In Marathon

Last modified on November 18,2007

Noguchi wins Tokyo Marathon
Olympic champion Mizuki Noguchi ran the race, if she wins could qualify her to the Beijing Olympic Games. She ran the Tokyo Women's International on Nov 18. One of her rivals Yoko Shibui who holds the current Japanese women's marathon record expressed her confidence in the race before she ran. But before reaching the 30 kilometer point, she could not keep up with the leading group. She finished 7th. Meanwhile, Noguchi sprinted ahead of her Kenyan rival and finished first. She clocked 2 hours 21.31 min.

IN 2005
Q-chan is back
Japan's star runner Naoko Takahashi ran the Tokyo International Women's Marathon on Nov 20. She had her right leg badged due to an injury. It's reported her doctor recommended not to run, but she went ahead. After the 35th km point of the race, Q-chan sprint ahead of her 2 rivals from Ethiopia and Russia. 140,000 were there cheering her. On the back of tremendous supports, she finished first clocking 2 hrs 24.39 minutes.

Noguchi breaks Asian record
27-year old Olympic champion, Mizuki Noguchi clocked 2 hours 19.12 minutes in the Berlin Marathon on Sept 25. She broke the women's record held by Naoko Takahashi.

IN 2004
Shibui breaks Takahashi's record
Yoko Shibui who was unable to qualify as a marathon runner for the Olympic Games in Athens proved otherwise. On Sept 26, at the Berlin Marathon, she not only finished first. She clocked 2 hour 19.41 minutes. It's 5 seconds faster than the record set by Naoko Takahashi.

Takahashi fails Olympic selection
The Japan Association Athletics Federation disqualified Sydney Olympic gold medalist Naoko Takahashi from the women's marathon at the Olympic Games in Athens on Mar 15. It gave tickets to Mizuki Noguchi who was second at the 2003 World Athletics Championships, Naoko Sakamoto who won the Osaka Women's marathon, and Reiko Tosa who clinched the berth for winning the Nagoya Women's just on March 14. The Federation explained that it had been considering Takahashi but had decided that Sakamoto had a brighter prospect in the coming Olympic Games. Takahashi, in a press conference later in the day said that she did envision herself to be participating in Athens, but with this failure will aim to win other races. As for the mens', Tomoaki Kunichika, Shigeru Yui, and Toshinari Suwa were chosen.

IN 2003
Takahashi loses Tokyo International
On Nov 16, Sydney Olympic Gold medalist Naoko Takahashi took part in the Tokyo International Women's Marathon. The weather was fine and temperature more than 23 degrees C. Takahashi ran at high speed and was ahead of the others. But as she came close to the end, she slowed down. Around the 39th kiIo area, Ethiopia's Elfenesh Alemu came from behind and breezed ahead. Alemu won the race while Takahashi finished 2nd at 2 hours 27.21 minutes. She was aiming to qualify for the Olympic Games in Athens, but her record was not good enough for the time being.

Medal rush in World Athletics
Japanese women won a silver and a bronze at the World Athletics Championships in France on August 31. Mizuki Noguchi clocked 2 hours 24.14 minutes to come in second. Masako Chiba who's a 10,000 meter bronze medalist in the 1997 championships finished third in this race. It's in 4 championships in a row that a Japanese woman clinched a medal.

IN 2002
Takahashi clinched Berlin Marathon again
Naoko Takahashi tried to break the world record in the same marathon race she did a year ago on Sept 29. But in the later part of the race her pace slowed, so she could not. She clocked 2 hours 21.49 minutes. Still she was way ahead of the runner up. It's the 6th race in a row she finished 1st place. Incredible!

Japanese women sweep top 3 places
In Rotterdam Marathon on Apr 21, a number of Japanese runners took part. The winner was Takami Ominami who clocked 2 hours 23.43 minutes improving her record by 2 minutes. Runner up was Mako Chiba, and third was Junko Akagi. It's the first time in history that Japanese women clinched all places on the podium at an international marathon.

IN 2001
Sydney Olympic champion Naoko Takahashi raced in Berlin Marathon on Sept 30. Her aim was clear. To break the world record. And already early in the race she was far ahead of the others, surrounded by her pace makers. Then, most of her pace makers were unable to keep up with her. During the final 2 kilometers, she appeared to be fiercely fighting against herself. In the end, she clocked 2 hous 19.46 minutes to break the record. ...but a week later her record was broken.

Both Takahashi win
In the Tokyo International Marathon on Feb 18, Kenichi Takahashi clocked 2 hr.10.51 minutes to win. It's his first marathon victory. Takahashi led the race from the 32nd kilometer. Sydney Olympic Eric Wainaina finished 10th. Meanwhile in the Ome Marathon, Olympic champion Naoko Takahashi raced. It's a 30 kilometer race that she ran and broke the Japan record by 1.29 minutes finishing in 1 hr 41.57 minutes. The previous record was held by Eriko Asai.

Firsttimer emerges in Osaka Women's
In the rain, 21-year old Yoko Shibui was alone for nearly 20 kilometers of the race on Jan. 28. She took the lead when she reached the turning point of the course. Many though that she may break the world record. But after the 35 kilometer she slowed down. But her time was amazing. She clocked 2 hours 23.11 minutes. She was almost 3 minutes ahead of the runner up. It's the fastest record for a first timer. This race was one of the qualifiers for the World Athletics Championships, and Shibui has become a top candidate.

Asari retires
Former World Champion Junko Asari announced on Jan 24 that she's decided to hang up her running shoes. 31-year old Asari became the first Japanese world champion in the marathon in 1993. However, she lost the chance to run well in the Atlanta Olympic Games when she wore her shoes without socks, and it's given her very painful blisters not so long after the race took off.

IN 2000
Fujita breaks Japan record
Little known 24-year old Atsushi Fujita finished the Fukuoka International Marathon on Dec 3 clocking 2 hours 6.51 seconds. It's the second fastest record for 2000. Fujita was competing for the top place with Ethiopia's Olympic champion Gezahgne Abera until the 35th minute. He became the first Japanese in 9 years to win the race in his 3rd marathon race. At the same time, he won the berth to the World Athletics Championship in Canada next year. The previous Japan record holder was Takayuki Inubushi.

First African victory in Tokyo Women's
In the 22nd Tokyo Women's Marathon on Nov. 19, Sydney Olympic bronze medalist Joyce Chepcumba of Kenya won. She clocked 2 hours 24.02 minutes. Japan's Reiko Tosa was leading the race until the middle of the race. But Tosa came in 2nd finishing 2 hour 24.47 minutes, and won the berth to next year's World Championships.

Olympians chosen
The Japan Track and Field Federation selected the Olympic marathon athlete on Mar 13 after much debate. Besides, World Athletic Championship bronze medalis Nobuyuki Sato who was earlier selected, Takayuki Inubushi, Shinji Kawashima was chosen. The biggest attention was on who among the women will win the birth other than World Championship silver medalist Ari Ichihashi. They were Nagoya marathon winner Naoko Takahashi, and Tokyo marathon winner Eri Yamaguchi

Takahashi wins Nagoya Women's
Japan's record holder Naoko Takahashi was back racing after a year and 3 months absence. She tried out for the final qualifier for the Olympics in Sydney on Mar. 12, Nagoya Women's Marathon. It was a fair day. Takahashi was in the leading group from the beginning. Little by little her competitors were left behind, and by the 23rd kilometer, she was alone. She finished the race 2 hours 22.19 minutes marking a race record. The Ohminami twin sisters came in 3rd and 5th. It will be seen on Mar.13 if Takahashi or another runner will win the berth to the Olympics

Final Olympic try out for men
The Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon on Mar. 5 was the final chance given to Japanese men to try out for Sydney. 33 year-old Shinji Kawashima competed a one to one race with Spain's Martin Fiz from the 33th kilometer. Then after the 38th km point, Fiz sped ahead. The Spaniard clocked 2 hour 8.14 minutes to clinch the race for the 2nd year in a row--his 3rd win in all in the race. Kawashima finished 2 hour 9.4 minutes. Whether he will be selected among 3 men to represent Japan in the Olympic marathon is planned to be decided on Mar. 13.

Newcomer wins Beppu-Oita
First time marathon challenger Enoki Kazutaka clinched the men's race in the Beppu Oita marathon held in southern Japan on Feb. 6. He actually fell behind the leading group in the 28th kilometer. He later not only caught up, but he took the lead after the 38th kilometer. He clocked 2 hours 10.44 minutes to win.

All star race in Osaka Women's Marathon
A number of Japan's top women runners were in Osaka on Jan. 30. That's because this race will play a significant role in deciding the final 2 runners to be selected from Japan to run in the Olympic Games in Sidney. Former world champion, Junko Asari, however, stopped running after the 15th kilometer. She was seen rubbing her thigh. Soon, helper came by to take her from the course. She was in tears. The race continued with out her with about 5 to 6 runners sticking to the first group. Then slowly, 2-time Olympic bronze medalist Yuko Arimori fell back. It was finally after 35 kilometers that former long distance track runner Harumi Hiroyama started to run in front. It continued until she came very close to Nagai Stadium. Her place was take over by Romanian Lidia Simon. In the end, 26 year old Simon clinched the race with a time of 2 hours 22.53 minutes for her 3rd straight Osaka victory. Hiroyama finished 3 seconds behind. In third was Esther Wanjiru of Kenya. Yuko Arimori was 9th clocking 2 hours 31.22 minutes. Her American husband welcomed her by the goal.
Michiyo's Note: To the disappointment of Japanese fans, the result of the race made it clear that Arimori will not be chosen by the Japan Track and Field Federation

IN 1999
21st Tokyo International Women's Marathon
A new star is born. She's Eri Yamaguchi. She ran ahead of other topnotch runners from around 15 kilometers into the race. She reached the goal clocking 2:22min.12 sec. It's the 2nd best among Japanese women ever, and the 6th best in the world. In second was Ethiopia's Fatuma Roba.

Medal rush at World Track and Field Championships in Sevilla
First, it was in the men's on Aug. 29. Nobuyuki Sato was the leader until the 38 kilo area when he was surpassed by Spain's Abel Anton. And another runner went pass him. In the end, he won the bronze by clocking 2 hrs 14.07 seconds. There were Japanese coming in 6th and 7th too. In the women's, Japan's number one medal hope Naoko Takahashi dropped out from the race. But there were still other world class runners. 1993 world champion Junko Asari was one of them. But she was left behind the 1st group after 30 kilometers. It was Ari Ichihashi who held on. In the end, Song Ok Jong of Democratic People's Republic of Korea clinched the race by finishing 3 seconds quicker. 21 year old Ichihashi was second, improving her personal record by clocking 2 hr. 27.02.

Arimori in Boston Marathon
32 year- old Yuko Arimori ran her first marathon in 2 years and 9 months on Apr.19. It was reported that she was uncertain whether she could complete this race. But not only did she run the entire 42.195 kms, she improved her own time and clocked 2 hours 26.39 minutes coming in 3rd. The winner was Fatuma Roba of Ethiopia.

IN 1998
Marathon gold in the 13th Asian Games
Women's marathon took off at 6:30 in the morning on Dec. 6. That's before the actual opening ceremonies of the Asian Games in Thailand. Japan's Naoko Takahashi kept up a world class pace until the 35th kilo. At that point she was faster than the world record. But the heat got to her soon. Still, Takahashi clocked a Japan record of 2 hr. 21.47 minutes. She won the first gold medal of the Asian Games. In third was another Japanese, Tomoko Kai.

20th Tokyo International Women's Marathon
There were many well known women marathon runners in the race celebrating the 20th anniversary of the world's first international marathon for women on Nov. 15. The temperature rose over 20 degrees celsius making it a fairly easy race to run. Japanese athletes Ichihashi Yuri and Atlantic Olympic runner Junko Asari battled against eachother until the goal. With only about 10 meters left, Ichihashi ran in front of Asari. Asari, who looked weaker than Ichihashi pushed herself forward and broke the finish ribbon first. She won the Tokyo International Women'S Marathon for the second time at 2 hr. 28 min. 29 seconds. German's Katrin Dorre finished 5th and 2 time Boston Marathon champ Fatuma Roba of Ethiopia 8th.

A new record in Nagoya International Women's Marathon
On Mar. 8, the Nagoya International Women's Marathon was held on a fair day. In the 30 kilometer point, Japan's Naoko Takahashi took the lead. She ran faster and faster, and in the end clocked 1 hour 25 minutes and 48 seconds. She broke the Japan record. Takahashi trains under Mr. Koide who was the coach of Japan's marathon star Yuko Arimori. Atlanta Olympic Games silver medalist Valentina Egorova of Russia finished 6th.

Record time in Japan's oldest marathon
Spain's Alberto Juzdado finished the Tokyo International Marathon at 2 hours 8 minutes and 1 second. He broke the race record by 9 seconds which was formally held by Tanzania's Juma Ikangaa. The fastest Japanese this time was newcomer Tomoaki Kunichika who clocked 2 hours 11.28 minutes. The race on Feb. 8 was held under a fair sky.

Osaka International Women's Marathon
World Championships bronze medalist, Lidia Simon of Romania was the one to clinch the marathon race in Osaka on Jan. 25. It was just a kilometer before the finish that she went ahead of 36-year old Katrin Dorre of Germany. Dorre has had won the race in Osaka 4 times. Simon clocked 2 hours 28.31 minutes for the victory. Japanese, Ikuyo Goto came in third.

Arimori marries an American
The top sports news on Jan 17 was Olympican marathon runner Yuko Arimori's marriage to an American schoolteacher. The affair never came out before this, and many were surprised to hear that they have already submitted their marriage certification on Jan. 14. She spoke before the press at Narita Airport that day on returning from the USA. Her husband is Gabriel Wilson, a 32 year old who teaches in Colorado.
Michiyo's Note: Some linked Arimori's decision with her interest to obtain US citizenship and run as an American at the Sidney Games. That's because the women's marathon world is very very competitive in Japan. Arimori denied such possibility at the press conference.

IN 1997
51st Fukuoka International Marathon
The men's marathon took place on a rainy day, in Japan's southern main city. There were topnotch participants, such as Atlanta Olympic winner Josiah Thugwane and this year's world champion Abel Anton of Spain. Thugwane sprinted ahead of the others at the 30 kilo point. He broke the race record with a wonderful time of 2 hours 7.28 minutes. Finishing the race after him was Japan's Toshiyuki Hayata. He clocked 2 hours 8.07 minutes. That's the 4th best record in Japan. Hayata used to be Japan's marathon hope, but the fans dismissed this thought in recent years. He has been able to finish only one race since 1995, before this one.

Tokyo International Women's Marathon
It was a warm day in Tokyo on Nov. 30. The race was battled between 2 runners after the 35 kilometer point. Kenyan Joyce Chepchumba, winner of the London Marathon tried to keep up with her wild strides, while Japan's Makiko Itoh constantly ran ahead. Itoh was encouraged to improve her pace when her coach Sachiko Yamashita cheered her on at the 39 kilo point. Itoh clinched the race at 2 hours 27.45 minutes. It's the 24 year old's first marathon victory. Atlanta Olympic champion Fatuma Roba of Ethiopia finished 4th.

Suzuki clinches the gold in the World Track and Field Championships in Athens
The women's marathon was conducted under a tough condition. The temperature soared to 34 degrees celsius. So the leading group of runners already dismantled around the 10th kilometer. At the 28th km point, Japan's Hiromi Suzuki became the lone runner to take the lead. 28-year old runner clinched the gold medal in the women's marathon on Aug. 9. She clocked 2hrs. 29min. 48sec. Suzuki ran the 10,000 meter at the Atlanta Olympic Games but ranked only 16th. Suzuki is training under Coach Yoshio Koide from this May. Koide used to coach Yuko Arimori, medalist of women's marathon at the Atlanta and Barcelona Olympic Games. Another Japanese, Takako Tobise came in 4th in her 2nd ever marathon.
Michiyo's Note: It's terrible that I missed the race! I couldn't find it on TV in the USA. But I was surprised how dramatically the women's marathon was treated in the US newspapers. They said that Suzuki has made history by running the women's marathon in Athens. A sad side to this was that no spectators were allowed in the Marble Stadium, because the stadium of the candidate city of the 2004 Olympics was bombed the day before the race.

Runners for the Athens World Championships in Athletics
5 men and 2 women runners each were chosen on Mar.14 to run at the 6th World Championships in Athletics in August.
WomenTomoyo Abe
Nobuko Fujimura
Mariko Hara
Hiromi Suzuki
Takako Tobise

Men Koji Shimizu
Katsuhiko Hanada
Takahiro Hattori
Shinji Kawashima
Akira Manai

Tokyo International Marathon
On a relatively warm winter day on Feb. 9, 140 runners took off. They included Atlanta Olympic bronze medalist Eric Wainaina, and former world champion Hiromi Taniguchi. Now, the attention was, no doubt, on Taniguchi. This is not because he was expected to win the race. Rather, it was because this race may be the last time we will see one of Japan's most beloved sports hero running in a major event. With a few kilometers left, Taniguchi was 8th place. But he gradually caught up with a couple of runners. In the end, he was the 4th to come into the National Stadium in Tokyo. He clocked 2 hours 11 minutes 26 second. He actually did quite well. The winner was a man who was not invited to run the race. 27 year old Koji Shimizu improved his own record by 10 minutes and won the marathon at 2 hous 10 minutes and 7 seconds. Wainaina was 14th.
Michiyo's Note:In his interview after the race, Taniguchi said that he will continue to run as long as he can! But his main job will be coaching his team, Asahikasei, from now on. For more on Taniguchi click HERE .

Osaka International Women's Marathon
Famous faces were seen running in the streets of Osaka on Jan. 26. Atlanta Olympic Games silver medalist Valentina Egorova of Russia was among them. She seemed to be running the race in a stable condition, but withdrew before the 35 km point. Japan's Mariko Hara who was running only her second marathon race was the leader after the 22 km point. Veteran runner and defending champion Katrin Dorre of Germany caught up at the 31 km point and took the lead. The 35 year old mom finished the race by clocking 2 hr 25 min. 57 sec. Hara followed by about a minute behind. It is to be decided whether Hara will be qualified to run in the World Championships in Athletics in Athens in August.

Tokyo International Women's Marathon
Atlanta Olympic gold medalist, Fatuma Roba of Ethiopia, already took the lead from the 7 km point. But after 33 km, she was caught up by Portugal's Manuela Machado. Japan's Nobuko Fujimura too, ran passed Roba at the 35 km point. Fujimura, though looked totally exhausted and it even seemed likely that she'd fail to continue running. Then, she grapped for 3 cups of water and poured it all over her body and took the lead from Machado. Fujimura, from that moment, changed into an aggressive looking runner. She finished the race to win at the time of 2 hours 28 minutes and 58 seconds. This victory is sure to give her a chance to run in the World Championships in Athletics in 1997. Fatuma Roba was 8th in the race.

Fujimura is the Asian Games bronze medalist. She's won the 1993 Hokkaido Marathon and came in 2nd in the 1994 Osaka Women's International Marathon. She was not selected to run in the Atlanta Olympics marathon race.

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