Indoor 5000 m NR holder Hyuga Endo (Sumitomo Denko) took the highest spot on the energy of a single run, his all-time JPN #2 13:10.69 win in opposition to an extremely deep area of Japan-based Kenyans on the Could 4 Golden Video games in Noboeka. That got here lower than a month after his 3:36.69 1500 m on the Kanakuri Memorial Meet, on the time the Third-fastest Japanese mark ever. A 13:22.13 win at June’s Nationwide Championships was sufficient to get him to the Oregon World Championships, the place he was thirteenth in his 5000 m warmth in 13:47.07. In November Endo broke the little-raced highway 5 km NR with a 13:50. An enormous aim for Endo might be closing the final two seconds on Suguru Osako‘s 13:08.40 out of doors 5000 m NR earlier than one of many youthful guys arising will get there.
Final yr’s prime man, marathon NR holder Kengo Suzuki (Fujitsu), was 2nd this yr, like Endo on the energy of 1 run. In Suzuki’s case that was his 2:05:28 for 4th at March’s Tokyo Marathon, the 2nd-fastest time ever by a Japanese man. Corona stored him out of the World Championships marathon, the place he very seemingly would have been in competition for at the least bronze, and he hasn’t accomplished a lot else other than that. However as the one Japanese man beneath 2:07 this yr, and the one one in all Japan’s ten quickest marathoners of 2021 to make the highest ten once more this yr, what little he managed to do was nonetheless greater than sufficient.
Hiroto Hayashida (Mitsubishi Juko) was a distant Third within the total rankings due to his photograph end 1:00:38 win at February’s Nationwide Company Half Marathon. A uncommon top-level Japanese man who bypassed faculty and the Hakone Ekiden to go straight from highschool to the company leagues, Hayashida simply edged Ken Nakayama (Honda) and Yusuke Tamura (Kurosaki Harima) to get the win, all three of them clocking the identical time. With the Mitsubishi Juko company staff reliably cranking out 2:06 to 2:08 marathoners like Hiroto Inoue and Ichitaka Yamashita, Hayashida’s marathon debut might be one of the crucial anticipated when it occurs.
2021 New 12 months Ekiden prime two Fujitsu and Toyota have been the one groups at any degree to place three males within the total prime 25 rankings, and unsurprisingly, 2022 Izumo Ekiden and Nationwide College Ekiden course file breaker Komazawa College was the one faculty staff with two within the prime 25, 4th yr Ren Tazawa for his 13:22.60 on the Kanaguri Memorial meet, and 4th yr Chikara Yamano for his 1:00:40 for 4th on the Nationwide Company Half, the quickest time ever by a Japanese-born collegiate runner. 18-year-old Hiroto Yoshioka (Saku Chosei H.S.) got here in at sixteenth total due to his 13:22.99 highschool NR at Nittai in November, the primary time a excessive schooler has made JRN’s total prime 25 for so long as we have been doing the rankings.
Honorable mentions go to 2 athletes who had stellar performances exterior the 5000 m, 10000 m, half marathon and marathon distances. Yamato Yoshii (Chuo Univ.) soloed a fearless 1:00:40 CR on the 21.3 km first leg of the 2022 Hakone Ekiden, equal to a 1:00:06 half marathon and 26 seconds beneath the previous CR set by the nice Yuki Sato in 2007. One among as of late a Japanese man goes to go beneath 60 minutes for the half marathon, and with this run that set the stage for a record-breaking Hakone, Yoshii confirmed that he has the flexibility to be the one to do it. Even when he by no means will get there, this was the ekiden efficiency of the yr.
Haruki Okayama (Comodi Iida) will get the second honorable point out for his gold medal run at August’s IAU 100 km World Championships. Debuting with a world-class 6:16:44 within the spring to make the Japanese nationwide staff, Okayama took gold with one of many quickest instances ever run, 6:12:10. Geoff Burns, who ran the 100 km WC for the U.S., advised JRN post-race, “That 6:12 is one in all, if not *the* most spectacular highway 100km performances. It was a 19.4˚C dew level, which is de facto laborious for operating, and nuts for extremely operating. Soaking moist from the begin to end and by no means getting cooler. These dudes introduced it immediately in an enormous approach.” The opposite dude being Jumpei Yamaguchi (Eldoreso), who additionally earned a shoutout with a 6:17:19 PB to take silver.
Depth within the 4 predominant distances was good. Each the 5000 m and 10000 m have been down in depth from 2021’s excessive level, 22 males beneath 13:33 for 5000 m vs. 28 final yr and 21 sub-28 for 10000 m vs. 33 in 2021. However these 2021 numbers have been partly a product of restricted racing alternatives on the highway final yr, and the tradeoff was apparent this time round. 15 males cleared 61 minutes for the half marathon this yr vs. just one final yr, surpassing the pre-pandemic file of 12 in 2020. Suzuki was the one man beneath 2:07 within the marathon this yr vs. 5 in 2021, however Twenty fifth-fastest man Yuta Shimoda (GMO) equalled final yr’s Twenty fifth-placer Junichi Tsubouchi (Kurosaki Harima), however having run 2:08:35.
General the prospects look good for Japan’s ongoing wave of expertise to maintain rising over the following few years. As at all times, it is attention-grabbing to take a look at Japanese depth and high quality in relation to that in the usA. In comparison with Japan’s 22 males beneath 13:33 for 5000 m this yr and Endo’s 13:10.69 year-leader, the U.S. had 33 males beneath 13:33 with the highest 6 sooner than Endo, and one, Grant Fisher, beneath 13 minutes. The place Japan had 21 males sub-28 for 10000 m led by a 27:27.49 by Takuya Hanyu (Toyota Boshoku), the usA. had 16 beneath 28. 4 of these have been sooner than Hanyu, with Fisher once more the one one beneath 27 minutes. Abbabiya Simbassa edged Hayashida by 1 second to guide American half marathon instances in 1:00:37, however solely 2 Individuals have been beneath 61 minutes vs. Japan’s 15. The quickest U.S. marathon was Conner Mantz‘s 2:08:16, a time that 15 Japanese males bettered this yr.
Japan’s leads within the marathon and half are as large as at all times, however within the 5000 m and 10000 m issues are getting nearer than they’ve ever been. Which may change as highway racing opens again up, however with the course issues are going proper now all that is lacking is somebody Fisher’s degree on the observe. Whether or not Yoshioka, triple U20 NR holder Keita Sato (Komazawa College) or another person from their technology will get there might be one of many large issues to look at in Japan over the following 5 years.