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Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational - Japanese Results

Stanford University, California, 4/29/12
click here for complete results

Men's 10000 m Kim McDonald
1. Cam Levins (Southern Utah) - 27:27.96
2. Sam Chelanga (OTC) - 27:29.82
3. Chris Derrick (Stanford) - 27:31.38
-----
10. Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.) - 27:50.59
13. Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Konica Minolta) - 27:52.79
16. Yuki Sato (Nissin Shokuhin) - 27:57.07
24. Kensuke Takezawa (S&B) - 28:15.79
28. Yuki Matsuoka (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 28:55.90
29. Yusuke Takabayashi (Toyota) - 29:12.69
30. Ikuto Yufu (Komazawa Univ.) - 29:21.29
31. Tomoyuki Morita (Kanebo) - 29:25.55

Men's 10000 m Heat 2
1. Josphat Boit (Mammoth TC) - 28:11.75
2. Liam Adams (Unatt.) - 28:11.76
3. James Strang (Unatt.) - 28:12.03
-----
31. Atsushi Ikawa (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 29:05.32

Women's 5000 m Heat 1
1. Sally Kipyego (OTC) - 14:43.11
2. Julia Lucas (OTC) - 15:08.52
3. Julie Culley (Asics) - 15:13.87
-----
12. Kayoko Fukushi (Wacoal) - 15:33.11
17. Risa Takenaka (Shiseido) - 15:44.94

Women's 5000 m Heat 2
1. Me…

'Course Records for Tola, Jeruto in Duesseldorf'

Kawauchi 8th in Solo Dusseldorf - "No Other Japanese Was a New Experience"

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/sports/news/120429/oth12042920580028-n1.htm

translated by Brett Larner
photos (c) 2012 Brett Larner

Having lost in his bid to make the London Olympics team, civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) finished 8th in 2:12:58 at the Apr. 29 Dusseldorf Marathon, his first European race. Kawachi commented afterward, "Having only Kenyans and Ethiopians and no other Japanese around me was a new experience," taking something positive from the experience.  Losing touch with the lead pack following a surge just before 23 km, he missed his goal of a sub-2:10 clocking.  "I wanted to beat my Tokyo Marathon time (2:12:51) no matter what.  I can only blame my own weakness for this result, and I have to figure out how to do better."

A full-time employee at Kasukabe H.S. in Saitama, Kawauchi is an oddity among Japan's top-class athletes.  Following his European debut, he says, "I'm going straight from the airport to work."  Even in …

Chepyego and Ndirangu Repeat in Oda Memorial Meet 5000 m

2012 Oda Memorial Track & Field Meet
Big Arch Stadium, Hiroshima, Apr. 28-29, 2012
click here for complete results

Women's Grand Prix 5000 m
1. Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) - 15:19.27
2. Beatrice Wainaina Murugi (Kenya/Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 15:38.71
3. Toshika Tamura (Matsuyama Univ.) - 15:49.11
4. Ayame Takagi (Meijo Univ.) - 15:54.80
5. Yoko Aizu (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 15:57.38
6. Azusa Kurusu (Juntendo Univ.) - 16:07.19
7. Yuka Ando (Team Mizuno) - 16:10.19
8. Sayuri Sendo (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 16:10.85
9. Michi Numata (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 16:18.85
10. Mika Tanimizu (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 16:22.46

Men's Grand Prix 5000 m
1. Charles Ndirangu (Kenya/Team JFE Steel) - 13:36.29
2. Jeremiah Karemi (Kenya/Toyokawa H.S.) - 13:40.64
3. Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) - 13:42.27
4. Ryo Matsumoto (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 13:46.02
5. Yasuhito Ikeda (Team NTT Nishi Nihon) - 13:46.58
6. Yasuhiro Tago (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 13:47.28
7. Naoki Okam…

Dusseldorf Marathon Pre-Race Press Conference and Streaming Info

Yuki Kawauchi and 2006 European 10000 m champion Jan Fitschen at the Dusseldorf Marathon press conference, Apr. 27.

by Brett Larner

Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) is set to make his European debut this Sunday at the 10th Metro Group Dusseldorf Marathon, an IAAF Bronze Label event.  Kawauchi contacted JRN in late December last year to ask for assistance in finding a late-April race in Europe to do as a practice run for the London Olympics.  Following his failed bid to make the Japanese team at February's Tokyo Marathon he elected to commit himself to running Dusseldorf as a serious race.  Joining him is the best field assembled yet in Dusseldorf's short history, with one 2:06 runner and five 2:08 men plus defending champion Nahashon Kimaiyo (Kenya), two debutants with sub-62 half marathon credentials and a sizeable second pack of runners looking to break their home countries' Olympic qualifying standards.  Weather permitting, the out-of-nowhere 2:08:32 course record set by Iar…

Marathoner Ogata Becomes Head Coach at Hiroshima University of Economics

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20120427-941257.html

translated by Brett Larner

Hiroshima University of Economics announced April 27 that 2008 Beijing Olympics marathoner Tsuyoshi Ogata (38) has been named head coach of its track and field team following his retirement from Team Chugoku Denryoku after December's Fukuoka International Marathon.  At a Hiroshima-area press conferece Ogata told members of the media, "I want to pass on the knowledge and experience that I've been able to develop in my career, and to bring my athletes up to be people who will keep looking upwards to the next level."  Ogata left Team Chugoku Denryoku at the end of January and began focusing on his new work in February.  "It was hard to leave," he said of the decision, "but you only live once.  More than feeling like I've left something behind I view this as the chance to take on something I've always wanted to do."  Ogata has not formally…

Atsushi Sato to Leave Chugoku Denryoku Team, Return Home to Fukushima

http://www.chugoku-np.co.jp/sports/Sp201204270091.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On April 26 it was announced that Beijing Olympics men's marathoner Atsushi Sato (33, Team Chugoku Denryoku) will take an indefinite leave of absence from the Chugoku Denryoku team to relocate his training base to his native Fukushima.  Sato will remain affiliated with Chugoku Denryoku but will enter Fukushima University in October as a research student.

Born in Aizu, Fukushima, last year's disasters were a major turning point for Sato.  Becoming a driving force in helping to alleviate the region's misery in the wake of the nuclear accidents has given him new motivation.  With the understanding of his company, he chose to return to his hometown.  At Fukushima University he will be researching the physiological effects of low-oxygen training while training in his hometown of Aizu as he targets next year's World Championships.  Among the many others who have been separated from Fu…

'2012 IAU 100k World Championships Results'

http://www.irunfar.com/2012/04/2012-iau-100k-world-championship-results.html

Not sure what happened in the men's race as Japan, a perennial medal contender, apparently had no men in the top 25.

Update: A reader in Finland sent a link to this discussion about the Seregno World Championships.  Apparently the Russian, Finnish and Japanese teams were housed over 50 km from the race site with the drive to the race taking four hours due to the drivers getting lost.  A Finnish team member commented: "It is a total let down that arrangements can be like this at a World Championship-level event.  I feel most sorry for the Japanese, who went to the World Championships in tragedy."

2012 IAU 100k World Championships
Seregno, Italy, 4/22/12
click here for complete results

Women
1. Amy Sproston (U.S.A.) - 7:34:08
2. Kajsa Berg (Sweden) - 7:35:23
3. Irina Vishnevskaja (Russia) - 7:36:01
4. Meghan Arbogast (U.S.A.) - 7:41:52
5. Pam Smith (U.S.A.) - 7:43:04
6. Judit Foldingne Nagy (Hungary) -…

Mathathi and Niiya Run 10000 m World Leaders at Hyogo Relay Carnival

by Brett Larner



2007 World Championships 10000 m bronze medalist  Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) make the biggest news of the first day of the 2012 Hyogo Relay Carnival, running a world-leading 27:35.16 to win the Grand Prix 10000 m.  Mathathi ran together with Patrick Mwaka (Kenya/Team Aisan Kogyo) through much of the race after dropping a pack of Japanese athletes in search of Olympic A-standard times before turning it on late in the race to seal the win.  Mwaka was nearly run down by Daisuke Shimizu (Team Kanebo), who fell short of getting the A-standard as he finished 3rd as the top Japanese in 27:50.50, his first time under 28.  The top three Japanese half-marathoners of the year so far took the next three spots but were unable to break 28 in their season openers.  Shinobu Kubota (Komazawa Univ.) was the top collegiate in the Grand Prix race, 7th in a one-second PB of 28:22.29 just ahead of 2011 World University Games 10000 m gold medalist Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.)…

Olympic Marathoner Nakamoto Makes Hometown Public Appearance (updated)

http://mainichi.jp/area/yamaguchi/news/20120420ddlk35050432000c.html

translated by Brett Larner

There are less than 100 days left until the London Olympics.  To show its support for its homegrown Olympic marathoner Kentaro Nakamoto (29, Team Yasukawa Denki), the city of Shimonoseki is hosting an Olympic sendoff party for him at Kikugawa Public Sports Center on April 21 from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.  Current students at Nakamoto's elementary school and junior high school and others will gather to raise up a hometown cheer.

Anyone is welcome to attend the party, organized by the Kikugawa Athletic Council and the Kikugawa Sports Club with the aim having the whole town turn out.  Video of Nakamoto's Olympic-qualifying run at March's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon will be shown, his former teachers will give speeches, Nakamoto will talk about his Olympic goals, and the town will present him with a support fund.  For questions contact the organizing committee at 083-287-2820.

Update: Accor…

Rough Women's 10000 m on Tap at Hyogo Relay Carnival

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20120418-936102.html

translated by Brett Larner

Two days of track and field action kick off April 21 at the Hyogo Relay Carnival in Kobe's Universiade Memorial Stadium.  The first meet in the spring Grand Prix series, it is the official start of the track and field season and one of the meets used to select the Japanese Olympic team.  Athletes will compete in eleven different disciplines.

The women's 10000 m looks like the absolute roughest event of the meet.  "Track queen" Kayoko Fukushi (30, Team Wacoal) is absent, but 2011 World Championships team members Megumi Kinukawa (22, Mizuno) and Hikari Yoshimoto (22, Team Yamada Denki) will be leading the way in search of their second-straight national team appearances.  "White-skinned beauty" Kasumi Nishihara (23, Team Yamada Denki) and the pride of disaster-hit Miyagi Prefecture, Hiroko Shoi (31, Team Nihon ChemiCon), are also among the main contenders.…

Olympic Marathoner Kizaki Returns From Tour of "Tough" London Course

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/sports/news/120419/oth12041911060007-n1.htm

translated by Brett Larner

London Olympics women's marathon team member Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) returned to Japan on April 19 from altitude training in Albuquerque, New Mexico and a tour of the Olympic course, arriving at Itami Airport after transferring at Haneda Airport.  Kizaki spent three days on the course in London late last month.  She described her impression of the course, which passes landmark sites including Big Ben and St. Paul's Cathedral, saying, "There are places where the road suddenly gets narrow and a lot of 90 degree corners, so it's going to be tough.  If you don't prepare for it I don't think you'll be able to cope with the up-down and the changes in the road surface."

Rizaki plans to return to the U.S.A. for further altitude training in early May, returning again to run the 10000 m at the National Track & Field Championships in June.

Aoyama Gakuin University Signs Sponsorship Deal With Adidas

http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20120418-OHT1T00279.htm

translated by Brett Larner

On April 18 sports maker Adidas announced that it has signed an official partnership deal with Aoyama Gakuin University's middle and long-distance track and field team.  Adidas will supply uniforms and other gear to the team, which is targeting an improvement on this year's best-ever 5th-place Hakone Ekiden.  Team captain Takehiro Deki, who ran the all-time #3 collegiate marathon time of 2:10:02 at March's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, commented, "Our goal for this year is to win the Hakone Ekiden.  In our new uniform Aoyama Gakuin is going to tear things up."

Translator's note: Although Adidas has come on strong with sponsorship in the corporate league, as far as I know Aoyama Gakuin is the only university team they sponsor.

Sumco to Disband Ekiden Team After Seven New Year Ekiden Appearances

http://sp.mainichi.jp/m/news.html?cid=20120419k0000m050014000c

translated by Brett Larner

The Nagasaki-based Sumco Techxiv company, a subdivision of major semiconductor silicon wafer manufacturer Sumco, announced on April 18 that it plans to disband its ekiden team on July 31.  A statement from the company read, "Due to difficulties in the current business environment we do not expect to be in a position to be able to continue our support of the athletics team."  The team hopes to continue elsewhere as a complete unit and is currently looking for a new sponsor.

The Sumco Techxiv team was founded in 1992, changing its name to Sumco in 1992.  Its current lineup includes eleven athletes headed by 2011 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon 7th-place finisher Satoshi Yoshii.  In 2001 team member Yuki Mori won the National Corporate Half Marathon Championships, going on to run on the Japanese National Team at that year's World Half Marathon Championships in England.  Sumco qualified for …

Sendai International Half Marathon Announces Elite Field

by Brett Larner

Cancelled last year in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that hit its area hard, the Sendai International Half Marathon has announced a small but competitive elite field for its 22nd running on May 13.  Japan-resident Kenyans Mekubo Mogusu (Team Nissin Shokuhin), Daniel Gitau (Team Fujitsu) and Harun Njoroge (Team Komori Corp.) make up the front end of the men's field, with London Olympics marathon team member Arata Fujiwara (Tokyo T&F Assoc.), independent Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) and breakthrough marathoner Takashi Horiguchi (Team Honda) among the best in the domestic men's field.

Former women's national record holder Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) returns to Sendai, site of some of her best races, to face the Miyauchi twins Hiroko and Yoko (Team Kyocera) and her own teammate Megumi Seike (Team Sysmex).

This year the Sendai half also features a large mass-participation field, initially planned for last year's edition after 20 years a…

'Mit Yuki Kawauchi Startet Erstmals Ein Japanischer Eliteläufer'

http://www.marathon4you.de/meldungen/metro-group-marathon-duesseldorf/mit-yuki-kawauchi-startet-erstmals-ein-japanischer-elitelaeufer/3618

Machine translation of the above press release turns out decently.  On Christmas Eve last year Kawauchi called me and asked for help with finding a spring race in Europe that met the restrictions of his work schedule, as a test for running with jet lag if he made the Olympic team and as a serious race if Tokyo didn't go well.  With the largest Japanese population in continental Europe Dusseldorf was the choice that best met his objectives.  As with other athletes over the last three years, working together in this way unfortunately means I have to largely cut back on writing about Kawauchi the way I have in the past, but since the first opportunity came in 2009 through a generous offer from Gavin Doyle at the Copenhagen Marathon I've viewed working with Japanese athletes to run races that have not been a part of the regular Japanese calendar…

Fujita 7th, Tamura 9th at Boston Marathon

http://www.jiji.com/jc/zc?k=201204/2012041700066&g=spo
http://www.jiji.com/jc/zc?k=201204/2012041700070&g=spo

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Mayumi Fujita (Team Juhachi Ginko) finished 7th at the 2012 Boston Marathon, giving herself a modest assessment as she said, "The conditions were really bad, so more than being a measurement of my own ability I was just lucky to finish."  Due to the heat at this year's Boston the race got off at a very slow pace.  Fujita opted to handle the situation by running steadily in hopes that, "by waiting and hanging on it would be first-come-first-serve at the finish."  Letting the pack go when the pace accelerated, in the later stages of the race she picked off other athletes one by one as she advanced through the field, ultimately finishing as the first non-African.  Looking to the future she said, "I'd like to become more competitive.  I think I can get to the 2:26-2:27 level."

Making his marathon debu…

Climbing the Fence, Olympic Marathon Women to Train Together in Flagstaff

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20120416-935102.html

translated by Brett Larner

At an April 16 press conference in Tokyo to announce its 2012 support and strengthening program, the Japanese federation Rikuren announced that the three members of the London Olympics women's marathon team, Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya), Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) and Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei) will break down the traditional barrier between different corporate teams and train for the Olympics together.  For two weeks lasting from late June through early July the trio will train at altitude in Flagstaff, Arizona.  Strengthening Committee head Tadasu Kawano commented, "To be a true Team Japan, we want to make sure that they are in a position to be able to work together."

Kawauchi Runs PW to Take First Marathon Win at Kasumigaura Marathon (updated)

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/f-sp-tp0-20120415-934528.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The Kawauchis lead in Kasumigaura.

Having missed out on the London Olympics team, Yuki Kawauchi (25, Saitama Pref.) marked the first win among his twelve marathon starts to date at the Apr. 15 Kasumigaura Marathon, Japan's third-largest marathon returning after post-disaster cancellation last year.

Kawauchi ran as a pacer for his younger brother Koki Kawauchi (19, Takasaki Keizai Univ.), but after 23 km he left his brother behind and ran on his own to the finish, closing with an impressive 6:09 split for the final 2.195 km.  Because the brothers went into the race planning to run around 2:25, even with this closing speed Kawauchi's winning time of 2:22:38 was a personal worst, but his wide margin of victory over 2nd place still showed that he was in a different class from the other runners.

"I didn't plan to win today, so I guess I was just lucky,"…

Kibiwott and Sang Go Under Course Record at Nagano Marathon

by Brett Larner

Cooler than usual temperatures helped two Kenyans, winner Francis Kibiwott and runner-up Silas Sang, take down double Olympic marathon medalist Erick Wainaina's long-standing Nagano Marathon course record of 2:10:17 on April 15, Kibiwott setting a new mark of 2:09:05 and Sang just five seconds back in a new PB of 2:09:10.  The women's race was a slower affair, but winner Pauline Wangui (Kenya) still managed a sizeable PB as she won in 2:34:22 by nearly a minute over Ethiopian Belainesh Gebre.

Kibiwott, Sang, countryman Moses Kangogo, Russian Alexey Sokolov and ultramarathon specialist Kiyokatsu Hasegawa (Team JR Higashi Nihon) set off in a pack of five, but by 20 km it had whittled down to just the three Kenyans.  The trio hit halfway in 1:04:28, with2:08 man  Kangogo falling off after 25 km.  Kibiwott and Sang were together until near the end, Kibiwott emerging on top in a hard push to the finish.  Down 24 seconds at halfway, Sokolov came within four seconds o…

Yuta Shitara Silver, Daichi Motomura Bronze at World University XC Championships

by Brett Larner



Toyo University's Yuta Shitara has had a busy last month.  After a 1:01:48 PB at the March 18 New York City Half Marathon he beat marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) over ten miles on April 1 and set a meet record for 3000 m on April 8 before travelling to Lodz, Poland for the 18th World University Cross-Country Championships on April 15.  Leading the first part of the race and working together with Tokai University's Daichi Motomura to control the pace, Shitara ended up going head-to-head against Algerian Abdelmajed Touil for the win but falling four seconds short as Touil outkicked him for the win, 29:11 to 29:15.  Leading at halfway, Motomura hung on to 3rd in 29:22.  Komazawa University's Kazuhiro Kuga placed 7th and Daito Bunka University's Hiroshi Ichida, like Shitara an identical twin, 24th to give the Japanese men the team gold medal alongside Shitara and Motomura's individual silver and bronze.  The Japanese women fell short of individ…

World Championships Marathoner Yoshiko Fujinaga Retires

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/news/20120411-OYT1T00950.htm

translated by Brett Larner

Team Shiseido announced on April 11 that marathoner Yoshiko Fujinaga, 30, has retired.  Fujinaga left the team on March 30 and plans to pursue a career as a teacher.

As a student at Isahaya H.S. in Nagasaki Fujinaga ran the 5000 m at the 1999 World Championships, going on to run the marathon at the 2009 World Championships.  Aiming for the London Olympics, she finished only 38th at March's Nagoya Women's Marathon.

Translator's note: Fujinaga and London Olympics men's marathon team member Arata Fujiwara (Tokyo T&F Assoc.) were teammates at Isahaya H.S.

Hiroshi Neko Ineligible for Olympic Marathon Team?

http://www.daily.co.jp/general/2012/04/13/0004969026.shtml

translated by Brett Larner

Questions have arisen at the IAAF concerning the eligibility of comedian Hiroshi Neko, 34, to compete in the London Olympics marathon following his transfer of citizenship to Cambodia last October and his naming to the Cambodian Olympic team in March.  On April 12 it was revealed that the IAAF has asked the Cambodian federation for an explanation of the circumstances surrounding Neko's selection, raising doubts that Neko will be approved to compete.

Regarding transfers of nationality, at its general meeting last year the IAAF introduced new rules effective this year pertaining to athletes who have not previously run for their country's national team.  For such athletes, if less than one year has elapsed since a transfer of nationality the athlete must either
Have lived continuously in the adopted country for at least one year, orHave received special exemption from the IAAF council.Neko is acti…

Tsukasa Koga, 42, Arrested After Off-Leash Doberman Bites 20-Year-Old University Runner in Yoyogi Park (with video)

http://news.tv-asahi.co.jp/news/web/html/220411045.html (with video)
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/news/20120411-OYT1T00919.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Tsukasa Koga, 42, was arrested after letting her Doberman off-leash in Tokyo's Yoyogi Park.

According to the police, in November last year Koga's 1 m-long Doberman bit a 20-year-old university runner while off-leash in Yoyogi Park, Shibuya, Tokyo.  The male athlete was bitten in his right thigh, a wound which required two weeks of recovery.  Ms. Koga refused to pay for the student's hospital costs when he contacted her, telling him, "It's your fault.  You provoked my dog."  After she ignored multiple summons from the police she was arrested.  When questioned after her arrest Koga denied the charges, saying, "I didn't have my dog off the leash and I'm not responsible for any injuries."

Translator's note: Hallelujah, there is justice in the world.  I have been running in Yoyog…

'Hem Bunting and Ly Nary Wind Up Kenyan Training, Head to Paris'

http://www.phnompenhpost.com/index.php/2012033055325/Sport/hem-bunting-and-ly-nary-wind-up-kenyan-training-head-to-paris.html

Thanks to reader CK for sending this link to the latest chapter in the Cambodian Olympic marathon selection saga involving Cambodian national record holder Hem Bunting, Japanese-born comedian Hiroshi Neko and others.  Bunting and Ly Nary run the Paris Marathon this Sunday.

Hakone Ekiden Uphill Ace Kashiwabara Looking for 2:06, Olympics in New Pro Career

http://www.47news.jp/CN/201203/CN2012033001001929.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Having dominated the Hakone Ekiden's uphill Fifth Stage for his four years at Toyo University, men's long distance athlete Ryuji Kashiwabara, 22, made his debut in the uniform of his new corporate sponsor Fujitsu at a press conference in Minato Ward, Tokyo.  "I expect my career to last until I'm around 32 or 33," Kashiwabara told the media of his goals for the future.  "Within that time I want to go to the Olympics once.  My goal in the marathon is 2:06."

Beginning this season Kashiwabara will focus on the track to improve his speed, with a planned marathon debut his third year as a pro in 2014.  Having joined the Fujitsu team effective April 2, his first race in the new uniform will be at the April 21-22 Hyogo Relay Carnival.  Already one step ahead, he will be training in Miyazaki until April 28 as part of a corporate league-sponsored selective training camp.

Shitara Twins Top Weekend University Track Action

by Brett Larner

Along with Saturday's Kanaguri Memorial Meet where four men cleared 13:30 in the 5000 m, the weekend saw a number of small meets between Kanto-region university teams with the odd pro popping up in a few races.  Among the highlights:



2012 Hakone Ekiden champion Toyo University's twin juniors Keita Shitara and Yuta Shitara dominated the Five-University Meet at Daito Bunka University on Sunday.  Both brothers surged away from the field mid-race to take their events in new meet records, Keita with a 14:04.40 in the 5000 m to win by 8.62 seconds and Yuta with an 8:04.87 in the 3000 m to win by 8.00 seconds.



With a strong international debut in New York three weeks ago and a 10-mile win over marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) last weekend, next weekend Yuta will run on the Japanese national team at the World University XC Championships in Poland.



Nihon University's Kenyan senior Benjamin Gandu made easy work of the rest of the 5000 m field at Saturday'…

Top Three Break Course Record at Yaizu Minato Half Marathon

by Brett Larner

Kawauchi on the podium.

Despite windy conditions, times were fast across the board at the 27th Yaizu Minato Half Marathon in Shizuoka prefecture, a race deep in university competition.  The top three men cracked the fourteen-year-old course record of 1:03:54, two of them in the university division including winner Yusuke Ota (Nittai Univ.) who set a new overall CR of 1:03:42, Meiji University's winning team set a record for the combined times of the top two runners from the school in Yaizu's unique National University Pair Marathon Championships division, and just a week after a loss in a 10-miler against Toyo University ace Yuta Shitara, marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) came up 2nd overall again with a new general division course record of 1:03:48.

Kawauchi's participation was unannounced, and when he appeared on the start line a murmur among the university runners quickly grew into an ovation from the mass runners as word spread.    Ota, Kawauchi a…

Takezawa, Ugachi Just Off Olympic B-Standard at Kanaguri Memorial 5000 m

by Brett Larner

The Japanese track season got moving Apr. 7 with the first big meet of the year, the 21st Kanaguri Memorial Meet in Kumamoto.  In the men's 5000 m A-heat, relative newcomer Patrick Mwikya (Kenya/Team Toyota Boshoku) led start to finish, winning in a solo 13:21.36.  A tight pack behind him saw Kensuke Takezawa (Team S&B), on the mend from his latest round of injuries, emerge to take 2nd in 13:28.70 just short of the 13:27.00 Olympic B-standard.  A step behind were Kenyan Daniel Gitau (Team Fujitsu) and 10000 m Olympic A-standard holder Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta), both under 13:30.  In the men's B-heat, winner Hayato Saito (Team Honda) would have placed well in the A-heat as he won by a comfortable margin in 13:41.80.

Kenyans Sally Chepyego (Team Kyudenko) and, making her pro debut, Beatrice Murugi (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) ran together ahead of the Japanese pack with Chepyego pulling away for the win in 15:20.30.  Yuka Ando, debuting with her new M…

"Public Servant Swimmer" Yuki Kawachi Makes Final in 100 m Freestyle

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/news/f-sp-tp0-20120405-929360.html

translated by Brett Larner

At the national swimming Olympic trials in Tokyo on Apr. 5, Yuki Kawachi (25, SDF Academy) won his 100 m freestyle semifinal in a time of 50.21 to advance to the final, where he is ranked 7th.  His time was 0.30 second faster than he swam in his opening heat, but, he says, "I'm a little dissatisfied.  In the final I'm shooting for 48.9."

Although his name is written almost identically to the "Public Servant Runner" Yuki Kawauchi (25, Saitama Pref.), his last name is pronounced "Kawachi."  Nevertheless, the similarity is enough for his coworkers at the SDF Academy office to call him the "Public Servant Swimmer."  "People always say, 'Hey, you guys have the same name,'" says Kawachi.  "Having the same first name gives me motivation."

The marathoner Kawauchi missed out on making the London Olympic team, but the swimmer…

Kanaguri Memorial 5000 m Kicks Off Track Season

by Brett Larner

Update: Women's 1500 m NR holder Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) has switched from the 1500 m to the 5000 m.


This weekend marks the official start of track season across Japan.  With many of the Kanto-region Hakone Ekiden university men's teams matching up for dual meets and one five-school meet hosted by Daito Bunka University, the top Olympic hopefuls will be lining up far south in Kumamoto for Saturday's 21st Kanaguri Memorial Middle and Long-Distance Track Meet.

The men's 5000 m A-heat looks to be by far the race of the weekend.  The entry list includes 2011 World XC silver medalist Paul Tanui (Kenya/Team Kyudenko); 2010 World XC junior silver medalist Clement Langat (Kenya/Team Subaru); Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin), one of the two Japanese men currently holding an Olympic-qualifying mark; Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota) and Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta), two of the three men with Olympic A-standard 10000 m times; most of the o…

Olympic Marathoner Yamamoto Visits Governor Targeting the Top

http://www.kyoto-np.co.jp/shiga/article/20120405000043

translated by Brett Larner

Olympic team member and Moriyama, Saga resident Ryo Yamamoto (27, Team Sagawa Express) visited Saga governor Yukiko Kada at the prefectural government offices on Apr. 4, receiving the governor's words of support and encouragement.  Yamamoto went to Nagata High School in Hyogo and Tokyo's Chuo University before joining the Moriyama-based Sagawa Express team.  After doing much of his training around the shores of Lake Biwa he was the top Japanese finisher in March's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, reserving his place on the Japanese Olympic marathon team.

Yamamoto went to the prefectural government offices with Sagawa Express head coach Tsuyoshi Nakano and Moriya mayor Kazuhiro Miyamoto, talking about the tough, hang-on-til-the-end race that got Yamamoto to the Olympics.  Governor Kada commented, "It must have been very tough running in the rain.  I was very impressed.  I hope that in the main…

2011 Hokkaido Marathon Winner Morimoto Retires

http://www.sanyo.oni.co.jp/feature/sports/other/2012/04/02/20120402195150.html

translated by Brett Larner

Team Tenmaya announced on Apr. 2 that its runner Tomo Morimoto, 28, the alternate for the 2008 Beijing Olympics women's marathon team, has retired from competition as of the end of March.  A native of Hyogo prefecture, Morimoto joined Tenmaya in 2002 after graduating from Shujitsu H.S.  Her abundance of stamina and mental fortitude giving her a competitive edge, Morimoto won the May, 2006 Vienna Marathon in 2:24:33 in only her second marathon.  She was the alternate for both the Beijing Olympics and Berlin World Championships marathon teams.  Her target for this year was the London Olympics, but a long-term leg problem prevented her from starting in any of the domestic selection races.  Despite an injury to her right ankle she won last August's Hokkaido Marathon, a race which was to be her final marathon.  Following her retirement she will work in the office of a Tenmaya su…

Pressure Building Online for Neko to "Get Out of the Olympics"

http://www.j-cast.com/2012/04/02127558.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Click here to let Hiroshi Neko know how you feel about his Olympic plans directly.


Having secured a place on the Cambodian Olympic team in the men's marathon following a transfer of nationality in November, voices have begun to speak out online against comedian Hiroshi Neko, 34, calling for him to "get out of the Olympics."  There are plenty of examples of athletes changing nationality, but Neko is not that quality of a marathoner and his naming to the Cambodian team "steals" a place from an actual Cambodian athlete, so talk calling the whole thing a disgrace and asking what exactly Cambodia stands to benefit has begun to circulate.

Neko has been running seriously for four years.  On Feb. 5 he finished 50th at the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, taking seven minutes off his best time to set a new PB of 2:30:26.  With zero Cambodian track and field athletes having cleared the Olympic q…

Toyota Jidoshokki Head Coach Seriously Injured in Storm-Related Accident During Practice

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/news/20120403-OYT1T00526.htm?from=tw

translated by Brett Larner

At roughly 6:50 a.m. on Apr. 3, Shigeo Hasegawa, 48, head coach of National Corporate Women's Ekiden champion Team Toyota Jidoshokki, was seriously injured when a 3.5 m-tall baseball backstop fell on him in gale-force winds at Toyota Jidoshokki's Kariya Training Grounds in Kariya, Aichi.  According to a statement from the police, Hasegawa and ten members of the Toyota Jidoshokki team were at the training ground for morning practice.  The backstop, used for baseball batting practice, began to fall over in the strong winds and Hasegawa moved to stop it from toppling.  A steel pole in the backstop struck his pelvis and lower back, breaking bones and causing serious injury.  At the time of the incident there was a strong wind warning for the Aichi area as a storm front swept across the country.

World Championships Gold Medalist Taniguchi Takes Over as Head Coach at Tokyo Nogyo University

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2012/04/02/kiji/K20120402002965070.html

translated by Brett Larner

Tokyo Nogyo University announced on Apr. 2 that 1991 Tokyo World Championships men's marathon gold medalist Hiromi Taniguchi, 51, has been named head coach of its track and field program and an associate professor in the university's Department of International Agriculture and Food Studies.  With an eye to improving its placing at the Hakone Ekiden, Taniguchi has been advising the Tokyo Nogyo University ekiden team since last fall.

Taniguchi ran in both the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and 1996 Atlanta Olympics.  After retiring he took a coaching position at Team Asahi Kasei, followed by helping to found the Oki corporate team where he was also head coach.  Most recently he was head coach of the Tokyo Denryoku ekiden team, leaving that position in September, 2010.

Translator's note: Tokyo Nogyo University finished last at this year's Hakone Ekiden after its Day One anchor …

Yuta Shitara Over Kawauchi at Satte 10-Miler

by Brett Larner

Ritzenhein and Shitara in NYC. Photo by Brett Larner.

On a quiet weekend between the end of Japan's road season and the start of track season, three minor road races saw noteworthy results from university runners across the country.  Just two weeks after outkicking 2009 World Half Marathon Championships bronze medalist Dathan Ritzenhein (U.S.A.) to run a 1:01:48 PB at the NYC Half Marathon, Yuta Shitara (Toyo Univ.) marked the first day of his junior year by beating popular marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) by 44 seconds at the Satta Sakura 10-Miler in Saitama.

 Aoyama Gakuin University's Naohisa Matsuda likewise had a big win at the Nihondaira Sakura Road Race, setting a new record of 1:12:22 for the tough 23 km course featuring a nearly 300 m uphill. At the Saga Sakura Half Marathon, Fukuoka University's Takuro Nakanishi, a former member of the pro Team JR Higashi Nihon, won easily in 1:04:19. Superb amateur Hiroko Yoshitomi (First Dream AC) won …

Olympic Marathoner Yamamoto Promises Kyoto Mayor to Get to "The Next Level"

http://mainichi.jp/area/kyoto/news/20120331ddlk26050637000c.html

translated by Brett Larner

London Olympics men's marathon team member Ryo Yamamoto (27, Team Sagawa Express) went to Kyoto City Hall Mar. 30, promising Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa to run a courageous race at the Olympics.  Yamamoto is registered with the Kyoto Track & Field Association.  At the Mar. 4 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon he was the top Japanese finisher, 4th overall in a strong 2:08:44.

Having his audience with Mayor Kadokawa in Kyoto City Hall's drawing room, Yamamoto told him, "In my training over the four months that are left until the main event I want to get myself to the next level.  I want to be running in the lead pack and go one place beyond what I think I can do.  There are a lot of sharp curves, so I think it's going to be a tough course and I plan to go spend time on it and study it carefully."

Mayor Kadokawa smiled as he told Yamamoto, "The way you ran down the leaders at the…