translated and edited by Brett Larner
The final edition of the Kyoto City Half Marathon takes place Mar. 8, with an invited field of six athletes leading the way. Having become a national sensation with his stunning run in January's Hakone Ekiden, Ryuji Kashiwabara (Toyo Univ.) tops the list of four invited men, while National University Women's Ekiden anchor stage winner Kasumi Nishihara (Bukkyo Univ.) will run the women's race.
Kashiwabara set a new record on the Hakone Ekiden's legendary 5th stage while only a 1st-year, leading Toyo on to its first-ever Hakone win. All eyes will be focused upon him as he makes his half marathon debut. 2008 World Half Marathon national team member Kazuo Ietani (Team Sanyo Tokushu Seiko) is also in the field, as are Ietani's teammate Jun Shinoto, who set a new stage record on Hakone's 9th leg in 2008 before graduating from Chuo Gakuin University, and 3000 m steeplechase specialist Masatoshi Kikuchi (Team Fujitsu).
Nishihara made her half marathon debut in Kyoto last year, finishing 11th in 1:14:15. With subsequent achievements including a silver medal in last summer's Junior Asian Games 5000 m under her belt she will be looking for a significant improvement in her PB. Her main competition will be Team Panasonic's Kasumi Oyagi, who holds a PB of 1:13:25.
The 16th Kyoto City Half Marathon begins at 8:45 a.m. in front of Kyoto's Heianjingu shrine. With main sponsor Rohm having withdrawn its support due to the current recession, this year's edition of the race is its final running. Past winners have included marathon greats such as Khalid Khannouchi (Morocco/U.S.A.), Moses Tanui (Kenya) and Dionisio Ceron (Mexico) on the men's side and Elana Meyer (South Africa), Catherine Ndereba (Kenya), Fatuma Roba (Ethiopia) and Katrine Dorre (Germany). Kanoya Sports University's Koichiro Nagata set the national university half marathon record of 1:01:09 in winning Kyoto in 2001.
Click here for a complete listing of the Kyoto City Half Marathon elite field.