Skip to main content

Sakai and Yano Headline Aug. 31 Hokkaido Marathon Elite Field

by Brett Larner

For years the worldwide fall elite marathon season has gotten underway with Sapporo's Hokkaido Marathon on the last Sunday of August.  Two years organizers did away with their elite fields, leaving top amateurs Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) and Yuri Yoshizumi (Osaka Nagai AC) to win in two of the slowest winning times in event history.  Last year the elite fields returned with a small international contingent that proved mostly superfluous.  With the release of this year's elite fields today it's clear that organizers have trimmed the fat to focus on a good domestic field that on paper any other country outside Africa would have a tough time matching.

Leading the men's field is the 4th-fastest Japanese man of the year, Masanori Sakai (Team Kyudenko), who ran 2:09:10 in Tokyo in February.  Named to the federation's new marathon National Team program on the strength of that performance, with Hokkaido's always-hot conditions Sakai will be the first guinea pig in the program to be subjected to the program's objective of developing marathoners who can excel in heat for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Sakai is the class of the field by a considerable margin, but his competition includes 2010 Asian Games silver medalist Yukihiro Kitaoka (Team NTN), multiple-2:11 man Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and the up-and-coming Ryoichi Matsuo (Team Asahi Kasei) and Yuki Oshikawa (Team Toyota Kyushu).  Unsuccessful in the marathon so far but hoping for more are Hakone Ekiden Sixth Stage record holder Kenta Chiba (Team Fujitsu) and one of Japan's all-time best high school runners Satoru Kitamura (Team Nissin Shokuhin).  Of special note among the first-timers is Hiroyuki Yamamoto, a graduate of Hakone Ekiden course record holder Toyo University now running for two-time corporate national champion team Konica Minolta.

The top end of the women's field is packed with former corporate-league athletes pursuing different directions.  Yuri Kano (Kyoto T&F Assoc.) and Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC) were longtime teammates who balanced each other well.  On the dark side, Kano has had a complicated career trajectory that saw her leave the Shiseido corporate team with Shimahara, head coach Manabu Kawagoe and others to form the Second Wind club team, then leaving Second Wind to return to Shiseido, then finally quitting Shiseido this spring to run as an independent.  Representing the light, Hokkaido course record holder took time off a few years ago to have a child, and since returning has been running in the mid-2:40s.  Kumi Ogura (Kochi T&F Assoc.) is another former pro now running as an independent.  Former pro skiier and mountain runner Azusa Nojiri quit the Daiichi Seimei corporate team to run with private sponsor Hiratsuka Lease, mostly without success so far with a 2014 best of only 2:33:39.

All of which leaves Yuka Yano (Canon AC Kyushu), winner of this year's inaugural Kitakyushu Marathon in 2:31:02, as the favorite.  Manami Kamitanida (Team Hitachi), 2:31:34 in Tokyo this year, should bring a solid challenge along with debuting Shoko Mori (Team Otsuka Seiyaku), a training partner of Daegu World Championships marathoner Mai Ito.

2014 Hokkaido Marathon Elite Field Highlights
Sapporo, Hokkaido, 8/31/14
click here for complete elite field listing

Men
Masanori Sakai (Team Kyudenko) - 2:09:10 (2014 Tokyo Marathon)
Yukihiro Kitaoka (Team NTN) - 2:10:51 (2010 Biwako Mainichi Marathon)
Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:11:15 (2013 Tokyo Marathon)
Ryoichi Matsuo (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:12:11 (2014 Nobeoka Nishi Nihon Marathon)
Yuki Oshikawa (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 2:13:24 (2014 Biwako Mainichi Marathon)
Sho Matsumoto (Nikkei Business) - 2:13:38 (2013 Nobeoka Nishi Nihon Marathon)
Shigeki Tsuji (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:13:41 (2014 Biwako Mainichi Marathon)
Kazuyoshi Tokumoto (Team Monteroza) - 2:14:48 (2012 Hofu Yomiuri Marathon)
Kiyokatsu Hasegawa (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:15:15 (2010 Tokyo Marathon)
Yasuaki Kojima (Team Subaru) - 2:15:38 (2014 Nobeoka Nishi Nihon Marathon)
Takuya Suzuki (Team Aisan Kogyo) - 2:15:40 (2014 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon)
Masamichi Shinozaki (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) - 2:16:15 (2014 Biwako Mainichi Marathon)
Kenta Chiba (Team Fujitsu) - 2:18:07 (2014 Nobeoka Nishi Nihon Marathon)
Satoru Kitamura (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 2:27:15 (2010 Tokyo Marathon)
Hiroyuki Yamamoto (Team Konica Minolta) - debut - 1:32:20 (2013 Ome 30 km)
Shun Suzuki (Nanyo City Hall) - debut - 1:34:26 (2013 Kumanichi 30 km)
Yuma Morii (Team SGH Group Sagawa) - debut - 1:03:57 (2014 Marugame Half)

Women
Yuri Kano (Kyoto T&F Assoc.) - 2:24:27 (2008 Tokyo Int'l Women's Marathon)
Azusa Nojiri (Hiratsuka Lease) - 2:24:57 (2012 Osaka Int'l Women's Marathon)
Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC) - 2:25:10 (2009 Hokkaido Marathon)
Yuka Yano (Canon AC Kyushu) - 2:31:02 (2014 Kitakyushu Marathon)
Manami Kamitanida (Team Hitachi) - 2:31:34 (2014 Tokyo Marathon)
Kumi Ogura (Kochi T&F Assoc.) - 2:34:01 (2013 Nagoya Women's Marathon)
Sayuri Baba (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 2:37:38 (2012 Nagano Marathon)
Shoko Mori (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - debut - 1:11:41 (2010 Sanyo Women's Half)

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kisaisa Wins Second-Straight Yosenkai Half Marathon in 1:00:44, Komazawa University Averages Ten Men Under 1:03

The Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai is the qualifying race for Japan's most prestigious road race, the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden. University men's teams in the Tokyo area that didn't make the top ten at Hakone the year before square off in Tokyo's Showa Kinen Park with teams of up to twelve. The top ten score, their cumulative times determining the team's placing with the top eleven teams advancing and high-placing individuals from schools that don't make the cut rounded up to form a select team.

The Yosenkai has long been the world's #1 20 km road race by a wide margin, with winning times among the fastest in the world for the distance and the same kind of incredible depth seen at November's Ageo City Half Marathon and March's National University Men's Half Marathon. In light of changes in the IAAF's ranking system and the level of performance at the Yosenkai, this year organizers took the historic step of changing it from its traditional distance to …

Comparing D1 Pre-Nationals and the Hakone Ekiden Qualifier

With both American and Japanese university students well into their fall seasons, two major events took place Saturday. Near Madison, Wisconsin, the D1 Pre-Nationals cross-country meet and in Tachikawa, Tokyo the Hakone Ekiden Qualifier half marathon. At Pre-Nats men ran 8 km on a looping XC course with a maximum elevation difference of around 30 m. The field was split into two main races, Cardinal and White, with a total of 69 teams, and an additional Grey race handling some overflow. Teams ran up to seven members, with the top five scoring on cumulative placing. A total of 474 athletes finished the two main races, with five DNF.

At the Hakone Ekiden Qualifier, known as the Yosenkai, the distance was lengthened from 20 km to the half marathon distance this year, on a paved net-uphill course with a maximum elevation difference of about 20 m, most of that in the hilly final 8 km through Showa Kinen Park. 39 second-tier teams fielded up to twelve runners, with the top ten scoring on cu…

28:45 High Schoolers and More - Weekend Track Roundup

The IAAF has unilaterally declared track season over. But in Japan fall track is an integral part of ekiden season training, and it's not unusual to see many athletes drop their best 3000 m, 5000 m and 10000 m times of the year between October and December. Case in point, this weekend.

The biggest news came at Saturday's Nighter Time Trials in Nagasaki, where Keiho H.S. 11th-grader Hiroto Hayashida ran 28:45.75 for 6th in the 10000 m, all-time #8 among Japanese high school boys and #2 among 11th-graders. "Thank you to everyone who supported me!" Hayashida said on Twitter post-race. "I want to take this and apply to it ekiden season now." Geoffrey Gichia (Daiichi Kogyo Univ.) won in 28:36.36, with Jakarta Asian Games marathon gold medalist Hiroto Inoue (MHPS) 2nd in 28:37.27.

ナイター記録会(諫早)

林田洋翔選手(瓊浦2)
28:45.75

県高校記録更新おめでとうございます🎉 pic.twitter.com/V7navKw6HQ — manamin (@kinokonoko0916) October 13, 2018
At Niigata's Autumn Time Trials a unique women's 50…