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Articles tagged #Yuta Shitara
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Japanese Yuta Shitara will Go For National Record in Tokyo Marathon, I Care About the 100 Million Yen Bonus More Than the Olympics, he says

There's a lot of attention right now on the last remaining spot on the 2020 Olympic marathon team. The first two spots were secured by the 1st and 2nd-placers at the MGC Race, Shogo Nakamura (Fujitsu) and Yuma Hattori (Toyota).

To claim the last remaining spot, someone has to break the Japanese national record and run at least 2:05:49 at this winter's Fukuoka International Marathon, Tokyo Marathon or Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon. If nobody succeeds, the spot will go to MGC 3rd-placer and current national record holder Suguru Osako (ex-Nike Oregon Project).The favorite to pull it off, after his run at East Japan Shitara talked about his plans for next year's Tokyo Marathon. But he did so in a characteristically Shitaresque way. "As long as you're competing in sports, [the Olympics] are something you aim for," he said.

"I'm running the Tokyo Marathon next year, but I don't really care that much about the Olympics. I care more about getting the 100 million yen bonus [$920,000 USD]. That's my priority. I'm running it for the money. The MGC Race didn't have any prize money, and I'm living right now because I can run. It takes money to run."Making clear his focus on scoring the Project Exceed bonus for breaking the marathon national record again, Shitara seemed to suggest that if he succeeds in winning a place on the 2020 Olympic team he might turn it down. "

"I'm not going to say myself that I'll run [the Olympics]," he said. "The public would probably rather see Osako run there. He's got better achievements in international competitions.

He'd definitely get the job done, and if you leave it to him there won't be any doubt. I'll leave it to the public to decide." Of the Olympic marathon's move to Sapporo he said, "If that's what has been decided then there's no choice but to obey."Now 27 years old with his own unique way of looking at the world, Shitara expressed a sense of frustration with the current state of the marathon as an event. "It's really boring to run all these races set up by old people these days," he said. "I think we're going into an era when change is going to come from the athletes.

I want to change, and I can't wait for that day to come." The first step is to try to score his second 100 million yen bonus in Tokyo. "It's a race against Osako's record," he said. "I'll be going for it as long as I can run."

(11/07/2019) ⚡AMP
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Tokyo Marathon

Tokyo Marathon

The Tokyo Marathon is an annual marathon sporting event in Tokyo, the capital of Japan. It is an IAAF Gold Label marathon and one of the six World Marathon Majors. Sponsored by Tokyo Metro, the Tokyo Marathon is an annual event in Tokyo, the capital of Japan. It is an IAAF Gold Label marathon and one of the six World...

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NAKAMURA AND MAEDA WIN JAPAN’S MARATHON GRAND CHAMPIONSHIP

Japan’s selection process for their 2020 Olympic marathon team culminated in victory for Shogo Nakamura and Honami Maeda at the Marathon Grand Championship in Tokyo on Sunday (15).

Japan’s Olympic marathon squad is arguably the toughest national team to make. Several nations may have great depth in one particular area – the US and Jamaica in the sprints and hurdles, Kenya and Ethiopia in the distance events – but for Japan’s MGC there were strict qualifying criteria simply to make it to the start line.

The qualifying window for the MGC opened in August 2017. Anyone who clocked the MGC qualifying standard (2:08:30 for men, 2:24:00 for women) or achieved a sub-2:11/2:28 average for their two fastest marathons in the qualifying window could compete at the MGC. Such was the fierce qualifying battle, the men’s long-standing Japanese record was broken by two different men during the qualifying period.

Forty athletes – 30 men and 10 women – eventually lined up for the MGC. Six of the men in the field had PBs faster than 2:08 while all but two runners in the women’s field had previously bettered 2:25.

And as if the tough qualifying process and competitive line-up wasn’t hard enough, the MGC itself – a marathon in 24-28C heat and 75% humidity – was one final brutal hoop for Japan’s best distance runners to jump through.

Even then, only the top two finishers are guaranteed a spot on Japan’s Olympic team. The third-place finishers are given a provisional place, but if another Japanese man runs 2:05:50 (the Japanese record) or a woman clocks 2:22:23, they can be given the third spot instead.

Fittingly, both races were not short on drama. Yuta Shitara, who broke the Japanese half-marathon record with 1:00:17 in 2017 and followed it with a since-bettered Asian record of 2:06:11 in Tokyo in February 2018, had promised before the race that he was going to set off fast and he stayed true to his word.

The 27-year-old shot into the lead, covering the first 5km in 14:56 and reaching 10km in 29:52. By the time he reached 15 kilometres (44:59), his lead had grown to more than two minutes. Shitara reached the half-way point in 1:03:27 while the four-man chase pack – comprising Kengo Suzuki, Shogo Nakamura, Yuma Hattori and national record-holder Suguru Osako – followed in 1:05:28, showing Shitara’s lead was already starting to dwindle.

The chasing pack grew to seven men at 30km. Shitara continued to lead, but his margin had reduced to 77 seconds. Two more men caught up with the chasers over the next five kilometres, reaching 35km in 1:49:12, and Shitara was now in sight, just 35 seconds in front after covering that five-kilometre section in 16:57.

The inevitable happened two kilometres later as the chase pack breezed past Shitara at the drinks station. With eight men now in contention, Ryo Hashimoto pushed the pace and was followed by Osako, Nakamura and Hattori.

Nakamura was the next to make a move and opened up a few seconds on Hattori and Osako at 40km with Hashimoto dropping back. But with 28 seconds separating the top seven men and little more than two kilometres remaining, the race was far from over. Hattori briefly dropped Osako, but they regrouped moments later and appeared to make up ground on Nakamura. Osako managed to bridge the gap to Nakamura but had nothing left as Nakamura pulled away in the closing stages to win by eight seconds, crossing the line in 2:11:28.

First place may have been decided but the race for Olympic team places wasn’t over. Hattori caught a struggling Osako before the line to take second place in 2:11:36. Osako finished third in 2:11:41. Shohei Otsuka, fourth in 2:11:58, was the only other finisher inside 2:12. Long-time leader Shitara eventually finished 14th in 2:16:09.

The women’s race was effectively decided just before half way when Honami Maeda broke away from the pack.

Eight of the 10 women in the field had passed through 10km in 33:34 and five of them were still together at 15km. Maeda made her move just before 20km, which she passed in 1:07:27, two seconds ahead of two-time world finalist Ayuko Suzuki, who was contesting just her second marathon to date.

A 16:41 split for the next five-kilometre segment was enough to drop the last of Maeda’s pursuers and by 30km her lead had grown to 82 seconds. She continued to pull away from Suzuki over the final quarter of the race and went on to win convincingly in 2:25:15.

Suzuki had a comfortable 33-second margin over Rei Ohara at 40km, but she started to struggle during the last two kilometres. Ohara made up significant ground but couldn’t quite catch Suzuki before the line as Suzuki – the slowest qualifier for the MGC – claimed second place in 2:29:02 with Ohara taking third in 2:29:06. Mizuki Matsuda was fourth in 2:29:51.

(09/15/2019) ⚡AMP
by IAAF
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Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Fifty-six years after having organized the Olympic Games, the Japanese capital will be hosting a Summer edition for the second time, from July 24 to August 9, 2020. The Games in 1964 radically transformed the country. According to the organizers of the event in 2020, the Games of the XXXII Olympiad of the modern era will be “the most innovative...

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Yuta Shitara said after running 2:07:50 and winning the Gold Coast Marathon, If We Ran the Trials Right Now I'd Win

Former marathon national record holder Yuta Shitara (27, Honda) returned to Narita Airport on July 8 after scoring his first-ever marathon win at Australia's Gold Coast Marathon.

Shitara won clocking a course record time of 2:07:50, lending momentum to his buildup for the MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials just over two months away.

During the race Shitara suffered a mishap, bleeding from both nipples early on. "It rained right before the start," he said, "and once I started running it started chafing. I was a little worried about it, but if you want to compete at the top of the game then there are no excuses."

Shrugging it off, even as his uniform soaked up the blood Shitara kept up his fast pace. "My training paid off in this result," he said with obvious satisfaction.

"Winning gives me confidence, and I want to make good use of that after this."Up to now Shitara has followed his own training program, never running longer than 30 km. But, having had problems maintaining his speed in the second half of the race, this time he increased his longest runs to 35 km starting in June. The results paid off on the Gold Coast as he was tough over the last stage of the race, pulling away for the win in the final kilometers.

"In the training camp for this race I had the feeling that I could go 2:07," he said.In the buildup to the MGC main event Shitara plans to begin training together with his twin brother Keita Shitara (Hitachi Butsuryu) in Hokkaido for ten days starting in late July.

Keita, who starred at the Hakone Ekiden alongside Yuta during their days at Toyo University, didn't qualify for the MGC Race. But he will still play a valuable role as Yuta's main training partner like when the two of them were in university, dreaming of someday going to the Olympics as a pair.

"We're going to win this together, the two of us," Yuta said. "At the MGC Race nobody's going to be able to say our training was a waste.

"At the MGC Race Shitara will face the man who broke his national record, Suguru Osako (Nike Oregon Project) and other tough competition. But, he said, throwing down an intimidating challenge to them all, "I've got nothing but confidence that I'm going to win. Even if we ran it right now I'd win."

(07/15/2019) ⚡AMP
by Japan Running News
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Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Fifty-six years after having organized the Olympic Games, the Japanese capital will be hosting a Summer edition for the second time, from July 24 to August 9, 2020. The Games in 1964 radically transformed the country. According to the organizers of the event in 2020, the Games of the XXXII Olympiad of the modern era will be “the most innovative...

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Zane Robertson sets new national New Zealand marathon record clocking 2:08:19 at Gold Coast Marathon

Zane Robertson was off to find a juicy steak to eat after setting a new New Zealand men's marathon record on his debut at the distance.

Robertson finished third in the Gold Coast marathon on Sunday in a time of two hours eight minutes and 19 seconds.

That time qualifies Robertson for next year's Tokyo Olympics and this year's world track and field champs in Doha. The previous NZ record was set by his brother, Jake Robertson, in March last year.

The men's race was won by Japan's Yuta Shitara in 2:07.50, with Kenya's Barnabas Kiptum second, 17 seconds ahead of the Kiwi.

"Gave it everything out there today," Robertson wrote on Instagram after the race.

"Pushed the pace and set us up to run a 2.06 sadly failed to hold it together with Kiptum in the last 5k with the headwind gusts.

"We got caught by the dropped off Yuta Shitara and he destroyed us the last 2.5km.

"91% humidity, headwinds first 16.5km and last 5k, rained on us, oh and the shoe lace came undone at 5k into the race.

"So overall pretty happy with a NR (new record).... For now I'm off to have a hot shower, lay down and some dinner at the steak house with good friends.

Zane and his twin brother Jake Robertson moved to Kenya several years ago and have been training there.  

(07/06/2019) ⚡AMP
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Even under tough weather conditions they pulled off many outstanding performances. 7/10 10:05 pm


Gold Coast Airport Marathon

Gold Coast Airport Marathon

The Gold Coast Airport Marathon is held annually in one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world. It is Australia’s premier road race and was the first marathon in the country to hold an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Road Race Gold Label. The event is held on the first weekend of July and attracts more than...

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Yuta Shitara sets new course record at the Gold Coast Marathon even when weather conditions were not ideal

The second fastest Japanese marathon runner in history became the fastest runner in Gold Coast Marathon history when Yuta Shitara won the IAAF Gold Label race in 2:07:50 this morning.

The 27-year-old had an exciting duel with placegetters Barnabus Kiptum of Kenya and Zane Robertson of New Zealand over the final 12km before making his move with 2km remaining.

It was the eighth win by Japanese men in the 41-year history of the event and bettered the race record and Australian all comers record previously held by Kenyan Kenneth Mungara (2:08:42).

Shitara takes home $20,000 in victory prize money and an additional $10,000 time bonus for his record-breaking effort today.

Kiptum, the winner of the Hong Kong Marathon in February, finished second in a personal best 2:08:02, while marathon debutant Robertson placed third in 2:08:19.

It was an extra special result for Robertson as his time was a New Zealand record, bettering the previous mark of his brother Jake (2:08:26, Lake Biwa, 2018), and he was crowned the IAAF Oceania Area Marathon Champion for 2019.

The first Australian across the line was Victorian Liam Adams in sixth place clocking a pb 2:11:36 – a bittersweet result for the 32-year-old as it was an agonising six seconds outside the 2020 Olympic qualification standard.

Dual world champion over 1500m and 5000m on the track Bernard Lagat (USA) improved his marathon pr to 2:12:10 for seventh place, while 2013 race winner Yuki Kawauchi (JPN) placed 13th in 2:15:32.

"It's definitely a confidence builder, and I have had a lot of things to make me confident, but this is a big one heading into the Japanese Olympic trials," said Shitara.

Shitara, who stayed with the lead group of four throughout the race, said although he was not aiming for a particular time or result, the win showed his training had paid off.

“We did a lot of training, and I think that helped," he said in a post-race interview.

Weather conditions on the Gold Coast were less than ideal, with athletes in both the full- and half-marathons battling headwinds and heavy rain.

"Honestly, I'd like to be able to run together with Yuta but I'm still not good enough," Kimura said.

Kenyan Rodah Jepkorir (KEN) held off a strong finishing burst from Tasmanian Milly Clark (AUS/TAS) to take the women’s Gold Coast Marathon.

The 27-year-old broke away from the 30km mark and then lasted to break the tape in 2:27:56, with Clark second (2:28:08) and Eritrea’s Nazret Weldu (ERI) third in 2:28:57.

This year’s eight Gold Coast Marathon races attracted a total of 26,287 entries, including 3,678 overseas competitors, as the event continues to achieve a long-term upward trend.

(07/06/2019) ⚡AMP
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Well done. 7/10 10:05 pm


Gold Coast Airport Marathon

Gold Coast Airport Marathon

The Gold Coast Airport Marathon is held annually in one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world. It is Australia’s premier road race and was the first marathon in the country to hold an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Road Race Gold Label. The event is held on the first weekend of July and attracts more than...

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Kenyan Kenneth Mungara, Bernard lagat, Zane Robertson and Yuki Kawauchi are ready to compete at Gold Coast Marathon

Can the man dubbed ‘King Kenneth’ by race organizers, Kenya’s Kenneth Mungara, continue to hold back the years to achieve a fourth victory on the Gold Coast? Has Bernard ‘Kip’ Lagat learned enough from a humbling marathon debut in New York last year to mount a credible challenge? Can New Zealand’s Zane Robertson, who missed last year’s Commonwealth Games marathon on the Gold Coast through injury, atone with a victory this time and perhaps take the family record off twin brother Jake into the bargain?

First, let’s take Mungara, as befits an athlete who is the defending champion and holds the race and Australian all-comers’ records with his 2:08:42 in 2015. Sunday will be precisely two months before his 46th birthday, but he shows no signs of slowing down. Should he win again, Mungara will join Pat Carroll, who himself has the credentials to be considered king of the Gold Coast, and Margaret Reddan as four-time winners of the event.

He may not even be first in category. Bernard Lagat turns 45 in December. By any measure, Lagat is the best all-round distance runner to compete in the Gold Coast race. A silver and bronze Olympic medallist at 1500m and second-fastest ever at the event, world over 1500m and 5000m in Osaka in 2007 – he sits comfortably in any conversation of track distances up to, and including, the 10,000m. The marathon is another matter. His debut of 2:17:20 in New York last year was a harsh learning experience and left him with something to prove.

“One of the most important things I learned from running the New York Marathon,” Lagat said when his Gold Coast commitment was announced, “was the experience of ‘hitting the wall’. A lot of people warned me about it and told me to watch for it, but nothing quite teaches you like living through that experience… I panicked a bit, questioned myself if I could finish.”

If Lagat has conquered those doubts, he could be a big factor on the Gold Coast.

Zane Roberston believes he could have won the Commonwealth Games race. A half-marathon PB of 59:47 suggest that is more than just idle talk. He was happy to talk up his chances pre-race.

“First and foremost, I always target the win,’ Robertson said. “I want to run as fast as the pacemakers allow and once they step off the road anything can be possible. Perhaps a new Oceania record?”

Robert de Castella holds the Oceania record at 2:07:51, his winning time the first year the Boston marathon went open in 1986. Of equal note, Zane’s twin brother Jake holds the New Zealand, and family, record at 2:08:26.

The Gold Coast race also serves as the Oceania championships, so the Oceania champion will accrue valuable rankings points for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Kenyan pair Ezekiel Chebii and Philip Sanga Kimutai both boast personal bests of 2:06:07, the former from 2016 in Amsterdam, the latter from 2011 in Frankfurt. But the man with the most recent 2:06-clocking is Japan’s Yuta Shitara who ran a national record 2:06:11 in Tokyo last year, a mark subsequently bettered by Suguru Osako’s 2:05:50 in Chicago. Along with the indefatigable Yuki Kawauchi, he gives Japan a strong hand in what has been traditionally a strong race for them.

(07/05/2019) ⚡AMP
by IAAF
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Gold Coast Airport Marathon

Gold Coast Airport Marathon

The Gold Coast Airport Marathon is held annually in one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world. It is Australia’s premier road race and was the first marathon in the country to hold an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Road Race Gold Label. The event is held on the first weekend of July and attracts more than...

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Ruth Chepngetich sets Japanese’s all-comers Half-Marathon record at Gifu

Ruth Chepngetich ran away from a loaded field at the Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon on Sunday (28) to win the ninth edition of the IAAF Gold Label road race in 1:06:06, the fastest half marathon ever recorded in Japan.

The Kenyan, who won this year’s Dubai Marathon in 2:17:08, took 98 seconds off the previous course record set by world record-holder Joyciline Jepkosgei in 2017.

Chepngetich set out fast and by 5km (15:10), the lead pack consisted of just three runners – Chepngetich, Joan Melly Chelimo and Evaline Chirchir.

But Chirchir and then Melly were dropped before Chepngetich reached 10km in 30:45. She continued to push the pace, passing 15km in 46:44 and 20km in 1:02:41, winning comfortably in 1:06:05.

Melly Chelimo was nearly two minutes behind with 1:08:01 and Chirchir was third in 1:08:07, improving her PB by more than four minutes. World marathon champion Rose Chelimo was never a factor and finished seventh with 1:12:58.

In contrast to the women’s race, a large lead pack formed during the early stages of the men’s race as 10 men were together at 5km (14:18). When course record-holder Bedan Karoki started to push the pace 20 minutes into the race, the lead pack reduced immediately to five men.

The leader’s pace soon slackened and Japanese half marathon record-holder Yuta Shitara joined them in front. Seven runners were in the lead pack at 10km (28:42), then Nicholas Kosimbei made a bid to break away about 37 minutes into the race, and only Karoki and Amos Kurgat were able cover the move.

When Kurgat started to push the pace three minutes later, only Karoki went with him. But soon even Karoki was slowly drifting backward. Kurgat’s two-second advantage at 15km (43:05) grew to 30 seconds by 20km (57:29) and he crossed the line in a PB of 1:00:34.

It was his second consecutive half marathon victory and PB, following his 1:01:06 run at the Japanese Corporate team Half Marathon Championships in February. Karoki, the 2014 champion, finished second in 1:01:07.

(04/28/2019) ⚡AMP
by IAAF
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Bedan Karoki and Eunice Kirwa, both past winners of the Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon, will return to defend their titles this weekend

Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon, Also known as the ‘Naoko Takahashi Cup’ as it is held in the home town of the 2000 Olympic marathon champion, the men’s course record of 1:00:02 was set by Karoki when he won in 2014, while the women’s course record of 1:07:44 was set by world record-holder Joyciline Jepkosgei in 2017.

Karoki, world ranked No.13 in road running, will be aiming to become just the second two-time men’s champion in Gifu. Since his last run in Gifu, Karoki earned world silver medals at cross-country in 2015 and at the half marathon in 2016.

He also improved his half marathon PB to 58:42 in 2018 and earlier this year clocked a marathon best of 2:06:48 to finish second in Tokyo.

His main challengers are Eritrea’s Samuel Tsegay, who has a best of 59:21, Abraham Kipyatich, world ranked No.79, and Uganda’s Abdallah Mande, world ranked No.30. Tsegay’s best was recorded back in 2014, but Kipyatich and Mande both set PBs at various distances in 2018 so will likely be bigger threats to Karoki.

Yuki Kawauchi, the 2018 Boston Marathon champion, is the most famous Japanese runner in the field, but national half marathon record-holder Yuta Shitara is the fastest of the domestic entrants. Shitara’s half marathon best is 60:17 recorded in 2017.

Two time Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon champion Eunice Kirwa Jepkirui leads the loaded women’s field. The Olympic marathon silver medallist set an Asian half marathon record of 1:06:46 in Istanbul in 2017 in what was her last race over the distance.

The 2015 world bronze medallist didn’t race at all in 2018, though, and she may need to be at her best if she hopes to win her third title in Gifu.

Joan Melly Chelimo, world ranked No.3 in road running, has the fastest PB of the field. The Kenyan clocked 1:05:04 in Prague last year, making her the fourth-fastest woman in history for the distance.

Ruth Chepngetich, world ranked No.1 in the marathon, heads to Gifu in the form of her life. She won this year’s Dubai Marathon in 2:17:08, the third-fastest time in history, and followed it with half marathon performances of 1:06:09 and 1:05:29.

World marathon champion Rose Chelimo will be aiming to improve on her PB of 1:08:08, while Ana Dulce Felix, Mimi Belete and Gotytom Gebreslase are also in the field.

(04/26/2019) ⚡AMP
by Ken Nakamura
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Gifu Half Marathon

Gifu Half Marathon

The Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon is an annual half marathon road running competition held in Gifu, Japan. First held in 2011, the race is also called the Naoko Takahashi Cup, named after Naoko Takashi, the retired local runner who won the marathon at the 2000 Sidney Olympics and broke the marathon world record in 2001, becoming the first woman to...

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Tokyo Marathon silver medalist Bedan Karoki will compete in the Gifu Half Marathon on April 28 in Japan

Tokyo Marathon silver medalist Bedan Karoki believes he is on a good trajectory to dominate the road races and will hope to add the Gifu Half Marathon title to his collection on Sunday.

Karoki hopes to make the Kenya team to this year's World Championships in Doha, Qatar, but would prefer to run in the marathon, having failed on three occasions to win the 10,000m race.

"I have always had a fast-paced first phase of my marathon races, or even on track, but I am not strong in finishing," said Karoki on Tuesday. "I have the much-needed experience in marathon and track and I hope for a break this time around."

Karoki faces Jorum Okumbo and Japanese former marathon record-holder Yuta Shitara.

The fastest entrant in the women's race is Chepngetich's teammate Joan Chelimo, who clocked 65:04 to win in Prague last year.

However, Chepngetich is certain her strong preparations for the race will pay dividends, enabling her prevail and win gold over the 21km distance.

"I want to use the race as part of my preparation for the marathon," she said on Tuesday in Nairobi. "There are stronger and faster athletes in the race, but it will not be important on race day because how you run on that day is what is important. I hope to be successful."

Bahrain's Olympic marathon silver medalist Eunice Kirwa will also be staking her claim to the title in her bid to dominate the Asian road races.

Kirwa, who trains and lives in Eldoret and raced for Kenya until 2013, will have to be cautious of the challenge her former teammates will pose.

Also featuring will be world marathon champion Rose Chelimo of Bahrain and Japan's Miyuki Uehara.

Chelimo has had a poor season this year, finishing in position 41 at the World Half Marathon championships, and was eighth at the Tokyo Marathon in March.

However, a win on her return to Japan in Nagano will boost her credentials as she prepares to defend her crown at the 2019 World Championships in Doha this October.

"I did everything right in my preparations for the Tokyo Marathon, but I was not lucky enough to win," said Chelimo.

(04/16/2019) ⚡AMP
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Gifu Half Marathon

Gifu Half Marathon

The Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon is an annual half marathon road running competition held in Gifu, Japan. First held in 2011, the race is also called the Naoko Takahashi Cup, named after Naoko Takashi, the retired local runner who won the marathon at the 2000 Sidney Olympics and broke the marathon world record in 2001, becoming the first woman to...

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Can Japan’s Suguru Osako Win the Tokyo Marathon on home soil? Yes it is possible but there are five Africans in the field with faster times

Japan’s national record holder Suguru Osako, is running Japan’s biggest marathon, Tokyo. And that’s exciting. Because as great as Japan has been at the marathon in recent years, Kenya and Ethiopia have still been way better.

Prior to last year, no Japanese man had broken 2:07 since 2002, which is almost a prerequisite to win a WMM these days: since 2013, 89% of men’s WMM champs have entered the race with a sub-2:07 PR. 23 Kenyans had broken 2:07 in 2018 alone.

But Japan is narrowing the gap to the East Africans. Last year, after going 15 years without a sub-2:07 marathoner, Japan produced three: Osako (2:05:50), Yuta Shitara (2:06:11), and Hirohito Inoue (2:06:54). And both Osako (3rd in Chicago) and Shitara (2nd in Tokyo) were in the mix for the win at majors.

This weekend kicks off an incredible 18 months of marathoning in Japan. It begins with the Tokyo Marathon on Sunday, the first WMM of 2019, and continues in September with the Japanese Olympic Trials, also in Tokyo.  Then there’s the 2020 Tokyo Marathon and, of course, the Olympic marathon in August 2020.

The biggest reason to be excited about this year’s Tokyo Marathon is Osako, who is based in the US and trains under Nike Oregon Project coach Pete Julian.

A win by Japan’s best marathoner on home soil just 17 months before they host the Olympics would be a huge story, and it could actually happen. That doesn’t mean it will happen — there are five guys entered with faster PRs than Osako, including four under 2:05 — but it certainly can happen!

(02/28/2019) ⚡AMP
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Tokyo Marathon

Tokyo Marathon

The Tokyo Marathon is an annual marathon sporting event in Tokyo, the capital of Japan. It is an IAAF Gold Label marathon and one of the six World Marathon Majors. Sponsored by Tokyo Metro, the Tokyo Marathon is an annual event in Tokyo, the capital of Japan. It is an IAAF Gold Label marathon and one of the six World...

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John Muritu improved the course record at Kumamoto Kosa 10-Mile Road Race to 45:56

The Kumamoto Kosa 10-Mile Road Race produced two of the fastest Japanese times ever, two national records, and record-setting depth. Up front, a larger-than-usual contingent of Japan-based Kenyans and top-level Japanese talent including Chicago 2:07:57 man Taku Fujimoto, Jakarta Asian Games steeplechase bronze medalist Kazuya Shiojiri and others pushed through a 14:10 first 5 km despite warm and humid conditions and a light headwind. The lead pack gradually whittled down to five by 15 km, where John Muritu, Fujimoto and Cyrus Kingori attacked at the base of a short downhill. In the last sprint Muritu got away to take 1st in 45:56, with Fujimoto next in 45:57 and Kingori 3rd in 45:58. Fujimoto's time was one second better than last year's winning time by half marathon national record holder Yuta Shitara and landed him at all-time Japanese #4. Following his 10000 m PB last weekend in Hachioji it looks like Fujimoto, a teammate of Fukuoka winner Yuma Hattori, has recovered well from his surprise sub-2:08 in Chicago. Shiojiri and three-time Kosa winner Jeremiah Thuku Karemi were left behind by the top three's final attack, Karemi taking 4th and Shiojiri 5th in 46:06 to position himself as all-time Japanese #10. Veteran 2:07 marathoner and former Hakone Ekiden uphill king Masato Imai had a surprisingly good day, taking 13 seconds off his 11-year-old PB for 9th in 46:22. (12/03/2018) ⚡AMP
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National record holder Yuta Shitara and Yuki Kawauchi are running the Fukuoka Marathon

The best year in Japanese men’s marathon history is drawing to a close, and with it the chances for them to qualify for the new MGC Race 2020 Olympic trials are running out. The Dec. 2nd Fukuoka International Marathon features one of the best Japanese fields ever assembled, with ten Japanese men under 2:10 since 2016. Half marathon national record holder Yuta Shitara, 2018 Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi, 2017 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon winner Kentaro Nakamoto, Hayato Sonoda and Yoshiki Takenouchi, make up the list of those already qualified for the MGC Race, Shitara running a marathon for the first time since his now-former national record 2:06:11 in Tokyo in February and Kawauchi hoping to turn things back around after a string of bad races since Boston. Those with a realistic chance of qualifying off the two-race average include 2017 Gold Coast Marathon winner Takuya Noguchi, who missed it by seconds at this year’s Gold Coast, recent sub-2:10 men Kohei Ogino, Yuma Hattori and Jo Fukuda, and a trio who finished together just over the 2:10 mark in Tokyo this year, Asuka Tanaka, Hiroki Yamagishi and Daichi Kamino. There’s a good number of others on the list who ran well in 2015 and 2016 and will be hoping to get back on board in Fukuoka, including sub-2:10 teammates Takuya Fukatsu, Fumihiro Maruyama and Satoru Sasaki , and given the depth of Japanese men’s marathoning and the tendency for dark horses to post seemingly out-of-nowhere breakthroughs like Taku Fujimoto, earlier this month in Chicago there’s almost no limit to who else could have their day. Twins Hiroshi and Takashi Ichida would make a lot of people happy if they finally broke through in Fukuoka. Both 100 km world record holder Nao Kazami, and 100 km silver medalist Takehiko Gyoba, are also in the race. It being a nominally international marathon, Fukuoka also has its usual small contingent of overseas runners perfectly positioned to pace the Japanese men to times in the 2:07 to 2:08 range and to lend a little shine to the race with their medals. 2011 world championships silver medalist Vincent Kipruto tops the list with a 2:06:14 in Berlin last year, with 2015 world champion Ghirmay Ghebreslassie and past Fukuoka champ Yemane Tsegay. (10/30/2018) ⚡AMP
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Japan’s Project Exceed Program has Japanese Runners hyped up...next chance to be a millionaire is Sunday

The Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon (men only) on Sunday in Japan (Saturday night at 7:30pm PST) promises to be a good one. This is a Project Exceed approved race too which means $93,000US bonuses will be paid out to any Japanese men who go sub-2:08. Defending champ Ezekiel Chebii (Kenya) and fellow 2:06 men Tadesse Abraham (Switzerland) and Abera Kuma (Ethiopia) are there to spur the fastest Japanese men on. Also running in his debut sub-61 half marathoners Jake Robertson (New Zealand) and Macharia Ndirangu (Kenya/Aichi Seiko) likely to be a part of the lead group. Warmer than usual temps may make it hard for a 2:06 race to materialize, but the best bet for a Japanese man to be in it at that pace is Kenta Murayama (Asahi Kasei), twin brother of 10000 m national record holder Kota Murayama and a sub-61 half marathoner doing his second marathon after an aggressive but ultimately unsuccessful 2:16:58 debut in Tokyo two years ago. Yuta Shitara is not running but his twin brother, Keita will be. Race info from Japan Running News (03/03/2018) ⚡AMP
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There has never been this much money put on the table for marathoners and their coaches

Japan's Project Exceed is continuing for two more years and already $1.5 million dollars has been awarded to Japanese runners, their coaches and clubs. The next approved race is this weekend, the Lake Biwa Marathon... The program was started in March 2015 and goes until March 2020. The idea of the program is to give incentives to Japanese runners to be competitive in the marathon at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, in fact to win the gold medal... To reach this goal, Project Exceed was established to encourage Japanese runners to break the Marathon National Record (men 2:06:16 and women 2:19:12). The new men's record is now 2:06:11 set by Yuta Shitara Feb 25 at the Tokyo Marathon and 160 million Yen ($1.5 million US dollars) was awarded through this program. The program also pays out 10 Million Yen to all men who break 2:06:59 and women 2:21:59. ... also 50 Million Yen to their coach or team if they break the NR...The same runner can only earn the 100 million yen once per year but the other 10 million yen ($93,000US) bonus money would be granted. This program has big sponsors behind it: Honda, Toyota, Panasonic, Mitsubishi, Fujitsu, just to name a few. (02/28/2018) ⚡AMP
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We now know what Yuta Shitara picked up at the 40K Aid Station

Yuta Shitara, who won a million dollars (US) breaking the Japanese marathon record in Tokyo Sunday, picked up this arm sleeve at the 40km aid station, and then blasted onwards to the finish in 2:06:11.

We asked our Japan's contributor Osamu Tada about the arm sleeve. "His family gave him his portrait," says Osamu. "Maybe it is a new way of cheering...as an aside his twin brother is going to run the Biwako Marathon this weekend."

The mystery behind this event certainly caught the attention of many. "I think this is great," says Bob Anderson. "Yuta is one good runner and if more people now know his name because of this event, all the better."

(02/27/2018) ⚡AMP
by Osamu Tada (in Japan)
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What happened with Wilson Kipsang on Sunday at Tokyo Marathon

Former Olympic bronze medalist Wilson Kipsang of Kenya said Sunday stomach problems forced him to stop midway through the Tokyo marathon course on Sunday. Speaking moments after he dropped out of the race with only 15km done, the former world record holder said, "I really wanted to go fast, but after suffering from stomach problems the last two days before the race, I didn't have the power to run a decent race today." In the absence of Kipsang, Kenyan Dickson Chumba was the strongest as he recaptured the title he last won in 2014, timing 2:05:30. However, the hero of the day was Yuta Shitara of Japan, who was second clocking a national record time of 2:06:11. He improved the mark after 16 years and got 1 million U.S. dollar bonus for it. (02/27/2018) ⚡AMP
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Details of Japan's Project Exceed and the Million Dollar Payout

Yuta Shitara set a National Japan Marathon record yesterday at the Tokyo Marathon and walked away a millionaire...The bonus comes from Project Exceed, a program launched in 2015 by the National Corporate Federation to encourage national marathon records before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Here is how it works, any Japanese citizen, who broke the men's national record of 2:06:16 or the women's record of 2:19:12 on a record-legal course would receive 100 million yen, roughly $937,000 USD currently. The runner's coach or team would also receive a separate 50 million yen ($468,000 USD) bonus. Info from Brett Larner @ Japan Running News (02/26/2018) ⚡AMP
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What did Yuta Shitara strap to his arm at the last aid station at the Tokyo Marathon?

Yuta Shitara ran the fastest marathon of any Japanese runner ever at the 2018 Tokyo Marathon on Sunday. He clocked 2:06:11.

At the last aid station he pulled something from his bottle set-up and put it around his right arm bicep. One person on Let's Run suggested it was a "a giant nicotine patch." Another said it was a "Hello Kitty Coin Purse."

Michael Capper on FB said "Never seen this before." Gary Rush stated, "Maybe a gel fluid holder? I think its against IAAF rules for elites to wear or use communication devices or receive electronic updates during a race."

Bob Anderson says, "After looking at more than ten photos of Yuta finishing races, I did not see a similar 'thing' strapped to his arm."

In any case he blasted the last few kilometers wearing this 'thing'. Did it give him an unfair advantage? "First of all we need to know what it was," says Bob.

(02/25/2018) ⚡AMP
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Yuta Shitara sets Japanese National Maraton Record and wins $936,000 bonus

Seventh at 35 kilometres, Yuta Shitara roared back to second soon after 40k to finish second in 2:06:11, breaking Toshinari Takaoka’s Japanese national record of 2:06:16 set in 2002. Shitara’s accomplishment was significant, with the applause as he crossed the finish line heard far and wide. Shitara, 26, is now the first Japanese man to simultaneously hold the national records in both the marathon and half marathon. Yuta earned a 100 million Yen bonus (936,000us) for setting the record. This bonus was established a couple of years ago to encourage Japanese’s runners be prepared for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. With six runners from Japan running faster than 2:09, the program is working. (02/25/2018) ⚡AMP
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Dickson Chumba wins the Tokyo Marathon again...six Japanese Runners under 2:09

Kenya’s Dickson Chumba (the 2014 Tokyo and 2015 Chicago champion) opened a nice gap as they approach 38km and went on to win in 2:05:29.

At 40k Japan’s Yuta Shitara takes another swig from his festive bottle and grits his teeth as he hunts down and passes Amos Kipruto.

This is a man on a mission! Yuta Shitara did not let up and accomplished the following: 1. Ran a Japanese marathon record of 2:06:11 2. Finished 2nd in the Tokyo Marathon (highest finish ever by a Japanese man at a World Marathon Major) 3. Won 100 million yen for setting the NR. That's $936,000US.

Wilson Kipsang dropped out at 15k...Amy Cragg finished third in the women’s race taking five minutes off her PR. (2:21:42). Ethiopian’s Birhane Dibaba won the female race in 2:19:51.

This year’s race was the biggest field ever with 35,500 starters.

(02/24/2018) ⚡AMP
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Shitara Chasing 10 Mile National Record Sunday in Karatsu

At least five major races fill the calendar this weekend across Japan. Potentially the biggest is the Karatsu 10-Miler, where half marathon national record holder Yuta Shitara (Honda) is slated to run in what many hope will be a shot at the antique national record. Over 30 seconds faster than the American national record, Hisatoshi Shintaku's 45:40,has stood since 1984 and survived over three decades of assaults including Shitara's 45:58 at December's Kumamoto Kosa 10-Miler. It translates to 42:34 for 15 km; at last weekend's Marugame Half Shitara went through 15 km in 42:39. Just two weeks out from a shot at the Japanese national record for the marathon in Tokyo. (02/10/2018) ⚡AMP
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Shitara could be the first Japanese winner at Kagawa Marugame Half since 2006

National record-holder Yuta Shitara is in excellent form. 8 days after clocking a Japanese half marathon record of 1:00:17 in Usti Nad Labem in September, he set a PB of 2:09:03 at the Berlin Marathon. 8 days was the same gap between his 10,000m PB of 27:41.97 in November at his victory over 10 miles in Kosa. His success has continued and he could improve his national record, or even challenge for victory, which would make him the first Japanese man to win in Marugame since 2006. (02/03/2018) ⚡AMP
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Yuta Shitara named Japan’s Long Distance Runner of Year

Japan’s Yuta Shitara has the potential to run 2:06:30, based on his 1:00:17 half. Moen’s disciplined pacing at Fukuoka is a role model for Shitara. Based on Shitara’s two marathons to date there’s no sign that he intends to approach the marathon with the same maturity and professionalism as Moen, but if he did he would be Japan’s best chance of seeing its 2:06:16 national record broken. Shitara ran like no one else in Japan this year to earn the Japanese long distance man of the year title. (12/27/2017) ⚡AMP
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Fast Times at 42nd Kumamoto Kosa 10-Miler

Yuta Shitara (Honda) ended 2017 on a high note, beating three-time defending champion Jeremiah Thuku Karemi (Toyota Kyushu) to win the 42nd Kumamoto Kosa 10-Miler on Sunday (Dec 3). Shitara broke the tape in 45:58, only the fourth Japanese man to go under 45 minutes. Karemi was well under last year's winning time but nowhere close to catching Shitara, finishing 2nd in 46:10 and Inoue only 2 seconds behind him. 11 runners finished under 47 minutes. Time for 88th place was 49:18. (12/05/2017) ⚡AMP
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