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Rikuren Announces Provisional World Championships Marathon Team Lineup

translated and edited by Brett Larner

At a general meeting in Tokyo on Mar. 23 Rikuren announced the provisional lineups of the men's and women's national teams for August's World Championships marathon in Berlin. Four members of each of the five-person teams have now been officially named. The top Japanese finishers in each of the major selection races, men Satoshi Irifune (Team Kanebo), Masaya Shimizu (Team Asahi Kasei) and Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) and women Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei), Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) and Yoshiko Fujinaga (Team Shiseido) were already pre-selected for the team. Added to the official roster for the men is Fukuoka International Marathon 3rd place finisher Arata Fujiwara (Team JR Higashi Nihon) and for the women Tokyo International Women's Marathon runner-up Yuri Kano (Second Wind AC).

Other athletes have until Apr. 30 to make a bid for the fifth spot on each team by running in a major overseas race. On the women's side, the 2nd place finisher from January's Osaka International Women's Marathon, Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) is already under consideration. Her rival for the national team spot is Tomo Morimoto (Team Tenmaya), who plans to run April's London Marathon.

Beijing Olympics marathoner Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) is also scheduled to run London. If he breaks 2:10 he will be named to the last position on the men's team. Should he fail, the choice for the spot will be between Tokyo Marathon 3rd place finisher Kensuke Takahashi (Team Toyota) and the runner-up from February's Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, Seiji Kobayashi (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki). After finishing 4th in Fukuoka and 6th in Tokyo, 2007 World Championships team member Tomoyuki Sato (Team Asahi Kasei) will not be considered despite having broken 2:10 in Fukuoka.

Translator's note: Tomo Morimoto has broken Yukiko Akaba's Osaka time of 2:25:40 twice, most recently last spring. She is likely to do it again in London, and her chances of being selected must be buoyed by the fact that the head of the women's national team is also her coach, Yutaka Taketomi. Similarly, the director of the men's team is Atsushi Sato's coach Yasushi Sakaguchi. It is quite a coincidence that the positive rule change allowing results from overseas races to count in national team selection and benefitting their top runners came into effect shortly after Taketomi and Sakaguchi became Rikuren's women's and men's marathon directors in December.

The article does not mention that Mika Okunaga (Team Kyudenko) is also running the London Marathon and stands a chance of breaking Akaba's time as well. It seems reasonable to think that if Okunaga beats Morimoto she would be named to the team instead, but this will remain to be seen. Yuri Kano is running London as well. Her selection being already finalized is somewhat surprising given the possibility of scenarios in which both Morimoto and Okunaga beat her in London or, however unlikely, they beat her time from the Tokyo International Women's Marathon as well. The exclusion of the results from the world-class women's race in this year's Tokyo Marathon, where Mizuho Nasukawa (Team Aruze) beat Akaba's time despite difficult conditions, remains puzzling in light of the inclusion of results from London, Boston or elsewhere. Profiles of the confirmed and possible team members are listed below.

Berlin Team Members - Men
click photos for detailed profiles

Satoshi Irifune (Team Kanebo)
Qualification Mark:
2:09:23 - PB (2nd, Fukuoka 2008)
Other Major Results:
2:09:40 (5th, Tokyo 2008)
2:09:58 (1st, Beppu-Oita 2005)
2:17:22 (20th, Helsinki World Champs 2005)

Arata Fujiwara (Team JR Higashi Nihon)
Qualification Mark:
2:09:47 (3rd, Fukuoka 2008)
Other Major Results:
2:08:40 - PB (2nd, Tokyo 2008)

Masaya Shimizu (Team Asahi Kasei)
Qualification Mark:
2:10:50 - PB (4th, Biwako 2009)
Other Major Results:
2:13:06 (1st, Nobeoka 2008)

Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko)
Qualification Mark:
2:11:01 - debut (2nd, Tokyo 2009)
Other Major Results:
10000 m PB: 27:55.17 (2007)
17th, Osaka World Champs 10000 m 2007

In Contention

Seiji Kobayashi (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki)
Qualification Mark:

2:10:38 - PB (2nd, Beppu-Oita 2009)
Other Major Results:
2:12:07 (1st, Nobeoka 1999)

Kensuke Takahashi (Team Toyota)
Qualification Mark:
2:11:25 - PB (3rd, Tokyo 2009)
Other Major Results:
2:11:52 (6th, Fukuoka 2007)

Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku)
Qualification Mark:
pending London 4/26/09
Other Major Results:
2:07:13 - PB (3rd, Fukuoka 2007)
2:08:36 (4th, Biwako 2004)
2:08:50 (5th, Biwako 2003)
2:09:50 (4th, Biwako 2000 - former university NR)

Kurao Umeki (Team Chugoku Denryoku)
Qualification Mark:
pending Boston 4/20/09
Other Major Results:
2:09:52 - PB (7th, Berlin 2003)
2:11:00 (6th, Tokyo 2008)
2:13:43 (3rd, Berlin 2006)

Berlin Team Members - Women
click photos for detailed profiles

Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei)
Qualification Mark:
2:23:30 - PB (1st, Tokyo Int'l 2008)
Other Major Results:
2:26:19 (2nd, Nagoya 2008)

Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo)
Qualification Mark:
2:23:42 (1st, Osaka 2009)
Other Major Results:
2:19:41 - PB (1st, Berlin 2004, former NR)
2:21:22 (3rd, Chicago 2002)
2:23:11 (1st, Osaka 2001, former debut WR)
2:26:33 (4th, Edmonton World Champs 2001)

Yuri Kano (Second Wind AC)
Qualification Mark:
2:24:27 - PB (2nd, Tokyo Int'l 2008)
Other Major Results:
2:24:43 (3rd, Osaka 2007)
2:26:39 (3rd, Nagoya 2008)
2:30:43 (1st, Hokkaido 2007)

Yoshiko Fujinaga (Team Shiseido)
Qualification Mark:
2:28:13 - debut (1st, Nagoya 2009)
Other Major Results:
National Champion, 5000 m (2000)
Seville World Champs 5000 m (1999)

In Contention

Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren)
Qualification Mark:

2:25:40 - debut (2nd, Osaka 2009)
Other Major Results:
1:08:11 - CR (1st, National Corporate Half Marathon 2008)
1:11:39 (10th, World Half Marathon 2008)

Tomo Morimoto (Team Tenmaya)
Qualification Mark:
pending London 4/26/09
Other Major Results:
2:24:33 - PB (1st, Vienna 2006)
2:25:34 (2nd, Osaka 2008)

Mika Okunaga (Team Kyudenko)
Qualification Mark:
pending London 4/26/09
Other Major Results:
2:27:16 - PB (6th, Osaka 2009)
2:27:52 (7th, Osaka 2008)

Tomoe Yokoyama (Team Toto)
Qualification Mark:
pending Boston 4/20/09
Other Major Results:
2:34:37 - debut (Nagoya 2000)
1:47:01 (1st, Ome 30 km 2009)


dennis said…
What is up with the runners that made the team in 2007? All these 09runners are making their debuts on the world champs team. And none of Koide runners made the team. Will Rikuren choose Mizuho Nasukawa. It's not fair if she won't get picked. Her performance was faster than Akaba.
scomecau said…
Do you have any news on Naoko Sakamoto? I wish she would try to run a marathon. How come she don't try to make the team? How come she don't run any race after Nagoya.

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