Skip to main content

Akaba Wants the Win and the Time - Osaka International Women's Marathon Preview (updated)

by Brett Larner

Update: Yumiko Hara (Team Univ. Ent.), Tomo Morimoto (Team Tenmaya), Adriana Fernandez (Mexico) and Tetyana Holovchenko have withdrawn with injuries.

The 30th anniversary Osaka International Women's Marathon takes place this Sunday, Jan. 30. With a new course which aims to be flatter and faster by eliminating the old course's most famous feature, the twisting and hilly turn through the ground of Osaka Castle, organizers are hopeful of seeing outstanding times in the first of the major domestic selection races for this summer's World Championships. 2009 World Championships marathoner Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) says she is going to deliver.

Akaba, one of Japan's top track and half marathon runners in the last few years, came to last year's Osaka with a knee injury, but despite being less than 100% she led the race through a 1:10:45 in cold rain. Akaba ultimately DNF'd but said afterwards that she had just wanted to see what she could do in the shape she was in, and returned later in the spring to set a modest PB of 2:24:55 at the London Marathon. This year Akaba says she is fit and going not only for a World Championships spot but the win, and not only the win but a fast time. If she follows through on last year's performance the Japanese all-comers' record of 2:21:18 could be in range.

Two overseas women have faster PBs, Russians Liudmila Petrova and Svetlana Zakharova, but with both in their 40's it's questionable whether they could still be factors in a fast race. That leaves Italian Anna Incerti as the probable top foreign entrant, with a PB of 2:27:42. Not far off is Romanian Adriana Pirtea, who improved her PB to 2:28:52 after her infamous near-win at the Chicago Marathon.

The biggest potential news could come from two follow-up marathoners who debuted in 2010, Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) and Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku). Kizaki was the best all-around Japanese woman of 2010, with strong track performances, a good run at the World Half Marathon, and a 2:27:34 debut at last year's Osaka after following Akaba's 1:10:45 first half. She says she is shooting for a 2:24, which should be enough for at least 2nd Japanese. Ito was 4th at last year's Nagoya International Women's Marathon in her debut. Her time of 2:29:13 was not particularly remarkable, but it does not tell the full story of her run. Despite committing to the marathon only a month beforehand, Ito ran head-to-head against the experienced Yuri Kano (Second Wind AC) in the latter stages of the race, pushing the pace before falling apart in the final 5 km and losing two places. Since then she has run 3000 m, 5000 m and 10000 m PBs, and with experience and better stamina this time around her coach Tadasu Kawano says she is ready for the win.

Osaka also features a number of other women in the 2:26-2:39 range, most of whom could be in the pack late in the race. Chika Horie (Team Univ. Ent.), Mika Okunaga (Team Kyudenko) and Miki Ohira (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) all hold solid experience behind them, with Okunaga having shown potential for something higher by running in the lead pack at the 2009 London Marathon. 2010's top two Japanese half marathoners, identical twins Hiroko and Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) have yet to find success at the marathon but have the talent to be there.

The Osaka International Women's Marathon will be broadcast live on Fuji TV beginning at noon Japan time on Jan. 30. Overseas viewers should be able to watch for free online via Keyhole TV, available here. Live English commentary via Twitter will be available @JRNLive.

2011 Osaka International Women's Marathon
click here for complete field listing
1. Liudmila Petrova (Russia) - 2:21:29 (London '06)
2. Svetlana Zakharova (Russia) - 2:21:31 (Chicago '02)
4. Anna Incerti (Italy) - 2:27:42 (Milan '08)
5. Adriana Pirtea (Romania) - 2:28:52 (London '08)
33. Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) - 2:24:55 (London '10)
34. Miki Ohira (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 2:26:09 (Osaka '08)
35. Chika Horie (Team Univ. Ent.) - 2:26:11 (Hokkaido '02)
36. Mika Okunaga (Team Kyudenko) - 2:27:16 (Osaka '09)
37. Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) - 2:27:34 (Osaka '10)
38. Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:29:13 (Nagoya '10)
39. Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 2:32:20 (Yokohama '09)
40. Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 2:33:36 (Nagoya '10)
101. Ayumi Nakayama (Team Yamada Denki) - 2:28:50 (Osaka '08)
102. Saori Nejo (Team Hokuren) - 2:33:54 (Osaka '10)
106. Satoko Uetani (Kobe Gakuin Univ.) - 2:33:55 (Sapporo '09)


pacemakers
62. Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal)
61. Aniko Kalovics (Hungary)
63. Kaori Urata (Team Tenmaya)

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Brett Larner said…
Current forecast is for rain Saturday night, then cloudy race day with a low of 0 and a high of 5 degrees. If the rain is late it could end up being a replay of last year's miserable weather.
Scott Brown said…
Just checked and it seems like it's going to clear by 9am Brett.

So it won't be as bad as last year! You ran the half, didn't you? And didn't do bad in those "miserables" condition so yes with a bit of clear weather, light wind too, it will be a fast race for the girls.

I'm doing the half this Sunday too and hope the reverse course of Osaka Castle to Nagai stadium will be an improvement.

Tanoshimi ni...
Brett Larner said…
Whoa, good memory! Yes, I did run the half last year and it was cold and slow. Hope you have better weather. Good run to you.
Brett Larner said…
Looks now like it'll be sunny, 2 degrees at the start and moderately windy.

Most-Read This Week

Kawauchi Brothers Repeat Father's Day Okinoshima Ultra Sweep

For the second year in a row brothers Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) and Yoshiki Kawauchi (unattached) returned to their late father's home island of Okinoshima to dominate the Father's Day Okinoshima Ultramarathon 50 km and 100 km.

Yoshiki, the younger of the two, ran the 100 km for the third time. In his 2015 debut he suffered mightily on the way in to an 11:21:52 finish. Returning with a year's more experience in 2016, he won in a course record 7:20:31. This time he was out fast in search of his first sub-7 clocking, averaging 4:00/km at 40 km through the hilliest part of the course before starting to slow. At 60 km he was still on track for a sub-7, splitting 4:07:10, but when he hit the series of three >100 m elevation gain climbs just after 60 km sub-7 slipped out of reach. Still well under course pace with a 7:12:27 projection at 80 km Yoshiki struggled on the last 100 m climb just over 5 km from the finish, coming in for the win in 7:29:06. Yoshiki has…

Japanese National Track and Field Championships Preview

The 101st edition of Japan's National Track and Field Championships takes place Friday through Sunday at Osaka's Yanmar Stadium Nagai. It's a strange time in some ways. Despite the overall upward trend spurred on by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the count of athletes who might make the London World Championships off their performances at Nationals is low. The marathon, walks, combined events and relays aside, based on current qualifying times only the men's 100 m, women's 5000 m and women's 10000 m could field full three-member squads, and not many events look set to join that list. The progress over the last few years in men's distance on the track seems to have stalled, with nobody qualified for London in the 5000 m and the only man qualified in the 10000 m already a scratch. Is it a just a hiccup or a sign of problems in the buildup to 2020?

Visit the JAAF's National Track and Field Championships website for entry and start lists, live results, photos an…

New Balance Nationals and Record-Breaking Times Nationwide at Japanese High School Regionals

The New Balance Nationals Outdoor was the weekend's big high school meet in the U.S.A., but from Thursday through Monday regions across Japan also held their qualifying meets for the July 29 - Aug. 2 National High School Track and Field Championships in Yamagata. Performances were at a high level across the board, with at least eight meet records nationwide in distance events.

Five girls broke 4:20 in the 1500 m, with Helen Ekarare (Sendai Ikuei H.S.) leading the way with a 4:09.67 meet record to win the Tohoku Region. Nozomi Tanaka (Nishiwaki Kogyo H.S.) was the fastest Japanese girl, winning the Kinki Region title in 4:18.32. On the boys' side, four broke 3:50 in the 1500 m, three of them in the Kinki Region meet. Yusuke Takahashi (Hyogo H.S.) took the Kinki title in 3:46.86.



In the girls' 3000 m, five girls including both Ekarare and Tanaka were under 9:05 nationwide. Ekarare and Tanaka both doubled with 3000 m wins, but the fastest time came from Tabitha Kamau (Kamimu…