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More Details Released on Marathon National Record Bonus Plan as Project Sponsors Sought

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2015/03/30/kiji/K20150330010082020.html

translated by Brett Larner

The Japan Industrial Track and Field Association (JITA) national corporate federation held a press conference on Mar. 30 in Tokyo to announce the establishment of its "Project Exceed" marathon development project.  Targeting the ultimate goal of marathon medals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, new Japanese marathon national record bonus and corporate league Japanese marathon national record attempt incentive policies were revealed at the press conference.  With the Japan Business Federation coming on board in a sponsorship capacity, the JITA is looking widely to recruit a broad spectrum of sponsors.  Project Exceed is expected to get off the ground with as much of the necessary funding as possible in place following the JITA's general assembly in July and to run until the end of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

A 100 million yen bonus [~$1 million USD at normal exchange rates] wil…

"Mr. 9.87" Kiryu Returns to Japan Saying "Next Time I'll Do It For Real"

http://www.sankei.com/sports/news/150330/spo1503300043-n1.html

translated by Brett Larner

Having run a wind-assisted 9.87 in the men's 100 m at the Texas Relays track meet in the United States, Yoshihide Kiryu (1st yr, Toyo Univ.) arrived back in Japan at Narita International Airport on Mar. 30, saying, "Next time I'll do it officially."  At the airport Kiryu was surrounded by throngs of reporters and other people on the scene, laughing as he said, "Things were pretty normal in the States, so I'm surprised to see so much buzz now that I'm back in Japan."

This season Kiryu has moved the position of his left and right feet in the starting blocks 10 cm further apart, leading to a smoother first step or two.  Of the race where he beat London Olympics 5th placer Ryan Bailey (U.S.A.) Kiryu said, "I'm feeling more familiar with what it's like overseas and picked up a little confidence that I'm not going to lose to foreign athletes."

Ki…

Kawauchi Wins First Running of Nerima Kobushi Half Marathon

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20150329-00000002-minkei-l13
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20150329-00000091-spnannex-spo
http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20150329-OHT1T50062.html
http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2015/03/30/kiji/K20150330010080090.html



translated and edited by Brett Larner

The first half marathon to be held in Tokyo's Nerima ward, the Nerima Kobushi Half Marathon went off at 8:00 a.m. on Mar. 29.  Starting at Hikarigaoka Municipal Park, the course offered a tour of the area's major roads before returning to finish at the park.  With more than 90% of the course run on public roads including a section of highway passing through Nerima, the route gave runners the chance to run on roads normally closed to them.

At the opening ceremony Nerima mayor Akio Maekawa gave his support to participants, telling them, "I want to see the results of all the work you put into your running every day and hope that you have fun running this course."  Around 500…

'Kiryu Clocks Wind-Assisted 9.87 in 100 m at Texas Relays'

http://www.iaaf.org/news/report/texas-relays-2015-kiryu-bromell-barber

After the race Kiryu posted the following Tweet:

8ヶ月ぶりの100m 風が+3.3の追い風参考記録ですが 9秒87の9秒台を出すことができました 記録もですが9秒台の選手と一緒に走って勝って優勝したことがなによりよかったです。 まだシーズンの初戦今年は怪我なく行きたい‥ いい大会になりました。(^O^)
— Yoshihide kiryu (@Window1215) March 29, 2015
This was my first 100 m race in 8 months.  The wind was a 3.3 m/s tailwind so the time wasn't legal, but I still ran 9.87, my first time achieving a 9-second time.  The time was good, but what was even better was that running against 9-second athletes I was competitive and beat them for the win.  This was just the first race of the season and I want to keep going this year without injury.  This was a great meet.  :-)
-- Yoshihide Kiryu, March 29, 2015

World XC Championships - Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

Japan came up empty-handed at the 2015 World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China as its perennial best hope for a medal, its junior women's squad, could do no better than 5th.  Junior women's team leader Azusa Sumi took 16th overall, 1:07 behind winner Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia but still the top-placing non-African born athlete in any of the day's races along with China's Changqin Ding in the senior women's race.  Although shy of a medal the junior women still topped the Japanese team results, the junior men and senior women finishing 9th.  With only three runners in the senior men's race Japan did not field a complete team of four scorers in that event.

World Cross Country Championships
Guiyang, China, 3/28/15
click here for complete results

Junior Women's 6 km
1. Letesenbet Gidey (Ethiopia) - 19:48
2. Dera Dida (Ethiopia) - 19:49
3. Etagegn Woldu (Ethiopia) - 19:53
4. Daisy Jepkemei (Kenya) - 19:59
5. Mihret Tefera (Ethiopia) - 20…

World Cross Country Championshps - Japanese Team Roster

by Brett Larner

Japan's team for this weekend's World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China features 21 athletes.  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 tea…

Lisbon Half Marathon Japanese Results - Noguchi and Fujiwara Fade

by Brett Larner

Marathon national record holder Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) and newly-anointed Beijing World Championships team member Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda) put in an appearance at Sunday's 25th anniversary Lisbon Half Marathon.  Noguchi, who in recent years has had more DNS that starts in her scheduled races, made a rare start but proved ineffectual, opening at a conservative pace well outside the lead pack but fading badly later in the race to finish 16th in just 1:19:07.  Fujiwara, making the Beijing team off a 2:09:06 at December's Fukuoka International Marathon, started more aggressively, on track for a low 1:02 time through 10 km but struggling over the second half before finishing just outside the top 10, 11th in 1:04:10.

25th Lisbon Half Marathon
Lisbon, Portugal, 3/22/15
click here for complete results

Women
1. Rose Chelimo (Kenya) - 1:08:22
2. Sara Moreira (Portugal) - 1:09:18
3. Priscah Jeptoo (Kenya) - 1:09:21
4. Purity Cherotich Rionoripo (Kenya) - 1:10:24
5…

Kawauchi on the Road to Recovery With Runaway Victory in Kumagaya, Speaks Out on National Team Selection Controversy and Million Dollar Bonus Announcement

http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/20150322/ath15032218030002-n1.html
http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2015/03/23/kiji/K20150323010033420.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

2014 Asian Games men's marathon bronze medalist and civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi, 28, ran the Mar. 22 Kumagaya Sakura Half Marathon in Kumagaya, Saitama as a special guest.  Running away from the field he scored the win in 1:04:41, his fastest time so far this year and showing that he is making progress in his recovery from the injury that has troubled him since late December.  "For the shape I'm in now, that was a good race," he said afterward.

Speaking honestly about the progression of the race, Kawauchi said, "Early on a pack came together with student runners from Daito Bunka University and some familiar faces from the general division.  I wasn't particularly planning on trying to run away from them, but....."  Mid-race he picked up the pace slightly, and one by o…

Barngetuny Takes Down Wanjinshi Marathon Course Record

by Brett Larner

Despite windy conditions on the hilly seaside course Kenyan Eliud Kiplagat Bargnetuny celebrated the New Taipei City Wanjinshi Marathon's first edition as an IAAF bronze label by taking more than 4 minutes off the year-old course record to win in 2:13:14, with countrywoman Gladys Kipsoi winning a leisurely women's race just under 2:40.

After a slow start over the uphill first 5 km, Kenyans Josphat Chobei and Hosea Kosgei took off on low-2:14 pace, breaking up the large lead pack in the process.  Barngetuny and the race's other Kenyan entrant Samuel Kayla caught up by halfway to make it a four-man lead group in 1:06:00.  The group stayed together to fight headwinds over the second half before Barngetuny broke free on the downhills near the end of the race to take the win.  Chobei was next in 2:15:51, also more than a minute under the old course record.  Kalya was the only other athlete to break 2:20, taking 3rd in 2:18:30 as Kosgei faded to 6th in 2:23:08.  …

Wanjiru and Wendimu Headline New Taipei City Wanjinshi Marathon

by Brett Larner


Sendai Ikuei H.S. graduate Ruth Wanjiru (Kenya) and 2:06:46 man Eshetu Wendimu (Ethiopia) headline the international field at Sunday's New Taipei City Wanjinshi Marathon, where with good weather in the forecast the 2:17:17 and 2:34:52 course records are bound to fall.  Special guests in attendance to celebrate Wanjinshi's first edition as an IAAF bronze label race, the first label race in Taiwan, include include former pole vault world record holder and IAAF vice president Sergey Bubka.

Wanjiru at the pre-race press conference.
Wanjiru leads the small women's field of seven, the only woman there to have broken 2:30 in her career with a 2:27:38 at the 2009 Osaka International Women's Marathon.  In the absence of last year's winner Ji Hyang Kim (North Korea), Wanjiru's main competition look to be her countrywoman Rose Kosgei (Kenya) and Aregu Lechisa Awaki (Ethiopia).

Miyata and Bubka.

His 2:06:46 in Dubai in 2010 makes Wendimu look like the favori…

South Korea Plans to Give Citizenship to Kenyan Athlete to Ensure Marathon Gold at Rio Olympics

http://www.focus-asia.com/socioeconomy/photonews/412320/

translated by Brett Larner

According to South Korea's Dong-A Ilbo news organization, the South Korean Athletics Federation intends to go forward with a plan to offer citizenship to Kenyan Wilson Loyanae Erupe, winner of the men's race at last weekend's Seoul International Marathon, so that he can win the gold medal wearing South Korean colors at next year's Rio de Janeiro Olympics.  The news appeared in the March 18 edition of the Gyeongju Daily.

At the Seoul International Marathon on March 15 Erupe won in 2:06:11, a race he also won three years ago.  His representative, who serves as director of the South Korean Athletics Federation, commented, "Erupe wants to get South Korean citizenship so that he can run the Rio Olympics for South Korea next year."  The transfer would require the approval of Athletics Kenya, but since Erupe is not a member of the Kenyan national team, the South Korean side said, &quo…

Kato and Obare Win Matsue Ladies' Road Race, Yiu Breaks Own Hong Kong NR

by Brett Larner

2014 Gold Coast Airport Marathon winner Asami Kato (Team Panasonic) topped what may have been the deepest women's half marathon ever run on Japanese soil, running 1:10:36 to win the last big race of the Japanese season, the 36th running of the Matsue Ladies' Half Marathon.  After a relatively conservative first half splitting 33:42 at 10 km Kato pushed the pace relentlessly, cutting the lead group down to a trio with Kotomi Takayama (Team Sysmex) and Ai Inoue (Team Noritz) by 15 km and dropping both by 20 km to win by 11 seconds.  Takami was next in 1:10:47, Inoue rounding out the top 3 in 1:11:02.

Matsue also served as the National University Women's Half Marathon Championships, this year acting as the selection race for the team for this summer's World University Games where Japanese women have medalled every time since 1985 including a sweep of the podium in 2009.  Five collegiate women led by Ayumi Uehara (Matsuyama Univ.) were in contention for the…

United Airlines NYC Half - Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

Former national high school champion teammates Koki Takada (Waseda Univ.) and Takashi Ichida (Daito Bunka Univ.) ran Sunday's United Airlines NYC Half with support from JRN, their last time running together before Ichida's graduation at the end of the month. With bests of 1:02:02 and 1:02:03 from last November's Ageo City Half Marathon, both were aiming for mid to high 1:01 times and went out with the lead pack running that pace through the hills of Central Park in the first half of the course. But when the pace quickened heading down 7th Avenue into the city neither could keep up with the change, first Ichida and then Takada slipping away from the front quartet led by last year's 3rd-placer Stephen Sambu (Kenya) and then from the mostly American chase pack including Boston Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi and World Half Marathon bronze medalist Dathan Ritzenhein.

Down almost 10 seconds on Takada at one point, Ichida fought his way back with a fast fini…

Seoul International Marathon - Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) returned to the race where he set his 2:08:14 PB two years ago, running the Dong-A Seoul International Marathon in South Korea on Mar. 15.  As Kenyan Wilson Loyanae Erupe, returning from a two-year ban for EPO, led an all-African lead pack to a 2:06:11 win, Kawauchi, working his way back from injuries originating with a sprained ankle in December, ran in the second pack with South Korea's Yu Seung Yeup and Sim Joung Seu on mid-2:12 pace.  After a slower split from 30 to 35 km Yeup dropped a surge that neither Seu nor Kawauchi could follow, running alone over the last 5 km to take 14th in 2:13:10.  Seu and Kawauchi stayed together through 40 km before Seu kicked for 15th in 2:13:28, Kawauchi coming through 5 seconds back in 2:13:33 in the fastest time he has run so far this year.

In the women's race Ethiopian Guteni Shone Imana pulled away from the lead pack near halfway, soloing the second half to win in 2:26:22.  Starting…

Ichida and Takada Ready to Take on United Airline NYC Half

by Brett Larner

Takashi Ichida (Daito Bunka Univ.) and Koki Takada (Waseda Univ.) at Riverside State Park, New York, on Mar. 13.

For the fourth year, the top two Japanese collegiate finishers from November's super-deep Ageo City Half Marathon have been invited to run the United Airlines NYC Half as part of a collaboration set up by JRN between the Ageo city government and the New York Road Runners.  At the 2013 Ageo Half Takashi Ichida (Daito Bunka University) won a five-way sprint finish in 1:02:36 to pick up his place at the 2014 NYC Half.  A stride behind him, Koki Takada (Waseda University), was the third collegiate finisher, ripping of his bib number in anger at missing out on the chance to run in a big race overseas.

A year later, Ichida and Takada were again head-to-head in Ageo, working together to push the pace and drop their competition one by one.  In another sprint finish Takada got the win this time in a PB 1:02:02 with Ichida right behind in a PB 1:02:03.  Both of th…

Corporate League Federation to Put Up Million Dollar Bonus for New Japanese Marathon National Record

http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASH3F66N3H3FUTQP02J.html

translated by Brett Larner

A new Japanese national record in the marathon will now be worth 100 million yen.  To provide extra motivation to the Japanese marathoning world in the buildup to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the Japan Industrial Track and Field Association overseeing the country's corporate running league has approved plans to establish the exceptional bonus [worth roughly $1 million USD at normal exchange rates] and will make the formal decision at a meeting of its board of directors in Tokyo on March 18.

The national records symbolize the stagnation of Japan's marathoning world.  They have not been touched since Toshinari Takaoka ran 2:06:16 in 2002 and Mizuki Noguchi ran 2:19:12 in 2005.  In the Olympics as well, nobody has won a medal since Koichi Morishita took silver at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and Noguchi gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

However, thanks to the popularity of the ekiden the depth of athletes…

In Disbelief That Tanaka Was Not Chosen for World Championships Team After Beating Foreign Competition For The Win

http://www.sankei.com/column/news/150313/clm1503130008-n1.html

translated by Brett Larner

An editorial by prominent sportswriter Tadashi Imamura on the JAAF's decision to exclude Yokohama International Women's Marathon winner Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei), coached by Sachiko Yamashita, 1991 World Championships marathon silver medalist and one of the only female coaches in Japan, in favor of Osaka International Women's Marathon 3rd-placer Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya), coached by Yutaka Taketomi, one of the JAAF executives in charge of the national marathoning program.

It's often said that you can make a plausible argument for anything.  I was reminded of those words when I saw the outcome of the selection process used to select the World Championships marathon teams announced on March 11.  The three women chosen for the team were led by Sairi Maeda who a couple of days ago ran an excellent time of 2:22:48 for 3rd and top Japanese honors at the Nagoya Women's Ma…

Does Kirin's "Harecha Tea" Contain Banned Substances? Kirin Denies Claims After Athlete Warns Others Not to Drink It

http://nlab.itmedia.co.jp/nl/articles/1503/09/news147.html

translated by Brett Larner

A prominent member of the athletics community has warned the public that Kirin World Kitchen Harecha Tea may contain banned substances, but in response to an inquiry Kirin PR issued a statement saying, "Nothing which could be referred to as a banned substance has been detected."

Kirin World Kitchen Harecha Tea is a new product that was released on Feb. 24, an herbal tea combining lemon grass, mint, rosemary and geranium with green tea.  The problem in question is the use of geranium.  Geranium includes the banned substance methylhexaneamine, leading members of the athletics world to say, "Don't drink it before competitions," on their blogs and Twitter.  In particular, two-time World Championships bronze medalist Dai Tamesue's warning on the subject has had a great impact, retweeted more than 2000 times as of this writing.

もらった情報ですがこのお茶はゼラニウムというドーピング禁止薬物が入っているので選手の皆さんは試合前5日間…

Japan Announces Beijing World Championships Marathon Teams

by Brett Larner

The JAAF announced its men's and women's Beijing World Championships marathon teams, staying true to its word that members of its hand-picked National Team oversight program would receive priority over non-members who performed better in the official selection races.  Left off the team are Hiroaki Sano (Team Honda) with a 2:09:12 PB for 9th in Tokyo last month, and Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei), winner of November's Yokohama Women's Marathon in 2:26:57.  Those selected for the team:

Women

Sairi Maeda (Team Daihatsu) - age 23
PB/SB: 2:22:48 (Nagoya 2015)

Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) - age 27
PB: 2:23:23 (Osaka Int'l 2012)   SB: 2:26:39 (Osaka Int'l 2015)

Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - age 30
PB/SB: 2:24:42 (Nagoya 2015)

Men

Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) - age 30
PB/SB: 2:07:39 (Tokyo 2015)

Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) - age 33
PB: 2:08:00 (Tokyo 2013)   SB: 2:11:46 (Biwako 2015)

Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda) - age 34
PB: 2:08:12 (Biwa…

Waseda Head Coach Watanabe at Retirement Press Conference: "I Did All I Had to Do"

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20150309-OHT1T50100.html
http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/feature/hakone/20150309-OHT1T50174.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On March 9 Waseda University held a press conference at its Shinjuku campus in Tokyo to announce the transfer of leadership at the end of the month from ekiden team head coach Yasuyuki Watanabe, 41, to incoming head coach Yutaka Sagara, 34.  Watanabe, who spent 12 years leading Waseda including one year as assistant coach, had a light and relaxed expression as he said, "I did all I had to do, and that's why I am stepping down now."

Watanabe developed two Waseda runners, 2008 Olympian Kensuke Takezawa (now 28, Team Sumitomo Denko) and 2013 World Championships team member Suguru Osako (now 23, resigning from Team Nissin Shokuhin at the end of this month) into world-class athletes, and under his leadership in the 2010-11 season Waseda achieved an unprecedented triple crown of course record wins at all of the Big…

Hakone Uphill Star Kamino Almost Fully Recovered From Stress Fracture

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/feature/hakone/20150309-OHT1T50178.html

translated by Brett Larner

Having played a major role in Aoyama Gakuin University taking its first Hakone Ekiden win earlier this year, on Mar. 9 third-year Daichi Kamino, Hakone's "Third God of the Mountain," went to a Tokyo-area hospital to receive the hear the result of a thorough examination of a stress fracture in his right thigh, receiving the diagnosis that the injury is almost fully healed.

Head coach Susumu Hara, 48, commented, "He will start jogging again on the 10th, working back into about half the load of the team's sessions.  If he regains full fitness Kamino will run the Kanaguri Memorial Meet 5000 m on April 4 followed by the Hyogo Relay Carnival 10000 m on April 25.

Maeda After 2:22:48 - "I'm Getting My Nails Done and Going Shopping"

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2015/03/10/kiji/K20150310009951000.html

translated by Brett Larner

A night's sleep and a day removed from her all-time Japanese 8th-best 2:22:48 at the Nagoya Women's Marathon, Sairi Maeda (23, Team Daihatsu) vowed to "recharge [her] feminine charms."  Of her upcoming plans she said, "I want a break.  I'm going to go get my nails done and then go shopping."  It was clear that she planned to reward herself, but during some light recovery exercise earlier in the day in Nagoya she continue to experience pain in her left wrist from the fall she suffered 15 km into the race, meaning that she would also have to visit a hospital for x-rays.

With Maeda's place at August's Beijing World Championships a virtual certainty, Daihatsu head coach Kiyoshi Hayashi indicated that they are already fully focused on her performance there, saying, "I want to emphasize her training.  She won't be racing much."

Sakai Over Tanigawa in 1:02:54 for Tamana Half Win

http://mainichi.jp/sports/news/20150309k0000m050030000c.html

translated by Brett Larner

At the 66th Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon on Mar. 8 starting and finishing in front of Tamana City Hall in Kumamoto, invited athlete Koichi Sakai (Team Fujitsu) scored his first win in 1:02:54.  Just 4 seconds back in 2nd was Tomohiro Tanigawa (Team Konica Minolta), with Keijiro Mogi (Team Asahi Kasei) 3rd.  Still recovering from an injury to his left calf two weeks ago, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) was 24th in 1:06:37.

Sakai won the race with an early move.  "I don't have much speed, so if it comes down to a last kick I can't win," he said of the surge he threw in at 17 km to pull away from the seven-man lead pack and open a 4-second lead over Tanigawa.  With a thick and chunky build unusual for a distance runner, the 28-year-old Sakai has had success as a road racer ever since his days at Komazawa University.  Sakai was not one of Fujitsu's starting members for…

Kirwa Wins Nagoya in 2:22:08 CR, Konovalova Gets 40+ WR, Maeda Hits All-Time Japanese #8 After Fall

by Brett Larner
photos by @rikujolove

Despite the late withdrawal of domestic favorite Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu), the Nagoya Women's Marathon delivered on the promise of its interesting young domestic field and accompanying seasoned internationals, answering Japan's hunger for a new women's star to pick up the legacy of days gone by with one of the best women's marathons in years.

Kenyan-born 2014 Asian Games gold medalist Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) and 40-year-old defending champion Mariya Konovalova (Russia) pushed the Kenyan pacer from the start, the first km going by in 3:17, well ahead of the planned 3:22-3:24 pace.  Things settled to the front end of that range by 5 km with a 16:50 split, 2:22:04 pace, by the lead group including Kirwa, Konovalova, Aheza Kiros (Ethiopia), Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku), Eri Hayakawa (Team Toto), collegiate NR holder Sairi Maeda (Team Daihatsu), under-20 NR holder Reia Iwade (Team Noritz), first-timers Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya), Risa …

Marathon National Record Holder Takaoka to Take Over as Kanebo Head Coach

http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASH3645Z2H36UTQP00B.html

translated by Brett Larner

On Mar. 6 Kanebo Cosmetics announced that Japanese men's 10000 m and marathon national record holder Toshinari Takaoka, 44, an assistant coach with the Kanebo distance running team, has been named head coach effective April 1.  Current head coach Masashi Otokita will retire.  Takaoka attended Kyoto's Rakunan H.S. and Ryukoku University before joining the Kanebo team in 1993.  He finished 7th in the 10000 m final at the 2000 Sydney Olympics before setting the national record of 27:35.09 the next year.  Turning his track speed to the marathon, at the 2002 Chicago Marathon he ran a national record 2:06:16.  Both records still stand.

Translator's note: Takaoka joined the Kanebo coaching staff in April, 2009 after retiring following a DNF at the 2009 Tokyo Marathon.  In the summer of 2013 the Kanebo team was suspended by its sponsor corporation after a scandal involving harmful side effects of Kaneb…

Nagoya Women's Marathon Preview (updated)

by Brett Larner

Update: Kizaki has withdrawn.

The Nagoya Women's Marathon is one of the Japanese races taking steps to adapt to the mass-participation boom, changing from an elite-only format but still keeping its identity by incorporating a mass field that makes it the largest women-only marathon in the world.  At the front end, like last week's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon for the men Nagoya is the last chance for Japanese women to qualify for the 2015 Beijing World Championships marathon team.  While Japanese men's marathoning has grown over the last five years, women's marathoning has been hit by an absence of new top level-names, today's top women running 2:23-2:25 where they would have been 4 minutes faster 10-15 years ago.

But Nagoya has done a great job of pulling together most of the best current women and future hopefuls for some kind of return to past success.  In the house are the fastest Japanese woman of 2013-14, Asian Games silver medalist Ryoko Kizak…

Collegiate Marathon Record Holder Sairi Maeda and Mother Junko to Reunite at Sunday's Nagoya Women's Marathon

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2015/02/20/kiji/K20150220009838930.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Twenty Japanese and international elite athletes are scheduled to run Sunday's Nagoya Women's Marathon, the final selection race for the 2015 Beijing World Championships marathon team.  Among them is 23-year-old Sairi Maeda (Team Daihatsu), who in her debut marathon at last year's Osaka International Women's Marathon as a senior at Bukkyo University finished 4th overall in 2:26:46 to better the national university record by 4 minutes.  Running in the same race in the general division, her mother Junko Maeda ran 2:55:24 for a combined time of 5:22:10, a new mother-daughter world record by more than 8 minutes.  Now 52, Junko will again line up behind her daughter in the general division in Nagoya looking for another fast family outing.

Also in the field are 2014 Asian Games silver medalist Ryoko Kizaki (29, Team Daihatsu), under-20 national record holder Rei…

Former Marathon NR Holder Atsushi Fujita to Become Assistant Coach at Komazawa University

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20150301-OHT1T50255.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Now an assistant coach at the Fujitsu corporate team where he spent his professional career, former marathon national record holder Atsushi Fujita, 38, will return to his alma mater, 2011-2014 National University Men's Ekiden champion Komazawa University, in April to take a position as assistant coach.  Fujita has already been coaching at Komazawa twice a week but as of the start of the new academic and fiscal year in April he will leave Fujitsu and become an employee of Komazawa to focus all of his energy into helping develop the country's top collegiate talent.  "It's a great responsibility," Fujita said, facing his new position with full seriousness.

As a student at Komazawa Fujita ran the Hakone Ekiden all four years from 1996 through 1999.  As a senior he broke the course record on Hakone's competitive Fourth Stage prior to its shortening to its current length…

Osako Quits Nissin Shokuhin Corporate Team For Oregon

http://sports.nissin.com/rikujo/weblog/sp/2015/03/post-52.html

translated by Brett Larner

At this time we would like to announce that Suguru Osako, who has had great success as a member of the Nissin Shokuhin Group corporate team, will resign his position with the team on Mar. 31, 2015.  We extend our thanks to all the fans who have generously given their warmest support.  All of us at Nissin Shokuhin will continue to cheer Osako on as he leaves to take on the world in pursuit of his life's dream.

Osako's comments: "During the last year in which I've been based in the United States while competing I've become confident that I can race the way I see myself racing, and I've decided that it is time to start over based in Oregon, U.S.A. as a professional athlete.  And for everyone at the Nissin Shokuhin Group who supported me this year and who are willingly letting me go, I will give it all to produce the results."

Asian Games Silver Medalist Kitaoka Announces Retirement

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2015/03/01/kiji/K20150301009898830.html

translated by Brett Larner

2010 Guangzhou Asian Games men's marathon silver medalist Yukihiro Kitaoka (32, Team NTN) announced his retirement on Mar. 1 following the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon.  In the future he will join NTN's coaching staff, helping to develop its next generation of athletes.

At Lake Biwa Kitaoka finished 74th in 2:27:03.  "I wanted to run one more good race, but things didn't go very well this last year," he said.  "The decision to retire leaves me feeling free and clear."

Hakone Champion AGU's Isshiki Leads 27 Under 1:03 and 265 Sub-1:06 at National University Half Marathon Championships

by Brett Larner
videos by Ekiden News



Two months after his 3rd-place finish on the Hakone Ekiden's most competitive stage helped put Aoyama Gakuin University in position for the overall win and a month after running a 1:02:09 PB at the Marugame Half, 20-year-old AGU second-year Tadashi Isshiki scored his first national title with a 1:02:11 win at the 18th National University Men's Half Marathon Championships in Tokyo's Showa Kinen Park.  After record-setting depth last year when a world record 207 men broke 1:06:00 the National University Half blew minds again this year, the top 12 all breaking 1:02:30 and 27 collegiate men going under 1:03:00.  With perfect conditions today the field excelled, completely rewriting the record books as 265 men went under 1:06:00.

With places on the Japanese team for this summer's World University Games half marathon for the top three finishers and a bigger dream hovering in the distance 5 1/2 years away the massive pack went out fast an…

Ndungu Back for Another Win at 70th Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon

by Brett Larner

Having left Japan's corporate team system, 2012 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon winner Samuel Ndungu (Kenya) was back to take the top spot again in Biwako's cold and rainy 70th edition.  With a target pace of 3:00/km for the front group including last year's winner Bazu Worku (Ethiopia), 2014 European champion Daniele Meucci (Italy), Mongolian national record holder Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Team NTN) and Japanese World Championships hopefuls Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko), Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei) and Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta), Kenyan pacers Kimutai Kiplimo and Silas Kimutai were not even close, going through 2 km in 6:19 and hitting 5 km in 15:30, well over 2:10 marathon pace.

Collegiate runner Atsuya Hiraiwa (Meijo Univ.) pulled in front of the pacers to try to get the race moving, but although the next 10 km were decent, by 20 km they were back to another 15:30 split.  Halfway came in 1:04:39 with a pack of 40 still together, but a few meters la…