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Katsura J.H.S. Girls and Hakusan J.H.S. Boys Break Records at National Junior High School Ekiden

The 25th National Junior High School Ekiden Championships took place Dec. 17 in Shiga's Kibogaoka Bunka Park. In the five-stage, 12 km girls' race, Kyoto's Katsura J.H.S. became the first school in history to win four national titles. Katsura fell behind on the First Stage, but moving up to the top position on the Second Stage it held the lead for the rest of the way to win in 41:21.

Chiba's Hakusan J.H.S. won the six-stage, 18.0 km boys' race, breaking the course record with a time of 57:03. Hakusan's lead runner Ken Nojima won the First Stage, giving the team a lead it never relinquished. Despite injury concerns about his left leg, Nojima ran decisively on the ekiden's most competitive stage. "I knew it was important to hand over the tasuki in 1st," Nojima said. "Everything went according to plan." Anchor Oyazato was enthusiastic as he said, "Being the one to break the tape as we met our goal of winning was the best!"

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Kawauchi Ties Sub-2:20 World Record, Kato Crushes Course Record In Hofu Yomiuri Marathon Wins

Two weeks to the day after running 2:10:53 at the Fukuoka International Marathon, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) wrapped his 2017 with a win, running one of the few negative splits of his career to win the Hofu Yomiuri Marathon for the third time in 2:10:03. Women's winner Misako Kato (Kyudenko), a 1:09:49 half marathon, soloed an almost perfectly paced 2:28:12 to take 3 minutes off her PB and 7 1/2 minutes off the course record. Further back, Rio Paralympics T12 marathon silver medalist Misato Michishita broke the own world record in her category with a time of 2:56:14.

Watch a complete replay of the race here.


Pacers Taiga Ito and Melaku Abera, both of whom ran Fukuoka alongside Kawauchi, were tasked with taking the field out in 3:06/km, 2:10:48 pace. Pre-race Kawauchi told JRN, "If they'd run 3:04 I ccoul definitely, 100%, go faster than I did in Fukuoka. In cold and windy conditions things went in his favor in the early going with 5 and 10 km splits of 15:19 …

Juntendo University Olympian Shiojiri Going for the Win on Hakone Second Stage

Looking to improve on last year's 4th-place finish, Juntendo University held a press conference at its main campus in Inzai, Chiba on Dec. 13 ahead of the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden. Set to run the 23.2 km Second Stage for the third time, star 3rd-year and Rio Olympian Kazuya Shiojiri sent a warning to his rivals at other schools, telling reporters, "I'm being tasked with beating the best from all the other schools, so my personal goal is to win the stage."

At the Nov. 25 Hachioji Long Distance meet Shiojiri ran the 4th-fastest time ever by a university runner, 27:47.87, but that has had no impact on head coach Shunsuke Nagato's plans. "Even if we fall behind on the First Stage, I know that he's there so it won't be anything to get worried about," said Nagato, showing the complete trust which he places in Shiojiri.

Of last year's Second Stage winner, 2017 National University Half Marathon champion Kengo Suzuki of Kanagawa University, Shiojiri s…

Hakone Ekiden Entry Lists

Entry lists are out for Japan's biggest and best road race, the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden. 21 university teams from around the Tokyo area will field ten runners from the sixteen on their entry list, each runner taking on roughly a half marathon length over the ten-stage race.

2017 Izumo Ekiden winner Tokai University is the class of the field, one of only five teams to enter all ten of its best athletes and the only one with ten-runner averages under 14 minutes for 5000 m, under 29 for 10000 m and 1:03 for the half marathon. At all three distances its averages are slightly better than Aoyama Gakuin University's were last year when AGU won its third-straight Hakone title, and no other school even comes closer over the most relevant distance, the half marathon. It has never won Hakone, but this year it's Tokai's race to lose.

AGU has been hit by injury troubles this year, losing in both Izumo and the National University Ekiden and missing several key members from its Hakon…

Tokyo Marathon to Move to March Date Beginning in 2019

At a press conference in Tokyo on Dec. 12, the Tokyo Marathon Foundation announced that beginning in 2019, the Tokyo Marathon will move from its current date on the last Sunday of February to the first Sunday of March. The next Imperial succession is set to take place in 2019, meaning that February 23 will become the Emperor's Birthday national holiday starting in 2020. The race date is being preemptively moved to avoid any potential overlap.

According to the Foundation, setting up and breaking down the facilities necessary to hold the Tokyo Marathon takes several days. With the finish area being positioned in front of the Imperial Palace there were concerns that problems would arise due to the large number of people who would gather in the area to celebrate the Emperor's birthday.

Translator's note: The Tokyo Marathon previously experimented with a March race date in 2009 but abandoned it to return to February the next year. Since 1994 the first Sunday of March has been t…

Saitama International Marathon Top Two's Times Annulled Due to Last-Minute Misdirection by Race Officials

At the Nov. 12 Saitama International Marathon, Kenyan Flomena Cheyech Daniel won a sprint finish over Bahraini Shitaye Habtegebrel by 3 seconds to take her second-straight Saitama title in 2:28:39. On Dec. 11 race organizers announced that both runners' times had been annulled.

In the midst of the pair's battle for the win, race officials misdirected the pair into the righthand lane on the final corner instead of the lefthand lane in which the finish line was located. Both ran over the curb dividing the two lanes and returned to the original course before finishing.

At the time JAAF executive director Mitsugi Ogata said, "This was a mistake by the organizers and the athletes did nothing wrong. There was no effect on the finishing order and no advantage gained in terms of the distance run." After later consultation with JAAF officials, race organizers decided that Cheyech and Habtegebrel had not covered the complete distance and that their times should be annulled. N…