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
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