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

Tokyo Marathon Cancels Mass Participation Race, To Go Ahead as Elite-Only Event (updated)

Update: The Mar. 8 Nagoya Women's Marathon, the world's largest women-only marathon, is now also looking at canceling its mass-participation division.

In response to the spread of the coronavirus within Japan, the Tokyo Marathon Foundation has decided to cancel the Mar. 1 Tokyo Marathon's 38,000-runner mass-participation race. Founded in 2007, the Tokyo Marathon is Japan's largest mass-participation marathon, with more than a million spectators along its course every year. A men's Olympic marathon team selection race, this year's Tokyo Marathon will be an unusual spectacle with only 200 elite runners including national record holder Suguru Osako (Nike) and previous record holder Yuta Shitara (Honda).

The Tokyo Marathon Foundation is also looking at significantly cutting back the activities of the 11,000 volunteers involved in the event's operations. On Feb. 1 the Foundation already asked roughly 1,800 participants living in China to refrain from taking part…

Tokyo Marathon Looking at Cutting General Division in Response to Coronavirus (updated)

Update: The Tokyo Marathon's mass-participation race has been canceled. More information here.

It has been learned that the Tokyo Marathon Foundation is considering cutting back on the number of runners in the Mar. 1 Tokyo Marathon in response to the continued spread of the coronavirus. According to a spokesperson, the Foundation is said to be considering options including reducing the number of participants and completely canceling the mass participation race.

The Tokyo Marathon has the largest number of participants of any marathon in Japan, with around 40,000 people entered for this year's race. As an Olympic selection race for men, the elite field in Tokyo this year includes national record holder Suguru Osako and previous national record holder Yuta Shitara.

The Foundation and metropolitan government had previously announced plans to distribute masks to runners who wished to use them. But in light of the continued spread of the coronavirus after that announcement, discuss…

Nagoya Women's Marathon Considering Canceling Mass Participation Race

In the wake of the Tokyo Marathon's cancelation of its mass-participation race, on Feb. 17 it was learned that the Mar. 8 Nagoya Women's Marathon, which like Tokyo features a format combining an elite selection race for the 2020 Olympic team with a mass-participation race, is examining whether it will be possible to still stage the mass-participation component of its event.

Following the Tokyo Marathon's announcement earlier in the day that it was canceling its mass-participation race over concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, Nagoya's organizers were inundated with inquiries from the media and amateur runners entered in the race. The organizers say that they hope to reach a decision and make an announcement as soon as possible.

The largest women-only marathon in the world, as of Feb. 13 Nagoya has 24,002 entrants total this year, 137 in its elite division and 23,865 in its general division. Along with Nagoya, organizers are also examining the feasibility of s…