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Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon Elite Field

by Brett Larner

With just over a week to go the organizers of the Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon have seen fit to release the elite field for the 52nd edition of their event on Feb. 9.  A developmental race with a focus on first-timers and men at the 2:12 to 2:16 level, Nobeoka has seen the debuts of the likes of Moscow World Championships marathon 5th-placer Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) and serves as a selection race for the annual corporate league junket to the Chicago Marathon.  Last year's winner Hiroaki Sano (Team Honda) debuted in Nobeoka in 2:12:14 before going on to dip under gold label status with a 2:10:29 in Chicago, showing that Nobeoka success can lead to bigger things.

Kohei Ogino (Team Fujitsu) is the fastest man in the field with a 2:13:12 best seven weeks ago at the Hofu Yomiuri Marathon.  If his recovery has gone smoothly he is the favorite, but look for possible challenges from Tadashi Suzuki (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and Yasuaki Kojima (Team Subaru), whose 2:16-level PBs came on the rolling course of November's amateur-level Ohtawara Marathon, and Yoshikazu Kawazoe, a top member of the Asahi Kasei corporate team still looking to find his feet in the marathon.

Top-seeded among those shooting for a first marathon finish are Taiki Yoshimura (Ryutsu Keizai Univ.), who turned in a solid run at October's Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai 20 km before breaking 29 minutes for 10000 m for the first time, and Yudai Yamakawa (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) and Kenta Chiba (Team Fujitsu), former rivals at Teikyo University and Komazawa University who both broke 1:03 at the 2012 National University Half Marathon Championships.  The course record holder on the Hakone Ekiden's brutal downhill Sixth Stage, Chiba looks like the best bet to follow past Sixth Stage stars Hiromi Taniguchi and Yuki Kawauchi with a successful move to the marathon.

52nd Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon
Nobeoka, 2/9/14
click here for complete field listing

Kohei Ogino (Team Fujitsu) - 2:13:12 (Hofu 2013)
Etsu Miyata (Saitama T&F Assoc.) - 2:13:19 (Nagano 2010)
Sho Matsumoto (Nikkai Business) - 2:13:38 (Nobeoka 2013)
Koji Matsuoka (Team Mazda) - 2:14:42 (Lake Biwa 2013)
Naoki Yamashita (Team NTN) - 2:16:11 (Lake Biwa 2012)
Tadashi Suzuki (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:16:15 (Ohtawara 2013)
Tatsunori Sento (Team SGH Group Sagawa) - 2:16:18 (Nobeoka 2009)
Ryoichi Matsuo (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:16:28 (Paris 2013)
Yasuaki Kojima (Team Subaru) - 2:16:47 (Ohtwara 2013)
Akiyuki Iwanaga (Team Kyudenko) - 2:17:13 (Lake Biwa 2012)
Shoji Takada (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:17:15 (Kobe 2013)
Yoshikazu Kawazoe (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:18:47 (Beppu-Oita 2013)
Yuji Iwata (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) - 2:19:58 (Nobeoka 2012)
Junichi Tsubouchi (Team Kurosaki Harima) - 2:20:13 (Nobeoka 2013)
Yuki Marubayashi (Team Toenec) - 2:20:18 (Senshu 2012)
Ryo Ishita (SDF Academy) - 2:22:34 (Sapporo 2013)
Keita Kurihara (Team Chudenko) - 2:23:01 (Beppu-Oita 2013)
Shingo Mishima (Team Toyota) - 2:25:09 (Hofu 2013)
Takaaki Tanaka (Team NTN) - 2:26:29 (Beppu-Oita 2012)

Debut
Taiki Yoshimura (Ryutsu Keizai Univ.) - 1:00:24 (Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai 20 km 2013)
Yudai Yamakawa (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:02:36 (Nat'l Univ. Half 2012)
Kenta Chiba (Team Fujitsu) - 1:02:41 (Nat'l Univ. Half 2012)
Hisanori Kitajima (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 1:02:50 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2010)
Kyohei Nishi (Team Kyudenko) - 1:02:59 (Marugame 2012)
Kazuki Tomaru (Team Toyota) - 1:03:04 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2012)
Ryota Matoba (Team Komori Corp.) - 1:03:15 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2013)
Atsushi Yamazaki (Team Subaru) - 1:03:34 (Kyoto 2009)
Masahiro Kawaguchi (Team Yakult) - 1:03:40 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2013)
Hajime Koizumi (Iwaki T&F Assoc.) - 1:04:01 (Ageo 2007)

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
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