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

Kiplagat, Ichiyama, Tadese and Shitara Lead Marugame Half Elite Field

The Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon is always one of Japan's deepest races of the year on the men's side, its 2012 running setting a world record for the most men under 64 minutes in a single half marathon in history. On the women's side the field is always smaller but still home to the 1:07:26 Japanese national record set by Kayoko Fukushi (Wacoal) back in 2006.

Edna Kiplagat (Kenya), Sara Hall (U.S.A.) and Betsy Saina (Kenya) lead the women's international field, two-time defending champ Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) giving Marugame a miss this year. Fresh off a 1:09:14 PB at last month's Sanyo Ladies Half, Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) leads a trio of Japanese women with recent sub-1:10 times, something that has become a puzzling rarity lately. Fukushi is also back, her recent best of 1:12:04 a long way from her best days.

Speaking of which, world record holder Zersenay Tadese (Eritrea) will be looking to break 60 minutes for the first time since 2015. His toughest…

Kawauchi Outruns 103 Teams to Win Yashio Isshu Ekiden

2017 London World Championships marathon 9th-placer Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) gave local club and high school runners something to remember when he ran Sunday's Yashio Shinai Isshu Ekiden solo against 103 six-runner teams. Kawauchi spent most of the 20.0 km race in 2nd, briefly taking the lead at the end of the 3.9 km Second Stage before falling behind after a Third Stage course record run by Kotaro Minowa (Matsudo T&F Assoc.).

Down 13 seconds, Kawauchi came back to split a time 14 seconds faster for the 2.7 km Fifth Stage than its fastest ekiden runner, Yusei Otsuki (Kasukabe H.S. A). Now ahead of Matsudo and out front alone, Kawauchi saved his biggest running for last, dropping a 2:40 final km to split 14 seconds under the 12:34 course record for the 4.0 km anchor stage. Desperate to catch him, Matsudo anchor Shunsuke Matsui went 6 seconds under the old record to become its official new holder but couldn't match Kawauchi's closing speed.

Kawauchi's…

Cheboitibin, Kiprono and Sonoda Top Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon Elite Entries

With just over two weeks to go the organizers of the Feb. 4 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon have released their elite field for this year's race. With its history as an elite men-only race Beppu-Oita's women's field is still tiny given its status as an IAAF silver label race, but this year promises a good race between two local 2:32 women, 2016 winner Hiroko Yoshitomi (Memolead) and Yuka Takemoto (Canon AC Kyushu), that should see the 2:39:57 course record fall. Defending champ Haruka Yamaguchi (AC Kita) also returns with a 2:38:43 PB from last fall that puts her range of the course record as well.

The men's race is heavier-duty, with a spot in the MGC Race Tokyo Olympic Trials available to the top Japanese man under 2:11:00 and to up to five others if they clear 2:10. Hayato Sonoda (Kurosaki Harima) and Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) are the only Japanese men in the field to have run those kinds of times in the last couple of years, and with support from 2:09~2:10 men