translated by Brett Larner
The JAAF today announced the 11-member elite field for the 61st Fukuoka International Marathon to be held December 2nd. Fukuoka is the first of the selection races for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Japanese men`s marathon team. Japanese national record holder Toshinari Takaoka (Team Kanebo), course record holder Atsushi Fujita (Team Fujitsu), Athens Olympic marathon 5th place finisher Shigeru Aburaya (Team Chugoku Denryoku) and others will try to book their Olympic ticket.
Takaoka ran the Nagano Marathon in April as a comeback following injury, placing 7th in 2:15:00. 4 years ago he failed to make the Athens Olympic team when he finished 3rd in his qualifying race. Considering his age, 37, this is Takaoka`s last chance to make an Olympic team. Fujita won the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon in February. In the 10 months since then he has focused all his training on Fukuoka. Aburaya did not make the team for this year`s World Championships after dropping out during the inaugural Tokyo Marathon in February. He is determined to make up for it by qualifying for Beijing. Aburaya`s teammate Atsushi Sato, who set the Japanese half-marathon national record of 1:00:25 in October, will also run. The Kojima twins Takayuki and Muneyuki (Team Asahi Kasei), both 2:08 runners, were not selected to the elite field but are entered as individuals.
Standouts among the invited foreign runners include former world record holder Paul Tergat of Kenya who will be running his first marathon in Japan. In April`s London Marathon Tergat ran 2:08:06, his best time since setting the then-world record of 2:04:55 in the 2003 Berlin Marathon. Half-marathon world record holder Samuel Wanjiru (Team Toyota Jidosha Kyushu) will be running his debut marathon.
Three slots are available for the Beijing Olympic team. The top Japanese finishers from Fukuoka, August`s World Championships, next February`s Tokyo Marathon and next March`s Biwako Mainichi Marathon have a chance to be selected.
Fukuoka International Marathon Elite Field (times are personal bests; * indicates half-marathon best)
Paul Tergat (38, Kenya), 2:04:55
Haile Negussie (28, Ethiopia), 2:08:16
Daniel Yego (28, Kenya), 2:08:16
Alberto Chaiqua (34, Portugal), 2:09:25
Mark Carroll (35, Ireland), 2:10:54
Toshinari Takaoka (37, Team Kanebo), 2:06:16 (national record)
Atsushi Fujita (31, Team Fujitsu), 2:06:51 (course record)
Shigeru Aburaya (30, Team Chugoku Denryoku), 2:07:52
Atsushi Sato (29, Team Chugoku Denryoku), 2:08:36
Yuko Matsumiya (27, Team Konica Minolta), 2:09:18
Samuel Wanjiru (21, Team Toyota Jidosha Kyushu), 58:33* (world record)
Translator`s note: I will also be running Fukuoka.