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Big Weekend Ahead With Olympic Medalists in Marugame, Nakamoto vs. Kawauchi in Beppu-Oita and One More Ekiden for the Road

by Brett Larner

A big weekend of racing is ahead in Japan with three major races and a handful of other events on the calendar for Sunday.  First and foremost is the 67th Kagawa Marugama International Half Marathon, where London Olympic marathon medalists Tiki Gelana (Ethiopia) and Abel Kirui (Kenya) bring the most prestige.  Women's gold medalist Gelana is challenged by #1-ranked Kim Smith (New Zealand) and 2010 Marugame winner Nicole Chapple (Australia) from south of the equator, with 2012 Sanyo Ladies Half Marathon winner Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) making up the domestic challenge.  All three challengers hold faster PBs than Gelana, setting up for an exciting race.  Other top-level entrants include Marisa Barros (Portugal) and Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera).

Men's silver medalist Abel Kirui (Kenya) is the fastest man in Marugame, where last year's men's field set new world records for depth.  His strongest competition on paper is Japanese national record holder Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku), but with Sato past his prime his main rival should be last year's 3rd-placer Jacob Wanjuki (Kenya/Team Aichi Seiko).  In the next layer are one of the men with the best chance of breaking Sato's 1:00:25 national record, Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta), Irish 5000 m and 10000 m national record holder Alistair Cragg, Japan-based Kenyans Daniel Gitau (Team Fujitsu), Benjamin Gandu (Nihon Univ.) and Johana Maina (Team Fujitsu), former Australian 10000 m national record holder Collis Birmingham and London Olympic marathoners Arata Fujiwara (Team Miki House) and Ryo Yamamoto (Team Sagawa Express).  Click here for a detailed listing of both the men's and women's fields in Marugame.

With Fujiwara and Yamamoto in Marugame Japan's other male Olympic marathoner Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) made the surprising choice to follow up his 6th-place finish in London with a shot at his first-ever marathon win at the 62nd Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, universally abbreviated Betsudai in Japan.  With a 2:08:53 PB last year and a flawless record in the marathon he comes to Betsudai as the favorite, but despite saying he is ready for a new PB poor performances at the New Year Ekiden and the National Men's Ekiden in January leave a question mark hanging over him.  His main competition comes from Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.), already running his second marathon of the year but saying that he is targeting the 2:08:24 time set by Hiroyuki Horibata (Team Asahi Kasei) at December's Fukuoka International Marathon.  Betsudai is a selection race for the Moscow World Championships, so if either Nakamoto or Kawauchi break 2:08 they will earn a place on the team and a new course record, currently 2:08:30. Only five men have ever broken 2:09 in Betsudai, so realistically a sub-2:10 win should probably be sufficient to get World Championships team consideration.

A potential wildcard in the Nakamoto-Kawauchi duel is last year's runner-up Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Mongolia).  Despite having only a 2:11:05 best he is an aggressive racer who beat Kawauchi for the win at the 2011 Hofu Yomiuri Marathon.  Although Nakamoto has an undefeated record against both Kawauchi and Bat-Ochir look for the U.K.-based Mongolian to go with his Japanese rivals in a faster pace up front.  Interesting first-time marathoners include 61-minute half marathoners Tewelde Estifanos (Eritrea), Daisuke Matsufuji (Team Kanebo) and Mamoru Hirano (Team Yasukawa Denki), with other top-ranked marathon entrants including Adam Draczynski (Poland), Abdelkrim Boubker (Morocco), Michael Shelley (Australia) and Kazuya Ishida (Team Nishitetsu).

Further back, 59+ world record holder Yoshihisa Hosaka (Natural Foods AC) will be going for his fifth single-age world record, Clive Davies' longstanding age 64 record of 2:42:44.  Hosaka tells JRN that his training has gone perfectly since setting the age 63 record at December's Hofu Yomiuri Marathon and that he is confident of having a shot at Davies' mark.  If successful he hopes to run October's Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon for a chance to meet fellow advanced-age world record holder Ed Whitlock.  Click here for a detailed listing of the Betsudai elite field.  The race will be broadcast live on TBS beginning at 11:50 a.m. Japan time and should be viewable online overseas via Keyhole TV.  JRN will also cover Betsudai live via Twitter.

Although championship ekiden season is over there's always room for one more, and in this case the 67th Meigi Ekiden fills the bill.  Last year's top five teams all return, led by the course-record setting Team Toyota.  Toyota is again the probable favorite, but with ace Chihiro Miyawaki shaky at last month's National Men's Ekiden Toyota may fall victim to 2012 runner up Team Toyota Boshoku.  Returning 3rd-place Suzuki Hamamatsu AC looks stronger this year with a lineup featuring 2007 World Championships 10000 m bronze medalist Martin Mathathi (Kenya) and 27:48 man Yusei Nakao and could be in range of the win.  Look also for the ekiden debut of 2011 Welsh 10000 m national champion Hywel Care (Shonai RT).

Beyond these three large events, the 35th Kanagawa Half Marathon and the 29th Moriya Half Marathon are also scheduled for Sunday, both featuring considerable numbers of Hakone Ekiden collegiate men.  Look for JRN's coverage of all five races over the next few days.

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Anonymous said…
Will there be live coverage or live timing updates for the Marugame Half?
Anonymous said…
The race it's been broadcasted live on MBS on Keyhole Tv (not TBS...). Watching it now :)

Thank you very much for your amazing blog.

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The Kawauchi Counter

Yuki Kawauchi's 2018 race results: Jan. 1: Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, U.S.A.: 2:18:59 - 1st - CR
Jan. 14: Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:03:28 - 7th
Jan. 21: Yashio Isshu Ekiden, Saitama: 1:01:03 - 1st - ran entire 20.0 km ekiden solo and beat all 103 teams of 6 runners each
Jan. 28: Okumusashi Ekiden First Stage (9.9 km), Saitama - 29:41 - 6th
Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
Feb. 11: Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon, Shimane - cancelled due to heavy snow
Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama - 1:04:26 - 1st
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:04:49 - 12th
Mar. 11: Yoshinogawa Riverside Half Marathon, Tokushima - 1:05:50 - 1st - CR
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan - 2:14:12 - 1st
Mar. 24: Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials, Saitama
              5000 m Heat 4: 14:53.95 - 1st
              5000 m Heat 6: 14:36.58 - 2nd
           …

Guinness Certifies Kawauchi's World Record 78 Career Sub-2:20 Marathons After Half Marathon in Panda Costume

Known as the Civil Servant Runner, Saitama Prefectural Government employee Yuki Kawauchi's career record of 78 sub-2:20 marathons was officially recognized as the Guinness World Record at a ceremony in his hometown of Kuki, Saitama on Mar. 25.  Raised in Kuki, Kawauchi began working for the Saitama Prefectural Government after graduating from university. Running while working full-time as a civil servant, he has qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic trial race.

Earlier this month on the 18th Kawauchi ran Taiwan's Wan Jin Shi Marathon, winning in 2:14:12. His 78th time running faster than 2 hours and 20 minutes, his achievement was certified as the official Guinness World Record. He actually broke the previous record on Jan. 1 at the Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon in the U.S.A. with his 76th sub-2:20 but followed up with two performances, one in February and the other last week, before Guinness could ratify the record.

The official recognition ceremony took place Mar. 2…

“The Miracle in Fukuoka” - Real Talk From Yuki Kawauchi on “Taking on the World” (part 1)

http://sports.yahoo.co.jp/column/detail/201701120002-spnavi

translated by Brett Larner

Ahead of his nomination to the London World Championships Marathon team, Sportsnavi published a three-part series of writings by Yuki Kawauchi on what it took for him to make the team, his hopes for London, and his views on the future of Japanese marathoning.  With his place on the London team announced on Mar. 17, JRN will publish an English translation of the complete series over the next three days. See Sportsnavi's original version linked above for more photos. Click here for part two, "Bringing All My Experience Into Play in London," or here for part three, "The Lessons of the Past Are Not 'Outdated.'"


The Fukuoka International Marathon was held on Dec. 4 last year. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) took part despite nursing injuries he had sustained in training. Falling rain contributed to less than ideal conditions during the race, but from the very early stages…