One of Japan's longest-standing course records at its elite races fell Sunday as Kenyan Ezekiel Cheboitibin (Sunbelx) beat the great Toshihiko Seko's 38-year-old Ome 30 km Road Race record by almost 30 seconds.
Tough and hilly with a net climb in the first half and descent on the return trip, Ome is a standard spring marathon prep run and a natural partner for April's Boston Marathon, with which it has a longstanding athlete exchange program. The 2017 Ome winner, this time out Cheboitibin was gunning for Seko's record from the start, hitting the mostly uphill 10 km completely solo in 29:47, 20 km midway through the return trip in 59:30, and saving his fastest 10 km split for the end as he crossed the finish line in 1:29:06. Seko's 1:29:32 just two months before his first Boston win had made him the only man in Ome history to break 90 minutes. With the best performance of his career Cheboitibin turned the page on that history.
With just under three weeks to go the organizers of the Mar. 10 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon's 74th running have finally released the elite field. For Japanese men it's the last chance - almost - to qualify for September's MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials, the last domestic race with up to six spots up for grabs for anyone under 2:11:00 or 2:10:00 and more for anyone else under 2:08:30 or averaging under 2:11:00 between Lake Biwa and another marathon in the last year and a half. The window on that last two-race option runs through April 30th so there will still be a few chances left, but realistically for most of the men at Lake Biwa this is it, all or nothing for a home soil Olympic team.
There's a good international field of twelve African-born runners of eight nationalities at the 2:06 to 2:09 level to help pull the Japanese men to hit those times. Last year's winner Macharia Ndirangu (Kenya/Aichi Seiko) is back, ranked 6th in a field led by 2:06 men Deribe…
The Tokyo Marathon Foundation announced on Feb. 20 that 5000 m and 10000 m world record holder Kenenisa Bekele (Ethiopia) has withdrawn from the Mar. 3 Tokyo Marathon 2019 due to injury. The statement read, "He has a stress fracture that is going to take a little more time to heal. His motivation to recover and set his sights on a new goal is high, but unfortunately it seems that is still going to take a while."
#2-ranked Marius Kipserem (Kenya) has also withdrawn with injuries. On the domestic front, Kengo Suzuki (23, Fujitsu) has pulled out due to his condition. Yohei Suzuki (24, Aisan Kogyo) and Shinobu Kubota (27, Toyota) have also sustained injuries that will prevent them from starting. In the women's race, 2017 London World Championships team member Yuka Ando, 24, who earlier this month transferred from the Suzuki Hamamatsu AC team to the Wacoal corporate team, is also out with injury.