by Brett Larner
Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) is set to make his European debut this Sunday at the 10th Metro Group Dusseldorf Marathon, an IAAF Bronze Label event. Kawauchi contacted JRN in late December last year to ask for assistance in finding a late-April race in Europe to do as a practice run for the London Olympics. Following his failed bid to make the Japanese team at February's Tokyo Marathon he elected to commit himself to running Dusseldorf as a serious race. Joining him is the best field assembled yet in Dusseldorf's short history, with one 2:06 runner and five 2:08 men plus defending champion Nahashon Kimaiyo (Kenya), two debutants with sub-62 half marathon credentials and a sizeable second pack of runners looking to break their home countries' Olympic qualifying standards. Weather permitting, the out-of-nowhere 2:08:32 course record set by Iaroslav Musinschi (Moldova) in 2010 looks sure to fall.
On April 27 he appeared alongside German favorite Jan Fitscher and others to talk about his plans for the race. "At the minimum," he told the media, "I want to break 2:10, but along with that I want to show that even though Kenyans and Ethiopians are superb athletes, Japanese runners can compete with them. In Tokyo we went through halfway in 1:03:13, so if the first half here is 1:03:30 I don't think it'll be too fast, and if it's 1:04 I'll be very confident." If he achieves both his time goal and the win Kawauchi will become only the second Japanese man to win a European marathon sub-2:10, 25 years after 1991 World Championships gold medalist Hiromi Taniguchi's 2:09:50 win at the 1987 London Marathon. Kawauchi's training partner Saeki Makino (Kawaguchi T&F Assoc.) will likewise be making his European debut looking for a sub-2:15 PB clocking.
The Dusseldorf Marathon will be streamed live here beginning at 9 a.m. local time on Sunday the 29th. Check back for pictures and further coverage of the race weekend.
10th Metro Group Dusseldorf Marathon
1. Nahashon Kimaiyo (Kenya) - 2:10:36 (2011 Dusseldorf winner)
2. Seboka Tola (Ethiopia) - 2:06:17
4. Joseph Ngeny (Kenya) - 2:08:10
5. Evans Ruto (Kenya) - 2:08:36
6. Duncan Koech (Kenya) - 2:08:38
7. Yuki Kawauchi (Japan) - 2:08:37
8. Abraham Chelanga (Kenya) - 2:08:43
11. Josphat Ngetich (Kenya) - 2:13:44
15. Saeki Makino (Japan) - 1:04:35 (half)
17. John Ewoi (Kenya) - 2:14:56
20. Jan Fitschen (Germany) - 2:15:40
22. Marcin Chabowski (Poland) - 2:14:32
23. Jose Moreira (Portugal) - 2:13:37
32. Stanley Salil (Kenya) - debut - 1:01:35 (half)
33. Tewelde Estifanos (Eritrea) - debut - 1:01:39 (half)
text and photo (c) 2012 Brett Larner
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