by Brett Larner
The organizers of the Dec. 16 Hofu Yomiuri Marathon released their 2012 elite field on Nov. 28. While Hofu has evidently cut its small international field, for the second year in a row it will star the great Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) in an inexplicably suicidal double just two weeks after the Fukuoka International Marathon. Last year Kawauchi ran 2:09:57 for 3rd in Fukuoka in an inspirational performance, then followed up in Hofu with a head-to-head battle with Mongolian defending champion Serod Batochir where he placed 2nd in 2:12:33. This year Kawauchi is shooting for 2:07 in Fukuoka, and with no Batochir to push him the best you could probably say is that a slower time seems likely in Hofu.
Kawauchi's strongest competition should come from Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC). Ito holds a 2:13:16 best from last year's Gold Coast Marathon but has struggled with frequent injury problems since then. A 2:18:55 at the Oct. 28 Oikawa Marathon as a training run for Hofu suggests Ito is fit, and if Kawauchi falters he should be right there to pick up the pieces. Kenyan Dishon Karukuwa Maina (Team Aisan Kogyo) is another strong contender, with a 2:15:09 win just off the course record in his marathon debut at last year's Ohtawara Marathon. Only 21, it wouldn't take much for him to step up to the win.
Noriaki Takahashi will be making his last run in the S&B uniform, one of the athletes hit by the impending demise of Japan's most celebrated corporate team. With a 2:14:13 he isn't far off the winning level and no doubt will be coming to Hofu to go out in style. Former two-time 5000 m national champion Kazuyoshi Tokumoto retired from 2012 national champion Team Nissin Shokuhin recently to pursue a coaching career, continuing his running with the Monteroza club team. Hofu will be his road debut of the second half of his career. National record holder Toshinari Takaoka-coached Shota Yamada (Team Kanebo) and first-timer Shingo Mishima (Team Toyota) round out the seven-man elite field.
The 43rd Hofu Yomiuri Marathon will be broadcast live locally by KRY and nationwide on NTV-BS, but while there is an off chance it may be available on Keyhole TV the best bet for following the race is via KRY's live 5k splits on race day. JRN will do limited coverage of the race via Twitter @JRNLive.
43rd Hofu Yomiuri Marathon Elite Field
Hofu, Yamaguchi, 12/16/12
field listing includes bib numbers and PB marks
click here for complete elite field listing
1. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) - 2:08:37
2. Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:13:16
3. Noriaki Takahashi (Team S&B) - 2:14:13
4. Kazuyoshi Tokumoto (Monteroza AC) - 2:15:05
5. Dishon Karukuwa Maina (Kenya/Team Aisan Kogyo) - 2:15:09
6. Shota Yamada (Team Kanebo) - 2:16:13
7. Shingo Mishima (Team Toyota) - 1:30:45 (30 km)
(c) 2012 Brett Larner
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