What was the Japanese men's performance of the year?

What was the Japanese men's performance of the year?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tokyo Marathon Releases 2013 Elite Field

by Brett Larner

Tokyo makes a decent entry into the Majors with an elite field including four 2:04 men and six with 2:06 bests, and a women's field featuring three under 2:21.  Defending champions Michael Kipkorir Kipyego (Kenya) and Atsede Habtamu (Ethiopia) return but are not shown the courtesy of the #1 bibs in their divisions, those going to 2012 Berlin Marathon runner-up Dennis Kipruto Kimetto (Kenya) and 2:19:19 runner Irina Mikitenko (Germany). Mikitenko seems bound to fall prey to Ethiopians Bezunesh Bekele and Aberu Kebede with 2011 Boston champion Caroline Cheptonui Kilel also in the top group of competion.  Kipruto is up against the resurgent James Kwambai (Kenya) and two components of last year's Miracle in Dubai, Dino Sefir and Jonathan Kiplimo Maiyo (Kenya). If Kipruto feels motivated to go for the win this time he is the sure favorite, and it is certainly worth his while.  The combination of 1st place and a course record are worth around $120,000 U.S. and World Marathon Major points are also on the line for the first time. Tokyo's weather has been a crap shoot in its six editions to date and the terrible final 6 km of the Tokyo course make truly Grade-A times unlikely, but barring a repeat of the freezing hell of 2010 the 2:07:23 and 2:25:28 course records seem bound to fall.

The Japanese field is led by last year's runner-up Arata Fujiwara (Miki House), talking big about the 2:06:16 national record and making the race interesting.  Despite going 2 for 3 last year he doesn't exactly have the greatest record when it comes to important races, so a more reliable bet to be interesting is the Koichi Morishita-coached former Hakone Ekiden superstar Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu), who earlier this month ran the equivalent of a half marathon national record while setting a 22.0 km course record of 1:02:50 at the New Year Ekiden.  2:08:38 man Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko), Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) and 30 km national record holder Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) should be in the picture with Fujiwara and Imai for a place on the 2013 World Championships team if any of them goes sub-2:08. Also of note are the debuts of marathon national record holder Toshinari Takaoka-coached half marathon ace Masato Kihara (Team Kanebo), 2012 10000 m national champion Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin), and sub-62 half marathoners Yusuke Takabayashi (Team Toyota) and Ryotaro Nitta (Team Konica Minolta).

With an IAAF Gold Label and now a place in the World Marathon Majors it's worth nothing that for Japanese women at the Tokyo Marathon there is not true gender parity with the men.  Despite similar quality in the foreign fields only the men's race counts toward Japanese World Championships team selection, and as such there is a built-in disincentive for Japanese women to race in Tokyo.  Having a situation where your own country's women are discouraged from entering doesn't really seem worthy of a first-rate world-class event or something that should have an international seal of approval.

Only one first-rate female Japanese marathoner, 2009 World Championships silver medalist Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei), is on the list; whether because she wants to race against the best foreign field we'll see on Japanese soil this year or to lend the women's race a cloak of legitimacy is a good question. Former corporate runners Azusa Nojiri, Yoshiko Fujinaga, Noriko Matsuoka, Hiroko Yoshitomi and Yumi Sato, all now running as amateurs or with club teams, make up the next tier.  Last year's 10000 m national champion Mika Yoshikawa (Team Panasonic) is debuting along with 1:10:48 woman Hiroko Shoi (Team Nihon ChemiCon) and both contribute in a big way to the domestic quality, but compared to the domestic fields at this weekend's Osaka International Women's Marathon or what we'll see at March's Nagoya Women's Marathon it's not hard to see that while Tokyo may meet the letter of the law with regard to the kind of standards you would expect from a World Marathon Major its spirit is otherwise.  There are no doubt a lot of politics and issues of TV broadcast rights involved in this situation, which may be inevitable, but if the organizers can't sort it out and are just going to go ahead with treating their own women as less then does the Tokyo Marathon really deserve to be one of the World Marathon Majors at this point?

2013 Tokyo Marathon Elite Field and Selected General Division Entrants
Tokyo, 2/24/13
click here for complete elite field listing

Men
1. Dennis Kipruto Kimetto (Kenya) - 2:04:16 (Berlin 2012)
2. James Kipsang Kwambai (Kenya) - 2:04:27 (Rotterdam 2009)
3. Dino Sefir (Ethiopia) - 2:04:50 (Dubai 2012)
4. Jonathan Kiplimo Maiyo (Kenya) - 2:04:56 (Dubai 2012)
5. Eric Ndiema (Kenya) - 2:06:07 (Amsterdam 2011)
6. Gilbert Kipruto Kirwa (Kenya) - 2:06:14 (Frankfurt 2009)
102. Daniel Njenga (Kenya/Team Yakult) - 2:06:16 (Chicago 2002)
7. Feyisa Bekele (Ethiopia) - 2:06:26 (Amsterdam 2012)
8. Bernard Kiprop Kipyego (Kenya) - 2:06:29 (Chicago 2011)
9. Michael Kipkorir Kipyego (Kenya) - 2:06:48 (Eindhoven 2011)
101. Josphat Ndambiri (Kenya/Team Komori Corp.) - 2:07:36 (Fukuoka 2011)
21. Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) - 2:07:48 (Tokyo 2012)
10. Gideon Kipkemoi Kipketer (Kenya) - 2:08:14 (Amsterdam 2012)
22. Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) - 2:08:38 (Tokyo 2012)
127. Yuzo Onishi (Travel DB) - 2:08:54 (Lake Biwa 2008)
23. Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) - 2:09:03 (Tokyo 2011)
11. Amhed Baday (Morocco) - 2:09:16 (Daegu Int'l 2012)
111. Yuko Matsumiya (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) - 2:09:18 (Lake Biwa 2005)
12. Essa Ismael Rashed (Qatar) - 2:09:22 (Amsterdam 2012)
24. Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) - 2:09:28 (Tokyo 2012)
14. Dmitry Safronov (Russia) - 2:09:35 (London 2011)
25. Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 2:10:32 (Fukuoka 2011)
103. Yuki Moriwaki (Team JFE Steel) - 2:11:52 (Beppu-Oita 2012)
104. Koji Gokaya (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:12:07 (Lake Biwa 2011)
105. Hiroki Kadota (Team Kanebo) - 2:12:24 (Beppu-Oita 2012)
106. Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:12:31 (Lake Biwa 2012)
107. Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:12:42 (Lake Biwa 2011)
108. Chiharu Takada (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:12:44 (Fukuoka 2010)
109. Yuki Nakamura (Team Kanebo) - 2:12:52 (Tokyo 2012)

Debut
26. Masato Kihara (Team Kanebo) - 1:01:15 (Nat'l Corporate Half 2012)
169. Yusuke Takabayashi (Team Toyota) - 1:01:31 (Marugame 2012)
170. Ryotaro Nitta (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:01:45 (Marugame 2012)
171. Soji Ikeda (Team Yakult) - 1:02:10 (Kyoto 2008)
27. Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 27:38.25 (Brutus Hamilton Inv. 10000 m 2009)

Pacers
51. Philip Kiprono Langat (Kenya)
52. Wilfred Kirwa Kigen (Kenya)
53. Cyrus Njui (Kenya/Team Hitachi Butsuryu)
54. Jacob Wanjuki (Kenya/Team Aichi Seiko)
55. Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta)

Women
31. Irina Mikitenko (Germany) - 2:19:19 (Berlin 2008)
32. Bezunesh Bekele (Ethiopia) - 2:20:30 (Dubai 2012)
33. Aberu Kebede (Ethiopia) - 2:20:30 (Berlin 2012)
34. Caroline Cheptonui Kilel (Kenya) - 2:22:36 (Boston 2011)
41. Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 2:23:30 (Tokyo Int'l 2008)
35. Olena Shurkhno (Ukraine) - 2:23:32 (Berlin 2012)
36. Albina Mayorova (Russia) - 2:23:52 (Nagoya Women's 2012)
37. Atsede Habtamu (Ethiopia) - 2:24:25 (Berlin 2011)
42. Azusa Nojiri (Toyama T&F Assoc.) - 2:24:57 (Osaka Int'l 2012)
206. Yoshiko Fujinaga (Isahaya T&F Assoc.) - 2:25:40 (London 2011)
38. Yeshi Esayias (Ethiopia) - 2:26:00 (Tokyo 2012)
39. Helalia Johannes (Namibia) - 2:26:09 (London Olympics 2012)
43. Noriko Matsuoka (Second Wind AC) - 2:26:54 (London 2011)
40. Nastassia Staravoitava (Belarus) - 2:27:24 (Dusseldorf 2012)
205. Hiroko Yoshitomi (First Dream AC) - 2:32:27 (Nagoya Women's 2012)
201. Yumi Sato (Tokyo T&F Assoc.) - 2:32:49 (Osaka Int'l 2012)
202. Kaori Oyama (Team Noritz) - 2:32:51 (Tokyo 2012)
203. Rina Yamazaki (Team Panasonic) - 2:32:51 (Tokyo 2011)

Debut
44. Hiroko Shoi (Team Nihon ChemiCon) - 1:10:48 (Nat'l Corporate Half 2010)
245. Mika Yoshikawa (Team Panasonic) - 1:11:13 (Marugame 2011)

Pacers
56. Hiroki Mitsuoka (Team Otsuka Seiyaku)
57. Yohei Nishiyama (Team Otsuka Seiyaku)
58. Kenta Hirose (Team Otsuka Seiyaku)

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

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