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Tadese, Mathathi and Karoki to Line Up in Gifu

by Brett Larner

The organizers of the Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon have put together one of the best men's fields in a Japanese half in recent memory for the race's fourth running on May 18.  World record holder Zersenay Tadese (Eritrea) returns after running a course record 1:00:31 last year to beat 2011-2012 winner Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC).  Mathathi is also back to go for a third title after sitting out the London Marathon with a minor injury.  The big addition to the mix is Bedan Karoki (Kenya/DeNA RC), who made a successful transition to longer distances with a 59:58 debut to win the 2014 Lisbon Half despite problems in the early going. Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) joins them under the hour mark as a top contender on paper, but with a recent best of only 1:01:54 it would take a pretty major return to form for him to compete with the three big names.

Also notable is the debut of 27:13 man Edward Waweru (Kenya/Team NTN).  Top Japanese men include Masato Kihara (Team Kanebo), Arata Fujiwara (Miki House), Yusei Nakao (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't).

The women's race looks like an easy win for two-time marathon world champion Edna Kiplagat (Kenya), whose best of 1:08:48 puts her about a kilometer ahead of most of the rest of the competition. Hiroko Shoi (Team Denso) and Eri Okubo (Miki House) look like the only Japanese women capable of competing with the foreign chase pack, which includes Katie McGregor (U.S.A.), Visiline Jepkesho (Kenya) and Miranda Boonstra (Netherlands).

4th Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon Elite Field Highlights
Gifu, 5/18/14
click here for complete elite field

Men
Zersenay Tadese (Eritrea) - 58:23 (Lisbon 2010)
Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 58:56a (Great North Run 2011)
Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) -59:48 (Marugame 2007)
Bedan Karoki (Kenya/DeNA RC) - 59:58 (Lisbon 2014)
Jacob Wanjuki (Kenya/Team Aichi Seiko) - 1:00:32 (Nagoya 2010)
Abayneh Ayele (Ethiopia/Team Mazda) - 1:00:51 (Delhi Half 2010)
Masato Kihara (Team Kanebo) - 1:01:15 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2012)
Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) - 1:01:34 (Marugame 2012)
Patrick Muendo Muwaka (Kenya/Team Aisan Kogyo) - 1:01:57 (Gifu Seiryu 2013)
Takahiro Yamanaka (Team Honda) - 1:01:57 (Marugame 2012)
Masamichi Shinozaki (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) - 1:01:58 (Marugame 2012)
Yusei Nakao (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:02:00 (Sendai 2008)
Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 1:02:18 (Marugame 2012)
Edward Waweru (Kenya/Team NTN) - debut - 27:13.94 (Fukuroi 2010)
Macharia Ndirangu (Kenya/Team Aichi Seiko) - debut - 27:59.11 (Fukagawa 2013)

Women
Edna Kiplagat (Kenya) - 1:08:48 (Lisbon 2013)
Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC) - 1:10:16 (Miyazaki Women's 2006)
Hiroko Shoi (Team Denso) - 1:10:48 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2010)
Eri Okubo (Miki House) - 1:11:22 (Ichinoseki 2011)
Katie McGregor (U.S.A.) - 1:11:45 (Las Vegas 2011)
Visiline Jepkesho (Kenya) - 1:11:50 (Darica 2013)
Miranda Boonstra (Netherlands) - 1:13:04 (Venlo 2010)
Yuki Sakata (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:13:14 (Marugame 2013)
Yuko Mizuguchi (Team Denso) - 1:13:27 (Nat'l Univ. Women's Half 2008)
Shoko Shimizu (Team Aichi Denki) - 1:13:43 (Marugame 2013)

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
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