by Brett Larner
This weekend kicks off the busiest period of the year for Japanese distance running, with Sunday's Osaka International Women's Marathon leading seven straight weekends of elite marathons in this World Championships qualifying season. It's busier than ever thanks to last fall's APEC conference in Yokohama, which forced the second running of the Yokohama International Women's Marathon to shift from November to February. A quick guide to the upcoming marathons, all of which except Nobeoka will be broadcast live nationwide and viewable overseas.
Jan. 30: Osaka International Women's Marathon
Feb. 6: Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon
Feb. 13: Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon
Feb. 20: Yokohama International Women's Marathon
Feb. 27: Tokyo Marathon
Mar. 6: Biwako Mainichi Marathon
Mar. 13: Nagoya International Women's Marathon
It's not just marathons, either, as the world's two most competitive 30 km races, four of its most competitive half marathons, several high-level 10-milers, the last major ekiden of the season and even the miniature domestic XC season also fall within the same window.
Jan. 30: Meigi Ekiden
Feb. 6: Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon
Feb. 11: Himejijo 10-Miler
Feb. 13: Karatsu 10-Miler / 10 km
Feb. 13: Chiba International XC Meet
Feb. 20: Ome 30 km / 10 km
Feb. 26: Fukuoka International XC Meet
Feb. 27: Kumanichi 30 km
Mar. 13: Tachikawa Akishima Half Marathon
Mar. 20: National Jitsugyodan Half Marathon Championships
Mar. 20: Matsue Ladies' Half Marathon
Another dozen or more elite-level races fill in the gaps. As always, JRN will bring you coverage of it all. Stay tuned for our previews and results, beginning later today with a preview of Sunday's Osaka International Women's Marathon and its accompanying elite-level half marathon.
(c) 2011 Brett Larner
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