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Matsumiya and Tanaka Top Entry Lists at Volksbank Muenster Marathon

by Brett Larner

For the second year in a row, Germany's Volksbank Muenster Marathon features Japanese athletes in its elite field through the support of JRN.  Yuko Matsumiya (Team Hitachi Butsuryu), identical twin brother of 5000 m and 30 km Japanese national record holder Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta), and veteran Chihiro Tanaka (AthleC AC) are the fastest athletes in the field on paper, Matsumiya with a best of 2:09:18 and amateur Tanaka holding a 2:29:30.  But both ran these times several years ago and will face tough challenges from the best-quality fields Muenster has yet assembled.  Kenyans Bertram Kimutai Keter, Joel Kipsang Kositany and John Kyalo have all run under the course record of 2:10:25 within the last two years, and with favorable conditions forecast for Sunday it may well take a new course record to win.  Pre-race Matsumiya was optimistic, saying, "I'm here to win.  I'm not focused on a time, just whatever it takes to win." Komazawa University graduate Yuya Shiokawa (Team Subaru), in his European debut, said, "My training has been good, and I'm looking to go sub-2:12 for the first time."  In most years that would put him first in Muenster, but this year it may only be good enough for top five.

The ageless Tanaka has consistently run at the 2:37~2:40 level since 2007 but has yet to go under 2:40 this year, with a season best of 2:40:06 at February's Senshu International Marathon.  "I want to run about 2:38 this time," she told reporters pre-race, "and hopefully that will get me into the top three."  Top five may be more realistic, with last year's champion Joan Rotich (Kenya) returning and her countrywomen Frasiah Nyambura Waithaka and Valerie Chemeli Aiyabei and favorite Eleni Gebrehiwot, an Ethiopian who recently acquired German citizenship, all holding bests under the 2:34:58 course record.  Gebrehiwot in particular is hoping to make history with Muenster's first sub-2:30 women's clocking, the time set out by the German federation as the standard for next year's European Athletics Championships.  If the weather turns out right Muenster could move up substantially in the European marathon ranks with this year's race.  Check back for more exclusive coverage of the 12th Volksbank Muenster Marathon as the weekend progresses.

12th Volksbank Muenster Marathon Elite Field Highlights
Muenster, Germany, 9/8/13

Men
Yuko Matsumiya (Japan/Team Hitachi Butsuryu) - 2:09:18 (Biwako 2005)
Bertram Kimutai Keter (Kenya) - 2:09:27 (Carpi 2011)
Joel Kipsang Kositany (Kenya) - 2:09:50 (Tiberias 2012)
John Kyalo (Kenya) - 2:10:00 (Zurich 2011)
Kirui Kiprotich (Kenya) - 2:11:34 (Verona 2012)
Peter Kariuki Wanjiru (Kenya) - 2:12:11 (Krakow 2012)
Tamrat Girma Elanso (Ethiopia) - 2:14:17 (Muenster 2011)
Yuya Shiokawa (Japan/Team Subaru) - 2:14:49 (Tokyo 2013)
Evans Kipkorir Taiget (Kenya) - 2:14:53 (Bonn 2013)
Elijah Chelelgo Chebet (Kenya) - debut

Women
Chihiro Tanaka (Japan/AthleC AC) - 2:29:30 (Nagoya Int'l Women's 2002)
Eleni Gebrehiwot (Germany) - 2:32:31 (Carpi 2010)
Frasiah Nyambura Waithaka (Kenya) - 2:33:31 (Brighton 2013)
Valerie Chemeli Aiyabei (Kenya) - 2:33:40 (Kisumu 2012)
Joan Rotich (Kenya) - 2:35:37 (Linz 2013)
Meseret Eshetu Deme (Ethiopia) - 2:42:** (Abebe Bikila 2012)
Mahlet Melese Behailu (Ethiopia) - 2:44:43 (Toulouse 2011)
Christi Dorschel (Germany) - 2:45:34 (Essen 2012)

text and photo (c) 2013 Brett Larner
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