by Brett Larner
The Sapporo International Half Marathon has released the complete field for this year's race on July 5. And it's going to be a great one. In one corner, half marathon world record holder and Beijing Olympics gold medalist Samuel Wanjiru (Team Sam). In the other, three-time winner and the only man to break one hour on the Sapporo course, Mekubo Mogusu (Team Aidem).
The two Kenyans came to Japan at the same time in high school, with Mogusu always a step behind in their high school careers but always gunning for Wanjiru and his records and unafraid to say so. After high school Mogusu chose university for the chance to run the Hakone Ekiden, while Wanjiru went pro and became....Samuel Wanjiru. This will be the pair's first meeting of their adult lives and despite a serious divot in Mogusu's training following a car accident early in the spring it's all but certain to go out very hard. Last year Masato Kihara (Chuo Gakuin Univ.) pushed Mogusu well under world record pace for the first 5 km. This year the man Mogusu has called his biggest rival and his biggest inspiration will be there doing the pushing. There may not be much doubt about who is going to win, but at least in Japan where both Wanjiru and Mogusu are household names it will be one to remember.
And it's not just the two of them. Japanese national record holder Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) will join in as part of his preparation for the Berlin World Championships marathon. Wanjiru's former teammate Yu Mitsuya (Team Toyota Kyushu) will also be on the starting line. Mitsuya has shown the potential to become the first Japanese runner to break one hour and after skipping this weekend's National Track and Field Championships following a stellar spring which saw him win his debut 30 km he will no doubt be looking for a breakthrough run. Sato's Berlin teammate Arata Fujiwara (Team JR Higashi Nihon), Berlin marathon team alternate Kensuke Takahashi (Team Toyota) and Mogusu's university-era rival Daniel Gitau (Nihon Univ.) are on the start list as well. The top Japanese man in the race will pick up a spot on the national team for October's World Half Marathon championships.
In the women's race, defending winner Yuri Kano (Second Wind AC) will run against her Berlin World Championships marathon teammates Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) and Yoshiko Fujinaga (Team Shiseido) along with alternate Tomo Morimoto (Team Tenmaya). Julia Mombi (Team Aruze) holds the fastest time in the field and will be Kano's strongest rival. Several other top marathoners including Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC), Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya) and Mari Ozaki (Team Noritz) will also face off with the World Championships team members. The lone university runner in the elite field is the talented Natsuko Goto (Nihon Univ.) in her half marathon debut. As in the men's race, the top Japanese woman will go on to the World Half.
The 2009 Sapporo International Half Marathon will be broadcast from 1:30 p.m. to 2:55 p.m. on July 5. Overseas viewers should be able to watch with the Keyhole TV software available here.
2009 Sapporo International Half Marathon Elite Field - click for official listing
#1 - Samuel Wanjiru (Team Sam) - 58:33
#18 - Mekubo Mogusu (Team Aidem) - 59:48
#12 - Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 1:00:25
#31 - Daniel Gitau (Nihon Univ.) - 1:01:34
#11 - Tsuyoshi Ogata (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 1:01:50
#15 - Shigeru Aburaya (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 1:01:54
#17 - Kensuke Takahashi (Team Toyota) - 1:01:54
#13 - Arata Fujiwara (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 1:02:17
#16 - Yu Mitsuya (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 1:02:26
#32 - Yusuke Takabayashi (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:02:36
#14 - Yuzo Onishi (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 1:03:12
#33 - Go Nakagawa (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 1:03:30
#89 - Julia Mombi (Team Aruze) - 1:08:31
#83 - Yuri Kano (Second Wind AC) - 1:08:57
#84 - Yoshiko Fujinaga (Team Shiseido) - 1:09:19
#82 - Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 1:09:31
#91 - Mari Ozaki (Team Noritz) - 1:09:33
#85 - Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya) - 1:10:00
#87 - Miki Ohira (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 1:10:13
#81 - Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC) - 1:10:16
#88 - Ikuyo Yamashita (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 1:10:53
#86 - Tomo Morimoto (Team Tenmaya) - 1:12:05
#90 - Yukari Sahaku (Team Aruze) - 1:12:17
#95 - Natsuko Goto (Nihon Univ.) - debut
(c) 2009 Brett Larner
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