by Brett Larner
Switching last year to a mass-participation format and billing itself as the world's largest women-only marathon, the Nagoya Women's Marathon returns this year as the final domestic selection race for the Moscow World Championships team. Relative to its male counterpart, last weekend's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, Nagoya's domestic field is somewhat impoverished, all the more so with the regrettably foreseeable withdrawal of 2012 Osaka International Women's Marathon winner Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) with injury, and with all but one of the Japanese women in the field coming in at the 2:26 level or above it is hard to see there being a serious bid for the Federation's 2:23:59 time requirement for automatic nomination to the Moscow team.
That one person is of course national record holder and Athens Olympics gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex), who for the second year in a row pulled out of Osaka in January and refocused on Nagoya. At less than full fitness she made a 2:25:33 comeback last year after over years of injury. This time she is talking big and saying she feels at her best. A World Championships spot is just waiting there for her as even 2:25:33 would be a PB by over 30 seconds for any of the other Japanese women in the field. The four most likely candidates are London Olympian Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) and fellow 2:26 athletes Eri Okubo (Second Wind AC), Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) and Kaoru Nagao (Team Univ. Ent.), but also worth keeping an eye on are Eri Hayakawa (Team Toto), who despite having a marathon best almost ten years old set a PB last month at the Marugame Half Marathon, Misato Horie (Team Noritz) who was 13 seconds behind Hayakawa at Marugame with a PB of her own, the debuting Shino Saito (Team Shimamura) and, in the general division and likewise making a debut, two-time Ome 30 km winner Asami Kato (Team Panasonic).
The small foreign field is perfectly positioned. If Noguchi is really ready to back up her words, Georgina Rono (Kenya), with a 2:21:39 at last fall's Frankfurt Marathon, will serve as an ideal foil. If not, then like her countrywoman Lydia Cheromei in Yokohama last November Rono has it in the bag. 2:24 woman Margaret Agai (Kenya), 2:25 runner Genet Getaneh (Ethiopia) and, with a 2:26:55 in Yokohama, the great Jelena Prokopcuka (Latvia) are at just the right level to back up the rest of the Japanese women. Yuliya Ruban (Ukraine) may well possess the same mystifying closing speed as other Eastern European women of late and together with Werknesh Kidane (Ethiopia) and bottom-ranked Berhane Dibaba (Ethiopia) could be darkhorse figures in a slower race or with a jump in performance. Wildcards and next to Noguchi potentially the most interesting aspect of this year's race are the marathon debuts of 68-minute half-marathoners Nicole Chapple (Australia) and Mestawet Tufa (Ethiopia).
The Nagoya Women's Marathon will be broadcast live on Fuji TV beginning at 9:00 a.m. Japan time. Click here for details on watching online with Keyhole TV. JRN will once again cover the race live via Twitter @JRNLive.
2013 Nagoya Women's Marathon Elite Field
click here for elite field listing
11. Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) - 2:19:12 (Berlin 2005)
1. Georgina Rono (Kenya) - 2:21:39 (Frankfurt 2012)
2. Jelena Prokopcuka (Latvia) - 2:22:56 (Osaka Women's 2005)
3. Margaret Agai (Kenya) - 2:24:17 (Shanghai 2012)
4. Genet Getaneh (Ethiopia) - 2:25:38 (Amsterdam 2012)
13. Eri Okubo (Second Wind AC) - 2:26:08 (Tokyo 2012)
14. Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 2:26:23 (Nagoya Women's 2012)
15. Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) - 2:26:32 (Yokohama Women's Nov. 2011)
16. Kaoru Nagao (Team Univ. Ent.) - 2:26:58 (Yokohama Women's Feb. 2011)
5. Yuliya Ruban (Ukraine) - 2:27:10 (Torino 2011)
6. Werknesh Kidane (Ethiopia) - 2:27:15 (Dubai 2011)
17. Eri Hayakawa (Team Toto) - 2:28:11 (Honolulu 2004)
7. Berhane Dibaba (Ethiopia) - 2:29:22 (Valencia 2012)
18. Sumiko Suzuki (Team Hokuren) - 2:29:25 (Tokyo 2012)
19. Misato Horie (Team Noritz) - 2:31:39 (Nagoya Women's 2012)
21. Kumi Ogura (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 2:35:02 (Hong Kong 2013)
8. Nicole Chapple (Australia) - 1:08:37 (Marugame Half 2010)
9. Mestawet Tufa (Ethiopia) - 1:08:48 (New Delhi 2010)
20. Shino Saito (Team Shimamura) - 1:10:51 (National Corporate Half 2010)
Asami Kato (Team Panasonic) - 1:11:21 (Sendai 2012)
57. Yuka Hakoyama (Team Wacoal)
58. Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya)
59. Mariya Konovalova (Russia)
60. Alina Prokopeva (Russia)
(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved