Skip to main content

Sendai International Half Marathon - Preview

by Brett Larner

The 19th edition of the Sendai International Half Marathon takes place May 10. The second of Japan's three selection races for its World Half Marathon national team, Sendai features some of the country's top pro and university runners on both the women's and men's side along with a good number of Japan-resident Kenyan aces. Setting Sendai apart from the other Japanese half marathons with the 'international' title is its policy of inviting groups of three amateur runners from Sendai's sister cities around the world rather than professionals.

Unquestionably the main attraction at this year's race is the season debut of Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren). Akaba's spectacular 2008 began with her running 1:08:11 to win the Jitsugyodan Half Marathon and break the course record set by Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex). Her time made Akaba the third-fastest Japanese woman ever, and she went on to duplicate the feat over 5000 m and 10000 m. She ran in both the Beijing Olympics and World Half Marathon, then capped off the season with a 2:25:40 marathon debut at the Osaka International Women's Marathon to secure a place at on the team for the Berlin World Championships. Many, including Akaba herself, consider her a prospective medalist in Berlin. Her performance in Sendai, her first since Osaka, will be under heavy scrutiny. If she breaks Noguchi's 2008 Sendai winning time of 1:08:25 Akaba will face a new level of attention in Berlin.

Although Akaba is the favorite, the race is not simply set up as a time trial for her. Last year's runner-up Julia Mombi (Team Aruze) returns and will probably be Akaba's main competition. Mombi's time in Sendai last year, 1:08:31, makes her a threat, but it remains to be seen how fresh she is after running the Paris Marathon last month. 2008 Honolulu Marathon and 2009 Osaka Half Marathon winner Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC) will also be in contention, as will last year's 3rd place finisher Yuko Machida (Team Nihon ChemiCon), Akaba's teammate at last year's World Half Marathon.

In the men's race, Athens Olympian Toshinari Suwa (Team Nissin Shokuhin) is the featured invited athlete, but he is not known as a half marathoner and, relatively late in his career, he is unlikely to feature in the main action. The withdrawal of the talented James Mwangi (Team NTN) with injury means that defending champion Harun Njoroge (Team Komori Corp.) is very likely to repeat. Half marathon specialist Kazuo Ietani (Team Sanyo Tokushu Seiko) was only 10 seconds behind Njoroge last year, qualifying for the World Half team, and will probably again be the Kenyan's main rival.

Others returning from last year's top ten include Joseph Mwaniki (Team Konica Minolta), Kiyokatsu Hasegawa (Team JR Higashi Nihon) and Yuki Abe (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki). Of special interest is Abe's Mitsubishi teammate Seiji Kobayashi. The veteran Kobayashi ran a PB to finish 2nd at February's Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon and made the shortlist of candidates for the Berlin World Championships team. Having spent part of the spring in New Zealand with the other World Championships marathon team members as they began their preparations, Kobayashi just learned on Thursday that he is the unlucky seventh man on the team of six and will not be going. He is fit and is sure to be motivated to make the half marathon national team in Sendai after coming so close.

Complete details on the 2009 Sendai International Half Marathon elite and invited fields are available here.

Comments

dennis said…
Did Julia Mombi made the Berlin world champs team? If she does well in Sendai will they picked her?
dennis said…
I can't believe Irene Limika the kenyan who ran nagoya got picked. She didn't crack 2:30:00. Julia ran faster. And Pamela Chepchumba who ran Tokyo should get picked also.

Most-Read This Week

How it Happened

Ancient History I went to Wesleyan University, where the legend of four-time Boston Marathon champ and Wes alum Bill Rodgers hung heavy over the cross-country team. Inspired by Koichi Morishita and Young-Cho Hwang’s duel at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics I ran my first marathon in 1993, qualifying for Boston ’94 where Bill was kind enough to sign a star-struck 20-year-old me’s bib number at the expo.

Three years later I moved to Japan for grad school, and through a long string of coincidences I came across a teenaged kid named Yuki Kawauchi down at my neighborhood track. I never imagined he’d become what he is, but right from the start there was just something different about him. After his 2:08:37 breakthrough at the 2011 Tokyo Marathon he called me up and asked me to help him get into races abroad. He’d finished 3rd on the brutal downhill Sixth Stage at the Hakone Ekiden, and given how he’d run the hills in the last 6 km at Tokyo ’11 I thought he’d do well at Boston or New York. “If M…

The Kawauchi Counter

Yuki Kawauchi's 2018 race results: Jan. 1: Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, U.S.A.: 2:18:59 - 1st - CR
Jan. 14: Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:03:28 - 7th
Jan. 21: Yashio Isshu Ekiden, Saitama: 1:01:03 - 1st - ran entire 20.0 km ekiden solo and beat all 103 teams of 6 runners each
Jan. 28: Okumusashi Ekiden First Stage (9.9 km), Saitama - 29:41 - 6th
Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
Feb. 11: Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon, Shimane - cancelled due to heavy snow
Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama - 1:04:26 - 1st
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:04:49 - 12th
Mar. 11: Yoshinogawa Riverside Half Marathon, Tokushima - 1:05:50 - 1st - CR
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan - 2:14:12 - 1st
Mar. 24: Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials, Saitama
              5000 m Heat 4: 14:53.95 - 1st
              5000 m Heat 6: 14:36.58 - 2nd
           …

Guinness Certifies Kawauchi's World Record 78 Career Sub-2:20 Marathons After Half Marathon in Panda Costume

Known as the Civil Servant Runner, Saitama Prefectural Government employee Yuki Kawauchi's career record of 78 sub-2:20 marathons was officially recognized as the Guinness World Record at a ceremony in his hometown of Kuki, Saitama on Mar. 25.  Raised in Kuki, Kawauchi began working for the Saitama Prefectural Government after graduating from university. Running while working full-time as a civil servant, he has qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic trial race.

Earlier this month on the 18th Kawauchi ran Taiwan's Wan Jin Shi Marathon, winning in 2:14:12. His 78th time running faster than 2 hours and 20 minutes, his achievement was certified as the official Guinness World Record. He actually broke the previous record on Jan. 1 at the Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon in the U.S.A. with his 76th sub-2:20 but followed up with two performances, one in February and the other last week, before Guinness could ratify the record.

The official recognition ceremony took place Mar. 2…