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39 Year Old Tergat Aiming for Biwako Course Record

http://www.asahi.com/sports/spo/TKY200902280070.html
http://mainichi.jp/enta/sports/news/20090228k0000m050085000c.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Former men's marathon world record holder Paul Tergat (Kenyan) is running the Mar. 1 Biwako Mainichi Marathon, his first marathon in Japan. It's been six years since Tergat shocked the world when he ran the first-ever 2:04 marathon at the 2003 Berlin Marathon, but he still continues running. We interviewed the 39 year old veteran.

Why did you decide to run Biwako?
For years I've wanted to run a marathon in Japan. I do April's London Marathon every year, but although they invited me this year I decided to come to Japan. Japanese people are warm-hearted and have a sense of respect for their competitors, and they love sports more than anything. There are a lot of good runners.

What's your target time?
If the wind and temperature are suitable I'll be going for the course record [2:07:34]. I haven't had any injurie…

Kojokan Sends Three to Asian Cross Country Championships

http://www.chugoku-np.co.jp/News/Tn200902250050.html

translated by Brett Larner

Kojokan High School is sending three athletes to compete at the Asian Cross Country Championships in Bahrain on Mar. 1. Seniors Rei Obara (18) and Ai Kuboki (18) will join alumna Risa Shigetomo (21, Team Tenmaya) on the Japanese national team in Bahrain. For Kuboki it will be her first overseas race. "I want to soak up the atmosphere and the chance to race against foreign athletes and hope that it helps me to take my running to the next level," she told reporters.

Obara will be running in the junior women's 6 km race. Obara comes to the championships after having won both the 5000 m at October's nationals and the 1st stage of December's National High School Ekiden. Kuboki will be in the same race, having finished 3rd nationally in the 3000 m and helping her team finish as runner-up in the National High School Ekiden with a 4th place run on the 5th stage.

Shigetomi will run in the senior w…

'The Next Taniguchi' to Debut in Biwako

http://www.nishinippon.co.jp/nsp/item/79701

translated by Brett Larner

The next Taniguchi is ready to challenge the marathon! At the Mar. 1 Biwako Mainichi Marathon, Satoru Sasaki (23, Team Asahi Kasei), whose coach Takeshi Soh calls him "like Hiromi Taniguchi," will debut at the 42.195 km distance. Grabbing attention with a stage win on the New Year Ekiden's 5th leg in only his first year as a professional runner, all eyes are fixed upon this new star. His goal is to earn his ticket to August's World Championships in Berlin.

Sasaki has been a corporate runner for less than a year, but even at this early stage of his career he has the personality of a craftsman. "Attention? Are you talking about me? Well, regardless, this time I just want to get some idea of what the marathon is all about." He has no bold predictions, choosing his words carefully as he talks about his ambitions.

Sasaki began practicing with Team Asahi Kasei at its base in Nobeoka, Miyazaki Pref…

Onishi, the Shimizu Twins and Rios Looking for Biwako Marathon Win

http://www.jiji.com/jc/c?g=spo_30&k=2009022600881

translated by Brett Larner

The 42.195 km Biwako Mainichi Marathon takes place Mar. 1 in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture. As a selection race for August's World Championships in Berlin, the top Japanese finisher will automatically earn a spot on the team. With all five of the domestic invited elites close in ability the race will likely come down to who is best able to summon up a strong finish.

The Japanese runner with the best time is Yuzo Onishi (Team Nissin Shokuhin), who set his mark of 2:08:54 at last year's Biwako where he was 4th. In the same race Tomoya Shimizu (Team Sagawa Express) was 5th, running 2:09:23 in his marathon debut. Both runners are looking for a big leap in their performances this year. Shimizu's twin brother Masaya (Team Asahi Kasei) and veterans Kazutoshi Takatsuka (Team Komori Corp.) and Takashi Ota (Team Konica Minolta) make up the rest of the invited domestic field.

After the failure of Japanese men's…

Rikuren Announces Nagoya International Women's Marathon Elite Field (updated)

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/news/20090226-OYT1T00793.htm
http://mainichi.jp/enta/sports/general/track/news/20090227k0000m050029000c.html
http://www.chunichi.co.jp/article/sports/news/CK2009022702000155.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On Feb. 26 Rikuren released the names of the elite field for the Mar. 8 Nagoya International Women's Marathon, a selection race for the Berlin World Championships women's marathon team. Eleven women make up the domestic elite field, among them 2007 Tokyo Marathon winner Hitomi Niiya (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) and 2003 Nagoya winner Takami Ominami (Team Toyota Shatai). The five elite foreign women include 2000 Sydney Olympics silver medalist Lidia Simon (Romania) and 2008 Beijing International Marathon winner Xue Bai (China). 303 runners make up the general division.

In addition to Niiya and Ominami, the domestic elite field includes last year's 5th place finisher Chika Horie (Team Aruze) and 7th place finisher Yumi Hirata (Team Shiseid…

Tergat Arrives in Japan 'Praying For Good Luck'

http://mainichi.jp/photo/archive/news/2009/02/25/20090226k0000m050049000c.html
http://mainichi.jp/area/shiga/news/20090226ddlk25050458000c.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner


The Tergats arrive in Japan on Feb. 25.

Members of the invited foreign field for the Mar. 1 Biwako Mainichi Marathon began to arrive in Otsu's Biwako Hotel on Feb. 24 as race day draws near. The athletes' area at the hotel takes up two convention rooms on the hotel's third floor, with six interpreters speaking English, Spanish, French, Italian and Russian on hand to assist with the athletes' communication. The rooms face onto Lake Biwa and are well-stocked with sports drinks, bananas and oranges, offering a comfortable environment in which the runners can relax.

Taking 27 hours to arrive in Otsu from his home in Eritrea after a delayed flight, Yared Asmerom (29) told reporters, "I ran here last year, so I know it's a good course. I'll be going for a new PB."

Former world record …

Oki Electronics Eliminates Its Running Team

http://www.jiji.com/jc/c?g=spo_30&k=2009022500755

translated by Brett Larner

Citing a decline in the strength of the business environment, the Oki electronics company announced on Feb. 25 that effective Mar. 31 it is eliminating its running team, known as one of the strongest professional women's squads. The team currently includes six athletes along with a support staff of eleven. Oki has pledged to assist its runners with finding positions in other teams and to provide jobs within the company for those athletes who may wish to remain as ordinary workers. The company's public relations office issued a statement saying, "We genuinely regret the necessity of taking this step. We offer our most sincere apologies to team members whose activities we have supported until now and thank them for all their efforts."

The Miyazaki-based Team Oki was founded in 1986. In 1988 Hidekoku Hiroshima, the man who developed the Soh brothers Shigeru and Takashi into legendary marathone…

Fujita Promises Tokyo Marathon Win to His Mother in Heaven

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20090224-OHT1T00291.htm

translated by Brett Larner

On Feb. 24, former men's marathon national record holder Atsushi Fujita (32, Team Fujitsu), held a public practice session in Chiba as he prepares for next month's Tokyo Marathon. Fujita has sworn to stage a comeback victory in memory of his late mother.

Today was the one-year anniversary of his mother Shizue's loss at age 54, the victim of a brain tumor. On the 22nd Fujita returned to his hometown of Shirakawa in Fukushima Prefecture to observe the one-year memorial ceremony. "Please watch me as I run this marathon," he prayed before her shrine.

Fujita's last marathon was the Dec. 2007 Fukuoka International Marathon, where he finished 8th. Since Team Fujitsu's win at the New Year Ekiden he has been at training camps on the southern islands of Amami Oshima and Tokunoshima, focusing on high mileage to fortify his stamina. On the 27th he will again travel to Amami…

Rikuren Relaxes Advertising Rules to Allow Additon of Sponsors' Names to Marathons

http://www.asahi.com/sports/spo/TKY200901280085.html

translated by Brett Larner

Let's put corporate logos on our marathons! Rikuren is planning to change its regulations to allow marathons and ekidens in Japan to begin adding sponsoring companies to their race names and to increase the amount of advertising along the course. The move comes during the current recession in hopes of making the events more attractive to potential sponsors.

The decision to make the change took place in December last year. Until now, track races were permitted to advertise their sponsor's names but road races were prohibited from such promotion. Looking at overseas marathons such as the 'Flora London Marathon' and the 'ING New York City Marathon,' the inclusion of the sponsoring food maker or financial institution in the race name is simply a given. "We've made some changes to come into line with IAAF guidelines, not because of the recession" a Rikuren marketing executive …

Is Naoko Running Nagoya for Real!? Takahashi Training in Tokunoshima

http://www.chunichi.co.jp/chuspo/article/sports/news/CK2009022002000136.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Naoko Takahashi stands between the two monuments in her honor on Tokunoshima island.

Sydney Olympics women's marathon gold medalist and former world record holder Naoko Takahashi (36, Phiten), who retired from professional running last fall, began training on the island of Tokunoshima in Kagoshima Prefecture on Feb. 19 for what she has up until now called a 'thank-you run' at the Mar. 8 Nagoya International Women's Marathon. Q-chan has said her goal for her 'final run' is simply, "to break 3 hours." However, she recently commented, "I'm really afraid that when the starting gun goes off I might get excited and try to run up front [in the lead pack] instead of going out as planned," suggesting the possibility that Nagoya might become a 'real run.' Takahashi was quick to add, "I'm going to try to hold back as much…

Tokyo Marathon Announces 2009 Elite Field

by Brett Larner

On Feb. 23 the organizing committee of the Tokyo Marathon announced the elite athletes invited to the 2009 race to be held on Mar. 22. With the addition of substantial prize money and a women's field the Tokyo Marathon has taken on a new character this year, and its inclusion as a domestic men's World Championships selection race means that a large number of top Japanese men will also be lining up.

The women's race features 2008 Boston and Chicago Marathon runner-up Alevtina Biktimirova of Russia as the fastest foreign entrant. Alongside Biktimirova are two-time World Half Marathon bronze medalist Pamela Chepchumba of Kenya, two-time World Championships marathoner Shitaye Gemechu of Ethiopia, 2008 Vienna Marathon winner Luminita Talpos of Romania, and 2007 Beijing Marathon winner Rong Chen of China.

The Japanese women's field includes two greats running their final races, Harumi Hiroyama and Reiko Tosa. Hiroyama won the 2006 Nagoya International Women'…

Avenging Beijing! Ogata Joins Tokyo Marathon Lineup

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/flash/KFullFlash20090222081.html

translated by Brett Larner

On Feb. 22, Beijing Olympics men's marathon 13th place finisher Tsuyoshi Ogata (Team Chugoku Denryoku) announced that he will run next month's Tokyo Marathon after having pulled out of December's Fukuoka International Marathon and February's Marugame International Half Marathon with minor injuries. "[After the Olympics] I was a lot more tired than I thought and my condition kind of broke down," stated Ogata, "but now I plan to do the Tokyo Marathon." Commented on his remaining training for Tokyo, Ogata said, "I don't know if everything is going to go smoothly or not, but there's only a month left so I want to do whatever I can to be ready."

Translator's note: The Tokyo Marathon has not yet released details on its elite field for this year's race on Mar. 22. In theory the addition of substantial prize money and a women's race this y…

Mitsuya Wins Kumanichi 30 km (updated)

http://kumanichi.com/news/local/main/20090222003.shtml
http://www.hokkaido-np.co.jp/news/sports/148677.html
http://www.nishinippon.co.jp/nsp/item/78969

translated and edited by Brett Larner

At the Rikuren-certified Kinaguri Memorial Kumanichi 30 km Road Race in Kumamoto, Kyushu on Feb. 22, Yu Mitsuya of Team Toyota Kyushu, was victorious in his debut at the distance, winning in a time of 1:29:55. Enduring a slow first 10 km in 30:08, Mitsuya ran in the lead pack until 22 km where he attacked with a strong spurt. He broke away from pursuer Yoshinori Oda of Team Toyota just before 27 km and ran alone to the finish in a successful test run for his planned marathon debut next season. "My legs got pretty heavy after 28 km," Mitsuya said afterwards. "I've gotta train more."

Having won his own debut marathon at the 1991 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon to qualify for the Barcelona Olympics where he won the silver medal, Mitsuya's coach Koichi Morishita gave him passing mar…

Japan Takes Final Yokoyama International Women's Ekiden

by Brett Larner

Click here for an extensive set of photos from the ekiden and after-party courtesy of NTV.

To the surprise of none, a crack Japanese national team made up of most of the country's best current distance runners easily dispatched six foreign and seven regional domestic teams to win the final edition of the Yokohama International Women's Ekiden on Feb. 22. Among the foreign teams, on paper only the Kenyan and Russia squads stood a chance of competing with the hosts' loaded national team, which covered the six-stage, 42.195 km course in 2:15:05 to take its 10th win in the ekiden's history. Kenya was a distant 2nd in 2:16:58, while Russia fell victim to two of the regional Japanese teams, finishing 5th in 2:19:20.

The Japanese national team's three big guns, Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshokki), Yuri Kano (Second Wind AC) and Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) all took stage best titles, while Japan's other three runners were all 2nd on their…

Ryuji Ono Targeting 30 km World Record at Kumanichi 30 km

http://kumanichi.com/fsports/30km/2009/tokushu/kiji01.shtml#01

translated by Brett Larner

"I think for me the marathon starts right here," says Ryuji Ono (Team Asahi Kasei) of his 30 km debut at the Feb. 22 Kumanichi 30 km Road Race. "I want to see how close I can get to my target, to run the kind of time I'm shooting for." The race is a test run for his marathon debut next season, a long-term preview of his plans to run the marathon at the 2012 London Olympics.

Ono's goal in Kumanichi is the course and world record of 1:28:00, held by Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta). "Last year at the Olympic Trials 10000 m I lost to Matsumiya and didn't get to go to Beijing. If I can break his record then it'll be worth as much as beating the guy himself," he grins, his youth showing in his brash words.

After starting the year off strong by winning the New Year Ekiden's first stage Ono's condition went downhill, but since then he has recover…

Ongori 3rd in RAK Half Marathon

by Brett Larner

Team Hokuren's Philes Ongori, who ran the fastest women's half marathon in the world last year, set a new PB of 1:07:50 at the Feb. 20 Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon in the UAE. Ongori ran among the leaders until the final kilometers when Ethiopia's Dire Tune broke away to a new national record of 1:07:18. Ongori was outkicked by Ethiopian Aselefech Mergia, settling for 3rd. Team Aruze's Julia Mumbi Muraga was a distant 10th in 1:09:40.

Men's winner Patrick Makau of Kenya ran 58:52, the second-fastest half marathon time ever recorded, breaking world record holder Samuel Wanjiru's course record by 1 second. Yamanashi Gakuin University's Mekubo Mogusu did not start the race after a recent car accident in Kenya, and his friend Daniel Gitau of Nihon University likewise failed to start.

A detailed recap of both the women's and men's races and a link to complete results are available here.

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

"If I Run Well..." - Mitsuya, the Marathon, and the Kumanichi 30 km Road Race

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/sports/other/090217/oth0902170859002-n1.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

"I came to Kyushu because I want to run the marathon. Now we're getting close," says Yu Mitsuya (Team Toyota Kyushu). A runner with 5000 m and 10000 m World Championships experience, at age 24 Mitsuya has begun his move up to the marathon.

Mitsuya is scheduled to run the Feb. 22 Kumanichi 30 km Road Race in Kumamoto, Kyushu. "If I run well then the marathon is next," he says, hoping that the 30 km race will give him insight into the marathon's 42.195 km. Giving him added motivation is the fact that Athens Olympics 5000 m runner Ryuji Ono (Team Asahi Kasei), also 24, will likewise run Kumanichi.

Mitsuya is coached by Barcelona Olympics silver medalist Koichi Morishita, who guided Beijing Olympics marathon gold medalist Samuel Wanjiru through his transition to the marathon. Morishita looked towards their plans for the next three years, saying, "Yu doesn…

Paul Tergat Headlines Biwako Mainichi Marathon Elite Field (updated)

by Brett Larner

On Feb. 18 the Biwako Mainichi Marathon released the elite field for this year's running to be held on Sun., Mar. 1. Headlining the field is former marathon world record holder Paul Tergat of Kenya. The 39 year old Tergat was scheduled to run the 2007 Fukuoka International Marathon but withdrew at the last moment citing required military service, meaning that Biwako, also known as Lake Biwa and Otsu, will be his first time appearing in a marathon in Japan.

Among the foreign competition facing Tergat are last year's runner-up Yared Asmerom (Eritrea) and past champion Jose Rios (Spain). Both Asmerom and Rios recorded their personal bests on the Biwako course. Also on the bill are Abderrahime Bouramdane (Morocco), Abiyot Guta (Ethiopia), Vitaliy Shafar (Ukraine) and Pawel Ochal (Poland).

Biwako is a selection race for the Japanese men's marathon team for the 2009 World Championships in Berlin. The top Japanese finisher will earn a spot on the team, and other runn…

'Kenyan Athlete and Training Partner Killed in Accident'

Jefferson Siekei, 3/12/83 - 2/6/09

http://www.nation.co.ke/sports/athletics/-/1100/525768/-/t2kyljz/-/index.html


http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/sp20090218a1.html

Jefferson Siekei's profile is located on the Team Hitachi Cable website here. Thank you to JRN reader Chris for pointing out this unfortunate story.

Olympic Medalist Wainaina Falls 6 Times During 3 km XC Ski Race

http://runnet.jp/news/main.php?_num=165

translated by Brett Larner

Two-time Olympic marathon medalist and longtime Japan resident Erick Wainaina of Kenya took part in a 3 km race last weekend where he fell six times and finished with a time of over 34 minutes, commenting afterwards, "It was my first experience and I had a lot of fun." Hearing just this you might think, "Whoa! What happened!?" The truth is that Wainaina wasn't running a road race but one on the snow at the 29th Sapporo International Ski Marathon, an event attracting elite and amateur athletes alike.

Wainaina was an invited guest in Sapporo's 3 km division despite only ever having been on skis once. Asked for his impressions after finishing the race, Wainaina said, "If I run 3 km it takes me between 8 and 9 minutes, but today it took 34:34. The muscles you use are completely different from the ones used in running."

Wainaina's best time for a marathon is 2:08:43, a pace of 3:03 per …

Tokyo Delivers Its Bid For a Compact Olympics

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/sports/other/090213/oth0902131857018-n1.htm

translated by Brett Larner

On Feb. 13 the 2016 Tokyo Olympics Bid Committee submitted its plan for "the most compact arrangement of facilities in Olympic history," an Olympics designed "from the athletes' point of view." The planned marathon course includes both the 1964 and 2016 Olympic stadiums, a route designed "to encompass the full sweep of [Tokyo's Olympic] history."

The new Olympic stadium, desgined to hold 100,000 spectators with a permanent seating capacity of 80,000, will be built in Tokyo's Harumi district in Chuo Ward and is intended to be the heart of Tokyo's facilities. With the exception of shooting events and soccer, all other competitions are planned to take place within an 8 km radius of the new Olympic stadium. Of the 34 proposed sites, 23 will make use of already-existing venues.

The marathon course in particular captures the spirit of Tokyo's Olympic …

Biwako Mainichi Marathon - Elite Field Preview

by Brett Larner

The next selection race for the Japanese men's marathon team for the 2009 World Championships in Berlin takes place Mar. 1 at the Biwako Mainichi Marathon, one of Japan's most prestigious elite races. Biwako, also known as the Lake Biwa Marathon and usually referred to in official listings as the Otsu marathon after the town in which the race takes place, became Japan's first IAAF Gold Label road race earlier this year in a suprising move possibly designed to counter main sponsor Rohm's withdrawal of support following this year's race. Biwako's future may be in question but as a World Championships selection race this year's edition is sure to continue the event's history of offering the spring's most dramatic domestic men's racing.

Biwako has not yet released its official entry list, but below is a compilation of athletes who have thus far publicly declared an intent to run. The official entry list should be available within the w…

A Comeback Victory for Yokoyama in Ome

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20090216-OHT1T00040.htm

translated by Brett Larner

At the 43rd Ome Marathon on Feb. 15, Tomoe Yokoyama (32, Team Toto) won the women's 30 km race in 1:47:01 six years after her previous Ome victory in 2003. Now completely recovered from a right leg injury which sidelined her career for years, Yokoyama is enthusiastically looking forward to running the marathon in the 2012 London Olympics.

Running under a picture-perfect blue sky, Yokoyama left her competitors far behind as she broke the goal tape, exhibiting in her comeback Ome victory the kind of running not seen since her long-ago first win in 2003. "I'm really grateful to everyone who's helped me up 'til now," she commented afterwards. "And my confidence to race is back." Wearing the laurel wreath for the first time in six years as she stood upon the highest point of the podium, Yokoyama's smile transmitted her joy to all.

The period between her wins has…

Yoshihisa Hosaka Interview

This weekend I visited Shimoda four hours south of Tokyo to interview Yoshihisa Hosaka about his background and training for his 60+ world record at the Feb. 1 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon. I’ve worked at various times with a range of well-known musicians, artists, dancers, athletes and biologists and can honestly say that Hosaka is the most interesting person I have ever met. The interview will appear in the June issue of Running Times magazine, available April 28.

Kurosaki, Yokoyama and Yamauchi Take Ome Marathon Wins

by Brett Larner

While the 2008 Ome Marathon 30 km and 10 km road race was cancelled due to heavy snowfall, this year's race saw unseasonable mid-spring temperatures around 20 degrees. 23280 people ran the two races, with 17959 in the 30 km race and 5321 in the 10 km.

Team Konica Minolta's first-year star recruit Hirokatsu Kurosaki continued to impress, taking the win in the men's 30 km division in 1:32:50, a strong time on Ome's famously hilly course. Veteran jitsugyodan runner Kurao Umeki (Team Chugoku Denryoku) was 48 seconds back in 2nd, narrowly beating out Waseda University's downhill specialist Sota Kato who ran a PB of 1:33:52 for 3rd. 2009 World Championships marathon team member Satoshi Irifune (Team Kanebo) was 4th in 1:34:17, just half a step ahead of American Nicholas Arciniaga who clocked the same time but was 5th.

The women's 30 km race was a three-way battle, with Tomoe Yokoyama (Team Toto) winning in 1:47:01 over Team Hokuren's Yoshie Kitomi a…

Maeda Scores First Victory at Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon

http://www.47news.jp/CN/200902/CN2009021501000274.html
http://www.nishinippon.co.jp/nsp/item/77474

translated and edited by Brett Larner

At the 47th Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon starting and finishing in front of Nobeoka City Hall in Nobeoka, Miyazaki Prefecture on Feb. 15, 29 year-old Kazuyuki Maeda (Team Konica Minolta) ran a nearly 30-minute of 2:13:55 to take his first-ever marathon win. Maeda ran alongside debut marathoner Shingo Tsumemaru (Team Asahi Kasei) behind pacemaker Tomoyuki Sato (Team Asahi Kasei) until Sato's departure at 30 km. Maeda then gradually pulled away from Tsumemaru and widened his lead to what became a solo run.

The 2nd and 3rd place finishers ran a conservative early pace, coming from behind in the later stages to clock strong results. 2 minutes and 2 seconds behind Maeda in 2nd place was Keisuke Wakui (Team Yakult) in his marathon debut. Takanori Ide (Team Kyudenko) was 3rd in a PB of 2:16:01. Tsumemaru faded to 9th in 2:20:00.

Conditions at the start were…

'Karoki and Shimizu the Winners at Chiba Cross Country'

http://iaaf.org/WXC09/news/newsid=49327.html

Click pictures for more 2009 Chiba Int'l XC photos by Mikiko Lawrence.

Shibui, Kobayashi, Dita and More to Run Final Yokohama International Women's Ekiden

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/news/20090212-OYT1T00998.htm
http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/090213/spg0902130502000-n1.htm
http://www.asahi.com/sports/update/0212/TKY200902120294.html
http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/news/p-sp-tp0-20090213-460245.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Click photo for a preview video of the 2009 Yokohama International Women's Ekiden (viewing area may be limited).

On Feb. 12 the Yokohama International Women's Ekiden organizing committee held a press conference to announce the lineup of the Japanese national team for this year's 27th and final running scheduled for Feb. 22. Leading the team are Beijing Olympians Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) and Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshokki). Shibui, who will compete in the marathon at this summer's World Championships in Berlin, set a stage record the last time she ran Yokohama in 2002. Kobayashi has run the 1st leg for the last three years, winning the stage in 2008.

Joining Shi…

Chiba International Cross-Country Meet: Kobayashi, Iwamizu, Hiroyama and More Headline

http://mainichi.jp/enta/sports/news/20090204k0000m050050000c.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Rikuren has announced the lineup for the Chiba International Cross Country Meet to take place Feb. 15. As a selection race for the Japanese national team for this year's Jordan World Cross Country Championships in March, the Chiba XC Meet has attracted a range of top athletes looking to represent their nation.

The men's 12000 m race includes 3000 m steeplechase Olympian Yoshitaka Iwamizu (Team Fujitsu), 2009 Interprefectural Ekiden 7th stage winner Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku), two-time Olympic marathoner Jon Brown (Canada/U.K.) and 2009 Shibuya New Ekiden 1st stage winner Jason Lawrence (New Zealand).

The women's 6000 m race features Beijing Olympics 5000 m runner Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshokki), 2007 World Championships 6th place finisher Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC), and veteran Harumi Hiroyama (Team Shiseido).

In the junior men's 8000 m race, t…

Three Stars for the Ome Marathon: Satoshi Irifune, Eri Okubo and Sota Kato

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/rensai/news/20090210-OHT1T00099.htm
http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/rensai/news/20090211-OHT1T00096.htm
http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/rensai/news/20090212-OHT1T00009.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The 43rd edition of the Ome Marathon* is scheduled to take place Feb. 15. Once again this year 20000 runners from across the country, amateurs and professionals alike, will come together to run Ome's early spring roads in the foothills of the mountains west of Tokyo. 15000 will run in Ome's main event, the 30 km road race, while another 5000 will run in the 10 km race. We interviewed some of the most interesting and well-known faces.

Satoshi Irifune - Team Kanebo
Satoshi Irifune is on his way to the world. Finishing 2nd overall at December's Fukuoka International Marathon in a PB time of 2:09:23, Irifune became the first man to book a seat on the marathon team for August's World Track and Field Championships in Berlin. "I want…

Kitamura Outleans Sato and Omori at Himejijo 10 Miler

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/flash/KFullFlash20090211070.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner


Terukazu Omori, Satoru Kitamura and Atsushi Sato in a photo-finish at the 2009 Himejijo 10-Miler.




Ten days after finishing two seconds behind half marathon Asian record holder Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) at the Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon, the diminuitive Satoru Kitamura (Team Nissin Shokuhin) came out on top at the 49th Himejijo 10 Mile Road Race in Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture on Feb. 11. The race came down to a sprint finish between the three runners with the fastest 10000 m times in the field after a slow early pace. Kitamura, Sato and Terukazu Omori (Team Shikoku Denryoku) all clocked times of 47:57, but the rookie Kitamura outleaned Beijing Olympics marathoner Sato and ekiden ace Omori to take the win. Sato was 2nd, with Omori taking 3rd.

Sato is planning on running April's London Marathon but commented, "I'm still don't really know how it'…

Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon Elite Field Preview

by Brett Larner

The 2009 Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon takes place this Sunday, Feb. 15 on Japan's southernmost main island of Kyushu. Nobeoka is one of Japan's second-tier elite marathons and typically serves as a development race for young marathoners and first-timers. The top returning runner from 2008 is 4th place finisher Isamu Sueyoshi (Team Otsuka Seiyaku), who recorded his PB of 2:15:12 at last year's race. His main competitor may be Masayuki Sakahashi (Team Kurosaki Harima), but with more debutants than experienced marathoners Nobeoka is far from predictable.

The first-time marathoner most likely to be a factor is 1:02:01 half marathoner Yuki Tanaka (Team Sumco Techxiv), but either Takashi Nabeshima (Team NTT Nishi Nihon) or Sueyoshi's teammate Katsuji Yamaguchi, both of whom have half marathon times under 1:03, could also be up front. The most talented runner in the field, Kazuyuki Maeda (Team Konica Minolta), holds a half marathon PB of 1:01:49 and a 30 km PB …

Atsushi Sato Headlines Himejijo 10 Miler

by Brett Larner

Half marathon Asian record holder Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) headlines the field at the 49th Himejijo 10 Mile Road Race on the national holiday of Feb. 11, just 10 days after finishing 3rd overall and as the top domestic runner at the Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon. As he prepares for the London Marathon Sato will face a wide range of challengers including the runner who finished just behind him in Marugame, Team Nissin Shokuhin's Satoru Kitamura, and 2:07:52 marathoner Tomoaki Kunichika (Team S&B), but his biggest competition is likely to be the only other sub-28 minute 10000 m runner in the race, Terukazu Omori (Team Shikoku Denryoku). The field also includes American Steven Crane, the lone foreigner among the elite runners.

2009 Himejijo 10 Mile Road Race Elite Field
times listed are PB marks for 10000 m and half marathon

Terukazu Omori (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 27:43.94 / 1:02:14
Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 27:56.86 / 1:00:25
Sat…

Speed Runner Mitsuya On His Way to Marathon Debut

http://www.nishinippon.co.jp/nsp/item/76204

translated by Brett Larner

Photo courtesy of Rikuren.

Long distance track ace Yu Mitsuya (Team Toyota Kyushu) won the 49th Karatsu 10 Mile Road Race on Feb. 8 with the kind of finish Japanese marathon fans love to see.

Entering the stadium with just 300 m left to go on the track, Mitsuya outkicked Kenyan leader and 2007 Karatsu winner Silas Jui (Team Nissan) to win by 6 seconds after dueling over the last 6 km of the race. Mitsuya raised his hands triumphantly as he broke the finish tape, smashing through the first gate on the road to his debut marathon. "I think Silas had a cold or something, but we'll see each other again in the [Kumanichi] 30 km race. That's where I really want to win," a sweaty Mitsuya commented afterwards, looking toward his first 30 km race with eager eyes.

This 10 mile race and the Feb. 22 Kumanichi 30 km Road Race are part of his development plan for a planned marathon debut next year, a series of tests …

Mitsuya and Miyauchi Win Karatsu 10-Miler

http://www.saga-s.co.jp/view.php?pageId=1036&mode=0&classId=0&blockId=1172497&newsMode=article

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Two-time World Champioinships track runner Yu Mitsuya (Team Toyota Kyushu) won the Karatsu 10 Mile Road Race on Feb. 8 in Karatsu, Saga Prefecture. Mitsuya ran 47:04 to take his first-ever win in Karatsu. In two weeks he will run the Kumanichi 30 km Road Race as part of his preparations for a marathon debut later in the year. Noritaka Fujiyama (Team Sumco Techxiv) was the top Saga Prefecture native, finishing 3rd overall.

Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Oki) also scored her first Karatsu win, taking the women's 10 km event in 32:38. Yuya Konishi (Tosu Kogyo H.S.) won the high school boys' 10 km race in 30:12, giving Saga Prefecture its first high school division win in 3 years. Konishi's teammate Satoru Hori was 4th overall.

Kodama to Become Head Coach of Team Aichi Seiko

http://mainichi.jp/enta/sports/general/track/news/20090203k0000m050063000c.html

translated by Brett Larner

Team Aichi Seiko of Tokai, Aichi Prefecture, has announced that head coach and former 10000 m and marathon national record holder Takeyuki Nakayama, 49, will be resigning his position as head coach at the end of this season. Nakayama will be replaced by former marathon national record holder Taisuke Kodama, 50, who will take over effective April 1st.

As a runner for Team Asahi Kasei, Kodama won the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon and Beijing International Marathon, going on to coach Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki and Asahi Kasei's women's team following the end of his competitve running.

Nakayama became head coach of Team Aichi Seiko in 2004 and served for five years, leading the team to the New Year Ekiden four times. His plans following his retirement are currently undecided.