Skip to main content

Japanese Marathoners Begin Lining Up for the Fall Season

by Brett Larner

Less than two weeks after a strong showing in the Berlin World Championships marathons, Japan's top marathoners have started lining up for the fall and winter marathon season. The first to be confirmed is World Championships men's marathon team alternate Kensuke Takahashi (Team Toyota). The young Takahashi has run only a handful of marathons and holds a PB of just 2:11:25 from this year's Tokyo Marathon, but this slow time hides the quality of his performance and the potential it showed. Running into a headwind which cost the leaders at least 3 minutes, Takahashi made a bold solo break at 30 km in Tokyo, initially gapping Kenyans Salim Kipsang and Sammy Korir along with the rest of the Japanese field. Eventually overtaken by Kipsang and Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko), Takahashi managed to shake off Korir for 3rd. The performance demonstrated bravery, speed and talent. Having trained to be ready for the Berlin World Championships in the event of one of the five national team members withdrawing at the last minute Takahashi will attempt to carry his fitness over a month to the Sept. 20 Berlin Marathon. If he shows the same qualitities as in Tokyo Takahashi's overseas debut could be a memorable one.

On the women's side, Berlin World Championships women's marathon 7th place finisher Yuri Kano (Second Wind AC) will make her American marathon debut in New York. Kano has run the New York City Half Marathon three times, placing 4th twice and 3rd in 2008. Having run London in the spring her New York appearance will make her three for three this year in overseas marathons, an unusual record among Japanese marathoners which points to one of the differences in emphasis between her team Second Wind and those in the jitsugyodan corporate league. Kano's coach Manabu Kawagoe has said he believes Kano capable of a 2:21, but thus far in her short marathon career she has shown a lack of closing ability which has kept her out of the winner's circle in all but the second-tier Hokkaido Marathon. Although she has not been having as strong a year as in 2008, her skills may play better on the typically more strategic New York course. If successful Kano would become the first Japanese New York winner male or female.

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

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