Friday, July 4, 2014

"I Hope We All Work Together to Achieve Something Special" - Gold Coast Airport Marathon Preview

by Brett Larner
photos by Mari Tanigawa

With a shiny new IAAF gold label to its name, Sunday's Gold Coast Airport Marathon has put together fields worthy of its distinction as the only Australian race to have achieved the honor.  The 2:27:17 women's course record is a definite possibility, the men's 2:10:01 record all but a certainty with most of the top end of the field talking about times that would put them under Rob de Castella's prehistoric 2:09:18 Australian all-comers' record dating back to 1982.  The race will be streamed live worldwide starting at 5:45 a.m. local time with the gun going off at 7:20, giving fans worldwide the chance to catch a potential piece of history.  For the first time, JRN will be part of the broadcast alongside hosts Ian Eckersley and Steve Moneghetti to help cover the stellar Japanese component of the elite field.

The withdrawal of #1-seeded Mulu Seboka (Ethiopia) means Naoko Takahashi's 2:23:14 Australian all-comers' record will probably be out of reach of the women's field, but, as elite athlete coordinator Ryan McDonald told JRN, "It means the race is wide open for any of our top ten women to take."  Kenyan Pamela Chepchumba has the fastest time in the field at 2:25:36, but looking at recent performances it's a virtual draw at the 2:26-2:27 level between Ethiopians Yebrgual Melese and Goitetom Tesema, Kenyan Emily Samoei and the Gold Coast Airport Marathon's first elite Chinese athlete, Lamei Sun.  One tier down right around the 2:30 level are Ethiopians Zebenay Gebre Moges and Tsehay Desalegn and Japanese athletes Asami Kato (Team Panasonic), Rika Shintaku (Team Shimamura) and Hiroko Yoshitomi (First Dream AC).  Both Kato and Yoshitomi told JRN that they would go with a 2:26-2:27 pace, and with a first half planned to be paced under 1:13:30 and a favorable forecast they or any of the others should be in range of the year-old course record.

With the possible exception of the Sydney Olympics the men's field is the best ever assembled in Australia, featuring defending champion Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) and joint course record holder Nicholas Manza (Kenya), 2:06 men Gebretsadik Abraha Adihana (Ethiopia) and Stephen Tum (Kenya), Kawauchi's sub-2:10 Japanese rivals Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) and Hirokatsu Kurosaki (Team Konica Minolta) and four others with times under de Castella's Australian soil record.  "A lot depends on the weather," said Manza, "but I think it could be a 2:07 or 2:08 race."  Fujiwara agreed, saying, "I think the Australian all-comers' record will go, not just the course record.  Winning will mean beating Kawauchi, but that's what I'm here to do."  Kurosaki, the wildcard among the Japanese, was more conservative in his predictions, telling JRN, "My target is the course record, sub-2:10," but with a 2:09:07 best at Tokyo in February he should be part of any group effort to go one better and chase de Castella.

Kawauchi expressed his hopes that exactly this would happen.  "Fujiwara is here, of course, but more than that I'm looking forward to racing my co-record holder Manza.  Most of all, with the Gold Coast Airport Marathon having earned a gold label this year and not just Fujiwara and Manza but other strong Africans, Kurosaki and Chiharu Takada (Team JR Higashi Nihon) here, it is my hope that we will all work together to achieve something special, a time under Rob de Castella's 2:09:18 Australian soil record and a record worthy of a gold label race."  Hot off a 4th-place finish in the 10000 m at last weekend's U.S. National Championships, American Sean Quigley is scheduled to pace the first half through in low-1:04 and get the field into position for a solid record bid.  De Castella gave the field his blessing but waxed bittersweet at the prospect of his record going down.  "In my heart of hearts I'd like to see an Australian get my record," he said, "but these athletes are of a caliber that they should smash it.  By a minute would be good.  It's well and truly overdue."

2014 Gold Coast Airport Marathon Elite Field Highlights
Gold Coast, Australia, July 6, 2014

Gebretsadik Abraham Adihana (Ethiopia) - 2:06:23 (Amsterdam, 2012)
Nicholas Manza Kamakya (Kenya) - 2:06:34 (Amsterdam, 2011)
Stephen Tum (Kenya) - 2:06:35 (Marrakech, 2013)
Arata Fujiwara (Japan/Miki House) - 2:07:48 (Tokyo, 2012)
Stephen Kibiwot (Kenya) - 2:07:54 (Prague, 2009)
Yuki Kawauchi (Japan/Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 2:08:14 (Seoul, 2013)
Haile Haja Gemeda (Ethiopia) - 2:08:35 (Rome, 2013)
Hirokatsu Kurosaki (Japan/Team Konica Minolta) - 2:09:07 (Tokyo, 2014)
Cyrus Njui (Kenya/Arata Project) - 2:09:10 (Tokyo, 2011)
Ahmed Baday (Morocco) - 2:09:16 (Daegu, 2012)
Erick Mose (Kenya) - 2:09:44 (Los Angeles, 2013)
Lee Troop (Australia) - 2:09:49 (Biwako, 2003)
Chiharu Takada (Japan/Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:10:39 (Fukuoka, 2013)
Jeffrey Eggleston (U.S.A.) - 2:11:57 (Boston, 2014)
Hironori Arai (Japan/Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:12:27 (Biwako, 2011)
Wirimai Juwawo (Zimbabwe) - 2:12:28 (Danzhou, 2010)
Rowan Walker (Australia) - 2:18:01 (Melbourne, 2010)
Silah Kipkemboi Limo (Kenya) - debut - 1:01:26 (Singapore Half, 2013)
Hiroki Sugawa (Japan/DeNA RC) - debut - 1:03:43 (Nat'l Univ. Half, 2013)

Pamela Chepchumba (Kenya) - 2:25:36 (Milan, 2007)
Yebrgual Melese (Ethiopia) - 2:26:14 (Paris, 2014)
Goitetom Tesema (Ethiopia) - 2:26:21 (Rome, 2011)
Emily Samoei (Kenya) - 2:26:52 (Barcelona, 2012)
Lamei Sun (China) - 2:27:55 (Beijing, 2012)
Asami Kato (Japan/Team Panasonic) - 2:29:08 (Nagoya Women's, 2014)
Chihiro Tanaka (Japan/Athlec AC) - 2:29:30 (Nagoya Women's, 2002)
Zebenay Gebre Moges (Ethiopia) - 2:31:14 (San Antonio, 2009)
Rika Shintaku (Japan/Team Shimamura) - 2:31:15 (Tokyo, 2014)
Tsehay Desalegn (Ethiopia) - 2:31:25 (Prague, 2014)
Hiroko Yoshitomi (Japan/First Dream AC) - 2:31:28 (Tokyo, 2013)
Jane Fardell (Australia) - 2:37:35 (Paris, 2013)
Tarli Bird (Australia) - debut - 1:14:44 (half, 2013)

text (c) 2014 Brett Larner, all rights reserved
photos (c) 2014 Mari Tanigawa, all rights reserved

1 comment:

Anna Novick said...

It's gonna be EPIC. (sung to the 'Nsync tune of It's Gonna be Me). I'll be in Canada for the weekend but will find a way to follow it!