Thursday, December 15, 2011

Akaba, Chepyego, Ito, Niiya Headline 30th Sanyo Ladies Road Race

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Reaching its 30th anniversary this year, the Dec. 23 Sanyo Ladies Road Race half marathon and 10 km has announced its elite field.  Led by Daegu World Championships marathon 5th-place finisher Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) and local Kojokan H.S. graduate Hitomi Niiya (Sakura AC), the assembled field is without a doubt the most brilliant in the event's history.

In the Yuko Arimori Cup Half Marathon, Akaba receives top billing.  Her Daegu teammate Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) will also line up along with last year's 2nd and 4th-place finishers Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) and Kaori Urata (Team Tenmaya) and last year's 10 km winner Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko).  Veterans including 1998 10 km division winner Yuri Kano (Team Shiseido) and Athens Olympics marathoner Naoko Sakamoto (Team Tenmaya) are on the entry list as well.

In the Kinue Hitomi 10 km the clear favorite is Niiya.  For the 23-year-old who ran the 5000 m in this summer's Daegu World Championships, the race will be her first in her hometown of Okayama since her graduation from high school.  Others on the list include 2007 World Championships marathoner Mari Ozaki (Team Noritz), National Championships 1500 m and 5000 m podium finisher Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya) and Machiko Iwakawa of 2011 National University Women's Ekiden champions Ritsumeikan Univ.  One of the highlights to watch for will be the battle between Kojokan H.S. alumnae Niiya and Ohara.

The race begins at Okayama's Kanko Stadium, with the half-marathon getting underway at 10:00 and the 10 km at 10:15.  In conjunction with the race's 30th anniversary, Yuko Arimori will lead a panel discussion of past Olympic marathoner women on Dec. 22.  On the 23rd the panelists will take part in a fun run at the race venue with local elementary school children.

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