Skip to main content

Akaba and Kawauchi Top Japanese Entries for Gold Coast Airport Marathon

by Brett Larner
photo courtesy of Gold Coast Airport Marathon

The Gold Coast Airport Marathon has announced that it has recruited its best-ever lineup of elite Japanese athletes for this year's running on July 7.  Passed over for the Moscow World Championships despite running 2:24:43 for 3rd at April's London Marathon, Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) is a coup for organizers and should make short work of Eriko Asai's twenty-year-old course record of 2:29:29.  Hoping to join her is Sydney Marathon course record holder Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't), 4th in last year's race in 2:13:26 and looking to improve on both his placing and the 2:10:01 men's record in his last marathon before the World Championships.  If both are successful it will be the first Japanese sweep since 2007.

Eri Okubo set her best of 2:26:08 at last year's Tokyo Marathon and will be making her first major appearance since quitting the Second Wind AC team earlier this spring.  Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) ran a then-PB of 2:13:16 at the 2011 Gold Coast Airport Marathon before improving that to 2:11:15 in Tokyo this year.  With quality performances Okubo and Ito could provide Akaba and Kawauchi with challenges up front.

Also in the field are a number of athletes running on invites thanks to winning sister races within Japan. The best of these are Kobe Marathon course record holders Yui Ouchi (Team Noritz) and former Team Toyota member Kensuke Takahashi.  Ouchi's best of 2:39:06 came at the 2011 Ohtawara Marathon and she has hovered right around that mark in the year and a half since, including her 2:39:52 record on the more difficult Kobe Marathon course. Takahashi ran his best of 2:11:25 at the 2009 Tokyo Marathon to earn a spot as the alternate for the Berlin World Championships marathon team, his most recent mark being his 2:21:14 course record in Kobe.  Age 59+ world record Yoshihisa Hosaka (Natural Foods AC) will also be in the field as he works toward a bid for the age 64 record of 2:42:44.

JRN will be on-site at the Gold Coast Airport Marathon to cover the Japanese angle on the race and more.  Check back closer to race date for more on the elite field, online viewing, and original interviews with the Japanese elites.

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Robert McKenzie said…
How come Kaori Yoshida is not running this year?
Brett Larner said…
She is injured, apparently.
Robert McKenzie said…
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/sports/2013/05/24/more-sports/marathon-runner-yoshida-gets-one-year-doping-ban/
Brett Larner said…
Thanks for the link. I had not seen that article yet. I was told by GCAM organizers a few weeks ago that she was not returning due to injury, presumably before this sad news became public.

Most-Read This Week

Yuta Shitara Breaks Japanese Men's Half Marathon National Record in Berlin Marathon Tuneup at Usti nad Labem Half

A week after his 28:55 at the Birell Prague Grand Prix 10 km and just eight days out from the Berlin Marathon, Yuta Shitara (Honda) made the great leap forward, taking 8 seconds off Atsushi Sato's 2007 half marathon Japanese national record, finishing 8th at the Czech Republic's Usti nad Labem Half Marathon.

Shitara is probably most well-known outside Japan for going through halfway under 62 minutes during his marathon debut at this year's Tokyo Marathon and still ending up with a 2:09:27, but he's been turning heads in Japan since his second year at Toyo University when he broke a stage record at the 2012 Hakone Ekiden and outkicked the U.S.A.'s Dathan Ritzenhein to finish in 1:01:48 at the NYC Half two months later, until this year the fastest time ever by a Japanese man on U.S soil.

Three weeks before Tokyo this year he ran a 1:01:19 PB at the Marugame Half. Many people would call that a solid tuneup three weeks out from a serious marathon, but eight days? In P…

Ayuko Suzuki Leaves for Altitude Training in Boulder Motivated for the Marathon

2017 London World Championships 5000 m and 10000 m runner Ayuko Suzuki (25, Japan Post) left from Narita Airport on Sept. 18 for altitude training in Boulder, Colorado.

Two days earlier at a half marathon in Czech Republic, Yuta Shitara (25, Honda), like Suzuki born in 1991, broke the 10-year-old Japanese men's half marathon national record in a time of 1:00:17. "It's a big motivation to see an athlete the same age as me doing something like that," she said. Showing her determination to be one of her generation's leaders, she added, "I'll be 28 [at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics], right in my prime mentally and physically. I want to run big too."

In the leadup to the Tokyo Olympics Suzuki has the marathon in sight along with the track. "I need to run a half marathon and marathon somewhere once to check [how well they suit me]," she said. "Coach and I will be talking about it." If everything goes according to plan, December's Sanyo …

New Half Marathon NR Holder Yuta Shitara's Twin Brother Keita Joins Hitachi Butsuryu Corporate Team

Having left the Konica Minolta men's corporate team at the end of March this year, Keita Shitara, 25, announced on Sept. 19 that he will join the Hitachi Butsuryu team. The official announcement is scheduled for Sept. 20.

As a member of Toyo University Shitara was part of two Hakone Ekiden-winning teams before joining Konica Minolta following his graduation in 2014. His first year at Konica Minolta Shitara ran New Year Ekiden national championships' toughest stage, but since his second year he has experienced a slump. Saying, "I need to change my environment in order to get my head straight and back on track," Shitara chose to leave the team at the end of March, returning to Toyo as his training base.

The Hitachi Butsuryu team came into being in April, 2012 as the successor to the Hitachi Cable Marathon Team. It is based in Matsudo, Chiba. Under the leadership of head coach Manabu Kitaguchi, 45, it has grown steadily, placing 10th at this year's New Year Ekiden.…