Monday, May 22, 2017

Tanui, Mokaya, Endo, Ichiyama and Fujimoto Top Weekend Track Roundup

by Brett Larner

Most of the country's corporate leagues held their regional track championships this weekend, but superseding them was the Golden Grand Prix Kawasaki meet. With a shortage of candidates for the London World Championships men's 5000 m the JAAF doctored in a sub-7:55.00 qualifying standard for men to get into next month's National Track and Field Championships, adding a 3000 m to the normally sprint, middle distance and field event GGP.  In the midst of his best season in years, Yuichiro Ueno (Team DeNA) took it out close to national record pace through the first half before abruptly slowing and dropping off the back. Rio Olympics 10000 m silver medalist Paul Tanui (Team Kyudenko) took over, with only Evans Keitany Kiptum (Team Toyota Boshoku), Hiroki Matsueda (Team Fujitsu), Hayato Seki (Tokai Univ.) and Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Team Asahi Kasei).

Kiptum looked set for the win with a strong kick over the last 200 m, but Tanui came back to clip him at the line, winning by 0.01 in 7:52.67. Yoroizaka dropped off the pace, but in the home straight Matsueda and Seki kicked in to try to break 7:55. Matsueda just got there, running a PB 7:54.33 for 3rd. In 4th Seki missed the mark, but his 7:55.44 PB put him at all-time #6 among Japanese collegiate men. Yoroizaka was the only other man to break 8 minutes, running 7:58.40 for 5th and breaking his PB by 0.50.

The best women's mark of the weekend also came outside the corporate regionals. At the Oita Prefecture High School Championships, local Kenyan Marta Mokaya (Oita Tomei H.S.) won the girls' 3000 m by more than a minute with a PB of 9:02.93. A meet record, Mokaya's time was also a worldwide 2017-leading time in the U18 category and put her at #2 in the U20 category behind fellow Japan-resident Kenyan high schooler Helen Ekarare (Sendai Ikuei H.S.).


Among the corporate league regionals, the best Japanese women's results came in Osaka at the Kansai Corporate meet. Up-and-coming Mao Ichiyama (Team Wacoal), age 19, pulled off an impressive double, winning Friday's 10000 m over Olympian Wacoal teammate Kayoko Fukushi in 32:48.15, then returning Saturday to win the 5000 m in 15:49.63. Getting his pro career off to a great start, 18-year-old Hyuga Endo (Team Sumitomo Denko) did his own double, winning Saturday's 5000 m in 14:00.23 and Sunday's 1500 m in 3:47.72. Both wins came in slow races with blazing sprint finishes, a good sign that Endo is handling the transition from high school straight to the pros.

In the East Japan Region Kenyans dominated the distance events. Rosemary Wanjiru (Team Starts) ran 31:41.23 to win the women's 10000 m by 4 seconds over Pauline Kamulu (Team Route Inn Hotels). Kamulu was back the next day to win the 5000 m in 15:34.47, top Japanese woman Moeno Nakamura (Team Universal Entertainment) just bettering Ichiyama's time to record the fastest Japanese women's time of the weekend, 15:49.55 for 2nd. In the men's 10000 m Alexander Mutiso (Team Software) won another close race, running 27:58.66 to beat Bernard Kimani (Team Yakult) by 0.32 seconds. Jonathan Ndiku (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) ran 13:23.24 to top a competitive 5000 m that included the likes of Wesley Ledama (Team Subaru), William Malel (Team Honda) and Yuta Shitara (Team Honda).

In the Kyushu Region, continuing to build back from her 2:27:08 breakthrough at February's Tokyo Marathon, 19-year-old Ayaka Fujimoto (Team Kyocera) won the women's 10000 m in a PB of 32:40.63, the weekend's top Japanese women's time. Ethiopian Shuru Bulo (Team Toto) won the women's 5000 m by more than 30 seconds in 15:23.79, with Fujimoto doubling in 16:23.85 for 4th. Joel Mwaura (Team Kurosaki Harima) won the men's 10000 m in 27:52.66, beating Daniel Kipkemoi (Team Nishitetsu) by over 5 seconds. In third, 2016 National XC champion Takashi Ichida (Team Asahi Kasei) became just the second Japanese man so far this year to break 28 minutes, 3rd in 27:59.76. London World Championships marathon team member Hiroto Inoue, 2:08:22 in Tokyo, took 5 seconds off his PB with a 28:08.04 for 5th. His London teammate Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) was less than 5 seconds off his PB, running 28:58.98 for 15th.

In the lone sour note among London marathon team members who raced this weekend, Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) ran just 34:27.76 for 3rd in the Chugoku Region meet women's 10000 m. Her Tenmaya teammate Rei Ohara, the top Japanese half marathoner so far this year, resurfaced from a stress fracture she suffered after winning January's Osaka Half Marathon, running 35:40.90 for 4th. Veteran Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) won an uneventful men's 10000 m in 29:08.18

© 2017 Brett Larner
all righs reserved

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Göteborgsvarvet - Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

Running as part of a corporate league overseas junket, 2017 National Corporate Half Marathon women's champion Ai Utsunomiya (Team Miyazaki Ginko) and other Japanese athletes at Sweden's Göteborgsvarvet Half Marathon were totally ineffectual. Utsunomiya had the best placing at 9th in 1:15:41, nearly eight minutes off Kenyan winner Fancy Chemutai's 1:07:58, with Yuri Nozoe (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) another minute behind.

Only a mid-63 runner, Ryo Hashimoto (Team GMO Athletes) went out with the lead pack for the first couple of kilometers before fading to 1:05:01 for 11th, nearly five minutes off winner Geoffrey Yegon of Kenya.  With a 1:02:01 best Shun Inoura (Team Yachiyo Kogyo) barely escaped being run down by women's winner Chemutai, finishing 17th in 1:07:26.

Göteborgsvarvet Half Marathon
Gothenburg, Sweden, 5/20/17
click here for complete results

Men
1. Geoffrey Yegon (Kenya) - 1:00:19
2. Amos Kipruto (Kenya) - 1:00:24
3. Leonard Langat (Kenya) - 1:00:33
4. John Loitang (Kenya) - 1:00:39
5. Jahphet Korir (Kenya) - 1:01:39
-----
11. Ryo Hashimoto (Japan/GMO) - 1:05:01
17. Shun Inoura (Japan/Yachiyo Kogyo) - 1:07:26

Women
1. Fancy Chemutai (Kenya) - 1:07:58
2. Violah Jepchumba (Kenya) - 1:08:10
3. Margaret Agai (Kenya) - 1:09:43
4. Beatrice Mutai (Kenya) - 1:10:14
5. Dibaba Kuma (Ethiopia) - 1:12:01
-----
9. Ai Utsunomiya (Japan/Miyazaki Ginko) - 1:15:41
11. Yuri Nozoe (Japan/Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 1:16:42

© 2017 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

'Kenyan Team-Mates of Banned Olympic Marathon Champion Suspended by Management Company'

http://www.insidethegames.biz/index.php/articles/1050540/kenyan-team-mates-of-banned-olympic-marathon-champion-suspended-by-management-company

Sarah Chepchirchir won the 2017 Tokyo Marathon in 2:19:47, the fastest time ever run on Japanese soil. Named alternate to the Kenyan team for this summer's London World Championships last week, Purity Rionoripo ran the 2014 Yokohama International Women's Marathon but DNFd. Visiline Jepkesho won the 2014 Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon, DNFd at the 2014 Nagoya Women's Marathon, and was 4th in Gifu in 2016.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Seven Rio Medalists in Kawasaki - Weekend Preview

by Brett Larner

It's a busy weekend ahead both at home and abroad. The main road action happens overseas, with London Olympian and 2:07:48 marathoner Arata Fujiwara in Mongolia to run the Ulanbaatar Marathon where a victory will earn him a horse. A group of five Japanese men and women led by 1:01:37 runner Ken Yokote and 2017 National Corporate Half Marathon champion Ami Utsunomiya is in Sweden on a corporate league junket to the Göteborgsvarvet Half Marathon to gain valuable experience running and going to laundromats internationally.

Back home, many of their corporate league brethren and sistren will instead be lining up at one of four regional corporate league track championships. Up north in Akita, the East Japan Region meet features top-level Japan-based Africans Jonathan Ndiku, William Malel and Wesley Ledama, with Yuta Shitara, Masato Kikuchi and Azusa Sumi leading the Japanese crowd. The Kansai Region meet happens at the same time in Osaka, with the Chugoku Region meet, which held its 5000 m races last weekend, wrapping up its second half in Hiroshima. The Kyushu Region, home of 2017 New Year Ekiden national champion team Asahi Kasei, will hold its meet in Kita-Kyushu.

One of Asahi Kasei's top men, Tetsuya Yoroizaka, will give the corporate regional meet a miss in favor of racing Rio Olympis 10000 m silver medalist Paul Tanui in the 3000 m being held in Kanagawa as part of Sunday's Golden Grand Prix Kawasaki meet. Gold medalists Thomas Rohler (javelin throw) and Tiana Bartoletta (long jump) and silver medalist Wenxiu Zhang (hammer throw) lead the field events at the Kawasaki meet, which will be broadcast on TBS Sunday afternoon. Sprint events include Rio silver medalists Justin Gatlin, Asuka Cambridge and Shota Iizuka.

© 2017 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Thursday, May 18, 2017

1500 m National Record Holder Yuriko Kobayashi Gives Birth to First Child

https://www.kobe-np.co.jp/news/sports/201705/0010198888.shtml

translated by Brett Larner

Women's 1500 m national record holder and 2008 Beijing Olympian Yuriko Kobayashi, 28, a resident of Kakogawa, Hyogo and born in Ono, Hyogo, gave birth to her first child, a boy, the morning of May 18. Kobayashi retired from competition in December, 2014. In December, 2015 she married a man the same age as her involved in the landscaping business who had run in the National High School Ekiden Championships while attending Hyogo's Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S. In addition to giving lectures and making appearances at amateur races, Kobayashi has been teaching mathematics at a prison for juvenile offenders in Kakogawa. About three and a half hours after giving birth she commented, "That gave me a taste of a whole different kind of suffering and excitement from athletics. I hope that he grows up a healthy boy."

Translator's note: Kobayashi holds a total of four youth, junior and open national records over 1500 m and 3000 m. Late in her career she relocated to the U.S.A. to train with coach James Li but returned when she was unable to alter her career trajectory.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Kenta Murayama to Run Ottawa 10K


Kenta Murayama of the 2017 New Year Ekiden national champion Asahi Kasei team is among the top entrants in the May 27 Ottawa 10K men's race.  5th in March's United Airlines NYC Half in 1:00:57, Murayama is the twin brother of track 10000 m national record holder Kota Murayama (Team Asahi Kasei). Murayama will be running in Canada for the first time with support from JRN. Also on the entry list is former Tokyo Kokusai University runner Leul Gebresilase (Ethiopia), who had several memorable races against Murayama's brother Kota at the Hakone Ekiden Qualifier 20 km. Ottawa will be Kenta and Leul's first time to meet each other on the raods. Click here for a complete elite field listing.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

National Champion Asahi Kasei Team Welcomes its First-Ever Kenyan Members

https://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20170515-00000124-sph-spo

translated by Brett Larner


On May 15 ekiden and marathon powerhouse Asahi Kasei welcomed its first-ever foreign-born team members, Kenyans Kenneth Kiprop Kipkemoi, 32, and Abraham Kapsis Kipyatich, 24, to the team's base in Nobeoka, Miyazaki. The highly accomplished Kipkemoi holds a 10000 m best of 26:52.65 far superior to the 27:29.69 Japanese national record held by Asahi Kasei's Kota Murayama, 24, and his 5000 m and half marathon bests of 13:03.07 and 59:01 are likewise better than the Japanese national records. By comparison, Kipyatich is still young with room to grow further in the future.

Regarding the reinforcement of the team's strength, an Asahi Kasei spokesperson commented, "The mission of our athletics program is to produce athletes who can compete on the front lines at events like the Olympics, World Championships and major marathons. After examining a variety of options for strategies to pursue that goal we opted to hire two foreign athletes."

At this year's New Year Ekiden corporate men's national championships 30 out of 37 teams in the field had foreign-born athletes. In their midst, Asahi Kasei became the first all-Japanese team to win in 18 years. Founded in 1946, the Asahi Kasei team has a long history of producing many of the Japanese long distance world's best, from twins Shigeru and Takeshi Soh to Rio Olympics marathoner Satoru Sasaki, 31, to current wonder twins Kenta and Kota Murayama. By training regularly with two talented athletes from the Long Distance Kingdom of Kenya its competitive abilities are likely to grow even stronger.