Skip to main content

Osaka International Women's Marathon and Osaka Half Marathon Preview

by Brett Larner

Sunday's Osaka International Women's Marathon features an interesting showdown between the race's last three winners, defending champion Tetiana Gamera-Shmyrko (Ukraine), all-time Japanese #9 Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya), and, in her final race before retiring from the jitsugyodan corporate system, Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren). Gamera-Shmyrko won last year's Osaka over future World Championships bronze medalist Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) in a PB 2:23:58 with the kind of miraculously fast second half she and other Eastern European women have produced in recent years, especially at Japanese marathons.  Since then she was a DNF at November's New York City Marathon, where Shigetomo was 11th in 2:31:54.  Shigetomo has never run well in a marathon since her 2:23:23 win at Osaka in 2012, but she has been on top of her game this ekiden season most recently with a 31:50 win on the Jan. 12 National Women's Ekiden's 10 km anchor stage.  Akaba, whose four marathons last year included a 3rd-place finish in London and a course record win at the Gold Coast Marathon, ran well at last month's Sanyo Women's Half Marathon with a 1:09:24 for 2nd, but on the same National Women's Ekiden stage Shigetomo won two weeks ago Akaba placed only 24th in 33:25. Given the trio's past tendencies Shigetomo seems most likely to be the one pushing early on with Akaba and Gamera-Shmyrko going to work later in the race, but either way it could be a fast day if the predicted unseasonally high temperatures hold off.

Other potential company includes last year's 3rd and 4th placers Yuko Watanabe (Team Edion) and Mari Ozaki (Team Noritz) and the debuting Sayo Nomura (Team Daiichi Seimei), all in the race for potential selection for the Japanese team for this year's Asian Games in South Korea.  Watanabe showed a lot of promise last year in Osaka, and having beaten Akaba to win August's Hokkaido Marathon she looks like the best bet to join the list of contenders for the win.  The veteran Ozaki was unexpectedly strong last year and should be up front at least through the first half of the race if she is in similar shape.  2011 World University Games half marathon bronze medalist Nomura is coached by 1991 World Championships marathon silver medalist Sachiko Yamashita.  She ran well through most of 2013 in preparation to make her marathon debut in Osaka and could be a factor. One outside possibility if the race plays out at the 2:25 level is Karolina Jarzynska (Poland), who ran a 2:26:45 PB at the Lodz Marathon after finishing 6th in Osaka last year.

Simultaneous with the elite marathon is the mass-participation Osaka Half Marathon, which is gradually growing into a decently competitive event with 38 elite men and 12 elite women.  Along with a number of good corporate men, Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudeno), who ran a course record 1:08:24 to beat Akaba at last month's Sanyo Women's Half Marathon, is scheduled to run versus 2010 winner Yuri Kano (Team Shiseido) and 2011 Tokyo Marathon winner Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal).  It will be a surprise if Chepyego doesn't better Osaka's 1:09:55 course record.

The Osaka International Women's Marathon will be broadcast live nationwide on Fuji TV starting at 12:10 p.m. on Sunday.  Overseas fans' best bet to watch online is likely the premium key version of Keyhole TV, seemingly reliable at $5.00 USD for 30 days of access.

33rd Osaka International Women's Marathon Elite Field
Osaka, 1/26/14

32. Risa Shigetomo (Japan/Team Tenmaya) - 2:23:23 (Osaka Int'l 2012)
33. Mari Ozaki (Japan/Team Noritz) - 2:23:30 (Osaka Int'l 2003)
1. Tetiana Gamera-Shmyrko (Ukraine) - 2:23:58 (Osaka Int'l 2013)
34. Yukiko Akaba (Japan/Team Hokuren) - 2:24:09 (London 2011)
35. Yuko Watanabe (Japan/Team Edion) - 2:25:56 (Osaka Int'l 2013)
2. Karolina Jarzynska (Poland) - 2:26:45 (Lodz 2013)
3. Marta Lema (Ethiopia) - 2:28:02 (Kosice 2013)
4. Hellen Mugo (Kenya) - 2:29:59 (Kosice 2012)
5. Louise Damen (Great Britain) - 2:30:00 (London 2011)
6. Natalya Puchkova (Russia) - 2:30:17 (Hannover 2012)
7. Deborah Toniolo (Italy) - 2:31:20 (Padova 2009)
36. Hiroko Miyauchi (Japan/Team Kyocera) - 2:32:20 (Yokohama Int'l 2009)
37. Sayo Nomura (Team Daiichi Seimei) - debut - 1:10:27 (Sapporo Half 2013)
Yumiko Hara - 2:23:48 (Osaka Int'l 2007)
Sairi Maeda (Bukkyo Univ.) - debut - 32:51.53 (Fukagawa 2013)

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

5th-Ranked Koku Gakuin Pulls Off Last Km Upset to Win First-Ever Izumo Ekiden Title

In the modern era of systematic mass-production of quality by dominant teams like Tokai University and Aoyama Gakuin University it has been years since an underdog came through with a surprise win on Japan's university men's ekiden circuit, but that's just what happened at today's Izumo Ekiden to kick off the 2019-20 Big Three University Ekiden season.

The race was expected to be between defending champ Tokai and Buddhist powerhouse Komazawa University, with threats from AGU and fan favorites Toyo University. Like last year Tokai struggled a bit to get on its feet, lagging as a core leading quartet coalesced over the first half of the race's six stages. Running better than expected, #5-ranked Koku Gakuin University was right up in it along with AGU, Komazawa and Toyo, its second and third men Taiga Nakanishi and Yuhei Urano taking 3rd on their stages and Urano one of six men on the Third Stage to break its course record.

The leading quartet broke up into two pairs…

Hakone Champ Tokai University the Heavy Favorite at Izumo Ekiden

University men's ekiden season kicks off Monday with the Izumo Ekiden, the first race in the three-month buildup to January's Hakone Ekiden main event. Last year four-time Hakone champ Aoyama Gakuin University outran up-and-coming Tokai University at both Izumo and November's National University Ekiden but fell short of stopping Tokai at Hakone. This year AGU is significantly down on strength, while Tokai is stronger than ever. But while Tokai is the clear favorite, it's got a serious challenge coming from at least one, maybe two familiar faces.

The average stage length for Izumo's six stages is about 7.5 km, requiring a balance between 5000 m and 10000 m skills. Despite missing captain Ryoji Tatezawa Tokai leads the way in both departments, its top six 5000 m average of 13:47.22 the fastest among the seven schools with sub-14 minute averages and its 10000 m average of 28:39.35 likewise leading the way among the six sub-29 programs. Half marathon credentials don&#…

Chicago Marathon Japanese Results

After moving up to the top ranks of amateur Japanese women's marathoning with a 2:36:37 PB at this year's Tokyo Marathon, club runner Shiho Kaneshige (GRlab Kanto) took another big step with a 2:33:16 PB for 14th at the Chicago Marathon. Running almost perfectly evenly, her first 5 km 18:11 and none after that faster than 17:49 or slower than 18:17, Kaneshige managed a slight negative split with a 1:16:46 first half and 1:16:30 second half. Just short of rival club runner Haruka Yamaguchi's 2:33:09 PB in Sydney last month, with that kind of control Kaneshige looks to have plenty more room for growth.

On the men's side, four Japanese men, Minato Oishi (Toyota), Tsubasa Hayakawa (Toyota), Ryoma Takeuchi (Hitachi Butsuryu) and Yuta Takahashi (Otsuka Seiyaku), went out in the second pack with the main leading group of American men. The fastest Japanese half marathoner so far this year, Oishi was almost as steady as Kaneshige the entire way as he opened with a 15:25 first …