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Suwa, Rothlin, Njenga, Kirui to Headline 2008 Tokyo Marathon

by Brett Larner

With exactly one month to go until race date the Tokyo Marathon released details on the field of elites who will be competing in the 2nd of Japan's Olympic selection races.

The domestic field is easily headlined by Team Nissin's Toshinari Suwa, a 2:07 marathoner who competed in the Athens Olympics and Osaka World Championships. Suwa had previously announced he would run March's Biwako Mainichi Marathon but he has evidently changed strategy in his attempt to qualify for the Beijing Olympic marathon team. Other domestic contenders include Team Kanebo's Satoshi Irifune who competed in the Helsinki World Championships, veteran Olympian Kenjiro Jitsui also of Team Nissin, and younger runners Kenichi Kita and Kazushi Hara. Several strong runners are not among the elite field but have entered as individuals, including Team Chugoku Denryoku's Teruto Ozaki and Kurao Umeki, Team Nissin's Kazuyoshi Tokumoto, and Team JAL Ground Service's Takayuki Nishida.

The foreign elite field includes defending champion Daniel Njenga of Kenya, Osaka World Championships marathon bronze medalist Viktor Rothlin of Switerland, 2-time Olympic marathon medalist Eric Wainaina of Kenya, 2-time Olympian Jon Brown of Canada, 2007 Biwako Mainichi Marathon winner Samson Ramadhani of Tanzania, Boston Marathon winner Hailu Negussie of Ethiopia, and 2007 Berlin Marathon 2nd place finisher Abel Kirui of Kenya. Olympian Julius Gitahi of Kenya is entered in the individual division.

As with last year, Tokyo has not organized an elite women's field. Instead the race has invited an impressive range of retired runners to participate in the marathon and 10 km as guests. Guest runners include 2-time Olympic medalists Rosa Mota, Valentina Egorova and Yuko Arimori, Sydney Olympic marathon silver medalist Lidia Simon, Stuttgart World Championships marathon medalists Junko Asari and Tomoe Abe, Olympians Masako Chiba and Eriko Asai and veteran Mari Tanigawa.

A complete list of the elite field is available here. A list of guest runners is here.

(c) 2008 Brett Larner
all rights reserved


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Naoki Okamotoage: 35
sponsor: Chugoku Denryoku
graduated from: Tottori Chuo Ikuei H.S., Meiji University

best time inside MGC window:
2:11:29, 1st, 2018 Hokkaido Marathon

PB: 2:11:29, 1st, 2018 Hokkaido Marathon

other PBs:
5000 m: 13:37.71 (2009) 10000 m: 28:05.84 (2011) half marathon: 1:02:16 (2009)

marathons inside MGC window (Aug. 1 2017 – April 30 2019)
DNF, 2019 Beppu-Oita Marathon
1st, 2018 Hokkaido Marathon, 2:11:29 – PB
DNF, 2018 Boston Marathon

other major results:
4th, 2019 Shibetsu Half Marathon, 1:03:53
2nd, 2019 New Year Ekiden Fourth Stage (22.4 km), 1:05:13
1st, 2018 Chugoku Corporate Ekiden Sixth Stage (19.0 km), 56:25 – CR
1st, 2018 Ome 30 km Road Race, 1:33:09
21st, 2017 Tokyo Marathon, 2:13:53

We’re picking Okamoto as our official dark horse of the men’s race. The second-oldest man in a field, Okamoto is a journeyman corporate leaguer who never broke 2:12 and whose PBs all came a decade ago. But, nearing the end of his career, over the last two years he has really come on…