Monday, May 22, 2017

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

by Brett Larner

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

© 2017 Brett Larner
all righs reserved

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Göteborgsvarvet - Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

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

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

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

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

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

© 2017 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

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

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

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

Friday, May 19, 2017

Seven Rio Medalists in Kawasaki - Weekend Preview

by Brett Larner

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

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

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

© 2017 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Thursday, May 18, 2017

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

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

translated by Brett Larner

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

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

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Kenta Murayama to Run Ottawa 10K


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

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

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

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

translated by Brett Larner


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

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

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

Monday, May 15, 2017

'Runner Profile - Hirotaka Tanimoto'

http://www.scottishathletics.org.nz/Join-Scottish/Member-Profiles/runner-profile-hirotaka-tanimoto

Weekend Track Roundup

by Brett Larner

Corporate and university meets led the way in the first of three straight weekends of regional track action.  At the Chubu Region Corporate Track and Field Championships Kenyan Rodgers Chumo Kemoi (Team Aisan Kogyo) led the top three under 28 minutes, winning in 27:54.19. Returning to the track after a quality 2:10:39 debut at February's Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, Minato Oishi (Team Toyota) was the fastest Japanese man in the race, running 28:31.28 for 4th.

Silas Laikong (Team Aichi Seiko) won the Chubu men's 5000 m in 13:45.59, but the fastest time of the weekend came at the season's first Shizuoka Long Distance Time Trials meet, where Ethiopian teammates Abiyot Abinet and Yeneblo Biyazen (Team Yachiyo Kogyo) went 1-2 in 13:36.08 and 13:36.20. Downhill specialist Yuji Onoda led a large contingent from Hakone Ekiden champ Aoyama Gakuin University, 3rd overall in 13:58.05.

The women's 3000 m in Shizuoka also saw teammates sweep the front end, with newcomer Rina Nabeshima of the national champion Japan Post team leading Rio Olympians Ayuko Suzuki and Hanami Sekine under 9:05 to win in 9:03.17. Tuning up for next month's Stockholm Marathon, mother of three Yoshiko Sakamoto (Y.W.C.) celebrated Mothers' Day at 5th in 9:42.93.

Elsewhere, Kurashiki H.S. teammates Philemon Kiplagat and Charles Nijioka went 1-2 in the men's 5000 m at the Unnan Time Trials meet, Kiplagat running 13:49.44 and Nijioka 13:54.28. Their Japanese teammate Naruki Nago took a distant 3rd in 14:47.39. Nozomi Tanaka (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) broke the 26-year-old Toban Region H.S. Track Meet girls' 3000 m meet record, running 9:18.27 with a hard kick over the last 300 m.

In university action, Honoka Tanaike (Kyoto Sangyo Univ.) won the 5000 m / 10000 m double at the Kansai Region University Track and Field Championships, running 33:27.32 in the 10000 and 15:55.80 in the 5000. Both were the weekend's top Japanese times, bettering the 16:14.31 win in the Chubu Corporate meet 5000 m by Ayumi Hagiwara (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) and the 34:28.95 win in the Tokai Region University Track and Field Championships by Kanna Tamaki (Meijo Univ.).

In the U.S., Yusuke Uchikoshi (Boise State Univ.) continued to develop as a steepler, winning the Mountain West Outdoor Track and Field Championships men's 3000 m steeplechase with a kick over the last 100 m in 9:13.72, adding the title to his XC win last fall.

© 2017 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

'Daba Breaks Latvian All-Comers’ Record at Riga Marathon'

https://www.iaaf.org/news/report/riga-marathon-2017-daba

Kikuyo Tsuzaki (Team Noritz) was 2nd in a PB of 2:31:33, the fastest time so far this year outside Japan by a Japanese woman.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Ndirangu and Tanaka Win Sendai International Half, Nakamoto Over Kawauchi

by Brett Larner

Cooler than usual temperatures meant a return to faster times at Sunday's Sendai International Half Marathon, where former Sera H.S. star Charles Ndirangu (Team JFE Steel) led the top six under last year's winning time to take the top spot for the first time in 1:01:44. Ritsumeikan University grad Hanae Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) got her own first-time Sendai title, winning in 1:11:07.

A world record-pace 2:46 opening km shook off most of the Japanese competition, quickly leaving the Kenyan quartet of Ndirangu, Paul Kuira (Team Konica Minolta), Muthoni Muiru (Soka Univ.) and Joseph Onsarigo (Team Nasu Kensetsu) up front tailed by newlywed Takuya Noguchi (Team Konica Minolta). In the chase pack, defending champ Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) and two members of Japan's London World Championships marathon squad, Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) and Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't).

Noguchi and Onsarigo were off the leaders near halfway, and Kawauchi, lining up in Sendai just a week after running 2:10:13 at the Prague Marathon, likewise had trouble hanging onto the Japanese pack. Running just his second half marathon, Muiru did a lot of the pushing against the more experienced Ndirangu and Kuiru, both of whom had PBs almost three minutes faster than Muiru's 1:02:41 debut from February, but in the final kilometers the faster pair slipped away from him. Ndirangu had the stronger kick, taking the win in 1:01:44 with Kuira 4 seconds behind. Muiru took 45 seconds off his debut time for 3rd in 1:01:59, a time that puts him in good position among the best on the Hakone Ekiden circuit.

Noguchi was rewarded for his early aggressiveness, taking 4th in a new PB of 1:02:21. A big surprise came in 5th place as defending champion Imai, a 2:07:39 marathoner, took one second off his 12-year-old PB for a new best of 1:02:36. Further back, Nakamoto cruised in for 10th in 1:03:25, just holding off a fast-charging Kawauchi who came back from far behind to take 11th in 1:03:29. Post-race Kawauchi told JRN, "If I hadn't gone so fast in the first km I think I could have broken 63. I'll be more careful in London."

Running in the midst of a large pack of amateur men, Tanaka, Misaki Kato (Team Kyudenko) and defending women's champ Felista Wanjugu (Team Univ. Ent.) ran the early part of the race together before Tanaka pulled away for the win. Dueling with Wanjugu, Kato got away in the final kilometers to take 2nd in 1:11:42. Wanjugu was 14 seconds faster than her winning time last year but could do no better than 3rd in 1:11:51. Alternate for the women's marathon team in London, Misato Horie (Team Noritz) matched was 11th in 1:14:13.

27th Sendai International Half Marathon
Sendai, Miyagi, 5/14/17

Men
1. Charles Ndirangu (JFE Steel) - 1:01:44
2. Paul Kuira (Konica Minolta) - 1:01:48
3. Muthoni Muiru (Soka Univ.) - 1:01:59 - PB
4. Takuya Noguchi (Konica Minolta) - 1:02:21 - PB
5. Masato Imai (Toyota Kyushu) - 1:02:36 - PB
6. Joseph Onsarigo (Nasu Kensetsu) - 1:02:49
7. Muryo Takase (Nissin Shokuhin) - 1:02:55
8. Akihiko Tsumurai (Mazda) - 1:03:12
9. Yudai Yamakawa (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:03:17
10. Kentaro Nakamoto (Yasukawa Denki) - 1:03:25
11. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 1:03:29
12. Yusuke Sato (Fujitsu) - 1:03:38

Women
1. Hanae Tanaka (Daiichi Seimei) - 1:11:07
2. Misaki Kato (Kyudenko) - 1:11:42
3. Felista Wanjugu (Univ. Ent.) - 1:11:51
4. Sayo Nomura (Uniqlo) - 1:12:36
5. Yurie Doi (Fujitsu) - 1:13:00
6. Kaho Tanaka (Daiichi Seimei) - 1:13:03
7. Yuko Mizuguchi (Denso) - 1:13:13
8. Chiharu Suzuki (Hitachi) - 1:13:27
9. Asami Kato (Panasonic) - 1:13:36
10. Haruna Takada (Yamada Denki) - 1:13:48
11. Misato Horie (Noritz) - 1:14:13
12. Sachi Tanaka (Sports Yamagata 21) - 1:14:20

© 2017 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Friday, May 12, 2017

Toyama Marathon Faces Course Change to Reduce Traffic Problems

http://www.tulip-tv.co.jp/news/detail/?TID_DT03=20170512151125

translated by Brett Larner

Scheduled for Oct. 29 this year, the Toyama Marathon faces a partial course change in a bid to ease traffic problems caused by the race. The plan was announced at an organizing committee meeting on May 12. Until now the Toyama Marathon course has crossed Toyama Bridge and Jinzu Bridge on the way to the finish in Kansui Park, but the new course this year is proposed to cross Toyama Kita Bridge en route to the finish. The change will reduce the number of bridges that must be closed to traffic from two to one, and by eliminating the passage over Mt. Kureha it is also expected to result in faster times for participants.

Now in its third edition, the Toyama Marathon attracted 12,000 participants last year. For the first time it will be held the same day as the Kanazawa Marathon, meaning high occupancy for accommodations in the eastern part of Toyama prefecture. It was reported at the executive committee meeting that Tayama Railways will increase the number of trains running from Tomari Station to Toyama Station early in the morning on race day, Oct. 29.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Tokyo-Area Running Specialty Chain Art Sports Declares Bankruptcy

https://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20170510-00010001-teikokudb-ind

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Headquartered in Shibuya, Tokyo, retailer Art Sports Co., Ltd. filed for bankruptcy in the Tokyo District Court on May 9, receiving a decision later the same day to commence bankruptcy proceedings. Attorney Michio Suzuki of the Hashimoto Sogo firm represented the company in the application, with attorney Akihisa Kagawa of the Kagawa firm acting as bankruptcy trustee.

Art Sports was founded in April, 1967, celebrating its 69th anniversary as a premier sporting goods retailer last month, operating eight stores in the Tokyo area as well as an online shopping portal. Primarily handling running gear and tennis goods, it expanded its operations to also deal with equipment for sports cycling, mountaineering and other outdoor activities in its separate "Art Sports," "OD Box" and "Annex" outlets. For the fiscal year ending February, 1991 it posted annual sales of about 5,741,000,000 yen [~$50.5 million USD at current exchange rates].

However, in the years following that sales declined due to a combination of sluggish consumption and closing of unprofitable stores. For the fiscal year ending Feburary, 2016 Art Sports' sales had fallen to roughly 2,400,000,000 yen [~$21 million USD]. During that time the company sought to cut expenses by reducing personnel and relocating its head office, but in recent years it continued to experience unsustainable cash flow problems, and with increasing concern among its business partners it ultimately landed in its current position.

Art Sports' liability to its approximately 420 creditors at the time of its application for bankruptcy is estimated at 1,550,000,000 yen [~$15.5 million USD]. Business operations are reported to be in transfer to another company.

Translator's note: Art Sports, especially its main Shibuya location, is a longtime fixture for Tokyo runners. I bought my last pair of shoes there. Its inability to survive in the midst of a thriving amateur running boom is food for thought. It will be missed.

2:24:38 Marathoner Reia Iwade Out of Sunday's Sendai International Half Marathon

http://www.sendaihalf.com/news/#id218

translated and edited by Brett Larner

We regret to announce that special invited athlete Reia Iwade (Team Noritz) has withdrawn from the May 14 Sendai International Half Marathon due to pain in her right ankle. Other notable withdrawals are listed below:

Men
Daichi Kamino (Konica Minolta) - illness
Chihiro Miyawaki (Toyota) - illness
Yuichiro Ueno (DeNA) - illness
Keita Baba (Honda) - illness
Kazuki Yamashita (Komazawa Univ.) - injury
Makoto Ozawa (Sekino Kosan) - injury
Kazuki Muramatsu (Sumitomo Denko) - other
Benjamin Ngandu (Fujitsu) - illness
Hiroaki Sano (Honda) - illness
Hiroki Miura (Sumitomo Denki) - other
Alexander Mutiso (ND Software) - illness
Shota Kawano (Heisei Kokusai Univ.) - other
Hinata Abe (Heisei Kokusai Univ.) - other

Women
Reia Iwade (Noritz) - injury
Haruna Maekawa (Juhachi Ginko) - injury
Miharu Shimokado (Shimamura) - team transfer
Kotomi Takayama (Sysmex) - injury

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Aiyabei Crushes Course Record, Abraha Outkicks Worku, and Kawauchi Survives Hard Fall at Prague Marathon

by Brett Larner


London World Championships marathon team member Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) lined up at the Volkswagen Prague Marathon with support from JRN in a bid to break his four-year-old best of 2:08:14. Planning to go with second group pacer Eliud Macharia of Kenya at 3:02/km, Kawauchi and Macharia found themselves part of the lead group when its pacers were unable to hit their target 3:00/km in the challenging early part of the Prague course. The lead group accelerated approaching 15 km, while Macharia, Kawauchi and Moroccan Salah Eddine Bounasr stayed their course and hit it dead on 2:08:00 pace in 45:30.


Over the next 10 km the leaders again slowed, letting Macharia’s trio return and even go to the front without changing their pace. Following the pacers’ departure it was down to a race of six, the Ethiopian trio of Gebretsadik Abraha, Bazu Worku and Mekuant Ayenew, Kenyan Benson Kipruto, Bounasr and Kawauchi. The group hit 32 km in 1:37:43, well off the hoped-for sub-2:07 winning time and Kawauch’s PB pace but still on track for sub-2:09. Calm and in control, Kawauchi looked set for his biggest run ever on European soil.


Then, rounding a cobblestoned corner onto a bridge between 32 and 33 km, he tripped and fell. The Ethiopians surged to get away, leaving Bounasr behind in the process, and by the time Kawauchi could get back to his feet he was 15 seconds behind, bleeding from cuts on his hand, hip and leg. The Ethiopians made a series of attacks over the last 10 km to get rid of Kipruto, and in the last two km Worku opened up a lead that looked like it would be enough to give him the win. But Abraha had other ideas, putting on a long surge to pass Worku and take the win by a second in 2:08:47.

With a 2:08:48 for 2nd Worku joined an exclusive club of men with ten or more career sub-2:10 performances. Ayenew ran a PB 2:09:00 for 3rd, Kipruto 4th in 2:09:51 and Bounasr just missing his first-ever sub-2:10 as he took 5th in a PB of 2:10:04. Kawauchi looked like he might return to catch both Kipruto and Bounasr, but with the impact of his fall still resonating all he could manage was 2:10:13 for 6th. Taken straight to the medical area, he received treatment for his cuts and was examined for more serious injuries but was pronounced unhurt.

Pacer Eliud Macharia and Kawauchi post-race.

Bitterly disappointed by the fall but trying to find the positive, post-race Kawauchi told JRN, “I thought I could catch the Moroccan but he just wouldn’t come back. Up to 32 km it was the best I’ve ever run in a European race, so in that respect it gives me confidence for London. I’m going to be really sore for the next few days, though.” Besides the confidence of knowing that he ran one of the best, if unluckiest, races of his career in Prague, Kawauchi can take encouragement from having surpassed Suguru Osako’s 2:10:28 from last month’s Boston Marathon to become the fastest Japanese man outside Japan so far this year despite his fall. He also achieved one historic accomplishment, tying the world record of 22 career sub-2:12 marathons held by Ethiopian great Abebe Mekonnen. If he succeeds in doing it again at June’s Stockholm Marathon Kawauchi will singlehandedly hold every sub-x record from sub-2:12 to sub-2:19.

While the men’s race was overall slower than Prague’s usual standards, the women’s race was hot. A quartet of sub-2:23 Ethiopians led by 2:20 women Feyse Tadese and Amane Beriso was expected to take down the 2:22:34 course record set back in 2011 by Kenyan Lydia Cheromei. Two of them succeeded, Beriso running 2:22:15 and Tadelech Bekele a PB of 2:22:23, but in a sight familiar of late, Kenyan Valary Jemeli Aiyabei and a male pacer ran a death-defying first half to put the win way out of the Ethiopians’ reach. Aiyabei and pacer split an incredible 1:08:24 for the first half, no small feat given the difficult first 4 km and other sections full of streetcar tracks and the cobblestones that tripped up Kawauchi’s plans.

Aiyabei paid for the first half with a 1:13:33 on the easier second half, but even so there was littlee chance of her being caught. Aiyabei crossed the finish line with a 2:21:57 course record, a PB by three minutes. Beriso and Bekele did their best to close the gap, Beriso coming within 20 seconds by the end of the race, but it was simply to far to the front. Other Ethiopians took 4th, 5th and 7th to make it five in the top seven, but with a brave and wild run from Aiyabei the women’s race belonged to Kenya.


Volkswagen Prague Marathon
Prague, Czech Republic, 5/7/17

Men
1. Gebretsadik Abraha (Ethiopia) – 2:08:47
2. Bazu Worku (Ethiopia) – 2:08:48
3. Mekuant Ayenew (Ethiopia) – 2:09:00 – PB
4. Benson Kipruto (Kenya) – 2:09:51 – PB
5. Salah Eddine Bounasr (Morocco) – 2:10:04 – PB
6. Yuki Kawauchi (Japan) – 2:10:13
7. Said ait Addi (Morocco) – 2:10:38 – debut
8. Samson Gebreyohannes (Eritrea) – 2:14:25 – PB
9. Geoffrey Kipyego (Kenya) – 2:14:54 – debut
10. Raymond Choge (Kenya) – 2:16:03

Women
1. Valary Jemeli Aiyabei (Kenya) – 2:21:57 – CR, PB
2. Amane Beriso (Ethiopia) – 2:22:15
3. Tadelech Bekele (Ethiopia) – 2:22:23 – PB
4. Hirut Tibebu (Ethiopia) – 2:24:04 – PB
5. Feyse Tadese (Ethiopia) – 2:26:46
6. Carla Salome Rocha (Portugal) – 2:27:08 – debut
7. Mulu Seboka (Ethiopia) – 2:29:17
8. Beatrice Toroitich (Kenya) – 2:32:25
9. Rosa Chacha (Ecuador) – 2:37:06
10. Lavinia Haitope (Namibia) – 2:40:22 – PB

text and photos © 2017 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Matsuzaki and Ichiyama Clear London Standards - Payton Jordan and Golden Games in Nobeoka Results

by Brett Larner

Stanford University’s Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational has long been a mainstay for Japanese distance runners, the site of 10000 m national record runs by both Yoko Shibui and Toshinari Takaoka. But with the steady rise of the Golden Games in Nobeoka meet in Japan’s version of Eugene, Oregon, more and more have been passing Stanford by to run on home ground.

With the two meets happening almost simultaneously this year only one Japanese man, Minato Oishi (Team Toyota) made the trip over to the States. With a 27:48.56 best from last November Oishi was only 25th of 27 finishers in 29:17.60. Most of the other main contenders for the London World Championships team in the 10000 m ran in Nobeoka, where Rio Olympics silver medalist Paul Tanui (Team Kyudenko) paced a field including proven sub-28 men Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Team Asahi Kasei), Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin), Yuta Shitara (Team Honda), Ken Yokote (Team Fujitsu), Takashi Ichida (Team Asahi Kasei), Kenta Murayama (Team Asahi Kasei), Keita Shitara (Saitama T&F Assoc.), Shuho Dairokuno (Team Asahi Kasei) and more in the hunt for the 27:45.00 London standard.

Despite perfect splits in the first few km things began to come apart after 3000 m, Tanui slipping off the target 66-second laps and then surging to make it up. Only Yoroizaka, Sato and Yuta Shitara could stay on the roller coaster, all three alternating in taking charge of getting back in contact with Tanui. In the end Yoroizaka was the last man standing, short of the London standard but taking the top spot in 27:57.63 to become the first Japanese man under 28 this year.

Other top men lined up in the 5000 m hoping for the 13:22.00 London standard in that distance. The only Japanese man under 13:30 so far this year, Hiroki Matsueda (Team Fujitsu) opted for the C-heat to run against over 30 Japan-based Africans including the likes of Leonard Barsoton (Team Nissin Shokuhin) and William Malel (Team Honda). Staying with the leaders through the first half of a race in which every km got faster, Matsueda lost touch over the second half to take 10th in only 13:32.62. Macharia Ndirangu (Team Aichi Seiko) won in 13:19.42, kicking past longtime leader Wesley Ledama (Team Subaru) with 200 m to go. Ledama and 3rd-placer Evans Keitany (Team Toyota Boshoku) both also cleared the London standard.

While they were also split between the two meets, in contrast to the men more top-level Japanese women opted for Stanford over Nobeoka. Four women, Japan’s three Rio 10000 m Olympians Yuka Takashima (Team Shiseido), Ayuko Suzuki (Team Japan Post), Hanami Sekine (Team Japan Post) and newcomer Mao Ichiyama (Team Wacoal) cleared the 32:15.00 London standard, all but Sekine breaking 32 minutes. Takashima took the top spot among them at 5th overall, breaking into the all-time Japanese top 25 with a 31:33.33 PB. Defending national champion Suzuki returned from a long injury with a quality 31:41.74 for 8th, with Ichiyama PBing in 31:49.01 for 10th. Sekine looked off her best form but still succeeded in getting under the standard in 32:10.22.

In the 5000 m, Riko Matsuzaki (Team Sekisui Kagaku) ran a strong 15:19.91 for 2nd overall, becoming the third Japanese woman to clear the 15:22.00 London standard. Having just missed the standard with a 15:23.48 PB at last month’s Mt. SAC Relays, Yui Fukuda (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) opted to try for it again in Nobeoka. Unable to stay with the fast pace of lead African trio Shuru Bulo (Team Toto), Marta Mokaya (Oita Tomei H.S.) and Pauline Kamulu (Team Route Inn Hotels), Fukuda instead ran in a second trio with teammate Ann Karindi (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) and Mariam Waithera (Team Kyudenko) right on qualifying pace. It looked doable, but as the later laps ticked by the pace fell off just enough to put the standard out of reach, Fukuda ending up 5th in 15:26.62. Up front, Ethiopian Bulo won an intense sprint finish to win in 15:12.36.

With the addition of Ichiyama and Matsuzaki to the standings Japan now has three women with the London 5000 m standard and sixteen with the 10000 m standard, promising full teams in both. By contrast, no Japanese men have hit the 13:22.00 London 5000 m standard, a time only nine Japanese men have cleared in history. Only one man, national record holder Kota Murayama (Team Asahi Kasei), holds a time under the standard in the 10000 m, and with Murayama out of commission most of this season with injury including a DNS in Nobeoka this weekend, at this point the specter is rising of seeing no Japanese men on the track in London at anything longer than the sprints.

Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational
Stanford University, U.S.A., 5/5/17
click here for complete results

Men’s 10000 m
1. Patrick Tiernan (Australia) - 27:29.81
2. Mo Ahmed (Canada) - 27:30.00
3. Shadrack Kipchirchir (U.S.A.) - 27:32.18
4. Hassan Mead (U.S.A.) - 27:34.38
5. Abbabiya Simbassa (U.S.A.) - 27:45.78
-----
25. Minato Oishi (Toyota) - 29:17.60

Women’s 10000 m
1. Meraf Bahta (Sweden) - 31:13.06
2. Amy Cragg (U.S.A.) - 31:17.20
3. Goytom Gebreslase (Ethiopia) - 31:25.61
4. Emily Sisson (U.S.A.) - 31:32.53
5. Yuka Takashima (Shiseido) – 31:33.33 – PB
-----
8. Ayuko Suzuki (Japan Post) – 31:41.74
10. Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) – 31:49.01 – PB
13. Hanami Sekine (Japan Post) – 32:10.22
26. Miyuki Uehara (Daiichi Seimei) - 32:56.38

Women’s 5000 m Section 1
1. Sifan Hassan (Netherlands) - 15:13.15
2. Riko Matsuzaki (Team Sekisui Kagaku) – 15:19.91
3. Lauren Paquette (U.S.A.) - 15:20.48
4. Andrea Seccafien (Canada) - 15:21.64
5. Eilish McColgan (U.K.) - 15:22.12
-----
11. Yukari Abe (Shimamura) - 15:27.62
12. Rina Nabeshima (Japan Post) - 15:27.97
16. Kaori Morita (Panasonic) - 15:44.78


Golden Games in Nobeoka
Nobeoka, Miyazaki, 5/6/17
click here for complete results

Men’s 10000 m
1. Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Asahi Kasei) – 27:57.63
2. Yuki Sato (Nissin Shokuhin) – 28:09.01
3. Yuta Shitara (Honda) – 28:13.42
4. Ken Yokote (Fujitsu) – 28:13.85
5. Takashi Ichida (Asahi Kasei) – 28:15.97
6. Kenta Murayama (Asahi Kasei) – 28:16.87
7. Mitsunori Asaoka (Hitachi Butsuryu) – 29:00.91
8. Keita Shitara (Saitama T&F Assoc.) – 29:09.49
9. Shuho Dairokuno (Asahi Kasei) – 29:17.10
10. Yuma Hattori (Toyota) – 29:27.18

Men’s 5000 m Heat C
1. Macharia Ndirangu (Aichi Seiko) – 13:19.42
2. Wesley Ledama (Subaru) – 13:19.96
3. Evans Keitany (Toyota Boshoku) – 13:21.72
4. Teresa Nyakora (Mazda) – 13:22.65
5. Leonard Barsoton (Nissin Shokuhin) – 13:23.94
6. Alfred Ngeno (Nissin Shokuhin) – 13:28.00
7. Kassa Mekashaw (Yachiyo Kogyo) – 13:28.56
8. John Maina (Fujitsu) – 13:28.78
9. Bernard Kimani (Yakult) – 13:31.90
10. Hiroki Matsueda (Fujitsu) – 13:32.62

Women’s 5000 m Heat A
1. Shuru Bulo (Toto) – 15:12.36
2. Marta Mokaya (Oita Tomei H.S.) – 15:13.81
3. Pauline Kamulu (Route Inn Hotels) – 15:14.89
4. Ann Karindi (Toyota Jidoshokki) – 15:24.81
5. Yui Fukuda (Toyota Jidoshokki) – 15:26.62
6. Mariam Waithera (Kyudenko) – 15:30.28
7. Ai Inoue (Noritz) – 15:50.59
8. Sakiho Tsutsui (Yamada Denki) – 15:51.75
9. Riho Takamizawa (Matsuyama Univ.) – 15:52.20
10. Miku Moribayashi (Isahaya H.S.) – 15:55.06

© 2017 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Friday, May 5, 2017

Volkswagen Prague Marathon Preview

by Brett Larner


Japan's Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) will run Sunday's Volkswagen Prague Marathon with support from JRN in preparation for August's London World Championships marathon. At the pre-race press conference organizers expressed their hopes of seeing a 2:06 men's race, led by past 2:06 men Lani Kiplagat Ruto and Frankline Chepkwony of Kenya.  For his part Kawauchi said that his goal is to break his 2:08:14 PB dating back to 2013.  "I haven't broken my PB for four years, so I'm here to run 2:07," he said.

Organizers were even more optimistic about the potential outcome of the women's race, which features 2:20 women Feyse Tadese and Amane Beriso, two other Ethiopians with bests under 2:23, and 1:07:50 half marathoner Valary Jemeli Aiyabei. With the quality of field assemble, favorable weather conditions and the split timing and finish time projection system devised by Dr. Helmut Winter and used at the London, Berlin, Chicago and Dubai Marathons in place for the women, the hope is that Prague will see its first-ever women's 2:19 clocking. At the very least an update to the 2:22:34 course record looks to be in the works.

Volkswagen Prague Marathon Elite Field Highlights
Prague, Czech Republic, 5/7/17
times listed are athlete's best within last three years except where noted

Men
Lani Kiplagat Rutto (Kenya) - 2:06:34
Frankline Chepkwony (Kenya) - 2:06:51
Bazu Worku (Ethiopia) - 2:07:09
Stephen Kwelio Chemlany (Kenya) - 2:07:37
Gebrstsadik Abraha (Ethiopia) - 2:08:17
Raymont Choge (Kenya) - 2:08:39
Evans Kipkosgei Ruto (Kenya) - 2:08:55
Yuki Kawauchi (Japan) - 2:09:01
Oleksandr Sitkovskyy (Ukraine) - 2:09:11
Laban Kipkemboi Mutai (Kenya) - 2:09:16
Mekuant Ayenew (Ethiopia) - 2:09:23
Salah Eddine Bounasr (Morocco) - 2:10:25
Benson Kipruto (Kenya) - 2:13:24
Moses Mengich (Kenya) - 2:14:04
Edwin Kemboi (Austria) - 2:14:05
Nicolas Cuestas (Uruguay) - 2:15:31

Debut
Geoffrey Kipyego (Kenya) - 1:02:39
Said ait Addi (Morocco) - 1:03:25
Fred Musobo (Uganda) - 1:03:31
Blair Morgan (Canada) - 1:05:55

Women
Feyse Tadese (Ethiopia) - 2:20:27
Amane Beriso (Ethiopia) - 2:20:48
Mulu Seboka (Ethiopia) - 2:21:56
Tadelech Bekele (Ethiopia) - 2:22:51
Valary Jemeli Aiyabei (Kenya) - 2:24:48
Hirut Tibebu (Ethiopia) - 2:25:12
Sarah Jebet (Kenya) - 2:27:07
Beatrice Toroitich (Kenya) - 2:30:35
Rosa Chacha (Ecuador) - 2:35:39

Debut
Carlo Salome Rocha (Portugal) - 1:13:01
Sonia Cekini (Greece) - 1:16:08

text and photo © 2017 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Sub-X Marathon and Half-Marathon World Records

by Brett Larner
all statistics c/o the ARRS database
corrections and additions welcome

The upcoming sub-2 marathon attempt is generating a lot of talk about the very sharp end of men's marathoning, the delivery of the single greatest marathon performance of all time. But there are other ways of thinking about who ranks at the top of the list of all-time greats than just a single run by a single athlete. Who performed the most consistently at a high level, had the greatest depth at quality as a marathoner over their career? Sub-x marathon records, the greatest number of times a single runner has gone under 2:03, under 2:04, under 2:05, are one way to look at that.

The table below shows the seven men from four countries who hold the records for every one minute increment from sub-2:03 to sub-2:20. Click to enlarge. Athletes with names in green are still active, while those in red no longer compete. Within the table green indicates a sub-x record, yellow a record which a given athlete is within three marathons of tying, and red a level beyond that athlete's PB.


Kenyans hold the records at the four fastest levels, Ethiopians the next six levels, Japanese the next seven, and the U.S.A. the final record, sub-2:20. World record holder Dennis Kimetto is the only man to have broken 2:03 as of this writing with one sub-2:03. London Olympics bronze medalist Wilson Kipsang holds the records for sub-2:04, sub-2:05 and sub-2:06. The sub-2:07 record, ten, is jointly held by former world record holder Haile Gebrselassie and Beijing Olympics bronze medalist Tsegaye Kebede, with Kebede also holding the sub-2:08, sub-2:09, sub-2:10 and sub-2:11 records. Abebe Mekonnen holds the sub-2:12 record with 22. Incheon Asian Games bronze medalist Yuki Kawauchi holds every record from sub-2:13 to sub-2:19, with Doug Kurtis holding the sub-2:20 record at 76.

Looking at potential updates to these records, Kipsang is one sub-2:07 away from tying the sub-2:07 and sub-2:08 records and two from adding both to his resume. Given his pair of 2:03 times in his last two marathons that seems realistic. Kebede is one more sub-2:07 from eliminating Gebrselassie from the list of record holders, but with more than three years having passed since he last ran that fast time isn't on his side. Over the last few years Kebede and Kawauchi have been waging an intense but unnoticed battle to erase Mekonnen from the books, Kebede taking away his sub-x records from the faster end and Kawauchi from the slower. Both are now one sub-2:12 from tying Mekonnen's last remaining record, which survived the month of April after Kawauchi ran 2:13:04 in Daegu and Kebede 2:12:31 in Hamburg.


Given the frequency of his racing Kawauchi is likely to get there first, potentially tying it this Sunday at the Volkswagen Prague Marathon and then breaking it at one of the three other marathons he plans to run over the summer. He's also on track to break Kurtis' sub-2:20 record in March or April next year. With enough success at the faster end of his ability he has the potential to hold every record from sub-2:10 to sub-2:20 by the time he's done. Uniquely among the seven record holders, Kawauchi also holds a sub-x record in the half marathon, shown above, with 70 career sub-1:06 half marathons to date. As in the marathon, at the faster end he has the potential to also take the sub-1:04 and sub-1:05 records from Kenyans MacDonard Ondara and Philemon Kipkering Metto.


Looking at other active athletes with the potential to break some of the marathon sub-x records, Rio Olympics gold medalist Eliud Kipchoge, the focus of the sub-2 project, is the clear favorite with one race to go to tie Kipsang's sub-2:06 record of eight. Berlin World Championships silver medalist Emmanuel Mutai is also one race away from becoming the third runner to run sub-2:07 ten times in his career, but like Kebede it has been three years since he has run that kind of time. Both he and Birmingham World Half Marathon Championships silver medalist Bernard Kiprop Kipyego are two races away from tying the sub-2:08 record of 13.


Among other active athletes with ten or more sub-2:10 marathons to their names, none is likely to break one of the sub-x records anytime soon. Beijing World Championships silver medalist Yemane Tsegay and Rio silver medalist Feyisa Lelisa, both of Ethiopia, are closest, each of them four races away from tying the sub-2:10 record. Tsegay is likewise four races away from Mekonnen's sub-2:12 record, but as with Kebede that record is likely to be put out of reach by Kawauchi before he gets there.

© 2017 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Monday, May 1, 2017

Kawauchi Breaks Own Course Record at Fukushima's Kawauchi no Sato Kaeru Half Marathon

https://mainichi.jp/articles/20170501/ddl/k07/050/032000c

translated and edited by Brett Larner


The second running of the Kawauchi no Sato Kaeru Half Marathon took place April 30 in the village of Kawauchi, Fukushima. 1500 runners from across the country traversed the roads through mountains in full spring bloom and enjoyed the villagers' hospitality. The event had its beginnings in a local elementary school student saying, "I want to do something to convey the goodness of our village to the outside world." 1200 people took part in its first running last year.

As a result of the huge response to its success, 300 locals joined the village cheering section this year. The welcome runners receive from every member of the local community is unique to the village of Kawauchi. Along the course local elementary school students performed yosakoi synchronized dancing and cheered runners on, and in the finish area members of the Village Women's Society served bowls of hot pork soup.


Sharing his name with the village, London World Championships marathon team member Yuki Kawauchi (30) and women's marathoner Kaori Yoshida (35) both took part as special guests. Kawauchi broke his own course record to win the half marathon in 1:05:31, with Yoshida winning the women's 10 km in 36:09. According to the ARRS database, this was Kawauchi's 69th time running under 1:06:00, a new world record.

Sendai-area company worker Kimihiko Sato, 51, took part in the half marathon.  Wiping the sweat from his brow he commented, "The warm and enthusiastic support along the course made it a lot of fun, and I enjoyed the peaceful scenery.  I want to run it again."

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Wanjiru Runs World-Leading Time to Break Oda Memorial 5000 m Meet Record

by Brett Larner

Kenyan Rosemary Wanjiru (Team Starts) bettered her own world leading marks to break the Oda Memorial Meet women's 5000 m meet record Saturday in Hiroshima.  With an early lead from Ethiopian Shuru Bulo (Team Toto), Wanjiru took over in the second half of the race to win in 15:11.48, two seconds under both the old meet record and her previous world leading mark from the Kanaguri Memorial Meet earlier this month.  Bulo also cleared the old meet record, 2nd in 15:12.13.  Tomoka Kimura (Team Universal Entertainment) was 3rd in 15:27.68, coming up short of the London World Championships qualifying standard.  Already the fifth-fastest Japanese high school ever, Shuri Ogasawara (Yamanashi Gakuin Prep H.S.) confirmed that position was a 15:31.46 to beat top university placer Natsuki Sekiya (Daito Bunka Univ.) by almost 10 seconds.  Sekiya led the qualifiers for the Japanese team for August's Taipei World University Games.

In the men's 5000 m, Rio Olympics 10000 m silver medalist Paul Tanui (Team Kyudenko) led almost the entire race, holding off a challenge from John Maina (Team Fujitsu) around 4000 m to win in 13:30.79.  Continuing his comeback from a long injury, all-time Japanese #2 over both 5000 m and 10000 m Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Team Asahi Kasei) was 2nd in 13:32.16, outkicking both Maina and fellow Sera H.S. alumnus Charles Ndirangu (Team JFE Steel).  Shota Onizuka (Tokai Univ.) led the World University Games qualifiers in 13:52.44 for 7th.

U-18 5000 m national record holder Mikuni Yada (Luther Gakuin H.S.) outran Tomomi Musembi Takamatsu (Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S.) for the win in the junior women's 3000 m 9:19.44 to 9:20.45.  Kenyan David Gure (Sera H.S.) won the 5000 m B-heat in 13:48.43 just ahead of Taisei Hashizume (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.).

Ahead of next weekend's Golden Games in Nobeoka, corporate men also lined up for 5000 m at the Nobeoka Spring Time Trials Meet in Miyazaki.  Like his teammate Yoroizaka, sub-61 half marathoner Keijiro Mogi (Team Asahi Kasei) continued a long comeback from injury, winning in 13:52.80.  London World Championships men's marathon team members Hiroto Inoue (Team MHPS) and Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) returned to competition in their first races since making the London team.  Inoue, who ran a 2:08:22 at February's Tokyo Marathon, was 2nd in 13:52.85, while Nakamoto, who won February's Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon in 2:09:32, was 15th in 14:08.00, less than 4 seconds off his PB.

51st Oda Memorial Meet
Edion Stadium, Hiroshima, 4/29/17
click here for complete results

Women's Grand Prix 5000 m
1. Rosemary Wanjiru (Starts) - 15:11.48 - MR, WL
2. Shuru Bulo (Toto) - 15:12.13 (MR)
3. Tomoka Kimura (Univ. Ent.) - 15:27.68
4. Grace Kimanzi (Starts) - 15:30.92
5. Shuri Ogasawara (Yamanashi Gakuin Prep H.S.) - 15:31.46
6. Mariam Waithera (Kyudenko) - 15:33.16
7. Ryo Koido (Hitachi) - 15:33.61
8. Azusa Sumi (Univ. Ent.) - 15:40.26
9. Natsuki Sekiya (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 15:40.42
10. Moeno Nakamura (Univ. Ent.) - 15:46.12

Junior Women's 3000 m
1. Mikuni Yada (Luther Gakuin H.S.) - 9:19.44
2. Tomomi Musembi Takamatsu (Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S.) - 9:20.45
3. Natsu Nishinaga (Saikyo H.S.) - 9:23.49
4. Haruka Takada (Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S.) - 9:24.47
5. Miyaka Sugata (Tokai Prep Fukuoka H.S.) - 9:26.57

Men's Grand Prix 5000 m
1. Paul Tanui (Kyudenko) - 13:30.79
2. Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Asahi Kasei) - 13:32.16
3. Hiroki Matsueda (Fujitsu) - 13:33.62
4. Charles Ndirangu (JFE Steel) - 13:34.80
5. John Maina (Fujitsu) - 13:36.20
6. Yuichiro Ueno (DeNA) - 13:36.52
7. Shota Onizuka (Tokai Univ.) - 13:52.44
8. Takanori Ichikawa (Hitachi Butsuryu) - 13:53.81
9. Yuji Onoda (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 13:54.36
10. Takashi Ichida (Asahi Kasei) - 14:00.35
DNF - Hazuma Hattori (Toenec)

Men's Non-Grand Prix 5000 m
1. David Gure (Sera H.S.) - 13:48.43
2. Taisei Hashizume (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 13:49.47
3. Naoki Okamoto (Chugoku Denryoku) - 13:49.96
4. Takuya Fujikawa (Chugoku Denryoku) - 13:58.19
5. Yudai Okamoto (JFE Steel) - 13:58.59

Nobeoka Spring Time Trials
Nobeoka, Miyazaki, 4/29/17

Men's 5000 m
1. Keijiro Mogi (Asahi Kasei) - 13:52.80
2. Hiroto Inoue (MHPS) - 13:52.85
3. Jeremiah Thuku Karemi (Toyota Kyushu) - 13:53.68
4. Hiroshi Ichida (Asahi Kasei) - 13:53.75
5. Geoffrey Gichia (Daichi Kogyo Univ.) - 13:55.31
-----
15. Kentaro Nakamoto (Yasukawa Denki) - 14:08.00

© 2017 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

An Update on Eastern European Women in Japan

by Brett Larner

Yesterday it was announced that Russian Albina Mayorova has received a four-year suspension after testing positive for elevated testosterone. Mayorova was a four-time winner of Japan's major women's marathons and a regular at the Tokyo Marathon. Her suspension follows that of a number of other Eastern European women to have won Japanese marathons in the last ten years, including Inga Abitova, Tatiana Aryasova, Mariya Konovalova, and Tetiana Gamera-Shmyrko, all five represented by Russian Agent Andrey Baranov and his Spartanik agency. What impact have these and other women from former Soviet nations had on the domestic Japanese women's marathon circuit?

Below is a list of every time one has finished in the top three in one of Japan's five main women's marathons in the last 20 years plus other results by those who later tested positive. During that period, women from former Soviet nations have won Japanese marathons 21 times. Of those, thirteen were by athletes who tested positive or had adverse biological passport findings. Thirteen of the 21 wins were in the last ten years, nine by later suspended athletes.

Looking at top three finishes, in the last 20 years 42 were by former Soviet nation women, 19 of whom were suspended. Of those, 19 came in the last ten years, 11 by suspended athletes. Despite this record, virtually all of the races maintained their relationships with Baranov until very recently. The Saitama International Women's Marathon invited Belarus athlete Maryna Demantsevich to its most recent running in November, 2016.

What has the impact of these performances been on Japanese women? Of the nine times that later-suspended Eastern European women won Japanese marathons in the last ten years, Japanese women came 2nd six times.

  • Kiyoko Shimahara was 2nd to Abitova at the first running of the Yokohama International Women's Marathon in 2009.  
  • In her marathon debut Noriko Higuchi was 2nd to Aryasova at the 2011 Tokyo Marathon. 
  • 2009 Berlin World Championships silver medalist Yoshimi Ozaki dominated the 2012 Nagoya Women's Marathon while trying to make the London Olympic team, only to have Mayorova blow by with ease in the final kilometers.
  • Azusa Nojiri was 2nd to Mayorova at the 2013 Yokohama International Women's Marathon.
  • Kayoko Fukushi finished 2nd behind Gamera-Shymyrko at the 2013 Osaka International Women's Marathon.  
  • The great Yukiko Akaba was 2nd to Gamera-Shmyrko in Osaka in 2014, a race Akaba had announced as her final race before retiring.

Looking at top three placings, twelve Japanese women were kept out of the top three a total of thirteen times in the last 20 years, nine of them in the last ten years. Former national record holder Yoko Shibui was kept out twice, once by Aryasova in Tokyo 2011 and again by Mayorova in Nagoya a year later. The podium in Japan usually runs eight deep, and looking at that level there are even more.

I've written before about the long-term psychological effects of winning and losing in relation to Eastern European doping and Japanese women.  How might have Higuchi and Fukushi's careers have been different with those early wins?  How might Ozaki have been different in the London Olympics had she gone in a champ instead of running one of the best races of her career and still getting destroyed? Nojiri might have made the 2014 Asian Games had she won in Yokohama, and as a newly-independent runner a win would have had enormous impact on her sponsorship opportunities. Akaba's career would have been capped by a victory on home soil.

All of these came during the post-Beijing Olympics slump during 2009-2014 when Japanese women's marathoning was perceived to be at its weakest and the athletes were regularly subject to hearing that they weren't as good as the people who came before them. What would six big wins have done for their mindset, personally and collectively, to the perception of their true standing in the modern sport, to the standards set for them to chase based on that standing?

Stolen glory and prize money aside, in Japan its greatest champions, international medalists and winners of the biggest domestic marathons, are revered and reap major financial benefits post-career in guest appearances at races and TV commentating work. Being elevated to 1st years later doesn't have the same cachet and does nothing to fix their names in the public's mind. How many people remember that Shimahara was 2nd in Yokohama? How many would have remembered her as the first Yokohama champion?

There's no giving back any of that and no answers to many of those questions, but as things seem to be turning in the right direction here two questions that need public answers are the why and who of this situation persisting for so long even after races had already gotten burned.

Top three placings by Eastern European women in Japan's major women's marathons over the last 20 years.  Athletes whose names are in bold underwent suspensions for positive drug tests or adverse biological passport findings.

Tokyo / Yokohama / Saitama International Women's Marathon
2013
1. Albina Mayorova (Russia) - 2:25:55
2. Azusa Nojiri (Japan) - 2:28:47
3. Jessica Augusto (Portugal) - 2:29:11
4. Mizuho Nasukawa (Japan) - 2:30:27
-----
DNF - Tatyana Filonyuk (Ukraine)

2009
1. Inga Abitova (Russia) - 2:27:18
2. Kiyoko Shimahara (Japan) - 2:28:51
3. Catherina Ndereba (Kenya) - 2:29:13
4. Bruna Genovese (Italy) - 2:29:57
-----
7. Zivile Balciunaite (Lithuania) - 2:32:09

2005
1. Naoko Takahashi (Japan) - 2:24:39
2. Zivile Balciunaite (Lithuania) - 2:25:15
3. Elfenesh Alemu (Ethiopia) - 2:26:50
4. Svetlana Zakharova (Russia) - 2:26:55
5. Mara Yamauchi (Great Britain) - 2:27:38

2003
1. Elfenesh Alemu (Ethiopia) - 2:24:47
2. Naoko Takahashi (Japan) - 2:27:21
3. Kiyoko Shimahara (Japan) - 2:31:10
-----
7. Irina Timofeyeva (Russia) - 2:39:01

2002
1. Banuela Katesigwa (Tanzania) - 2:24:59
2. Rie Matsuoka (Japan) - 2:25:02
3. Irina Timofeyeva (Russia) - 2:26:45
4. Elfenesh Alemu (Ethiopia) - 2:29:31

2001
1. Derartu Tulu (Ethiopia) - 2:25:08
2. Irina Timofeyeva (Russia) - 2:25:29
3. Bruna Genovese (Italy) - 2:25:35
4. Constantina Dita (Romania) - 2:26:39

1999
1. Eri Yamaguchi (Japan) - 2:22:12
2. Fatuma Roba (Ethiopia) - 2:27:05
3. Valentina Yegorova (Russia) - 2:28:06
4. Jane Salumae (Estonia) - 2:28:56
5. Masako Chiba (Japan) - 2:29:00

Osaka International Women's Marathon
2015
1. Tetiana Gamera-Shmyrko (Ukraine) - 2:22:09
2. Jelena Prokopcuka (Latvia) - 2:24:07
3. Risa Shigetomo (Japan) - 2:26:39
4. Yuko Watanabe (Japan) - 2:28:36
5. Chieko Kido (Japan) - 2:29:08

2014
1. Tetiana Gamera-Shmyrko (Ukraine) - 2:24:37
2. Yukiko Akaba (Japan) - 2:26:00
3. Karolina Jarzynska (Poland) - 2:26:31
4. Sairi Maeda (Japan) - 2:26:46
5. Mara Lema (Ethiopia) - 2:28:06
6. Natalia Puchkova (Russia) - 2:28:44

2013
1. Tetiana Gamera-Shmyrko (Ukraine) - 2:23:58
2. Kayoko Fukushi (Japan) - 2:24:21
3. Yuko Watanabe (Japan) - 2:25:56
4. Mari Ozaki (Japan) - 2:26:41
DNF - Mariya Konovalova (Russia)

2012
1. Risa Shigetomo (Japan) - 2:23:23
2. Tetiana Gamera-Shmyrko (Ukraine) - 2:24:46
3. Azusa Nojiri (Japan) - 2:24:57
4. Chika Horie (Japan) - 2:28:35
DNF - Lidiya Grigoryeva (Russia)

2005
1. Jelena Prokopcuka (Latvia) - 2:22:56
2. Mari Ozaki (Japan) - 2:23:59
3. Harumi Hiroyama (Japan) - 2:25:56
4. Miki Oyama (Japan) - 2:26:55

1999
1. Lyubov Morgunova (Russia) - 2:27:43
2. Mayumi Ichikawa (Japan) - 2:27:57
3. Hiromi Ominami (Japan) - 2:30:19
4. Masae Ueoka (Japan) - 2:32:41

1998
1. Naoko Takahashi (Japan) - 2:25:48
2. Madina Biktagirova (Russia) - 2:27:19
3. Harumi Hiroyama (Japan) - 2:28:12
4. Tomoko Kai (Japan) - 2:28:13

Tokyo Marathon
2015
1. Birhane Dibaba (Ethiopia) - 2:23:15
2. Helah Kiprop (Kenya) - 2:24:03
3. Tiki Gelana (Ethiopia) - 2:24:26
-----
8. Albina Mayorova (Russia) - 2:34:21
9. Yukari Abe (Japan) - 2:34:43

2014
1. Tirfi Tsegaye (Ethiopia) - 2:22:23
2. Birhane Dibaba (Ethiopia) - 2:22:30
3. Lucy Kabuu (Kenya) - 2:24:16
-----
6. Albina Mayorova (Russia) - 2:28:18
7. Mai Ito (Japan) - 2:28:36

2013
1. Aberu Kebede (Ethiopia) - 2:25:34
2. Yeshi Esayias (Ethiopia) - 2:26:01
3. Irina Mikitenko (Germany) - 2:26:41
4. Albina Mayorova (Russia) - 2:26:51
5. Yoshimi Ozaki (Japan) - 2:28:30

2011
1. Tatiana Aryasova (Russia) - 2:27:29
2. Noriko Higuchi (Japan) - 2:28:49
3. Tatiana Arkhipova (Russia) - 2:28:56
4. Yoko Shibui (Japan) - 2:29:03
5. Misaki Katsumata (Japan) - 2:31:10

2010
1. Alevtina Biktimirova (Russia) - 2:34:39
2. Robe Tola (Ethiopia) - 2:36:29
3. Nuta Olaru (Romania) - 2:36:42
4. Maki Kono (Japan) - 2:39:01

Nagoya Women's Marathon
2015
1. Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) - 2:22:08
2. Mariya Konovalova (Russia) - 2:22:27
3. Sairi Maeda (Japan) - 2:22:48
4. Mai Ito (Japan) - 2:24:42

2014
1. Mariya Konovalova (Russia) - 2:23:43
2. Jelena Prokopcuka (Latvia) - 2:24:07
3. Ryoko Kizaki (Japan) - 2:25:26
4. Eri Hayakawa (Japan) - 2:25:31
5. Tomomi Tanaka (Japan) - 2:26:05
-----
26. Zivile Balciunaite (Lithuania) - 2:36:59

2012
1. Albina Mayorova (Russia) - 2:23:52
2. Yoshimi Ozaki (Japan) - 2:24:14
3. Remi Nakazato (Japan) - 2:24:28
4. Yoko Shibui (Japan) - 2:25:02
-----
7. Olena Shurkhno (Ukraine) - 2:25:49

2010
1. Yuri Kano (Japan) - 2:27:11
2. Derartu Tulu (Ethiopia) - 2:28:13
3. Hiromi Ominami (Japan) - 2:28:35
-----
19. Tatyana Aryasova (Russia) - 2:41:03
DNF - Lyubov Denisova (Russia)

2003
1. Takami Ominami (Japan) - 2:25:03
2. Risa Hagiwara (Japan) - 2:28:14
3. Irina Bogacheva (Kyrgyzstan) - 2:28:17
4. Eriko Amo (Japan) - 2:28:57

Nagano Marathon
2014
1. Alina Prokopyeva (Russia) - 2:30:56
2. Rika Shintaku (Japan) - 2:36:02
3. Shoko Shimizu (Japan) - 2:37:21
4. Risa Takemura (Japan) - 2:37:43

2013
1. Natalya Puchkova (Russia) - 2:30:40
2. Beatrice Mutai (Kenya) - 2:36:51
3. Seika Iwamura (Japan) - 2:41:19
4. Mika Okunaga (Japan) - 2:44:21

2010
1. Lisa-Jane Weightman (Australia) - 2:28:48
2. Olena Burkovska (Ukraine) - 2:31:53
3. Eri Hayakawa (Japan) - 2:33:05
4. Kiyoko Shimahara (Japan) - 2:34:46
DNF - Irina Timofeyeva (Russia)

2009
1. Irina Timofeyeva (Russia) - 2:30:08
2. Irene Limika (Kenya) - 2:30:50
3. Akemi Ozaki (Japan) - 2:31:18
4. Derartu Tulu (Ethiopia) - 2:34:17
5. Tatiana Aryasova (Russia) - 2:34:32

2008
1. Alevtina Ivanova (Russia) - 2:26:39
2. Katherine Smith (Australia) - 2:28:51
3. Donta Gruca (Poland) - 2:31:54
4. Miyuki Ando (Japan) - 2:34:25

2007
1. Alevtina Ivanova (Russia) - 2:27:49
2. Dire Tune (Ethiopia) - 2:28:59
3. Lyubov Morgunova (Russia) - 2:29:34
4. Lidia Simon (Romania) - 2:34:48
5. Askanech Mengistu (Ethiopia) - 2:37:39

2006
1. Albina Mayorova (Russia) - 2:28:52
2. Sylvia Skvortsova (Russia) - 2:29:28
3. Nina Rillstone (New Zealand) - 2:29:46
4. Yoshimi Hoshino (Japan) - 2:36:56
5. Atsede Baysa (Ethiopia) - 2:39:21

2005
1. Albina Mayorova (Russia) - 2:28:21
2. Lidia Simon (Ukraine) - 2:31:20
3. Derartu Tulu (Ethiopia) - 2:31:58
4. Gladys Asiba (Kenya) - 2:36:12

2004
1. Fatuma Roba (Ethiopia) - 2:28:05
2. Valentina Yegorova (Russia) - 2:31:47
3. Nataliya Berkut (Ukraine) - 2:32:49
4. Alevtina Ivanova (Russia) - 2:33:09
5. Asami Obi (Japan) - 2:33:34
6. Yoshimi Hoshino (Japan) - 2:37:48
7. Madina Biktagirova (Russia) - 2:38:48

2003
1. Madina Biktagirova (Russia) - 2:28:23
2. Alevtina Ivanova (Russia) - 2:29:05
3. Fatuma Roba (Ethiopia) - 2:31:05
4. Hisae Yoshimatsu (Japan) - 2:32:17
5. Tomoe Yokoyama (Japan) - 2:36:27

2002
1. Madina Biktagirova (Russia) - 2:26:09
2. Fatuma Roba (Ethiopia) - 2:27:16
3. Dorota Gruca (Poland) - 2:31:08
4. Masako Koide (Japan) - 2:32:21
5. Irina Bogacheva (Kyrgyzstan) - 2:32:54

2001
1. Akiyo Onishi (Japan) - 2:31:20
2. Chihiro Tanaka (Japan) - 2:32:05
3. Natalia Galushko (Belarus) - 2:32:51
4. Hideko Yoshimura (Japan) - 2:37:49

2000
1. Elfenesh Alemu (Ethiopia) - 2:24:55
2. Valentina Yegorova (Russia) - 2:26:26
3. Alla Zhilyayeva (Russia) - 2:28:27
4. Chika Horie (Japan) - 2:29:12
5. Naoko Sato (Japan) - 2:35:31

1999
1. Valentina Yegorova (Russia) - 2:28:41
2. Elfenesh Alemu (Ethiopia) - 2:28:59
3. Malgorzata Sobanska (Poland) - 2:31:02
4. Xiu-juan Ren (China) - 2:33:58

© 2017 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

'Russian Marathon Runner Mayorova Banned for Doping’

http://www.wyff4.com/article/russian-marathon-runner-mayorova-banned-for-doping/9549591

Albina Mayorova won the 2005 and 2006 Nagano Marathon, the 2012 Nagoya Women's Marathon, and the 2013 Yokohama International Women's Marathon. The runners-up in Nagoya and Yokohama were Yoshimi Ozaki and Azusa Nojiri, both of whom had been coached by 1991 Tokyo World Championships silver medalist Sachiko Yamashita. Ozaki, the 2009 Berlin World Championships silver medalist, made the London Olympic team in Nagoya. A victory there might have put her in more of a winner's mindset going into the Olympic Games, where she ran badly. After not making the London Olympics Nojiri left the Daiichi Seimei corporate team to go the private sponsor route. A win in Yokohama would have had an enormous impact on her sponsorship opportunities and could have led to her running for Japan at the 2014 Asian Games.

At the time of Mayorova's Nagoya win over five years ago, JRN wrote:
Russian veteran Albina Mayorova ran a massive negative split of over two minutes to effortlessly blow by Japan's best in the final part of the race and take the win in 2:23:52, nearly two minutes better than her 8 1/2 year-old PB. Tumbling in the turbulence behind her [was] 2009 World Championships silver medalist Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei).

While the lead pack of Japanese Olympic hopefuls set off at 2:23-flat pace, splitting exactly 1:11:30 at halfway, Mayorova and Ukrainian Olena Shurkhno ran a more conservative 1:13:00 first half. Both Mayorova and Shurkhno then turned it on, picking up the pace and catching stragglers from the lead pack one by one. The 34-year-old Mayorova, consistently at the 2:28-2:31 level since 2005 with a 2:25:35 best from the 2003 Chicago Marathon, split a stunning 1:10:52 for the second half, while Shurkhno managed a more modest 1:12:49 second half to take nearly three minutes off her best from last year's downhill Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Marathon.

Both clocked 7:20 for the final 2.195 km, the fastest in the field, to join other Eastern European women from the same athlete management firm, including the runner-up at January's Osaka International Women's Marathon Tetiana Gamera-Shmyrko (Ukraine), 2011 Chicago Marathon winner Liliya Shobukhova (Russia) and 2011 Tokyo Marathon first and third placers Tatiana Aryasova (Russia) and Tatiana Petrova (Russia), in a remarkably consistent pattern of success over the last year: a negative split with the fastest last 2.195 km in the race, the kind of closing splits more commonly run by men. Combined with this race strategy, this group's seemingly innovative training methods make for a nearly unbeatable combination. Amazing.
In the five years since then Gamera-Shmyrko, Shobukhova and Arvasova have all been suspended for biological passport irregularities and doping violations. Shobukhova went on to coach newly-elevated Rio Olympics marathon 4th-placer Volha Mazuronak (Belarus), who like the other Eastern European athletes above was represented by disgraced Russian agent Andrey Baranov and ran with the group's familiar race strategy.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Ndiku Over Tanui, a World-Leader From Ekarare, and More - Weekend Track Roundup

by Brett Larner

Along with the weekend's road action there were high-level track meets and time trials all across the country.  The biggest was the two-day Hyogo Relay Carnival in Kobe.  Highlights from Hyogo:

  • In Saturday's Asics Challenge men's 10000 m, Simon Kariuki (Nihon Yakka Univ.) ran 27:55.10 to outrun Hakone Ekiden star Dominic Nyairo (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) for the win.  Ken Yokote (Team Fujitsu) delivered the fastest Japanese time so far in 2017, running 28:04.51 for 3rd.  In his first race since running 1:00:57 at last month's United Airlines NYC Half, Kenta Murayama (Team Asahi Kasei) was 6th in 28:24.13.  Samuel Mwangi (Team Konica Minolta) stopped mid-race and was carried off the track on a stretcher.
  • Two-time World Junior Championships gold medalist Jonathan Ndiku (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) outkicked Rio Olympic silver medalist Paul Tanui (Team Kyudenko) to win Sunday's Grand Prix men's 10000 m in 27:39.40.  Tanui was 2nd in 27:45.85, holding off 2014 World Junior Championships bronze medalist Nicholas Kosimbei (Team Toyota) who took 3rd in 27:48.51.  Yuichiro Ueno (DeNA RC) was the top Japanese man at 4th in 28:07.23, with Tokyo Marathon debutants Takashi Ichida (Team Asahi Kasei) and Yuta Shitara (Team Honda) next in 28:14.14 and 28:15.40.  National record holder Kota Murayama (Team Asahi Kasei) was a DNS.
  • Yuka Hori (Team Panasonic) led the entire way in the Grand Prix women's 10000 m only to get outkicked over the last lap by Mizuki Matsuda (Team Daihatsu) and Sakiho Tsutsui (Team Yamada Denki).  Matsuda took the win in 32:15.85 with Tsutsui 2nd in 32:16.44 and Hori 3rd in 32:22.18.  Running in the same pack with the top three throughout the race, Felista Wanjugu (Team Univ. Ent.) was tripped from behind by Doricah Obare (Team Hitachi) at 8800 m and fell hard, ultimately finishing 15th in 33:11.56.
  • After running the fastest-ever marathon by an under-20 Japanese woman earlier this year, 2:27:08 for 4th in Tokyo, 19-year-old Ayaka Fujimoto (Team Kyocera) returned to racing with a 16:14.24 for 8th in the Asics Challenge women's 5000 m.
  • Already all-time Japanese #4 in the women's 3000 m steeplechase, Misaki Sango (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) came 0.87 seconds short of her PB but took more than 4 seconds off her own meet record as she won in 9:50.72.  The meet record also fell in the under-18 girls' 2000 m steeplechase, with Yuka Nosue (Kitakyushu Municipal H.S.) setting a new mark of 6:40.69.
  • The top seven all broke the meet record the under-18 boys' 3000 m.  With a powerful kick over the last lap Ren Tazawa (Aomori Yamada H.S.) took the win in 8:18.05.  7th-placer Reo Sato (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) was more than a second under the old MR in 8:25.37.

At this year's first edition of the Nittai University Time Trials series in Kanagawa:

  • Helen Ekarare (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) ran a PB 8:53.70, the fastest under-20 time in the world so far this year, to win the women's 3000 m A-heat.  Shuri Ogasawara (Yamanashi Gakuin Prep H.S.) was the top Japanese woman, 2nd in 9:07.85.
  • Nyairo's rival for the top Kenyan on the Hakone Ekiden circuit, Patrick Wambui (Nihon Univ.) won the 10000 m A-heat in 28:04.85 in a near photo-finish with pro Bernard Kimanyi (Team Yakult).
  • Newcomer Evans Keitany (Team Toyota Boshoku) won a four-way Kenyan sprint finish to top the men's 5000 m A-heat in 13:43.21.  Just off the leaders, Yuta Bando (Hosei Univ.) had a major breakthrough as he broke 14 minutes for the first time to take 6th in 13:49.78.  After going sub-2:10 in his second marathon at February's Tokyo Marathon, Yuma Hattori (Team Toyota) returned to the track with a 14:04.64 for 15th.
  • Kazuya Nishiyama (Toyo Univ.) won the men's 5000 m B-heat in 13:51.58.  Fresh from quitting the Konica Minolta corporate team and running as an independent, Keita Shitara, twin brother of Yuta, had his best race since last April's Nittai Time Trials, running 13:59.07 for 8th. Post-race Shitara said that he hopes to have a new corporate team lined up by June and plans to run his marathon debut in Fukuoka this December.

At Saitama's Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials:

  • All-time Asian junior #3 in the half marathon after running 1:02:05 at last November's Ageo City Half Marathon, Akira Aizawa (Toyo Univ.) edged Ethiopian pro Kassa Mekashaw (Team Yachiyo Kogyo) by less than a second for the win in the 10000 m in a PB 28:44.19.
  • Mekashaw's teammate Abiyot Abinet (Team Yachiyo Kogyo) had an easy win in the 5000 m A-heat in 13:51.24, the only runner to go under 14 minutes.

At the Cardinal Classic meet in the U.S.:

  • Takeshi Okada (Univ. of California Berkeley) won the 3000 m steeplechase in a PB of 8:53.35.

© 2017 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Jepkosgei Breaks Gifu Seiryu Half Course Record

by Brett Larner

Just three weeks after her world record run at the Prague Half Marathon, Joyclinie Jepkosgei blew apart the Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon with one of the fastest women's half marathons ever run on Japanese soil.  Solo from the start, Jepkosgei hit 5 km in 15:08, just 12 seconds behind the second men's pack led by London World Championships marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't).  As in her WR run Jepkosgei faded progressively the rest of the way, but with a lead of over a minute at 10 km there was never any danger of her being caught.

Jepkosgei became the first woman to break 68 minutes in hilly Gifu, setting a new course record of 1:07:44.  Running the race a little more evenly, runner-up Belaynesh Oljira (Ethiopia) was also under the old course record, 2nd in 1:08:19.  London World Championships women's marathon team leader Yuka Ando (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) returned to the roads for the first time since her 2:21:36 debut at last month's Nagoya Women's Marathon, running 1:12:12 for 3rd, with her London teammate-to-be Mao Kiyota (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC)  5th in 1:12:41.  Returning to Japan after breaking 2:30 for the first time at Feburary's Tokyo Marathon, Sara Hall (U.S.A.) took 7th in 1:14:40.

Despite a solid international men's field to celebrate Gifu's first edition as the first IAAF gold label half marathon in Japan, Japan-based Kenyans dominated the overseas and domestic competition.  An almost all-African lead pack of at least fifteen went through 5 km in 14:26, shaking off Japanese runners Takafumi Kikuchi (Team SGH Holdings) and Ayumu Hisaibaru (Team Kurosaki Harima) and a few others to whittle down to eleven as they hit 10 km in 29:05.  By 15 km that was down to five, and over the last five km the Japan-based pair of Alexander Mutiso (Kenya/Team ND Software) and Macharia Ndirangu (Kenya/Aichi Seiko) pulled away.  Battling all the way to the finish line, both clocked 1:00:57 with Mutiso given the win.  Last year's Marugame Half winner Paul Kuira (Kenya/Team Konica Minolta) took 3rd in 1:01:19.

With lower temperatures thanks to a move from May to April and the absence of perennial Gifu top Japanese man Yusei Nakao (Smiley Angel AC), Kawauchi was optimistic of scoring the top Japanese position for the first time.  Leading the second pack the entire way he ran down early front pack runner Hisaibaru but came up short of catching Kikuchi.  Kikuchi took 14th in 1:03:50 with Kawauchi 15th in 1:04:06.

Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon Top Results
Gifu, 4/23/17
click here for complete results

Women
1. Joyciline Jepkosgei (Kenya) - 1:07:44 - CR
2. Belaynesh Oljira (Ethiopia) - 1:08:19 (CR)
3. Yuka Ando (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:12:12
4. Mimi Belete (Bahrain) - 1:12:22
5. Mao Kiyota (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:12:41
6. Sayo Nomura (Uniqlo) - 1:12:51
7. Sara Hall (U.S.A.) - 1:14:40
8. Marie Imada (Iwatani Sangyo) - 1:15:03
9. Yuko Mizuguchi (Denso) - 1:16:49
10. Rina Asano (Aichi Denki) - 1:17:33
11. Kie Watanabe (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:17:51
12. Lillian Partridge (Great Britain) - 1:18:14

Men
1. Alexander Mutiso (Kenya/ND Software) - 1:00:57
2. Macharia Ndirangu (Kenya/Aichi Seiko) - 1:00:57
3. Paul Kuira (Kenya/Konica Minolta) - 1:01:19
4. Bernard Kipyego (Kenya) - 1:01:27
5. Kenneth Keter (Kenya) - 1:01:48
6. Teklemariam Medhin (Eritrea) - 1:02:26
7. Goitom Kifle (Eritrea) - 1:02:27
8. Joel Mwaura (Kenya/Kurosaki Harima) - 1:02:32
9. Melaku Abera (Ethiopia/Kurosaki Harima) - 1:02:33
10. Patrick Muendo Mwaka (Kenya/Aisan Kogyo) - 1:03:27
11. James Rungaru (Kenya/Chuo Hatsujo) - 1:03:45
12. Charles Ndungu (Kenya/Komori Corp.) - 1:03:48
13. Michael Githae (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:03:49
14. Takafumi Kikuchi (SGH Holdings) - 1:03:50
15. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 1:04:06
-----
DNF - Yonas Mebrahtu (U.S.A.)

© 2017 Brett Larner
all rights reserved


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Marathon Japanese National Team Selection Policy


http://www.jaaf.or.jp/files/article/document/10127-0.pdf

translated by Brett Larner

April 18, 2017
Japan Association of Athletics Federations

1. Selection Policy

With the aim of winning medals at the Olympic Games, we will select a Japanese national team comprised of athletes who have demonstrated the capability to perform at the maximum of their abilities in key race situations and who possess the speed necessary to compete at the world level.

2. Selection Competitions

     ( 1 ) Marathon Grand Champion Race (referred to hereafter as MGC Race), scheduled to be held Sept. 2019 or later

     ( 2 ) MGC Series

          1 ) Men
               ・71st and 72nd Fukuoka International Marathon
               ・Tokyo Marathon 2018 and 2019
               ・73rd and 74th Biwako Mainichi Marathon
               ・67th and 68th Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon
               ・Hokkaido Marathon 2017 and 2018

          2 ) Women
               ・3rd and 4th Saitama International Marathon
               ・37th and 38th Osaka International Women's Marathon
               ・Nagoya Women's Marathon 2018 and 2019
               ・Hokkaido Marathon 2017 and 2018

     ( 3 ) MGC Final Challenge

          1 ) Men
               ・73rd Fukuoka International Marathon
               ・Tokyo Marathon 2020
               ・75th Biwako Mainichi Marathon

          2 ) Women
               ・5th Saitama International Marathon
               ・39th Osaka International Women's Marathon
               ・Nagoya Women's Marathon 2020
               ・Hokkaido Marathon 2017 and 2018

3. Selection Criteria

Based on the above organization policy, Japanese national representatives will be selected in the following order of priority.

     ( 1 ) Winner of the MGC Race.

     ( 2 ) From among the 2nd and 3rd place finishers in the MGC Race, the higher-placing finisher who has cleared the MGC Race Selection Time Standard.

     ( 3 ) If no athletes meet selection criterion ( 2 ), the 2nd-place finisher in the MGC Race.

     ( 4 ) The highest-ranked competitor from among athletes who clear the MGC Final Challenge Selection Time Standard.  However, this is subject to having run in (finished) MGC Series races or having qualified for the MGC Race.

     ( 5 ) If no athletes meet selection criterion (4 ), the 2nd or 3rd-place finishers in the MGC Race not meeting selection criterion ( 2 ).

4. Selection Procedure

     ( 1 ) Selection according to selection criteria ( 1 ), ( 2 ) and ( 3 ) will be immediate upon the completion of the MGC Race.

     ( 2 ) Selection according to selection criteria ( 4 ) and ( 5 ) will be immediate upon the completion of all designated men's and women's MGC Final Challenge races.

5. Selection Time Standards

     ( 1 ) MGC Race Selection Time Standard
          time:     Men: 2:05:30     women: 2:21:00
          eligible period:     Aug. 1, 2017 to Apr. 30, 2019
          eligible competitions:     Races certified by the IAAF as world record-elligible.

     ( 2 ) MGC Final Challenge Selection Time Standard
          time:     To be determined by the Development Committee following the closure of qualification for the MGC Race.  Scheduled to be announced in May, 2019.
          eligible competitions:     MGC Final Challenge

6. Alternate Athletes

     ( 1 ) In the event that an athlete is selected according to selection criterion ( 4 ), the 2nd or 3rd-place finisher in the MGC Race who was not selected to the Olympic Team and the 4th-place finisher will be selected as alternates.

     ( 2 ) In the event that no athlete is selected according to selection criterion (4 ), the 4th and 5th-place finishers in the MGC Race will be selected as alternates.

7. MGC Race Qualification

Athletes who meet the following conditions will be granted qualification for the MGC Race.

     ( 1 ) MGC Series (2017 and 2018 fiscal years)
          Athletes who satisfy the following requirements for Japanese finisher placing and time in the specified races.  Athletes who have already qualified for the MGC Race will not be included in the Japanese finisher placings.  [click to enlarge]

          1 ) Men


          2 ) Women


     ( 2 ) Wildcard

          1 ) Athletes who meet either of the following two criteria in any competition certified by the IAAF as world record-eligible between Aug. 1, 2017 and Apr. 30, 2019.

               (1) Men who run faster than 2:08:30 and women who run faster than 2:24:00.

               (2) Men who average faster than 2:11:00 and women who average faster than 2:28:00 in their two fastest marathons within the eligible period above.

          2 ) Athletes who finish in the top 8 at the 16th World Championships (London, 2017)

          3 ) Athletes who finish in the top 3 at the 18th Asian Games (Jakarta, 2018)

          4 ) If not a single athlete meets the MGC Race qualifying standards due to weather or other conditions in any MGC Series competition, the Development Committee may designate individual athletes as having run the equivalent of the standards.

8. Other

     ( 1 ) In the event that any selected athlete is unable to demonstrate adequate fitness prior to the Olympic Games due to injury or other issues, they will be replaced on the National Team by designated alternates.

     ( 2 ) The above selection requirements will be confirmed pending finalization of the Olympic participation qualifications stipulated by the IOC and IAAF.

     ( 3 ) The Olympic Games marathons will be held in Tokyo between July 31 and Aug. 9, 2020.


ENDS

Commetary: 

This is the JAAF's attempt to move toward a U.S.-style one-shot Olympic Trials race for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  To summarize, within the next two years Japanese athletes have to run sub-2:11 or sub-2:28, tweaked for a few tougher races, in major domestic marathons, sub-2:08:30 or sub-2:24 in overseas marathons, or place well at the 2017 London World Championships or 2018 Jakarta Asian Games in order to get into the Olympic Trials race, aka the MGC Race.  With a few provisions for fast times, basically the top two at the MGC Race will be named to the Olympic team.  

The timing of the MGC Race during the 2019-20 winter season means that the existing series of selection races, designated above as the MGC Final Challenge, would be made irrelevant to 2020 selection.  Given that the JAAF relies heavily on those races for sponsor income, they've inserted a wildcard option for the third spot on each team to keep that season's races meaningful. Anyone who clears TBA standards that season in the MGC Final Challenge races will pick up the third spot, which will go to the 3rd-placer at the MGC Race if nobody runs fast enough.

A few observations:
  1. The Tokyo Marathon, the fastest women's marathon in Japan, remains mostly excluded as an option for Japanese women to make national teams.  This year the top Japanese woman in Tokyo, Ayaka Fujimoto, was 4th overall in 2:27:08, a performance that would meet the qualifying standards for any of the four women's MGC Series races.  However, while it has been impossible for Japanese women to make a national team in Tokyo, the new procedure does introduce a window: if a Japanese woman clears 2:24:00 in Tokyo, a record-eligible course, or averages under 2:28:00 between Tokyo and one other race, she will qualify for the MGC Race under the wildcard provisions.
  2. Overseas races are also largely excluded from the selection process.  Although Japanese athletes can theoretically qualify for the MGC Race by running sub-2:08:30 or sub-2:24:00 at record-eligible overseas races, only eight Japanese men and five Japanese women have ever run those times abroad, the most recent being Yuki Kawauchi at the 2013 Seoul International Marathon and Mizuki Noguchi at the 2005 Berlin Marathon.
  3. If run during the eligible period, high-level World Marathon Major performances such as Yukiko Akaba's 3rd-place finish at the 2013 London Marathon in 2:24:43 or Suguru Osako's 3rd-place debut earlier this week at the Boston Marathon in 2:10:28 would not by themselves qualify the athletes for the MGC Race under the wildcard criteria, not being fast enough or, in Osako's case, not having been run on a record-elligible course.  For the same reason Osako's time would also not count toward the two-race average option.
  4. There is a wild disparity in the men's and women's time standards.  The Japanese men's NR is 2:06:16, 3:19 off the WR.  The women's NR is 2:19:12, 3:47 off the WR.  Three Japanese men have run 2:06 times and three Japanese women 2:19, showing that the records are reasonably equivalent.  To qualify for the MGC Race, men must run within 4:44 of the NR, while in the main races women only have to run within 9:48 of the NR.  For the MGC Race Selection Time Standard Japanese men have to run more than 46 seconds faster than the NR, a time no non-African-born runner has ever run on a record-elligible course, while women have to run within 1:48 of the NR.  Given the lower numbers of female athletes this is no doubt intended to produce roughly equal numbers of competitors in the men's and women's MGC Races, but the fact remains that the barrier to making the Olympic team has been set far higher for Japanese men.
  5. While the qualifying standards for the U.S. Olympic Trials are arguably over-inclusive, the MGC Race standards will result in very small fields of around fifteen men and fifteen women.  In the last two-year period equivalent to the above window of eligibility, sixteen men and fifteen women met the qualifying standards.  Applying the same window to the 2016 Rio Olympics, fourteen men and twelve women qualified.  
  6. Dependent upon the TBA MGC Final Challenge Selection Time Standard, Hisanori Kitajima, the last-placing member of the Rio men's team, would not have made the Olympic team or even qualified for the MGC Race under the new procedure.  The new system is designed in part to keep inexperienced athletes like Kitajima who make a breakthrough in the Olympic year off the team.
  7. The exclusion of the 2019 Doha World Championships from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics selection procedure makes running on the national team at Doha a major minus for any top-level Japanese athletes.  Given that a strong performance in heat in Doha might be a good indicator of success in the Tokyo heat a year later it seems reasonable that there might be provisions for being named to the Tokyo team, or, as is the case for the Jakarta Asian Games at least the MGC Race, in the event of medalling in Doha, or for wildcard qualification for the MGC Race for a top eight finish in Doha the same way that has been designated for London. As a result, the Doha marathon teams may be weakest Japanese marathon squads in modern history.
  8. The MGC Race is likely be held on the Tokyo Olympics course during the winter.  The U.S. Trials for Rio in L.A. did a good job of finding people who could perform in similarly warm and sunny conditions at the Olympics.  The JAAF could stand to learn from that example and hold the MGC Race somewhere warm like Okinawa, Honolulu or Guam.  Like the U.S. Trials, pairing it with Okinawa's ~15,000-runner Naha Marathon or the ~20,000 runner Honolulu Marathon, holding the MGC Race on Saturday on a loop course so that the people running the mass-participation race the next day can come out to cheer, would go a long way toward maximizing the event's popularity along with allowing an approximation of the conditions runners will face at the Olympics.