translated by Brett Larner
On Feb. 9 the organizers of the 55th edition of the world's most competitive 30 km race, the Kumanichi 30 km Road Race scheduled for Feb. 27 in Kumamoto, Kyushu, announced the 13 athletes in this year's elite field. Known as "The Gateway to the Marathon," Kumanichi typically invites young corporate and university runners still in their 20's to get their first experience of longer distance.
2nd by just one second at this year's New Year Ekiden, Team Fujitsu sends two men to try to follow team leader Atsushi Fujita's win at last year's Kumanichi. Shoji Akutsu won the New Year Ekiden's Sixth Stage, while Shota Yamaguchi was 5th on the competitive Third Stage.
New Year Ekiden winner Team Toyota will field Takamasa Uchida, while 3rd place Team Nissin Shokuhin is sending Kenichi Jiromaru. Two of the strong Team Kanebo's youngest members, Tomoyuki Morita and Hiroki Kadota, will run, while Kyushu-based athletes include Shuji Yoshikawa (Team Kyudenko) and Takahiro Mori (Team Asahi Kasei). Two university runner's from this year's high-level Hakone Ekiden are also on the invite list, 3rd place Komazawa University's Akinori Iida, and Koku Gakuin University's Norimasa Nishina who helped lead Koku Gakuin to its first-ever seeded finish.
This year's Kumanichi will not include any women in either the invited or general fields. 53 men make up the general field alongside the 13 invited runners. The race will begin at 10 a.m. in front of the Kumanichi Convention Center in Kumamoto.
Translator's note: The absence of any elite women is probably connected to the Yokohama International Women's Marathon being run on February 20 this year rather than in its usual November time slot.