by Brett Larner
On Feb. 15 the Biwako Mainichi Marathon, also called the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon for the convenience of non-Japanese speakers, announced the complete field for this year's 65th anniversary edition to be held Mar. 7. Biwako, as the race is universally abbreviated within Japan, survived a scare last year with the loss of main sponsor Rohm and comes to this year with a new sponsor, K-Opticom, a new course designed to be faster, and a renewal of its questionable IAAF Gold Label, the first in the country. Three of the top eleven men at the 2009 Berlin World Championships will line up at the start.
The biggest name in the field is 2004 New York City Marathon winner Hendrick Ramaala (South Africa). Still an aggressive racer at age 38, Ramaala faces a tough challenge from the man who will wear the #1 bib, Berlin World Championships 4th place finisher Yemane Tsegay (Ethiopia). Also in contention are 2009 Chicago Marathon 4th place finisher Charles Munyeki (Keyna) and 2009 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon winner Adil Annani (Morocco), trading up for the higher-level race. Rounding out the diverse overseas field are 2009 Zurich Marathon winner Abraham Tadesse (Eritrea) and 2008 Debno Marathon winner Yuriy Hychun (Ukraine).
The elite Japanese field includes four athletes. Returning from last year are the Shimizu twins Masaya (Team Asahi Kasei) and Tomoya (Team Sagawa Express). Both brothers ran their PBs at Biwako, with Masaya qualifying for the Berlin team at last year's race. Joining Masaya is his teammate Tomoyuki Sato (Team Asahi Kasei), a 2007 World Championships team member. The last domestic runner is first-timer Yukihiro Kitaoka (Team NTN). Kitaoka ran a half marathon PB of 1:02:17 at last year's National Jitsugyodan Half Marathon Championships and made the national team for the World Half Marathon, where he was the top Japanese finisher in 1:02:50. The Japanese men will be contending for a spot in this fall's Asian Games.
As in the recent Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, where Australian Jeff Hunt challenged for the win in his marathon debut, the top end of the general division contains a wealth of potential gold. Another Australian, Mark Tucker, is in the field, along with strong foreign runners Laban Kagika (Kenya/Team JFE Steel) and Steve Osaduik (Canada). Yuki Abe (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) and Shingo Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) may have a shot at the Asian Games berth, and 1996 Atlanta Olympics marathoner Kenjiro Jitsui (Team Nissin Shokuhin), still running well, has a shot for a top-ten finish.
The race will be broadcast live nationwide and commercial-free on NHK beginning at 12:15 p.m. on Mar. 7. NHK's online availability overseas on Keyhole TV is spotty, but JRNLive will offer live English-language commentary on the race.
2010 Biwako Mainichi Marathon Elite Field with bib numbers
click here for complete field listings
1. Yemane Tsegay (Ethiopia) - 2:06:30 (Paris '09)
2. Hendrick Ramaala (South Africa) - 2:06:55 (London '06)
3. Charles Munyeki (Kenya) - 2:07:06 (Chicago '09)
103. Kenjiro Jitsui (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 2:08:50 (Tokyo Int'l '96)
32. Tomoya Shimizu (Team Sagawa Express) - 2:09:23 (Biwako '08)
33. Tomoyuki Sato (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:09:43 (Tokyo Int'l '04)
4. Abraham Tadesse (Eritrea) - 2:10:09 (Zurich '09)
102. Toshiya Katayama (Team NTT Nishi Nihon) - 2:10:12 (Biwako '05)
5. Adil Annani (Morocco) - 2:10:15 (Beppu-Oita '09)
101. Laban Kagika (Kenya/Team JFE Steel) - 2:10:24 (Fukuoka '01)
31. Masaya Shimizu (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:10:50 (Biwako '09)
6. Yuriy Hychun (Ukraine) - 2:10:59 (Debno '08)
105. Yuki Abe (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) - 2:13:47 (Biwako '07)
104. Mark Tucker (Australia) - 2:13:49 (Fukuoka '08)
107. Shingo Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 2:14:03 (Tokyo '08)
106. Yoshiyuki Suetsugu (Team Kanebo) - 2:14:31 (Nagano '08)
139. Steve Osaduik (Canada) - 2:16:49 (Victoria '06)
34. Yukihiro Kitaoka (Team NTN) - debut - 1:02:17 (Jitsugyodan Half '09)
(c) 2010 Brett Larner
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