by Brett Larner
With the opening of the Tokyo Marathon expo tomorrow JRN will be focused on coverage of what looks set to be the most exciting edition yet. Check back starting tomorrow for our race previews and other coverage.
But there is other action lined up across Japan this weekend. First and foremost is Saturday's Fukuoka International Cross-Country Meet. Fukuoka usually plays the role of one of the two selection races for the Japanese teams for the World Cross-Country Championships, but with no World XC this year only places on the Japanese team's for next month's Asian Cross-Country Championships and April's World University Cross-Country Championships are there for the taking. The junior races are as always stacked with the best high school talent and the senior women's 6 km promises a great rematch between defending champ Hitomi Niiya (Sakura AC) and 5000 m national champion Megumi Kinukawa (Mizuno), but the most interesting race looks set to be the senior men's 10 km.
On the entry list for the men's race are last year's winner and newly-minted Kenyan XC champion Bedan Karoki (Kenya/Team S&B), 10000 m national champion Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin), past 1500 m and 5000 m national champion Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B), 2011 and 2012's top Japanese half-marathoner Yusuke Takabayashi (Team Toyota), World University 10000 m champion Suguru Osako (Waseda Univ.), New York City Half-Marathon invited athletes Kento Otsu (Toyo Univ.) and Yuta Shitara (Toyo Univ.), university stars Akinobu Murasawa (Tokai Univ.), Kenta Murayama (Komazawa Univ.) and Keita Shitara (Toyo Univ.), Kenyans Nicholas Makau (Team Yachiyo Kogyo) and Jacob Wanjuki (Team Aichi Seiko) and many, many more.
Fukuoka will be broadcast nationwide on TBS from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. Overseas viewers should be able to watch online through the miracle of Keyhole TV. Click here for more info.
As with last year Karoki is scheduled to pace the first 10 km of the Tokyo Marathon the day after Fukuoka. He is said to have signed with the same management company who represented Samuel Wanjiru. This management has reportedly entered Karoki in this weekend's World's Best 10 km in Puerto Rico despite Karoki's previous engagements to run in Fukuoka and Tokyo, bringing to mind comparisons to Wanjiru other than just in the area of his running. If true, let's hope it all turns out better for Karoki than this kind of thing did for Sammy.
At the same time as the Tokyo Marathon on Sunday, three competitive half-marathons will also be going on across the country, the Kashima Yutoku Half-Marathon in southern Japan, the central Inuyama Yomiuri Half-Marathon, and, northwest of Tokyo, the Fukaya City Half Marathon. All three races feature top university runners winding down their road seasons before track season gets underway. 10000 m national champion Kayo Sugihara (Team Denso) is scheduled to run Inuyama, and Daegu World Championships marathoner Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) is also slated to run the 10 km in Inuyama as her final tuneup for the Mar. 11 Nagoya Women's Marathon where she will face a tough field looking to qualify for the London Olympics. Check back on Sunday and Monday for results from all three road races alongside our Tokyo coverage.
(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved