 qualifying standards for the East …

Odawara City Employee Facing Penalties After Winning Local Road Race as Friend's "Double"

http://www.asahi.com/national/update/0326/TKY201303260439.html

translated by Brett Larner

City officials in Odawara, Kanagawa announced on Mar. 26 that the 22-year-old male winner of a local road race held in Odawara on Mar. 10 has been stripped of his title after it was discovered that his friend, a 23-year-old Odawara city employee and former high school track teammate, had run in his place.  The officials said that the 23-year-old city worker will face penalties for running as a "double."

According to municipal officials, the actions in question took place at the city-organized 2000-runner Sontoku Road Race in the men's under-29 10 km division.  Just before the start of the race the 22-year-old experienced pain in one of his thighs and decided not to run.  His 23-year-old friend said, "I'll run instead," and ran wearing the 22-year-old's bib number.  The 22-year-old, who won the race last year, told him, "OK, but only as long as you don't mak…

Route Inn Hotels Scouting for Athletes for New Women's Team

http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/20130326/ath13032620340001-n1.html

translated by Brett Larner

On Mar. 26 the Route Inn Group, operators of a nationwide chain of business hotels, announced the Apr. 1 launch of its new Route Inn Hotels Women's Running Team.  The team is in the process of scouting for athletes, with interviews and entry examinations scheduled for May in Tokyo.  Former Yamada Denki women's team coach Tsutomu Takahashi will serve as head coach.

Atsushi Fujita to Retire Following Nagano Marathon

http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/20130326/ath13032610250000-n1.html

translated by Brett Larner

The management of the Fujitsu corporate team announced Mar. 26 that former marathon national record holder Atsushi Fujita, 36, will retire after running the Apr. 21 Nagano Marathon.  A native of Fukushima prefecture, Fujita was a Hakone Ekiden star while at Komazawa University and broke Toshihiko Seko's national collegiate marathon record in 2:10:07.  In 1999 he finished 6th at the World Championships, and at the following year's Fukuoka International Marathon he ran 2:06:51 to set a new Japanese national record.  He planned to go for the Moscow World Championships team at the Mar. 3 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon but after fracturing a rib just days before the race he was forced to drop out partway through.

Following his retirement Fujita will remain with the Fujitsu team as a coach.

World XC Championships - Results

Bydgoszcz, Poland, 3/24/13
click here for complete results

Junior Women's 6 km
1. Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon (Kenya) - 17:51
2. Agnes Jebet Tirop (Kenya) - 17:51
3. Alemitu Heroye (Ethiopia) - 17:57
-----
18. Azusa Sumi (Japan) - 19:28
19. Miyuki Uehara (Japan) - 19:32
24. Saki Yoshimizu (Japan) - 19:39
29. Maki Izumida (Japan) - 19:54
43. Nanami Aoki (Japan) - 20:28
53. Yui Fukuda (Japan) - 20:52

Team Results
1. Kenya - 14
2. Ethiopia - 23
3. Great Britain - 81
----
4. Japan - 90

Junior Men's 8 km
1. Hagos Gebrhiwet (Ethiopia) - 21:04
2. Leonard Barsoton (Kenya) - 21:08
3. Muktar Edris (Ethiopia) - 21:13
-----
27. Yuki Hirota (Japan) - 23:13
28. Tatsuya Hayashi (Japan) - 23:14
31. Tadashi Isshiki (Japan) - 23:17
52. Hideto Yamanaka (Japan) - 23:40
59. Yusuke Nishiyama (Japan) - 23:50
81. Kazuki Takahashi (Japan) - 24:28

Team Results
1. Ethiopia - 23
2. Kenya - 26
3. Morocco - 65
-----
5. Japan - 138

Senior Women's 8 km
1. Emily Chebet (Kenya) - 24:24
2. Hiwot Ayalew (Ethiopia) …

Japanese World Cross-Country Team Rosters

by Brett Larner

With a few exceptions cross-country has never been a major part of Japanese long-distance methodology, but each World Cross-Country Championships sees a roster featuring many of Japan's best.  London Olympian Hitomi Niiya (Team Univ. Ent.) heads the senior women's squad for Sunday's Worlds in Bydgoszcz, Poland, accompanied by the runner-up in last weekend's National Corporate Half Marathon Championships, Hanae Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) and top-ranked collegiate Ayuko Suzuki (Nagoya University).  2013 Hakone Ekiden winner Nittai University fields three members of its champion team, Takumi Honda and Keigo Yano in the senior men's race and 1st-year Hideto Yamanaka leading the junior men's squad.  Alongside Yamanaka is Tadashi Isshiki of 2012 National High School Ekiden champion Toyokawa H.S.  Curiously, the senior men's team includes only four athletes, with top-ranked men Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.), Yuki Matsuoka (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) and

Taketomi Replaced by Urakawa as Head Coach at '10 National Champion Tenmaya

http://www.chugoku-np.co.jp/sports/Sp201303200094.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

At an Okayama-area press conference on Mar. 19, Team Tenmaya announced that head coach Yutaka Taketomi 59, whose athletes made four-straight women's Olympic marathons, will be replaced as head coach on April 1 by current assistant coach Tetsuya Urakawa, 51.  Taketomi will move to a new capacity as general manager.

Having led the team since its inception in 1992, Taketomi explained his departure, saying, "For reasons including my service as head of the Japanese Federation's women's marathoning program I became slow to respond to minute details.  I want to resolve that situation."  In the shift to his new supporting capacity he hopes to ensure a smooth transition.  Urakawa commented, "I will be facing pressure, but I want to continue to learn from coach Taketomi as I aim to send our athletes to the Olympics and to win the National Corporate Women's Ekiden."

200…

Retiring Sakamoto: "The Marathon Was a Part of Me"

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20130319-OHT1T00065.htm

translated by Brett Larner

Athens Olympics 7th-place finisher Naoko Sakamoto (32, Team Tenmaya) held a retirement press conference Mar. 19 in Okayama. Smiling as she looked back on her career, she told the media, "I'm proud of having run Athens. The marathon was a part of me."

With regard to her reasons for retiring she said, "My heart's not in the training any more, and it's just gotten to the point where little things accumulate and get to me. Beginning in April she will become an advisory member of Tenmaya's coaching staff, supporting the team's younger members.

Sakamoto joined Tenmaya in 1999, winning the 2004 Osaka International Women's Marathon to make the Athens Olympics team. After Athens she suffered an endless series of injuries, and after January's Kita-Kyushu Women's Invitational Ekiden she announced her retirement at the end of the 2012-13 season.

Former Marathoner Ozaki's House Burns to Ground

http://www.asahi.com/national/update/0318/OSK201303180013.html

translated by Brett Larner

At around 5:40 a.m. on Mar. 18, a neighbor spotted flames coming from the Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima home of former Team Chugoku Denryoku marathoner Teruto Ozaki, 34. The two-story, 100 square meter wood-frame home was complete destroyed by the fire. According to prefectural authorities, Teruto resided at the home with his wife and four children.  All six were sleeping at the time of the fire but escaped unharmed.

Ozaki finished 5th at the 2006 Beijing Marathon, where he ran his best of 2:13:28.  He retired from racing in January this year.

Obare Wins Matsue Ladies' Half

by Brett Larner

2010 Matsue Ladies Half Marathon winner Doricah Obare (Kenya/Team Hitachi) returned to the top Mar. 17, winning the 2013 edition of the race in 1:11:11.  Doubling as the National University Women's Half Marathon Championships and the selection race for the Japanese women's half marathon squad for this summer's World University Games, Obare was up against an almost entire collegiate field and saw tough competition from Yasuka Ueno (Tsukuba Univ.), who challenged for the win before falling back and taking 2nd in 1:11:30.  Ayako Mitsui of 2012 national champion Ritsumeikan University and Meijo University ace Aki Odagiri rounded out the collegiate top three to secure themselves places on the World University Games team, while last year's winner Ayame Takaki (Meijo Univ.) was only 26th.  Ayumi Hagiwara (Team Uniqlo) took the 10 km division in 33:19.

2013 Matsue Ladies Half Marathon
National University Women's Half Marathon Championships
Matsue, 3/17/13
click…

Murayama and Tanaka Crack Top Ten at New York City Half Marathon

by Brett Larner
photos courtesy Photo Run / NYRR

Invited to race after finishing in the top two spots at last November's Ageo City Half Marathon, Kenta Murayama (Komazawa University) and Kento Otsu (Toyo University) ran the 2013 New York City Half Marathon on Mar. 17.  Up front through the slow 15:04 first 5 km, Otsu dropped back before the lead pack left Central Park while Murayama took the lead near halfway and stayed with the leaders including world-level medalists Wilson Kipsang (Kenya), Bernard Lagat (U.S.A.) and Dathan Ritzenhein (U.S.A.) through 15 km.  "I looked around at 15 km and couldn't believe some of the people I was still there with," Murayama told JRN post-race.

Falling behind with Kipsang's move at 15 km, he still managed to get into the top ten with a time of 1:02:02, exactly one minute off winner Kipsang and beating his hero Lagat by nearly 30 seconds.  Otsu, who suffered injury setbacks following January's Hakone Ekiden, ran 1:04:03 for 19…

Akaba, Maruyama Win Fast National Corporate Half Marathon

by Brett Larner

Course record holder Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) ran 1:08:59 to claim her second National Corporate Half Marathon Championships victory Mar. 17 in Yamaguchi. With the first sub-1:09 by a Japanese woman since her 1:08:11 course record in 2008 Akaba outran ekiden star Hanae Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei), who made a solid debut in 1:09:18. Having faltered in recent seasons and missing the London Olympics, Akaba will run next month's London Marathon, the site of her best marathon to date, in a bid to make the Moscow World Championships team.  Riko Matsuzaki (Team Sekisui Kagaku) won the women's 10 km in 32:48 by a margin of 7 seconds.

In the men's race 22-year-old Fumihiro Maruyama (Team Asahi Kasei), 2nd behind Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) at last month's Kumanichi 30 km, won in a PB 1:01:15, outrunning Kenyans Johana Maina (Team Fujitsu) and, in his last run in Japan, Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin).  Maruyama's time was good enough …

Kawauchi Runs 2:08:14 PB in Seoul

by Brett Larner

In search of a 2:07 to clear the Federation's World Championships selection standard, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran a PB of 2:08:14 for 4th place at the Mar. 17 Seoul International Marathon, breaking his previous PB set in winning the Feb. 3 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon by 1 second.  In so doing he became only the fifth Japanese man to ever break 2:09 three or more times in his career and also set a new world record for the shortest time ever between sub-2:10 performances, 42 days, breaking the old record by 1 day.  In post-race comments quoted by MSN, Kawauchi said with apparent disappointment, "I was aiming for 2:07 in this race.  It was an incredible waste."


Kawauchi will next run the Apr. 21 Nagano Marathon where he will shoot for the year-old course record of 2:09:05.

2013 Seoul International Marathon
Seoul, Korea, 3/17/13
click here for complete results

Men
1. Franklin Chepkwony (Kenya) - 2:06:59
2. Shumi Dechasa Lecha (Ethiopia) - 2:07:11

Kawauchi Turns Down Federation Support Grant in Unprecedented Move, Saying, "You Don't Need Five Million Yen of Support in Running"

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20130317-OHT1T00002.htm

translated by Brett Larner

Civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi (26, Saitama Pref. Gov't) is in Seoul, South Korea for the Mar. 17 Seoul International Marathon.  If he achieves his goal of improving his PB to 2:07 he is likely to be elevated to the Japanese Federation's "silver" level, receiving up to 5 million yen [~$50,000 USD] in support stipends for the coming year.  However, Kawauchi has indicated that he will turn down the money.  "I don't need it," he said.  He also indicated that he had earlier returned an individual support grant from the Japan Sports Promotion Center (JSC), currently embroiled in a developing financial scandal in judo.

Kawauchi is happy to have whatever money he wins at races based entirely on his results.  Crossing the sea in anticipation of running on one of the fastest courses in the world, at Kimpo Airport Kawauchi said with resolution, "I came here to r…

Murayama, Otsu Take Advantage of NYC Half Opportunity

By Chris Lotsbom
(c) 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

NEW YORK (14-Mar) -- Running Sunday's NYC Half feels like the opportunity of a lifetime for Kenta Murayama and Kento Otsu. For the tandem from Japan, the 21.1 kilometer race through Manhattan represents much more than a typical competition; it is a chance for the student-athletes to gain experience against some of the sport's best, including their idol, Bernard Lagat.

Back home in Japan, Murayama and Otsu are rivals on the collegiate circuit, representing Komazawa University and Toyo University, respectively. Having finished first and second at the Ageo City Half-Marathon last November, the pair earned invitations into Sunday's race as part of a program between the New York Road Runners and the Ageo City organizers.

"As a university student, to be invited to run abroad is a very important chance for me," said Otsu, 21, through a translator. "I am very happy about that. In terms of furthering my…

Half Marathon Championships and Overseas Action Close Out Japan's Winter Road Season

by Brett Larner

Four major races this weekend mark the end of Japan's winter road season, two domestic and two foreign.  On the home front, the National Corporate Half Marathon Championships lead the way.  2008 Kenyan national XC champion Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin) is the favorite, followed closely by last year's runner-up Jacob Wanjuki (Team Aichi Seiko) and, making a return to the half following a long injury, 2010 World Half Marathon Championships 9th-place Tomoya Onishi (Team Asahi Kasei).  Ten other men have PBs under 62 minutes, making for a thick front pack.  Notable debuts will come from track champions Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B) and Taku Fujimoto (Team Toyota).

Course record holder Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) is the favorite in the women's race as she tunes up for next month's London Marathon.  She faces young competition from Sakiko Matsumi (Team Daiichi Seimei) and Yuka Tokuda (Team Starts), with strong debuts expected from ekiden stars Yurie Do…

Eri Okubo Leaving Second Wind AC

http://swac.jp/news.shtml
http://sw-ac.jugem.jp/?eid=2656

translated by Brett Larner
photo by Dr. Helmut Winter

Our sincerest thank you to all of Second Wind AC's regular supporters.  Our club athlete Eri Okubo has decided to leave Second Wind AC at the end of March. Following her departure from Second Wind AC she plans to continue to pursue her own personal goals in a new environment.  Okubo has posted a personal statement about her decision to leave on the Second Wind AC blog.  We hope that all of you will continue to support and encourage her as she follows her dream and thank each of you for the encouragement you have given up to now.

Okubo's statement:

Thank you to everyone who has helped me and supported me. Unfortunately, I dropped out of Sunday's Nagoya Women's Marathon.  Thank you to all of my regular fans and to everyone who came out to cheer along the course.  I am truly sorry that I was not able to live up to your expectations and that I ended up with a result…

To Tohoku

In memory of the victims of the Mar. 11, 2011 disasters in northeastern Japan and to the many thousands of survivors.

Noguchi: "I'm Back to About 70 or 80%"

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20130310-OHT1T00176.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

At the Mar. 10 Nagoya Women's Marathon, Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) won in 2:23:34, the first male or female athlete to meet the Federation's qualifying times for August's Moscow World Championships.  Athens Olympics gold medalist and national record holder Mizuki Noguchi (34, Team Sysmex) finished 3rd in 2:24:05, putting her into the 'likely' category for the Moscow team.  She now stands a chance of wearing the Rising Sun on her uniform for the first time in nine years.

Assessing her comeback performance, Noguchi said, "My targets today were a 2:23 and the win.  I ran a powerful race like back in the golden days, but after 36 km I had trouble moving my legs so I'd say that I'm only back to about 70 or 80%.  I ran with power, but this was only one step.  You can't suddenly make a complete comeback all at once.  This race was just one step upward.…

Kizaki Cracks World Champs Standard With 2:23:34 Win in Nagoya

by Brett Larner

With temperatures in the high-mid teens on the first truly warm day of the year Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu), Japan's top woman at the London Olympics, became the first athlete male or female to break the Japanese Federation's tough sub-2:08 and sub-2:24 standards for the Moscow World Championships, blasting a PB of almost exactly 3 minutes to win the Nagoya Women's Marathon in 2:23:34.

After a passable comeback from over 4 years of injury in Nagoya last year, national record holder and Athens Olympics marathon gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex)  brought much of the fury, refusing to settle for less as she ran even with the pacers and pushed them to go ahead of the scheduled 3:24/km target pace after an on-point 33:56 first 10 km.  A 3:17 split between 13 and 14 km took them to 15 km in 50:48 and dropped a handful of competitors from the pack including debuting Ome 30 km winner Asami Kato (Team Panasonic).

At halfway the lead group of Noguchi, Kiza…

Nagoya Women's Marathon Preview

by Brett Larner

Switching last year to a mass-participation format and billing itself as the world's largest women-only marathon, the Nagoya Women's Marathon returns this year as the final domestic selection race for the Moscow World Championships team.  Relative to its male counterpart, last weekend's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, Nagoya's domestic field is somewhat impoverished, all the more so with the regrettably foreseeable withdrawal of 2012 Osaka International Women's Marathon winner Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) with injury, and with all but one of the Japanese women in the field coming in at the 2:26 level or above it is hard to see there being a serious bid for the Federation's 2:23:59 time requirement for automatic nomination to the Moscow team.

That one person is of course national record holder and Athens Olympics gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex), who for the second year in a row pulled out of Osaka in January and refocused on Nagoya.  At …

Noguchi In Good Shape: "My Goal Is the Win"

http://www.daily.co.jp/general/2013/03/08/0005797088.shtml

translated by Brett Larner

The invited athletes for Sunday's Nagoya Women's Marathon, the final domestic selection race for August's Moscow World Championships marathon team, arrived in Nagoya on Mar. 7.  Athens Olympics gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi (34, Team Sysmex) is loudly proclaiming that she is in it for the win.

Noguchi withdrew from January's Osaka International Women's Marathon due to poor health, shifting her focus to Nagoya where she will run her first marathon since last year's edition.  That time in Nagoya she experienced a sudden loss of strength around her left knee and finished only 6th.  "If you compare now to last year, it's really completely different," she said with a big smile.  "For the first time in a long, long time I feel ready to run an interesting race."

Needless to say, she is going for the win.  Her training went well.  In February she did a 30 km run …

Murayama, Otsu and Tanaka to Run New York City Half Marathon

by Brett Larner

The organizers of the Mar. 17 New York City Half Marathon have released the men's and women's elite fields for this year's race.  Alongside world-level medalists including Wilson Kipsang (Kenya), Dathan Ritzenhein (U.S.A.), Deressa Chimsa (Ethiopia), Meb Keflezighi (U.S.A.) and Bernard Lagat (U.S.A.), Japanese collegiates Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.) and Kento Otsu (Toyo Univ.) will be running as part of a relationship organized by JRN between the New York City Half Marathon and the Ageo City Half Marathon.  Murayama, the first man to win the National University Championships 5000 m as a first-year since the great Toshihiko Seko, won Ageo in 1:02:46 last November before going on to run an all-time Japanese #10 1:01:19 at February's Marugame Half Marathon, a time that would have put him 4th in New York in 2012.  Otsu, 2nd at Ageo in 1:02:53, is running New York for the second time after making his international debut there last year.

2013 Marugame wom…

National Corporate Half Marathon Championships Entry Lists

by Brett Larner

The organizers of the Mar. 17 National Corporate Half Marathon and 10 km Championships, Japan's last major road race before track season, released its 2013 entry lists on Mar. 5.  With no World Half Marathon Championships this year there are no national team places on the line, but the fields are deep nevertheless.

Having struggled in recent years, 2008 Kenyan national XC champion Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin) heads the men's list along with last year's runner-up Jacob Wanjuki (Team Aichi Seiko), 2010 World Half Marathon 9th-place Tomoya Onishi (Team Asahi Kasei), Micah Njeru (Team Toyota Boshoku) and 2012 Sendai International Half Marathon winner Johana Maina (Team Fujitsu).  Besides Onishi eight other Japanese men with sub-62 bests are close behind, led by Yuta Igarashi (Team JR Higashi Nihon) and Daisuke Matsufuji (Team Kanebo).  2012 national 5000 m champion Kazuya Deguchi (Team Asahi Kasei) will be looking to join the sub-62 ranks along with t…

Japanese Men On the Offense Means No Sleep Lost Over None Meeting World Championships Qualifying Time

http://sportsnavi.yahoo.co.jp/sports/athletic/all/2013/columndtl/201303040002-spnavi?page=1

by Yoshimichi Nakao
translated and edited by Brett Larner

The finale has come and gone for the series of domestic selection races for the Japanese men's marathon team for August's Moscow World Championships.  At the last of the domestic races, the Mar. 3 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, general division entrant Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda) ran 2:08:51 to finish 4th overall as the top Japanese man, ten years and one day since his last 2:08, the longest any man has ever gone between successive sub-2:10 marathons.  Although he missed hitting the Federation's 2:07:59 standard for automatic Worlds team selection Fujiwara's performance still went a long way toward getting his name on the shortlist. 2012 London Olympian Ryo Yamamoto (Team Sagawa Express) was 5th in 2:09:06, with Fujiwara's teammate Suehiro Ishikawa (Team Honda) achieving his first sub-2:10, 6th in 2:09:10.  2011 Daegu…

Lake Biwa 3rd-Place Mwangi Returning to Kenya After 12 Years in Japan

http://mainichi.jp/sports/news/20130302k0000m050067000c.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Following his 3rd-place 2:08:48 finish at the Mar. 3 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, James Mwangi, 28, is moving back to his native Kenya after twelve years in Japan running for Aomori Yamada H.S. and Team NTN.  He has chosen to move to support his wife, who is in poor health, but Mwangi plans to continue to devote himself to marathon training in Kenya.  "To show my gratitude to all those who have supported me I want to ultimately end up a champion."

Lake Biwa was Mwangi's eighth marathon.  He came to Japan in 2001.  While at Aomori Yamada H.S. his achievements included winning the 800 m at the National High School Championships, and following his graduation he joined the corporate league in 2004.  The memory he holds dearest from his 12 years in Japan is of seeing snow for the first time in his life on the very first day he arrived in Aomori.  The next day with snowbanks talle…

Former NR Holder Fujita After Lake Biwa DNF: "I'd Like to Settle on a Retirement Race"

http://www.daily.co.jp/general/2013/03/04/0005785032.shtml

translated and edited by Brett Larner

With a best of 2:06:51, former Japanese marathoner national record holder Atsushi Fujita (Team Fujitsu) ran the Mar. 3 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon despite having fractured a rib in training just five days before the race.  Fujita took painkillers before the race and started out in the lead pack but was unable to finish, dropping out at 15 km.  Prior to the race he said, "This will be my last race where I go for national team-class running," but afterward he said, "I can't say anything about what comes next."  Any decision he makes must be made in consultation with his corporate management and coach.  "If I quit after this I'll always have regret hanging over me.  If I could have my choice I'd like to settle on a retirement race," he said, betraying his lingering attachment to the sport at age 36.

Nakamura Takes National University Half, Kato and Deguchi Win Tamana and Sunpu

by Brett Larner

The National University Men's Half Marathon Championships in Tokyo led three competitive Japanese half marathons this weekend.  Shogo Nakamura of 2012 National University Men's Ekiden winner Komazawa University outran defending champion Toshikatsu Ebina (Teikyo Univ.) for the win, 1:02:41 to 1:02:49 with the next three runners all going under 63 minutes for the first time.  All told, 38 collegiate men broke 64 minutes with 175 clearing 67.  The selection race for this summer's World University Games half marathon team, the overall fast day at the Championships ensured that Nakamura will lead a strong team this summer.  In post-race comments he said that his goal is the gold medal.

At the Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon in Kumamoto, 19-year-old Daichi Kato (Team Toyota Kyushu) handed Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) his second loss of the year, keeping an eye on Kawauchi's water station surges and breaking away late in the race with a surge of h…

Kipruto Wins Cold Lake Biwa in 2:08:34, Fujiwara 4th in 2:08:51

by Brett Larner

A cold northern wind kept the 68th running of the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon slower than planned, but Kenyan winner Vincent Kipruto's 2:08:34 meant the race stayed tight and exciting until the last corner of the track, where Kipruto outkicked Ethiopian Tariku Jufar to take it by 3 seconds.  Longtime Japan resident James Mwangi (Team NTN) was 3rd in 2:08:48 in his final race before moving back to Kenya, while 2010 Tokyo Marathon winner Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda) cleared 2:09 for the first time since his 2003 debut and collegiate national record 2:08:12, taking 4th in 2:08:51 and getting on to the short list for the Moscow World Championships team.

Twin pacers Kota and Kenta Otani (Team JFE Steel) tried to get things going over the first 15 km, but accompanied only by the debuting Shinobu Kubota (Komazawa Univ.) they were left looking over their shoulders until they finished their stint up front.  The pace slowed again after their departure, but a 2:52 surge at …

London Olympian Shigetomo Out of Nagoya Women's Marathon

http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/20130301/ath13030117480001-n1.html

translated by Brett Larner

Representatives of the Mar. 10 Nagoya Women's Marathon, the final domestic selection race for August's World Championships in Moscow, announced on Mar. 1 that London Olympian Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) has withdrawn due to pain in her left leg and elsewhere.  While training in the United States in February she developed problems with her left leg's plantar fascia and calf.

Shigetomo finished 79th in the London Olympics after winning the 2012 Osaka International Women's Marathon in the fastest Japanese time of the year.  In the statement released by Nagoya organizers she said, "I'm very disappointed not to be able to run.  I want to recover from this as soon as I can and get back on the starting line."

Ceiling Lights Are Strange

Today JRN leaves its home base in Tomigaya for new digs a short walk away.  Yoyogi Highland Mansion has been our home since before JRN began and we've loved being here.  We're not entirely sure it's the right decision to move, but regardless of how it plays out Highland has been the kind of place we've always wanted to be.  Thanks for six mostly good years.