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Weekend Track Roundup - A National Record for Suzuki, Fast Veterans and Faster High Schoolers

by Brett Larner

Japan's track circuit was busier than usual this weekend with the move of the National Corporate Track and Field Championships from mid-September this year along with time trial meets nationwide as teams prepare for ekiden season.  At the Corporate Championships, Team Kyudenko's Kenyan ringers Selly Chepyego Kaptich and Paul Tanui were the stars of the show, doubling with wins in the fastest heats of the 5000 m and 10000 m.  Chepyego, the Copenhagen World Half Marathon bronze medalist started things off on Friday night with a 31:38.54 win over Asian Games 10000 m bronze medalist Ayumi Hagiwara (Team Uniqlo), who ran a PB 31:41.80, the best time this year by a Japanese woman, to lead three Japanese women under the Beijing World Championships standard of 32:00.00.  Chepyego returned Sunday to win the 5000 m in 15:14.45 just ahead of ascendant first-year pro Ayuko Suzuki (Team JP Post) whose 15:14.96 was also the best this year by a Japanese woman.  Hagiwara took 3rd in 15:24.56.

On the men's side, Moscow World Championships 10000 m bronze medalist Tanui had a close one against 2013 World XC junior silver medalist Leonard Barsoton (Team Nissin Shokuhin), winning in 27:17.82 to Barsoton's 27:20.74 PB.  All told five Kenyans and two Ethiopians broke 28 minutes, with former Tokai University ace Tsubasa Hayakawa (Team Toyota) taking the top Japanese position at 10th in 28:23.64.  Like Chepyego, Tanui was back on Sunday to win the fastest 5000 m heat in 13:22.51 for the double national title.

Other distance news at the Corporate National Championships came in the junior women's 3000 m, where Aomori Yamada H.S. graduate Rosemary Monica Wanjiru (Team Starts) ran a meet record 8:48.44 to win by 19 seconds.  In other events, Yusuke Suzuki (Team Fujitsu) became the first Japanese man to go under 39 minutes in the 10000 m racewalk, taking over 40 second off the old mark to set a new national record of 38:27.09.  Team Sumitomo Denko set a men's 4x100 m relay meet record 38.94, with runner-up Mizuno also under the old record.  Asian Games men's 3000 mSC 4th-place Jun Shinoto (Team Sanyo Tokushu Seiko) made up for his disappointment and just missing the medals in Incheon, winning in 8:34.37.  London Olympics men's javelin throw competitor Genki Dean (Mizuno), struggling with injury since going pro, did not start in the javelin but instead turned up in the discus, finishing 14th of 18 with a throw of 42.28 m.

Elsewhere, 39-year-old Mari Ozaki (Team Noritz), the world record holder for most sub-16 minute 5000 m performances, added at least #76 to her legacy with a 15:54.91 win at the Nighter Time Trial in Marugame.  Virtually all of the other women in the top ten were high school or collegiate athletes half her age, several of them also breaking 16 minutes.  The best high school performances came at the Shizuoka Long Distance Time Trials meet, where Toyokawa H.S. senior Azusa Sumi and Tokiwa H.S. junior Harumi Okamoto just missed joining the small Japanese sub-9 club in the 3000 m, battling to the line with Sumi winning in 9:00.89 and Okamoto 2nd in 9:00.91.  Both bumped 2014 Youth Olympics 3000 m gold medalist Nozomi Musembi Takamatsu (Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S.) out of the all-time Japanese high school top five, Sumi coming in at 4th and Okamoto at 5th.

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How it Happened

Ancient History I went to Wesleyan University, where the legend of four-time Boston Marathon champ and Wes alum Bill Rodgers hung heavy over the cross-country team. Inspired by Koichi Morishita and Young-Cho Hwang’s duel at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics I ran my first marathon in 1993, qualifying for Boston ’94 where Bill was kind enough to sign a star-struck 20-year-old me’s bib number at the expo.

Three years later I moved to Japan for grad school, and through a long string of coincidences I came across a teenaged kid named Yuki Kawauchi down at my neighborhood track. I never imagined he’d become what he is, but right from the start there was just something different about him. After his 2:08:37 breakthrough at the 2011 Tokyo Marathon he called me up and asked me to help him get into races abroad. He’d finished 3rd on the brutal downhill Sixth Stage at the Hakone Ekiden, and given how he’d run the hills in the last 6 km at Tokyo ’11 I thought he’d do well at Boston or New York. “If M…

The Kawauchi Counter

Yuki Kawauchi's 2018 race results: Jan. 1: Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, U.S.A.: 2:18:59 - 1st - CR
Jan. 14: Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:03:28 - 7th
Jan. 21: Yashio Isshu Ekiden, Saitama: 1:01:03 - 1st - ran entire 20.0 km ekiden solo and beat all 103 teams of 6 runners each
Jan. 28: Okumusashi Ekiden First Stage (9.9 km), Saitama - 29:41 - 6th
Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
Feb. 11: Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon, Shimane - cancelled due to heavy snow
Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama - 1:04:26 - 1st
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:04:49 - 12th
Mar. 11: Yoshinogawa Riverside Half Marathon, Tokushima - 1:05:50 - 1st - CR
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan - 2:14:12 - 1st
Mar. 24: Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials, Saitama
              5000 m Heat 4: 14:53.95 - 1st
              5000 m Heat 6: 14:36.58 - 2nd
           …

“The Miracle in Fukuoka” - Real Talk From Yuki Kawauchi on “Taking on the World” (part 1)

http://sports.yahoo.co.jp/column/detail/201701120002-spnavi

translated by Brett Larner

Ahead of his nomination to the London World Championships Marathon team, Sportsnavi published a three-part series of writings by Yuki Kawauchi on what it took for him to make the team, his hopes for London, and his views on the future of Japanese marathoning.  With his place on the London team announced on Mar. 17, JRN will publish an English translation of the complete series over the next three days. See Sportsnavi's original version linked above for more photos. Click here for part two, "Bringing All My Experience Into Play in London," or here for part three, "The Lessons of the Past Are Not 'Outdated.'"


The Fukuoka International Marathon was held on Dec. 4 last year. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) took part despite nursing injuries he had sustained in training. Falling rain contributed to less than ideal conditions during the race, but from the very early stages…