by Brett Larner
The 61st running of the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, one of Japan's oldest, takes place this Sunday, Feb. 5. Outside the circuit of Olympic-qualifying races this year, Beppu-Oita's domestic field is largely developmental, but it features a good international field of athletes looking to run Olympic-qualifying marks for their own countries including one prominent debut. Overseas viewers should be able to watch TBS' race broadcast via Keyhole TV beginning at 11:50 a.m. Japan time on the 5th. JRN will once again cover the race via Twitter @JRNLive.
The Japanese field includes five men who ran second-tier PBs at other domestic marathons last year. Yuki Moriwaki (Team JFE Steel) leads the way with a 2:12:34 from last year's Beppu-Oita. Moriwaki is closely followed by the Koichi Morishita-coached Kenji Takeuchi (Team Toyota Kyushu) with a 2:12:44 at last year's Nobeoka Nishi Nihon Marathon. One noteworthy name among the five is Norimasa Nishina (Team Fujitsu), a first-year pro who debuted less than two months ago at the Hofu Yomiuri Marathon where he ran 2:15:12. Takehiro Arakawa and Yoshikazu Kawazoe, two members of local Kyushu powerhouse Team Asahi Kasei, will be making their debuts, as will 2012 Hakone Ekiden course record-setting Toyo University's Takaaki Tanaka and his former teammate Yu Chiba, now a first-year pro with Team Honda.
Despite the withdrawal of 2:06:16 veteran Daniel Njenga (Kenya/Team Yakult) the overseas field remains solid, including 2003 Beppu-Oita winner Samson Ramadhani (Tanzania), 2010 and 2011 Hofu Yomiuri Marathon winner Serod Batochir (Mongolia), 2011 Hokkaido Marathon winner Harun Njoroge (Kenya/Team Komori Corp.), 2:08:18 runner and on-paper favorite Abdellah Falil who is seeking to become the third Moroccan winner in four years in Beppu-Oita, 2010's dramatic 3rd-place finisher Jeff Hunt (Australia), and, in a surprising marathon debut, former Ethiopian 3000 m SC national record holder Yakob Jarso (Ethiopia). Between Falil, Ramadhani, Jarso and his countryman Desta Gebrehiwet the course record of 2:08:30 could be under threat if the always-unpredictable Beppu Bay winds cooperate.
The women's race sees course record holder Chiyuki Mochizuki (Canon AC Kyushu) return, but she is very likely to lose her record should sub-2:30 woman Kaori Yoshida (Amino Vital AC) start. Since appearing on the Beppu-Oita entry list Yoshida's name has been announced as an invited runner at the Ome 30 km road race in two weeks, a feasible double but raising the possibility that she will be a DNS in Beppu. If she runs a new course record under 2:35 should be all but guaranteed.
2012 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon Elite Field
click here for complete field listing
1. Samson Ramadhani (Tanzania) - 2:08:01 (London, 2003)
2. Abdellah Falil (Morocco) - 2:08:18 (Daegu, 2011)
3. Adam Draczynski (Poland) - 2:10:49 (Vienna, 2010)
4. Jeff Hunt (Australia) - 2:11:00 (Beppu-Oita, 2010)
5. Serod Batochir (Mongolia) - 2:11:35 (London, 2011)
6. Desta Gebrehiwet (Ethiopia) - 2:11:55 (Venice, 2011)
7. Yakob Jarso (Ethiopia) - debut - 1:00:07 (New Delhi, 2010)
12. Harun Njoroge (Kenya/Team Komori Corp.) - 2:11:43 (Beppu-Oita, 2011)
13. Yuki Moriwaki (Team JFE Steel) - 2:12:34 (Beppu-Oita, 2011)
14. Kenji Takeuchi (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 2:12:44 (Nobeoka, 2011)
15. Keisuke Wakui (Team Yakult) - 2:13:31 (Biwako, 2011)
16. Masanori Ishida (Team Sagawa Express) - 2:13:54 (Nobeoka, 2011)
101. Norimasa Nishina (Team Fujitsu) - 2:15:12 (Hofu, 2011)
102. Chia Che Chang (Taiwan) - 2:17:12 (Hofu, 2008)
104. Tetsuo Nishimura (Team YKK) - 2:14:22 (Biwako, 2007)
105. Rei Yoshioka (Team Yakult) - debut - 1:02:56 (Ageo, 2005)
112. Teruto Ozaki (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:13:28 (Beijing, 2006)
115. Takehiro Arakawa (Team Asahi Kasei) - debut - 1:03:17 (Tamana, 2011)
116. Yoshikazu Kawazoe (Team Asahi Kasei) - debut - 1:03:19 (Nat'l Corp. Half, 2010)
120. Yu Chiba (Team Honda) - debut - 1:04:01
121. Takaaki Tanaka (Toyo Univ.) - debut - 1:05:44
2001. Kaori Yoshida (Amino Vital AC) - 2:29:45 (Chicago, 2010)
2002. Chiyuki Mochizuki (Canon AC Kyushu) - 2:39:57 (Beppu-Oita, 2011)
2003. Yuka Ezaki (Team Kyudenko) - 2:31:35 (Osaka Int'l, 2007)
(c) 2012 Brett Larner
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