Skip to main content

Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon - Preview

by Brett Larner

The 63rd running of the Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon takes place this Sunday, Feb. 1. This year's race is its first in a new international format, with a small group of four invited overseas men and three women added to the usual strong domestic and Japan-residing African field.

The man to beat is course record holder Mekubo Mogusu (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.), who broke the hour mark for the first time in winning the 2007 Marugame. Mogusu comes to the race this year fresh from breaking his own stage record on the Hakone Ekiden's 2nd stage and will be all but impossible to beat. Only three men in the field have a conceivable chance. One is Mogusu's university rival Daniel Gitau (Nihon Univ.), who has approached Mogusu's level on the track and will be looking for his first legitimate world-class half marathon time. Another is Asian Record holder Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku), whose best time of 1:00:25 is only 37 seconds behind Mogusu's. Sato suffered a complete meltdown at the Beijing Olympics marathon, where he finished last, and was unremarkable in this month's New Year Ekiden, so despite his potential he may not be in condition to challenge Mogusu. More likely to be a threat is wildcard Yuki Iwai (Team Asahi Kasei). Iwai only holds a half-marathon PB of 1:02:59 from his student days, but three weeks ago at the Asahi Ekiden he ran the 16.7 km 7th stage in 45:35, his average pace of just under 2:44/km faster than that of the 15 km world record. Japanese runners rarely translate strong ekiden performances into equivalent half or full marathons, but Iwai looks to have a realistic chance of challenging the national record and the hour mark.

The invited foreign field includes marathoners Young-Joon Ji (South Korea), Jon Brown (Canada/U.K.), Francis Kirwa (Finland/Kenya) and Andrew Letherby (Australia). Other notables in the domestic field include Tsuyoshi Ogata (Team Chugoku Denryoku), Arata Fujiwara (Team JR Higashi Nihon), Kenji Noguchi (Team Shikoku Denryoku), Yusuke Takabayashi (Komazawa Univ.), Yuki Yagi (Waseda Univ.), Ryuta Komano (Team JR Higashi Nihon), Martin Mukule (Team Toyota) and two-time Marugame winner Laban Kagika (Team JFE Steel).

The women's field does not possess the overall depth of the men's field, but nevertheless looks set for a strong duel. At the top of the list is Beijing Olympics marathon 5th place finisher Mara Yamauchi (U.K.), who was 2nd at the 2007 Sapporo International Half Marathon in a PB of 1:08:45, the fastest in the field. Yamauchi's strongest challenger will be 2008 Sapporo winner Yuri Kano, who set her PB of 1:08:57 while winning in Sapporo. Kano was extremely strong last year but has reportedly been suffering from Achilles problems which may hamper her challenge. Romanian Luminita Talpos will also be a strong contender, having finished 9th in last fall's World Half Marathon Championships in 1:09:01. Only three other women in the field have broken 70 minutes. Of these, Reiko Tosa and Yoshiko Fujinaga set their best marks nearly ten years ago and are unlikely to be factors in the front pack, while Naoko Takahashi retired last year and is running in the general division.

Along with Yamauchi and Talpos, 2005 Universiade half marathon champion Eun-Jung Lee rounds out the list of invited foreign elites. Noteworthy domestic runners include Miho Notagashira (Team Wacoal), Yukari Sahaku (Team Aruze), Mika Hikichi (Team Tenmaya) and half marathon debutantes Yuka Kakimi (Team Daiichi Seimei) and Evelyn Wamboi (Team Yutaka Giken).

A complete listing of the Marugame elite field is available here. An earlier article on Marugame can also be found here. The Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon will be broadcast in a 55-minute edited highlights format on Fuji TV at 2:10 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 2. International viewers should be able to watch online for free through one of the sites listed here.

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

dennis said…
I thought Reiko Tosa retire. Is she trying to make the world championship? Is she trying to Win or will she not take the result seriously?
dennis said…
Reiko Tosa hadn't run a half marathon in years. Why would she run a half marathon all of a sudden?
Anonymous said…
Yuri Kano uses lots of half marathon races to build up for marathons unlike Tosa. Kano ran 1:08:57. Kano has so much potential. She's much better than Tosa. She'll probably win this race.
Anonymous said…
Kano is the next Mizuki Noguchi. She's brave and she's always run agressively. Noguchi is really annoying. She always out of action. Kano runs lots of races unlike noguchi.

Most-Read This Week

Comparing D1 Pre-Nationals and the Hakone Ekiden Qualifier

With both American and Japanese university students well into their fall seasons, two major events took place Saturday. Near Madison, Wisconsin, the D1 Pre-Nationals cross-country meet and in Tachikawa, Tokyo the Hakone Ekiden Qualifier half marathon. At Pre-Nats men ran 8 km on a looping XC course with a maximum elevation difference of around 30 m. The field was split into two main races, Cardinal and White, with a total of 69 teams, and an additional Grey race handling some overflow. Teams ran up to seven members, with the top five scoring on cumulative placing. A total of 474 athletes finished the two main races, with five DNF.

At the Hakone Ekiden Qualifier, known as the Yosenkai, the distance was lengthened from 20 km to the half marathon distance this year, on a paved net-uphill course with a maximum elevation difference of about 20 m, most of that in the hilly final 8 km through Showa Kinen Park. 39 second-tier teams fielded up to twelve runners, with the top ten scoring on cu…

Kisaisa Wins Second-Straight Yosenkai Half Marathon in 1:00:44, Komazawa University Averages Ten Men Under 1:03

The Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai is the qualifying race for Japan's most prestigious road race, the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden. University men's teams in the Tokyo area that didn't make the top ten at Hakone the year before square off in Tokyo's Showa Kinen Park with teams of up to twelve. The top ten score, their cumulative times determining the team's placing with the top eleven teams advancing and high-placing individuals from schools that don't make the cut rounded up to form a select team.

The Yosenkai has long been the world's #1 20 km road race by a wide margin, with winning times among the fastest in the world for the distance and the same kind of incredible depth seen at November's Ageo City Half Marathon and March's National University Men's Half Marathon. In light of changes in the IAAF's ranking system and the level of performance at the Yosenkai, this year organizers took the historic step of changing it from its traditional distance to …

28:45 High Schoolers and More - Weekend Track Roundup

The IAAF has unilaterally declared track season over. But in Japan fall track is an integral part of ekiden season training, and it's not unusual to see many athletes drop their best 3000 m, 5000 m and 10000 m times of the year between October and December. Case in point, this weekend.

The biggest news came at Saturday's Nighter Time Trials in Nagasaki, where Keiho H.S. 11th-grader Hiroto Hayashida ran 28:45.75 for 6th in the 10000 m, all-time #8 among Japanese high school boys and #2 among 11th-graders. "Thank you to everyone who supported me!" Hayashida said on Twitter post-race. "I want to take this and apply to it ekiden season now." Geoffrey Gichia (Daiichi Kogyo Univ.) won in 28:36.36, with Jakarta Asian Games marathon gold medalist Hiroto Inoue (MHPS) 2nd in 28:37.27.

ナイター記録会(諫早)

林田洋翔選手(瓊浦2)
28:45.75

県高校記録更新おめでとうございます🎉 pic.twitter.com/V7navKw6HQ — manamin (@kinokonoko0916) October 13, 2018
At Niigata's Autumn Time Trials a unique women's 50…