Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Osaka Announces 2011 Elite Women's Field

by Brett Larner

On Dec. 20 the organizers of the Osaka International Women's Marathon announced the field for the 2011 edition. Celebrating the event's 30th anniversary with a new, faster course eliminating the famous hilly, twisting section through Osaka Castle and with the addition of female pacemakers, the field features a competitive cross-section of current top Japanese women and several aging overseas elites.

Osaka is the first major domestic selection race for the 2011 World Championships team. The top Japanese woman meeting Rikuren's time goals will be automatically named to the team. If the race is slow then the top domestic finisher will have to wait until mid-March for the final selection announcement. It doesn't look likely to be slow, however. Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) is the favorite, coming fresh from a sub-32 road 10k in Sunday's National Jitsugyodan Women's Ekiden in the midst of her marathon training. Akaba says she will be shooting for a fast time, not just the win, and having gone out on 2:21 pace at last year's race while injured she may well follow through. Yumiko Hara (Team Univ. Ent.) is the other major domestic favorite, with the fastest PB among the Japanese women but a major coaching change this year and several recent absences from competition following her win at August's Hokkaido Marathon. Solid 2006 Vienna Marathon winner Tomo Morimoto (Team Tenmaya), the lone reliable marathoner in the stable of fast-debuting one-hit wonders turned out by Tenmaya head coach and Rikuren director of women's marathoning Yutaka Taketomi, is another major contender for the World Championships spot.

Among the relative newcomers in the Japanese field, watch for Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu), one of the all-around best-performing Japanese women of 2010, and Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku), who had a good debut earlier this year in Nagoya, to move up and be in contention. A possible strike against Ito: Her teammate Atsushi Ikawa, who likewise had a good debut in the spring, DNF'd in his follow-up at this month's Fukuoka International Marathon.

Three of the six overseas invited elites are over age 38, including seemingly indefatigable Russians Liudmila Petrova and Svetlana Zakharova. Among the younger half of the overseas runners is Romanian Adriana Pirtea, who memorably lost the Chicago Marathon to Ethiopian Berhane Adere by celebrating her victory prematurely.

2011 Osaka International Women's Marathon
Liudmila Petrova (Russia) - 2:21:29 (London '06)
Svetlana Zakharova (Russia) - 2:21:31 (Chicago '02)
Yumiko Hara (Team Univ. Ent.) - 2:23:48(Osaka '07)
Adriana Fernandez (Mexico) - 2:24:06 (London '99)
Tomo Morimoto (Team Tenmaya) - 2:24:33 (Vienna '06)
Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) - 2:24:55 (London '10)
Miki Ohira (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 2:26:09 (Osaka '08)
Chika Horie (Team Univ. Ent.) - 2:26:11 (Hokkaido '02)
Mika Okunaga (Team Kyudenko) - 2:27:16 (Osaka '09)
Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) - 2:27:34 (Osaka '10)
Anna Incerti (Italy) - 2:27:42 (Milan '08)
Adriana Pirtea (Romania) - 2:28:52 (London '08)
Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:29:13 (Nagoya '10)
Tetyana Holovchenko (Ukraine) - 2:31:37 (Warsaw '10)
Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 2:32:20 (Yokohama '09)
Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 2:33:36 (Nagoya '10)

pacemakers
Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal)
Aniko Kalovics (Hungary)
Kaori Urata (Team Tenmaya)

(c) 2010 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the great info on the Japanese runners. I was just wondering if Japanese endurance races distribute the "space blankets" for the runners after each race? I looked at tons of pictures but haven't seen any.

Brett Larner said...

At your service. I don't remember ever seeing them here, but many races have finishers' towels instead. You'll often see people being draped with them at the finish line in the race broadcasts. They're usually full-sized bath towels printed with the race name, logo and date. Much nicer than disposable mylar sheets, although if you race here enough you start to have the same problem as with race t-shirts.