by Brett Larner
On Nov. 28 the organziers of the 2011 Hofu Yomiuri Marathon, the last elite marathon of the year, announced the lineup of this year's invited athlete field. One of the most competitive editions in Hofu history, the field includes 2010 Asian Games marathon gold medalist Youngjun Ji (South Korea), Tokyo Marathon hero Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.), defending champion Serod Batochir (Mongolia) and Fukuoka University ace Takuro Nakanishi among others.
Ji leads a contingent of three strong Korean athletes and is the likely favorite, but Batochir returns to Hofu with a solid 2:11:35 PB from April's London Marathon and should present a serious challenge to Ji's chances. On paper Kawauchi is the leading man among the Japanese runners, but Hofu will be his fourth marathon in the last three months and, coming just two weeks after his bid for an Olympic team spot at the Fukuoka International Marathon seems unlikely to be more than a recovery run effort. Nakanishi was the top Japanese man and 3rd overall in the 10000 m at September's National University T&F Championships and challenged for the win on the first stage of this month's National University Ekiden Championships. In interviews he said that Hofu will be an experiential race, with a serious shot at an Olympic team spot coming in the spring, most likely at March's Biwako Mainichi Marathon.
Other noteworthy names in the Japanese field include three-time winner and course record holder of Hofu's 10 km Tomohiro Seto (Team Kanebo), past Hofu champion Kentaro Ito (Kyowa Hakko Bio), former Asia University ace Takuro Yamashita (Team Fujitsu) and 2009 Copenhagen Marathon winner Toyokazu Yoshimura (Osaka T&F Assoc.). Also in the field, having announced Hofu as his retirement race, is one of Japan's all-time greats, Olympian and 2:07 runner Shigeru Aburuya (Team Chugoku Denryoku). In the general division, Kenyan Dishon Maina Karukuwa (Team Aisan Kogyo) is on the list after nearly breaking the course record in his marathon debut at last week's Ohtawara Marathon. Former Koku Gakuin University ace Norimasa Nishina (Team Fujitsu) will also be making his debut in the general division in his first year as a pro.
In the women's division, defending champ and course record holder Hiroko Yoshitomi (Shunan City Hall) will face a strong challenge from 2009 Hofu winner Noriko Hirao (First Dream AC). The Hofu Yomiuri Marathon will be held on Dec. 18.
2011 Hofu Yomiuri Marathon Elite Field
click here for elite field listing
click here for complete field listing
Shigeru Aburuya (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:07:52 (Biwako '01)
Youngjun Ji (Korea) - 2:08:30 (Daegu '09)
Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) - 2:08:37 (Tokyo '11)
Junhyun Hwan (Korea) - 2:10:43 (Seoul Int'l '19)
Serod Batochir (Mongolia) - 2:11:35 (London '11)
Unsan Chon (Korea) - 2:13:39 (Seoul Int'l '04)
Tomohiro Seto (Team Kanebo) - 2:12:21 (Berlin '07)
Takuro Yamashita (Team Fujitsu) - 2:13:33 (Nobeoka '11)
Kentaro Ito (Kyowa Hakko Bio) - 2:13:44 (Hofu '01)
Kota Noguchi (Team Toyota) - 2:14:31 (Nobeoka '11)
Toyokazu Yoshimura (Osaka T&F Assoc.) - 2:15:05 (Hofu '09)
Dishon Karukuwa Maina (Kenya/Team Aisan Kogyo) - 2:15:09 (Ohtawara '11)
Takuro Nakanishi (Fukuoka Univ.) - debut
Norimasa Nishina (Team Fujitsu) - debut
Hiroko Yoshitomi (Shunan City Hall)
Noriko Hirao (First Dream AC)
Atsuko Maeda (Kumamoto AC)
Chika Kawano (E-Runners AC)
Nana Higashi (Yamato AC)
(c) 2011 Brett Larner
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