by Brett Larner
The 2009 Hokkaido Marathon takes place Sunday, Aug. 30. Typically run under hot summer conditions, the Hokkaido Marathon isn't known as a speed race but in most years attacts a top domestic field and several good overseas runners.
The highlight of this year's race, the first edition on a new course, will be the women's event. Defending champion Yukari Sahaku (Team Aruze) will be back straight from her disappointing run in the 10000 m at the Berlin World Championships. Her strongest competition and arguably the race favorite is her teammate Mizuho Nasukawa (Team Aruze), the 2009 Tokyo Marathon winner. Heat specialist Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC), who ran her PB of 2:26:14 in Hokkaido four years ago, ran her best half marathon in several years at last month's Sapporo International Half Marathon and may also be a threat. Also conceivably in contention is Naoko Sakamoto (Team Tenmaya), whose six-year old PB of 2:21:51 marks her as the fastest in the field. One disappointment is the withdrawal of 2008 Tokyo Marathon winner Claudia Dreher of Germany with an injury.
On the men's side Kenyan Daniel Njenga (Team Yakult), struggling in the last few seasons, will face off against defending champion Masaru Takamizawa (Saku Chosei H.S.), 2:07 man Toshinari Suwa (Team Nissin Shokuhin), 2:08 runner Yuzo Onishi (Team Nissin Shokuhin), 2009 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon runner-up Seiji Kobayashi (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) and Tomoya Shimizu (Team Sagawa Express), the identical twin brother of World Championships marathoner Masaya Shimizu.
The race will be broadcast nationwide on Fuji TV beginning at 12:00 noon Japan time on Aug. 30. International viewers should be able to watch live online for free by clicking here.
2009 Hokkaido Marathon - Elite Field
Naoko Sakamoto (Team Tenmaya) - 2:21:51 (Osaka 2003)
Mizuho Nasukawa (Team Aruze) - 2:25:38 (Tokyo 2009)
Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC) - 2:26:14 (Hokkaido 2005)
Aki Fujikawa (Team Shiseido) - 2:27:06 (Nagoya 2004)
Akemi Ozaki (Second Wind AC) - 2:28:39 (Tokyo Int'l 2007)
Yukari Sahaku (Team Aruze) - 2:28:55 (Tokyo 2009)
Kaori Yoshida (Amino Vital AC) - 2:30:58 (Nagoya 2008)
Naoko Ota (Saku AC Hokkaido) - 2:48:52 (Nagoya 2008)
Mai Fujisawa (Hokkaido City Hall) - 2:50:23 (Nagoya 2009)
Daniel Njenga (Team Yakult) - 2:06:16 (Chicago 2002)
Toshinari Suwa (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 2:07:55 (Fukuoka 2003)
Yuzo Onishi (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 2:08:54 (Biwako 2008)
Tomoya Shimizu (Team Sagawa Express) - 2:09:23 (Biwako 2008)
Laban Kagika (Team JFE Steel) - 2:10:24 (Fukuoka 2001)
Seiji Kobayashi (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) - 2:10:38 (Beppu-Oita 2009)
Yuri Hyuchun (Ukraine) - 2:10:59 (Debuno 2008)
Masaru Takamizawa (Saku Chosei H.S.) - 2:12:10 (Hokkaido 2008)
Toyoshi Ishige (Team Yakult) - 2:12:45 (Biwako 2008)
Hiroshi Matsuda (Saku AC Hokkaido) - 2:23:38 (Fukuoka 1999)
(c) 2009 Brett Larner
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