by Brett Larner
So far this year Japan's major marathons have been cursed with bad weather. January's Osaka International Women's Marathon, February's Tokyo Marathon and last week's Biwako Mainichi Marathon all had cold, rainy, windy conditions which put the brakes on hopes of good times. This Sunday's Nagoya International Women's Marathon looks set to have the first genuinely nice spring day, with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid to upper teens. Could it be too much of a good thing?
The race is being pitched in the Japanese media as a battle between the holder of the fastest PB in the field, 2007 Rotterdam Marathon winner Hiromi Ominami (Team Toyota Shatai), and the field's highest-placing finisher from last summer's World Championships marathon, 7th-placer Yuri Kano (Second Wind AC). Ominami hasn't broken 2:30 since 2007 but turned in strong performances at February's Marugame Half Marathon and Ome 30 km which indicate she is in good shape. Probably not enough for the win, but she is an experienced competitor who can't be discounted. The diminuitive Kano comes to Nagoya from altitude training in Albuquerque without any major race results this year. She says she has no other goal than the win, but there is a phrase in Japanese, "Kanousei ga hikui," which when spoken can mean either "Kano is short" or "Not much chance." If she succeeds in picking up the second marathon win of her career, Kano will join her teammate Kiyoko Shimahara as a top contender for the Japanese team at November's Asian Games marathon.
Derartu Tulu (Ethiopia) will be the woman wearing the #1 bib. Until winning last year's New York City Marathon Tulu had not been a factor at the international level since setting her PB, the best in the field after Ominami, at the 2005 World Championships. Nagoya will be her chance to show her surprise New York win wasn't a fluke. It is a little surprising to see Lyubov Denisova (Russia) in the field after a late-career two-year ban for a drug violation, but it will be interesting to see whether she can approach anywhere near the stable 2:25-2:26 range she held from 2002-2006 before being caught. Her countrywoman Tatiana Aryasova, Chinese runner Jiala Wang and Kenyan Rose Nyangacha round out the overseas field.
Looking at the rest of the domestic field, Mika Okunaga (Team Kyudenko) is worth keeping an eye on. After a modest 2:27:17 PB at last year's Osaka in January, Okunaga joined Kano at the London Marathon in April where she ran in the lead pack at near 2:20 pace for the first part of the race. Okunaga doesn't look to be that caliber of athlete but the ambition she showed in London suggests that if she has learned from that performance she may be a contender this Sunday.
Several strong women are debuting in Nagoya, chief among them Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera). One half of a set of fast twins, Miyauchi PB'd at February's Marugame Half Marathon in 1:09:51. Not far behind is Remi Nakazato (Team Daihatsu), who with a PB of 1:10:03 has a shot at breaking 2:27. Four other debut women have half marathon PBs in the 1:11 range and could perform. Also worth watching out for is Yoshio Koide-coached Akane Wakita (Team Toyota Jidoshoki), whose 2:31:16 debut at last year's Osaka didn't accurately represent her potential.
The marathon will be broadcast live nationwide on Fuji TV from 11:50 a.m. to 2:55 p.m. this Sunday, Mar. 14. Overseas fans should be able to watch online for free thanks to the miracle of Keyhole TV. Click here for more information on watching the race.
2010 Nagoya International Women's Marathon Elite Field With Bib Numbers
click here for complete field listing
1. Derartu Tulu (Ethiopia) - 2:23:30 (World Championships '05)
2. Lyubov Denisova (Russia) - 2:25:18 (New York '04)
3. Jiali Wang (China) - 2:26:34 (Zhengzhou '08)
4. Tatiana Aryasova (Russia) - 2:29:09 (Los Angeles '08)
5. Rose Kerubo Nyangacha (Kenya) - 2:29:22 (Hamburg '07)
11. Hiromi Ominami (Team Toyota Shatai) - 2:23:26 (Berlin '04)
12. Yuri Kano (Second Wind AC) - 2:24:27 (Tokyo Int'l '08)
13. Mika Okunaga (Team Kyudenko) - 2:27:17 (Osaka '09)
14. Yuko Machida (Team Nihon ChemiCon) - 2:29:35 (Nagoya '09)
15. Mayumi Fujita (Team Juhachi Ginko) - 2:29:56 (Osaka '09)
16. Akane Wakita (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) - 2:31:16 (Osaka '09)
17. Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - debut - 1:09:51 (Marugame Half '10)
18. Remi Nakazato (Team Daihatsu) - debut - 1:10:03 (Jitsugyodan Half '09)
101. Misuzu Okamoto (Team Hokkoku Ginko) - 2:34:12 (Sapporo '09)
103. Yukiko Matsubara (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:34:05 (Osaka '08)
104. Shoko Miyazaki (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) - debut - 1:11:06 (Jitsugyodan Half '09)
105. Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - debut - 1:11:11 (Kyoto Half '06)
115. Kayo Sugihara (Team Denso) - 1:11:35 - debut - 1:11:35 (Miyazaki Half '07)
116. Aimi Horikoshi (Team Yamada Denki) - debut - 1:11:20 (Miyazaki Half '08)
117. Ikumi Wakamatsu (Team Denso) - 2:27:44 (Nagoya '01)
(c) 2010 Brett Larner
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