by Brett Larner
Update: Current forecast as of 7:00 p.m. on Mar. 6 is for light rain, moderate wind and temperatures of 6-7 degrees at the start.
The 2010 Biwako Mainichi Marathon, known as Biwako in Japan and Lake Biwa overseas, takes place this Sunday, Mar. 7. One of the oldest marathons in Japan, Biwako has taken steps in the last two years to ensure its continued prominence in the elite marathon circuit including securing Japan's first IAAF gold label despite not meeting any of the published criteria. This year's race unveils a new and purportedly faster course, a new main sponsor, and a good field with some top overseas talent.
The race will probably come down to one between the two men with the best recent times, 2009 World Championships 4th placer Yemane Tsegay of Ethiopia and 2009 Chicago Marathon 4th placer Charles Munyeki of Kenya, but should weather intervene or incentive be lacking quite a few people have a chance of stepping up and presenting a challenge in even a slighter slower race. Foremost among those is of course the great Hendrick Ramaala of South Africa, but look for Japan's Shimizu twins Tomoya (Team Sagawa Express) and Masaya (Team Asahi Kasei), each of whom ran his PB at Biwako within the last two years, to be up there.
Despite a poor showing at December's Fukuoka International Marathon, Tomoyuki Sato (Team Asahi Kasei) is a stable 2:09 runner who should also factor in if he is back to normal. Three other overseas elites, Abraham Tadesse (Eritrea), Adil Annani (Morocco) and Yuriy Hychun (Ukraine) have 2:10 wins within the last two years and could be ready for a step up. Lastly, Yukihiro Kitaoka (Team NTN) had a strong 2009 including a 1:02:17 half marathon PB and finishing the World Half Marathon Championships in 1:02:50 as the top Japanese runner and will be debuting at Biwako with great expectations of success.
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)
4. Abraham Tadesse (Eritrea) - 2:10:09 (Zurich '09)
5. Adil Annani (Morocco) - 2:10:15 (Beppu-Oita '09)
6. Yuriy Hychun (Ukraine) - 2:10:59 (Debno '08)
31. Masaya Shimizu (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:10:50 (Biwako '09)
32. Tomoya Shimizu (Team Sagawa Express) - 2:09:23 (Biwako '08)
33. Tomoyuki Sato (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:09:43 (Tokyo Int'l '04)
34. Yukihiro Kitaoka (Team NTN) - debut - 1:02:17 (Jitsugyodan Half '09)
101. Laban Kagika (Kenya/Team JFE Steel) - 2:10:24 (Fukuoka '01)
102. Toshiya Katayama (Team NTT Nishi Nihon) - 2:10:12 (Biwako '05)
103. Kenjiro Jitsui (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 2:08:50 (Tokyo Int'l '96)
104. Mark Tucker (Australia) - 2:13:49 (Fukuoka '08)
105. Yuki Abe (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) - 2:13:47 (Biwako '07)
106. Yoshiyuki Suetsugu (Team Kanebo) - 2:14:31 (Nagano '08)
107. Shingo Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 2:14:03 (Tokyo '08)
139. Steve Osaduik (Canada) - 2:16:49 (Victoria '06)
(c) 2010 Brett Larner
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