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Gebremariam, Gitau, Mathathi, Fujiwara and Kawauchi Headline Fukuoka Field

by Brett Larner

The Fukuoka International Marathon has released the entry list for its 67th running on Dec. 1 and it's a familiar story line: one marquee African athlete and a half-dozen other foreign athletes in range of the best Japanese men on the list.  Even more so this year, with its top-end list of seven names identical to last year's field save for the substitution of Ethiopian great Gebre Gebremariam for Ethiopian greater Haile Gebreselassie.  Gebremariam gets the official number one seed from Fukuoka organizers due to his heavily aided 2:04:53 from the 2011 Boston Marathon with no note on the entry list of that time being aided, but with a legitimate best of only 2:08:00 from the 2011 New York City Marathon he has just the sixth-fastest PB in the field.  The true top seed goes to bib #21, defending champion Joseph Gitau (Kenya/Team JFE Steel), the only man in the field with a genuine sub-2:07 to his name.  Joining him again are last year's 3rd-placer and Polish national record holder Henryk Szost and, after a high-profile DNF in his debut in Fukuoka last year, 2007 Osaka World Championships 10000 m bronze medalist Martin Mathathi (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC).

Also returning are three of last year's top four Japanese finishers at Fukuoka, Hiroyuki Horibata (Team Asahi Kasei), Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) and Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't).  Horibata suffered a stress fracture in the spring and was an early DNF at the Moscow World Championships, where his main reason for running despite being fully unfit seemed to be a desire to make up for his coach Takeshi Soh not getting to run the 1980 Moscow Olympics marathon due to the U.S.-led boycott.  Fujiwara sustained another long-lasting injury after doing last year's Fukuoka on only a month's training, and after popping up last month for successful runs at the Great North Run and Hakodate Half Marathon he threw his hat in the ring for Fukuoka.  Since then he has written on his Facebook page that he is not feeling great and thinks he has been overtraining, so whether he makes it to the starting line remains to be seen.  Kawauchi will be running Fukuoka, his tenth of eleven planned marathons in 2013, four weeks after next weekend's ING New York City Marathon in a bid to become the first person to go sub-2:10 twice in less than a month, a mark which he will then attempt to erase two weeks later with another sub-2:10 in Hofu.

Beyond that the field thins out rapidly in name-value talent, but the breadth of nationalities represented hearkens back to Fukuoka's glory days as the world championships of marathons before there was a World Championships of marathons.  No less than twelve countries are represented among the variegated subdivisions of the Fukuoka field, with no Ethiopians other than Gebremariam and all four Kenyans in the field calling Japan home. By today's standards it's a solid second-tier field; whether it's enough for Fukuoka to deserve its IAAF gold label status is debatable, but slower races can be just as exciting as today's high-speed bloodbaths and world record time trials.  Who says looking backward can't lead you forward?  Not Fukuoka.  And you too can look forward to the live nationwide broadcast of the Fukuoka International Marathon on Dec. 1 with the starting gun firing at 12:10 p.m.  Check back closer to race date for a more detailed preview and more information on live race day coverage.

67th Fukuoka International Marathon
Fukuoka, Dec. 1, 2013
click here for complete field listing

21. Joseph Gitau (Kenya/Team JFE Steel) - 2:06:58 (Fukuoka 2012)
68. Atsushi Sato (Japan/Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:07:13 (Fukuoka 2007)
2. Viktor Rothlin (Switzerland) - 2:07:23 (Tokyo 2008)
3. Henryk Szost (Poland) - 2:07:39 (Biwako 2012)
22. Arata Fujiwara (Japan/Miki House) - 2:07:48 (Tokyo 2012)
1. Gebre Gebremariam (Ethiopia) - 2:08:00 (New York 2011) / 2:04:53a (Boston 2011)
23. Yuki Kawauchi (Japan/Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 2:08:14 (Seoul Int'l 2013)
24. Hiroyuki Horibata (Japan/Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:08:24 (Fukuoka 2012)
25. Takayuki Matsumiya (Japan/Team Konica Minolta) - 2:09:14 (Tokyo 2013)
4. Ayad Lamdassem (Spain) - 2:09:28 (London 2013)
5. Reid Coolsaet (Canada) - 2:10:55 (Toronto Waterfront 2011)
26. Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 2:11:02 (Tokyo 2013)
62. Takaaki Koda (Japan/Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:11:08 (Tokyo 2011)
27. Taiga Ito (Japan/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:11:15 (Tokyo 2013)
6. Andrew Carlson (U.S.A.) - 2:11:24 (Houston Olympic Trials 2012)
28. Satoru Sasaki (Japan/Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:11:28 (Tokyo 2013)
29. Chiharu Takada (Japan/Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:11:53 (Tokyo 2013)
66. Koji Gokaya (Japan/Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:12:07 (Biwako 2011)
71. Hironori Arai (Japan/Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:12:27 (Biwako 2011)
61. Yuki Nakamura (Japan/Team Kanebo) - 2:12:52 (Tokyo 2012)
64. Etsu Miyata (Japan/unattached) - 2:13:19 (Nagano 2010)
63. Sho Matsumoto (Japan/Nikkei Business) - 2:13:38 (Nobeoka 2013)
59. Andrew Lemoncello (Great Britain) - 2:13:40 (London 2010)
54. Mark Kenneally (Ireland) - 2:13:55 (Amsterdam 2011)
57. Juan Luis Barrios (Mexico) - 2:14:10 (New York 2011)
55. Clint Verran (U.S.A.) - 2:14:17 (Chicago 2002)
51. Carlos Trujillo (U.S.A.) - 2:14:21 (Chicago 2012)
65. Yasuyuki Yamamoto (Japan/Team JFE Steel) - 2:14:21 (Biwako 2012)
53. Chia-Che Chang (Taiwan) - 2:16:06 (Pyongyang 2012)
58. Bobby Curtis (U.S.A.) - 2:16:46 (New York 2011)
52. Ben Moreau (Great Britain) - 2:16:46 (London 2010)
56. Brendan Martin (U.S.A.) - 2:22:32a (Boston 2013)

Debut / Shooting for first marathon completion
72. Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 58:56a (Great North Run 2011)
7. Alistair Cragg (Ireland) - 1:00:49a (New York Half 2011)
73. Benjamin Ngandu (Kenya/Team Monteroza) - 1:01:06 (Marugame Half 2012)

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
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