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Shibui Leaves for Arizona Training Camp

http://sports.nikkei.co.jp/index.aspx?n=SSXKG0108%2030052009
http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/news/f-sp-tp0-20090530-500774.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Shibui in Narita Airport on May 30. Click photo for full-sized version.

Berlin World Championships women's marathon team leader Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) left from Tokyo's Narita Airport on May 30 for the United States. She is first scheduled to attend an event in New York, then on June 2 will travel to a training camp in Flagstaff, Arizona.

At the beginning of April Shibui injured her left thigh while doing high-altitude training in Kunming, China, forcing her to miss the spring track season. "This was the worst injury I've had since I first started running, and even I was surprised," Shibui told reporters at Narita. On May 29 she ran 30 km, her longest run since winning January's Osaka International Women's Marathon. "I'm back to normal now. It doesn't hurt any mor…

A Tough Road to Complete Recovery: Megumi Kinukawa

http://www.kahoku.co.jp/news/2009/05/20090530t14040.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The way back to a complete recovery can be steep and grim. The greatest young hope of Japanese women's distance running, 10000 m junior national record holder Megumi Kinukawa (Team Mizuno), finished last of 35 entrants in the May 17 East Japan Jitsugyodan Track and Field Championships women's 5000 m, virtually staggering in to a 17:54.97. "This is the best I can do right now. More than being discouraged I just feel surprised." Just 19, she's learning the hard way the bitter taste of tears.

"I've been injured and sick and....." Kinukawa trails off. Last year she was infected with an unidentified virus which caused her to miss most of the year including her dream of running in the Beijing Olympics. In October she resurfaced, breaking her own national record with a mark of 31:23.21 which cleared the Berlin World Championships A-standard. Having felt a total comeb…

Daniel Gitau Shines Again With 1500m Record at Golden Games in Nobeoka (updated)

by Brett Larner

Six days after completing a rare quadruple with an 800 m meet record at the Kanto Regional University Track and Field Championships, fourth year Daniel Gitau (Nihon Univ.) took down Japanese 1500 m national record holder Fumikazu Kobayashi (Team NTN) with a PB and meet record 3:37.96 in the men's 1500 m at the May 30 Golden Games in Nobeoka. Heavy rain throughout the meet dashed hopes for a new Japanese national record-level performance, but although he missed his own record mark of 3:37.40 Kobayashi's time of 3:38.80 was one of his best since setting the record in 2004.

Other noteworthy marks came in the ten heats of the men's 5000 m. The fastest times came in the E-heat, where Micah Njeru (Team Toyota Boshoku) ran 13:22.20, a PB by 0.07 over his time from last year's Golden Games, to take down John Thuo (Team Toyota) for the win by just over a second. Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B) continued his return to form after a year of serious illness in 2008, runn…

926 Athletes to Compete in May 30 Golden Games in Nobeoka

http://mainichi.jp/area/miyazaki/news/20090527ddlk45050694000c.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

At a press conference on May 26 Team Asahi Kasei head coach Takeshi Soh announced the start lists for the 20th Golden Games in Nobeoka time trials meet, scheduled to take place near Asahi Kasei's headquarters in Nobeoka, Kyushu on May 30. 552 men and 374 women will compete in the meet. Outside of the meet's main focus, the 5000 m, Soh and other Rikuren officials anticipate the men's and women's 800 m and 1500 m races to be particularly strong.

Berlin World Championships marathoners Satoshi Irifune (Team Kanebo), Masaya Shimizu (Team Asahi Kasei) and Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) are entered in the men's 5000 m along with world-leading 10000 m runner Josephat Ndambiri (Team Komori Corp.).

In the men's 1500 m, national record holder Fumikazu Kobayashi (Team NTN) will face off against last year's winner and all-time Japanese #2 Kazuya Watanabe (Team Sanyo Tok…

Hosaka, Nakamura, Yoshimura, Tanaka, Gitau, Ondiba and More (updated)

by Brett Larner

Brett Larner, Toyokazu Yoshimura and Wilson Kipketer at the finish of the 2009 Copenhagen Marathon. Photo by Piia Doyle (DMG).

Update 5/29: I missed Daniel Gitau's 800m record at the Kanto Championships and have updated the summary below.

I just got back from Copenhagen yesterday. There was a fair amount of overseas action featuring Japanese runners and at least one big domestic meet this past weekend that I couldn't cover at the time, but for the sake of thoroughness I wanted to put up a few summaries. I'll go in reverse chronological order.

Los Angeles Marathon
Men's marathon 60+ world record holder Yoshihisa Hosaka ran the L.A. Marathon in 2:39:31. Although he fell 3 minutes 2 seconds shy of breaking his own world record set in February's Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, Hosaka was a highly creditable 27th overall and the 19th place male finisher. Needless to say, he won his age group. The June issue of Running Times magazine contains an interview with H…

Boss Coffee 'Zeitaku Marathon' Commercial Preview Clip

Here's a preview clip of the commercial I was in a couple of weeks ago. I'm number 808. The actual commercial starts at 3:16, although this is apparently just a short version. Click photo for video.

Some still photos are also available here. That's me on the left in the bottom picture.

Rikuren Announces Four-Loop Course for Yokohama International Women's Marathon

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/sports/other/090525/oth0905251840020-n1.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On May 25 Rikuren announced the course for the Nov. 15 Yokohama International Women's Marathon, a new event which replaces the Tokyo International Women's Marathon. The 42.195 km course begins in front of Yokohama's Yamashita Park, finishes within the park's grounds, and consists of a 1.7 km loop and a longer 13.2 km loop which runners will cover three times. The route will be the first-ever Rikuren-certified loop course and the first marathon on Japan's elite circuit not to start and finish on a 400 m track.

Following the start, the 1.7 km loop travels from Yamashita Park to the Kanagawa Prefectural Office and then through Yokohama's famous Chinatown before returning to the park. The longer loop extends from the park to the Akarenga Warehouse district, the site of the start and finish of the discontinued Yokohama International Women's Ekiden. From there …

Yoshimura and Tanaka Win in Copenhagen

by Brett Larner

800 m and 1000 m world record holder Wilson Kipketer congratulates 2009 Copenhagen Marathon winner Toyokazu Yoshimura and his parents.

Toyokazu Yoshimura and Chihiro Tanaka scored a double Japanese victory at the 2009 Copenhagen Marathon. Having grown from just under 3000 to nearly 11000 in the last three years, this year's Copenhagen Marathon featured invited elites for the first time.

Danish Crown Prince Frederick started off the field under ideal conditions. Yoshimura ran within a lead pack of four which included Jonah Kemboi (Kenya), Luigi La Bella (Italy) and debutant Matthew Janes (Wales) along with pacemaker Neilson Hall (U.K.). La Bella was the first to drop off as Yoshimura began to press Hall after 9 km. Soon Janes and then Kemboi likewise fell behind. Behind them Tanaka ran a lonely race far ahead of the next woman, accompanied only by a guide cyclist and right on her goal 2:35 pace.

Chihiro Tanaka goes it alone.

Yoshimura and Hall hit halfway in bang on 1:08…

Tanaka and Yoshimura Headline Copenhagen Marathon

by Brett Larner

The Copenhagen Marathon is one of Europe's fastest-growing marathons, moving from a field of less than 3000 in 2006 to over 10000 this year. For the first time the 2009 race will feature invited runners. Rather than try to stack the field with as many sub-2:10 runners as possible, elite coordinator Gavin Doyle has sought to do something different and put the race's focus on giving a chance to athletes right on the borderline between amateur and professional. The first two runners to be invited and the favorites in both the women's and men's races are Kobe-based Chihiro Tanaka and Osaka native Toyokazu Yoshimura.

Chihiro Tanaka wins the 2003 Hokkaido Marathon.



Chihiro Tanaka
Born: Nov. 13, 1969 in Hyogo, Japan
Marathon PB: 2:29:30 (Nagoya International Women’s Marathon 2002)
Other PBs: 5000m: 16:14.50 10000m: 33:32 Half-marathon: 1:12:00

Other key marathon performances:
2:33:30 (winner, Hokkaido Marathon 1997)
2:34:11 (winner, Hokkaido Marathon 2003)
2:37:03 (Toky…

Ndambiri Goes Under 27 Again at East Japan Corporate Championships

by Brett Larner

Two weeks after becoming the first man to break 27 minutes for 10000 m on Japanese soil at the May 3 Shizuoka International meet, Kenyan Josephat Ndambiri (Team Komori Corp.) repeated the feat in gusty winds on the first day of the East Japan Jitsugyodan Track and Field Meet in Yamagata Prefecture, clocking a meet record of 26:58.40. Ndambiri now holds the two fastest times in the world so far this year for 10000 m. Runner-up Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin) just missed out on breaking 27 minutes, running a 10 second PB of 27:01.83 and likewise going under the meet record.

Ngatuny faced tougher conditions of rain and wind the next day in the 5000 m and again came up 2nd in 13:19.41. He was beaten out by Ethiopian Yacob Jarso (Team Honda), whose winning time of 13:19.20 was both a PB and a new meet record. As in the 10000 m Ngatuny had the consolation of also being under the previous meet record. His new teammate Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin), just back from racin…

Weekend Japanese Track Action Roundup

by Brett Larner

The weekend of May 16-17 was the biggest of the year for Japanese track and field. Beyond the major regional university meet documented yesterday, six regional professional meets for members of Japanese corporate running world took place across the country. Below is a listing of top finishers in each of the distance events at the six Jitsugyodan meets. Click each meet header for complete results in Japanese.

2009 East Japan Jitsugyodan Track and Field Meet - Top Finishers
Men's 10000 m
1. Josephat Ndambiri (Team Komori Corp.) - 26:58.40 - CR
2. Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 27:01.83 - (CR)
3. Cyrus Njui (Team Hitachi Cable) - 28:40.99

Men's 5000 m
1. Yacob Jarso (Team Honda) - 13:19.20 - CR, PB
2. Gideon Ngatuny (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 13:19.41 - (CR)
3. Jonathan Ndiku (Team Hitachi Cable) - 13:37.68
4. Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 13:38.31 - (Japanese CR)

Men's 3000 m SC
1. Masatoshi Kikuchi (Team Fujitsu) - 8:43.39
2. Tatsunori Shinoura (Team S&B) …

Gitau Controls Windy First Weekend of Kanto Regional University Track and Field Championships

by Brett Larner


Daniel Gitau (Nihon Univ.) wins the windy 10000 m at the 2009 Kanto Regional University Track and Field Championships. Click here for complete race video via Flotrack.


Kenyan fourth-year Daniel Gitau (Nihon Univ.) followed in the footsteps of the now-graduated Mekubo Mogusu (Team Aidem) with a double win in the men's 1500 m and 10000 m on the first weekend of the 2009 Kanto Regional University Track and Field Championships May 16 and 17 at Tokyo's National Stadium. Harsh, windy conditions prevented fast times, particularly in the 10000 m, but Gitau had an easy win in the 1500 m in 3:44.18.

Setting off at 2:45/km pace in the 10000 m with Mogusu watching in the stands, the 2008 national university 10000 m champion Gitau worked together with first-year teammate Benjamin Gando, Mogusu's successor Cosmas Ondiba (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) and Japanese star Ryuji Kashiwabara (Toyo Univ.) to battle the wind. As the pace slowed midway Gitau broke away at around 5000 m, …

Nishihara Takes Kano's 5000 m Meet Record at Kansai Regional University Track Championships

by Brett Larner

While the Tokyo-centered Kanto Region is the undisputed center of Japanese university men's distance running thanks to the prestigious Hakone Ekiden, the Kansai Region features two of the top women's schools, the unbeatable national champion Ritsumeikan University and its perennial rival Bukkyo University. This year's Kanto Regional University Track and Field Championships was spread out over three weekends, giving distance athletes the possibility of competing in multiple events from 1500 m to half marathon.

The country's top university woman, Ritsumeikan fourth-year Kazue Kojima, scored a matter-of-fact win in the 10000 m on May 8, beating 2008 national university 10000 m champion and second-year teammate Michi Numata by nearly 40 seconds with a 32:55.64 clocking. The real show, however, came in the women's 5000 m on May 16.

Bukkyo third-year Kasumi Nishihara, fresh from an impressive 32:29.59 PB win against Numata and a host of professional and univ…

Serious Words From Noguchi's Coach Fujita

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/olympic/news/2009/05/16/02.html

translated by Brett Larner

Nobuyuki Fujita (68), coach of women's national marathon record holder Mizuki Noguchi (30, Team Sysmex) who withdrew from last summer's Beijing Olympics marathon with an injury to her left thigh, turned up at the Amagasaki Memorial Track and Field Grounds on May 15 to watch the first day of the Kansai Jitsugyodan Track and Field Meet. Speaking of his star pupil's inability to resume training with reinjuring herself Fujita admitted that he had recently hurled harsh words at Noguchi, telling her, "If you keep going on like this then it looks like it's over." Noguchi has resumed jogging several times since her original injury, but each time she has begun training at a higher pace the pain has returned. Fujita recognizes that Noguchi may be headed down her last road but still seeks to encourage her and has adopted the motto "looking forward to running" as the theme of her…

Team Monteroza Cancels Overseas Training Camp Over Swine Flu Fears

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/flash/KFullFlash20090514136.html

translated by Brett Larner

Fearing the spread of the swine influenza, Team Monteroza, a track and field team sponsored by a nationwide chain of bars, announced on May 14 that it has cancelled a planned overseas training camp which was to take place at the end of this month and the early part of June. The team had already notified Rikuren that it was shelving its plans to send high jumpers Hikaru Tsuchiya and Satoru Kubota to the Asia Grand Prix meet in China out of fears over the flu.

Monteroza's decision not to send its athletes to the three meets in the Asia Grand Prix was made in late April. Rikuren has thus far left such decisions to counter the spread of swine influenza in the hands of individual corporate and university teams.

JRN AWOL

Sorry for not posting much this week, but I've been on the set of a TV commercial shoot the last few days. The cast of the commercial included celebrities Atsushi Ito and Hiroshi Neko, marathon legends Shigeru Soh, Akemi Masuda and Erick Wainaina, Olympic and World Championships bronze medalist sprinter Shingo Suetsugu, two-time World Championships bronze medalist hurdler Dai Tamesue, famed marathon coach Yoshio Koide, three-time Japanese national duathlon champion Yuya Fukaura, a World Championships race walker whose name I didn't catch, several Hakone Ekiden runners, my training partner Jason Lawrence, me, a few others, and several hundred extras. If it becomes available on YouTube I'll post a link.

Fukushi Wins Kansai Jitsugyodan 10000 m in Comeback Race

http://mainichi.jp/enta/sports/general/track/news/20090516k0000m050136000c.html
http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/090515/spg0905152044002-n1.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On the first day of the 53rd Kansai Jitsugyodan Track and Field Meet at the Amagasaki Memorial Track and Field Grounds in Hyogo Prefecture, Beijing Olympian Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) ran 33:13.83 to win her fourth 10000 m title at the meet after a two-year absence. Atsushi Igawa (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) won the men's 10000 m in 29:02.00.

The 10000 m was Fukushi's first race since December's National Jitsugyodan Women's Ekiden. Suffering from plantar fasciitis after the qualifying meet for the National Ekiden, Fukushi dropped out of planned participation in February's Rikuren-sponsored national training camp in New Zealand. She is now on the way back.

Six women took part in the Kansai Meet's 10000 m. The first 10000 m was a very slow 3:26, with the pace settling in to 80 seconds per lap …

Kanemaru and Kashiwabara Lead Team of 30 for World University Games

http://mainichi.jp/enta/sports/general/track/news/20090512k0000e050013000c.html
http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/flash/KFullFlash20090511085.html
http://www.kfb.co.jp/news/index.cgi?n=2009051212

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On May 11 the Japanese University Athletics Association announced the 30-member team for July's World University Games in Belgrade, Serbia. Among the young men and women on the team are a number of Beijing Olympians, among them 400 m runner Yuzo Kanemaru (Hosei Univ.), and sprinters Momoko Takahashi (Heisei Gakuin Univ.), Mitsuharu Abiko and Hitoshi Saito (both of Tsukuba Univ.). Racewalker Masumi Fuchise (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) will join the team as preparation for August's World Championships in Berlin, and popular Hakone Ekiden star Ryuji Kashiwabara (Toyo Univ.) will lead the men's long distance track contingent in the 10000 m. Sota Hoshi (Komazawa Univ.) will be the top Japanese man in the half marathon.

National team head coach Mitsugi Ogata co…

Cheyech Over Nakamura Again at Chugoku Jitsugyodan Meet (updated)

http://www.chugoku-np.co.jp/sports/Sp200905100138.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The men's and women's 5000 m were the highlights of the May 9 Chugoku Jitsugyodan Track and Field Meet at the Miyoshi Sports Park Track and Field Grounds in Miyoshi, Hiroshima Prefecture. In the men's race, Joseph Gitau (Team JFE Steel) ran 13:41.98 to take his first win at the meet, while Peter Kariuki and Samuel Ganga (both Team Mazda) rounded out a Kenyan sweep of the top three positions. Masayoshi Kuroda (Team Chugoku Denryoku) was 4th.

Danielle Filomena Cheyech (Team Uniqlo) set a new meet record of 15:19.47 to defend her title from last year in the women's event. Cheyech's time was a PB by nearly eight seconds and the second-best in the world thus far this year. Beijing Olympics marathoner Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya) was 2nd in 15:45.41. She was red-eyed and furious with herself after letting Cheyech slip away in the second half of the race. "I thought I could st…

Akaba Crushes Field to Win Her First Sendai International Half Marathon (updated)

http://www.kahoku.co.jp/news/2009/05/20090510t14030.htm
http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/news/f-sp-tp0-20090510-492731.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On a Rikuren-certified 21.0975 km course starting at the Sendai Civic Track and Field Grounds in Sendai's Miyagino Ward and ending in front of City Hall in Aoba Ward, Berlin World Championships marathon team member Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) ran 1:08:50 to win the 19th Sendai International Half Marathon on May 10. The mother of a nearly three year old daughter, Akaba's first win in Sendai fittingly came on Mother's Day.

Running in cloudy but warm and humid conditions which saw few athletes clock their best times, Akaba dropped the three others in the lead pack after only 8 km. 2nd place finisher Julia Mombi (Team Aruze) was over 2 1/2 minutes behind, while Hiroko Shoi (Team Nihon ChemiCon) came up from 45 seconds behind at 10 km to take 3rd, just missing catching Mombi but earning one of the only PBs in the top 10.…

‘07 World Champs Wariner, Clement and Thomas Win Again in Osaka'

http://www.iaaf.org/GP09/news/kind=100/newsid=50494.html

Click here for a direct link to complete results.

One point not mentioned in the IAAF article is the strong showing by Japan's men's 4 x 100 m team. Running with only two members of its bronze medal-winning team from the Beijing Olympics, Naoki Tsukahara (Team Fujitsu) and Shinji Takahira (Team Fujitsu), the team won in 38.33, 0.3 seconds off the national record and a time which would have been 5th in the final in Beijing. The team's now-retired anchor from Beijing, Nobuharu Asahara, was one of the television announcers for the Osaka Grand Prix and was surprised and delighted at such an early-season showing. He said that with several months of work ahead on ironing out its exchanges he is confident the team will be a factor in Berlin.

Sendai International Half Marathon - Preview

by Brett Larner

The 19th edition of the Sendai International Half Marathon takes place May 10. The second of Japan's three selection races for its World Half Marathon national team, Sendai features some of the country's top pro and university runners on both the women's and men's side along with a good number of Japan-resident Kenyan aces. Setting Sendai apart from the other Japanese half marathons with the 'international' title is its policy of inviting groups of three amateur runners from Sendai's sister cities around the world rather than professionals.

Unquestionably the main attraction at this year's race is the season debut of Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren). Akaba's spectacular 2008 began with her running 1:08:11 to win the Jitsugyodan Half Marathon and break the course record set by Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex). Her time made Akaba the third-fastest Japanese woman ever, and she went on to duplicate the feat over 5000 m and 10000 m. She ran in both…

Yuko Machida Aiming "Even One Place Higher" in Sendai Int'l Half Marathon

http://www.kahoku.co.jp/news/2009/05/20090508t14029.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

2008 World Half Marathon national team member and local native Yuko Machida (Team Nihon ChemiCon) will be among the runners lining up for the May 10 Sendai International Half Marathon. Machida finished 3rd in Sendai the last two years. This time she is aiming to break 1 hour 11 minutes for the first time and to finish "even one place higher."

At last October's World Half Marathon in Brazil Machida placed 22nd, an improvement of four places over her showing two years ago in Udine, Italy. "Even though it was hot," Machida recalls, "I was able to pick it up in the second half and start chasing down people ahead of me." She was also 3rd in this year's Nagoya International Women's Marathon, an excellent result which gives her great confidence as she says, "I'm not afraid of breaking down partway through the race or of losing my concentration."

Wi…

Rikuren, Sato and Akaba Discuss World Championships Marathon Goals

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20090508-OHT1T00018.htm
http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/090507/spg0905071819002-n1.htm
http://www.daily.co.jp/general/2009/05/08/0001894330.shtml
http://www.chunichi.co.jp/chuspo/article/sports/news/CK2009050802000144.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Following the naming of Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) and Kensuke Takahashi (Team Toyota) to the Berlin World Championships men's marathon team and Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) and Tomo Morimoto (Team Tenmaya) to the women's team on May 7, Rikuren officials and the newly-named athletes themselves discussed their goals. Rikuren director Keisuke Sawaki, 65, said that between the men's and women's team the big picture target for this year's World Championships is "One medal and two other top-eight finishes."

For the first time, the men's and women's marathon alternates will be included as full members of the national team. At the Beijing Olympics M…

Japanese Men's World Championships Marathon Team Announced

by Brett Larner

Japan's athletics federation Rikuren announced the official lineups for its 2009 World Championships marathon teams at a press conference on May 7. The federation, its athletes and the country are determined to make up for the national team's ruinous showing at last summer's Olympic games. Both the men's and women's teams include a fair number of young up-and-comers, with two of the men and all but one of the women having debuted within the last two years and three runners total having qualified for the World Championships team in their debut marathons.

Click here for a preview of the women's World Championships team.

Berlin World Championships Marathon Team Members - Men
click photos for detailed profiles

There is no question that the Japanese men will have a harder time, to say the least, keeping up with the advances made worldwide within the last year. Realistically, only team leader Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) has a chance of being among…