Friday, March 27, 2015

World Cross Country Championshps - Japanese Team Roster

by Brett Larner

Japan's team for this weekend's World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China features 21 athletes.  As always, its strongest contingent is its junior women, in this case led by 9:00.89 high schooler Azusa Sumi, undefeated since 2013, and teammate Yuka Sarumida of Toyokawa H.S.  The junior men's team features three athletes with 5000 m bests under 14 minutes including 2014 World Junior Championships team member Shota Onizuka (Omuta H.S.).

2015 Fukuoka International Cross Country Meet winner Mai Shoji (Chukyo Univ.) leads the senior women's squad which also includes her collegiate rival Maki Izumida (Ritsumeikan Univ.).  Once again this year, Japan's senior men are largely giving World Cross a miss, with only three entered versus six on the each of the other three squads.  Corporate runners are completely absent, with 2015 Hakone Ekiden winner Aoyama Gakuin University's Kazuma Kubota the biggest name of the three and Juntendo University teammates Hiroki Matsueda and Kento Hanazawa rounding out the roster.

Senior Women
Miho Shimizu (Team Hokuren) - 15:34.22 / 32:14.44
Mai Shoji (Chukyo Univ.) - 15:34.73 / 32:27.36
Maki Izumida (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 15:38.22 / 33:15.18
Tomoka Kimura (Team Univ. Ent.) - 15:44.02
Yui Fukuda (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 15:50.07
Erika Ikeda (Team Higo Ginko) - 15:54.01 / 34:06.75

Senior Men
Hiroki Matsueda (Juntendo Univ.) - 13:49.18 / 29:13.81
Kazuma Kubota (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 13:56.69 / 28:30.78
Kento Hanazawa (Juntendo Univ.) - 13:59.09 / 29:25.76

Junior Women
Azusa Sumi (Toyokawa H.S.) - 9:00.89
Yuka Sarumida (Toyokawa H.S.) - 9:08.72
Yuri Nozoe (Kamimura Gakuen H.S.) - 9:14.72
Miho Shimada (Yamanashi Gakuin Prep H.S.) - 9:15.18
Wakana Kabasawa (Tokiwa H.S.) - 9:19.84
Nana Kuraoka (Kagoshima Joshi H.S.) - 9:23.58

Junior Men
Haruki Minatoya (Akita Kogyo H.S.) - 13:57.29
Hiroyuki Sakaguchi (Isahaya H.S.) - 13:57.41 / 29:12.75
Shota Onizuka (Omuta H.S.) - 13:58.43
Fuminori Shimo (Iga Hakuho H.S.) - 14:01.59
Ryoji Tatezawa (Saitama Sakae H.S.) - 14:07.32
Junnosuke Matsuo (Akita Kogyo H.S.) - 14:11.24

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Monday, March 23, 2015

Lisbon Half Marathon Japanese Results - Noguchi and Fujiwara Fade

by Brett Larner

Marathon national record holder Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) and newly-anointed Beijing World Championships team member Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda) put in an appearance at Sunday's 25th anniversary Lisbon Half Marathon.  Noguchi, who in recent years has had more DNS that starts in her scheduled races, made a rare start but proved ineffectual, opening at a conservative pace well outside the lead pack but fading badly later in the race to finish 16th in just 1:19:07.  Fujiwara, making the Beijing team off a 2:09:06 at December's Fukuoka International Marathon, started more aggressively, on track for a low 1:02 time through 10 km but struggling over the second half before finishing just outside the top 10, 11th in 1:04:10.

25th Lisbon Half Marathon
Lisbon, Portugal, 3/22/15
click here for complete results

Women
1. Rose Chelimo (Kenya) - 1:08:22
2. Sara Moreira (Portugal) - 1:09:18
3. Priscah Jeptoo (Kenya) - 1:09:21
4. Purity Cherotich Rionoripo (Kenya) - 1:10:24
5. Ana Dulce Felix (Portugal) - 1:10:27
-----
16. Mizuki Noguchi (Japan/Team Sysmex) - 1:19:07

Men
1. Mo Farah (Great Britain) - 59:32
2. Micah Kogo (Kenya) - 59:33
3. Stephen Kibet (Kenya) - 59:58
4. Idemo Guya Dola (Ethiopia) - 1:00:45
5. Edwin Kipyego (Kenya) - 1:01:48
-----
11. Masakazu Fujiwara (Japan/Team Honda) - 1:04:10

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Kawauchi on the Road to Recovery With Runaway Victory in Kumagaya, Speaks Out on National Team Selection Controversy and Million Dollar Bonus Announcement

http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/20150322/ath15032218030002-n1.html
http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2015/03/23/kiji/K20150323010033420.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

2014 Asian Games men's marathon bronze medalist and civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi, 28, ran the Mar. 22 Kumagaya Sakura Half Marathon in Kumagaya, Saitama as a special guest.  Running away from the field he scored the win in 1:04:41, his fastest time so far this year and showing that he is making progress in his recovery from the injury that has troubled him since late December.  "For the shape I'm in now, that was a good race," he said afterward.

Speaking honestly about the progression of the race, Kawauchi said, "Early on a pack came together with student runners from Daito Bunka University and some familiar faces from the general division.  I wasn't particularly planning on trying to run away from them, but....."  Mid-race he picked up the pace slightly, and one by one the others in the lead group fell off until he was left all by himself around 9 km.

Kawauchi sprained his left ankle while running in late December.  He continued running on it before it had healed, and possibly due to the strain on his ankle he developed pain in his left calf while running the Feb. 22 Fukaya City Half Marathon where he slowed to a personal worst 1:13:36.  His ankle and calf have now healed, but in Kumagaya, Kawauchi said, "I had a little pain on the outside of my foot, some lingering effects from these three months."  Given that situation, he looked happy with his winning time.

As the original ankle sprain refused to completely heal over those months, Kawauchi bought a large number of products off the Internet that looked useful for helping with recovery from overuse.  "I bought a bunch of things like different kinds of compression socks and electrical stimulation therapy machines that looked like they'd be effective," he said.  "I'm sure some of the stuff I bought was probably useless, but I'm not really in a situation where I can complain about that...."  With a laugh he added, "I spent thousands of dollars on all of it, so now I have to go win some prize money in an overseas race."

But even though he is out of the woods with his injury and the road ahead is looking bright, Kawauchi has become increasingly concerned about the selection process for next year's Rio de Janeiro Olympics team.  His plan was to sit out the selection races for this year's World Championships, working on his training himself and scoring his place on the Olympic team at December's Fukuoka International Marathon selection race.  "I consider being competitive more important than time, so I thought that winning Fukuoka would be the best way to go," he said of his plan.  "2:02 is impossible for today's Japanese athletes, but in a race where competition is the emphasis you have a shot even with a 2:06."  As a result, the development plan he put together for 2015 involved him competing overseas against a wide variety of athletes as much as possible.

However, earlier this month in the selection for the Beijing World Championships women's marathon team, Tomomi Tanaka (27, Team Daiichi Seimei), the only Japanese athlete male or female to win one of the major selection races, was left off the team in favor of Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) who ran 18 seconds faster for 3rd in another selection race.  "Looking at the women's selection process it's clear that they are prioritizing time," Kawauchi said.  "If that's the case then it is a disadvantage to run Fukuoka."

At the other two men's Olympic selection races, Tokyo and Lake Biwa, pacemakers run until 30 km, but in Fukuoka pacers only go until 20 km [purportedly at the insistence of sponsors who want less airtime showing African pacers running in front of the Japanese pack].  Naturally, that difference of 10 km without pacers affects the runners' times as they back off the pace and focus on racing each other.  "If Fukuoka were kind enough to extend their pacers' duties to 30 km it would be great, but if not I will probably have to look at shifting plans [to make the Olympic team] to the Tokyo Marathon or Lake Biwa," he said.  After his injury forced him to back off plans to run a fast time at the Seoul International Marathon this month Kawauchi's plan was to make the Olympics in Fukuoka and then to return to Seoul next year to go for time.  He doesn't want to be forced to change those plans again, but Kawauchi is giving himself until the summer to make a final decision about which race to run.

With regard to the National Corporate Federation's recent announcement of a 100 million yen bonus [~$1 million USD at normal exchange rates] for a new Japanese national record in the marathon Kawauchi said, "In the marathon they should go earn that racing in prize money races overseas.  That bonus money should be going into race walking and other minor sports where they have a chance of winning a gold medal."

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Barngetuny Takes Down Wanjinshi Marathon Course Record

by Brett Larner

Despite windy conditions on the hilly seaside course Kenyan Eliud Kiplagat Bargnetuny celebrated the New Taipei City Wanjinshi Marathon's first edition as an IAAF bronze label by taking more than 4 minutes off the year-old course record to win in 2:13:14, with countrywoman Gladys Kipsoi winning a leisurely women's race just under 2:40.

After a slow start over the uphill first 5 km, Kenyans Josphat Chobei and Hosea Kosgei took off on low-2:14 pace, breaking up the large lead pack in the process.  Barngetuny and the race's other Kenyan entrant Samuel Kayla caught up by halfway to make it a four-man lead group in 1:06:00.  The group stayed together to fight headwinds over the second half before Barngetuny broke free on the downhills near the end of the race to take the win.  Chobei was next in 2:15:51, also more than a minute under the old course record.  Kalya was the only other athlete to break 2:20, taking 3rd in 2:18:30 as Kosgei faded to 6th in 2:23:08.  Starting conservatively and working his way up through the field during the first half, Japan's Etsu Miyata was caught alone in the wind in the second half and stalled at 8th in a disappointing 2:26:35.


The women's race likewise played out with a lead quartet made up of Kipsoi, the formerly Japan-based Kenyan Ruth Wanjiru, and Ethiopians Almaz Negede Fekade and Tigist Teshome Ayanu going out a conservative pace, hitting halfway in 1:19:54 before Kipsoi broke free after 30 km for the win.  Ayanu was 2 minutes behind in 2nd, Wanjiru filling the podium another minute back.


New Taipei City Wanjinshi Marathon
New Taipei City, Taiwan, 3/22/15
click here for complete results

Men
1. Eliud Kiplagat Barngetuny (Kenya) - 2:13:14 - CR
2. Josphat Kiptanui Too Chobei (Kenya) - 2:15:51 (CR)
3. Samuel Kalya (Kenya) - 2:18:30
4. Andre Sambu Sipe (Tanzania) - 2:21:45
5. Dadi Tesfaye Beyene (Ethiopia) - 2:22:37
6. Hosea Kosgei (Kenya) - 2:23:08
7. Eshetu Wendimu Tsige (Ethiopia) - 2:23:40
8. Etsu Miyata (Japan) - 2:26:35
9. Ahmed Nasef (Italy) - 2:27:54
10. Debesay Tsige (Eritrea) - 2:28:06

Women
1. Gladys Kipsoi (Kenya) - 2:39:32
2. Tigist Teshome Ayanu (Ethiopia) - 2:41:31
3. Ruth Wanjiru Kuria (Kenya) - 2:42:18
4. Rose Chekurui Kosgei (Kenya) - 2:48:09
5. Almaz Negede Fekade (Ethiopia) - 2:51:22
6. Eliana Patelli (Italy) - 2:52:36
7. Lucia Mwihaki Kimani (Bosnia & Herzegovina) - 2:58:07
8. Chen Ya Fan (Taiwan) - 3:08:32
9. Lin Yu Hsin (Taiwan) - 3:09:34
10. Aregu Lechisa Awaki (Ethiopia) - 3:09:47

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Wanjiru and Wendimu Headline New Taipei City Wanjinshi Marathon

by Brett Larner


Sendai Ikuei H.S. graduate Ruth Wanjiru (Kenya) and 2:06:46 man Eshetu Wendimu (Ethiopia) headline the international field at Sunday's New Taipei City Wanjinshi Marathon, where with good weather in the forecast the 2:17:17 and 2:34:52 course records are bound to fall.  Special guests in attendance to celebrate Wanjinshi's first edition as an IAAF bronze label race, the first label race in Taiwan, include include former pole vault world record holder and IAAF vice president Sergey Bubka.

Wanjiru at the pre-race press conference.

Wanjiru leads the small women's field of seven, the only woman there to have broken 2:30 in her career with a 2:27:38 at the 2009 Osaka International Women's Marathon.  In the absence of last year's winner Ji Hyang Kim (North Korea), Wanjiru's main competition look to be her countrywoman Rose Kosgei (Kenya) and Aregu Lechisa Awaki (Ethiopia).

Miyata and Bubka.

His 2:06:46 in Dubai in 2010 makes Wendimu look like the favorite, but with a best time in the last three years of only 2:14:29 he's certainly vulnerable to others, especially in the Ethiopian contingent and Kenyan Eliud Kiplagat BarngetunyAdam Draczynski (Poland) is the best of the non-Africans in the field with a 2:10:49 in Vienna in 2010, but with nothing to show since then but a 2:15:01 at the 2012 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon his current fitness is doubtful.  Running with support form JRN, independent Etsu Miyata (Japan), with a 2:13:19 best from Nagano in 2010 and more recently a 2:14:09 in Nobeoka in 2013, hopes to be among those at the front contending for the win over the mostly downhill last 7 km.

JRN will be onhand to cover the New Taiepei City Wanjinshi Marathon live.  Check back for photos, results and more.

New Taipei City Wanjinshi Marathon Elite Field
New Taipei City, Taiwan, 3/22/15
click here for complete field listing

Men
Eshetu Wendimu Tsige (Ethiopia) - 2:06:46 (Dubai 2010)
Abdelmounaim Harroufi (Morocco) - 2:09:11 (Dubai 2014)
Andre Sambu Sipe (Tanzania) - 2:09:52 (Seoul 2004)
Eliud Kiplagat Barngetuny (Kenya) - 2:11:07 (Beijing 2014)
Adam Draczynski (Poland) - 2:10:49 (Vienna 2010)
Ahmed Nasef (Morocco) - 2:10:59 (Chongqinq 2012)
Etsu Miyata (Japan) - 2:13:19 (Nagano 2010)
Debesay Tsige (Eritrea) - 2:13:58 (Frankfurt 2012)
Dadi Tesfaye Beyene (Ethiopia) - 2:14:38 (Porto 2012)
Artur Kern (Poland) - 2:17:15 (Poznan 2011)
Chin Ping Ho (Taiwan) - 2:17:42 (Lake Biwa 2015)
Girma Hailu Firo (Ethiopia) - debut

Women
Ruth Wanjiru Kuria (Kenya) - 2:27:38 (Osaka Int'l 2009)
Rose Chekurui Kosgei (Kenya) - 2:30:52 (Toronto 2010)
Aregu Lechisa Awaki (Ethiopia) - 2:31:56 (Cannes 2012)
Lucia Mwihaki Kimani (Bosnia & Herzegovina) - 2:34:57 (Zagreb 2011)
Eliana Patelli (Italy) - 2:36:18 (Carpi 2011)
Tigist Teshome Ayanu (Ethiopia) - 2:36:29 (Marrakesh 2015)
Almaz Negede Fekade (Ethiopia) - 2:37:42 (Shanghai 2014)

text and photos (c) 2015 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Thursday, March 19, 2015

South Korea Plans to Give Citizenship to Kenyan Athlete to Ensure Marathon Gold at Rio Olympics

http://www.focus-asia.com/socioeconomy/photonews/412320/

translated by Brett Larner

According to South Korea's Dong-A Ilbo news organization, the South Korean Athletics Federation intends to go forward with a plan to offer citizenship to Kenyan Wilson Loyanae Erupe, winner of the men's race at last weekend's Seoul International Marathon, so that he can win the gold medal wearing South Korean colors at next year's Rio de Janeiro Olympics.  The news appeared in the March 18 edition of the Gyeongju Daily.

At the Seoul International Marathon on March 15 Erupe won in 2:06:11, a race he also won three years ago.  His representative, who serves as director of the South Korean Athletics Federation, commented, "Erupe wants to get South Korean citizenship so that he can run the Rio Olympics for South Korea next year."  The transfer would require the approval of Athletics Kenya, but since Erupe is not a member of the Kenyan national team, the South Korean side said, "there is no real obstacle to this happening."

Translator's note: The article does not mention that between his two Seoul wins Erupe tested positive for EPO and served a two-year suspension that ran out last month.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Kato and Obare Win Matsue Ladies' Road Race, Yiu Breaks Own Hong Kong NR

by Brett Larner

2014 Gold Coast Airport Marathon winner Asami Kato (Team Panasonic) topped what may have been the deepest women's half marathon ever run on Japanese soil, running 1:10:36 to win the last big race of the Japanese season, the 36th running of the Matsue Ladies' Half Marathon.  After a relatively conservative first half splitting 33:42 at 10 km Kato pushed the pace relentlessly, cutting the lead group down to a trio with Kotomi Takayama (Team Sysmex) and Ai Inoue (Team Noritz) by 15 km and dropping both by 20 km to win by 11 seconds.  Takami was next in 1:10:47, Inoue rounding out the top 3 in 1:11:02.

Matsue also served as the National University Women's Half Marathon Championships, this year acting as the selection race for the team for this summer's World University Games where Japanese women have medalled every time since 1985 including a sweep of the podium in 2009.  Five collegiate women led by Ayumi Uehara (Matsuyama Univ.) were in contention for the three spots on the team at 15 km, but by 20 km Sakurako Fukuuchi (Daito Bunka Univ.) and Yukiko Okuno (Kyoto Sangyo Univ.) had dropped off, leaving Uehara, Nanako Kanno (Ritsumeikan Univ.) and Maki Izumida (Rikkyo Univ.) to battle it out over the last km.  Uehara took the national title in 1:11:19, Kanno next in 1:11:24 and Izumida another 2 seconds behind for 3rd.

Altogether 60 women broke 1:17, likely the most ever on Japanese soil.  Among them, Hong Kong's Kit Ching Yiu ran 1:14:55 for 34th, taking nearly 2 minutes off the national record she set at last November's Ageo City Half Marathon.  Another record came in the 10 km division where two-time Matsue Half winner Doricah Obare (Kenya/Team Hitachi) set a course record 32:37.  Hitachi runners took three of the top five spots.

36th Matsue Ladies' Road Race
18th National University Women's Half Marathon Championships

Matsue, Shimane, 3/15/15
click here for complete results

Half Marathon
1. Asami Kato (Team Panasonic) - 1:10:36
2. Kotomi Takayama (Team Sysmex) - 1:10:47
3. Ai Inoue (Team Noritz) - 1:11:02
4. Ayumi Uehara (Matsuyama Univ.) - 1:11:19
5. Nanako Kanno (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 1:11:24
6. Maki Izumida (Rikkyo Univ.) - 1:11:26
7. Yukiko Okuno (Kyoto Sangyo Univ.) - 1:11:28
8. Mami Onuki (Team Sysmex) - 1:11:37
9. Sakurako Fukuuchi (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 1:11:44
10. Miharu Shimokado (Team Shimamura) - 1:12:09
-----
34. Kit Ching Yiu (Hong Kong) - 1:14:55 - NR

10 km
1. Doricah Obare (Kenya/Team Hitachi) - 32:37 - CR
2. Reina Hayashida (Team Uniqlo) - 33:10
3. Risa Kikuchi (Team Hitachi) - 33:16
4. Reno Okura (Team Hokuren) - 33:25
5. Kana Kurosawa (Team Hitachi) - 34:20

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Sunday, March 15, 2015

United Airlines NYC Half - Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

Former national high school champion teammates Koki Takada (Waseda Univ.) and Takashi Ichida (Daito Bunka Univ.) ran Sunday's United Airlines NYC Half with support from JRN, their last time running together before Ichida's graduation at the end of the month. With bests of 1:02:02 and 1:02:03 from last November's Ageo City Half Marathon, both were aiming for mid to high 1:01 times and went out with the lead pack running that pace through the hills of Central Park in the first half of the course. But when the pace quickened heading down 7th Avenue into the city neither could keep up with the change, first Ichida and then Takada slipping away from the front quartet led by last year's 3rd-placer Stephen Sambu (Kenya) and then from the mostly American chase pack including Boston Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi and World Half Marathon bronze medalist Dathan Ritzenhein.

Down almost 10 seconds on Takada at one point, Ichida fought his way back with a fast finish to close to within a stride, not quite matching the near-photo finish between winner Leonard Korir (Kenya) in 1:01:06 and runner-up Sambu in 1:01:07 but still close, Takada 11th in 1:03:21 and Ichida 12th in 1:03:22.  Their times were the 9th and 10th-fastest ever by Japanese men on U.S. soil, meaning that 7 of the all-time top 10 including the two fastest have been set by university runners at the NYC Half over the last four years.

"Given the conditions I don't think their times were that bad," said Takada's coach Yasuyuki Watanabe, one of the most famous names in Japanese distance running and making his final appearance as head coach at Waseda University before retiring at the end of the school year this month.  "My only regret is that they weren't able to stay with Ritzenhein and the others in the second pack.  I think Takada could have been 5th or 6th if they had.  Next year."  Takada echoed Watanabe's words, saying, "I'm kicking myself for not staying with them.  That was a real eye opener."  Wrapping up his university career before heading to the Asahi Kasei corporate team next month with his twin brother Hiroshi, Ichida said, "I'm very grateful that I had the opportunity to run in this race and I'm sorry that I couldn't repay it with a better result."

In the women's race, won in 1:08:31 by American Molly Huddle in a performance all the more brilliant for the head/crosswind that seemed to slow most runners' times over the unprotected second half of the course along the Hudson River, Hanae Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) was quickly out of the lead pack.  A teammate but not relative of Yokohama International Women's Marathon winner Tomomi Tanaka, she spent much of the race solo and finished just outside the money in 13th in 1:12:58.

10th United Airlines NYC Half
New York, New York, 3/15/15
complete results coming shortly

Men
1. Leonard Korir (Kenya) - 1:01:06
2. Stephen Sambu (Kenya) - 1:01:07
3. Juan Luis Barrios (Mexico) - 1:01:14
4. Lusapho April (South Africa) - 1:01:21
5. Andrew Bumbalough (U.S.A.) - 1:02:04
6. Dathan Ritzenhein (U.S.A.) - 1:02:07
7. Kevin Chelimo (Kenya) - 1:02:11
8. Meb Keflezighi (U.S.A.) - 1:02:17
9. Arne Gabius (Germany) - 1:02:34
10. Wesley Korir (Kenya) - 1:03:11
11. Koki Takada (Japan/Waseda Univ.) - 1:03:21
12. Takashi Ichida (Japan/Daito Bunka Univ.) - 1:03:22

Women
1. Molly Huddle (U.S.A.) - 1:08:31
2. Joyce Chepkirui (Kenya) - 1:08:42
3. Sally Kipyego (Kenya) - 1:09:39
4. Caroline Rotich (Kenya) - 1:09:53
5. Rkia El Moukin (Morocco) - 1:10:14
6. Natasha Wodak (Canada) - 1:11:20
7. Etaferahu Temesgen (Ethiopia) - 1:11:22
8. Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton (Kenya) - 1:11:35
9. Lanni Marchant (Canada) - 1:12:05
10. Annie Bersagel (U.S.A.) - 1:12:19
-----
13. Hanae Tanaka (Japan/Daiichi Seimei) - 1:12:58

text and photo (c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved