Skip to main content

Fujiwara and Kawauchi Lead Seven-Strong Japanese Contingent at Great North Run

by Brett Larner

Sunday's Great North Run features men's and women's races bound to go down in history, with the winners of the last five Olympic 10000 m gold medals, Kenenisa Bekele (Ethiopia), Mo Farah (Great Britain) and now-veteran Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopia) slated to go head-to-head in the men's race and London Olympics marathon silver medalist Priscah Jeptoo (Kenya) going after Moscow World Championships 5000 m and 10000 m gold medalists Meseret Defar (Ethiopia) and Tirunesh Dibaba (Ethiopia).  Even though there may be doubts as to whether Bekele will really start what would be his half marathon debut, what more could you ask for?

But beyond the big stars both races feature deep quality fields.  The men's race features 2013 Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon winner Collis Birmingham (Australia), top Europeans Daniele Meucci (Italy) and Koen Raymaekers (Netherlands), and five Japanese men appearing with support from JRN.  London Olympian Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) leads the Japanese contingent with a 1:01:34 best, making his 2013 racing debut after a long injury following last December's Fukuoka International Marathon. Fujiwara's rival and sometimes training partner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) is also set to make his U.K. debut in his second race his a disappointing marathon at the Moscow World Championships.  Independents Fujiwara and Kawauchi have been the story of Japanese men's marathoning since 2008, and their head-to-head matchup at the Great North Run will be their first time racing each other outside Japan.

But the corporate leagues are not to be left behind, sending three young runners led by Tomohiro Tanigawa, a member of 2013 New Year Ekiden national champion Team Konica Minolta.  Tanigawa ran the First Stage in Konica's national championship performance in January, then followed up with 1:02:17 and 1:02:19 half marathons, a 2nd-place finish at February's Ome 30 km Road Race, a marathon debut at Boston, and two 5000 m PBs over the summer.  Like Fujiwara a graduate of Takushoku University, Tanigawa's best is one second faster than Kawauchi's and he is reportedly in excellent shape, aiming for a sub-62 clocking.  Fujiwara and Kawauchi will have a hard time beating him.  The Koichi Morishita-coached Ryuji Watanabe (Team Toyota Kyushu) is the weakest Japanese man on the team on paper, but his 1:04:01 best in late July was a 2 1/2 minute PB in 28-degree temperatures, beating both Tanigawa and Kawauchi.  He could be poised for a breakthrough.  Ryota Matoba (Team Komori Corp.) rounds out the Japanese men with a 1:03:15 best at March's National Corporate Championships.

Beyond the three medalists, the women's race features four sub-70 Europeans, Jelena Prokopcuka (Lativa), Christelle Daunay (France), past Great North Run winner Jessica Augusto (Portugal) and Lisa Stublic (Croatia).  Running well lately, Gemma Steel is the top British entrant with a best of 1:10:46.  Two Japanese women are also in the race further down the field, Ayaka Hitomi (Team Shimamura) with a 1:14:23 best from this year's National Corporate Championships and Misaki Kato (Team Kyudenko) making her half marathon debut after running a 33:10.83 track 10000 m best earlier this season.

JRN will be on-hand at the Great North Run to cover the race and provide support to the Japanese athletes.  Check back for further coverage throughout the weekend.

2013 Great North Run Entry List Highlights
Newcastle-South Shields, U.K., 9/15/13

Men
Kenenisa Bekele (Ethiopia) - debut
Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopia) - 58:55 (Phoenix, 2006)
Mo Farah (Great Britain) - 1:00:22 (New York 2011)
Collis Birmingham (Australia) - 1:00:56 (Marugame 2013)
Daniele Meucci (Italy) - 1:01:06 (New York 2013)
Arata Fujiwara (Japan/Miki House) - 1:01:34 (Marugame 2012)
Koen Raymaekers (Netherlands) - 1:02:09 (Den Haag 2011)
Tomohiro Tanigawa (Japan/Team Konica Minolta) - 1:02:17 (Marugame 2013)
Yuki Kawauchi (Japan/Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 1:02:18 (Marugame 2012)
Jonathan Mellor (Great Britain) - 1:02:59 (New York 2012)
Ryota Matoba (Japan/Team Komori Corp.) - 1:03:15 (Nat'l Corporate Championships 2013)
Yared Hagos (Ethiopia) - 1:03:31 (Great North Run 2011)
Ryuji Watanabe (Japan/Team Toyota Kyushu) - 1:04:01 (Shibetsu 2013)
Andy Vernon (Great Britain) - 1:04:43 (Bristol 2010)
Jonny Hay (Great Britain) - 1:04:45 (Great North Run 2012)
Neil Renault (Great Britain) - 1:04:47 (Den Haag 2011)
Mark Kenneally (Ireland) - 2:13:55 (Amsterdam Marathon 2011)

Women
Priscah Jeptoo (Kenya) - 1:06:11 (Ras Al Khaimah 2013)
Meseret Defar (Ethiopia) - 1:07:25 (New Orleans 2013)
Tirunesh Dibaba (Ethiopia) - 1:07:35 (Great North Run 2012)
Jelena Prokopcuka (Lativa) - 1:08:09 (Great North Run 2012)
Christelle Daunay (France) - 1:08:34 (Reims 2010)
Jessica Augusto (Portugal) - 1:09:08 (Great North Run 2009)
Lisa Stublic (Croatia) - 1:09:18 (New York 2013)
Gemma Steel (Great Britain) - 1:10:46 (Great North Run 2012)
Irene Jerotich (Kenya) - 1:11:03 (Great North Run 2011)
Jen Rhines (U.S.A.) - 1:11:14 (Houston 2011)
Alyson Dixon (Great Britain) - 1:11:21 (Bath 2013)
Rebecca Robinson (Great Britain) - 1:13:11 (Bristol 2009)
Julie Briscoe (Great Britain) - 1:13:29 (Wilmslow 2011)
Abigail Bayley (Great Britain) - 1:13:40 (Brisbane 2011)
Ayaka Hitomi (Japan/Team Shimamura) - 1:14:23 (Nat'l Corporate Championships 2013)
Laura Whittle (Great Britain) - 32:48 (Eastleigh 10 km 2010)
Misaki Kato (Japan/Team Kyudenko) - 33:10.83 (Kitakyushu 2013)

text and photo (c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

60-Year-Old Hiromi Nakata Wins Tottori Marathon Overall Women's Race

The Tottori Marathon held its 12th running on March 10. In light rain and 11˚C temperatures 3717 people ran Tottori's one-way course that passes local historic sites such as the Tottori Sand Dunes and the Tottori Castle ruins. Running 3:12:44 for the overall women's win was 60-year-old Hiromi Nakata.
"I was as surprised as anyone that I won," said Tanaka. "I had to stop at the toilets early on and lost some time, but I tried using the double inhale, double exhale breathing method that the actor Kankuro Nakamura uses on the Idaten TV show and got into a good rhythm. Thanks to that I could just keep going and going. I had no idea I was in 1st, and when they put up the finish tape as I was coming in I thought, 'No way!'""
Nakata is a resident of Hamamatsu, Shizuoka. In 2017 she ran the fastest time of the year in Japan by a 58-year-old, 3:05:02. In the mornings she does housework and works in her garden for an hour, fitting in 30 to 60-minute run…

Japan's Oldest-Ever Olympic Marathoner Suehiro Ishikawa Retires at 39

At a press conference in Sayama, Saitama on Mar. 20, 2016 Rio Olympics marathoner Suehiro Ishikawa, 39, announced that he will retire from competition at the end of the month. At the time of the Rio Olympics Ishikawa was 36 years and 11 months old, surpassing 1996 Atlanta Olympics marathoner Hiromi Taniguchi's record of 36 years and 3 months to become Japan's oldest-ever Olympic marathoner. He finished 36th.

"Since I started running high school it's been 24 years," said Ishikawa at the press conference. "I've been with Honda for 17 years, and I made it all the way to the top, the Olympics. I'm glad that I've kept going this long. I thank you all."

Ishikawa ran the Mar. 10 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon but dropped out after only 10 km. It was to be the last race of his career. "It was the first time in my career that I'd ever DNFd, and I thought, 'OK, this is where it ends,'" said Ishikawa. Shortly after the race he made …

Yoshitomi Survives Four Marathons in Four Weeks to Win Saga Sakura Marathon

Arguably the highest-volume elite-level marathoner in the world, Hiroko Yoshitomi (Memolead) survived four straight weekends of marathons to win her hometown Saga Sakura Marathon yesterday.

Starting the month off at the Mar. 3 Tokyo Marathon Yoshitomi ran 2:32:30 for 13th. A week later at the Mar. 10 Nagoya Women's Marathon it was 2:34:49 for 31st. Last weekend she headed overseas in a bid to win the Mar. 17 New Taipei City Wan Jin Shi Marathon in Taiwan, but in a rare off day she finished 6th in only 2:48:45. Heading back home she rallied to win the Mar. 24 Saga Sakura Marathon in 2:42:02.

At an expo talk show appearance the Wan Jin Shi organizers billed Yoshitomi as "the female Kawauchi," but not even he has come close to the kind of volume of racing Yoshitomi has been turning out over the years while working at her parents' botanical farm. Expect to see more, and more, and more from her in the months to come.



photos courtesy of Wan Jin Shi Marathon organizers
text …