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Unable to Achieve Olympic Dream, Track Star Mitsuya Finds New Life as Paralympic Pacer

http://www.nishinippon.co.jp/nnp/f_toshiken/article/203976

translated and edited by Brett Larner

A former Japanese national representative at the World Championships is getting ready to take on his second marathon.  Injuries having forced him into retirement at just age 30, this time he will be running in a new role.  With two World Championships appearances on the track behind him, Yu Mitsuya will run the Nov. 8 Fukuoka Marathon as a guide runner for blind marathoner Misato Michishita, 38, already named as a member of the women's marathon team for next year's Rio de Janeiro Paralympics.  "I want to be a source of strength that will help Michishita on her road to Rio," Mitsuya said.

A native of Kagawa prefecture, Mitsuya emerged as a star in high school before joining the Toyota Kyushu corporate team after graduating in 2003.  At Toyota Kyushu he was coached by Barcelona Olympics marathon silver medalist Koichi Morishita and trained alongside future Beijing Olympics m…

Aoyama Gakuin Ready to Break Four-Time National Champion Komazawa - National University Men's Ekiden Championships Preview

by Brett Larner



After record-setting races at the Izumo Ekiden and Hakone Ekiden Qualifier earlier this month, university men’s ekiden season keeps rolling with the weekend’s biggest race, the second of the Big Three University Ekidens, Sunday’s National University Men’s Ekiden Championships. Defending champion Komazawa University returns with four-straight titles and twelve wins in the last seventeen years behind it, but even Komazawa head coach Hiroaki Oyagi admits that this is Aoyama Gakuin University’s year.

Aoyama Gakuin ended last season with a course record-breaking win at the Hakone Ekiden and has only gotten stronger since then, all in line with head coach Susumu Hara’s long-term development plan for Aoyama Gakuin to become the best in Japan this season with the full maturing of his core group of seniors. At the Oct. 12 Izumo Ekiden Aoyama Gakuin ran six seconds faster than Komazawa’s course record despite a 600 m longer course, effectively two minutes faster minus the ex…

Dennis Kimetto Leads Fukuoka Field (updated)

by Brett Larner

The Dec. 6 Fukuoka International Marathon, not to be confused with the mass-participation Fukuoka Marathon four weeks earlier despite its URL, has wheeled out the elite field for this year's race, the first Japanese trials race for the Rio de Janeiro Olympic team.  World record holder Dennis Kimetto (Kenya) will be in town for a late-season payday after dropping out of this summer's Beijing World Championships, facing sub-2:06 men Bernard Koech (Kenya) and Getu Feleke (Ethiopia) and Fukuoka's last three winners Patrick Makau (Kenya), Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and Joseph Gitau (Kenya/Team JFE Steel).

Running five weeks after his third shot at the TCS New York City Marathon, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) leads the Japanese field along with fellow 2:08 runner Koji Kobayashi (Team Subaru) and 2:09 former National Team member Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei).  Sub-2:06:30 is the time the JAAF is dictating for auto selection to the Rio…

Universal Entertainment Wins New-Format National Corporate Women's Ekiden Qualifier

by Brett Larner



While the university women's ekiden circuit continues to expand, the corporate women's calendar faced another cutback this year.  From roughly a half dozen corporate league regions, each of which holds a separate New Year Ekiden national corporate men's championships qualifying ekiden in November, corporate women's teams had already seen their regional qualifiers compressed to three qualifying races, West Japan, Central Japan and East Japan.  This year those three races were further combined into a single qualifying race in Munakata, Fukuoka with 24 teams competing for 14 "princess" places at next month's National Corporate Women's Ekiden alongside the seeded top 8 "queens" from last year's Nationals.

From the East Japan region, Universal Entertainment took the top position in 2:17:02 for 42.195 km in 6 stages, leading from the Second Stage to the end with stage bests from second runner Tomoka Kimura and fifth runner Mira…

Kosgei and Damantsevich Win Osaka Marathon

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/20151025-OYT1T50034.html

translated by Brett Larner

Daniel Kosgei (Kenya) won the fifth running of the Osaka Marathon on Sunday, running 2:13:46 for the 42.195 km course.  Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) was 2nd in 2:15:32.  In the women's race, Maryna Damantsevich (Belarus) won in a 2:32:28 course record with Hisae Yoshimatsu (Shunan City Hall) 2nd in 2:37:48.  Temperatures were 19 degrees Celsius with 39% humidity and 1.3 m/s easterly winds.

5th Osaka Marathon
Osaka, 10/25/15
click here for top results

Men
1. Daniel Kosgei (Kenya) - 2:13:46
2. Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:15:32
3. Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Mongolia/Team NTN) - 2:15:35
4. Sho Matsumoto (Team Nikkei Business) - 2:16:28
5. Yuko Matsumiya (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) - 2:16:40

Women
1. Maryna Damantsevich (Belarus) - 2:32:28 - CR
2. Hisae Yoshimatsu (Shunan City Hall) - 2:37:48
3. Yumiko Kinoshita (Second Wind AC) - 2:38:17
4. Chika Tawara (Kyushu E-Runners) - 2:39:44
5. Yoshiko Sakamoto (Mie …

Ritsumeikan Dominates With Record-Setting Fifth-Straight National University Women's Ekiden Win

by Brett Larner

Four-time defending National University Women's Ekiden champion Ritsumeikan University delivered one for the record books, winning a fifth-straight title Sunday in Sendai as it broke the 38.0 km course record in 2:02:52.  With all six of its runners winning their individual stages including a 29:24 record for the 9.2 km Fifth Stage from Kotona Ota, the sheer quality of Ritsumeikan's win had fans talking on social media about the need for ekiden terminology like baseball's no-hitters and perfect games.  Regardless, this was about as dominant a performance as you could hope to see in an ekiden, every team member hitting it 100% running entirely alone with an unbreakable lead.

Last year's runner up Daito Bunka University was 2nd again after a great battle throughout the race with Kanto Region rival Nittai University and Aichi's Meijo University, one of only two schools to crack Ritsumeikan in the last 12 years.  But despite good performances from most …

Ritsumeikan Set to Make it Five-Straight - National University Women's Ekiden Championships Preview

by Brett Larner



With the men's Big Three University Ekiden season well underway, Japan's university women kick off their own Big Three this Sunday at Sendai's Morinomiyako Ekiden, the National University Women's Ekiden Championships. With six stages totalling 38.0 km, a longest stage of 9.2 km, 26 teams from across the country and a live nationwide broadcast on NTV Morinomiyako is similar in scale to the men's season-opening Izumo Ekiden.

Defending champion Ritsumeikan University of Kyoto comes in ranked #1 again with four-straight national titles and nine wins in the last twelve years.  With the #1 and #3 ranked runners in the field, third-year Natsuki Omori and second-year Kotona Ota, and the fastest top-six 5000 m average, 15:45.73, there is almost no chance Ritsumeikan will lose.  The last team to beat them, 2009-2010 national champion and crosstown Kyoto rival Bukkyo University, has long since faded from glory with the departure of head coach Kenichi Morikawa

Why Tokyo Kokusai University's First-Ever Ekiden Tasuki Will Be Deep Blue When it Makes Hakone Debut

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/feature/hakone/20151018-OHT1T50196.html

translated by Brett Larner

On Oct. 17 at the 92nd Hakone Ekiden qualifier 20 km road race in Tachikawa, Tokyo, Tokyo Kokusai University finished 9th to make Hakone for the first time in its short five-year existence.  On Oct. 18th head coach Shuji Oshida, 53, revealed that the color of the team's first-ever tasuki [sash] will be Deep Blue, a term also meaning konjo, symbolizing pure guts and spirit.  Like the fearless Dokonjo Gaeru[Big Guts Frog] anime character, these Dokonjo Runners will target making the seeded top ten in their Hakone debut.

The morning after achieving its historic accomplishment of making the sport's biggest stage in their school's 50th anniversary year, the runners gathered to make even bigger plans.  Meeting at 10 a.m. at the team's training facility in Sakado, Saitama, they listened as coach Osuda told them with conviction and a grin, "We're the 19th-ranked team, but w…

Naoko Takahashi Named New Chairperson of Olympic Organizing Committee Athletes' Commission

http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXLSSXK10569_Z11C15A0000000/

translated by Brett Larner

On Oct. 19 a number of sources confirmed that 2000 Sydney Olympics women's marathon gold medalist and former world record holder Naoko Takahashi, 43, was named the new chairperson of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics organizing committe's Athletes' Commission, charged with presenting athletes' opinions and needs to the event organizers.  The committee promoted Takahashi following the resignation of current chairperson and 1988 Seoul Olympics men's swimming gold medalist Daichi Suzuki after his appointment to the Sports Services Agency.  Newly added to the commission was Sydney Olympics women's swimming team member Tomoko Hagiwara, 35.

The Athletes' Commission's duties include contributing an athlete's point of view to activities designed to promote the Olympic and Paralympic Games and to assist young athletes in making a positive social contribution.  Its nex…

Saitama International Marathon Announces First Elite Field

by Brett Larner

The new Nov. 15 Saitama International Marathon is the inheritor of the defunct Yokohama International Women's Marathon, itself the lesser offspring of the great Tokyo International Women's Marathon that folded under the pressure of the big new mass-participation Tokyo Marathon.  At the time of the event's "relocation" to Yokohama JRN published an editorial questioning whether The Yokohama International Women's Marathon was an idea whose time had passed.  History bore that out, unfortunately, as Yokohama was constantly beset with problems including its first winner Inga Abitova of Russia testing positive, a circuit course popular with spectators but unpopular with runners that underwent extensive changes, a date change into the next year in its second running, the welcoming back of Lithuanian Zivile Balciunaite within virtually days of the end of her doping suspension, and a growing sense of irrelevance highlighted by its winners and top Japane…

Valencia Half Marathon - Japanese Results

Valencia, Spain, 10/18/15
click here for complete results

Women
1. Netsanet Gudeta Kebede (Ethiopia) - 1:07:31
2. Worknesh Degefa Debele (Ethiopia) - 1:07:51
3. Genet Yalew Kassahun (Ethiopia) - 1:08:12
4. Rose Chelimo (Kenya) - 1:08:54
5. Peninah Jerop (Kenya) - 1:10:08
-----
8. Mao Kiyota (Japan/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:10:31

Men
1. Abraham Nambei Cheroben (Kenya) - 59:10
2. Matthew Kipkoech Kisorio (Kenya) - 59:52
3. Dawit Weldeslasie Hagos (Eritrea) - 1:00:26
4. Hiskel Tewelde Gebru (Eritrea) - 1:00:31
5. Simon Cheprot (Kenya) - 1:00:56
-----
21. Kaido Kita (Japan/Chugoku Denryoku) - 1:05:19
26. Yuji Osuda (Japan/Mazda) - 1:06:51

Kawauchi Scores Runaway Win, Yiu Sets National Record at Takashimadaira 20 km (updated)

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/1554422.html
http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/1554651.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner
photo by STITCHrunner

1430 people ran in the 40th anniversary Takashimadaira Road Race 20 km on Oct. 18 on a 5 km loop course in northwestern Tokyo.  Women's winner Kit Ching Yiu (Hong Kong), coached by Japan's Shinetsu Murao, set a national record 1:10:49 to win, at least her third national record on Japanese soil in the last year.  In the men's race invited athlete Yuki Kawauchi (28, Saitama Pref. Gov't) broke away on the last lap for a solo win in 1:00:57 just a week after setting a course record at the Kitakami Marathon.  His next race is the Nov. 1 TCS New York City Marathon, followed by the Dec. 6 Fukuoka International Marathon where he hopes to secure a place on the Rio Olympic team.

Kawauchi ran well in warm temperatures of 23 degrees, keeping his cool in a lead pack of five until 15.5 km just into the…

Mukai Runs 5000 m World Youth Leading Time at Challenge Games in Oita

by Brett Larner

Yuka Mukai, an 11th-grader at Hiroshima's Sera High School ran a world youth leading time of 15:31.92 to win Saturday's Challenge Games in Oita women's 5000 m.  Mukai led the race together with 12th-grade teammate Shinobu Koyoshigawa unchallenged by the university and corporate runners in the field, and both were rewarded with places in the all-time Japanese high school top ten.  Mukai's winning time was good for all-time #6, with Koyoshigawa's 15:36.96 coming at all-time #9.

The Sera H.S. boys, the defending National High School Ekiden champions, likewise led the way in the 5000 m A-heat, sweeping the top five and taking seven of the top nine places.  12th-grader Paul Kamais was 1st with a meet record 13:42.90, but 11th-grader Keita Yoshida made bigger news in 3rd place with his time of 13:50.67, all-time #10 on the Japanese high school lists.  Sera H.S. now has a top seven runner 5000 m average of 14:01.96, putting them in range of the legendary 2:…

Daniel Kitonyi 58:20 to Lead Nihon University to the Win at World Record-Setting Hakone Ekiden Qualifier 20 km

by Brett Larner
videos by naoki620


Another week, another world record-setting Japanese collegiate race.

Virtually every major Japanese university men's distance race since Tokyo won the 2020 Olympic bid has seen incredible new course records and world records set for depth at quality.  Today's Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai, the 20 km road race qualifier for the season-capping January 2-3 Hakone Ekiden, was no exception.

49 schools from around the Kanto Region lined up in Tokyo's Showa Kinen Park to try to be one of the lucky 10 programs to join those who had already reserved their place at the 2016 Hakone Ekiden by finishing in the top 10 in Hakone this year.  Each of the schools at the Yosenkai qualifier fielded 10 to 12 runners with the team scored on the aggregate time of its first 10 finishers.  The 10 fastest schools go on to Hakone, clean and simple.

After heavy rain with 5 minutes to go 2015 Kanto Region DI Half Marathon champion Daniel Muiva Kitonyi (Nihon University), 2nd…

University Ekiden Season Part Two at Saturday's Hakone Ekiden Qualifier - Preview

by Brett Larner

【箱根駅伝予選会まで5日】 17日(土)9:25〜11:25地上波生中継!日テレ/テレビ信州/静岡第一テレビが内定…直前で変動するため地元の番組表をお確かめ下さい。 地上波がない地域は 17日(土)14:00〜16:00BS日テレ pic.twitter.com/ZlLUoicisJ — 箱根駅伝番組公式 (@hakone_ntv) October 11, 2015
Just five days after a record-breaking start to Japan's university men's ekiden season at the Izumo Ekiden the next big race is set to go off Saturday in Tokyo's Showa Kinen Park at the Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai qualifying race.  The January 2-3 Hakone Ekiden, where 20 universities from around the Tokyo-area Kanto Region send 10-man teams to race roughly a half marathon distance each, is Japan's biggest sports event.  The first 10 schools to cross the finish line on Hakone's second day score places at both the following season's Izumo Ekiden and Hakone Ekiden.  The rest line up with 40 other Kanto teams at the Yosenkai to try to make it back onto the Hakone start line.

This year 49 teams will start the Yosenkai, a 20 km road race in and around Showa Kinen Park in the…

Aoyama Gakuin University Smashes Izumo Ekiden Course Record (updated)

by Brett Larner



Despite missing its best runner, 2015 Hakone Ekiden course record setter Aoyama Gakuin University delivered a thrilling anchor stage win over defending champion Komazawa University to win the 2015 Izumo Ekiden in a course record 2:09:05, leading the top five teams on to faster-paced runs than Komazawa's 2013 record-setting win.

For almost the entire race, returning after a typhoon-induced cancellation last year with a 45.1 km course 600 m longer than Komazawa's 2:09:11 course record win version in 2013, Aoyama Gakuin and Komazawa dueled head to head for the title in the first of the Big Three University Ekidens, the crown jewels of Japan's racing schedule.  Komazawa's Keisuke Nakatani, this year's World University Games 10000 m bronze medalist, went to his limit against AGU rival Yusuke Ogura, the World University Games half marathon gold medalist, beating him by 15 seconds to put Komazawa well ahead on the 8.0 km First Stage. 

Komazawa's second…

Chicago Marathon - Japanese Results

by Brett Larner
photo by Dr. Helmut Winter

2013 World Championships bronze medalist and half marathon national record holder Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) ran arguably her most confident marathon to date in Chicago, hanging with the lead pack throughout the race and doing her share of pushing the tempo but ultimately unable to handle winner Florence Kiplagat's big move.  Kiplagat took the win in 2:23:33 over Ethiopian Yebrgual Melese, with Fukushi coming up just short of Ethiopian Birhane Dibaba, 2:24:24 to 2:24:25, just 4 seconds off Fukushi's best from Osaka Women's two years ago.  Contemporary Japanese women's marathoning being what it is, Fukushi's time was still good for #2 this year behind the 2:22:48 run by Sairi Maeda (Daihatsu) in Nagoya in March.

Chicago Marathon
Chicago, U.S.A., 10/11/15
click here for complete results

Women
1. Florence Kiplagat (Kenya) - 2:23:33
2. Yebrgual Melese (Ethiopia) - 2:23:43
3. Birhane Dibaba (Ethiopia) - 2:24:24
4. Kayoko Fukushi …

A Battle of Champions - Izumo Ekiden Preview

by Brett Larner


The road ahead awaits.  Back after a typhoon-induced cancellation last year, the Izumo Ekiden kicks off the 2015-16 university men's ekiden season on Oct. 12.  Short and sweet with six stages averaging 7.5 km, Izumo is an indication of things to come in the buildup to the biggest of them all, January's season-ending Hakone Ekiden.

2015 Hakone winner Aoyama Gakuin University and defending Izumo champion Komazawa University are the clear favorites, with preceding champs Toyo University and Waseda University and darkhorse Yamanashi Gakuin University conceivably in the game.  Back again this year, the Ivy League Select Team fields a lineup that could see it equal its best-ever 8th-place finish if all goes perfectly.

No typhoon is on the horizon, but the forecast does call for strong winds straight out of the west, meaning a tailwind on the first half of the course and a powerful headwind in the second half.  In the pre-race coaches' press conference almost all…

Kawauchi Breaks Kitakami Marathon Course Record - "This Was a Good Race"

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20151011-OHT1T50053.html

translated by Brett Larner

Civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi (28, Saitama Pref. Gov't) won the Kitakami Marathon in Iwate today, smashing the course record with a mark of 2:13:21.  "This year I haven't been able to run good times because of my injury problems," he said.  "This is the first time in a long time that I've been able to run like myself.  This was a good race.  I was targeting 2:14, so I think running 2:13 was very good."

Despite heavy rain and a tough, hilly course Kawauchi ran with strength, picking up the pace over the second half.  Lingering effects of the ankle sprain he suffered last December were nowhere to be seen.  2nd place was 7 minutes behind.  The Rio Olympics lie ahead.  "Before that," he said, "there are the selection races.  I've been feeling a lot of anxiety about them, but today, without any pace makers, I ran my best time this season, so I'm c…

Hakone Ekiden Champ Aoyama Gakuin University Student Managers Run 42.195 km to Check Course Before Full-Team Training Run

http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASH9Z01PPH9YOIPE039.html

by Shizuka Kaneshima
translated by Brett Larner

2015 Hakone Ekiden champion Aoyama Gakuin University wrapped up its primary training camp for the upcoming Big Three University Ekiden season with its annual 42.195 km team run.  Surprisingly, even team members not even considering doing a marathon were smiling and laughing as they ran.  Making it possible behind the scenes of this unique training run were the preparation and support of the team's student managers.

Their hard work started the day before this annual tradition took place.  While the team's runners had lunch and rested up for that evening's practice session the managers gathered in front of the team's lodgings.  For some reason they looked unhappy.  "We're going to go run the course now to check it out," third-year Ibuki Yoshida said.  This was the fourth year that the team was doing the 42.195 km run.  The course was the same every year.  W…